Best-Ever Banana Bread

I came across this recipe for banana bread awhile ago. I was running low on butter and needed one that used oil instead. I am so pleased to have found this particular recipe, as it is absolutely delicious and has become a fast favorite in the All Things Simplified household. :)


2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. cooking oil
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour


Cream sugar, oil, eggs, and bananas together (until the bananas are completely mashed). Sift soda, salt, and flour together, then add to the creamed mixture. Mix at high speed for two minutes. Pour into well greased loaf pans or baking dish (I usually double this recipe and bake it in a 9x13 inch dish). Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown (test with a toothpick to check if done). When I double the recipe it takes about an 1.25 hours to bake completely. I cover the dish with aluminum foil for the last 15-20 minutes so that the top doesn't get too brown.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Coffee Cake

This recipe comes from the site. It is incredibly easy to make and extremely delicious...another one of my family's favorites. :)


2 cups flour
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder

For topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
finely chopped nuts (optional)


Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together.
Add the eggs, milk, and shortening to the dry ingredients, and beat at high speed for 3 minutes.
Pour into a greased 9x13-inch pan.
Mix together topping ingredients.
Sprinkle the topping ingredients on top of the poured cake mixture in the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for approx. 40 minutes or until it tests done.

Chocolate Chip Scones

Scones are a 'Family Favorite' when it comes to breakfast in our home. I have tried several different versions so far, and the one my boys especially like are Chocolate Chip Scones. They are very delicious, filling, and easy to make:


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons orange juice


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or a large fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough.

Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Pat or roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, and with a biscuit cutter or knife, cut out 12 scones. I like to spread some butter on the dough and sprinkle with a bit of sugar, but this step is completely optional. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool a bit before serving. (We spread butter on ours before eating, but once again...this step is completely optional.)

Simple Scones made with Craisins® Dried Cranberries and Nestlé Toll House White Morsels


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Nestlé Toll House Premier White Morsels
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in Craisins and white morsels.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle (mine is around 12x6 inches) about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. (I also smear butter on top of the dough before sprinkling the sugar, but this step is optional).

Use a sharp knife to cut into 12 squares; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. (I also top our scones with butter before serving, but this step is also optional.)

Gooey Chocolate Butter Cake

Today I'm sharing a dessert recipe that comes from the kitchen of a good friend...Gooey Chocolate Butter Cake. This is so absolutely delicious, not to mention super sweet and decadent...guaranteed to be a hit for any occasion. :)

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar

This is a chocolate lover's paradise! My sister discovered the recipe on Pinterest and made it for one of our family Christmas parties this year...yummy, yummy, YUMMY!!! You can see the original version here, and the recipe is as follows:


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 pkg Double Stuffed Oreos
1 Family Size (9×13) Brownie mix
1/4 cup hot fudge topping


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to thoroughly combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into the mixer until the flour is just combined.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Spread the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish that’s been lined with wax paper and sprayed with cooking spray.
6. Top with a layer of Oreos.
7. Mix together brownie mix, adding an optional 1/4 cup of hot fudge topping to the mix.
8. Pour the brownie batter over the cookie dough and Oreos.
9. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
10. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15-25 minutes.
11. Let cool completely before cutting — brownies may still be gooey in the middle when still warm, but will set up perfectly once cooled. Enjoy!!

To half this recipe for an 8×8 brownie mix, simply half the chocolate chip cookie dough ingredients.

Chocolate Mud Cake with French Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe comes from a cookbook put together by some lovely ladies at a local church and it is absolutely delicious!


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
6 T. butter
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (or 1/3 cup chocolate chips- I used milk chocolate chips)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa (powder)
3 T. backing cocoa (powder)
1 T. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups hot water
Whipped Cream or ice cream


1. Coat the inside of a 2.5 to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. (Note: the cake's cooking time and final appearance will vary depending on your crock's size.)
2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water and mix well.
4. Whisk in the 2/3 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cocoa, vanilla extract, salt, milk, and egg yolk.
5. Add the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.
6. Pour the batter into the slow cooker and spread it evenly.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, and hot water until the sugar is dissolved.
8. Pour the mixture over the batter in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 1.25 to 2.25 hour, depending on the size of the crockpot.

Even when done, the cake will be very moist and 'floating' on a layer of molten chocolate (which I poured on the ice cream). You'll know it's ready when nearly all of the cake is set and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. (As you check, try not to let the condensed steam from the lid drip onto the cake.)

