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Easy, Awesome Challah Bread

ISN’T IT PRETTY?!?!

Easy, Awesome Challah Bread

Seriously, this bread is just beautiful. And it’s not just beautiful, it’s amazingly soft and flavorful and perfect.

Easy, Awesome Challah Bread cut

I’d never had challah bread before this, but basically it’s a yeast-leavened, lightly-sweet braided dough made with eggs, then brushed with an egg wash before baking. It can be soft or dense, made with many different grains, created into other shapes (spirals, circles, birds, etc.), but at its heart it’s just a slighly sweet eggy bread.

Easy, Awesome Challah Bread with Honey

And I can’t imagine that it gets much better than this recipe! First-try bread recipes can be tricky sometimes, and rarely are they absolutely perfect the first time. But this recipe was super forgiving (I let it rise quite a bit longer than the recipe called for), the braiding was super easy, and the final product made me want to eat ALL THE BREAD. And I’m not even a bread person…

Easy, Awesome Challah Bread done

Let’s just look at it again, shall we???

Okay, moving on… [Read more…]

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Pastry-Wrapped Chicken Florentine

Well. It’s been an eventful few days for me. You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as frequently the last few weeks, and that’s because I’ve been getting ready to have surgery—on a very short timeframe! I went straight from 4th of July weekend travel in Florida to North Carolina the next day for a surgery consult to frantically getting all the paperwork done, people called, things approved, and work ready for me to leave for a good long time. And this Tuesday morning my mom and I drove up to North Carolina for the surgery. Quite the whirlwind! My surgery was yesterday, I spent the night in the hospital and then we drove back this afternoon. Just got in and we are wiped out!

That’s all to say that while I haven’t been able to post as many recipes here recently, I do have several great ones stockpiled that I’ve tried but haven’t had a chance to write up, and so will be posting these during my recovery, while I’m not able to cook right now (since I can’t stand for a while). And I’ll start with this awesomeness hugged by pastry.

chicken florentine pastry finished

So back in May, I went home to visit my family and we crammed a lot into the weekend—my sister’s college graduation, a bunch of extended family graduations, a Sabbath/holy day combo, plus we decided to go ahead and celebrate my parents’ 30th anniversary since we had all of us together. The only night we had open was when I was flying in, so I got in and started cooking right away. This is the recipe my mom had requested, she’d been wanting to try it for a long time.

chicken florentine pastry pine nuts chopped

It’s called chicken florentine, but I’m not totally sure why. I always thought chicken florentine had, like, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in it. Whether it’s named appropriately or not, this is absolutely delicious. I’m totally on board with anything that’s wrapped in pastry or pie crust, and the flavors all work really well together. It can be a little labor-intensive if you’re on a tight schedule (which we were) but it’s not difficult at all. [Read more…]

Amish Country Bread

It’s that time of the year when I’m trying to use up all my yeast, baking powder, and baking soda before Passover so I don’t have to throw much out. I hate waste. So I’m officially back on my bread-baking kick. I started last weekend with this delicious, soft, salty bread.

amish bread finished

This recipe was super easy to throw together, even though I had some trouble with the texture of the dough. Mine was much drier than I think it should have been (maybe weather-related too?). However, it didn’t seem to make any difference—the bread baked up soft and chewy, with a nice crisp crust on the outside.

amish bread finished2

I used my handy-dandy enameled cast-iron dutch oven, and the lid makes an awesome seal that traps the moisture in, which gives you that crusty outside and chewy inside. If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can bake on a castiron griddle (or pizza stone or some other oven-safe contraption), with some ice water in a separate pan to create steam. [Read more…]

Orange-Almond Biscotti

So, Smitten Kitchen claims that this is the best biscotti ever. And she may not be wrong.

This biscotti has a lovely light citrus flavor, a great crunch from the almonds, and crisped up to the perfect consistency—something that’s been missing with the other biscotti I’d made.

I couldn’t stop eating them, and even brought a bunch home for Thanksgiving in a ziploc bag and they traveled quite impressively.

