Italian Bread

If you enjoy fresh bread along with soup, this is one recipe that you are sure to love. These Italian Loaves rise quickly and are tasty by themselves or toasted with some butter and jam. With only four ingredients, this is one of the simplest bread recipes.

Italian Bread

4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
2 cups warm water (115° – 125°)
2 teaspoons salt
5 – 5-1/4 cups bread flour

In large mixer bowl, mix yeast and warm water together.  Add 2 cups of flour and mix at high-speed.  Add salt.

Italian Bread

Continue to add flour 1/4 cup at a time and knead until dough does not stick to your fingers.  After kneading for 5 minutes, cover and allow to rise until double for about 1 hour.

Italian Loaves

Knead dough again for about 2 minutes.  Divide dough in half.  Flatten each half into an oblong shape.

Italian Bread

Roll each one into a 15 inch length.  Place on a cookie sheet and allow to rise until double for one hour.  If you’d like a golden crust, brush the loaves with a beaten egg with a pastry brush.

Italian Bread

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 30 – 35 minutes.  Slice at a diagonal and enjoy

Italian Bread

Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Nut MuffinMuffins are one of my favorite things to have for breakfast.  One muffin usually satisfies until lunch.  At least, one muffin satisfied until I tweaked this banana nut muffin recipe a bit. Why?  Because these are addictive!  Oh, my goodness. That is my warning if you are watching your caloric intake.  Pass on lunch and eat two muffins is what I recommend.

Banana Nut Muffins

4 – 6 ripe bananas, smashed (I use about 15 oz of banana)
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoons  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix together bananas, butter, sugar, and eggs.  Gently mix in the baking soda, salt, and flour. Stir in the walnuts with a spatula.

Pour batter into 18 prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

Cool and enjoy.

banana muffins

Moist Carrot Muffins

After testing and combining different recipes, here is the result that is a very good balance of healthier ingredients but still moist muffins full of flavor.  Make a double batch and give some away.

Moist Carrot Muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
(I weigh the carrots instead and use 5 oz. of grated carrots)
1 small can of crushed pineapple (6.25 oz) drained
 1 cup golden raisins

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line twelve 1/2 cup muffin cups with paper muffin liners.

Drain pineapple and set aside.

To plumb up the raisins, place them in a small pan with 1 cup of water.  Heat until water boils.  Drain and allow the raisins to cool while you mix the muffin ingredients together.

In a medium-sized bowl, place the cooled raisins, pineapple, and grated carrots.  Take 1/4 cup of the whole wheat pastry and the cinnamon and toss into the raisins, pineapple, and carrots.  This step keeps the fruit and carrots evenly distributed during baking.  If you leave this step out, the raisins and pineapple may settle to the bottom of the muffin tin during baking.  Set this aside for now.

Carrot Muffins

In a large mixer bowl, whip the brown sugar, eggs, and oil together until light and fluffy.  Gently mix in 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Do not over mix.

Carrot MuffinsFold in the raisin, pineapple, and carrot mixture with a spatula.  Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin tins.  Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Carrot Muffins

Eat and enjoy!  These freeze well and thaw quickly in the microwave.

Buttermilk Biscuits

In the midst of making my favorite recipe of “Baking Powder Biscuits,” I realized that I was completely out of milk but I had dry buttermilk.  Since my heart was set on having biscuits, I decided to try making them with dry buttermilk.  To my surprise, the result was a lighter and even tastier biscuit.  Who knew?

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, approximately (I keep dry buttermilk on hand and use 1/2 cold water and 4 tablespoons dry buttermilk instead of regular buttermilk)

Optional: 1 egg for glazing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking powder, (dry buttermilk), and salt. Work the shortening into the flour mixture with your fingertips, fork or with food processor until it becomes tiny floured granules. Gradually drizzle in the buttermilk (water if using dry buttermilk) to make a soft dough. Do not overwork the dough. The less you mess with the dough, the lighter the texture of the biscuits will be. The biscuit dough should be very soft and almost sticky to the touch.

Pat (do not roll) the dough into a circle, rectangle, or whatever geometric shape you end up with until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter. Gently pat scrapes of dough together and pat down again. Cut into more biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Place in a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the optional egg with a fork. With a pastry brush, lightly glaze the egg on the tops of the biscuits. This will give them a glossy, golden finish.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until they are a golden brown.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Remove from oven, serve immediately, and enjoy.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Fudge Brownies

Who doesn’t enjoy biting into the chocolate, warm, gooey goodness of a brownie right out of the oven with extra chocolate chips thrown in for extra yumminess (as if they needed any more flavor!)  This is my absolute favorite recipe for fudge brownies. These will disappear quickly so set a couple aside and hide them in a safe place for your midnight snack.

Fudge Brownies

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar (14 oz)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (5 oz)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (additional – not melted)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare a 9 x 9″ square pan by covering with parchment paper or with butter and flour.  I use parchment paper because they are easier to take out of the pan and slice.

Melt the butter and chocolate together either over simmering water or in the microwave on the “melt chocolate” setting.  Allow to cool.

Pour the chocolate/butter goodness into a mixing bowl.  Combine with sugar and vanilla.  Whip in one egg at a time.  Gently mix in flour. Do not over mix.   Fold in the 1 cup chocolate chips.

Brownies

Spread evenly into prepared pan,  Bake for 32 – 35 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature if you want neat, pretty slices.  If you prefer to enjoy the warm, gooey mess, then slice as best you can, grab a small spatula, and dish it out.

Brownies

For extra goodness, serve in a large bowl with a big scoop of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream on top drizzled with some chocolate or caramel sauce.  Enjoy!

Fudge Brownies

Chocolate Muffins

Moist, chocolate goodness is what you will get from these muffins.  They are so moist that I recommend baking the muffins in paper cups or silicone inserts to lessen the chance of the muffins sticking.   The chocolate muffins freeze well once baked and can be heated in the microwave.

Yummy Chocolate Goodness

Chocolate Muffins

1 1/2 sticks butter 12 oz.
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate 9 oz.

3 eggs
2¾ cups water
⅔ cup sugar (7 oz/196 grams)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour (13.5 oz./383 grams)
1 cup sugar (7 oz./196 grams)
¾ cup cocoa powder (7 oz./96 grams))
6 tbsp. dry buttermilk
1 ½ tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter and bittersweet chocolate together in a bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool.

Combine all dry ingredients together and set aside.

Mix melted butter and chocolate with the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla until well blended. Slowly mix in the water.

Add the dry ingredients. Stir together until all ingredients are combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter into 24 muffin tins. Bake in a 375° oven for 20 minutes or until center is dry when poked with a toothpick.

Peanut Butter Muffins

If you like peanut butter, chocolate, and moist muffins, then you will love these Peanut Butter Muffins. Guaranteed to disappear quickly.

Peanut Butter Muffins

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (7.88 oz)
1/2 cup sugar (3.55 oz)
1 tbsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. dry instant milk
3/4 cup water (6 oz)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (4 oz)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, powdered milk, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the peanut butter and oil until smooth. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Slowly mix in the oil and water.

Add this mixture to the flour and add the chocolate chips. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.  Enjoy!

 

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