Ragnar essentials: oatmeal raisin cookies, maple walnut biscotti, PB cookies.

Ragnar essentials: oatmeal raisin cookies, maple walnut biscotti, PB cookies.

sesamestreet:

Words to live by, Although you may want to wait until after lunch.

sesamestreet:

Words to live by, Although you may want to wait until after lunch.

(Source: hypnoticsleepinghero)

Peanut Butter Cookies

Going with a classic from my childhood - peanut butter cookies.

I’m working with KAF’s recipe here.  

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-peanut-butter-cookies-recipe


A note about peanut butter choice.  For eating, I prefer “natural” peanut butter…like the ones from Trader Joes or Whole Foods.  I find the consistency is a little hard to work with in cookies, so I go with commercial store grade Skippy.  Cookies are traditionally made with smooth PB for a smooth consistency.  But what’s wrong with some crunch in peanut butter cookies ?  Its peanut butter cookies afterall!  

Cream together: 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbl molasses (to make brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (7 oz)

    Note - a scale is the easies the way to measure peanut butter!   Add the bowl with other wet ingredients to the scale, “zero it” and add 7 oz of PB!  no messy measuring cups.  

After creaming them together: 

Sift together: 


Then combine your wet ingredients with your dry ingredients.  I prefer to stir them together by hand.  When everything is mixed together, the dough will come together 


Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment covered cookie sheet and use a fork to press down and form a cross-hatch patern.  Bake at 350 for 12-13 minutes.    They will NOT brown. 

Take out of the oven and cool on racks.  Eat one to make sure they turned out ok.  

26.2 amazing things about the Big Sur Marathon


I just returned from running the 2012 Big Sur Marathon. The views were breath-taking.  The course was amazing.  It was also brutal.  windy. hilly. cambered roads.  I loved every minute of it (and hated a few at the same time).  

Here is a quick recap of the race and the weekend, with a few shoutouts to some people who made the experience as special as it was.

1) Highway 1 - The route of the course. Highway 1 is closed to traffic during the race. (so unfortunately no spectators)  It begins in Big Sur and finishes in Carmel, CA.  The last 21 miles are along the Pacific Ocean.  The views are breathtaking!  

 
The precision with which they operate the race is remarkable.  They set everything up and close everything down in the short 6 hour window the highway is closed (including moving a full size Piano to mile 13!).

2) 2 miles - the length of my shakeout run on Friday night along Monterey beach.

At the end of my run, I stopped on the pier for some seafood and sat outside next to some sea lions!


3) 3 am wake up call!!  and boarded the buses at 3:45 to arrive in Big Sur at 5 am.  It was a very dark, windy 26 mile bus ride. The bus is traversing the course in reverse. I was staying in Carmel about a mile from the finish.  Most people stay in either Carmel or Monterey and take the hour + bus ride to the start. The pitch black bus ride   provides an eerie preview of the course to come.  We had about an hour sitting in a grove waiting for the start.  The grove was lined with redwoods which shielded it from the wind (more on that later).  At that point, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. at 4:45 am I ate my my bagel and drank my coffee (ritualistic 2 hours before go time!)

4) 4 marathons training with my friend Jen.  We started running together in 2009 and I’ve logged more miles with her than anyone else.  4 would also be the temperature of our coldest run (as in 4 degrees or -4 windchill) - New Year’s Day weekend 2010.  If I ever need company on a brutally cold run, I know who to ask!  

5) the first 5 miles were beautiful.  Awesome. The first 5 miles are gently downhill and lined with redwoods.  There was no breeze to speak of.  I thought I was slightly overdressed (boy was I wrong!).  It took me about a mile to settle down into my rhythm. (I should know this by know - the first mile of most of my runs are the worst!).  I was solidly nailing my goal splits.

6) 6 am start to head from the grove to the highway for the 6:45 am start.  On the way, I met my friend Janet from my Chicago training group for obligatory prerace photo.  Yes, we were twinsies!  



7) Mile 7 - where I saw the cows. Its like Barrington ;) From mile 6 to the end, the Pacific Ocean is to the left and the mountains to the right.  Here is a shot to my right.
 

Mile 7 was also very foggy along the coast.  Below is a shot to my left.The course clears the redwoods and is above the Pacific at this point, but it was so foggy we couldn’t tell.  There should be a lighthouse below.
 
