Tag Archives: bread

Cornmeal drop biscuits

Another glorious Minnesota weekend is almost upon us. It’s been one of those amazing warm in the sun, but ooh a hint of chill in the shade days that I love so much. The weather is about as perfect as it gets up here. Everyone else must think so too, cause we’re about to have visitors galore in the coming weeks. And. I. Can’t. Wait.

I mean not only do I get to share my love for this place with visitors, but I get to put off some of those pesky outdoor chores. (Oh stinging nettles, you’ve earned a brief reprieve, but don’t ease on your vigilance, I’ma comin’ for you.) And I have to admit, it’s nice to have a chance to avoid thinking about that garden. With the super late spring we had up here, I had to resign myself to the fact that tomatoes, peppers, and corn just weren’t happening. But I still have oodles of squash and cucumber to console myself with.

I’m also a little obsessed with landscaping right now (oh how the fickle mind will wander). When visiting the cities last weekend, my dad gave me four shrubs that had been living in pots but were yearning for the ground. And yeah, I found the perfect spot, and yeah, they look amazing. That and the irises and lilies are all a-bloom. Perennials and shrubbery, we’re about to become BFF.

And really, who wouldn’t want to put off pesky outdoor chores when it means you get to wander around and see stuff like this?

WednesdayWildlife from thePenandthePan-5

This little lady came for a visit this week to lay her eggs. And thank you Internet, I’ve learned that painted turtle eggs take the whole of the summer to hatch and then the wee things go right into hibernation. But Himself, consummate animal lover, marked off where she laid the eggs, so that we a) won’t disturb them all summer and b) get to spy the wee things out next spring. See, I think I found my own little corner of paradise here.

Ooof, but I do worry that you get tired of me nattering on about how much I love this place, so let’s move on to the recipe. Looking for a quick biscuit to round out your meal? Once again, I’ve come to your rescue! Ok, ok, maybe not rescue, but I do have a right awesome biscuit for you to try. These are just light enough to melt in your mouth, but still have a wee bit of toothiness from the cornmeal. I know you’re looking at the recipe now and thinking, “Really? Sugar? In a biscuit?” In a word, yes. You don’t end up with a sweet biscuit at all, but it does let that delicious cornmeal sing it’s own praises. As you’ll be singing mine, right?


Cornmeal drop biscuits from thePenandthePan

Cornmeal drop biscuits

Adapted from the Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger

1 ½ cups flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) very cold butter, cut into small pieces
scant ¾ cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°. Grease or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add butter and using a pastry blender, fork, or your hands, mix together until you have something resembling coarse sand. Add milk and mix just until blended. Do not overmix.

Drop biscuit mixture by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425° for 15 – 18 minutes or until just browned on top.


Sourdough starter from Eighty Twenty

Living in a gorgeous area that tourists are beginning to flock to makes it awfully hard to work every day. Terrible problems, I know. But c’mon, when I’m on my way to work and I see the streets filled with campers and boats on trailers I can’t help but feel a surge of jealousy. I do, however, manage to get outside most every chance I can (when not being dive-bombed by mosquitoes seemingly impervious to bug spray, that is). I’ve always dug birds, but the avian wildlife up here is stunning. And they give a task-oriented girl a task to do while sitting still. Ostensibly taking bird photos, in reality I’m relaxing! See…


Now that you’ve admired my new hobby. I have a secret to admit. I am an ungrateful friend. A terrible human being, if you will. You see, remember when I went on and on about the awesome friends we have and the great gifts they filled our arms with during our last whirlwind trip to the city? One of those fantastic gifts was sourdough starter. A sourdough starter that I managed to kill on the way home. (Sorry Dan, it turns out starter gets a little carsick). See, I am the worst.

Then, my first attempts to make my own starter really failed to get off the ground (hee). I tried quite a few recipes before I finally found the winner! It’s easy-peasy. See, I’m trying to make it up by testing all the starter recipes. Am I starting to redeem myself yet?

So now, if you don’t have a generous friend willing to share their sourdough starter you can make your own. And not to worry, I have a few methods for using the starter to share with you in the coming days.