Turn off the power, remove the lid, and let it cool for 25 minutes. Serve in bowls topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

Homemade Yellow Cake

I found this recipe for Homeade Yellow Cake online at the beginning of the year, and now make it for every birthday we celebrate ...very delicious. :)

Basic Yellow Cake


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (do not sift the flour)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Vegetable oil
1 stick butter (not margarine), softened
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350°

Grease the bottom of (2) 9 x 1 1/2-inch round pans.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing well.

Measure the 1-1/4 cups of milk in a 2 cup measuring cup…then add enough vegetable oil to bring the liquid up to 1-1/3 cups.

Add the milk/vegetable oil mixture, butter and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Add the eggs and continue beating an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center of cake comes out clean, or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.

Cool cakes on wire racks for 15 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

Frost as desired (I will be making Homemade Buttercream Frosting - recipe below).

Homemade Buttercream Frosting


3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk


In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Lemon-Pineapple Cake

My first taste of this cake was when a friend of mine brought it over as part of a meal she made for my family, after the birth of my third son. As soon as I took my first bite, I knew I had to get the recipe from her, and now I am sharing it with all of you. :)

The cake is incredibly moist and delicious...another one of my family's favorites.


1 pkg. Lemon Cake Mix
1 8-oz. Can Crushed Pineapple
1 Can Store Bought Buttercream Frosting or Homemade Buttercream Frosting (which is what I make...recipe below)


1. Drain the can of crushed pineapple and set aside the liquid. (I saved
2. Mix the cake according to the package directions, but use the pineapple juice instead of water. (The drained pineapple juice is usually not enough to substitute the entire amount of water needed, so use milk for the additional amount.) Add the crushed pineapple to the cake batter and mix well.
3. Pour into greased cake pan and bake according to package instructions.
4. Allow to cool before frosting.

Homemade Buttercream Frosting:


3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk (I used pineapple juice for the frosting on my last cake and it was delicious.)


1. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.


These are peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate that look similar to the Buckeye nut...thus their name. They are very delicious, very sweet, and another one of my family's favorites. :)


1 1/2 Cups Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
1 Tsp. Vanilla
16 Oz. Confectioner's Sugar
6 Oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 TB. Shortening
Wax Paper


1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar with hands to form a smooth stiff dough. Shape into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball. Place on prepared pan, and refrigerate.
3. Melt shortening and chocolate together stirring occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.
4. Remove the balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

So very sweet and yummy...enjoy! :)

Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is one of the easiest, most delicious, universally loved, and all time-favorites. Here's the recipe...


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg
1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels (I prefer to use the Milk Chocolate Morsels myself)


1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

*Do not overbake the cookies or they'll turn out hard and crunchy instead of soft and chewy.

All Things Simplified Baking Tip: When storing your cookies in the cookie jar or other container, add a slice of bread that has been cut in half. Place one half at each end of the container or on each side of the cookie jar. (If you have a lot of cookies, then use two slices of bread.) The bread soaks up the extra air in the container so that it dries out instead of your cookies. I change out the bread slices each day so that the cookies remain moist as long as they are around...which isn't very long in my house. :)

Birds' Nest

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be so cute to make this spring or even for the Easter Holiday weekend...let me know if any of you have tried it out before. :)


1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, for greasing the muffin pan
6 ounces (1/2 bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces (1/2 bag) of butterscotch chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces (1/2 of a large bag) of chow mein noodles
36 mini Cadbury eggs


1. Generously grease the wells of a muffin pan with the butter (this will help later when you are taking out the chilled nests).
2. In a large microwave-proof bowl, heat the chocolate and butterscotch chips in 30 second intervals until thoroughly melted, stirring after each increment.**It only took me two 30-second intervals.
3. Once melted, add the peanut butter to the chocolate/butterscotch mixture, mixing well until smooth and completely combined.
4. Carefully add the chow mein noodles, stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until completely coated.
5. Using a large spoon, mold the mixture into the wells of your muffin tin, indenting the tops slightly with the back of the spoon.
6. Chill the nests until hardened, about 1 hour or so.
7. Once chilled, gently remove the nests from the muffin tin.
8. Place three eggs on the tops of each nest.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is a recipe that comes from the kitchen of my sister's mother-in-law. It's a different take on Sweet Potato Casserole that is absolutely decadent...sort of more like a dessert, you could say. My boys absolutely LOVE this dish and needless to say were thrilled when I decided to make it for our Thanksgiving dinner last week. I thought I'd share it with you all in case you are also looking for something new to make this Holiday season. :)


2 Cups Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs Beaten
3/4 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Juice from the Potatoes
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes, saving the needed juice before draining, then mash. (Two or three large ones should yield 2 cups). Mix all ingredients together, pour into a medium-size casserole dish, and bake for 20 minutes.

