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Christmas Jam Star Bread

4 Jan

What you need:

  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 1 Small Bowl
  • 1 Glass or Bowl (About 2 in diameter)
  • 1 Clean Towel
  • 1 Cutting Board or large Flat Surface
  • 1 Spatula
  • 1 Large Knife
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Pastry Brush
  • Measuring Device (Ruler)
  • Cooking Spray or Oil (Your Choice)
  • 1/4 c. Water (Warm)
  • 3/4 c. Whole Milk (Warm)
  • 1/4 oz. Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 c. Butter (Softened)
  • 1/4 c. Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 and 3/4 c Flour (Plus about 1/2 Flour set to the side for dusting)
  • 1 Jar (14 oz) Christmas Jam (See recipe on this site)
  • 3/4 c. Nutella or Chocolate Spread
  • 2 tbsp. Butter (Melted)
  • 1 c. Confectioners Sugar

First, in a small bowl, dissolve your yeast in the warm water until foamy in appearance. Set aside for about 5 mintues.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, egg, butter, sugar and salt until smooth in appearance. Add in the yeast mixture. Carefully, 1/2 a cup at a time add only 3 cups of flour.

Using the spatula, mix until smooth & shiny. Now you can add the remaining 3/4 c. flour. Form a soft dough ball.

Prepare your flat surface by dusting with some of the left over flour. Place your dough ball on the surface. Gently knead until smooth and the texture is like elastic. Reform the dough into a ball.

Next, lightly grease your large bowl and place the dough ball into it. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot to double in size. This usually takes about an hour.

Once the dough has doubled, lightly flour your flat surface again. Place the dough ball on the surface and punch it down. Now, cut into 4 equal portions.

Take each portion and roll into a 12 inch circle. Once that has been done, place parchment paper on the baking sheet and begin layering. Layer as following, leaving 1/2 inch clean edge all along the outer part of the dough:

  • Dough
  • Christmas Jam (1/2 Jar, 7 oz)
  • Dough
  • Nutella (3/4 c)
  • Dough
  • Christmas Jam (1/2 Jar, 7 oz)
  • Dough

At this time, if you want a cleaner edge bread, push down on the layer ends, almost pinching it flat against the surface. This is a choice step, leaving them open is perfectly acceptable.

Place a round glass or cup in the center of the dough, but DO NOT push down or indent the dough. This is just a guide to be removed later.

Using your large knife, cut the dough from the glass to the outer edges evenly across from each other (like cutting a pizza, but leaving the middle in tact) . You should have 16 evenly spaces slices or cuts. Now you can remove the glass.

Now the toughest and funnest part! Take two slices of dough (all the layers) and gently turn out in opposite directions at least 2 times. Taking the very ends of the dough, pinch them together, forming a point. Repeat all the way around the circle.

Once that is done, taking your clean towel again, cover and let rise for another 1/2 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375°. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Once golden, take out of the oven and brush with the melted butter.

Artichoke Spinach Bagels

2 Jan

What you need:

  • Cooking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Large Bowl
  • Small Bowl
  • Spatula
  • 6 whole Bagels (Your choice flavor, I used Sesame Seed, split)
  • 16 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 c. Artichoke Hearts (Marinated work great, finely chopped)
  • 1 c. Fresh Spinach (Finely chopped)
  • 2 c. Mozzarella Cheese (Grated, keep 2/3 c to the side for topping)
  • 1 c. Fresh Parmesan Cheese (Grated or shaved, keep 1/3 cup to the side for topping)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic (Finely Minced)
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh or Dried Parsley
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh or Dried Green Onion
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (Crushed)
  • 1 pinch Salt (to taste)
  • 1 pinch Pepper (to taste)

First, preheat your oven to 350° and line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.

Next, combine all of the ingredients (minus the Bagels, 2/3 c Mozzarella cheese & 1/3 c Parmesan cheese ) in a large bowl with your spatula.

Mix the left over Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and put to the side.

Take your split Bagels and place them round side down, cut side up on the baking sheet. Spread each with about a 1/4 inch thick layer of the spread.

Once all the bagels are covered and all the spread has been distributed, sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly on top of each Bagel.

Bake the bagels in the middle of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. If you prefer crispier, browner tops or bubblier cheese, set the oven on broil. If broiling, low setting works best and please watch it…they burn easy!

Christmas Jam

1 Jan

Before you start, please make sure that all your canning components are sterilized, especially if they are new. It will save a lot of time and frustration. Also, you can pre-write your labels, however do not attach them to the jars yet. You can do that after the jam has cooled. I personally like the biodegradable ones. They wash off easily and don’t leave a residue.