 
Finally, mile 7 was the mile I threw my goal out the window!  From mile 7 to the end, we were into a stiff headwind (reports after were 30+ MPH with 40 MPH gusts!).  The forecast had been for minimal wind and a tailwind at that…well, they got that wrong!  7 to 25 was into a stiff headwind the whole way! 

8)  The 8 @ 8 @ 8 crew.  Every Saturday, 8 miles at 8 am at 8/8:30 min/mile pace.  You know who you were are :) I was so grateful for all of your company during the fall and winter and motivation and best wishes during race week.  

9) K9 The dogs of Monterey and Carmel.  There were dogs everywhere!  I honestly feel the area is more dog-friendly than children friendly.  Of course it made me miss Wrigley.  It also made me think of Team PAWS, the amazing group that I am a part of that raises money through running and triathlons to support the homeless dogs and cats of Chicago.  This photo is for Matt, Jessica, Michele, Samantha and Beth :)  

10) Mile 10 - the start of the climb to Hurricane point.  2 miles, 5% grade.  There were a lot of hills at Big Sur…this was the nasty one.  

11) the number of times I went into the Carmel Bakery!  just kidding!  (or not…)
Here is the tray of cannolis, which I had one after the race.

 
12) Mile 12, hurricane point.  500 feet above sea level, the highest point of the course.  I felt strong going up the incline.  The only bright spot of that climb was it wasn’t into the wind.  Mile 12 was also a sweet downhill!  

13) - Mile 13 for the halfway point in the Marathon.  Bixby Bridge marks the halfway point and is the race’s signature.  After the race, Janet and I drove back to Bixby Bridge to have our picture taken.  I’m still impressed we were able to stand upright!


Mile 13 is also home of the Piano player, Michael Martinez.  Pardon the photobomb.

Mile 13 is the end of the east part.  I break the course into thirds - Miles 1 - 13, Mile 13-20, and 20-26.  The first section is easy.  The second section is where it starts to get challenging and you know what sort of day its going to be.  The final section is where it really hurts and becomes all mental.   

14) 3.14 or PI(E) from my coworkers! The Thursday before the race they helped me carb load on a Cherry Pie with 26.2 carved in.  I had lots of well wishes before the race including an email from Bill our CEO that said “don’t go out too fast!”. And many coworkers have since stopped by to ask how the race was.  


15) - for my friend Erica the Expert.  15 is the magic number of NYC marathons to achieve automatic entry there, and Erica will soon achieve that milestone  Having run more marathons than anyone else I know, she always knows the right thing to say at the right time and was often a voice of reason and calmness during training (and that goes far beyond running).

16) - April 16, the Day of the Boston Marathon.  This is significant for two reasons.  The first is that I am in awe (or disbelief) of all who ran both races.  It is called the Boston to Big Sur Challenge, B2B, or this year: Broiling to Brutal.  Secondly, I trained with the Chicago Boston Bound Group.     The group trains in Barrington, 30 miles outside of Chicago to run on hills. You can’t train for a hilly marathon on the flat lakefront of Chicago.  It was great seeing Boston Bounders throughout the weekend, even at the airport!  Finally, I am so grateful for the camaraderie of the people in the group, especially my brunch crew!!!  We’re a brunching group with a running problem.  After they all ran Boston in miserable conditions, they were so supportive and their emails and texts and FB posts meant so incredibly much that last week.  

17) 17 is for Carmel, CA. 17 rooms at the Green Lantern Inn - the Bed and Breakfast that I stayed at.

17 is also for 17 mile drive, which I toured the day after the race. 

18) Number of months since my last running injury!!   After battling a fair number of injuries, I finally mastered running healthy.  I went through two training cycles (Chicago 2011, Big Sur 2012) completely free of running injuries.    Sure, some things were nagging, but nothing that made me miss more than a single workout.  I believe running injuries are caused by inbalances in our bodies, so I strength train and cross train more to account for that.  Three people in particular have helped me stay healthy.  My amazing physical therapist Beth for getting me healthy and helping me understand my weaknesses.  Dr. Chin at the Running Institute for addressing some underlying issues in my foot (and adjusting my orthotics four days before Big Sur!).  And my trainer Cat who got me strong enough for this marathon, pushed me just hard enough to improve but not so much I would get injured, and most importantly keeping me focused and confident during periods of self-doubt. (and paced me through the last 8 miles of my last long 22 mile training run)

19) 19 miles - how far I drove for In N Out Burger after the race.  2 double doubles with fries.  It was worth the drive!  (I didn’t know about animal style!)

