Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

We’re just on the cusp of December.

If you’ve been following this blog for at least a year, you know what that means. If you haven’t been following the blog for at least a year and have no idea what’s going on, you picked a great day to show up.

Annually straight after Thanksgiving, I kick off a special holiday series on the blog called the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s exactly what it sounds like:

12 days of holiday-themed baking and cooking recipes that I share from now and leading up to just before Christmas.

It’s always a lot of work, but it’s definitely a labor of love that I genuinely look forward to every year. When I was growing up, the holidays were a time when a lot of really delicious baking happened, and it gave the season a special feeling that I try and rekindle for nostalgia’s sake now that I’m old enough to do it for myself.

So let’s just get right into, shall we? Although the majority of the recipes I make for the 12 Days of Christmas are sweets, I do always try to throw at least one savory option in there, and this year, the savory dish is what we’re starting out with.

Sausage rolls aren’t huge here in the States, but from what I can tell, they’re huge across the pond in the UK, particularly at this time of year. British sausage rolls are typically made with sausage that’s been flavored with ‘wintery’ spices, then wrapped and baked in puff pastry. I knew going into the series this year that I wanted to do a Christmas sausage roll, but puff pastry isn’t my favorite.

So I made some adjustments.

The sausage filling of these rolls is flavored with pretty much all of the spices you’d associate with Christmas flavors, and if you’re a fan of Christmas meat pies like sausage rolls or French Canadian Tourtiere, you’ll recognize the flavor profile I was going for. However, for the casing part, I deviated from tradition, making neither puff pastry or pie crust; instead, these are wrapped/rolled/baked in a chewy/fluffy yeast dough. Additionally, the bottom of the pan is lined with a honey cinnamon glaze that makes the most delightful ‘goo’ to pair with the saltiness of the rolls themselves. In that sense, they’re kind of like Winter Spice Sticky Buns.

Pretty delicious start to this year’s 12 Days of Christmas I’d say.

Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Onion powder, salt and black pepper, to taste

For Bread Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs

For Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)

Directions

For the Sausage Filling: Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the skillet in crumbles. Remove from heat and drain well. Move sausage into a medium size bowl and stir in the butter, honey, and spices. Set aside and allow to fully cool. (I prefer to let mine sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop, but you don’t have to if you’re short on time.)

For Glaze: Melt the butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the glaze ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For Buns: Heat milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium until bubbles begin to form around the edge of pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine warm water and yeast in a 1-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

Add yeast mixture, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar to warm milk; stir until relatively smooth. Place mixture in a warm place (85°F) until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer) until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup of sugar and beat together until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually spoon in the yeast mixture to the shortening-sugar mixture, mixing on low in batches until combined. Add remaining 3 cups flour, in batches, beating just until blended after each addition.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook; beat dough on medium speed until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the dough out onto floured surface and knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes. Grease/oil a bowl and place dough inside, covering with plastic wrap and damp towel. Allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the honey glaze in the bottom of the dish, being sure to cover all corners (you can pour in more if you want a more gooey, sticky bottom on your buns). Set aside.

Punch dough down on a floured work surface to deflate air bubbles. Divide in half, place one half back in bowl and re-cover with plastic wrap. Roll out the other half to a rectangle, about 10- x 8-inches. Sprinkle one half of the sausage filling over the dough, leaving 1 inch border around. Starting from the long end, roll into a tight cylinder and pinch together to seal. Cut off & discard the two short ends to create smooth, even buns. Cut cylinder crosswise into 4 to 5 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rounds. Place each bun cut side down in the baking dish. Repeat with second dough half and sausage filling. When finished, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on middle oven rack until golden brown on top, 55 minutes to 1 hour. (If buns are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil after baking 30 minutes.) When finished, brush or drizzle some of the remaining honey glaze on top of buns.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #408.

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Things have been all kinds of busy lately.

There’s a lot going on and that leaves less time than I would like to cook, much less set aside the time to take pictures and write up recipes for the blog. But since this is one of my outlets to rest/recharge from my day-job, I still make time in however best way I can.

One of those ways, in both a booking/blogging sense, is through making quick bread. I’ve mentioned before that we eat breakfast for dinner pretty frequently in my household, and quick bread of some sort usually makes an appearance as a part of that.