These were a great breakfast, awesome with coffee and even with tea (I had them with a mandarin orange herbal tea and it was amazing!). These would make a great gift, hostess gift, or something to have on hand for company. [Read more…]

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread with Sea Salt

Y’all, this is the best bread I have ever made. One of the best breads I’ve ever eaten.

I know, I know—that’s a bold statement. But I’m being completely serious. As I’ve said previously on this blog, I’m not a huge bread person. I can take it or leave it, would rather have dessert or wine or even a good veggie side dish. But this bread has changed my mind.

rosemary olive oil bread finished3

The Friday night after Thanksgiving we were having a bunch of family and friends over for Sabbath dinner, but just having Thanksgiving leftovers. A couple hours before dinner, we realized that we probably didn’t have enough leftover bread, so I perused my various pinned bread recipes and thought I could throw this together in time. Plus, my mom still has a giant rosemary bush in her garden despite a hard freeze, so we had gobs of fresh rosemary to play with.

rosemary olive oil bread finished

rosemary olive oil bread finished closeup

I had to force the rising a little due to time constraints, but it turned out really well anyway. And, the original recipe actually calls for dried rosemary for garnish, which my mom didn’t have. So I sprinkled whole sea salt on top instead, which was one of the better decisions I made last week (Seriously, another piece of pie, me? What were you thinking?) and gave it a lovely salty crunch! [Read more…]

Almost as good as the real thing (Homemade Wonton Ravioli)

Ravioli is my #1 most eaten food in the world. There’s this pre-packaged brand at Publix (Monterey something?) that is absolutely delicious, and some weeks I will have it seriously 4 or 5 nights for dinner, all different flavors and fillings. When I’m at a fancy authentic Italian restaurant and I see ravioli on the menu (like SIP, which has awesome short rib agnolotti!), I am powerless to resist. Suffice to say, I luuuurve ravioli.

I’ve wanted to try making my own for a long time, but I don’t have a pasta machine for pressing it thin. I want to try making my own but it is a lot of work, so I’ve been hesitant with my one square-foot of counter space. And then I found this genius recipe on Pinterest, which uses wonton wrappers from the grocery store in place of pasta. Of course it’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s still pretty awesome, and I knew I had to try it. And over all it was great!

The one thing I’ll note is that the filling recipe made way more filling than I needed for the wonton package (24, I think?). I probably could have even halved the filling recipe and had enough. I have adjusted some of the amounts in the written recipe at the bottom of this post a little, but it will probably still make too much.

The other challenge was that I went ahead and made the whole package of wonton wrappers but I’m just one person and I will get sick from eating too much ravioli eventually. I can’t vouch for this working, but I’d recommend only making up maybe half of the package and filling, and then making the rest another day. I CAN vouch for the fact that this isn’t good leftover. It needs to be fresh.

[Read more…]

Down-home main dish (Easy Chicken Fried Chicken)

I grew up in the Midwest, on and around farms, so the food I ate growing up would probably be classified as “meat and potatoes”. My grandma occasionally made some chicken fried steak, but it was still pretty healthy and bore little resemblance to the super Southern comfort food chicken fried steak I experienced when I moved to Atlanta. And that’s when my great love of chicken fried steak began. It is possibly one of the best foods in the world.

When I was in Dallas a few weeks ago, my friend and I decided to make a big cooked-from-scratch dinner for a couple friends, so we perused recipes on Pinterest and in some magazines to get ideas. She insisted on some kind of cheesy potatoes, so we decided to go with the whole “down home cooking” theme and have chicken fried steak for our main dish—but since she already had chicken breasts on hand, we switched to chicken fried chicken.

I’ve always been a little afraid of frying things (plus lazy, since that’s a lot of extra work and mess), but this was super easy. We looked at a few recipes, but ended up kind of making it up as we went along. This recipe is super easy, takes only a couple of ingredients (all of which you should already have on hand), and is basically foolproof. Plus, it’s really not that horrible for you, diet-wise.

[Read more…]

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