20) 20:00 (8 pm) - the time I got into bed the night before.  fortunately, the time change worked in my favor as it felt like 10 pm.  They actually suggest to those travelling from the east to not reset your internal clocks. I was fully carb loaded (2 plates of pasta), set out race my gear, and packed my bag.  

21) mile 21 - the mile long incline at mile 21 was the hardest in the course.  There were still 5 miles to go, so its a little more than “just suck it up”  My right IT band started to lock up from the camber of the road.  (the entire highway is slanted to provide drainage from the rain).  The camber of the road + the wind + hills was starting to finally get to me. It was the last long uphill.  The course was NEVER flat except for the bridges.  It was always either up or down.  I felt good on the downhills until the end, but the last few uphills were really hard.  

22)  22 miles - the longest run I did in training. If I look back at my training, I can honestly say my plan was about right.  Long runs of 16, 18, 20, and 22.  Peak weekly mileage a little over 40.  Lots of long runs in Barrington. Lots of strength training and core work to power me through the hills.  Lots of half mile hill repeats (5% grade) on the treadmill (try that one!  6-8 x 1/2 mile at 5% at half marathon pace).  I was healthy! I can honestly say, I don’t think I would change a thing about my training.   For the first 22 miles, of the race, I could say “I ran this far in training.”  The last four are all mental.  

23) Mile 23.  The beginning of a 2 mile downhill into Carmel.  The course started to change at this point.  For the first time since leaving the redwoods, the course started to feel warm and I took off my arm warmers.  There started to be spectators along the course!  for the first 23 miles, its you, the volunteers, the Pacific and the mountains!   Mile 23 enters Carmel and you start to see signs of life.  Mile 23 was also the strawberry stand along the side of the road!  Delicious, delicious strawberries :)

24) 24 hours after a marathon.  The worst of the pain is the second day. It gets worse before it gets better. Carmel being as hilly as it was made it very difficult to get around.  On the other hand, the hunger kicks in full steam the second day.  Best. Eating. Ever.  

25)  Mile 25.  a legit hill.  I dont mean “Mt Roosevelt at Chicago Marathon”  hill.  I mean a real live, hill.  1/2 mile, legit incline.  You know its coming, but there’s still some profanity coming out when you see it.  Its called D-Minor at D-Major time.  At any other point in the race, the hill wouldn’t be a big deal…now it is. 

26) Mile 26 - the finish!!  Seeing the finish line at a marathon is very, very special.  This one was the hardest and it meant that much more.  The course was brutal with the hill and winds.     After the race, I met my Chicago friend Whitney (a marathon maniac) and her husband Jon for lunch.  Best. Chocolate. Shake. Ever.  (two of them!).  

.2  the .2 of my best friend waiting for me back in Chicago who I couldn’t wait to see!

Irish Cream Pound Cake

Most baked goods are best eaten the day they’ve been made.  *Most*.  One noteable exception are pound cakes.  After resting for a day or two (wrapped air tight), the flavors are more intense.  There’s a party at work on Friday (while I will be travelling to California, more later) and I wanted to bake something that would hold up well for a few days.  And we ended up with pound cake, specifically Irish Cream pound cake (yes, *THAT* Irish Cream).

Classic Pound Cake is just 4 ingredients:

  • a pound of butter (4 sticks)
  • a pound of eggs (8 XL)
  • a pound of sugar (2 1/4 cups)
  • a pound of flour (4 cups)

A little baking powder and salt help it rise and a little milk (or Bailey’s!) makes it reacher or smoother.  By and large, the recipe is simply a pound of each of the ingredients!

I’ll be baking it in a tube pan, which is 3/4 of the recipe.  A full recipe perfectly fills 2 standard loaf pans.

Here is the base recipe, from King Arthur Flour (again, I’ll be using 3/4 of it)

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/king-arthur-flours-original-pound-cake-recipe

You want the butter and eggs at room temperature.  
Cream 3 sticks of butter until light and fluffy.  I like to beat the butter first by itself to get it extra light.  Add 1 3/4 cup sugar to the mix and continue to beat. Scrape the beaters a few times for a total of 5 minutes. 

