Monthly Archives: December 2013

Soft Cheesy Bread: Two Ways

We got two birds breads, one stone recipe today, people! I hope you’re ready.SCBI’ll apologize in advance if your resolution for the upcoming year is to eat less bread. This post is geared more towards those who’d like to consume more carbs in 2014. Like 2014 slices in 2014, which works out to approximately 5 1/2 slices daily. Delicious and totally doable.

My resolution? Made.

Okay, okay. I’m kind of kidding. My real resolution is to drink more water, but it might be a nice tie in to this fake/fantasy one. After all, I’d need something to wash all that bread down with.


Eric and I come from families that are very different. His side is more reserved – Eric says it’s an Irish thing. All you Irish people out there, pray tell…is there actually such a thing?

My side? We’re…loud. My mom is Lebanese and my dad is French Canadian. To avoid the risk of offending either side, I’ll just say it’s the combo that causes our volume.

How very diplomatic of me…you might almost think I was Swiss there for a sec.


Eric only has a handful of cousins. Maybe five, but I might be missing someone. After all, I just tried to tally up my own cousins and completely lost count.

That should gives you an idea of how many I have. Like, lots.

Oh and in case you’re wondering after seeing that picture above – yes, I made a mess of my stand mixer – and no, I didn’t do it on purpose for some kind of foodie photo op. Double batches of bread will do that.

RiseJust look at all that dough. After all is said and done, I have no regrets about making the double batch because this bread is that good. It also freezes like a dream, but I have a sneaking suspicion these loaves won’t stick around long.


All right, back to my family ramble. When it comes to the holidays, Eric’s family is so spontaneous. My big, loud family? Well, we’re creatures of holiday habit. While people take turns hosting, we go to the same house for each special occasion, every year. Always have, always will.

For example, on Christmas Eve, you will forever find me at my Uncle Paul and Auntie Marie’s house. So, even though I knew I wouldn’t be hosting the night before Christmas, I knew that I did not want to come empty handed. You know, now that I can kind of hold my own in the kitchen, I like to contribute.


So, it was decided on a whim as I headed out the door after Thanksgiving dinner that I would be making the bread come Christmas Eve. That gave me a little less than a month to find a recipe worthy of feeding my family.

Gulp. Thank goodness soft cheesy bread saved the day.


I could rant and rave about this bread all day long. You want something with a to-die-for texture? Look no further. This bread lives up to its name.

And when it comes to the fillings – the sky’s the limit!

I used pesto and muenster for half my batch and I thought I died and went to heaven. For the others, I lathered them down with softened butter and then sprinkled on garlic powder and a heaping helping of shredded muenster. Slightly less adventurous, sure…but equally awesome.


Please don’t be intimidated by shaping this bread – it looks complicated and super sophisticated, but couldn’t be simpler. If the instructions don’t make much sense, just use these pictures as reference to help along the way.

Truth be told – when I read the original recipe, I had to Google how to do this. There’s no shame in that game. Just trying to save you that step 🙂


Okay, our dough has been filled and rolled tightly – and I just pinched the seam together so it won’t come apart later on. You can’t see this since the seam side is down, but trust me. It’s there – and it’s pinched.


Now you’re going to use a sharp knife to gently cut your loaf lengthwise, leaving an inch or so attached at one end. After turning the cut sides up, just lay one piece on top of the other – and then repeat the process – to twist. See? Not so bad.


Take a big breath and carefully lift your loaves into well-greased pans. Have some patience and allow them to puff up a bit before baking. Come on…how cool do those look?

Soft Cheesy Bread: Two Ways

adapted from Seasons & Suppers
Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 60-90 minutes (inactive), 20 minutes (active)
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

For Dough:
3-1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra if needed*
2 cups white whole wheat flour*
2 teaspoons table salt
5 tablespoons white or brown sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm buttermilk or milk
1-1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/4 cup melted, unsalted butter
* instead of a combo of flours, feel free to use 5-1/2 cups of all purpose, if that’s what you have
For Filling:
Pesto & Cheese
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
1 cup shredded muenster cheese
Garlic, Butter & Cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
garlic powder, to taste
1 cup shredded muenster

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 5-1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar together.

In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the water and buttermilk and whisk in the yeast until dissolved. Add this mixture, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a dough hook, until the mixture is combined, about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Continue mixing the dough, adding more flour or water, as needed, until the dough becomes soft, smooth and tacky, but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, then form dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate for up to 4 days, or allow to sit at room temperature until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes).

Note: If you have refrigerated your dough, remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Dust each with a bit of flour and then, using a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle approximately 10 inches wide and 16 inches long.

Spread your fillings evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam together.

Grease two 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pans and set aside.

Shaping: Using a sharp knife, cut the roll of dough down the center, lengthwise – being sure to leave a little attached on one end. Rotate each piece from the middle outward so that the cut sides are facing up. Keeping the cuts sides facing upwards as much as possible, place the right-side piece over the left-side piece. Straighten it up and then repeat, pinching together the end closest to you.

Basically, you’re just twisting the two pieces together.

