Category Archives: Quick Breads

Cheddar and Rosemary Focaccia, the EASY Way

Plated and ready for eating!

Plated and ready for eating!

I love focaccia, but I’m a fan of quick meals and therefore quick breads. And the whole letting the dough rise, and then punching down, and then rising again, etc., etc., is just more trouble than I’d like to do on a regular basis. So I developed (look at me using food blogger lingo!) a recipe that uses my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever as a base. And wham-o! Easy peasy Cheddar and Rosemary Focaccia!

The DH and I had gone shopping at a local cheese shop two weekends prior to my making this recipe, and had picked up some yummy cheeses for a wine and cheese date night at home. We had some old Quebec cheddar leftover, so I thought I’d use it up in this recipe. (By the way, I also have a recipe for a yummy baked brie with chutney that I want to post here soon. Cheese. So yummy!)

I think I’ve talked before about how I usually eat lactose-free foods, and while that’s true, as long as I stick to a lactose-free diet most of the time,  I can eat some regular dairy products the rest of the time. So I didn’t use lactose-free cheese in this recipe. But I’m sure it’d be just as tasty if you do. (And if you do, let me know how it turned out!)

But enough with the blatherings, and on with the baking!

A cheesy photo. *giggle*

A cheesy photo. *giggle*

Cheddar and Rosemary Focaccia

Make the pizza dough and spread/roll it out to the rough rectangle shape on an oiled cookie sheet. Spread a little olive oil over the top. Set it aside in a warm place for half an hour. If you like your focaccia really fluffy, leave it in a warm place for an hour. In the meantime, crumble the cheddar cheese, do the dishes, check your email, whatever floats your boat.

Once the dough has risen as much as you like, poke little dimples into it in a random pattern with your finger, using little stabbing motions. This makes the traditional dimpled top. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top, followed by the dried Rosemary and sea salt. If you want, you can also sprinkle a little olive oil, but not too much.

Bake in a 425 degree oven until the cheese is melted and the dough is golden. Slice with a pizza cutter, and enjoy!

The cheese is more chunked than crumbled. I recommend crumbled.

The cheese is more chunked than crumbled. I recommend crumbled.

I know I said in the beginning of this post that I don’t like waiting for dough to rise, and then I say to let the dough rise for half an hour to an hour, but there’s a reason for that! You don’t have to let the dough rise. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a crisper, denser, flatbread; and if you do let it rise, you’ll have the more traditional, fluffy focaccia. It’s up to you what you prefer!

And of course, you can switch up the toppings! Maybe some thinly sliced tomatoes and black olives? Mmm…want!

Next Post: Rhubarb squares, Nutella Rice Krispie squares, or Baked Brie with Chutney — all three are good, so I can’t decide which to post first! I’m leaning towards the baked brie with chutney, though. It’s covered in pie crust. And I do love my pie!

Maple-Cinnamon-Walnut Monkey Bread, with Apples

Baked and about to  be eat! Oh, sticky deliciousness!

Baked and about to be eaten! Oh, sticky deliciousness!

I saw a recipe for maple apple cinnamon buns a few months ago, and it inspired me to create this deliciously sticky brunch (or dessert!) recipe. It’s a quick bread, so there’s no waiting for the dough to rise, which means it’s actually pretty quick to put together and bake. And just like my pumpkin cinnamon buns, there’s corn starch in the dough, so they’re extra fluffy, which I like!

The maple flavour is subtle but adds a nice note to the brown sugar flavour. My favourite bits are the crunchy sides. Mmm…buttery, crunchy, maple-y bites! You can double the recipe to make a much more sizeable monkey bread, but you’d need to have a large family to eat it all! Or the metabolism of a racehorse. Neither of which I have.

Maple Cinnamon Walnut Monkey Bread with Apples

Dough:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. milk 

Everything Else:

  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into little chunks

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together, and cut in the butter until it looks like peas. Mix in the milk, and set aside the dough. It’ll be lumpy and wet, but that’s ok!

Mix the melted butter and maple syrup. Set aside. Mix the brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon and set aside.

Ring of yumminess!

Ring of yumminess!

Get a bundt pan and put it in your workspace. Roll the dough into little chunks, the size of Timbits (doughnut holes, for all you non-Canadians out there). Take each little ball of dough, and roll it in the butter/maple syrup mixture, and then in the cinnamon/brown sugar/nutmeg mixture. Place in the bundt pan. Repeat until you have a ring of little balls all around the base of the pan. Sprinkle half the walnuts and half the apple chunks over them. Repeat with remaining dough balls, and remaining walnuts and apples chunks. If there is any of the brown sugar mixture left, sprinkle that on the very top, and pour the remaining maple syrup and butter mixture over the very top.  

