It’s been far too long since I covered my hands in flour and did some serious kneading! I can’t tell you how nice it felt to be back to bread making after a few weeks off.

I was not excited about this bread at all. I’ve mentioned many times that I’m not a huge fan of dried fruits in bread because they always end up tasting like rubber. Plus this recipe forced me to add lemon extract to my already overflowing cabinet of baking supplies.

The dough was easy peasy although it was REALLY wet even after adding only half the water the recipe called for. I would guess I added almost an entire cup of flour to the dough to get it to a good state.

It rose beautifully and had doubled in size after 2 hours.

Last time I made a braided bread I fell asleep and it ended up rising way too much and toppling over on itself. I made sure to watch this one closely after shaping. I decided somewhere along the way that I need to invest in a kitchen scale. Just look how much smaller the top portion is! I’d say a scale is a need, not a want, right? (Right husband?)

My whole house smells like walnuts and lemons right now and I can’t think of a better smell. The bread is delicious and not at all rubbery. The crust is nice and crunchy and the inside is so soft and lovely.

I was really not loving Bread Baker’s Apprentice but things seem to be picking up. Go visit the BBA page to see what the other bakers are up to!


Ever since being told that I’m severely anemic, I’ve been making a real effort to include more beef in my diet. I don’t really like the taste of beef so I’ve been relying on yummy sauces to cover it up. I had saved this recipe purely because of the picture (as I often do) and then once I actually got into the kitchen and started making it, I realized it was pretty much our favorite wings but beefy.

Of course everyone loved it! My 2 year old who only likes beef if it comes on a bun with a side of fries gobbled it up and went back for seconds and thirds! Our only complaint was that there wasn’t enough for leftovers!

Mongolian Beef


2/3 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain (I used chuck steak which worked fine and was 1/4 of the price of flank steak)
3 Tbsp. corn starch
3 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. (heaping) red pepper flakes


  1. Pat the steak pieces and make sure they're dry; then, toss the steak and cornstarch together. Be sure all pieces are fully coated, but shake off excess corn starch. Mix together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes.
  2. Heat half the oil in a wok at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic. Once fragrant (30 seconds or so), add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.
  3. Turn the heat up on the wok and add the remaining oil. Add the beef and cook, stirring until just browned. Pour the sauce back in and let it cook with the meat. Let the sauce thicken to your liking.

Happy Monday! I know, I know, what’s so happy about a Monday? I look forward to Mondays because my husband goes back to work after the weekend and I can finally clean up all the messes he made because, let’s face it, there’s no point in cleaning up when he’s home. He’s just going to go right back behind me and make another mess!

The good thing about weekends? I get to make my favorite meal: BREAKFAST! I came across these maple twists the other night and have been thinking about them ever since. My husband had asked if I would make him pancakes on Sunday but I figured these would be just as good.

And they were. Times a billion.

They’re basically maple flavored dough with a cinnamon sugar nut mixture twisted inside and then a sinful maple glaze on top. Probably the best breakfast pastry I’ve made in a long time. Between the 3 of us, we managed to kill the entire ring in one day!

One tip: don’t add more nuts that the recipe calls for. I added an extra handful because it didn’t look like enough and they all fell out when I did the twisting!



Maple Twists


For the dough:
2 3/4 to 3 cups flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 egg
For the streusel:
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon maple extract
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


    To make the dough:
  1. Heat the milk and butter until very warm. Blend it (in stand mixer) with 1 cup of flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, yeast, egg and maple extract. Beat this on low for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time (you may not need all 3 cups). Knead into a soft dough. It will become smooth an elastic in about five minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 45 minutes (or till at least double in size).
  2. To make the streusel:
  3. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Assemble:
  5. After the dough rises, divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a 12" circle. Place the first circle on a buttered 14" pizza pan (I used parchment paper and sprayed it a little). Top the first circle with 1/3 of the streusel mixture and spread it around as thin as you can get it (repeat with 2nd and 3rd circles).
  6. Find something that is 2" across (like a dixie cup) and center it on the circles (press down a little to make a mark). Using scissors, cut from the outer edge into the cup mark, making 16 wedges.
  7. Gently lift and twist each section 5 times. Tuck the end in just a little so that it stays twisted.
  8. Lightly cover this with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 45 minutes to an hour. Bake in a 375° oven for 18-22 minutes (mine took the full 22 minutes). Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes before glazing.
  9. To make the glaze:
  10. Whisk all ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over the baked maple twists.


Oh yes, another pumpkin recipe! This time, it’s for Cupcake Hero. As soon as I saw that this month’s ingredient was pumpkin I knew I had to participate and came up with this idea really quickly. Honestly, I had a candied pecan craving and was just looking for an excuse to make them.

The cake part of the cupcake is a soft, spicy pumpkin cake. The frosting, oh the frosting, I sent out an “OMG, I need help!” email to Pam because I wanted a light frosting that would still hold it’s shape and she came through as usual. It’s a whipped cream cheese frosting that’s made the same way as regular cream cheese frosting but then has whipped cream folded in. It’s heavenly, ya’ll. The caramel sauce is just your basic sauce. And the nuts! I made them awhile back with my bourbon banana pudding and they are seriously delicious and so easy! I doubled the batch so I could snack on some. ;)

Forgive me for all these recipes, but trust me, they’re worth it.

Pumpkin Turtle Cupcakes

cupcakes from Martha Stewart


For the cupcakes:
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
For the whipped cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
For the caramel sauce:
1/2 cup of sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the candied pecans:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon water
3/4 cup pecan halves


    To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
  4. To make the whipped cream cheese frosting:
  5. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar salt and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. To make the caramel sauce:
  7. Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on.
  8. As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
  9. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably.
  10. Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass mason jar and let sit to cool to room temperature.
  11. To make the candied pecans:
  12. Warm brown sugar with honey and water in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in pecans, tossing to coat, then transfer to a lightly oiled 4-sided sheet pan.
  13. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and shiny, about 15 minutes. Transfer pecans with a metal spatula to a rack to cool.


If you are on a search for a quick, inexpensive, crowd pleasing recipe, this is it. For about $1.50 I got 8 delicious black bean burger patties! I also think this would be a great recipe to freeze and reheat for those of us that aren’t huge fans of veggie burgers or meat burgers.

The only problem I encountered was that the burgers tried falling apart on me after being cooked. They just need a gentle hand and some patience though.

My husband, who scoffs at anything meatless that dares call itself a burger, really enjoyed these! He said on day 2 they weren’t as good but since we only had 1 patty left, I consider that a success.

Black Bean Burgers

adapted from Food Network


1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
1 egg
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and fresh ground black pepper


  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-low heat.
  2. In a food processor, pulse garlic, 1 can of beans, egg, cumin, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl, add the remaining can of black beans and the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and mix until well combined.
  4. Divide mixture into patties (6 to 8 depending on preference). Place on hot oiled grill over medium-low heat and cook about 6 minutes a side or until heated through.