oatmeal sandwich bread

there's something delicious and homey about a slice of still warm homemade bread, spread with a thick layer of peanut butter and homemade jam. each and every time i make bread i remember how incredibly easy it is - especially on a weekend in the dead of winter, when the hour i wait for it to double in size is easily filled with shows from my dvr or boring household chores - and how the taste is so much better than store bought bread.

and i can't help but mention how fitting it is that this, my two hundredth post, is a simple loaf of bread. considering that's how it all started.


vanilla buttermilk glazed pear cake

i'm not quite sure exactly what i was looking for at smitten kitchen when i stumbled upon this pear bread. i stopped dead in my tracks and mentally bookmarked it for a time when i had too many fresh pears and not enough time to eat them all. which just so happened to be not too long ago. what's not to love about fresh pears and a healthy dose of cinnamon coated in a smooth as silk vanilla buttermilk glaze? while deb calls it bread, i can't help but acknowledge that it made the cross over into cake.

and just as deb mentioned, this cake just keeps getting better. sure, my kitchen smelled amazing from the cinnamon the weeknight i baked it, but we were still eating mini bundts five days later. they were as good as, if not better than, those just out of the oven.

not a fan of the mini bundts? how about a loaf or a large bundt or a tube? cupcakes more your style? i bet this cake would be divine topped with cinnamon cream cheese buttercream. and i bet a slice from a warm loaf would be equally delicious smeared with a bit of butter for breakfast.


sweet and sour chicken

chinese food didn't make an appearance at our house very often growing up. once or twice a year the electric wok would be hauled out from wherever it lived and honestly, i don't even remember what was made in it.even more rare was a trip out for chinese, since our small town had one and only one chinese restaurant that i only remember going to once, and only once, in the 18 years i lived there. and for good reason, since the food was not so good.

when i moved to rochester twelve and a half years ago for school, i was surprised by the sheer volume of chinese food available. it's everywhere! and one of the first things i tried - and got hooked on - was sweet and sour chicken. this homemade version is much better than your standard sweet & sour chicken i've found at most chinese restaurants, chicken coated in a thick dough & deep fried. coating the chicken in cornstarch and stir frying it gives it a nice coating and the extra bit of cornstarch is great to thicken the sauce while it cooks. it's great chinese comfort food!


cinnamon swirl whole wheat bagels [12in2012]

bagels have been on my to make list for at least a year. i can't believe how long it took me to make them, considering how easy they are to make, how delicious they taste, and how well they freeze. my advice to you: make a large batch. it's just as easy to make 18 or 24 as it is to make 12. especially if you have room in the freezer.

i flavored half of my bagels with cinnamon sugar and left half plain for making breakfast sandwiches. it's super easy to make whatever flavor you like. fold dried cranberries, whole blueberries, raisins, chocolate chips, or other chunks in step 6. love cheese? fold it in similar to step 6. or brush the tops of the formed bagels and sprinkle with seeds before baking. with one base recipe, the variations are endless.


milk based chai concentrate

when i found out i was pregnant, i voluntarily gave up coffee to cut caffeine. and really didn't consider it a big deal. i could go without my three cups a day for a year, right? no problem.

but it wasn't so easy. the first month or so wasn't bad. sure, i craved coffee a couple mornings, but was able to make it through. and it wasn't the caffeine i missed, so much as the routine of making & drinking a steamy mug every morning. especially in the dead of winter. i also consider myself a coffee snob - life's too short for a bad cup of coffee - and couldn't find the caffeine content of the decaf version of my favorite. so i switched it up to chai. with decaffeinated black tea.

what's different about this chai concentrate from all the others out there, is that it's milk based rather than water based. for a week or two i made large batches of chai on the weekend, toting them to and from work in quart mason jars. but i needed two jars to make it through the week and was sick of carrying the jars back and forth. there's a steady supply of hot water in my office, so making the concentrate with milk was easy. and it just so happens that a quart jar of the stuff lasts me five days. perfect for work.


chicken with 33 cloves of garlic

since we love love love garlic around here, it's somewhat surprising it has taken me this long to make some version of julia child's classic chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. to be honest, as much as i love garlic, i couldn't quite get past the forty cloves. i know garlic mellows out a lot as it roasts, but how could forty cloves not be overwhelming?!

i should have made this years ago! this chicken is so unbelievably easy to make and since the sauce is blended until smooth, there's a great garlic flavor without biting into chunks of garlic. this one made our "make again asap" list.


red velvet cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese buttercream

at home, i am not a valentine's day person. but at work, i use it as an excuse to wear red (especially since it's one of my favorite colors) and bake up a treat. last year i baked up these cupcakes and they were snatched up in a flash. there is always a flurry of red velvet cakes this time of year, but what sets these apart is the buttercream. the touch of cinnamon is just the right amount of spice to go along with the hint of chocolate in the cake and tang of the cream cheese.

now i just have to decide what to make this year.


secret recipe club: chewy no bake granola bars & carrot cinnamon waffles

i've been a loyal reader of allison's for at least a year now. it was sweet tooth friday that caught me. each friday allison posts a sweet treat - cookies, cupcakes, ice cream and everything in between - and hosts others to link up their sweets.


and since i've been following allison for a while, i was surprised to see her blog, alli 'n sons, was my selection for this month's secret recipe club entry! and that meant i had a hard time choosing a recipe from her blog, especially because i already had a bunch bookmarked in my google reader. i managed to narrow the list down to two: chewy no bake granola bars and carrot and cinnamon waffles.


brown butter iced brownies

"...why don't you make some brownies tonight? you haven't made those in a while... man, doesn't a brownie sound good?!"

this, smack dab in the middle of a meeting at work. i thought about it for a half a second, realized i had way too much to do at home already, and quickly moved my mind back to the work in front of us.

until i got home and sorted through the mail. and staring right back at me was cooking light's january/february issue with the claim "best light chocolate recipe ever" in giant red letters. so i did what any normal person would do and turned to page 143 to check out the finalists. i blew past double chocolate ice cream, chocolate frangelico fondue, and texas sheet cake to number one: classic fudge-walnut brownies.

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