Monthly Archives: February 2014

Bubble Bread (Monkey Bread)

Bubble Bread (Monkey Bread)

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays to cook and bake for. I love to cook and bake and have always felt that one of the ways I show love for my family and friends is through sharing food creations with them.
This year I decided that I would make breakfast for my little girls using a recipe that my mother used to make for her children when we were little. Growing up we always called it Bubble Bread, although today it seems to be more well known as Monkey Bread. I haven’t made it since my older two girls were probably closer in age to the younger ones. That’s been awhile! I knew I would have to get up pretty early to have it ready for breakfast, since I make the bread dough from scratch.

I know I have mentioned that during my childhood convenience type foods were not a staple in our home. My parents made everything from scratch when they cooked and baked. So, while most of my friends grew up with recipes that called for Bisquick or refrigerator biscuits, I grew up making recipes that called for yeast or baking powder/soda and flour, salt, liquid, fat, etc. I love baking bread from scratch and am thrilled that I can share the delicious taste, texture, and smell with my children and loved ones!

I did make a few modernizations or modifications to the recipe as I was making it. I tend not to use shortening in my recipes, so I added butter instead. Also, it called for me to scald the milk on the stovetop, and I heated it in the microwave. Below is the modified recipe for Bubble Bread / Monkey Bread.

Bubble Bread

  • 2 Tablespoons quick rise yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 – 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ stick butter, melted (or more)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grease a 9-inch tube pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add yeast to warm water. Set aside. In a large glass bowl microwave milk until boiling. Add 1 stick butter and stir to melt. Microwave at 20 second intervals if needed, stirring after each interval until butter is melted. Add ½ cup sugar and salt. Stir to combine and set aside to cool. When milk mixture is lukewarm add 1 cup flour. Beat well. Add yeast mixture and beaten eggs. Beat for 2 minutes with a mixer or 200 strokes by hand. Mix in remaining flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to cover entire surface with oil. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size. Punch down, and re-cover. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Melt ¼ cup butter, or more, in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix ¾ cup sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Pinch off dough and roll into balls, just under golf-ball size. (You should get about 28 balls) Roll each ball of dough in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar mixture. Arrange dough balls in tube pan to cover the bottom and start a second row. Sprinkle any remaining butter or cinnamon sugar on top. Cover and let double in size. Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool in pan, on a rack for 15-20 minutes. Invert onto a platter or plate and remove pan.

My girls were surprised that I could MAKE Monkey Bread. I feel like I have somehow neglected them on this. I usually make cinnamon rolls if I’m going to make a yeasty bread delight for breakfast! I’m glad that I did this for them, and look forward to making these again… maybe for my grandchildren.
I do love sweet yeasty breads for breakfast, but this does take more time than cinnamon rolls, and is a little messier. Plus, there was no ooey gooey frosting to put on top.

I hope you have enjoyed this recipe from my childhood and take an opportunity to try it for yourself (or your loved ones)!


Posted by on February 16, 2014 in recipe


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Shrimp and Grits at home

Shrimp and Grits at home

Ever since our trip to the Denver Biscuit Company I have been wanting to try my own hand at shrimp and grits. I’ve made biscuits many times in the past, but not as large or as delicious as those mile high biscuits!
I spent several hours researching shrimp and grits recipes. Yes, I said hours. One of my favorite parts of food is learning the history and comparing seasonings and techniques to find the most authentic and historical recipes. I may opt to cook a more simplified version, but I do the research.

I took parts of what I think were three different shrimp recipes. The grits recipes were all very similar, so that was easy to create.

The final result was good. The biscuit recipe I chose was a huge hit with the whole family. The flavor was as good as the biscuits from DenBisCo. They were not seven inches tall, but they were thicker than my iPhone (past biscuit experience gone wrong) by at least an inch! The grits were delicious. I love grits every way I have ever had them, and these were no exception. The shrimp was not as good as at the restaurant, but I took a shortcut with the shrimp themselves, and cut the spiciness of the sauce so that the family could at least try it, if not appreciate it. As it goes with trying to feed a family, not everyone has the same palette for seasonings. Or, you might just have some downright picky eaters! I made eggs over easy for the non-picky eaters.
The Hubs really liked the combination. He had seconds of the shrimp and grits. All of the girls had a second biscuit. I will give you the link to the biscuit recipe I used (Thank you, it was awesome) and I will share with you the recipe I created for the shrimp and grits.