Quick bread is bread that’s made without yeast and, thus, doesn’t require a lot of preparation or rising time. It can literally made in more or less, an hour (thus the ‘quick’ part). Examples of quick breads would be gingerbread, pancakes, banana/zucchini bread; basically bread that’s made with baking powder and/or baking soda that acts as the leavening/rising agent in lieu of the yeast.

Whenever I’m in a hurry to make breakfast for dinner, I will usually default to making pancakes, or some kind of quick bread that we eat alongside eggs, sausage and bacon. This was one of those times.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking with sweet potatoes lately, which is evident not just in today’s post, but in a few more to come in the upcoming weeks. While I find them delicious all on their own, they’re also a great baking ingredient. Mashed potato is great for keeping bread doughs from drying out, and I find that sweet potato gives a warm and savory flavor that’s perfect for the tastebuds this time of year.

Like just about all quick breads, this loaf comes together very quickly (pun kinda intended). Apart from being very tasty, it’s also in the You Can’t Screw This Up recipe category–which is yet another reason for you to give it a try, whether it’s for keeps, or maybe even for a tasty holiday gift.

***********************************

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 chopped, toasted pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 6 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg cinnamon, ginger and sugar.

Add the eggs, oil, and milk; mix until well blended. Finally, stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, pecans, and dried cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in the pan at least 15 minutes before removing. For best flavor, store overnight before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #407, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

We’re just about approaching the close of autumn (which is wild to me; time flies), but I knew I didn’t want it to get too late before I got around to making something with apple cider in it and sharing it here on the blog.

I’ll be honest with you all: what I really wanted was a fried apple cider doughnut. I’ve done/shared it before on the blog, but that was years ago when I was still very new to blogging and I think those pictures are terrible. So ideally speaking, I would’ve just done a do-over of that post.

However, any of you who have made scratch/fried doughnuts before knows that they are…a project, one that can take up a lot of time. And the way my life is set up right now, time is just something I have a lot less of than I did when I first began blogging.

But, I mean… I still wanted a donut.

So, I compromised with time and with myself. And, here we are.

Still Apple Cider Donuts…but also, muffins.

The most obvious difference here was the one that was most important for me: the cooking time. Depending on what kind of dough/batter you have, making doughnuts from scratch can be an hours long project.

I didn’t have hours to spare, and fortunately, this recipe doesn’t need them. In fact, if your cider is already boiled/reduced, you’ll probably be done in 1 hour, tops.

I was very pleased with how these turned out. Apart from the quicker and easier baking process, they still satisfied that craving I had for an apple cider donut without having to go to the extra trouble.

They’ve also been kid-approved by the resident taste tester in our house, so if that doesn’t sell em to you, I don’t know what else will.

***********************************************

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

Recipe Adapted from New England Food Today

Ingredients

For Muffins

  • 2 cups sweet apple cider
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

For Sugar Topping

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Directions

For Muffins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan either with butter or shortening and set aside.

Put the apple cider in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Set aside to cool.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a standing or handheld mixer, cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each. Add the vanilla extract and blend.

Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just to combine. Add half the reduced cider and beat to combine.

Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the cider, then the remaining flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until tops are firm and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-7 minutes.

For Topping

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, brush their tops and sides with the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #406, co hosted by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Pizza Strata

I don’t know what the weather is like in your area, but in mine, the temperatures are plummeting. It’s really really cold. I’ve spent the past few years living on the West coast, so these are temperatures I have not had to live with in a very long time; it’s been, and continues to be a (re)adjustment.

Apart of that readjustment is my leaning more towards cooking food that is hearty and stick-to-your-ribs. The kind that makes you want to burrow under a blanket and take a nap afterwards.

I spent most of my life in the Midwest, and in the Midwest, we love our pizza. We take it very seriously. I love to eat and also make it, and as I’ve shown on the blog before, that’s not necessarily always strictly in solely pizza ‘form.’ There are some pretty interesting ways to transfer the pizza ‘flavor’ to other dishes, which is what we’re doing here today.

This recipe happened for the reason that a lot of strata recipes happen; I had an excess of slightly stale bread in my fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste. I decided to make a strata, but rather than go the typical breakfast-y route with sausage/ham/bacon, I started thinking about other possibilities that could work.

This is where I ended up.

Right off the bat, I want to emphasize that this is NOT Chicago Style deep dish pizza, which is not a favorite of mine at all. A Chicago style pizza is a pie composed of mostly cheese, with some toppings and sauce thrown on top. This is a strata, where stale bread and veggies are baked and set in an eggy-milk mixture. Think a breakfast strata, but it’s pizza ‘flavored’.

