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Bread Machine Challah

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When we lived in Chicago I worked part-time as an on-call chaplain at a hospital downtown. On-call chaplaincy means you live in the hospital for a day and a night, wearing a pager and trolling around the hospital looking for trouble. I loved it! However, the hunger you feel after being on-call is unlike any other. Luckily, one of the perks of being the on-call chaplain was getting the leftover challah that a local bakery provided for the Jewish patients’ Sabbath. Challah is incredible. Every religion and denomination has their specialty. Lutherans have hot dishes and Jewish folks have bread. Heaven help me, it is delicious.

Depending on the religious holiday, challah is shaped into various kinds of loaves. Braiding is the traditional method and I think it is pretty easy so that’s what I go with. If you are in a pinch, put it in a loaf pan. Challah is a sweet, rich bread so if you have any left over use it in things like bread pudding and french toast. Also, slathered with Nutella this stuff will change your life. Note: this is not a traditional recipe (parve) as it has milk in it.

Bread Machine Challah

  •          3/4 cup buttermilk
  •          2 eggs
  •          3 tablespoons butter
  •          3 cups bread flour
  •          1/4 cup sugar
  •          1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •          1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients into bread machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Set to dough setting.

Remove from machine and cut into 3 separate pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and braid. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and allow to rest about an hour (until doubled in size). Brush egg wash from 1 egg beaten and 1 tablespoon water onto bread. Bake in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes.


Blueberry Breakfast Cake

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Cake for breakfast? I’m there.  I’ve had this recipe to try for quite awhile but I just never got around to making it. I do breakfast for dinner pretty often for two primary reasons: a) I love breakfast foods and b) I don’t get up early enough to make it all that often. Answer: breakfast for dinner.

I always keep buttermilk around but if you don’t you can make your own by souring milk. For instance, if you need 1 cup of buttermilk stir 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes until it thickens. Also, I raided my frozen blueberries earlier in the week so I didn’t have a full 2 cups. I used mixed fruit instead which was delicious but you’ll have to watch baking time, etc. because fruits like strawberries and cherries have a lot more moisture than just blueberries. I liked the mixed fruits but my husband prefers just blueberries.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries and flour for dusting00
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with some flour, then whisk together the 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Hot Cross Buns (Bread Machine)

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Wondering where I have been? I’m a priest. It was Easter. Don’t ask. But hey, I’m back from vacation so my little brain is slightly less fried than it was a couple of weeks ago. I think we can all be thankful for that!

It isn’t that my family has been starving or that I have not been cooking. It is merely that it has not been documented. But I did get a snapshot of this recipe before I trotted off to church with them on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns are a fine Anglican tradition on Good Friday, and I’m all about tradition (feel free to laugh). While I may have made Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday these are in no way traditional. I don’t care for raisins, I added a few more spices, and who wants plain old icing when you can have cream cheese instead? If you want a little more traditional or you’re dying to hear more about Hot Cross Buns, feel free to Google them.

Now that it isn’t Lent or Holy Week, I’d just make these and spread the icing on top. But I’m lazy. And I love tons of cream cheese frosting. Whatcha gonna do?

Hot Cross Buns


  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yeast for bread machines
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Break 2 eggs into 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough water to measure 1 1/3 cups. Place egg mixture and remaining bun ingredients (except fruit, 1 egg and cold water) in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough/Manual cycle. Do not use delay cycle. You will probably need to add another tablespoon or two of water after a few minutes of mixing.

Add fruit at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5 to 10 minutes before last kneading cycle ends. Remove dough from pan. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.

Grease cookie sheet (if not nonstick). Divide dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Snip a cross shape in top of each ball, using scissors. Cover and let rise in warm place about 40 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat egg and cold water slightly; brush over tops of buns. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool.

Mix icing ingredients and place in Ziplock bag. Cut tip from bag and pipe crosses on each bun.

French Bread

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Have you ever noticed that the greatest things in the world are usually the simplest? Leonardo DaVinci said it better when he said “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Proof? French Bread. There really isn’t a whole lot in French Bread but there aren’t many things more incredible than a fresh loaf. I attempted to make Irish Soda Bread to go with my corned beef and cabbage to serve at our vestry retreat last Saturday. Unfortunately, the loaf turned out ugly and I refused to serve it. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great but I don’t like to serve ugly food to people I’m bribing to do the hard work of a full-day vestry retreat. But French Bread? It’s fool proof, delicious, and gorgeous! Next time I’ll ignore that it is St. Patrick’s Day and serve the French bread anyway.

French Bread


  •             1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  •             2 teaspoons sugar
  •             1 teaspoon salt
  •             3 1/2 cups bread flour
  •             1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  •             1 tablespoon olive oil
  •             1 tablespoon cornmeal
  •             1 egg
  •             1 tablespoon water

In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed, add olive oil).

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Blueberry Muffins

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I’m usually so busy during the week that I barely have time to grab breakfast at all let alone make something that actually tastes good. That’s one of the reasons I love lazy Saturday mornings, I get to pitter around the kitchen and bake. This Saturday I broke out my tried and true blueberry muffin recipe. We had a friend from our college days in town for the weekend and I figured I’d better feed her something before dragging her off for a day at the mall… with a baby…and a man. She deserved something, wouldn’t you agree?

You can’t go wrong with this recipe, I promise. Adding sour cream makes just about everything better, kinda like bacon or chocolate. If you really want to make these about as amazing as humanly possible put a crumb topping on the muffins. An easy crumb topping would be: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 6 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces, two teaspoons cinnamon.

Blueberry Muffins


  •             4 eggs
  •             2 cups white sugar
  •             1 cup vegetable oil
  •             1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •             4 cups all-purpose flour
  •             1 teaspoon salt
  •             1 teaspoon baking soda
  •             2 cups sour cream
  •             2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare 24 muffin cups.

In large bowl beat eggs, gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda.

Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

7-Up Biscuits… You read that correctly

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We’ve chatted about what a carb-filled household I live in,  correct? If not, consider yourself told. The cardinal rule of cooking is that I may make whatever I want for dinner as long as there is a bread so the hubs has something to eat. So, I have a vast stash of starch recipes and I’m always trying new ones. And the Hy-Vee bakery and I spend a lot of time together.

I found this recipe whilst trolling on Pinterest and was intrigued. I don’t have a whole slew of biscuit recipes so I was up for adding to the collection. And how can you not be intrigued by a biscuit recipe that calls for 7-Up? I mean, really!

This was my first time baking with Bisquick but I understand you can make your own if you are so inclined. I might be inclined because this recipe was easy, fast, and pretty darn good. All of which makes it a likely companion to week-night dinners.

7-Up Biscuits
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup 7-Up
  • 1/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in 9×9 pan. Just dice the butter up and throw the pan in the oven while it is preheating.
Mix sour cream, Bisquick and 7-Up. The dough will be very sticky. On a floured surface, pat dough out and cut into biscuits. Place biscuits in melted butter and bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.