Pizza Focaccia Bread – Ready in 1 Hour

This is a new favorite in our house.  A fresh and flavorful pizza bread that can be made and ready to serve in an hour.  Yes, you heard me correctly, 1 hour!   And if you’re intimidated by making bread have no fear…  Seriously, this recipe is great for beginner bread makers.

Pizza Focaccia Bread

3/4 c. warm water

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Toppings

1/4 c. pizza sauce

1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

8 slices pepperoni, cut into small pieces

2 dashes of Italian seasoning

Spray a 9” pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add water, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Let sit for a couple minutes.  Add oil and flour; mix thoroughly.  On a lightly floured surface knead dough for about 1-2 minutes.  Place dough in the prepared pie plate and press out.  Poke holes in the dough (as shown below).

Top dough with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese (as shown below).  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes;  bake for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

I like to dip this bread in fresh pizza sauce.  It makes a great appetizer, compliments a fresh salad, and can be served with a meal.

Either way, it won’t last long – I guarantee it!

Seedless Black Raspberry Sauce

Last week I shared a post for homemade black raspberry jelly.  We have berries are out behind our house that are free for the picking – and boy are they plentiful this year.  I think all of the rain we had this spring has helped them grow.   It’s hard for me to rationalize leaving these  berries unpicked because they are loaded with healthy antioxidants and are super delicious.  My only problem is that my stomach doesn’t tolerate seeds well so I have to be a little crafty and work around them.

I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to making seedless preserves and sauces before now but all I can say is better late than never.

Seedless Black Raspberry Sauce

3 c. of berries

1 1/2 c. water

Put berries and water in a large saucepan and bring a full boil for 5 minutes over medium heat – stirring often.  Mash the berries in the pan as they soften while cooking them.  (This will yield about 2 cups of juice).

Once the berries have boiled for 5 minutes remove from heat.  Strain the juice through a doubled piece of cheese cloth and discard the seeds and pulp.

2 c. juice

2 tbsp. butter

3/4 c. sugar

1 tbsp. corn starch, plus 1 tbsp. water (mixed together)

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a clean saucepan, melt the butter.  Add juice, sugar, salt, and cornstarch; bring to a boil on slow heat – stirring constantly.  Cook until liquid thickens.  Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into container. Makes 1 pint.  Serve warm or cool.   Store in the refrigerator (stir thoroughly before serving, or warm for a few seconds in the microwave).

Use this as a topping on ICE CREAM, MILKSHAKES, PANCAKES, or vanilla YOGURT (like pictured).  One of these days I’m going to experiment and make a homemade black raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing using this sauce and when I do, I’ll share the recipe.

Imagine how happy you’d make a friend, neighbor, or co-worker if you presented them with a small jar of this.  Think Christmas…  I have froze bags of these berries so I can make fresh batches of sauce and jam throughout the cold winter months when ripe berries are hard to come by.

Pick berries and get into the sauce!

Old-Fashioned Apple Sour Cream Cake

I was ready to experiment in the kitchen yesterday.  I planned on making something with some Granny Smith apples I had on hand.  I considered making a pie, muffins, bread, and apple crisp, but I couldn’t shake the idea of creating a deliciously moist apple cake.

I started out with a big bowl and worked my way into this delicious cake.  I promise you this cake is super moist (thanks to the sour cream) and will quench any hankering you have for the combination of apples and cinnamon.   What’s even better?  You can don’t need an electric mixer to whip this cake up; simply mix by hand.

I decided to title this recipe as Old-Fashioned Apple Sour Cream Cake because it is the type of dessert my mother or grandmother would have whipped up to serve following one of their delicious home cooked meals. 

Old-Fashioned Apple Sour Cream Cake

1 c. granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 stick of butter, softened

1/2 c. sour cream

1/4  tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, and sliced very thin

Cinnamon and sugar mixture – 1/2 c. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon;  add prepared apple slices and set aside

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8”x8” glass baking dish

In a large bowl mix by hand the sugar, egg, softened butter, and sour cream.  Add cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and flour; mix until all ingredients are combined.  Don’t over mix.  Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Layer half of the apple slices on top of the batter.  Repeat with remaining cake batter and apple slices.  The apples will be the top layer.

