Crutons are simple, easy and cheap to make at home. A couple tablespoons of oil, pressed garlic, salt and pepper are in a big bowl. Take 4-5 slices leftover sandwich bread and slice into cubes. Toss the cubes in the oil until well coated. Bake on a baking sheet (350 degrees) for about 15-20 minutes, or until brown. So good!

bakesale cookies

bakesale cookies

These icebox holiday cookies from America’s Test Kitchen make baking for the holidays convenient on your time. The hardest part is rolling out the dough after it has sat in the fridge. Too cold, it won’t roll. AT ALL. The dough can be used for cutout cookies or simply sliced from a log. Lots of options with this dough!

HOLIDAY COOKIES from America’s Test Kitchen

If you can’t find superfine sugar in the supermarket, simply process 1 cup granulated sugar in a food processor for about 30 seconds, then measure out 3/4 cup for the recipe. The dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and rerolled one time only. For best results, be sure to bake the cookies one sheet at a time.

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5 2/3 ounces) superfine sugar (see note above)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of colored sugar
or 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for cinnamon swirls

1. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time. Continue to beat the flour-butter mixture until it looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Beat in the cream cheese and vanilla until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Knead the dough in the bowl by hand a few times until it forms into a large cohesive mass.

3. Transfer the dough to a clean counter and divide it into 2 even pieces. Press each piece of dough into a 5-inch square, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerator until the dough is firm yet malleable, about 30 minutes.

4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out between 2 large sheets of parchment paper to a 12 by 7-inch rectangle. Remove the top layer of parchment and sprinkle with half of the sugar, leaving a 1/4-inch border along the edges. Spritz the sugar lightly with water to dampen.

5. Working from the short side, roll the dough tightly into a log, pat the log to measure 7 inches, and smear the seam with your fingers to seal. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

6. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Trim and discard (or eat!) about 1/2 inch from both ends of the log. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick cookies. Lay the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart.

7. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time until light golden brown, 12-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


Sourdough Donut Holes


I’ve found this recipe for baked sourdough donut holes in a couple places around the internet, including here. They were too tasty looking to resist. I don’t have a donut pan, so I used a a mini muffin pan. Fresh out of the oven and rolled in cinnamon sugar, these are amazing. Probably cause it’s covered in cinnamon sugar. They were just ok later that day and definitely not as good the next day. So eat these right away!


  • Day 1 (the night before):
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (go here to learn how to easily make a starter, just 2 ingredients!)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (for vegan) or honey
  • 1/3 water
  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (I love Trader Joe’s Brand)
  • 1 cup non-dairy (for vegan) or dairy milk (I’ve used almond milk and regular milk before)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or melted coconut oil
  • Day 2 (the day of baking):
  • 1 cage free egg (or 1 T ground flax seed mixed with 3 T water for vegan)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 t cinnamon, optional

How to:

  1. The night before you bake the donuts, combine starter, maple syrup or honey, flour, milk and olive oil in a bowl, mixing well.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave the batter out at room temperature overnight. You can leave it out up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees when you are ready bake.
  4. Mix in egg, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla to the sourdough batter. This works best with an electric mixer.
  5. Spoon batter into a greased donut pan, filling each mold 3/4 of the way. The batter may be a bit stretchy.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes in a standard pan or 9 minutes in a mini donut pan.
  7. Donuts are done when they are a golden brown.
  8. Top with your favorite glaze, chocolate frosting, roll in cinnamon and organic sugar, or eat them plain.

Sourdough cinnamon rolls


Found this recipe online. The author said, you can only make these when there are lots of people around because they are so decadent. How true! The recipe made A LOT. I loved sharing it with my team today. Don’t let the length of the recipe put you off. It was worth it, and not that hard.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls 

The total preparation time is about 36 hours to allow for the long cool ferments. If you want to serve these rolls on a Sunday morning, you need to build the levain the preceding Friday evening.

Approx. 12 hours before making the final dough, build the levain as follows:

Levain Build:
grams          Item

150       100% hydration sourdough starter, recently fed and ripened
340       Lukewarm water
340       AP flour
850       Total Wt.

Let this mixture sit at room temperature until doubled (usually overnight, if your starter is fast and the levain is active early, keep it in the frig. until ready to make dough). Meanwhile, make a small amount of mashed potato by boiling or microwaving (covered) 1 medium peeled & sliced potato in a little water until soft. Mash with fork and a little milk until smooth.

Final Dough:
grams     Item

113       1 stick Unsalted butter, softened
225       3 large eggs
42        1 ½ TBSP Honey
24        2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
130       Mashed potato
195       ¾ c. Buttermilk or whole milk
850       Levain
700       AP flour
21        Salt
2300       Total Wt.

Once levain is ripe, make the final dough. First cream the softened (not melted) butter by hand or in mixer with paddle attachment, then beat in eggs, honey, vanilla, and mashed potato and continue mixing. Stop to scrape down sides of bowl with spatula as needed and continue to mix just until well-blended. Switch to dough hook and add buttermilk and levain until blended, then gradually add flour and salt and continue mixing with dough hook until well-blended. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula, cover, and let rest 20 min. After rest, uncover and continue to mix with dough hook another 2-3 minutes (or by hand, fold in bowl with plastic bowl scraper for 3 min.). This will be a very soft, sticky dough, around 71% hydration if you count the liquid from eggs and milk, but not counting the butter.

Place the dough into a container sprayed with cooking oil, cover, and bulk ferment in a cool location (55-65F) until doubled, approx. 8-12 hours depending on temperature and how fast a riser your starter is. Every few hours, give the dough a stretch and fold, for a total of about 2 folds.

