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!


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

Banana Bread Goes… Healthy?!

This poor blog has been sorely neglected of late.  I thought about deleting it, but really it’s my personal recipe box – all my “go to” recipes all in one place.  The last recipe I posted was almost 4 months ago, and to be quite honest – there hasn’t been much time for cooking and baking (aside from necessity) since then.  Once we hit Thanksgiving last year it was a downward slide into Christmas and then into travel season for me… and all the sudden it’s now Easter and April is next week.  What happened?!

Anyway, I first made this recipe last Christmas and have been wanting to post it since.  Given all the horribly unhealthy food that lays around during the holidays, I went looking for a healthy option to regular banana bread and found this.  There’s a lengthy story at the front end of the post, but I’m glad I kept digging to find the recipe.  When I saw brown bananas on the counter this morning my inner Dutch girl made an appearance and we pulled out this recipe again.

I’ve made some changes to the recipe linked above and it works just fine.  I think you could easily add chocolate chips or some shredded coconut to this and it’d come out great.

By the way, am I the only person who doesn’t do well with baking banana bread in one large loaf pan?  The outsides are dry and the middle is still raw.  I’m bound to my mini loaf pans, which is fine with me… but what am I doing wrong?!


  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz. low- or non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 large apple, peeled and shredded
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of cloves
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. white flour + 2-3 T.
  • 1 c. wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine sugars and butter until pebbly.  Add eggs, yogurt, shredded apple, bananas (whole – let the mixer do the work), vanilla, spices and salt.  Combine flours and soda in a separate bowl and add to batter.  Mix until just combined.

Grease 4 mini loaf pans and distribute batter evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pans 180 degrees, and then back for 20 minutes more (or until toothpick comes out clean).

I get 8 slices out of each loaf.  Based on that, here’s the nutritional breakdown:

  • Calories:  90
  • Fat:  1 g
  • Saturated:  .06 g
  • Cholesterol:  15 mg
  • Carbohydrates:  18 g
  • Fiber:  1 g
  • Protein:  2 g

Sorry, no photos on this one – I just don’t feel like taking, editing and uploading this time because it just looks like… banana bread. 🙂


Rosemary Goat Cheese Quick Bread

While summer hasn’t quite arrived with its bounty of fresh vegetables and herbs, knowing local farmers and who are starting stuff in their greenhouses this time of year DEFINITELY has perks.  All five of the kids in our family have spent time working at Zeldenrust Farm Market & Greenhouse in some way over the years.  This past week the owner was kind enough to give my brother the rosemary she pruned off her rosemary “trees” for me (see pic).

I didn’t have time to do anything with it at the time and threw it in the freezer.  I remembered it today after I already had the potatoes boiling for mashed potatoes and decided to do a quick bread.  I found one here that’s semi-healthy, but have made a few changes to the recipe based on how it turned out.

The bread has the consistency of a biscuit, but isn’t dry.  Unfortunately, it got devoured before I could get a pic.


  • 1 1/2 c. bread flour
  • 3/4 c. wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 T. fresh rosemary (pulsed it in the blender to break it down a little)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1/4 c. goat cheese crumbles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients and rosemary and set aside.

Put milk, oil and eggs in mixer.  On low speed add goat cheese and dry ingredients until just combined*.  Divide evenly into 3 greased mini loaf pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Slice and serve hot.

*Ever get “tunnels” in your muffins, cakes or quick breads?  Happens due to over mixing.  Over mixing allows too much air to get into the batter, and then as the baking process happens, the air bubbles are forced up and out.  The gluten in the batter sets the bubble paths and we get “tunnels”.

Kalamata Olive Bread

It seems I’ve been in bread-baking mode lately.  Last week I made a Cheese and Giardiniera Stuffed Muffuletta Bread and also made a twist on the Taco Bread I usually serve with Chicken Tortilla Soup.  (Try throwing a can of drained Rotel tomatoes and an extra 1/4 c. of flour in that Taco Bread recipe and let me know what you think.)

Anyway, I was browsing recipes last week and came across a recipe for Rosemary Olive Bread and decided that we definitely needed to give it a shot.  It came out beautifully and tastes just as good.  Nice and salty with a very crunchy crust and soft inside.


  • 6 oz. warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 3 c. bread flour
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 jar kalamata olives, drained (no chopping!)

Combine yeast, water and sugar in mixing bowl.  Let proof.  Add remaining ingredients and let your dough hook do the work (LOVE THAT!).  One dough has come together (I did have to add a few tablespoons of flour because it looked really wet remove from bowl and knead for a few minutes.

Turn into a greased bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour or until doubled.  Remove from bowl, turn dough in on itself a few times and place in ceramic baking dish, seam-side up.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Gently slice an ‘X’ in the top of the dough and bake for 30-35 minutes or until thermometer inserted into middle reads 180 degrees.

Cheese and Giardiniera Stuffed Muffuletta Bread

I’m fresh off of almost 5 consecutive weeks of being on and off the road for state music shows and haven’t had time to cook or bake anything lately.  I got the itch this week and was inspired by a jar of homemade giardiniera we had sitting around.  It being Mardi Gras week, I figured I’d make a loaf of homemade bread and top it with the giardiniera… but then I saw cheese in the fridge and the rest is history.  Found a recipe online for an authentic muffuletta dough and we went from there.



  • 1 c. warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. shortening


  • 3/4 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 c. giardiniera, roughly chopped
  • pepper flakes

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg whisked with splash of warm water

Combine water, yeast and sugar in mixing bowl and set aside to proof.  Meanwhile, combine flours, salt and shortening and work shortening through the flour with a pastry cutter or your hands.  Once yeast is foamy use a dough hook attachment and work flour into the yeast.  After dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl and springs back when poked with your finger it’s ready for rise #1.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Roll out onto floured surface to about a 12×8 in. rectangle.  Spread giardiniera over dough, then cheese and pepper flakes to your desired level of spiciness (think I used at least a tablespoon… some like it hot 😉 ).  Roll it up and place it seam-side down on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle and press more pepper-flakes onto the top and then loosely cover with plastic wrap to rise for about another hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush risen loaf with egg wash and bake for 35-45 minutes.  (Admittedly, I did slice it down the middle and give it 5 more minutes.  The typical “it’s done if it sounds hollow” doesn’t really work on this one because it’s stuffed.)

Coconut Muffins

I decided recently that we need to use up some of the stuff in the cabinets, and this weekend happened upon a half-used bag of sweetened coconut I bought to make Coconut Macaroons  a couple months ago.  Coconut keeps forever, but I wanted to get rid of it and had bookmarked a recipe for Coconut Bread a while back so we decided to give it a go.  Muffins tend to go faster than bread around here, so I scooped the batter into muffin liners instead of a loaf pan.

I followed the recipe pretty closely with a few changes: instead of 1 c. milk I used 3/4 c. milk and 1/4 c. coconut rum, I used a full cup of coconut instead of 3/4 c. and I sprinkled more coconut on the top of the muffins before popping them in the oven.


  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 c. flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. coconut rum
  • 1 c. shredded coconut
  • additional coconut and sugar to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter, sugar, egg and extracts.  In separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Alternate adding flour mixture and milk until combined.  Add rum and coconut and mix through.

Spoon into muffin papers, sprinkle with coconut and sugar and bake for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Makes about 16 muffins.