Rustic Potato Bread

I know I can’t be the only person who has 2 or 3 dozen beautiful hardcover cookbooks that I love looking through and then forget about.  How many do you have?  I’m currently obsessed with collecting all the ‘Night’ cookbooks from Williams Sonoma… Taco Night, Burger Night, Chicken Night, etc.  They’re so pretty and the recipes are SO good!  I find a lot of great ideas on Pinterest, but just like reading a real paper book, there’s something about cooking out of an actual cookbook that just makes me happy.🙂

I’ve implemented testing Tuesday since getting married and have been pulling out my old cookbooks to find new things to try and came across a picture of these GORGEOUS potato loaves in my Baking with Julia (thank you, Katie) book.  I figured they’d be super complicated and require all kinds of things I don’t keep in the house, but I was wrong… and oh man, this bread is SO good.  You’ve gotta try it!

FYI, it makes 2 good sized loaves, freezes really well, and would work great for sandwiches.



  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. tepid reserved potato water
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • Spray bottle of water

Wash and quarter potatoes, leaving skins on.  Put in a pan, cover with water, add 2 tsp. salt and boil until tender.

IMPORTANT:  drain potatoes over a large measuring cup and keep the potato water.  As it settles all the yummy, starchy goodness from the potatoes will go to the bottom of the bowl and THAT is the 1/2 c. potato water that you want to use for proofing your yeast… but we’ll get to that in a second.

Drain potatoes well and then let them sit for about 30 minutes – they need to be dry before moving on to mixing the dough.

Once potatoes are dried and cool, pour most of the potato water out but keep the bottom 1/2 c.  (Instead of giving the yeast sugar to snack on, we’re going to let it feast on that starchy goodness from the potatoes.)  If the potato water is not warm to the touch put it into the microwave for a few seconds so that it’s warm enough to proof the yeast.  Stir in yeast and set aside to proof.

Place potatoes in mixing bowl and mash using the paddle attachment.  Add proofed yeast, and olive oil and continue mixing until well combined.  Switch paddle to dough hook and add flour and the other 2 tsp. of salt.  Mix on low for 2-3 minutes and then on medium for 11. I know it seems crazy, but set the timer and walk away.  11 minutes is EXACTLY what it takes to get the dough right.

Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

After first rise, preheat oven to 375 and then turn dough out onto floured surface and cut in half.  Shape each half into a ball and then flatten into a 6-8″ circle.  Sprinkle the edge of the dough closest to you with a little flour and then, starting at the opposite edge from what you just floured, roll the dough toward you.  Now, you need to get that into a football shape about 12″ long.  Gently roll that dough back and forth beneath your hands, paying special attention to the ends so that they’re “slimmer” than the middle.  (You might need to pinch them down a little.)  Repeat process for 2nd loaf and then place seam side down for 2nd rise.

After 20 minutes, spray the inside of the oven with your spray bottle of water and then quickly close the oven door to trap the steam.  Transfer loaves, seam side up, onto floured  sheet pan.  Place loaves in center of oven and then spray the sides of the oven again, quickly closing the door.  Bake for 45 minutes or until loaves are hollow-sounding when thumped.

I don’t know about you, but the smell of my house when there’s bread baking in the oven is the BEST.  Makes your house feel like a home.

Give this a go and let me know what you think!

Crockpot Corn, Ham and Potato Chowder

I do believe it’s been over a year since I last posted a recipe, but a lot has happened since then!  In the last 9 months I got engaged, quit my job, packed up my house, moved across the country, and got married (pic below).  Aside from the fact that I’m married to and live with my best friend, there is so much more time to cook and try new recipes.  In fact, we’ve hardly eaten the same recipe twice since we’ve been married.


Photo credit:  Picture a Moment in Time (Katrina Sebastian)

A few new favorite recipes are:

Last night we had book club at our house and I wanted to make these Ham and Cheese Sliders, but had 2 problems.

  1. Hawaiian bread is really expensive.
    Solution: make homemade buns (click here for a GREAT recipe).
  2. Lunchmeat is disgusting, especially ham lunch meat, and it’s not good for you.  Ground up who-knows-what mixed with way too much salt and a bunch of preservatives and then formed into a loaf.  Why would you want to eat that?!
    Solution: cook a ham and enjoy the leftovers.