Another thing I’ll say that this recipe is HUGELY customizable. I used pepperoni, bell peppers and onions as my ‘toppings’, but so long as you keep to the ratio of bread, eggs and milk, you can customize the rest of the recipe ingredients to whatever your personal tastes are for pizza.

One thing that surprised me about the finished product was that it wasn’t as ‘heavy’ as I expected it to be in eating it. The flavors were of course, still reminiscent of pizza, but my stomach didn’t feel as heavy as it does after I’ve eaten pizza. It was satisfying without bringing on the lethargy.

Plus, it’s pretty delicious, if I may say so myself.

****************************************

Pizza Strata

Recipe Adapted from Food52

Ingredients

  • 10-12 cups lightly packed garlic or herb flavored bread, slightly stale and cubed (I used leftover rolls from this recipe, but really any sturdy herb-y bread will work)
  • 16 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion
  • 6 oz. of sliced cooked pepperoni* (You can substitute mushrooms here to make this vegetarian, or even add 6 oz of mushrooms to the existing strata itself; feel free to use whatever are your favorite pizza toppings)
  • 14 oz. pizza sauce, plus more if desired
  • About 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (or more, if you prefer)

Directions

In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil to medium heat. Saute first the bell peppers, then the onions until they are softened and translucent. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings until well combined and yolks are broken.

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Layer a third of the cubed bread in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of the peppers and onions. Add a layer of the pepperoni. Repeat until you’ve layered all the bread, vegetables and pepperoni in the dish.

Pour the egg-milk mixture over the strata, using a rubber spatula to ensure that it gets into the corners and absorbs all of the ingredients.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. (If chilling for later, let the strata sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drop large dollops of about half (7 oz) of the pizza sauce on top of the strata, using a spoon to spread it out a little.

Cover with aluminum foil, and bake the strata until puffed, golden brown around the edges, and set in the center, about 55-60minutes. (Insert a knife in the center; if it comes out clean and without eggy residue, it’s ready.)

Remove the strata from the oven, remove the foil, and preheat broiler.

Dollop the rest of the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle the top with as much cheese as desired. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving with additional pizza sauce is desired.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #405.

My Pancakes

Although this blog was founded with the understanding that I love to cook and have gotten rather good at it over the years, there are a few things that I have put forth concerted effort towards become very good at making.

I’ve said (and shown) before that Biscuits are one of them. Today’s recipe is another.

I don’t think I’ve ever shared this on the blog before, but if you were to ask me what my favorite food was, at just about any point in my life, the answer would always be the same: pancakes. Pancakes are hands down my favorite food, of all time.

I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. There is never a time where I’m not up for them. They have all the basic components of basically everything I love about food: carbs, butter and sweetness (from syrup).

It’s a little weird to look back upon now, but even during the time that I ‘couldn’t’ cook, I learned how to make pancakes. They were “just Add water’ pancakes, but still; it was that important to me. Later on, when I did decide to learn how to cook for real, I decided to elevate my Pancakes Game and learn how to make them from scratch.

To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed and disappointed with myself that it’s taken this long for me to share this recipe on the blog. It’s one of my favorites, I’ve been using it for years and there’s never been a time that it ever let me down.

Pancake connoisseurs will know that there is an art and a science to a pancake. They’re not all the same. Some folks like them thin, others like them thick. Some folks like them with fruit, and others like them plain. Some folks prefer to make them in a skillet, others prefer a griddle. My preference has always been for a thick and cakey pancake. If fruit like blueberries or strawberries are thrown in, great; I’m perfectly fine eating them plain as well.

I know that most people just prefer to fall back on Bisquick or other Just Add Water mixes, and I understand that. However, I do believe that makig pancakes from scratch is worth the added 1 or 2 steps–and it really is just 1 or 2 added steps.

Having said that, this is a straightforward and I believe, relatively easy recipe. The only distinction that my pancake recipe has from many typical others, is that I take the added step of separating my eggs, beating the egg whites into soft peaks, the folding them into the batter at the last minute. You wouldn’t believe the difference this makes in the finished product. The pancakes come out light, fluffy and cake-y, which is exactly how I (as well as everyone I’ve ever made them for) likes them.