Bake for approximately 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean after being submitted into the center of the cake.

Cool slightly and serve warm with your favorite vanilla ice cream, or allow to cool and serve later. 

Delicious Apple Sour Cream Cake - From Scratch

 

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake - Serve Warm or Cold

What is your favorite fruit to bake with?

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

There is nothing more enticing than a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls waiting to be dug into. Is there? 

Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. milk

1 tsp. salt

4 tsp. instant yeast

1 c. warm water

1 egg, beaten

4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

Cinnamon & Sugar Mixture

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 stick of butter, softened

Icing

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. milk

In a medium sized saucepan, add butter, milk, salt, and sugar.  Heat until butter has melted.  Remove from the burner and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour, yeast, and water.  Add egg and milk mixture to the flour; mix thoroughly.  Add remaining flour ensuring all ingredients are mixed completely.

Place the dough on a moderately floured surface.  Knead until dough is no longer sticky – use more flour if necessary by adding about a tablespoon or two at a time.  Place dough into a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow dough to double in size; about 1 hour.

Once dough has risen, place on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper about 15”x20” in size.   Punch dough down and roll into a rectangular shape – the size of the paper.  Brush softened butter on dough, sprinkle with prepared sugar & cinnamon mixture.  Roll dough into a log starting on the longest side of the rectangle.  Cut 1” slices and place in a greased 8”x13” baking pan.  

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 20-22 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool before drizzling icing on top.   

Cinnamon Cookies Rolled in Brown Sugar

On the spur of the moment (like six o’clock at night) I decided I needed to bake something sweet.  Something with cinnamon and brown sugar kind of sweet.  While a lot of ideas came to mind, many would take far more time and energy than I wanted to expend so I came up with the perfect solution – cinnamon cookies rolled in brown sugar – yes! score! win!

These cookies are quite popular  in our home right now, and I’m sure if you make a batch, they will be just as popular in yours as well.

Cinnamon Cookies Rolled in Brown Sugar (Recipe adapted from themondaybox.com)

1/2 c. vegetable shortening

1/2 c. margarine

1 egg

1 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 c. brown sugar (set aside)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream shortening, margarine, egg, and granulated sugar together.  Add baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.  Mix in flour one cup at a time until thoroughly combined.  Roll dough into 1” balls – here is a tip, if you want fat cookies roll 2” balls, roll each ball in brown sugar, place on prepared baking sheet, and press dough down with a fork leaving crisscross marks on the top of each cookie.  For 1” balls, bake about 8 minutes, or just until the cookies start to turn a light golden color.  If baking 2” balls, bake about 10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool slightly before moving them.   Makes about 2 dozen cookies if rolling dough into 1” balls and makes about 1 dozen cookies if rolling dough into into 2”balls.

Have you tried any new cookie recipes lately?  If so, let’s hear about them!

Simple & Healthy Ingredients Make For Delicious Mediterranean Style Salad Dressing

So, welcome 2015! 

Like many people who make new year resolutions, eating healthier options of the things I like always tops my list.  I’m always optimistic coming out of the gate but somewhere along the line I start lose my momentum, fall off the wagon, and resort to my old (not so wise) eating habits.  I vow every year that “this year is going to be different”.   And in the end, I’ve only fooled myself into believing that I could forgo delicious sweets, homemade bread, second helpings of my favorite dish of macaroni and cheese, and of course the great wines found here in the Finger Lakes Region and abroad. 

But… In a good faith effort to try try again, I’m sharing a recipe I found at The Pioneer Woman’s blog for a healthy and delicious homemade salad dressing she has named Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing.  I made a couple adaptations to the original recipe.