Meanwhile, make the filling as follows:

grams       Item

170       1 ½ sticks Unsalted butter, softened
85        Cream or half&half
300       Dark brown sugar
180       Raisins
3         1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon [Note from Kristin: I doubled this amount]
12        1 TBSP Vanilla extract
750       Total Wt.

For the filling, add all above ingredients to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat while stirring. As soon as the mixture boils, take off heat and chill to a spreadable consistency before using.

After dough has doubled, divide it into 2 pieces on a flour-dusted surface (it may be sticky even though the butter should be solid from the cool temps), then roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle shape about 10 x 16 inches across. Spread the filling across each rectangle of dough, leaving 1 inch clean where the outer seam edge of the roll will be and then taking the opposite edge, roll up the dough gently but firmly and seal the seam.

Slice each log into 8 or 12 rolls (depending on how big a rectangle you rolled out and how large you want the rolls to be) with serrated knife and place them just barely touching each other on baking parchment on sheet pan. Don’t worry if log gets flattened as you slice each roll, you can straighten them out once placed on the sheet pan, and they should rise very high and straighten out when proofing. Spray tops of rolls lightly with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and slowly proof rolls overnight or up to 12 hrs. in the refrigerator or cool place between 45 and 55F until the dough is about doubled and puffy looking. Bake right out of frig. at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes until light golden, or until the center of dough registers about 195-200F on instant-read thermometer. Do not let the rolls get very brown. Melt about 4 TBSP of butter in microwave and as soon as rolls are out of oven, brush them with the melted butter to keep crust soft before icing them.

While rolls are baking, make a glaze/icing as follows:

Cream Cheese Glaze:
grams       Item

56        ½ (4 TBSP) stick Unsalted butter, softened
56        4 TBSP. Cream cheese
165       ¾ c. Confectioner’s sugar
65        ¼ c. Milk, whole
2         ½ tsp. Vanilla extract
344       Total Wt.

Microwave the butter and cream cheese together until very soft but not melted. Whisk them together while adding the vanilla, powdered sugar, and enough milk to thin out the icing to a drip-able consistency.

Let the rolls mostly cool before glazing them with icing. Dip a wire whisk in the icing and drizzle across surface of each roll in crisscross pattern. Serve and enjoy.


Sourdough Bread


I was skeptical about this sourdough recipe, but WOW. It was AMAZING! I did all white flour. Next time I will incorporate more whole wheat. It is basically a no knead bread. The bread was chewy and had a nice sourdough flavor. I think we ate almost 3/4 of this giant loaf in one day.

Sourdough Pancakes

20130325blog6 20130325blog7

We declared a snow day today. So far we have 6 inches of snow in about 6 hours (which is a lot for our part of Indiana). A snow day means I can finally give my sourdough a whirl with pancakes. Here is the recipe I used, courtesy of Joy the Baker. They turned out great and made a TON.

Night before:
Mix 1 cup of starter, 1.5 cups warm water, 2.5 cups flour (a mix of white and wheat is good) cover with foil and let stand overnight. I put mine in the oven with the light on; it’s the perfect temp.

The next morning:
Mix 1 egg, 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Whisk into the mixture from the night before, let stand for five minute and drop onto griddle. Try them served with warm maple syrup and fresh strawberries and blueberries.


dark salted caramels


These are REALLY good! Courtesy of Alton Brown and Food network

Dark Salty Caramels

  • 14 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt


Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

Combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a heavy 4-quart saucepan and put over high heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream and soy sauce in a liquid measuring cup. Have this and the butter standing by.

Remove the lid from the sugar mixture, and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. When the sugar mixture reaches 230 degrees F, reduce the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup is a golden color and is approaching 300 degrees F, about 6 to 7 minutes. At this point, there is less likelihood of any crystallization, so gently swirl the pan to break up any hot pockets.

When the temperature approaches 350 degrees F, it will turn deep amber. Remove the pan from the heat, and gently swirl again to break up all of the hot pockets. Cool for 2 minutes.

Carefully incorporate the cream and soy mixture and the butter into the pan. Stir to combine. Return the caramel to medium heat, stir until the butter is completely melted, and continue cooking until it reaches 255 degrees F. Remove from the heat and pour into the parchment-lined pan, tap gently to release air bubbles.

Cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, and then sprinkle evenly with the salt. Continue cooling on the rack for an additional 3 1/2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces and wrap individually in parchment. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

burger with cheddar beer sauce

burger with cheddar beer sauce

burger with cheddar beer sauce

It’s hot. No one wants to cook when it’s hot. Burgers are boring. I dug through the Food Network Magazine for a way to make a burger more exciting. Beer-Cheddar Sauce works for that! As does bacon and grilled onions.

Beer-Cheddar Sauce
Makes enough for 4-6 burgers.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder; cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes (do not brown). Whisk in 3/4 cup beer; bring to a simmer, thin whisk in 1/2 cup half-and-half. [I used milk.] Simmer, whisking, until thickened, 4 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar and 1 tablespoon horseradish.

—Food Network Magazine, June 2012

cookie exchange series 6

These sugared cranberries are so wonderful! Thanks, Marlene, for bringing them!


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar


  1. Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.
  3. Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.

cookie exchange series 3

Mint Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies. My family has been making these for years. They are light, crisp, puffy sugary goodness that melt in your mouth!


  • 4 large egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • crushed candy cane
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • food coloring (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the salt. On the second highest speed of the mixer, beat the egg whites until they come to medium peaks. With the mixer running, gently sprinkle in the sugar and cinnamon. Beat until stiff peaks form, then remove the bowl from the mixer. Gently fold in the candy canes and food coloring and chocolate chips.

Drop the batter in 1-inch balls, onto 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown all over, firm to the touch, and they lift cleanly off the baking sheet, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Cook’s Note: Try to avoid baking these cookies on a wet and humid day as the crisp exterior of the cookie will slowly melt into something soft and sticky.