****************************************

My Pancakes

Recipe Adapted from Veronica’s Cornucopia

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, or melted butter, plus more for the skillet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium size mixing bowl combine together all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the egg yolks, canola oil or melted butter and the vanilla extract. Stir together.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour the egg yolk/oil mixture inside the well. Add the buttermilk, then stir gently, just until combined–do not over-mix or the pancakes will be rubbery. It’s fine if there are lumps left in the batter.

Place the egg whites in a small bowl, then using a handheld mixer, beat them until they are white and have stiff peaks that are still soft.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Lightly coat a skillet or a griddle with 1 tablespoon of butter and Heat to medium low.

Drop 1/4 cup of batter onto heated skillet/griddle. Cook on first side until bubbles begin to form on surface, 2-3 minutes. Flip over and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and centre springs back when lightly touched.

Keep finished pancakes in the microwave or a cold oven while you cook the rest.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #403.

Apple Butter Pecan Bread

A few days ago I was dropping my niece off for school in the morning and when we got there, the both of us got an unexpected surprise:

We were really cold.

That may seem like a perfectly normal morning for some or most of you reading this post, but for those of you who live on the West Coast of the US or in other areas of the world where’s it’s on the warmer side for most of the year, you may understand the feelings of surprise in getting up in the morning, going outside and feeling as if you need a warmer jacket.

We only recently moved back to the East Coast, and so chilly mornings haven’t really been the norm for us (outside of the dead of winter months like January or February). It was an unexpected, but not unwelcome feeling. It made me all the more conscious of the time of year, and with that, came a really strong desire to kickstart into fall baking.

There are few ingredients/foods that are more suited to fall baking than apple butter. Whether you make it or buy it, whenever and however you eat it, you’re going to get a sense of ‘eating’ autumn. Up until now I’d only eaten and made apple butter in and of itself, but this time I found a really yummy way of baking with it.

Quick bread is another one of those “Impossible to Mess Up” recipes that I love sharing on the blog. Excepting the apple butter, you likely already have the majority of the ingredients in your house, and at this time of year, apple butter should be relatively easy for you to find, whether at. a grocery store or a farmer’s market.

I seriously wish that the smells of this loaf as it was baking could be converted into a candle. They come second only to the actual taste of it, which as you might imagine, are like taking a perfect bite of pure autumn.

*******************************************

Apple Butter Pecan Bread

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Pecan Streusel

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For Bread

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour (2) 8- x 4-inch loaf pans and set aside.

Make the streusel: Stir together coarsely chopped pecans, flour, brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, and salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Crumble into small pieces.

Beat butter and cream cheese in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer and a medium sized bowl) on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating on low speed just until blended.

Stir in the Apple Butter, and vanilla.

Spoon batter into the loaf pans. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with Streusel Topping.

Bake in preheated oven until a long wooden pick inserted in center of each loaf comes out clean and sides pull away from pans, 50 minutes to 1 hour, shielding tops of pans with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.

Cool loaves in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely, about 1 hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #401, co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Pound Cake with Strawberry- Raspberry Compote

This past week I had a birthday. I’m now 32 years old.

Last year, when I turned 31, I was still on my hiatus from blogging, but every year before then, I had a tradition of ‘celebrating’ my birthday on the blog that’s a carry over from my ‘real life’:

I bake myself a birthday cake.

I’ve mentioned it here before that even in the pre-Covid days, as an introvert, I wasn’t much of a celebrator of ‘My’ day. For many years, it’s just passed with little fanfare or fuss. And I’m okay with that.

But I do take the time and effort to make sure that if I don’t have anything else on my birthday, I have cake. A good cake.

And to be perfectly honest, if I want a really good cake, I typically prefer to rely on the girl in the mirror.

My preferences for birthday cakes have varied over the years, and usually it just ends up being a casual decision that I make on the fly depending upon what me and my taste buds are in the mood for.

It may have been a number of things that swayed me in the particular direction of today’s recipe for my 32nd birthday.

My taste for desserts nowadays that aren’t overly sweet. My increased want for simplicity in baking that lets simple ingredients shine with their simple but delicious flavor. Or, it could’ve just been that my schedule is somewhat hectic nowadays and I just didn’t have time to do a three layer cake over the course of two days.

Regardless of the reason, I’d say the results turned out pretty tasty.

