Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day: Loaf 1

For Christmas I got this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, from my mother-in-law.  Thanks, Kate!  I have always felt a little negative toward yeast and yeast breads.  I have had some success with yeast doughs, but not enough to make me feel very confident.  This book makes bread baking seem accessible and simple.

After reading through the introduction, tips, ingredients and master recipe I ordered these food storage containers from and once I received them I got started.

The ingredients are simple and you most likely have all of them at this very moment.  Flour, water, yeast and salt.  That’s it.

If you have a large enough container, you can mix it all up in there with a wooden spoon (less clean up), let it rise for a couple hours, then store it in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 2 weeks!

There aren’t many hard and fast rules here.  Temperature of the water, initial rising time, the amount the dough has risen (double, triple, etc) days in the fridge, and the amount of dough for your loaf are all approximate.  The directions and ingredients are clear, you just don’t have to worry about water that is exactly 101.3 degrees or a ball of dough that is exactly 1 pound 2.25 ounces.  This is stress free bread making!

That is the part I really love about this.  If you thought you were going to have time to make baguettes to eat with dinner, but suddenly your 2 month old spits up all over the couch and you, then you don’t have to worry about it.  Flexibility.  Wonderful flexibility.

Here are the pre and post risen dough.  My dough just about doubled in volume after 3 hours at room temperature.  I really like these containers.

The dough rose well, it was easy to form into a “boule”…fancy French term for ball of dough, and while the directions for baking seem a bit tedious they are actually quite easy to pull off.  After 30 minutes of baking my bread wasn’t very dark, and it did not look like the bread on the cover of the book.  BUT, it smelled lovely, it had a nice crisp crust, a chewy interior and a yeasty, and just slightly salty flavor.  I am hopeful that the more bread I bake, the better each loaf will be.  So, here is loaf # 1!

Black Bean Soup

Photographing dinner is hard for me.  It is almost always dark, and so I almost always have to use flash or deal with the yellow lights in my kitchen.  Pictures of our dinners never look quite right.  That is my excuse for this not so great picture of the black bean soup I made with my mother-in-law.

This recipe is from Lick my Spoon who adapted it from Bon Appetit.  Looking at the Bon Appetit recipe, I think I would have chosen to use the chipotle chiles.  We did not make the cilantro lime yogurt.  Instead I topped the soup with sour cream, cheese, chopped cilantro and a lime wedge.

Canned beans are what I usually find myself using in recipes.  I’d never used dried beans before.  It always seemed too time consuming and daunting.  This recipe called for a bag of dry beans that require soaking and a long cooking time.  My mother-in-law assured me it wasn’t all that bad…and it wasn’t!  The beans had more texture and so the soup tasted much more substantial.  If you’re short on time, canned beans would be a fine short cut.  But if, like me, you’ve always been scared of dried beans I encourage you to face your fears and go for it.

This soup, while not the most attractive one, is quite good.  Paired with a green salad, this makes for a lovely light dinner.  Enjoy!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake

On any given day there are dozens of recipes that come into my Google Reader from the food blogs I follow.  It would be impossible for me to read all these posts, and even more impossible for me to try to make even half of them.  If something catches my eye, I’ll open it in another window and let in linger there for a few days, read through it a couple times, and figure out when (or if) I will have the time to make it.  This particular recipe was something I knew I had to make, I just had to find the time to get a few things at the store and a big enough chunk of nap time from Carson to get it done.

Bake or Break posted this recipe which is from a cookbook from Baked in Brooklyn.  I visited Baked last summer when I went to see my sister and her family.  I highly recommend making the effort to go there if you find yourself in New York City.   Here is the link to Bake or Break, and here is the link to the cookbook…which I am seriously considering purchasing.

Due to a lack of time, resources, and the memory to get cream cheese at the grocery store, I did not make the cream cheese frosting.  I instead opted to make a simple glaze of milk, powdered sugar and a little almond extract.  I glazed the cake in the pan after it had cooled.  The glaze is nice on this cake, but I am a huge fan of cream cheese frosting and will probably make this again to see how the two variations compare.

The method of soaking the oats in boiling water and melting the butter with that mixture was something I hadn’t seen or done before.  I think it gave the cake a moister and more delicate texture than if those ingredients were combined separately.  Mixing the chocolate chips with liquor (I used Courviosier…don’t ask me why I have a bottle of that) and then tossing in the flour was supposed to keep them from sinking to the bottom, but most of mine did sunk anyway.  Not a big deal.

I really like this cake.  It’s dense, moist, and has great contrasts in texture with the oats, chocolate chips and glaze.  Skipping the glaze and serving this warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce would be crazy delicious.  Why do I get these great ideas after I make something? (more…)

Cranberry Bread

I bought a bag of cranberries last week for no reason.  I found a delicious recipe for cranberry bread on Martha  Here is the link.