Sourdough Starter from thePenandthePan-1

Sourdough starter

from Eighty Twenty

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) dry active yeast
2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large glass bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and flour. Place a clean towel over bowl and place in warm dry place.

Every 24 hours, discard 1/2 of the mixture and stir in 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water. Re-cover and return to a warm dry place. If a liquid layer forms on top of mixture, stir it in prior to each feeding.
After 4-7 days of feedings, mixture will begin to bubble and develop a sour smell as the starter ferments. This means that your starter is done fermenting! At this time, the starter is ready to use! Place mixture in a glass jar and place in refrigerator.

After each use, replace the amount of mixture that was removed with equal parts flour and water (if you use 1 cup replace with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water– this will increase the size of your starter). If not used, feed mixture weekly in the same way you did feedings, by discarding 1/2 of mixture and replacing it with equal parts flour and water.

Cranberry almond muffins

You guys! My mind has been blown with this muffins. Oh sure, they taste amazing, but the real thing is that you can freeze the batter. With just Himself and I in the house, muffins never really get eaten before they start to get a little less than awesome. This technique totally changes that. Not to mention just made getting out the door in the morning, never an easy task, just that much smoother!

Do I seem a little too excited just over muffins? Ok, you caught me! As I sit typing this, drinking the strongest coffee (maybe contributing a little to the excitement) Himself is (finally) getting up, and we’re going on a field trip today! This weekend has been all things spring, and today is no different. Friday, we picked up our baby chicks – three black australorps and two ameraucanas. That night, I made a very important “scientific” discovery. It is impossible to be in a bad mood with baby chicks on your lap. The evidence is below, as long as you ignore the wonky lighting that I attempted to disguise with Instagram. We have a heat lamp on them, and the red light throws everything off.

Chick collage_medium


I also got my email notice from the Smart Gardener website that it is high time to start some of my seeds indoors. Wheeeee! We’ve got the mini greenhouse set up inside and the outside one all ready to go. In fact, this little flower got a little sunburnt yesterday lounging inside the greenhouse.

And for today’s spring extravaganza, we’re going on that field trip I mentioned. There’s a great farm just east of Hibbing called Mr. Ed’s Farm. Today they’re having an open house so you can visit the baby lambs (squeeeee!!), but also we’re going to pick their brain about year round greenhouses. Himself has plans all laid out for ours, but it never hurts to gain some expertise. Mr. Ed’s farm has a great subterranean greenhouse, that I am terribly covetous of.

So, as we get ready to run out the door, you should get ready to pop the aforementioned muffins in the oven. You’ve got enough for tempting Sunday brekkie and grab-and-go for the rest of the week. Plus the cranberries bursting in the batter will transform that delish sweetness into something you believe could just possibly be slightly good for you.


Cranberry almond muffins

Cranberry almond muffins

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 -1 ¼ cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sour cream. Add butter, sugar, and almond extract. Mix in dry ingredients, followed by cranberries. Batter will be thick, but be careful not to overmix.

Spoon into paper lined muffin tins, filling tins about ¾ full. Bake at 400° for 13-15 minutes or until tops are just golden.

Let cool slightly and serve immediately. Muffins are best the day of cooking.

To freeze muffins, fill paper lined muffin tins as directed. Cover muffin pan with plastic wrap and freeze tin. Once muffin batter is thoroughly frozen, remove paper cups from tins and place in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, return frozen batter filled paper cup to tin and increase the bake time by about 5 minutes.

Olive & rosemary focaccia

I’m sitting here this morning, enjoying some of this delicious focaccia bread with my coffee. Looking out over the back, it’s hard to believe all the activity that’s stirring out there. The raucous crows have found something in the woods to be pretty excited about. There’s a pair of bald eagles that have been circling over the house for the past couple days. And man, have those chickadees gotten loud this week!

Today is one of those days where I look around with this sense of well-being, again sure that I live in the best place on earth, and that Himself and I made the absolute right decision to pack in city life.