I decided that Aunt Trish’s dressing has a Mediterranean taste to it – which I love.  It tastes so fresh and healthy, and the fact that there are no preservatives makes it all the better.  I do have to warn you that this recipe makes a considerably small batch.  My suggestion is to double or triple the recipe because I’m sure it will keep well in the fridge for a week or two – if it lasts that long!  At some point you may want to remove the garlic if you don’t want garlic overkill.

Mediterranean Style Salad Dressing ( This recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

3/4 c. olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

4 tbsp. of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Pinch of salt & pepper

Dash of paprika

1/2 tsp. honey

2 whole cloves of garlic (peeled and cut in half)

Put all ingredients together in a jar or dressing shaker and shake until mixed.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

 

Have you made any new year resolutions?  If so, what are they?  Do you think you’ll stick to them?

Healthy & Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

Every year, for many years, I have broke a promise to myself and it all has to do with soup.  Yes, I said it all has to do with soup.

You see, each year I have told myself that this is the year I’m going to make Homemade Butternut Squash Soup.  But then I never do make the soup and there has never been a good reason for it either.  Just lame excuses.

This year, I finally kept my word to myself and made the most delicious and healthy soup imaginable.  I now realize that all that procrastination was crazy.  The most time consuming part of making this soup is the peeling and cubing of the squash – which I enlisted my hubby to help me with.  If you want to speed this soup making process up a bit then I suggest purchasing the squash already peeled and cubed from the vegetable section of your favorite supermarket.

This soup recipe fits my tastes and expectations perfectly.  There was no disappointments and I’m adding it to my tried-and-true recipes in hopes that I’ll make it for many more years to come.  If you try this recipe please let me know what you think of it.

Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter (or margarine)

1 small onion, diced

1/2 c. diced carrot

4 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash

4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. skim milk

1/4 c. half & half

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter and oil on low heat.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Once onions are cooked, add carrots, squash, and broth.  Cover; bring to a boil until vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and puree the mixture.  Return to low heat and stir in milk, half & half, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt & pepper to taste.  Do not bring to a boil.   

This soup makes a great appetizer or entrée.  I served it as an entrée with a salad and homemade Almost Texas Roadhouse Rolls that I’ll be sharing with you in a future post.  

Although the ingredients are different, this soup reminds me of Panera’s Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup – yum!

What is your favorite soup recipe?

One Bowl Corn Muffins for My Dream Restaurant

Order up!  I’ve often thought that I’d like to own a restaurant.  I envision it being a small place known for serving some of the best food north of the Mason Dixon Line.  I’d offer daily specials that could be read off an overtly large antique blackboard and I‘d serve the meals on vintage mismatched dinnerware that I’d scour local thrift stores to find.

The focus would be on good food made from scratch, using local farm fresh ingredients whenever possible.  And while I would offer plenty of healthier choices, there would be lot’s of comfort food to choose from too. 

Daily specials would consist of homemade soups, hand-pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, slow roasted beef and ham, country fried chicken, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and my grandma’s famous coleslaw.  And what is a good meal without delicious homemade dinner rolls and corn muffins?   And let’s not forget the dessert cooler filled with slices of homemade cakes and pies – yum.

Okay, I’m back, no longer daydreaming… 

Since I really don’t see myself going into the restaurant business anytime soon, if ever, I decided to do the next best thing and make homemade The Joy of Caking’s One Bowl Corn Muffins to share with you.

These muffins are moist, sweet, and won’t crumble apart in your hands. And just so we’re clear, these are the muffins I would serve if I ever do open a restaurant. 

The Joy of Caking’s One Bowl Corn Muffins

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1/4 c. Chobani Plain (low fat) Yogurt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 TBSP. olive oil

1/2 c. ground cornmeal

1 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. skim milk

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, add sugar, egg, yogurt, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oil; mix thoroughly by hand.  Add in remaining ingredients of cornmeal, flour, and milk.  Mix until all ingredients are completely blended.  Fill muffin cups a little over half full and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center.

Cool before removing them from the pan.