Here is where I found the buttermilk biscuit recipe. I did not use the food processor.

One quick note about the shrimp and grits; I used quick grits. Of the probably 25 recipes I read, most of them called for quick grits. One more quick note; I bought already cooked and peeled shrimp. Peeling shrimp makes my hands break out in a rash and I hate wearing gloves to prevent the rash.

Shrimp and Grits

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 ½ teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound shrimp (as per above, I used pre-cooked, peeled)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

In a saucepan bring 1 cup chicken broth and 1 Tablespoon butter to a rapid boil. Slowly add the grits, whisking continuously. Continue stirring constantly, over medium-low heat for five minutes. Add the half and half, tomato paste and cheese and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes until mixture is smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.
In a large glass bowl melt 4 Tablespoons butter in microwave. Add red pepper, paprika, and Old Bay seasoning. Mix well and add shrimp. Toss to coat. Set aside.
In a large skillet melt 1 Tablespoon butter. Add garlic and stir until lightly browned. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Add in the chicken broth and whisk constantly until smooth. Stir in half and half and continue stirring until slightly thickened. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and pepper sauce. Turn heat to low and add in shrimp.
Spoon the grits over the biscuit, split or whole. Top with shrimp and sauce, and a fried egg if desired.

If I were to make this again I would definitely add some salty pork product (ham, bacon, sausage, pancetta) even though I do not ordinarily eat pork. I think this really would have added some much needed flavor and color. If I were to make it again and my family wasn’t going to be eating I would make it spicier. All in all it was a good first attempt and I was thrilled with the result (especially the biscuits).

If you have the time and inclination to try this little morsel (or big bite) you definitely should!


Posted by on February 12, 2014 in recipe


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SNOW DAY 2 – Coconut Cream Cheese Sheetcake

SNOW DAY 2 – Coconut Cream Cheese Sheetcake

I have to ask. Did you work out? This recipe is not a healthy one. It is delicious, but not healthy.

For those of you who are not concerned with fat grams and calories, then I recommend this incredible delight!
As I write in my previous post, we have had two snow days. To keep me sane and add a bit of warmth to the house I did a bit of cooking and baking. I actually found this recipe on Facebook. It had been shared by a friend. I re-shared it and immediately got several likes. I then got a verbal ‘like’ from The Hubs. Coconut is one my husband’s favorite foods and flavors. He loves coconut shrimp, coconut chicken, coconut gelato, coconut macaroons, coconut… everything! So, I made the recipe.

I did make some changes to the recipe. I will write the recipe as I made it, and give you the link to the original. One of the biggest changes I made was the pan. This is a sheet cake, yet the recipe I read said to make it in a 9 X 13. Having been eating and baking sheet cakes for at least thirty years I could not wrap my head around baking this in anything other than a sheet pan. That made sense to me. The other thing I did differently was to put the frosting on the cake while it was hot, like I do with chocolate sheet cake. I’m not sure that was a bonus. If I make it again, I’ll play around with that.

You’ve waited long enough.

Coconut Cream Cheese Sheet Cake

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 ¼ cup cake flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • Frosting
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract
  • 2 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup toasted coconut, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray sheet cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time then add extract. Slowly add in, or sift in, flour, alternating with coconut milk. Spread cake batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack. Beat the butter and cream cheese for frosting until smooth. Add in the extract, sugar, and milk and continue to beat until creamy. Spread the frosting over the warm cake. If desired, sprinkle frosted cake with toasted coconut.

sheet cake pieceDid I mention that this cake is not healthy? Oh my goodness. For The Hubs it was love at first bite. And second bite. And second piece. Oh my! I hope we don’t have any more SNOW DAYS! I think his cholesterol just shot up!

I think this is definitely a cake that would impress at a pot luck or gathering, or if you have dinner guests. As for me, I’m going to enjoy another little piece and get ready to go back to work! No more snow days for me!


Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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SNOW DAYS! – Slow Cooker Lo Mein

SNOW DAYS! – Slow Cooker Lo Mein

Welcome to Kansas everyone. Land of the Snow Days. Snow Days. Plural. Days. More than one… in a row.
I grew up in rural Kansas. I am used to having several snow days a year for the district we live in. Now that we (mostly The Hubs) homeschools we don’t have to follow the district guidelines for snow days. Our children can go to school even on the snowiest of days. The snowiest of days came this past Tuesday. Now, that did not prevent most of the state from closing down, including my own employer. Closed on Tuesday due to snow. Thanks to the roughly 13 inches of snow that fell on Tuesday, Wednesday was also a snow day. Two in a row. Now don’t get me wrong. I love my children and love spending time with them. (Did you read the post about spending 5 days on the road with them last week?) I promise you, there can be too much of a good thing.
I did manage to assist the girls with a few writing assignments that they had been working on, giving The Hubs 2 entire Snow Days. I also managed to try a couple of new recipes! That was the highlight of the Snow Days.

Food. Yummy food.

I had seen a couple of recipes for Slow Cooker Lo Mein in the past few weeks but hadn’t had time to try them. I also had some bananas that were screaming to go into a loaf of bread. Boy, did I show those bananas a thing or two!

First, I got the Lo Mein ready, and then I put together a couple of freezer to slow cooker meals, which I froze for some time in the future. Then, I whipped up some banana bread cookies. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Oh, and then I made a cream cheese coconut sheet cake. Not healthy.

I took from a few different recipes to create my slow cooker Lo Mein. Here is what I did:

Slow Cooker Chicken Lo Mein

  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage / carrot mix
  • 1 package frozen stir fry vegetables
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 12 ounces spaghetti, or other long pasta, uncooked

In a glass bowl mix together first six ingredients with a fork or small whisk and add chicken breast. Marinate for 30 minutes or longer. Spray crock of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Turn slow cooker to high. Add chicken breast to bottom of slow cooker and cover. Turn chicken every 15 minutes until browned on all sides. Turn slow cooker to low. Add frozen vegetables on top of browned chicken. Break dry noodles in half and add on top of frozen vegetables. Top with cabbage and carrots. Mix chicken broth, soy sauce, Hoisin, garlic powder, brown sugar, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar together in a bowl with a fork or small whisk. Pour over the cabbage / carrot mixture. Place lid on slow cooker and cook for four hours on low. After two hours, remove lid and toss ingredients lightly, to make sure the noodles are separated and immersed in the liquid. Return lid and continue to cook until noodles are done.

Delish! Everyone loved it. There were no leftovers due to the number of servings we all had for dinner! I’ve already been asked to make it again. Soon.

The cookies were really one of those “2 healthy ingredients” things that I see occasionally on Pinterest, Facebook, or other sites. I tried it.

2 Ingredient Banana Cookies

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (or gluten free)
  • 2 over ripe bananas
  • ***
  • Optional ingredients
  • Anything and everything!
  • Vanilla
    Chocolate Chips
  • Nuts
  • Cranberries
  • Peanut Butter

This list could go on forever…
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. n the bowl of a food processor pulse the oats until flour-like. Add the bananas and pulse until you have a stiff dough. Stir in optional ingredients. I added vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and pecans. Roll the dough into balls and place on the baking sheet and press lightly. Bake for 9 – 12 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven to cool.

Let me warn you. These are dense. The girls really liked them. They are chewy and banana-y, and the way I made them – chocolate-y. Did I mention they are dense? Have a glass of milk or something handy. I think with a few modifications they would make a great breakfast bar… full of fiber and protein!

Two huge successes! That is a great day of cooking. What a Snow Day! I also managed to entertain the girls with the cooking, as well as provide them with a nice little healthy snack when they came in from playing in the snow.

I know I said I made a cake. Remember, good things come to those who wait! And it is worth the wait!

Enjoy these little morsels today, and ready yourself for the next post – which will be the cake. You might want to work out first…


Posted by on February 6, 2014 in recipe


Denver – Food Travels

Denver – Food Travels

I am sharing a post about a recent trip and an amazing restaurant!

I hope you enjoy the post!


Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Uncategorized