Wee Cook Friday: Easter Bread!

To conclude the “Wee Cook Friday” meatless meal series, I wanted to reprise my very favorite recipe for this holiday season, my Easter Bread.  We like to make this for Good Friday supper, or for Easter breakfast (especially if there’s company).  We always make two loaves, and play “Easter Bunny” by leaving one on someone’s door stop!

easter-breadWhile I’m on my writer’s retreat, I thought I’d reprise this recipe from “Mommy Monsters” for Easter Bread — makes a great Good Friday supper, or Easter breakfast treat!

Easter Bread

2-3/4 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 pkg dry yeast
2/3 C milk
2 Tbls margarine
2 eggs, beaten
4 colored raw eggs
(optional: 1/4 C chopped blanched almonds)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Heat milk and margarine over low heat until warm (120-130F). Add to dry ingredients. Add beaten eggs into dry mixture with milk. Beat 2 minutes.

Stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough. Knead 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, flip to grease top. Cover and let rise until double (1 hour). Punch down. If adding almonds, knead them now. Divide in half and roll each half into 24″ rope.

Twist ropes together loosely, like a candy cane. Form into ring on greased sheet, tucking loose ends under to form ring. Brush with melted butter, and place eggs into spaces of twist. Cover and let rise until double (about 45 minutes). Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes.

We usually make 2 for two reasons: If they both turn out, we bring one to a friend. If not, we eat the one that doesn’t look as though it will break a tooth. After all, Lent (and any associated suffering) is over. It’s time to REJOICE!

Make a Gingerbread House! An Advent Tradition

At the end of November each year (the Friday after Thanksgiving may be a convenient time, since the project can extend an entire weekend), we get started mixing dough, cutting out the templates, and baking each cookie. The next day, we make a batch of royal icing (I cheat and use the powdered kind, but I noticed Danielle Bean (editor of “Faith and Family”) has a good one on her site here).

About cutting out the template for each piece of the house: You can make your own out of posterboard or laminated parchment paper. If you’re not architecturally inclined, you can enlarge and trace a simple pattern here. Or, if you’re a little more ambitious, here.

We like to make two houses … one to keep, one to give. (I’ve found that teachers especially appreciate it if you offer to host a gingerbread decorating party in the classroom … and may even let you tell the story of St. Nicholas and the three bags of gold!). Continue reading

Wee Cook Wednesday: Fresh Blueberry Pie

Blueberry_BushThis week my dear husband and children hit the local blueberry bushes … and came back with enough for two pies and a fruit salad. Yum!

For those of you fortunate enough to have an abundance of fruit nearby, I thought I’d share my favorite blueberry pie recipe. Very easy, and absolute decadence with either a sploosh of whipped cream (the real stuff, which goes “sploosh,” or a scoop (which goes “plop”) of vanilla ice cream.

Fresh Blueberry Pie  (makes 1 9-inch pie)

1 piecrust (unbaked)

4 C fresh, washed blueberries
1 C sugar
3/4 C flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbls lemon juice
dash allspice

4 Tbls butter
2/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425. Combine berries, flour, sugar, cinnamon (listed under “pie”) and pour into pie shell. Splash with lemon juice. With hands, mix together topping, squishing until combined. Scatter over pietop, and bake 50 minutes, until nicely browned. (Check halfway through and cover rim with foil if too brown.


Wee Cook Wednesdays: Cocoa-Peanut Butter Gems!

pbgemsToday as my Sweetie set out for a hike with Boy and Dog (you know them as Chris and Maddy), the last thing he said to me was: “Say, do you have any peanut butter in the house? I’d love some of those peanut-butter cookies!”

Awww… well, sure!  “How about if I try something new and add a few chocolate chips …?”  His eyes lit up like Christmas. (Karen Edmisten suggested that I use peanut butter M&Ms instead, which I would have had I had any.)  But my version turned out pretty well, so I thought I’d share it with all y’all. (I’m still recovering from my Texas Adventure.)


Heidi’s Cocoa-Peanut Butter Gems

1/2 C butter or margerine
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
dash allspice
1 C chocolate chips (more or less)
1/2 C honey-roasted peanuts (optional)

Beat together butters, sugars, egg, and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together dry ingredients and add gradually to butter mixture. Stir in peanuts and chips. Chill about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 and roll chilled dough in 1 inch balls between your palms. Set about 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes, until browned and set. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to counter to finish cooling. Makes about 4 dozen.

Kids really enjoying making these!

Wee Cook Wednesday: Clove Broth Soup (Thanks, Healthy Mama!)

garlic clovesMoms aren’t supposed to get sick. It’s in the manual, just look under “Acts of God and Other Inconceivables.” But once in a while, it happens:  Someone comes to you in the middle of the night and hits you between the eyes with a blivet, sending chills coursing through the body and leaving you aching from stem to stern.