After cooking the ham I ended up with plenty of ham slices for the sandwiches as well as about 6 c. of diced ham AND a meaty ham bone.  The ham bone and some of the diced meat went into the freezer for pea soup (recipe coming soon), but I wanted to make a chowder with the rest of it.  After going through a bunch of recipes there didn’t seem to be anything that wasn’t loaded with all kinds of cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, etc. so I came up with my own recipe and hope you enjoy this creamy goodness as much as we did!




  • 4 1/2 c. ham, diced
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4-5 russet potatoes, cubed (skins on)
  • 1 bag frozen white corn
  • 4 c. low-fat milk
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 1 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in a little olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Dump onion and garlic into crockpot and add potatoes, corn, milk, 4 c. chicken stock, thyme and ham.  Cook on low for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, dissolve 2/3 c. flour in 1 c. chicken stock and add to soup.  Stir to combine and cook for another hour.  We had enough soup for dinner plus 2 1/2 quarts for the freezer and a day of leftovers for the hubs’ lunch.

PS – We got an All-Clad 7 qt. crockpot with an aluminum insert for a wedding gift, and it’s AMAZING.  You can sauté in the insider right on the stove and then go straight from stove to crockpot to finish your recipe.  Check this thing out here!

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

So I recently started making a new pizza dough (see my Overnight Pizza Dough post just previous to this one) and have had this idea in my head for a while that my springform pan would work great for making a deep dish pizza.  Don’t ask me where I got that idea – it just came to me.  Imagine my surprise when it turns out I wasn’t the first person to think of it.  I did some reading online and it seems people have been doing it for years.  It does work though – so give it (and this recipe) a shot!


  • 1 batch Overnight Pizza Dough
  • 5 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 c. mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 lb. sausage, browned (Aldi’s turkey sausage works great) and drained
  • veggies of choice, browned and drained well
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. pizza sauce
  • 2 14.5-oz. cans stewed tomatoes, chopped and drained well

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Lightly grease spring form pan and dust with cornmeal.  Press dough along bottom and up sides.  Place sliced provolone in bottom and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Add drained sausage and veggies.  Sprinkle parmesan over top and then spoon pizza sauce over that.  Top with stewed tomatoes and sprinkle with more parm and herbs of your choice.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, covering with foil to prevent crust from getting too brown if necessary.

Release sides of pan and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  So good!!!

Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

Overnight Pizza Dough

During the summers, my parents and I almost never bake pizzas.  We grill them right on the grill grates.  It’s the best pizza, but part of what makes it the best is the dough.  My dad found this little hole-in-the-wall Italian grocery store a few years ago and they have fresh dough delivered every day.  It gets big huge bubbles in it when you grill it – I’ve never been able to get that with my homemade dough.  I tried bread flour, I tried AP flour, I tried mixing flours, I tried using carbonated water… none of it worked.

Sure, my homemade dough is fine, but it’s dense.  There’s not a lot of chew.  There’s definitely not any bubbles.

My October Bon Apetít mag had a small section on pizzas.  When I was reading through the recipe it started with a sponge.  I immediately had one of those “duh” moments.  My friend, Malory, taught me how to make baguettes a few years back and we started that with a sponge too.  Big bubbles, great chew, awesome crispy crust.  That said, the recipe made enough for something like 8 pizzas.  Too much.

So, after some experimenting, here’s my new go-to pizza dough recipe (which, by the way, I’ve only baked).  Can’t wait to try it on the grill when it gets warm again next spring!


  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. AP flour

Stir until sticky, cover, and let sit for 12 hours on the counter in mixer bowl.


  • 3/4 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 2 1/2 c. AP flour

After sponge sits for 12 hours, add above ingredients to mixing bowl and let your dough hook do the work.  Dough is ready once it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and springs back when you poke it with your finger.  Knead into ball and place in greased bowl in fridge for 2 hours.  Punch it down after 2 hours and then let it rise in fridge for 6 more.

And for those of you who read this and think it sounds like a lot of work, it’s not… but unless you’re home during the day it is a weekend recipe.🙂


Overnight Pizza Dough

Butternut Squash and Spinach Gnocchi

Okay, so I’ve got a thing for wine.