It’ll be an interesting contrast today, since the moment Himself gets off work, we’re headed for a whirlwind trip to the cities. I plan on stuffing my face with sushi and Greek food. Plus a quick trip to my favorite co-op to stock up on my smoked salt obsession. Besides family and friends, ethnic food is the one thing I desperately miss. So, looks like I’ll just have to get better at making it.

In the meantime, you should totally be making this focaccia bread. It’s dense and olive-y, and downright delicious. If you happen to have some of that aforementioned smoked salt, it’s going to blast this already delish bread to the next level. Use whatever olives you adore. Kalamata? Heck yeah. Plain old black olives? Oh, they’ll shine. What if I added a handful of capers? Oh, amazing! As for the rosemary, I crushed mine with my mortar and pestle, but you could roughly chop it and still die happy.


Olive & rosemary focaccia

Olive & rosemary focaccia

Lightly adapted from the Perfect Baking cookbook

4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ cups water (100º-110º)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for oiling bowl and pans
1 cup olives, roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
2 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed or roughly chopped

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, sift together flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix on low until combined. Adjust mixer to a medium low setting, and knead until smooth (5-10 minutes). Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size.

Oil two cookie sheets with olive oil. Punch down dough and knead on a lightly floured surface for one minute. Add olives and knead until combined. Dough will be slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and stretch on cookie sheets until you have an oval approximately 9×11 inches. Cover dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rise one hour.

Preheat oven to 400º. Remove plastic wrap, and using the end of a wooden spoon, dimple the dough. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with drizzled with olive oil.

Ginger orange quick bread

You guys, I am convinced that I have the coolest job in all the lands. Yesterday, I was traveling around taking pictures and story notes of kids having a live televised interview with an astronaut. You know, no big (hah!). I mean how cool that these kids were learning about space from people who’ve actually been there, all without leaving the awesomeness of the north woods! Really, I adore my job. And now, I’ll be supplementing it doing the same thing for the city. Life is pretty good these days.

Almost as good as this bread I made you. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was going on and on (and on and on) about how much I adored citrus? Well that turned pretty quickly. I’m still loving citrus flavors, but that most recent bag of oranges I was so excited about? Oh yeah, they’ve just been languishing away in my fridge.

Now normally my quick breads are made with a good amount of milk, but it’s been grey, grey, grey up here, and apparently that’s affected my mood. Feeling good and lazy, I was sure that my energy was better spent pouring over quick bread recipes on the interwebs than getting off my butt and going to the store. Enter this awesome recipe from Simply Recipes. A few tweaks to the flavors I wanted to highlight and yum, a quick bread is born. And just who am I trying to fool here? This isn’t so much a bread as it is a cake you don’t feel guilty about eating for breakkie.

Ginger orange quick bread


Ginger orange quick bread

Lightly adapted from Simply Recipe’s Cranberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ cup raisins, coarsely chopped (optional)
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
½ tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped or grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, including sugar. Add raisins and stir to coat.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Batter will be slightly stiff, but do not over mix.

Spoon batter into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out cleanly.

Apple and pear bread pudding

How do you warm a foodie’s heart? Himself has made a pretty good start. Huddled against the biting, snow swirled wind yesterday afternoon, I reached my icy hands into our cavernous mailbox and pulled out not one, but two, brightly colored foodie magazines. Someone knows me quite well and just added Saveur to my foodie subscriptions. Cold weather be damned, I’m immersing myself in pictures dripping with garden fresh veggies and the brightest citrus flavors. What, what was that? Oh don’t mind me, I’m just lost to the world over here.

It’s a good thing I finally cleaned up and organized all the recipes I’d already saved from my foodie magazines, because I just dog eared both these magazines. I mean the latest Saveur is all about grapefruit recipes, and we’ve already been over my recent obsession with citrus.