Topping Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Crushed Cornflakes
1/2 Cup Crushed Pecans
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Stick Melted Butter

Mix the ingredients together, spread over the baked casserole, and place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

This recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled as I did on Thanksgiving Day since it's one of my family's favorites). I even put part of the leftover casserole into a graham cracker pie crust and served it cold with cool whip as dessert on the weekend. Absolutely delicious. :)

Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken.

This recipe comes from a site called skinnytaste, and it is not only incredibly delicious, but very easy to make, too. :)

Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken:

This dish consists of slow cooked shredded chicken with corn, tomatoes, and black beans served over rice or in a bowl with nachos on the side. It's topped with chopped scallions, fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and you can even add a dollop of salsa for extra added flavor if you like. It is very kid-friendly (my boys loved it), freezer friendly, and gluten-free. Made as is, the recipe yields 8 servings, but you can adjust it to make more or less depending on the size of your family and personal needs.


24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
15 oz can black beans
8 oz frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
3 scallions, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
salt to taste


Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.

Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning to taste. Serve over rice or tortillas and your favorite toppings.

That's it...easy peasy, and the result is an incredibly delicious meal that the entire family is sure to love! :)

This is a delicious recipe for Chicken Broth that you can easily make at home. I really prefer this one to the packaged broths you find in the local market. Not only is it very flavorful, but it does not have any extra artificial ingredients, preservatives, sodium, msg, or extra additives, which is really important to me. Besides making wonderful soups, it can also be used in casseroles, rice dishes, and other recipes that call for chicken broth. :)

Homemade Chicken Broth:


1 whole chicken
1 onion, quartered
1 tomato, quartered
1 cup carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cloves garlic
2-3 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley (I used both)
whole peppercorns (to taste)
kosher salt (to taste)


Place all ingredients into a large stock pot and fill with water. Cover and simmer on low for several hours. When it's done, strain the liquid, throw out all the vegetables, and remove the chicken for other recipes like chicken salad, Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken, or anything else that calls for shredded chicken.

If you're not using the stock right away you can store it in containers and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When the stock is chilled, the fat will rise to the top and harden and you can easily remove it if you so desire. I personally like to make up a batch or two ahead of time, let it chill to remove the excess fat, then pour the broth into freezer bags, which I then lay them flat on one of the racks in the freezer. Once frozen the bags take up very little space, (they can be stored under or on top of other items), and the broth can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.

Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe and the photo of the soup above comes from my bloggy friend Janet...thanks Janet! The moment I saw the recipe on her blog The Gardener's Cottage, I knew I had to give it a try since I love butternut squash AND soup. I made it this past weekend and have to say that it is absolutely delicious! Even my 4 year-old loves it and ate a large bowl of it that night for is that good! :)

In a soup pot...

Saute 1 t olive oil with
1 t curry powder for 1 minute
1 small diced onion
1 small chopped yellow or red bell pepper
1 can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans (I used dried garbanzo beans that I cooked myself)
2 c rough chopped or diced butternut squash
3-4 c vegetable broth (I used chicken broth since I didn't have any vegetable broth on hand)
(I also added just a little bit of salt, but that is just personal preference)

simmer until squash is soft (about 30 minutes)
blend until smooth being careful to not overfill blender
garnish with red pepper flakes

(Original recipe post of Janet's can be seen here.)

Potato Leek Soup.

Potato Leek Soup


8 cups chicken stock (I used my own from the recipe I shared here)
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream


Put the chicken stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth. (I used a food processor which I bought here last month.) Pour the soup into a medium pot; add the cream and simmer until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes.

(Recipe and soup image found here.)

This recipe is for a delicious Burrito & Taco Seasoning that you can easily make at home. I much prefer this one to the packaged seasonings you find in the local market. It is very flavorful and does not have any extra artificial ingredients or additives, which I really like. :)


1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Use as you would a store bought packet when preparing the dish. Store any extra mix in an airtight container for future use.

**The recipe makes one ounce of seasoning, which is good for one pound of ground beef. I usually make a double or triple batch since I use 2-3 pounds of ground beef for our meals. You can use more or less seasoning depending on your personal preferences.

