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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be  plump,
May your potatoes and gravy,
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
And your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner,
Stay off of your thighs!

Applesauce Bread

The Mott’s company sells packets of instant Hot Spiced Cider in a couple different flavors. Someone gave me some packets and so I tossed them into my basic applesauce bread recipe and it worked wonderfully. See for yourself.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup oil (NOT olive oil)
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup regular white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour – (or us all regular)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 packet of Mott’s Hot Spiced Cider (I used Caramel for this)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan. Place the eggs and milk on the counter while your oven preheats; give it at least 20 minutes.

Using 1 bowl for wet ingredients and 1 bowl for dry: add all the ingredients. Whisk both separately then add the dry to the wet. With a wooden spoon mix just until combined – count to 20 slowly. Then with a spatula, give it a couple of mixes to make sure the dry ingredients are mixed up from the bottom of bowl. Scrape into the loaf pan and place in the oven for 50 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if the mood strikes you. Dig in.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Apple sauce can be made at anytime of the year because apples are always available. But I wait until the temperature drops into the 50’s or very low 60’s; to me that’s the perfect time and around here that happens in early October. Give it a try. Ask the kids to join in.

16 large apples – a mixture is great
1 cup apple cider
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. (or a pinch) Ground black pepper

Peel, core, and cut the apples into chunks. Put them in a large dutch oven or saucepan that you have a lid for. Add the cider, cinnamon, cloves, salt & pepper.

Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover and stir well. Continue to cook this uncovered, but stirring occasionally, until the apples have become a thickened sauce – this takes about another 30 – 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold, as is, or if you’d prefer it smoother then by all means push through a sieve.


What would the cold weather season be without some delicious gingerbread? Whenever I smell this baking it takes me back to school days when I’d kick through the fallen leaves walking home from the bus stop.

1 cup water
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 large or extra large eggs at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 7 x 11 or 9 x 9 baking pan. Take the eggs and butter out of the fridge and set on the counter for 20-30 minutes while your oven preheats.

Boil the cup of water then stir in the baking soda, set aside. In a medium bowl, sift or whisk all the dry ingredients together – up to the butter. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add the molasses and beat well, then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat low, and while beating low add the hot water very slowly and continue beating on medium for about 10 – 15 more seconds. With a spatula mix up everything from the bottom of the bowl, blend it together well with just a few turns and spread into the pan.

Place in the oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack.

Cheese Sauce

A contribution from my sister Sandy who uses this as a sauce for broccoli and cauliflower all through the Autumn & Winter months. It’s almost difficult to eat broccoli without it; it’s unthinkable at Thanksgiving!

2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
3 cups milk
2+ cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, melt the butter then add the flour stirring constantly for at least 1 full minute. Add salt & pepper to taste (this is approximately 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper). While still stirring, slowly add the milk and keep stirring until the sauce thickens – may take a couple of minutes. Then add the cheese – we just grab 2 heaping handfuls of the shredded cheddar and add it to the pot. Keep stirring & heating until thick. Pour into something like a gravy boat. Serve.

Apricot-Almond Coffee Cake

This is a delicious yeast-based coffee cake that tastes like pastry. It’s great to serve any weekend guests and makes 2 beautiful cakes.

Pastry Cake:
1/2 cup warmed water
1 Tbsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup warmed milk
2 large, beaten eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind (McCormick’s brand is great)
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4-5 cups all-purpose flour

Add water to a large bowl then mix in the yeast; now mix in 1/2 cup of the flour and let this sit for 10 full minutes. Add the milk, sugar, orange, butter and salt and stir this well. Now add the the rest of the flour at 1 cup at a time until the dough becomes a shaggy-type blob of dough. Sprinkle some flour on the counter (not a lot) and plop the dough blob onto the counter. Knead it to form a smooth ball. Add more flour if you need to to keep the dough from sticking to your counter – just don’t add too much more. With cooking spray or a bit of melted butter or oil, grease a bowl (the one you just used is fine, just briefly wipe it out first) and place the dough ball in it. Turn the dough around so the whole thing is greased, then cover with plastic wrap. Place in a spot that’s free from drafts (top of the fridge works well) and let rise until doubled. This takes about 90 minutes.

While the bread is rising, make the Apricot-Almond Filling:
2 8 oz. boxes of dried apricots (Sun-Maid is good)
2 cups boiling water
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsps. pure almond extract

Place the apricots into a medium bowl, then pour the boiling water of them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 10 minutes – this will steam the apricots. Strain them and add to a blender or food processor then add the sugar and almond extract; pulse until it’s a thick puree.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Now punch down the dough then plop out of the bowl onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 2 pieces then jut briefly knead each piece to get the air bubbles out. Separately, roll each piece of dough into a large rectangle about 6″ wide x 15″ long. Spread 1/2 apricot filling on each rectangle – till about 1″ from the edges. Starting from the long side, roll each log tightly and place on the cookie sheets. On each separate sheet, join the end of the logs together to make a circle. Pinch the ends well to seal. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Let them sit for 10 minutes, then make several 1″ slashes in each cake. Let sit and rise again for 20 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes and cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Dreamy Maple Pie

Not your everyday run of the mill pie. This is dreamy rich & good! Be sure to serve with strong coffee, tea or a tall glass of cold milk. Absolutely perfect on a cold day.

1 Pre-baked and completely cooled 9-inch pie shell
2)14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (better syrup makes for a better pie)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (not imitation, please)
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans – optional but good

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the milk, maple syrup and salt. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the mixture bubbles up, then cook it uncovered for 4 minutes. Watch this carefully so it doesn’t scorch. Pour through a strainer into the baked pie shell and let cool completely, this will take at least 3 full hours in the refrigerator.

Then, in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spread on the cooled pie and and top with the toasted pecans if using. Chill for 1 hour. Serve.

Sweet Potato Pie

Even if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, chances are you’ll like this pie.

Gingersnap Cookies Crust:
25 gingersnap cookies
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) melted butter

1 good sized sweet potato, peeled &; chunked
1 1/2 Tsp. flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ginger
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. (or a pinch) of ground cloves
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse until fine. Or you can place in a zip lock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Put them in a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate or tin. Bake for 12 minutes. Set aside.

Then turn the oven up to 375 degrees. Peel and chunk the potato, place it into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.

Combine the flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a bowl and set them aside.
Put the drained potatoes into the an electric mixer bowl, or a large bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, and condensed milk. Mix them until combined, then add the other 3 Tbsp. of butter. Add the flour mixture and combine. Pour this filling into the crust and bake until it’s set – this takes about 35 minutes. Place on cooling rack. Serve at room temperature. Dig in!