My hair hurts. *Whimper.*

My dear husband dropped off the kids and picked up the cookies I was supposed to have baked today for “Young Authors” tonight. Also some hotdogs and buns so he could cook tonight the way God intended men to cook: over open flame.

Me, I”m trying to figure out what will slide down my sandpaper throat. Time for some soup!  I found this recipe over at “Healthy Mama’s Kitchen” for her Clove Broth Soup. Sounds like a winner . . . don’t you think?

Wee Cook Wednesday: 5 Minute Cake-in-a-Mug

My mother-in-law passed this along to me. I confess I haven’t actually tried it yet, but thought I’d pass it along for the more adventurous among us!

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract and/or dash of cinnamon
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract/cinnamon, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes  (1000 watts).  The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!  Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. EAT ! (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous … be sure to add a little ice cream.)

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Wee Cook Wednesdays: Five-Generation Potato Salad

potatosaladThe Easter ham now chilling in the fridge, right beside the Easter eggs … Hmmm, what to do for dinner tonight?!  I know!  Whip up a little potato salad to go with some grilled ham sandwiches!

Truth be told, I’m kind of a potato salad snob. Cold boiled potatoes with a little mayo and a dab of mustard does not a potato salad make, not even with a liberal dash of paprika. One bite of this, and you’ll never look at a hard boiled egg the same way again!

Five-Generation Potato Salad – serves 12

8 potatoes, boiled and cubed
5-6 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
1 med sweet onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 C gherkin sweet pickles, chopped
1/2 C chopped green olives
2 eggs, hardboiled and sliced (“coined”) for garnish

Combine potatoes, eggs, vegetables, and dressing in large bowl. Pour dressing over all, and stir to combine. Garnish with eggs, and sprinkle with paprika. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Dressing: 1 C mayonnaise (lite OK), 3 Tbls yellow mustard, 2 Tbls pickle juice, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp celery seed, salt and pepper to taste.

Wee Cook Wednesday: Quickie Lenten Lunch Idea

smart-chiliLet me start by saying I’m a born-and-bred meat lover. Meatless Fridays in Lent … especially one or two of those Fridays … I seriously have to REMEMBER to be good and eat tuna fish.

So the other day while wandering around the grocery store and spied these little bags of “Smart Chili” goodness on the produce shelf, I though. “Hmmm… looks like chili with beans. But does it TASTE like chili with beans?!”

The carnivore in me does not die quietly.

I tried it. And I LIKED IT!!!  Nuke it 2.5 minutes, toss a little reduced-fat cheddar on top and zap it again a minute or so, then serve with corn chips. Yum.

My new favorite meatless Friday lunch. Try it! (Don’t let the “veggie protein” label scare you.)  Now … if I can just find a good family-size recipe for it … Any ideas?

Wee Cook Wednesday: Bethany Baked Oatmeal

baked-oatmealRecently I’ve been thinking about the fact that each decade of my life has had a particular theme and/or formative experience. My twenties (the 80s) were the “Bethany Days,” when I attended Bethany College of Missions, an Evangelical missionary training center in Bloomington, MN. (I became Catholic when I was thirty … as it turns out, so did at least five other classmates. Four of us appeared on “The Abundant Life” late in the 90s.)

Bethany Fellowship International, which was also the center for Bethany House Publishers and Bethany Campers and Lefse Grills,  has evolved significantly since I graduated  in 1987 (I left in 1989 after a two-year internshp at BHP). And yet it remains a faith-filled Christian community that takes seriously the Lord’s call to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

The communal dining room at Bethany is the site of some of my favorite memories of the place. So recently, when I developed a hankering for some Baked Oatmeal, I hopped on Facebook and begged the recipe from a couple of friends who used to work there … thanks, Laurie and Diane!

This great stick-to-the-ribs brunch recipe is great for Lent. A hunk of the stuff (with maybe a handful of pecans or walnuts, and a drizzle of half-and-half) should keep you going most of the day!  And as you can see, this recipe will feed even the largest family. (I’ve cut the recipe down to manageable size in parenthesis, enough to feed 6-8.)

Bethany Baked Oatmeal (for a crowd of 50 or so)
applesauce – 3 C (1/2 C)
honey – 4 C (2/3 C)
eggs – 20 (3)
oats – 2 gallons (5-1/2 C)
baking powder – 6 Tbls (1 Tbls)
salt – 4 tsp (3/4 tsp)
milk – 10 C (1-2/3 C)
vanilla – 1 Tbls (1 tsp)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Spray 2 large, shallow baking pans (1 9×13) with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients and stir 4 minutes. Bake 300 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Should spring back when pressed gently in the center.) Serve with nuts and milk or half and half.

Photo credit: http://Gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com   (Hers is much prettier than mine!)