The Chobani Yogurt and skim milk helps make these muffins a bit healthier too.  You don’t’ have to feel so guilty when you eat one, or two…

Have you ever dreamed of opening a business?  What would it be?

Shiver Me Timbers; Vanilla Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes

Shiver me timbers… Here is a cupcake recipe that will make your Halloween a happy one.   And if it doesn’t, I’ll walk the plank.

This recipe combines all of my favorite flavors (vanilla, peanut butter, and chocolate) into a sinfully moist and rich cupcake.  Factor in the homemade vanilla buttercream icing, and your timbers will be shivering too! 

Vanilla Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes by The Joy of Caking

1/2 c. olive oil

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 c. sour milk

1/3 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

Place 12 cupcake liners in cupcake tins.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add oil, sugar, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and eggs; beat thoroughly with electric mixer.   Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, milk, and flour; mix completely for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove 1 – 1 1/2 cups of batter from the large bowl and place in a  small bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave for about 1 minute;  mix melted chocolate to the small bowl of batter.

Using a small ladle, fill cupcake papers equally with vanilla peanut butter batter.  Using a dining sized tablespoon spoon chocolate peanut butter batter on top of vanilla peanut butter batter.  Using a toothpick, swirl the chocolate peanut butter batter into the vanilla peanut butter batter.

Bake for 14- 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into center of cupcake.  Cool slightly before moving cupcakes to cooling rack. 

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

3 tbsp. butter, softened

1 tsp. clear vanilla extract

1/2 bag (1 lb.) of confectioners sugar

2-3 tbsp. milk

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time to ensure proper consistency.

Once cupcakes are cool, frost and decorate.

 

As luck would have it, SweetWorks Candy recently sent me a box of goodies to put to good use.  I couldn’t resist using some of them to decorate these cupcakes in a pretty Halloween fashion.  I  just love the bright and flashy color of their Pearls, Sixlets, and Gumballs.  Don’t they make the cupcakes look so adorable? 

A big thank you to SweetWorks for providing me with the candies used in this post.  Please note – I was not compensated for writing this post and the opinions herein are my own. 

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Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake and October

Today is the 1st of October and I’m excited.  September was a crazy month for me, I didn’t get to spend much time with my blog, and I plan to make up for that this month.

First, something new will be added to the Mercantile because the auction for the craft/sewing notion jar has officially ended.  Thanks for all your bids!  It’s been so much fun watching the bids come in and reading your comments.  I hope the lucky winner (who is being notified by email) will enjoy their jar of notions.

Also this month, I’ve conspired with a bunch of GREAT BLOGGERS and we will be hosting a virtual fall harvest dinner party that is bound to help jump start your Thanksgiving Day menu planning.

Sandra from Sweet Sensations will be setting our table for this event.  Terra from Café Terra will be mixing up one of her amazing cocktails for us.  Monet from Anecdotes and Applecores and Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary will be whipping up tasty appetizers that anyone would gladly sample.  Amy from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes will be making us a beautiful and delicious fall inspired salad that sounds like a meal in itself.  Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head will be sharing one of her scrumptious side dishes – and hint, she grows at least one of the ingredients  that she will be using in her dish.  Sharon and Denise from BeBetsy, and Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake,  will be surprising us with something yummy from their bread baskets.  And last but not least, Anne From My Sweet Heart will complete our meal with one of her insanely enticing desserts.  I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t wait!

So, let’s get this month started with a great recipe for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake.

This recipe was adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes cookbook.  It’s super moist and perfectly spiced.  If you’re a raisin or nut fan, throw in a few of each.  They can only make the cake that much better.

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1 1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 c. canned pumpkin

2/3 c. sour milk

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

Generously grease a 10”x14” cake pan with margarine.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs; beat well.  Mix in pumpkin, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla.  Alternate adding flour with milk and beat thoroughly.   Pour batter into prepared pan and bake approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center.  Cool slightly and cover with plastic wrap.  Once cake has completely cooled, frost with your favorite cream cheese icing.

Happy October!

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