Image Source

Tortilla Roll-Ups

This is a recipe from the kitchen of my Mother-in-law: Tortilla Roll-Ups. These are quick and simple to make...always a family favorite and a big hit at parties, as well. There are different variations on this appetizer, but I happen to find this particular one extremely delicious...hope you will too! :)


1 Package Large Tortillas
1 8oz. Package Cream Cheese (Softened)
1 Cup Fancy Cheddar Cheese
1 Small Can Chopped Black Olives
1 Small Can Chopped Green Chiles

Mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, black olives, and green chiles together then spread evenly onto the tortillas. Roll the tortillas then cut them into 3/4 inch slices. Refrigerate and serve chilled. (Salsa can be served along with the roll-ups if desired.)

Gluten-Free Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins


-1/2 cup of Coconut Flour
-4 ½ tablespoons of Coconut Oil
-6 Organic Eggs
-4 tablespoons of milk (coconut milk, etc. or if can have dairy) or water
-1/2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
-1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
-1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
-1 teaspoon Cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-2 tablespoons Raw Honey or Stevia (optional)
-1/2 cup of blueberries


1. Combine all wet ingredients into a large bowl
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl
3. Mix together wet and dry ingredients
4. Add fruit and stir
5. Pour the batter into muffin pans
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes

I am always on the lookout for new sweet bread recipes, as my family enjoys having a slice at breakfast or as a snack, and I enjoy a slice toasted with my cup of tea for a special treat or pick me up during the day. During one of my searches, I came across this recipe for Cranberry Oat Bread. I made a few minor changes to the recipe, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. Honestly, it is so delicious I think I could just about eat the whole loaf myself. My boys practically devoured the entire loaf before I was even able to snap a pic of it, or try a piece myself...yes, it's that good!

Here is my personal version of the recipe:

Cranberry Oat Bread


1 cup water (70° to 80°) + 1 Tbsp.
2 tablespoon butter, softened
4 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1-3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins


1. In bread machine pan, mix the yeast, honey, and 1 cup water. Let sit for 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

2. Add the butter, cinnamon, oats, flour, and salt.

3. Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size if available. (I set mine for a 1.5 lb. loaf with light crust.)

4. Bake according to bread machine directions. Check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed. (I added 1 Tbsp. water at this point, as my dough seemed a bit dry.)

5. Just before final kneading (your machine may audibly signal this, like mine does), add the cranberries.

6. Wait patiently for the loaf to finish kneading and baking, while enjoying the wonderful smell wafting through your home.

7. Remove from pan, place on a rack to cool a bit, then slice and enjoy...try not to eat the entire loaf all at once. ;)

8. Yield: 1 loaf (1-1/2 pounds).

**You can substitute raisins for the cranberries, or add raisins with the cranberries. You can also completely omit the dried fruit altogether. I have not yet made the bread without the cranberries, but read a review that said it turns out as a simply delicious loaf of oat bread. I personally will be giving it a try soon.

***A couple more tidbits...I have found that slicing bread made in the bread machine with an electric knife is definitely the way to go. I use THIS ONE from Hamilton Beach and it works like a charm. I have also invested in THIS foldable bread slicer with 3 sizes of thickness, which really helps to get the perfect size slice for sandwiches, toast, or a thick slice of bread to go with soup or chili. I have been storing my freshly baked bread in the Progressive International Adjustable Bread Keeper with very pleasing results, and plan to get a second one in the near future. If you are looking for a way to store your bread so that it remains fresh for more than a day or two, give this keeper a try. It's not overly pricey and it works well...that's a win - win, IMHO. :)

Auntie Anne's Pretzels - Copycat

My sister came across this recipe and shared it with me. While I haven't had the opportunity to try it out yet, she has and said the pretzels are absolutely delicious, and possibly even better than Auntie Anne's.


1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups flour
2 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse salt
2 -4 tablespoons butter (melted)


1. Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl; stir to dissolve.
2. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve; add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic.
3. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.
4. While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 tbsp baking soda.
5. Be certain to stir often.
6. After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape.
7. Dip pretzel in soda solution and place on greased baking sheet.
8. Allow pretzels to rise again.
9. Bake in oven at 450 for about 10 minutes or until golden.
10. Brush with melted butter.
11. Toppings: After you brush with butter try sprinkling with coarse salt.
13. Or for Auntie Anne's famous Cinnamon Sugar, try melting a stick of butter in a shallow bowl (big enough to fit the entire pretzel) and in another shallow bowl make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
14. Dip the pretzel into the butter, coating both sides generously.
15. Then dip again into the cinnamon mixture.

**Notes: The longer and thinner you can make the dough rope, the more like Auntie Anne's they will be.

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