May 18, 2015

The Greatest Toasting Bread

I don't know about you but I actually enjoy getting new kitchen tools, gadgets and appliances as gifts. Cookbooks are a perfect anytime gift too. 
Do you have favorite kitchen related gift you received that you are still super happy about? 

My all time favorite kitchen appliance gift I have, has got to be my KitchenAid Mixer. My husband gave me this for Christmas a few moons ago and I love it! It came with a meat grinder attachment, which I have used many times and am always trying to come up with new ways to use too. One of these days I will probably need to get the sausage maker attachment, so I can make my own sausage links.

The smell of fresh baked bread is such an inviting and comforting smell. I have a confession to make: I have a fresh baked bread addiction that I refuse to give up. I could give up other carbs but not my homemade breads!

If you are looking for a cookbook with easy to follow baking recipes with helpful explanations and  techniques to use then you should give Julia Child's "Baking with Julia" a try. 

I have to admit I didn't know that Julia Child had "just" baking cookbooks but my husband found this one for me and it now has a special spot on my cookbook shelf.

The first recipe I made using this cookbook was the White Loaves (pg. 81). I decided to try this recipe after seeing the color picture of some seriously scrumptious looking toasted bread on page 56 of this book. When I saw the picture of this bread, the first thought that came to my mind was: "I need this bread with a slab of butter right about now."

The recipe makes 2 loaves of bread but can easily be cut in half to only make 1 loaf. **My tip is if you have the flour on hand to make the 2 loaves do it and freeze one after it has completely cooled.

adapted from Julia Child-Baking with Julia

**From start to finish you will need about 3 hours to make 2 loaves**

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 TBS. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
6-7 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour*
2 tsp. salt
¼ cup butter, softened


Pour 1/2 cup of the water into your mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, mixture should look foamy.

Add the rest of the water and about half of the flour. Stir (using the dough hook) until well blended. Now add about 3 1/2 cups flour, the salt and butter and stir until well combined and shaggy. *You will need to turn the mixture off a few times to make sure you scrap down the sides of the bowl.

Continue to knead, about 8-10 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic. If the dough does not look smooth and elastic at this point add a little (one tablespoon at a time) more flour until it looks and feels smooth.

You can do the kneading by hand if preferred or if you do not have a dough hook attachment for your mixer. Just make sure to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Now it’s time to shape the dough into a ball and to put it into a lightly greased bowl (bowl should be large enough for the dough to double in size). Cover loosely with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until it’s doubled in size.

Meanwhile butter two 4″x8″ loaf pans and set aside for later.

If your dough has doubled in size you are ready to punch the dough down. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Now on a lightly floured surface pat each piece into a rectangle that’s about 9″x12″
Picture Credit goes to Max at Kvalifood
 Starting at a short end, fold it in thirds, like a letter. Place seam side down in the loaf pans, tucking the ends in. Cover with the tea towel again and leave them for an hour, until they puff right up out of the pan. While you are waiting for the dough to rise again go ahead and preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the middle of the oven. 

Once the dough has doubled in size again you are ready to bake it. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. Remove the loaves from the baking pans as soon as you take them out of the oven and put them on cooling racks to cool.

**Remember don't cut your bread until it is almost completely cool....I know, I know freshly baked bread is amazing BUT if you can control your urge to cut right into the loaf you really should. It still has some magic to work while it's sitting on the cooling racks.

>>I was not paid to mention the products or websites used in this post, the information given is based on my opinion only<< BUT I wouldn't mind doing sponsored post from time to time if asked ;-)

May 14, 2015

Insanely Awesome Recipes You Have to Add to Your Meal Plan

I don't know about you but the urge to add new recipe ideas to my already never-ending list of "Have to Try" seems to truly never end. I just can't help myself and the internet doesn't make this addiction any easier to handle....thanks a lot social media for making me a recipe hoarding addict!

So with that being said here are a few of my finds from this week. A few have already been tried and are going to my "Keeper" files. The others are going to my "Have to Try" list. Please tell me I am not the only one that has this list!

>>Loving this design<<

Breakfast....Bagel Bombs....Yes, please
Will make again.....Sriracha Caramel Corn....why?  Because it's addicting
Delish....Whiskey Slushes.....yum
I wonder.....Better Than Girl Scout Cookies......because I need to be convinced
Quick Dinner Idea.....Enchilada Spaghetti & Meatballs....change things up
Taste of Germany.....Bratwurst Sliders....OMG
Bacon...Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza....enough said
How about this Recipe?......Simple One Hour Bread.....yup, simple and great

If you have a great find of the week please do share. I not only found new recipes to try out but I also found a new blogs to win, if you ask me. What are some of your favorite blogs to follow?