One at a time, add 6 eggs.  Check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.  

At this point, I like to finish the mixing by hand.  
Sift together:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder

Combine your liquids.  The classic recipe is 3/4 cup milk and 2-3 tbl vanilla.  

I LOVE substituting Bailey’s Irish Cream here (don’t worry, the alcohol burns off in the baking).  Bailey’s is a little thinner than milk, so I used a ratio of 4 parts Bailey’s and 1 part light cream.  (still breathing ?)

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/2 of the liquids, stirring to combine finishing with the flour mixture.  



Grease a springform bundt pan (Amazing!) like this one from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Bundt-Springform-Bottoms/dp/B00004RFPR/ and gently spread the batter.   



Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  It should be golden brown and bounce back when lightly pushed in.  Cool in the pan and then on a rack overnight.  


Wrap airtight for 24-48 hours and allow the flavor to intensify.  Its delicious with a combination of strawberries, fresh whipped cream, or warm chocolate sauce.  Enjoy!
 

Carrot Cake

Going for a classic here.  It was my coworker Kelly’s birthday, and I volunteered to make the cake.  Raising the bar is that Kelly is an amazing chef!  I decided to go classic - carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. 

The recipe I follow is based off of Berta’s Carrot Cake, originally from the Silver Palette but can also be found here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mother-Bertas-Carrot-Cake-107118

I made 2 9” layer cakes, which is 1.75x the recipe on the site.  For simplicity, I’ll follow the proportions on the website (and cookbook).  This recipe works great in cupcakes as well!  If I am making this in cupcakes, I will scoop a few without walnuts.  I feel the walnuts do add to the flavor and texture of the cake, but yes, some people are allergic.

Changes:

  • carrots - I hand grate the carrots (about 1#) and do not cook them.
  • no coconut! 
  • 1.5x the cinnamon (did you see that coming ?)

Let’s go!

Start by sifting the dry ingredients together: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tbl cinnamon (1.5 x the original amount).
  • 3/4 cups walnuts

I use a stronger cinnamon - in this case Saigon Cinnamon, from the Spice House.

You want to make sure everything (especially the soda and cinnamon) is evenly distributed in the entire batter so the easiest way to do that is to blend it thoroughly with the flour.



Mix together your liquids:

  • 1 cup canola oil (saffron or vegetable oil would work too)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup crushed dry pineapple (small can)

Peel and shred 1# of carrots. 

Mix your liquids, dry ingredients and the carrots I prefer to mix everything together by hand to ensure everything is evenly mixed, but not overmixed.

Prepare 2 9” round pans. I use parchment rounds and then grease them thoroughly. 

I use cake strips - which are flexible metal strips soaked in water.  Sometimes called magic strips as they work magic in keeping the layers from doaming! They truly are a miracle worked.

Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 until a toothpick insert at the center comes out clean (cupcakes take 20-30 minutes)



When making layer cakes, I prefer to make the layers the day before I frost them.  I made the layers, cooled them on the counter overnight and then refrigerated them for 12 hours to get them cold (which makes it easier to frost).



Carrot cake is relatively healthy in the grand scheme of my baking.  It has heart healthy canola oil and no butter.  Well….that is offset by the frosting.  Carrot cake only goes with cream cheese frosting. 

I double the frosting amount normally (and quadrupled it to make the layer cake).

Double would be:

  • 3/4 stick of butter at room temp
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese at room temp
  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar (to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

Vanilla paste is like the inside of a vanilla bean - extract with the seeds.  Use 1 tsp for 1 tsp vanilla.  I love it in frostings and creme brulee and whipped cream so you can see the seeds!



Whip everything together until creamy!  and taste :)  Start with 3 cups of sugar and add until it personally tastes right.

Here we have the layers which have been refrigerated overnight.



As you can see below,my frosting technique needs work (and I needed to trim the layers just a bit more)

Here is a slice of the birthday cake!