If any cheese escapes, just place it back on top. Carefully lift the dough into the greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other dough log, then cover both with a greased piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough rises to about 1-inch above the side of the pans in the middle.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 45-50 minutes total, but after 25 minutes of baking, rotate pans front-to-back in the oven and loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil if necessary (if bread is already well-browned), to prevent the top from over-browning. Bread should reach about 185° F. internal temperature in the center.

Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for a couple of minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the bread and carefully remove the loaves to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.



I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I think I may have bread duty from here on out.


Eat, Drink & Be Merry


Happy holidays to those of you who read my ramblings! May your hearts be warm and your stomachs be full this holiday season. See you on the other side of all the celebrating 🙂

Blueberry Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins

Here is how I thanked my husband for shoveling us out of the first big snow storm of the season.BBOM

These muffins are also the way in which we thanked our neighbors for saving Eric some serious shovel time by snow blowing a big chunk of our driveway. Charlie and Cathy are a couple who live not quite directly across the street from us – and they are quite possibly the best neighbors anyone could ask for.

They’re definitely better than any neighbor I’ve ever had. Chances are that they’re better than yours.

When we moved in eight months ago and they introduced themselves, Charlie mentioned their house was their starter home…it just so happens that 38 years later, they’re still there. The pride they take in their place shows and Eric and I often joke that we hate how immaculate their yard and how absolutely adorable their house is.

In reality, we’re just a little jealous.


I cross my heart and swear to you – the massive Japanese maple in front of Charlie and Cathy’s house still had all its leaves perfectly in place when everyone else in the neighborhood was raking up remnants of what used to be on their trees.

Eric and I don’t really even have any trees in our yard, yet we found ourselves doing a fall cleanup. Thanks a lot, wind.

Charlie’s yard? Spotless. Apparently, the wind doesn’t blow that way.

Either that or he’s just got this home ownership thing all sorts of figured out.


During this past snow storm, Charlie even dug out his bushes because heaven forbid they be buried.

Yeah, you read that right. Let that sink in for a sec.

I’m lucky if I get my entire parking space cleared out, so it goes without saying that I can definitely wait until springtime to see shrubbery.


I can’t remember if Charlie offered to help us out before or after his shrubs were free of snow, but I can tell you though that Eric tried to stop him from coming across the street with his snow blower. Any fight put up by Eric was instantly squashed by Charlie when he looked at my husband and said with the conviction that only a stubborn old man can: “I love this sh*t.”

Who are we to stand in the way of true love? Really.


Good thing I had a batch of these bad boys in the oven! I mean, if I can’t beat Charlie at the game of landscaping and property maintenance, the least I can do is show him I’m not completely clueless. Sure, I’m a slacker with a snow shovel, but I’m a workhorse with a whisk.

I’m thinking that trading tempting treats for good deeds done can’t really hurt our chances of getting help in the future should we ever need it. Fingers crossed.

On second thought, instead of keeping my fingers crossed, I should just keep my freezer stocked.


These Blueberry Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins are hearty from the oats and whole wheat flour that run throughout, but that doesn’t mean they’re dry and dense. Ohhhh no! Thanks to the buttermilk, these babies are incredibly moist and tender.

Some people are weirded out by the word moist, so I’m sorry if you’re one of them.


The fact that they’re stuffed to the brim with blueberries means that each bite is also bursting with berry flavor, which is never, ever a bad thing. No way, no how. Does anyone dislike blueberries? That seems pretty much impossible.

In my experience, the more blueberries, the better! I pity the fool that don’t want all these berries.


Although these muffins fall into the category of foods I feel look good enough to eat before being baked, it really is best to hang tight till they come out of the oven before consuming. Besides being under the black cloud of salmonella, one might also find the mouth feel of unbaked batter to be less than pleasing. Blech.

Blueberry Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins

slightly adapted from
Yield: 12 standard muffins or 6 mega muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes (inactive), 10 minutes (active)
Cook Time: 16-18 minutes (standard muffins) or 28-30 minutes (mega muffins)

1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus extra for sprinkling muffin tops (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 T butter, melted or veggie oil
2 T unsweetened applesauce
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen – dusted with a tablespoon or two of flour
Sugar in the raw for sprinkling muffin tops (optional)

Mix oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl or 4 cup measure; allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 standard/6 mega muffin cups, lined with papers.

Add egg, brown sugar, and butter (or oil) into oat mixture and stir well with whisk to combine. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in another bowl; stir into oat mixture until just moistened. Fold in blueberries that you’ve coated with a little bit of flour, which will keep them from sinking. Fill prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full. If you’re feeling fancy, top the unbaked batter with extra oats and a little sprinkling of sugar in the raw.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes for standard muffins or 28-30 for mega muffins. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.


What did I tell ya? Totally worth the wait.

BiteJust like I told you, too. These things are simply studded with blueberries, top to bottom. If you look closely, you can see my stud, warming up after his snow shovel sesh with a couple Blueberry Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins.

In my book, there may be no better way to warm oneself.

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