This really was the only kind of birthday cake that I wanted this year; a simple, golden slice of pound cake, and a side of sweet & tart fruit to eat with it. The ‘side’ of fruit turned out to be a strawberry-raspberry compote that comes very quickly and easily.

I love several things about this: first, even though it’s a pound cake, it’s not overly sweet. If you’ve made them before, you’ll probably notice that 1 cup of sugar isn’t the norm where most pound cake recipes are concerned. But I actually thought that worked out for the best, especially when the cake is paired with the compote, which is sweet, but also tart, which balances out the flavors wonderfully.

Pound Cake and Strawberry-Raspberry Compote

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour & Epicurious

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 16 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For Compote

  • 1 container (10 ounces) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) fresh raspberries

Directions

For Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan

In a large bowl, with a handheld mixer, or in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until very light.

Beat in the sugar gradually and then the eggs, one by one. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk and extracts.

Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Stir to combine after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. (I had extra batter leftover; about 1/2 cup’s worth. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if your loaf pan is not deep enough to fit all the batter, DO NOT OVERFILL IT. Overflowed cake batter in the oven is a PAIN to clean up. Just let the excess go.)

Bake the cake for 60 to 65 minutes, until it springs back when pressed lightly in on top, and a long toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If the cake appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with foil for the final 15 minutes of baking.

Remove the cake from the oven, and loosen its edges. Wait 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool

For Compote: Bring strawberries, raspberries, sugar and lemon juice to a simmer in a medium size saucepan over medium heat.

Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced to 3/4 a cup. (You can check the consistency by examining how it sticks to the back of a spoon after you’ve stirred it.)

Let cool completely before refrigerating.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #400, hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This past week was the last day of summer. Now that I live in a place where the seasons noticeably change again, I have to say I’m rather ready for the autumn. I’ve missed little things; seeing the leaves change color, brisk mornings that call for pea coats, sweater and boots, cider mills.

Stuff like that.

This recipe happened for a few reasons: I needed a quick and easy side dish for dinner that didn’t take much effort, I wanted it to be light and refreshing, and I didn’t want the summer to end without my having/making some summer squash. This one ticks all those boxes.

My favorite way to enjoy summer squash is a simple roast. Pasta salad is also one of my favorite summer side dishes, so the inspiration for the recipe also comes from there. Think of this as like a summer pasta salad without the pasta.

The list of vegetables you see here are just my personal preference, but you can feel free to swap one or more of them out for what you’re more partial to. Just make sure that the ones you’re grouping together on the sheet pan to roast are going to finish cooking at more or less the same time.

The salad is delicious to serve at room temperature, but I found that it’s even better when you’ve given it about an hour to rest in the fridge.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall….

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

For Salad

  • 2 red onions, cut into large wedges
  • 4 red bell peppers, quartered and cut into wedges
  • 4 green bell peppers, quartered and cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. of yellow and green summer squash, sliced into about 3/4 inch thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon or honey mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the vegetables in groups on a sheet pan you sprayed with cooking spray. (You will probably have to do this in 2 batches.)

Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently to be sure the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Spread the vegetables in one layer on 2 sheet pans. (If they’re too crowded, they’ll steam rather than roast.)

Roast for 20 minutes. Turn each piece and put the pans back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are crisp-tender. Allow to cool to room temperature., then place together in a large bowl.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together, then drizzle into the mixed vegetables. (You don’t have to use it all if you’d prefer not to; taste and adjust for your personal preference.)

You can serve at room temperature, but for best results, allow the salad to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour so that the flavors can meld.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #399, co-hosted by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

THE Blueberry Muffins

If you live with children under the age of 10 then you know that they can be very….particular, about what they do and do not like to eat.

Maybe some of you even live with adults who are the same way.

I live with my niece, and although I know she’s not as picky an eater as other little kids I’ve known, she is a girl who knows her own mind and her own taste buds. She likes what she likes. She doesn’t like what she doesn’t like. She’s polite, but if she’s not into something I make, she’ll opt not to eat it and ask for something else.

However.

When she discovers that she IS into something I make, I get requests for it A LOT. And the best (at times, funny) part is, most of the things that go over the best with her, are the simplest to put together.

Case in point, today’s recipe.

My niece LOVES my blueberry muffins.

I mean, to the point where I never have to ask beforehand whether or not she’s in the mood to have them; the answer is literally always yes.