Deep Dish Pizza

I have a tradition that after my long training runs, I have pizza for dinner.  Sometimes I’ll grab the dough from trader joes and make a quick pizza…or if I’m tired I’ll order delivery.  Last Friday was the longest training run I’ll do for Big Sur - 22 miles.  You burn a lot of calories in 22 miles. 22 miles capped the end of the “hard” phase of my training cycle and I’ll spend the next 3 weeks in “taper” - that is reducing my mileage and giving my body a chance to heal.  I made it through this training cycle relatively healthy, just very tired and sore…so the taper is a chance for me to recover.  To cap off the 22 miler and the end of the hard phase of training, I decided to make deep dish pizza!  Besides the crust, which is a variant of pie crust, deep dish pizza is relatively straight forward to make.  Once again, I’ll work from a recipe in King Arthur Flour:http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/chicago-style-deep-dish-pizza-recipe

I will make 2/3 of the recipe - I find that fits perfectly in a 10” springform pan.  The springform pan is perfect - its deep, and popping out the rim makes serving easy. 

Start with the crust.  I like that KAF’s recipe uses cornmeal, like Gino’s East, one of the great Chicago pizza establishments. 

  • 2 2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

Mix all of the ingredients by hand until they come together into a cohesive form.

Then knead the dough until you have a smooth crust - 7 minutes by hand.  5 minutes using a dough hook.



Lightly oil your bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1-2 hours.  See below, its more than doubled in size!


Lay your dough on wax paper and gently stretch it until it is large enough to cover your springform including up the sides.  If the dough becomes difficult to stretch, let it rest for 10 minutes and then continue.


Lightly grease the spring form pan and cover it with the tough.  As needed, trim the sides.


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  You’ll want to let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before baking (which is why you don’t need to preheat the oven earlier).  Swirl a little olive oil in the pan and then parbake your crust at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. 

During that time, you can prepare your filling. 

Sauce:

  • one can diced, crushed, or whole tomatoes well drained!!
  • 1 tbl sugar (to taste)
  • 1 - 2 tsp seasoning.  (a nice italian blend works well)



Layer (in order)

  1. 1/2 pound of mozzeralla cheese
  2. your toppings: sauteed peppers and onions.  sausage would work well here too!
  3. your sauce from above
  4. sprinkle on parmesan



Bake the pizza for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown!  You will want it to cool for about 10 minutes before devouring!



And the springform pan makes it extra easy to serve!  This pizza makes 6 large slices, enough for 3 people, or 1 marathoner in training.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - a classic.  I’m going to my other favorite cookbook for this one: The Silver Palette.  This contemporary classic is my go to cookbook for cooking and home of three of my favorite baking recipes (the carrot cake recipe is to die for!).

 The proportions I give are for one batch, but if you look closely, you’ll see I’m making a double batch here.  Other than doubling the cinnamon, and using molasses + white sugar in place of brown sugar, I make this recipe exactly as the recipe suggests.

A couple of words about the ingredients.  I use my favorite Saigon Cinnamon from The Spice House - it adds just a little kick to the recipe.  I also love using jumbo raisins - this is an oatmeal raisin cookie - lets showcase the raisins.  I go to JD Mills, a natural food store, in Evanston, IL for my raisins.  Some of the juciest raisins you’ll find anywhere.

Finally, I sometimes will make this recipe with dried cranberries.  When using dried cranberries, they are almost always sweetened, so I usually reduce the sugar to 1 cup.

Let’s go!

12 T. unsalted butter at room temp.
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tbl molasses
1 extra large egg
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla
2/3 cup King Arthur flour
2 t. cinnamon (doubled from the orginal)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup raisins (1.5x the original)

Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy. Be sure and scrape your beaters 2-3 times.

When they are light and fluffy, like below, add the egg, water, and vanilla in the mixer on a low speed.

It just takes a few minutes with the egg(s), vanilla, and water.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt and soda until combined.  You want to make sure the last three are thoroughly and evenly distributed in your cookie dough, so the easiest way to do that is make sure they are thoroughly and evenly distributed with the flour.

At this stage, I like to blend the dough by hand.  Flour is very delicate.  You can easily destroy the flour by overmixing it, so I like to hand stir the egg/sugar/butter mixture with the flour mixture, oats and raisins. Assuming your egg mixture is light and fluffy, this is easier than it sounds.



After just a few minutes, we have some delicious oatmeal raisin cookie dough.



At this point, I like to refrigerate the dough overnight.  This serves a few purposes:

1) it keeps the cookies from spreading too much when you bake them.   Oatmeal Raisin cookies should be big and chewy, not flat and crispy.  The cooler the cookie dough, the less is spreads in the oven when baking.

