"You can make those from scratch? Part II", or Homemade English Muffins

After the success of the homemade bagels, English muffins just seemed like the natural next step. These were absolutely delicious. Reminiscent of the ones you buy at the store...only better.

English Muffins
adapted from the Food Network
makes 12-14 muffins

1 cup non-fat powdered milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons shortening
2 cups hot water
2 envelopes (4 1/2 tsp) dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup warm water
4 cups flour, sifted
Non-stick cooking spray
equipment: electric griddle, 3-inch metal rings (There are English muffin rings, but I used 8 oz pineapple cans. Make sure you remove the top and bottom.)

In a bowl, combine the powdered milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, shortening, and hot water, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar in 2/3 cup of warm water and set aside until yeast has dissolved. Add this to the dry milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a dish cloth and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat the griddle to 250 degrees F.

Add the remaining teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle griddle inside each ring with a pinch of cornmeal.

Using #20 (it should hold about 4 tablespoons) ice cream scoop, place 2 scoops into each ring and cover with a cookie sheet and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and flip rings using tongs.

Cover with the lid and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool.

Split with fork. Serve hot with butter and honey.

Before we cooked them all, we did a test run with just one muffin to make sure the griddle wasn't too hot.

P.S. Stay tuned...at the cyclist's request, part three in the series is already in the works. It has the potential to ROCK. It could also fail miserably. Don't worry, my sweet husband will happily eat it either way.

Weekday Tomato Soup

This is a really easy "weekday" soup. Delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches.

1 (32 fluid ounce) container vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 cup half-and-half
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
basil pesto (if using store bought, I suggest Buitoni)

Pour broth into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by about 1/3.
Pour in both cans of the tomatoes, and return to a simmer. Pour in the half-and-half, and turn heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender, or use an immersion blender in the pan. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls, swirl in a spoonful of pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.


These are a family favorite. They are very rich, so roll them into bite size little cookies (maybe two bites).

Melt-Away Cookies


½ lb butter, softened (no substitutions)
1 cup flour
¾ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Mix well until all flour is absorbed. Roll in small balls and bake at 350* for 12 minutes.


3 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix and spread on warm cookies.

Makes two dozen.

Lindsey's Cinnamon Syrup, or "An Alphabetical Tour of Nevada: Imlay to Incline Village"

We spent last weekend in Incline Village with The Merry Parry's. If you know John and Lindsey and haven't visited, do it before it's too late. It is beautiful up there! If you don't know them, introduce yourself.

John and his crew at the Hyatt will treat you right. We're talking cabanas....and cabana boys.

And if you're lucky, Lindsey may whip up some of her delicious homemade syrup.

Lindsey's Cinnamon Syrup

1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/3 c corn syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c water

In small saucepan, combine sugar & cinnamon. Add butter, water and corn syrup and stir over med low heat until sugar dissolves & mixture thickens. Serve hot.

If you're coming from Salt Lake, prepare for a long, not always scenic, drive. And make sure you pull over in Imlay to see "The Place Rolling Mountain Thunder built".

Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Pasta

This is a great pasta dish to make in the late summer, when your garden is full.

2 1/2 pounds zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound linquine
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, 5 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper, spread into a single layer, and roast until the vegetables are cooked through and the zucchini is beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente according to package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Remove vegetables from oven and add to pasta. Toss to combine. Add basil and cheese. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Dr. B's Superaddicting Spicy Chocolate Z-Bread (a favorite of the Superamiga support crew)

I like spicy food. The Doctor-in-Law like likes it. He's a great cook, so I must sample everything he makes...only sometimes my reaction is not so favorable.
This year at LOTOJA, the D-I-L packed his superamiga support crew some of his homemade spicy chocolate zucchini bread. (Sure beat the half eaten Clif bars the cyclist was leaving me in his musette bags.) I knew I must try it. I also knew there was a chance I might regret it. I didn't. This bread was moist, fudgy, absolutely delicious... And as I was eating it, I felt my mouth just start to tingle.

Chocolate and Cayenne pepper? Don't knock it until you try it.
Dr. B's Superaddicting Spicy Chocolate Z-Bread (a favorite of the Superamiga support crew)--his title, not mine

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 C veggie oil
2 C grated Zucchini
1 t vanilla extract
2 C flour
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Hershey's Special Dark)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
3/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans and dust with cocoa powder. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips.

1/4 C water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped pecans
1 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

In a small skillet combine the water and sugar and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the pecans and stir well with a wooden scraper as the water evaporates. After 3-4 minutes add the cayenne and salt and toss well to coat the pecans evenly. Continue stirring for a few minutes more until all the water is evaporated, the pecans are coated, and the pan is dry. Stir the pecans into the bread batter.*

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean.

*As a rule, I generally omit nuts from baked goods. I love them in trail mixes and salads, but not breads, cakes or cookies. So when I made this, I just added the cayenne and extra 2 T of sugar (no water or 1/4 t salt) when I added the dry ingredients.
Also, Dr. B's original recipe doesn't call for the cocoa powder, but I like mine with a little deeper chocolate flavor.

French Peasant Bread

Adapted from Favorites: a Collection of Favorite Ivory Family Recipes

This is the perfect bread recipe for a beginner bread baker. There is no kneading. I make this bread frequently, and the result is always the same: a soft, rustic loaf with a delicious, chewy crust.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
corn meal
melted butter
desired toppings, optional (sprinkle with garlic salt, a combination of rosemary and coarse salt, or garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Experiment.)

Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Pour out water and dry bowl. Place yeast, water, sugar, and salt in the warmed bowl. Stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size. Flour hands, remove dough from the bowl and shape into two rounds. Place rounds on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise an additional hour. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with desired topping. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with melted butter. Serve warm.

Fresh Vegetable Risotto

Make sure you have all of your vegetables chopped and ready before you begin. Once you start, you (or your husband) will be stirring constantly for about 25-30 minutes; this is what makes the risotto so creamy.

1 T Olive Oil
2 C sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C Arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth or stock
2 C bite size fresh asparagus, broccoli, or a combination
3/4 C chopped tomato
1/4 C shredded carrot (about 1 small carrot)
3/4 C grated mozzarella cheese
3 T fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3 T snipped fresh basil, plus more for serving

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic; cook until onion is tender. Stir in the rice. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the broth to boiling. Reduce heat. Slowly and carefully add 1 cup of the broth to the rice mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup more broth and the asparagus or broccoli to the rice mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup more broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. (This should take about 12-15 minutes.)

Stir in remaining broth, the tomato and carrot. Cook and stir until rice is slightly creamy and just tender. Stir in mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Serve immediately.

4 Servings

His Chocolate Chip Cookies

I told you I would post The Cyclist's chocolate chip cookie recipe. He made them for me when we were dating. Try them and you will see why I married him (plus the fact that he is H-O-T.)

I thought it was only fitting to post these now since we are in Jackson Hole this weekend while he rides his bike. Hopefully someone will be making Brunch for us this Sunday morning.

2 C sugar
2 C brown sugar
2 C shortening
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. salt
5 C flour
24 oz. chocolate chips

Cream sugars and shortening. Add eggs, vanilla and almond. Sift together soda, salt and flour. Add dry ingredients to sugar and shortening. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake on greased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

This makes a ton (6 dozen) of cookies. If you don't need one ton, you can easily half or quarter the recipe. We like to make the whole batch and freeze some dough for later. Just roll it into cookie shape balls, place on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer until they are very firm (about an hour). Once they are frozen, drop them all into freezer bags. When you are craving cookies, take out some dough balls, let them sit on your counter for 20 minutes or so, and bake.

Make sure you have plenty of cold milk on hand.