January 7, 2015

Homemade Pretzels

When you hear the name "Glitter Ball" what do you think you are being asked to go to? I have to admit when we were first asked to go to the Glitter Ball with our friends I thought for sure that the we were being invited to an actual "Ball". You know one where you get dressed up in gowns you will probably never wear again....WRONG....the Glitter Ball has nothing to do with fancy gowns and suits. Its one crazy costume party hosted by the Australian Club here in Dhaka. It's the type of party where you come up with a theme for your table and dress up, possibly even do a skit/performance and if you are lucky win prizes.

The biggest challenge with the costume/theme is that you want your table to be noticed and you want to have an idea that no has done before. A lot harder then you think! One couple in our team attended the 2013 Glitter Ball so thankfully they were able to fill us in on some of the ideas people had before us. Last years winning team did a KISS performance! This year there was a team dressed up like characters from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and did an awesome performance.  So much fun!!

Here is my 2014 Glitter Ball team/theme:

So with our theme we decided we had to have something to go along with our costumes besides the awesome engrave beer mugs we had custom made....we decided on pretzels!! Perfect snack to go with our theme. But instead of just a few we decided to spend 6hrs on baking enough pretzels to last us through the night and t A whole basket full of them!! For us to eat and for us to share.
We miss having fresh pretzels from the local bakeries in Germany....but let me tell you....I have filled a void our family has had ever since we moved away from Germany. These taste and look like the real deal, as real as you can get pretzels to look & taste without using food grade lye.......not that I think I would actually use it if I did have it available thought LOL!

How do you like eating your pretzels? Dipped in cheese, mustard or butter? Or is there something I haven't tried yet that I am missing out on??

1+1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 Tb brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 +1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c butter, melted
Vegetable oil
2 quarts + 2 cups water
2/3 c baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 TBS water
Coarse Salt

To begin, place the 1 1/2 cups of warm water in a mixing bowl, with the brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the top of the water, and let it sit about 10 minutes until it gets bubbly. Place your bowl under the mixer, fitted with a dough hook, and add in the flour and butter. Let the mixer run for about 4 minutes, until the dough comes away from the bowl and is nice and smooth. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in a clean, oiled bowl, Turn the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, grab a large pot, and put 2 quarts plus 2 cups of water in it, along with the baking soda. Bring the water to a full boil.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper with oil. Set aside.

Now grab your dough while the water is heating up.
Turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface. Cut the dough into 8 equal portions.
Take one portion and roll it into a long snake, about 2 feet long. To shape the pretzel, bring the ends up; twist once, and then again. Turn the ends down towards the bottom, and press the ends gently against the dough where it crosses. With a slotted spatula, gently place the pretzel in the boiling water for **30 seconds**

Lift the pretzel out, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining 7 pretzels.

Beat the yolk with a tablespoon of water in a small dish, and brush the tops of the pretzels with the mixture. Sprinkle with some coarse salt. Bake the pretzels for 12-14 minutes or until dark golden brown.

December 30, 2014

Sauerkraut & Potato Stew

If you ask most of my friends where I am from the chances of them telling you Germany are much higher then them telling you where I was born. I guess I can't blame them though, I did spend most of my life growing up in Germany, speak German fluently and even graduated High School from a German speaking school so besides the fact that I was born in Texas and am a proud American I pretty much am as German as it gets.

The best things about living in Germany (besides family & friends) has got to be the food! I miss the local bakeries and butcher shops the most. Or maybe it's the "Turkish" Döner Kebabs you can't actually get in Turkey. Wait, I do really miss eating the best gummy bears ever....Haribo made and sold in Germany are the best!

I have made this stew a number of times and have had all intentions on sharing it with you sooner....but for some reason I always forget to take a picture before it's gobbled up!!

Taste of Germany Stew

2 TBS olive oil
14 oz. smoked sausage, cut into thin slices
1-1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle of lager beer
2-3 potatoes, peeled & cubed
2-1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1-1/2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 TBS fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a dutch oven or large stew pot heat oil, add sausage and brown. Toss in onions; cook & stir until tender. Add cabbage and 1/2 cup of chicken broth; cover and let steam for 5-10 mins. Stir in spices and garlic. Slowly pour in the beer, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes before adding the potatoes and the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 40 minutes or until the potatoes and cabbage are soft.

Turn off heat, stir in the apple cider vinegar & fresh parsley....enjoy!

**I like adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to my bowl before I eat it.

Optional: add 1/4 tsp of caraway seeds.....I personally don't like caraway seeds and feel like they aren't missed in the stew but you could add them for a little more "taste of Germany" if you care to.

