#30, Glazed Breakfast Buns, p. 23

This delicate bun topped with a streusel glaze will definitely start your day off right. (p. 23)


IMG_0980 - Version 2
Delicate bun awaiting its icing
Smash, Hulk. Smash! Not the buns, just the pecans. OK?
Firm decision to smash the pecans to bits.

DETOUR: Slight. The recipe called for drizzling a bit of pure sugar icing on top of the buns, then sprinkling that with roughly chopped pecans. I decided to infuse the icing with lots of pecan – pecan bits and pecan dust, and then spread it as if on a regular cupcake.

Another entry into YUMDOM.
Crowned by the Hulk!

Destined for a group of long-suffering IB students.


#29, Cranberry Orange Bread

A Thanksgiving tradition in some families.


The two stars of this show.

Before we get started, have you ever wondered why “banana bread, zucchini bread, etc.” are called breads and not cakes? I’ve been asking myself that question, especially after having a bite of this festive jewel. Oh… Here’s the answer.

Why didn’t I wait until Thanksgiving to bake this? It’s not even Halloween yet. For very practical reasons: 1) I had all the ingredients handy, 2) I needed something easy to do and ALL of these “bread” recipes are SO EASY to make and 3) THEY ARE SO GOOD!!!!, 4) It’s never too early to dream about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Where’s my coffee?

DETOURS? None that I know of. At least not a big deal. I did end up with a tad bit extra orange juice and a bit of pulp in the mixture due to my zesting technique (or lack thereof). I held my orange over the batter trying to let the zest fall directly in but my orange was very soft and kind of squished all to pieces and into the mixture. LUCKY ME/WE!  …….. Yeah. Why not? Why not have orange pulp as part of the recipe? Why not call for fresh squeezed oranges in the recipe? The Magnolia book sticks to very traditional, late 20th century, easy-in-the kitchen recipes for the most part. The Magnolia bakers really do present a kind of classic Americana.

This classic piece of Americana with classic American fruits of oranges and cranberries is headed for a Kiwi I know.



Borrowed, Blue, Old, and New

Nope. Not a wedding. Just more baking.

Three things directed my baking this morning: 1) My son asked for corn muffins – which I enjoyed making them for him, 2) I had NO white, all-purpose flour in the house, 3) I had lots of blueberries. It was time to do something old yet new – improvise recipes I’d already baked with a variety of flours THAT I WAS DYING TO USE FOR A LONG TIME!!! Something blue – those blueberries. Something borrowed? Not sure. Can you help me on that one. Of course all the recipes are borrowed — except this morning’s flour choice issues.

I must admit — I HAD FUN NOT FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS THIS MORNING – at least not completely so.

I didn’t even think I would blog this, so I took almost no pictures. What would I picture if I could?

Hmmm. Would it be Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour?

This is a finely ground product. Makes delicate corn muffins.

Hmmm. What about Bob’s Spelt flour? I guess I could.

Google “spelt” and learn some cool stuff if recapturing ancient, nutritious forms of wheat turns you on. Does me.

Then there was them blueberries.

Feeling like a walk in the woods right about now?

A WORD ABOUT BOB: I really don’t want to come across like a commercial, but I admire Bob’s Red Mill – the products, the history behind the business, and the business model of Bob’s Red Mill. I recommend visiting the website if thinking about the relationships between food-nutrition-people-business interests you (http://www.bobsredmill.com/ ).




Ready for weekend breakfast action!

Speical fun note: I got to use another new thing-a- ma-bob. The doughnut pan. I did it just for fun, making small, baked, bluebuerry doughnuts as well as regular muffin shapes.

WHEAT DETOUR: How’d it turn out? What? For the blueberry muffins I had NO all-purpose (i.e. white) flour. I did the following SHARING MY SECRET – HERE IT COMES….

1. 2 cups whole wheat flour

2. 1 cup spelt

3. 2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Gluten – Yep. It was available at Mega Mart one day and it has come in handy.

Result: In my opinion, the best blueberry muffin I’ve ever eaten. The sprinkle of sugar on top was the perfect touch.


The recipes were as found in the Magnolia cookbook: 1) Blueberry Muffins, 2) Corn Muffins


#28, Cream Cheese Crumb Buns, p. 19


My original post of #28 was done in a rush before leaving for school. I need to readjust my time management. Basically, I need to push myself in the evening rather than try to pull everything off in the early morning. That said, the BUNS turned out scrumptialicious. Yep, scrumptialicious.

I posted this blog at 7:30 AM and announced to my (local) blog followers that the buns were theirs for the taking.


Cream cheese? Check. Flour? Check. Butter? Check. Sugar? Check. Espresso? Check. Begin!

Eventually gave rise to this

Well, those who check their email before the school world takes off at 8 AM, got the message, and a few got the goods.

Early birds
Smiles are the food of bakers, moms, and dads.


A three-tiered recipe – bun dough, filling, topping.