That citrus obsession continues with this bread pudding recipe. It’s from the humblest of ingredients, stale bread, too many eggs, fruit in the freezer that I wanted to use, but put them all together and they become something worthy enough for any foodie. Before we get to the recipe though, let’s talk about my BFF relationship with my chest freezer. Like any good country gal, I adore my chest freezer. My adoration for this appliance has soared to new heights as the temperatures plummeted to new lows. Reaching into a frosty freezer to find dinner is far better than heading out to my frosty car. My new BFF has totally encouraged my thriftiness too. Don’t worry, I’m not here for a lecture, but ever since my nifty-thrifty friend Joanna pointed out how much money is wasted on food ($2,200 per family per year!), I’ve wanted to save a little of that money for myself.

Enter the apples and pears in this bread pudding. Back in November, I bought up the last of the season’s peak pears and apples. And I bought A. Lot. So much that we couldn’t make our way through them, though I gave it my best shot. So I cooked up the fruit with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon, sauteing them in the littlest amount of butter until they were just slightly softened, but not anywhere near mushy. Let them cool, popped ‘em in some freezer bags, and let them chill away until inspiration struck.

That said, you probably don’t have fruit languishing in your freezer right now, but you could substitute any firm prepacked frozen fruit (thaw it first!) in the recipe, or just cook up your fresh apples and pears. Just avoid the mush or their glory will get lost in the pudding. You want these babies to shine!

However you decide to go with the fruit, do not wait to make this recipe. Nifty-thrifty Joanna would be so proud!


Apple and pear bread pudding

Apple and pear bread pudding

Adapted from The Kitchn’s Sweet Bread Pudding

butter, to butter pan with
5 cups stale bread cut into cubes
2 cups half and half
½ cup 2% milk
4 eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
pinch of salt
1 ½ cup cooked apples or pears or a mix of both
¼ cup raisins, optional

Butter bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch pan. Place bread pieces evenly in pan. Sprinkle bread with apples and pear mixture. If using, sprinkle a layer of raisins on top of the apples and pears.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt. Pour mixture over bread and fruit. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

At least 15 minutes before baking, remove pan from fridge and allow to approach room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake bread pudding for 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream or just as its own delicious self.

Dijon cheddar bread

Working at home through the cold, cold weather has left me more than a little stir crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, but most of you will agree this has been a little ridiculous. I know, you’re all thinking, you *did* move to northern MN, Jess, but even locals agree that this is getting to be too much.

I’ll be spending the weekend doing a lot of rearranging, reorganizing, and serious cleaning. It’s almost as though I think I can will spring here with the start of some spring cleaning. It turns out that a wee bit of clutter is seeming like a lot after looking at it day in and day out. Now don’t get me wrong, I felt like quite the lucky gal working from home in my pj’s while Himself trudged across the frozen tundra of our yard to warm up the car before leaving for work. That said, I am ecstatic about starting the new job. I’ve felt a little removed from the community, so I’m super excited to dive in. But first, let’s get this place in shape.

This bread I have for you is perfect for a day spent cleaning or organizing. Mix a little, clean a little, rise a little, organize a little. And knowing how I feel about bread, it’s about the best reward for a day of accomplishments. The cheese and oats melt into the bread adding to the flavor and texture. And bonus points, the finished loaves freeze really well. So, you know, you could give that extra loaf to the neighbor who came along and helped shovel you out, or just enjoy them both your terrible own self.

Either way, enjoy!

Dijon cheddar bread

Dijon cheddar bread

Lightly adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas

1 ½ cups warm water
1 ½ Tablespoons active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 scant Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoon salt (smoked salt works really well here)
1 cup oats, quick or old-fashioned
3 ½ cups flour
2 cup shredded cheese

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook, dissolve the sugar in warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add mustard, eggs, salt, and oats and mix well. Add 1 ¾ cups of the flour and mix for three minutes. Cover mixer with a towel and let rest for five minutes.

After resting, add the shredded cheese and an additional 1 cup of flour. Mix until well blended. Add the final cup of flour and mix until completely worked in. Dough will still be sticky.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in two and place into two loaf pans. Dough will still be very sticky. I found it best to oil my hands before removing from bowl. Cover dough with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow to rise an additional 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from loaf pans, then allow to cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

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