December 28, 2014

Coconut Curry Soup

It doesn't matter where we live we still try to find the best Thai restaurant in town. In Tucson, AZ we had a little mom & pops place we really enjoyed going to called "Saing Thai".....I REALLY miss the fresh spring rolls from there. Here in Dhaka, Bangladesh we have a Thai restaurant right down the road from us (within walking distance) called "Soi 71" favorite things on the menu are the "Green Papaya Salad" & "Sticky Mango Rice"....yum.

Now even though we could walk to our local Thai restaurant and get decent priced & fresh food anytime, I still much rather make this bowl of goodness at home in my own kitchen where I know exactly what I am stirring together and can smell the magic happening.

My husband actually told me that he doesn't think its "normal" for the cook to "ooh & ahh" over their own food as much as I did while we were eating this soup the other night. So what if I think it was well worth the multiple "oohs & ahhs".....let's just say him and the kids were lucky I didn't pull a "When Harry Met Sally" moment like Meg Ryan did while I was eating this!!

Coconut Curry Soup

1 TBS olive oil or coconut oil
2-3 carrots, peeled & sliced into thin coins
1 large onion, cut in half & sliced
2-3 chicken breast, cubed
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 TBS red curry paste
1 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
2 cans of chicken or veggie stock
1 + 2 tsp curry powder *
1 tsp turmeric
2-3 lime leaves (these add such a great flavor)


Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook them until they are soft, do not burn them. Add carrot slices and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute then scoop out the veggies but leave as much of the liquid in the pan as possible.

Now add the chicken in the pot and cook until mostly cooked through. After 5 minutes of cooking sprinkle the chicken with 1 tsp of curry powder, 1 TBS red curry paste and salt. Return cooked veggies back to the pot. Pour coconut milk and stock in your pot. Stir in the remaining curry powder and turmeric. Heat to a simmer then add the lime leaves. Cook for 15 minutes. Taste to season (if you are using a low sodium stock you may need to add a bit more salt but I wait until right before serving to add this since it takes a little cooking to release all the flavors)

You could serve this with steamed potatoes or rice OR eat it just as is.

*use more or less curry depending on how spicy you what type of curry blend you are using, we use the mild curry powder so our kids can enjoy it.

If I am feeling like I need a bit more heat I like to add a few drops of sriracha to mine but trust me this is not a must when it comes to needing flavor enhancing!

December 21, 2014

Hot Buttered Rum

Is it just me or are the beginnings of blog posts the hardest? The beginning of the post should be what grabs your attention, it's what is supposed to lure you in to wanting more but what if the picture I am sharing should be getting all the attention and not the words I am typing before it?? I think that is why I am drawing a blank with this first paragraph today, the picture below speaks for itself (at least for me it does today).

Who would have thought adding butter to a hot drink would work!? Or what about adding coconut oil? I was pleasantly surprised that both actually work and taste GREAT. I tried both and have to say I preferred the coconut oil mixture more that the butter. I think the hint of coconut mixed with the pineapple juice pleased my tastebuds more then the butter mix did. 

Give it a try....who knows you may be adding a new beverage to your Holiday must-haves. If you would like more Hot Holiday Drink ideas jump on over to FitCakes to see my Hot Buttered Rum featured in a 12 Days of Christmas Special Day 2: Hot Drinks to Warm the Soul.

Do you have a favorite Holiday Drink you make every year?

makes 1 drink

1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 oz. Spice Rum (like Captain Morgan's)
1/2 vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon
a dash of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon butter or coconut oil 


Before you plan on making and serving this Hot Drink I suggest to prep your butter/coconut oil in advance.....whip together the butter or coconut oil with the vanilla extract, cinnamon and dash of nutmeg and put it in the fridge to chill.

When the butter has firmed up you are ready to mix up this hot cup of goodness.

Heat the pineapple juice, rum and brown sugar just until it is hot and steaming a bit but do not bring it to a boil; you could do this either on the stove in a small pot or in the microwave.

Pour the hot concoction into your coffee mug and then top it with your prepared butter. Enjoy!

July 21, 2014

Top 5 for 2013

I just realized I never did a Top 5 for my 2013 blog posts. That's what happens when you are moving from one state to another to then pack up and move half way across the world again....all in the matter of 4 months!!

The Top 5 for this year are still family favorites of ours. All 5 recipes can easily be incorporated into a meal plan, prepared in advance or even taken to a potluck.

1. Tamale Chicken Bake
This is an easy go to recipe if you love tamales but don't have the time or the know how to prepare tamales from scratch ;-)
 2. Strawberry Crisp
LOVE this recipe! So easy to make and so delicious.

3. Mexican Cornbread Salad
Not only does this taste yummy but it looks great too.

4. Sweet Sesame Chicken
One of my absolute favorite go to recipes I have.

 5. Turkey & Wild Rice Soup
Nothing taste better then homemade soup and fresh baked bread on a cloudy day.