Let’s back up a moment.  I am the person who can go to TJMaxx and, inevitably, out of all the bags hanging there so nicely sorted by color, pick out the purse that is $300+.  It looks amazing, it feels amazing… and my oh my, it smells A-MAZ-ING!  Some hot man in Italy probably hand died the leather and hammered in the hardware.  It’s art in my eyes.  I caress it longingly and then realize that it’s about half my mortgage payment and put it back.  But I check over my shoulder to see how beautiful it is as I’m walking away, and when I leave the store I check on it to make sure the price tag actually says what it says.

A taste for the finer things – that’s me.  And it’s genetic.  We’ll blame this one on Big Bob, as he’s so lovingly referred to in our family.  I can remember being a kid and hearing my mom talk about sending him to the grocery store and he came home with lobster (see family photo below).

Anyway, back to the wine… I like good wine, but it’s expensive!  So when Coopers Hawk came on the map in our area I was skeptical.  I gotta tell ‘ya though, their wine is reasonably priced and good (2 bottle/month club member right here!), and their food is pretty good too.

Last fall, a bunch of friends and I (hey, Gise, Jen, Hayley, Derek, Liane, and Jeffrey!) went to Cooper’s for a friends night out.  I tried their Butternut Squash and Spinach Gnocchi.  People, it’s delicious.  I went home and found the recipe, but buried it on my Pinterest page and didn’t think of it again… until this week.

I used pretty much this exact recipe; however, I swapped out regular gnocchi for whole wheat (Aldi’s was great) and used skim milk instead of cream.  Sauce still thickened up really nicely from the parmesan.  Reheats were delish.

Oh, and it went great with a nice red zinfandel.😉

Dad and a 3-or-so year old me.

Dad and a 3-or-so year old me… with the lobster.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

My brother, Mike, lives in my basement and is the most spoiled tenant EVER.  I feel guilty when I leave on business trips and can’t cook him dinner, so I’ve been freezing meals for him.  That said, in my quest to eliminate as many preservatives as possible from my cooking I’ve become anti-cream soup and, thereby, largely anti-casserole.  Needless to say, Mike has been enjoying a lot of homemade soups.🙂

This recipe is one of the first I made in my new house and I believe we’ve gone through 5 of 6 pots of it.  I’ve got my friends hooked on it, and Mike’s friends hooked on it.

Here’s the thing… the rice makes it!  I tried making it with plain brown rice, but it’s got to be Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Blend.  No substitutions.


  • 1 lg. onion, dicedBrown Rice
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 3 lg. celery stalks, diced (save the leaves)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 c. Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Blend
  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon (I love lemon so I usually use the juice of a whole lemon)
  • 1/3 c. italian parsley and leaves from celery stalks, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauté vegetables and garlic in olive oil.  Once onion is translucent and celery starts to become tender add stock and rice.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until rice is tender.  Add chicken, herbs, and  salt and pepper to taste.


Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup… minus a lot of the fat

I just looked at the date on my last post here, and it’s been almost an entire year since I posted a recipe.  I’ve been working, traveling, working, teaching, working… oh, and I bought a house.  I’ve actually been cooking quite a bit and have a bunch of new recipes I’d like to document here so that they’re findable.  And, because I think you’ll enjoy some of these too!

In the course of my traveling for work I’ve eaten out a lot more than normal.  I was at Panera on one of the trips and, while it sounded really good, had to deny myself Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup because I know it’s terrible for you.  I got home and went in search of a broccoli cheese soup recipe.  Lo and behold, I found a recipe claiming to be Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup.  The problem?  It called for half and half, 1 1/2 sticks of butter, and a lot of cheese.

We swapped the half and half for skim milk, used 3/4 c. butter and 3/4 c. olive oil, and went with low-fat cheese.  And guess what?!  It’s AWESOME.  Enjoy!


  • 1 T. olive oilbroccoli cheese soup
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 6 c. skim milk
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 4 broccoli crowns, chopped
  • 3 c. shredded carrots
  • 12-18 oz. low-fat shredded cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook onions in olive oil until translucent.  Set aside.

Combine flour, olive oil, and butter and whisk for 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add milk and chicken stock.  Bring to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Add onions, broccoli, and carrots.  Cook over low flame for 30-45 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

Remove from heat.  Add cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.