At the top of the page, I started post with a picture of all the assembled ingredients and tools ready to get to work. The French (bless their hearts) call this the mis en place. The picture just above this note is not exactly that. The three bowls in this picture are full of mixtures for the three layers that eventually make this SCRUMPTIALICIOUS bun. There are a few things which can’t yet be in bowls; the vegetable shortening, sugar, and eggs have to be “creamed” apart from the other mixtures.

Recipe Detour: I added two ripe, luscious pears to this that were not called for. They were orphaned in the fridge. I gave them a home – even if only temporary.

I need a a better squusher.

Baking these buns requires a bit of a process.

1. Half-fill the tins with dough and bake to 10 minutes.

2. Quickly pull the buns from the oven

3. Add 1+ tablespoon of cream cheese filling to each

4. Top generously with the crumb topping

5. Put back in the oven for 16 minutes.


These Cream Cheese Crumb Buns MUST be eaten with a fork or, even better, a spoon.

From the land of YUMDOM.

The buns were kind of delicate and needed the support of a muffin cup. Make a nice gift, don’t you think?

#27, Strawberry Oat Bars

This versatile bar is equally delicious as a breakfast bar or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.


Butter up!

2.5 cups (5 sticks) of melted butter to be the only binding agent in the crust of this cookie-bar

Obviously, every recipe has something unique even if they all share 90% of the same ingredients. It’s all about proportions and handling. Well, the proportions here are special – 7 sticks of butter special. Yep, 5 sticks for the crust and 2 sticks for the topping. That’s a record in my cookbook, but I’m not complaining. It’s just a bit startling.

Butter + Butter + Butter + Butter + Butter + cholesterol-lowering oatmeal! 🙂

As I was mixing up this cookie recipe, I thought of how easy it is to follow a recipe as opposed to how much time it took to come up with a new recipe and get it right. A lot of trial and error, I am sure, in the process of getting it right.

Roll it!

I always get excited when I get to use a new gadget in my cooking project. The new gadget this time was a very old piece of technology – a rolling pin. Hey, it helped make a gorgeous crust.

Fill ‘er up!


(aka: the filling station)

 Ambler's_Texaco_Gas_Station4 (1)

Ooooh. There’s that butter again. I told you so.


and then with a flick of the wrist

I bought a enormalous food processor to make quick work of this, but, alas, I just did this the old fashion way – with the pastry cutter.

Et voilà!

Ready to go under the knife.

À NOTER: This recipe produced a very crumbly cookie bar. I find them challenging yet fun – trying to get all the crumbs. This is one of the recipes that requires baking in two stages: 1) bake the crust for about 16 minutes, then add the filling, and topping and 2) bake for another 10 minutes. Then it needs to rest and cool down before cutting.

Speaking of resting!

Take a break, guys. You earned it. And while you’re at it, go take a shower.

 Patisserie Chezbonneau baked this recipe especially for students of Ms. Dzido’s Middle School Spanish. They have been generous with their blogging comments in Spanish.

#26 Vanilla Pecan Brownies

This fabulous square is a double treat for vanilla lovers, with vanilla chips melted in and plenty sprinkled on top. The pecans lend a delightful crunch.”


IMG_7240a Photo from http://www.adahliavolk.com

I chose to bake this brownie on the same day as the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies. It looked like a simple recipe, and I was right. I am providing a link to another blog that made this same brownie and took very good pictures of the process. I failed to take my own pictures when making the brownie myself. Indeed this LINK is a good representation of what I saw unfold in my own kitchen.

This recipe really is for vanilla lovers. It fills the house with the aroma of vanilla. The batter is the most golden I’ve ever made – due mainly to the 6 eggs in the recipe.

WONDERING: Why call this thing a brownie? It isn’t chocolaty brown. I guess I was a little disappointed in the outcome. As I’ve said before, I like very dense brownies and shy away from the cake-like variety. I may have cooked this a minute or two too long. It was good, but not great (by my way of thinking). I’d like to make it more dense and a little chewy. Any ideas out there?

#25, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies, p. 58

“For those of you who can’t resist adding peanut butter to deserts.” (p. 58)

Always begin with a vision – or – Planning by Backwards Design

What’s the good word?


I’ve been baking all recipes so far this fall using walnuts where pecans were called for. Why? Because there were no pecans in Doha at the time. But times have changed. Pecans are in. Dare I tell you where? Ok. Family Foods. I left a couple of bags for the rest of Doha. So, hurry if you want some.  I did learn that walnuts are great in just about any baked treat where pecans are called for. But I know that only goes so far. You can’t build a southern US pecan pie with walnuts. I’d be accused of being a liberal New Englander – equivalent to a special curse out of Harry Potter for someone coming from Texas. But enough of that. What have I done with this newfound treasure?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies


photo 1
Step 1: Toast the coarsely chopped pecans for 15 minutes (10 I’d say) in a 350 degree oven
photo 2
Get everything else ready to go.
photo 3-1
Definitely zoom in on this one.