2) It gives the gluten in the flour a chance to relax (see above about being nice to your flour)

3) the flavors blend together more.  Ever notice how stew is better the second day - same principal applies to oatmeal raisin cookie dough. The flavor of the cinnamon and molasses intensify.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper (or grease with spray oil).  After letting the dough chill overnight, I use a large cookie scoop (bottom right corner) to scoop 8 to a sheet. 


Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until they are “dry” or cooked to your likeness.

After cooling them for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, move them to a cooling rack…and eat one to make sure they turned out ok ;)

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I love, love love cinnamon. My favorite place to get it is the Spice House in Chicago.  They have 4 different kinds of cinnamon (Indonesian, Chinese Tung Hing, Vietnamese Saigon, and Ceylon…as well as the Saigon in an organic variety and all four in both sticks and ground!).  This place is a chef and baker’s dream.  All they sell is spices.  That’s it.  They will sell it in a small as a half ounce (great for that recipe that requires a spice you will never use again). 

The Indonesian is the traditional cinnamon.  The Ceylon is very, very light and is overwhelmed in most dishes.  The Chinese is very sweet.  I love baking with the Saigon - it has a little “kick” to it that really makes it stand out in breads, cookies (its amazing in oatmeal raisin cookies) or carrot cake.

It truly stands out in cinnamon bread - in the batter, the swirl, and the topping.  

Another King Arthur Flour Recipe:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/cinnamon-bread-recipe

Mix all of the ingredients for the batter:

  • 1/4-ounce packet “highly active” active dry yeast
  • 1 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

Stir them all into a bowl.  If using standard yeast, dissolve it in warm water (110 degrees) for about 5 minutes until it bubbles.  


Remember the fastest and most accurate weigh to measure the flour is on the scale!

Now, this was recipe was the first time in my life I had ever bought boxed mashed potatoes!   (I won’t judge if you cook with them regularly instead of from scratch  :)).  Its used as a thickening agent…although I’ve used cornstarch and it works ok as well!.  Give it a good stir until everything starts to come together.     



Once it starts to come together, its time to knead it!  I like to knead it by hand - about 10 minutes until its very smooth.  It takes about 7 minutes with a dough hook in your mixer.




Lightly grease the bowl and let it rise for 2 hours.  You can see its about doubled in size and is very puffy!

Time to make the filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips*  
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons flour 

    Cinnamon chips are delicious!  These are from KAF.  Hershey’s makes them and you can often find them in the grocery store in the baking aisle.  I love using them in place of chocolate chips in pumpkin bread!


Give everything a good stir!



Take your dough and roll it out to approximately 8” x 16”. I like working on (lightly floured) waxed paper.  The dough doesn’t stick and it makes for a quick cleanup.


Take an egg and scramble it with one 1 Tbl. water to create an egg wash.  Brush the dough with the egg wash.  



Sprinkle the filling on top of the egg washed dough.  (the egg wash helps the filling stick!)



Starting with one of the short sides, roll the dough into an 8” log.  This gets easier with practice.  (and don’t worry if its a little messy…it will still taste delicious!)

Take your log and placed it into a greased loaf pan.  



Let it rise in the loaf pan for about an hour.  Notice it gets nice and puffy!  That’s the yeast working and turning this into a beautiful loaf.  



Time to make the topping:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons flour 
  • 2 tbl butter

Mix the first three ingredients together and then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course bread crumbs.  You don’t want to overdo it and end up with a glob.  

Create another egg wash (one egg + 1tbl water) and brush the bread with the wash before sprinking on the topping.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
 



Sprinkle the topping onto the egg wash and bake the loaf for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  If your bread starts to brown early, you want to cover it with foil. 



After 45 minutes, take it out of the oven!  Let it cool for 5 minutes in the pan before cooling on a rack.  



And its beautiful when you slice into it!  Enjoy!  

Apple Pie

Apple Pie.  This is the post that doesn’t need an introduction as to why I love it.  Just because.  

I love KAF’s Apple Pie in a Bag.  This amazing recipe makes the pie in a paper bag.  (don’t worry, I’ll show you a trick that won’t burn your apartment down).

I prefer to make the crust the day before so it has a chance to relax in the refrigerator. 

Butter or shortening in the crust ?  Shortening makes a firmer, sturdier crust.  Butter makes a softer, flakier crust. I prefer a mix of the two for apple pie.  (shortening is a little more forgiving than all butter). 



I like to have a little extra crust so I can make it a bit