Bake in a 400 degree oven for half an hour, and then let sit for at least 15 minutes so that the syrup cools and holds the dish together. Loosen the edges of the bread, place a plate on top and invert. Remove the pan and voila, your fancy-looking dish is done!

Monkey bread before baking. The nuts and apples make it healthy, yes?

Monkey bread before baking. The nuts and apples make it healthy, yes?

You can drizzle a simple glaze on top like I did, but it’s probably healthier not to. I just mixed up some icing sugar with a dash of milk and vanilla extract and drizzled it with a fork right on top of the warm monkey bread.

Then the DH and I dug in! Only half is left now. I think I’ll freeze the rest, because after eating that much, all I can think of is floating in a cool vat of iced cucumber water. So cool. So cleansing. There must be a spa treatment like that out there! *grin*

Next Post: Baked Zucchini Coins — a low-fat and tasty way to satisfy your French fry craving while eating green veggies.

Memories of Meals Past: French Toast with Homemade Oatmeal Bread

French toasted goodness, with homemade bread and homemade preserves! And milk. Does a body good!

French toasted goodness, with homemade bread and homemade preserves! And milk. Does a body good!

This week’s Memories of Meals Past: A few weeks ago, I woke up on the Friday of a long weekend and thought, huh…I feel like baking! So I baked a couple of loaves of bread. I tried out a new recipe (this one) and I’m glad I did! It’s an easy-peasy recipe for two loaves of bread, with minimal work.

Officially, it’s a recipe for white bread, but me being me, I subbed in a cup of oats for one of the cups of flour. I wanted to add a bit more nutrition to a white bread recipe, and I didn’t have any whole wheat flour in the house, so oats it was. Turned out FABULOUS!

Bread with jam -- delicious, delicious jam! (technically preserves, but we won't quibble)

Bread with jam — delicious, delicious jam! (technically preserves, but we won’t quibble)

Within 36 hours, the DH and I had demolished both loaves. It’s really easy to eat fresh bread! A few slices for breakfast with my homemade strawberry cranberry jam, a few slices with cheese for lunch, a few slices with dinner, a few slices for that midnight snack, and before you know it, a loaf and a half is gone.

I woke up on the next day and realized there was only a half loaf left. And I tend to crave carbs on the weekend, so I made up some French toast using the remaining half loaf of bread.

I’ve posted the recipe here, but it’s very basic, and easily customizable: mix an egg or two, a cup of milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a bowl. Slice the bread and soak the slices briefly on each side. Fry it up in a pan with lots of butter. Serve with homemade preserves and perhaps a dash of icing sugar. Demolish and wish there was more!

French toast is great with homemade bread, but it’s almost as good with stale bread or bread with freezer burn. Waste not, want not, after all!

See how nicely it slices? I totally recommend this recipe!

See how nicely it slices? I totally recommend this recipe!

And speaking of waste not, want not

Next Post: Lemon Meringue Tarts! Or, what to do with leftovers.

Oatmeal Yoghurt Muffins and the Queen of Substitutions

Platter o’ muffins! So yummy, so healthy, so easily made with whatever is in the house!

Want to know why I call myself the Queen of Substitutions? Well, this recipe is a perfect example! I started with this recipe. But I had leftover instant packets of oatmeal from my last camping trip and wanted to use them up. So I replaced the oatmeal with the random flavoured oatmeal I had lying around (mixed berry, I believe), and then reduced the amount of sweetener (honey) and salt that the recipe called for to compensate.

The recipe listed about half the flour as whole wheat but I didn’t have any, so I used white flour and then replaced a quarter cup with ground flax seed. I had some Greek yoghurt in the house in a flavour that I don’t like (Key Lime. The DH did the shopping. Thanks, sweetie!) so I tossed that in. I dumped it into one big bowl and mixed it up instead of doing the dry and the wet ingredients separately because meh. I realized that my loaf pan was dirty and didn’t feel like scrubbing it before baking the bread, so I used a muffin tin.

They turned out great! They’re not super-sweet, but because the yoghurt I used was flavoured and the oatmeal was a berry flavour, the muffins ended up being just right, with a hint of fruitiness. I’ve made this loaf before with various substitutions and it works out, so I knew what I could play with. And I think that that’s the key to substitutions – replace like with like, know your boundaries, and you’re good to go!

Measure and dump.

Measure and dump.