NOTE: Notice that there is a metal spatula in this dough. Actually, it’s an Italian gelato scoop. I have three great silicon spatulas to use. So why use the gelato scoop? Because the dough is so dense and the amount of STUFF I’m forcing into that dough is SO MUCH that I needed a no-compromise tool.

photo 1
Another ice cream scoop for cookie perfection.
photo 4

DETOUR: My cookies are all larger than called for in the recipe – but I will not abandon this size. It creates a great cookie IF, IF, IF, you adjust the cooking time. The cooking time for this cookie was 10-12 minutes. My cookies needed at least 14 minutes. The first batch was not fully cooked –  even though gooey good for people like me. The 14 minute batch turned out better.

Gotta run! Next story is about Vanilla Pecan Brownies

#24, Shelley’s Cherry Squares

“This recipe comes from Shelley Sinko, who baked at Magnolia for many years. It’s based on a cookie that her mom made when she was growing up.”(p. 73)

7 ingredients + one espresso with cinnamon for the morning baker


Today’s my birthday!!!! Why am I not baking a cake? Someone else has that chore today. This is such a simple recipe. I knew I needed something simple and easy after missing a week of baking.  Let’s take a look at it.

IMG_0948-1 Ready for the oven. Cool fun!

Let’s have a closer look!

IMG_0949 Stop talking and get these in the oven!

TWO LITTLE DETOURS: First, I have used a can of dark cherries in syrup instead of “cherry pie filling” as called for in the recipe. Just couldn’t find the right stuff at the grocers when I was there. Well, not too bad a deal. I cooked the dark cherries a bit and added some corn starch to thicken the syrup. I believe it did nicely. The second little detour I made has been in applying the confectioners sugar at the end. I didn’t sprinkle it or sift it over the top of the squares. I filled each little cherry well with 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar. See?

IMG_0950 Finishing touch.

Where will this treat land today? (We’ll see whose reading this blog.) High School Science department and IB French Year 2 students.

Have a sweet day!

#23, Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing, p. 72

A Tale of Three Fruits and Three Recipes (cont.)

The pumpkin chunks are the stars of this post. See the earlier two posts for a word about the pears and apples.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing



TIME IS RUNNING SHORT: I will have time in the evening to write more about the making of the Pumpkin Bars recipe. I have to get the kids out of bed. As a quick note, I did have fun making the pumpkin purée starting with two whole pumpkins. It was easy – especially with my new mighty food processor. I will post pictures for now and hope for some feedback on the product to help me tell this story.

This is the part of the pumpkins that did not go into the food processor.
Runnnnnn, runnnnnn, runnnnnn.
Ready for distribution.
Ready for re-distribution!

#s 22, Pear Streusel Breakfast Buns, p. 16

A Tale of Three Fruits and Three Recipes

The beginning of three recipes in one evening: Pears, Apples, Pumpkin

Pear Streusel Breakfast Buns, “A really nice, not-too-sweet breakfast treat.” (p. 16)


ALL ABOUT INGREDIENTS: This evening, October 13, I set out to make three deserts featuring cinnamon and vanilla from Sri Lanka in honor of the work done by our students in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. The three recipes for the evening were: 1) Apple Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Topping (already featured on October 12), 2) Pear Streusel Breakfast Buns, and 3) Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing. My time window for shopping two evenings prior was short. I ran to the nearest Carrefour and was unable to find two essential items intended to make the job easier – canned sliced apples and canned pumpkin purée. (Doesn’t just the mention of the word “canned” just sound awful in the context of such wonderful cooking!?) As it turns out, the lack of canned options threw me back to pure basics – fresh fruit for all the recipes. Actually, I am so relieved about the whole thing. A blessing in disguise. So…….. let’s get to it.

Take a look at them buns! Breakfast buns, that is!


Up close and personal


POTENTIAL ECSTASY: Emphasis on potential. I haven’t tasted them yet, at least not exactly. I did taste some bits that fell off or stuck here and there. The bits were from the land of YUM. What do I know so far about these buns. 1) They were made with the sweetiest, juiciest, ripiest, pears I have ever tasted. Yes, I did taste them before baking. YOU’RE NOT going to believe this — I just ate core of a couple of the pears. It was melt-in-your-mouth fruit perfection. OK. What else? 2) These are heavy buns. The recipe called for 1.5 cups of pear chunks. I put in 2.0 cups. That’s good and potentially bad. Good because the fruit is so good. Potentially bad because that much fruit added more liquid to the batter while baking. They became bubbly, like apple pie can do. I left them in longer that called for by the recipe. My FEAR is that they may not all be done in the middle, but I had to get them out of the oven because of the topping. 3) The topping. You may be able to tell by the second photo, that I piled on the topping of brown sugar, cinnamon, and MORE PEAR! It all came together in a carmelized candy topping……….. What do I think is gonna happen? The kids will let me know later this morning, but I’m crossing my fingers for a big thumbs up.

Hey everybody! Let’s let our baker know how well he did with these buns! Come on!