If she’s really hungry, she can put away three or four of these bad boys in one sitting, easily. Which, is a great feeling for me personally.

Outside of a significant other, or a woman over the age of 50, I don’t think there’s any better praise I like getting for my cooking than a little kid. And the second best part of that is, these are some of the easiest things that I bake.

Even if you don’t like blueberries, I think it’s hard to dislike blueberry muffins. They’re just really, really good. I know that it’s super easy in this day and age to go down the baking aisle in the grocery store and pick up a “Just Add Water” mix, but…just hear me out.

It’s just as easy and more than worth it to make them from scratch. It really is.

I’m including two ways to make this recipe: you can make them in regular muffin cups, or you can also bake them in a muffin top pan–one of my more recent kitchenware buys that I’m very pleased with. Both taste wonderful, both are easy to do. Besides that, these are Picky-Eater certified.

What better endorsement could you need to try them out?

THE Blueberry Muffins

Recipe Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup milk, or as needed*
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners, or spray a muffin top pan.

Combine the flour, the white sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium size bowl.

Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup

Add the egg and vanilla extract. If you’re making regular muffins, add the 1/3 cup of milk or as needed to reach the 1-cup mark. If making the muffin tops, add only 1/4 cup of milk

Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups or muffin top cavities.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #398, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Mixed Herb Slider Rolls

This week’s post is actually somewhat of a companion to my last one where I came up with what I must say, was a very tasty dish. I made them at the same time, being that it was summer, and that put me in the mood for a really good slider sandwich.

I’m of the belief that you can turn just about any meat dish into a sandwich if you’ve the mind to do so.

(And quite often, I do.)

For me, it really does come down to the bread just as much as it does the meat filling.

Now, could I have just bought a pack of Hawaiian Rolls and made do with those?

I mean, yeah…but.

Hawaiian Rolls can be a bit overrated. They come in the package all smushed and wrinkly, and they’re really not even that big. A slider’s not a full sandwich but it’s not an amuse bouche either.

And anyway, if I’d gone the Hawaiian Rolls route, we wouldn’t be here discussing these today–and these are just so much better

When I find a bread recipe that I like/love, I tend to stay pretty loyal to it, and just experiment with different methods of varying it out and seeing what else I can do with it. Thus, these slider rolls are actually based upon a bread I first made and loved, several years ago, but hadn’t made in a while.

I kept the based bread recipe itself the same, the variation comes in with the shaping and arrangement. Here, I shaped the dough into slider-sized portions, then brushed/dipped the rolls in an herb butter mixture, then placed them close together into 13 x 9 baking dishes.

Be aware should you make these: they make a LOT of slider rolls. Two baking dishes worth. But I did that on purpose as I was thinking in terms of summertime barbecues or even fall tailgating where big batches are ideal for a crowd.

The finished rolls will keep beautifully in the freezer, or you can always cut the recipe in half if you’d prefer to have less.

Texture is everything with these; the combination of cornmeal, white and whole wheat flour gives them BEAUTIFUL, light, and slightly chewy texture that is everything I want in a piece of bread. The flavors added from the herbs and butter really take them over the top.

See recipes below for meat recipes on the blog that I think would make EXCELLENT sliders for these.

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Pulled Brown Sugar Chicken

Oven Roasted Tri-Tip Steak

Pulled Jerk Chicken

Roasted Garlic & Herb Smothered Chicken

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Mixed Herb Slider Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch and Jess@Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg, divided.
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 to 5 cups all purpose white flour, as needed
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • Garnish: chopped fresh rosemary, chopped fresh thyme, chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Combine the milk, cornmeal, butter or margarine, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and allowing to cook until the mixture if slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Soften active dry yeast in warm water (110 degrees F). Sprinkle the 1 tsp of sugar on top and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is frothy.

Combine cornmeal mixture, yeast, and 2 well-beaten eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment to combine together.

Then, using the dough hook attachment, add the cup of whole wheat  first, mixing to combine completely.  Add enough of the all purpose white flour to make a soft dough. It should be a smooth,pliable dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, but also not too dry.

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and the 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Line two 13 x 9 baking pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Divide dough into 24 pieces. With lightly floured hands, working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out), roll each piece into a smooth ball. Dip each ball into melted butter mixture, and place into the baking pans. Pour any remaining melted butter mixture over dough in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle dough with flaked salt.


Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and garnish with rosemary, thyme, and parsley, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #396.