Oatmeal Yoghurt Substitution Muffins

  • just over 1 c. oats (or leftover packets of instant oatmeal, whatever flavour)
  • 2 c. flour
  • ¼ c. ground flax
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. probiotic Greek yoghurt, 0% fat, whatever flavour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • one large squirt honey
  • 1 c. lactose-free 1% milk

Dump the ingredients (less a tbsp. of oats) in a bowl and mix together. Pour into muffin pan with liners. Sprinkle remaining tbsp. oats on top. Bake in 350 oven for about 20 minutes. Cool. Eat while patting yourself on your back for being both thrifty and healthy.

A big bite of yumminess!

Another substitution story: I made cake pops one time and brought some over to a friend. She really liked them and I was telling her how I made them, when she commented on how I had substituted a lot of the ingredients, and I thought, huh, maybe it isn’t that common to do. Is it? Cake pops are just crumbled cake mixed with icing, on a stick, and dipped in chocolate; they’re not that hard to make.

I make my own buttercream icing using butter, icing sugar, milk, and vanilla extract, but that day I had run out of butter (quelle horreur!). So I dumped in some yoghurt. Hey, dairy is dairy, yes? And then realized I was running out of sugar. So I dumped in some leftover jam. Sugar is sugar, yes? Since the “icing” was going to be mixed with crumbled cake anyway, I knew it didn’t have to have the same consistency, just the same taste and texture – those were my boundaries.

Then I mixed the cake with the “icing”, made the balls, stuck the sticks in them, froze them, and went to dip them in the chocolate. But…I didn’t have chocolate wafers for the coating! I did have chocolate chips though! I added some vegetable oil to the chocolate chips, popped it into the microwave for a minute or so, stirred, and I was good to go! You’d think after all the replacements, they wouldn’t taste good, or they’d look weird, but no, they were awesome! I stuck them in the freezer and pulled them out when I needed a quick dessert for surprise guests, and brought some to a friend, who shared them with her son, all of whom loved them.

Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to substitute! Just replace like with like and know the ingredient boundaries. Have you ever made substitutions to a recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Fresh Salsa Smackdown! Which recipe will win the title of the tastiest salsa around?

Easiest Pizza Dough Recipe in the History of Ever

I couldn’t resist taking that bite. Who could? Fresh, fragrant, cheesy pizza that’s hot out of the oven!

What, you thought I was going to post a pie recipe? Just because of my Pie Odyssey? Bwahahaha! No! Well, actually, yes, but pizza pie, not pie crust pie. I like to switch things up like that. Also, I didn’t have the peaches that I wanted to use to make peach pie, because…I ate them. The DH did not believe me, but eat them I did. All of them. They were delicious. Reminds me of that William Carlos Williams poem.

Today, dear readers, I have the easiest pizza dough recipe ever. I cannot emphasize this enough. Think you’ve got a great old standby? I dare you to try this one. It’s better! No kneading and no (gasp!) waiting for the dough to rise, if you can believe it. You can make this with regular flour or whole wheat flour or some combination thereof (you use what you’ve got!). You can make pizzas or empanadas with the dough (I’ve done both), you can freeze the dough and let it thaw and use it, and you can make the pizza and freeze it and then thaw it and bake it. In other words, it’s a super-easy, super-flexible recipe. So let’s make us some dough!

Basically, you just mix up all the ingredients and let the dough sit for 5 minutes. Or not. If you like a thinner crust, don’t let it sit, and if you like thick crust pizza, let it sit until puffy. I just let it sit while I turn on the oven and prepare the toppings, so really I let it sit for 5 minutes.

The Official Recipe:

Easiest Pizza Dough Ever

  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) quick active dry yeast
  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (or veg. oil. You use what you’ve got!)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add rest of ingredients. Mix it up in a mixer (or hand mix. I’ve done both). Let sit for 5 minutes, while you prep your toppings. Oil a pizza tray and sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on it before you spread out the dough, for that super-fancy pants look. Spread tomato sauce on dough, and add whatever toppings your heart desires (or, as I do, whatever toppings are in the fridge), and pop in a 425 degree oven until the crust is golden and the cheese melted. Eat. Burp in contentment.

Mise en place(-ish)

Mise en place(ish)

Was that not the easiest pizza dough in the history of ever? I made a hamburger pizza recently, using leftover crumbled breakfast sausage (veg, of course) and black olives (I had it in the fridge so I tossed it on). So. Good. *drools remembering that epic pizza*

In my family, it’s a tradition that the birthday person gets to choose a special dinner menu on their birthday. My mum always used to choose this pizza, but Mediterranean-style, with sliced zucchini, crumbled ground beef, black olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a lot of basil. No tomato sauce, but a chopped tomato instead. It’s healthy, and really delicious!

Try out the recipe and let me your variation in the comments!

Next Post:Pie Odyssey, 2014′ continues, and where I find recipes.

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