We didn’t eat this growing up, yet somehow I discovered it as a teenager and have been hooked ever since. I hope my rendition is worthy of something you’ve had in the past or could be kept in your baking repertoire.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 eggs – room temperature
1-1/2 cups milk – room temperature
1-1/4 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Set out the milk and eggs on the counter while the oven gets at least a 20-minute preheat. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch baking pan. Whisk or sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk and oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter. Stir this JUST until mixed. Pour/scrape into the pan and bake for about 45 minutes; it will be lightly browned on top when done.

Cheddar Biscuits

Not only are these biscuits big and delicious, but they’re a clone of a clone. A certain cookbook author who clones recipes, cloned this from a restaurant chain, then I cloned it again, because it wasn’t just the right “click” for our home. Isn’t imitation the best form of flattery? For best results you need a food processor.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get out a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.

2-1/2 cups of a biscuit baking mix (doesn’t have to be Bisquick- I use a store brand)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 of an 8 oz. brick of cheddar cheese – just cut it into half, then into 4 pieces
1/2 of a stick of cold butter (not margarine) sliced into at least 4 pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk

Place the baking mix, garlic powder and cheese in the processor and whirl it for about 20 seconds – you gotta mix it well. Then add the butter and slowly pour in the buttermilk while it’s processing. Stop it when it all comes together in a blob.

Using your hands, pull out small blobs and slightly form into small balls and place on sheet pan – you should get about 12. Then rinse/wash off your hands because they will be gooey and – with wet hands – using the palms of each hand, slightly press to flatten each biscuit.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until golden.

Savory Bread for Christmas (or Anytime!)

Perfect to serve for any day for brunch, but especially colorful for Yuletide or Christmas morning.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups grated provolone cheese
4 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk OR you can use half-n-half
1 heaping tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions OR green pepper
1/4 cup chopped roasted peppers or pimentos (from the jar is fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or parchment paper line a cookie/baking sheet.

Whisk/mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cheese. In a separate bowl, beat the 4 eggs, but reserve 2 Tbsp. to brush on loaf. Add in the eggs, mix in milk, garlic and the veggies stirring to make this into a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and form into a log shape (about 8-10 inches long) place on the baking sheet. Brush on the reserved egg.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until it’s golden brown. Cool thoroughly on a rack. Serve and enjoy!

**Be creative and sprinkle in other spices if you wish. McCormick’s has great new stuff like basil & garlic, seasoned salt, etc. Experiment and have fun. Use different cheeses. Whatever works for you! Merry Yule!

Cinnamon Buttermilk Bread

Being a quick bread, you can toss this together in no time, and have it on the table for a Sunday afternoon treat with a hot or cold beverage.

2 cups flour (half white & half wheat is good)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil (NOT olive oil)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan, then take the buttermilk and egg out of the fridge to set on the counter for at least 30 minutes while the oven preheats. If you don’t have buttermilk, place 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup – add milk until the 8-oz. mark and let sit on counter while oven preheats. Mix well before using.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a smaller bowl combine the oil, sugars, buttermilk egg and almond extract – mix this well. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to the slow count of 20. Then with a spatula give it a couple of good turns to bring up the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Do not over mix.

Scrape into the loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Lemon Cake Bread

picture-007.jpgIf the icing is just too much for you, by all means don’t ice it – even plain, it’s still elegant. I must however note the importance of real, unsalted, butter, not margarine for this, and fresh lemon juice makes a world of difference; the plastic yellow stuff from your grocer is really substandard. This recipe yields 2 loaves of delicious, aromatic bread.

2 sticks softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 extra large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup butter milk or soured milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla (not imitation, please)

Icing Glaze – if you wish:
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. milk
Whisk/blend all these together; add more milk if too thick; sugar if too thin

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans. In a large bowl, cream the butter & sugar until fluffy – this takes about 5 minutes with a mixer. Scrape down the bowl a few times during mixing. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well after each.

In a separate large bowl, whisk/sift the flour, powder, soda and salt. In another smaller bowl, mix together the lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately to the butter and sugar batter, mixing well between and scraping down the bowl a few times.

Divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake for about 1 hour – maybe only 45 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place on racks to cool for 10 minutes, then invert back onto rack. Cool completely then glaze or just dust with powdered sugar.

Banana Bread

If I can take a baking shortcut, I will – hence the jar of banana baby food. May sound odd, but it works. My sister’s family awaits her annual baking of this each holiday season, but don’t wait for a holiday – enjoy anytime.

1/3 cup white Crisco
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana OR 1 cup banana baby food
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans – (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Cream together the Crisco, sugar, eggs and baby food.

In a separate bowl, whisk/sift together the dry ingredients. Empty this into the banana mixture; mix until just combined. Pour into prepared pan; bake for 45-50 minutes, until nicely browned and split down the center.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack. Let cool completely before cutting. Tastes best if wrapped well overnight and sliced the next day.

Buttery Bread

We eat this year-round. There is so much you can add to this.*

french-bread.jpg1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1 loaf of fresh, French or Italian bread

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Slice the bread horizontally and lay open-side up. In a small bowl, combine butter, paprika and celery seed; spread this on both sides of bread then put bread back together, then spread more on top. Wrap in aluminum foil, bake for 15 minutes, open the foil and bake 5 minutes longer.

*Instead of oven-baking, grill instead. Add garlic, add more paprika, use whatever you want. This is just a blueprint.

White Pizza

Normally, a white pizza simply means “no tomato sauce” but more cheeses. Here we have ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

2 cans refrigerated pie dough (or store bought, etc.)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups broccoli florets
2+ garlic cloves, minced
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced thin
1 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly grease a large sheet pan or pizza pan and spread out the dough. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the garlic for 30 seconds, add broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.

Spread broccoli mixture over dough, sprinkle on the mozzarella and Parmesan, add the tomato slices, then sprinkle on the oregano.

Bake the pizza about 25 minutes or until nicely browned.

Scones – A Fancy Shmancier Way

Some folks prefer these in the original form, which have a tendency to be heavy and dry. But for me that’s just a tad on the boring side. Therefore, I’ve tweaked the original recipe then included a couple of ways you can prepare these quick biscuit/breads for either a snack or alongside a meal. The black pepper with Parmesan goes quite well with spaghetti & meatballs; try sometime substituting it for Italian Bread as a nice refreshing change for you and yours.

Base Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil – (Canola works best)
2/3 cup half-n-half – or milk

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease either a springform pan, pie dish or a cake pan – or you can just place it on a greased cookie sheet if you prefer.

Get out 2 medium-sized bowls. In one of the bowls sift/whisk the dry ingredients & set aside. In the other bowl whisk the liquid ingredients, then add to the dry and stir together well, but gently. When all mixed, dump out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a flat, round disk shape and place into pan. Cut into 8 wedges – do not separate the wedges.

Bake for about 25 minutes – until goldenish colored on top. Remove from hot pan and serve.

Other Ways:
*To the dry ingredients add 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan; or 1/4 cup chives; or sprinklings of red pepper flakes; or cracked black pepper; or 1 cup shredded cheddar; or 1 cup raisins, dates or any other dried fruit; don’t forget mini-chocolate chips – the possibilities are endless.

*To the liquid ingredients add 1/2 cup diced ham or prosciutto; or little diced cheese; diced onions or fresh herbs/chives – again, endless.

*Also, brush the tops of the scones with a little milk, melted butter or egg wash then sprinkle with either coarse sugar, salt, spices – have fun with it.

Morning Sunshine Muffins

These are a quick and easy morning muffin.  Serve with jellies, jams, or butter for spreading.

2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
9 oz. package of yellow cake mix
7-9 oz. package corn bread/muffin mix

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 12-muffin pan; make sure to grease all around the top portion of it too so if the muffins expand over the top (and they will) they won’t stick.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, water, milk and oil. Stir in the 2 mixes and mix well. Fill the muffin tins and place in your preheated oven. Bake muffins about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Immediately turn pan over onto a cooling rack, set them right side up and serve. They are really toasted, but wait until they have cooled off before you place them in a toaster oven.