What you Need:

  • Food Processor
  • 2 Large Heavy Bottom Pots
  • Wire Rack for 1 of your pots (Not necessary, but nice to have)
  • Tongs
  • Funnel
  • Ladle
  • Spatula
  • 14 Half Pint Mason Jars with lids
  • Self Adhering Labels (Biodegradable work great)
  • 40 oz. Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 lb. Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
  • 5 Lbs. Sugar
  • 6 oz Liquid Fruit Pectin

Using your food processor, place both the strawberries and cranberries in and pulse to the desired consistency. I personally prefer a smoother jam, but it’s just as yummy with chunks. You could also puree most of the fruit and keep some to the side to pulse separately to desired chunkiness and add in to the pot later.

Pour the fruit into your pot. Add all of the sugar and bring to a full rapid boil over medium high heat. Stir to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot. No messy clean-up necessary. Once to a full rapid boil, cook for 1 minute.

Remove your pot from the heat and add in the pectin. Make sure to mix it well and make sure the pectin has melted in completely.

Set aside the jam, away from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes. You should notice a skin of foam on the top forming. Make sure to skim this foam off with a spatula and discard. This makes your jam look cleaner and taste better!

Next, you’ll want to ladle the hot jam mixture into your mason jars, leaving about ¼-inch from jam to top of the mason jar. It works well with a funnel, then you don’t usually have to clean the rims then. If your rims get dirty, use a clean washcloth to wipe your mason jar rims clean before you attach the lids. Once clean, cover with your lids and screw on the jar bands.

To finish the canning process, place the jars into a water bath for about 10 minutes. The heating process should vacuum out the air between the jam and the lid. To check that it’s sealed, the center of the lid should be sucked in and not pop when pushed on. If you’re in a rush, like I usually am, you can place the jars in the fridge and that will cool them off faster. You can attach the labels at this time.

Happy eating. This jam is delicious and useful in lots of recipes. Feel free to mess around with the amount or type of sugar that works best for you. Just realize it could change your outcome.

Crusty Dutch Oven Bread

18 Aug
Basic Crusty Dutch Oven Bread & Variations
3 cups flour (plus some for dusting)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
How to make it & forget it…

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast.  Add water to the mixture until it looks fluffy.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place…such as your kitchen counter or inside the cool oven for 12 – 18 hours.  Overnight is best.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Once ready, place your lidded, empty dutch oven in it for about 30 minutes before placing the dough in it.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface, such as a cutting board and shape into a ball.  Have a pre-cut piece of parchment paper ready and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Place the dough ball on top of the parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and set aside again while the empty pot is heating.  Remove hot pot lid from the oven and place the parchment paper and dough in.  Lightly dust the top of the bread with flour and cut three lines across the top.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.   Enjoy!

Possible variations:



Cheese & garlic

Pumpkin Spice

Walnut Cherry

Cranberry Orange

Lemon Almond, etc.


Vanilla Bean Peach Jam

12 Aug

Vanilla Bean Peach Jam 

3 lbs. ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

3½ cups sugar

1-2 vanilla bean(s), halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out

Juice of 1 lemon


Making the Simplest Jam Ever…

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients (including vanilla bean seeds and pods) over medium heat.  Bring it to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the fruit has softened and is partially caramelized with a dark orange-ish color.  Pick out the vanilla bean pods.  Then if you’re not into chunks of fruit & prefer a smoother jam, take out your hand blender and puree your heart out.  No judgement, just yummy !

To preserve your bounty…

You can preserve jam by boiling the sterilized, filled and sealed jars in a water bath for 15 minutes.  You can also skip this step and store the jam in clean jars and keep refrigerated; however it won’t keep for long.

peach jam

Just Peachy Cupcakes & Peach Frosting

12 Aug

Just Peachy Cupcakes & Peach Frosting

For the Cupcakes, you will need:

2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup sugar
1 cup peach puree
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar

For the Frosting, you will need:

1 can store-bought vanilla or white frosting
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup peach puree

First start with the cake~!
You’ll want to preheat your oven to 375°F. Then line a muffin pan with your choice of paper liners or lightly grease the pan.  In one bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.  in a smaller bowl, mix together the peach puree, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together until combined.  if you’re looking to add color, you should add a few drops pf food coloring at this point. When the batter is all smooth, then add the vinegar…stirring quickly just to simply mix in…don’t over-mix. The batter will foam slightly when the baking soda and vinegar react to each other.  Pour the batter into the liners in the pan and bake for 20 minutes.  If you wanted to make a cake, you could easily…just bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool before you frost it…unless you’re going for a glaze look & taste.

While that’s baking…move on to making the frosting~!
I tried several recipes for fresh puree frostings…none worked out.  Too lumpy…tasted good, looked awful.  I finally resorted to taking a can of store-bought vanilla frosting and mixing in the puree.  That made the frosting yummy, but lacking stick-ability.  So, to remedy the problem, I kept mixing in powdered or confectioner’s sugar until the consistency was what frosting should be.  It worked awesomely & tasted amazing.

peachy cupcakes