Here are the changes I made; I used 2% instead of whole milk and I sprinkled the top with granulated sugar instead of the turbinado.  This is a dense, slightly sweet bread that is bursting with tart cranberries.  The top of the bread comes out of the oven crunchy and delicious.  After a day wrapped in foil, however, the top became a little gooey.  It remains delicious, especially when toasted.

This bread is easy to make and isn’t too sweet to serve for breakfast, unlike some quick breads.  Almonds or pecans would be yummy in this bread.  Enjoy! (more…)

Chicken Chili

A few weeks ago Ben and I decided to invite some friends over to watch Texas A&M play in the Cotton Bowl.  The game didn’t turn out the way I would have liked, but this chili exceeded my expectations.  This photo below of the delicious chili, however, is quite disappointing.  Sorry.

With the little guy keeping me pretty busy I knew that I had to be really on top of things in order to get the house cleaned and dinner made in time.  I chopped all my veggies and prepped all that I could the night before while Ben was home.  This made the cooking process simple and clean up a breeze.

I found this recipe on  Here is the link.  I didn’t change much.  I used a rotisserie chicken to further simplify this soup, and I used more green chiles than the original recipe calls for.  The extra green chiles made it a bit hotter, so use a 4 ounce can if you don’t want that added heat.  I also added a chopped red bell pepper in with the onions for more flavor and color.  We ate left over chili for a few days, and it was even better.  I like to crush Fritos or blue corn chips and mix them in the chili, then top it with sour cream and cheese.  Enjoy!

Chicken Chili


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or cheddar, or a mix)
  • sour cream
  • tortilla or corn chips


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly cook and stir the onion and red pepper until tender.
  2. Mix in the garlic, jalapeno, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve garnished with cheese, sour cream and corn chips.

Marbled Spice Cake

The high in Amarillo was 17 yesterday, and we didn’t even get snow.  It just wasn’t fair.  If it is going to be bitterly cold outside, I would like to get some beautiful snow in return!  Since it was a bit too cold out for me to go run errands, I went in search of something to bake with what I had at home.

In my fridge was half a container of sour cream, and plenty of eggs and butter.  In the pantry I had a box of spice cake mix and half a bag of chocolate chips.

I searched “sour cream cake” and found a marbled sour cream cake that sounded easy and quite good.  Instead of the vanilla cake mix I used the spice cake.

The end result was quite pretty, and smelled delicious baking.  The texture of the cake was a bit dry, and I wasn’t terribly impressed by the taste either.  A glaze of some kind might be a nice improvement.  I might also add some whole chocolate chips or maybe nuts to the batter.

But this was incredibly easy to prepare, and not bad.  I can’t say that Ben and I will finish the whole thing, but I will give it another chance tonight.

Marbled Spice Cake


  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package spice cake mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease and sugar 10-cup bundt or tube pan.
  2. Microwave chocolate chips in medium, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
  3. Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil, water and sugar in large mixer bowl. Beat on low speed until moistened. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir 2 cups batter into melted chocolate. Alternately spoon batters into prepared pan, beginning and ending with yellow batter.
  5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Nilla Wafer Cake

What has happened to me?  Why did I make Kraft macaroni and cheese for Ben and a frozen Healthy Choice meal for myself for dinner last week?  Because I am a new mommy, and that means I am kind of a mess.  To all those mothers of newborns who have it together, I envy and admire you.  Everyone is telling me it will get better…I hope they’re right.

I’m not cooking anything really worth posting about.  And even if I was, I don’t really have time to post!  I really miss my kitchen.

This recipe caught my eye on a few weeks ago, right after Carson was born.  My mom even bought a box of Nilla Wafers that day so that we could make it, but we didn’t have a chance.  Ben and I were having company last night, so I decided to try it out.

I wasn’t too impressed with this, but the people who ate it were very nice to be complimentary!  It wasn’t very sweet, and the texture was quite dense and a little rubbery.

So, I went and looked at the recipe again.  I FORGOT THE SUGAR!  2 C UPS OF SUGAR!  Maybe the lack of sleep is catching up with me.  Maybe it was just a result of my haste to get this made while Carson slept.  Whatever the explanation for my mistake, it was a bad one.  This ranks up there with making a cup of coffee at my parents house over Christmas with one of those Tassimo makers and putting the mug upside down.  I have lost my mind.

I might try it warmed up in the microwave or possibly toasted with some butter.  I will probably try this again sometime.  I like the idea of the using the cookie crumbs as the flour, and I am interested to see the difference 2 cups of sugar makes.

Nilla Wafer Cake


  • 6 whole eggs
  • 3.5 oz can of coconut (if you use bagged sweetened flaked coconut, just use 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 ounce box vanilla wafers, crushed
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C chopped pecans


  1. Beat eggs well.
  2. Mix wafers and all other ingredients into eggs.
  3. Pour into greased and floured tube pan.
  4. Bake at 350 for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.