Challah Monkey Bread

I'm not an expert on baking Challah, but I love the rich taste that is similar to Brioche. My son came across the recipe for this decadent-looking monkey bread version of Challah, and I couldn't wait to try it. This is the ultimate breakfast bread, and I enjoyed it with a cup of cold brew coffee. Looks like cinnamon rolls and sticky buns may have a new rival.

Recipe adapted from Alexandra Penfold at Serious Eats

Challah Monkey Bread

3/4 cup warm water, divided
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 package yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, and yeast. Set aside to proof for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar, honey, oil, and egg. 
Add both the yeast mixture and the egg mixture to the flour and stir just until incorporated. 
Using a dough hook attachment on a stand mixer, beat the dough for several minutes, adding a few additional tablespoons of flour as needed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. 
Place dough on a well floured surface and knead for five minutes by hand, dusting with flour as needed.
Transfer dough to a large well oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
Place melted butter in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cinnamon. Prepare a Bundt pan with cooking spray.
After dough has doubled in size, place dough on a well floured surface and pat into an 8 x 8-inch square. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 strips horizontally and 8 strips vertically, so that there are 64 small squares of dough. Form these squares into little balls of dough.
Using a fork, dip each ball of dough into the melted butter then roll in the brown sugar mixture. Layer the balls in the Bundt pan, staggering the layers over seams to make interlocking pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dough comes to about 1/2 inch from top of pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is firm and deep golden brown. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

To prepare the glaze: In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Cool the bread for an additional 10 minutes after removing from pan, then pour glaze over the top, allowing it to drizzle down the sides. Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container, use within one day.

A pizza cutter makes easy work of cutting the dough into 64 pieces.

Bake the bread for 30 minutes until it is deep golden brown on top. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Allow the bread to cool an additional 10 minutes after removing from the pan before adding the glaze.

This recipe was shared with my friends at:
Weekend Potluck


Winning Party Food

With Super Bowl XLVIII scheduled for next weekend, many hosts and hostesses will be finalizing party plans this week. Even though both teams can't win on Sunday, everyone can come out a winner when great food is served. Most people are looking for new menu ideas to serve to friends, so here are a few suggestions that are sure to be a hit at any kind of party.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños - These are jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped with bacon, and baked until the bacon is crispy.

Brown Sugar Smokies - This tempting bacon-wrapped appetizer is made with little smokies dipped in brown sugar then baked.

Buffalo Hot Wings -  These hot wings are made spicy with Italian dressing mix and hot sauce.

Ham and Cheese Sliders - Everyone will love these little ham and cheese sandwiches baked with a sweet poppy seed sauce.

Salsa - Homemade salsa is always a crowd pleaser.


Cold Brew Coffee

I never start a day without coffee, and good coffee has been especially important over the past week. Because I have been out of town helping with the care of an adorable newborn grandson my sleep pattern has been altered, and I am drinking a bit more coffee to help keep me alert. My son and I were drinking French press coffee in the beginning of the week, but later decided to make up a batch of cold brew coffee because it has a lower acid content and a less bitter taste.

Cold brew coffee is about 67% less acidic than regular hot brewed coffee, so the extra cups I am consuming have been well tolerated.

There are many different cold brew coffee systems available for purchase in a wide range of prices. The concept of making cold brew is very simple, and some folks even make their own cold brew systems. To make cold brew coffee, start with your favorite coffee beans and grind them coarsely. Place the desired amount of ground coffee beans in the upper chamber, then pour in cold water to saturate the beans. The rest is easy, just let the beans steep for about 12 hours. At the bottom of this chamber there is a filter and a cork, so after the beans have been saturated in the water, this chamber is placed on top of a carafe and the cork is removed.

The strained liquid will drain into the carafe, and the result is a concentrated cold brew coffee. This concentrate can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. To use the concentrate, mix as desired with hot water. For our concentrate we mixed about 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water, but the amount can be varied according to the strength of coffee desired.

This concentrate can also be used to make iced coffee or other coffee drinks. The cold brew systems can be used for tea, as well.

This has been a wonderful week with my precious grandson to cuddle and rock, and the cold brew coffee has helped this grandmother keep her eyes open in the wee hours.

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Weekend Potluck


Honey Date Muffins

I don't know the Muffin Man, but I am in the muffin mode these days. When the Cherry Oatmeal Muffins I made recently were gone, I quickly made these Honey Date Muffins to fill the void. Muffins with fruit and nuts like these are a favorite breakfast of mine. This particular recipe was an accident of sorts because when I went looking for muffin ingredients I didn't have all my usual ones. My stash of dried fruit was depleted except for a package of dates, so these muffins were built around the ingredients I happened to have on hand.

Honey Date Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by spraying with cooking spray or use paper liners. 
In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, combine oil, honey, milk, and egg. Stir until well blended.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, stir just until the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Fold in the dates and walnuts.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan, dividing the batter evenly. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then continue cooling on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

I would be surprised if the Muffin Man has baked anything better than these Honey Date Muffins!


Sugar, Spice and Spilled Milk

I have been working on a few updates at Aunt Nubby's Kitchen. You may have already noticed a new blog name in the title box. I'll still be blogging at auntnubbyskichen.blogspot.com, but the name of my blog is changing to Sugar, Spice and Spilled Milk. I think this name is a fairly accurate descriptor for my kitchen because of all the activity that happens here.

I'm still Aunt Nubby and always will be, but after almost three years of blogging I decided some updates might be fun. My Family Dance blog is soon to be retired, and all my future posts will be contained in this one site. I hope these changes will be met with approval.


Cherry Oatmeal Muffins

A batch of muffins baked ahead can make breakfast simple for everyone, and so many different healthy ingredients can be baked into a muffin. Even kids are usually on board for a breakfast muffin. These Cherry Oatmeal Muffins are big on taste and would also make a welcome afternoon snack.

Cherry Oatmeal Muffins

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a standard 12-cup muffin tin by greasing, or use paper liners.
In a small bowl, toss together walnuts, cherries, and 1 teaspoon flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine remaining flour, baking powder, salt, and oats; stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Stir in milk and egg. Add butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the walnut mixture. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, dividing the batter evenly. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.


Easy Vegetable Beef Soup

Have I mentioned I detest cold weather? Temperatures have hit in the single digits for the past two days in Northeast Arkansas. I'm accustomed to being able to dash out to the grocery store with only a sweater and a warm scarf, but not when the wind chill is below zero. Yesterday I bundled in so many layers I could hardly move, and my Ugg boots became functional, rather than fashionable.

Weather this cold calls for some seriously warming food, so I made Vegetable Beef Soup to knock out the chill. This recipe is my own, so give it a try and let me know what you think.

Print Recipe

Easy Vegetable Beef Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 - 2 pounds stew beef (I like to use rib eye steak), trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper to sprinkle beef
All purpose flour for dredging beef
1 (46 oz.) can tomato juice
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 (14.5 oz.) can beef broth
1 (29 oz.) can mixed vegetables, drained (I like Veg-all because of the good variety of vegetables)
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add onions and garlic, sauté until tender. Transfer onions and garlic to a large dutch oven. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour. Brown the beef lightly in a single layer over medium heat in the olive oil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to the dutch oven with the onions and garlic. Add tomato juice, tomatoes and green chiles, beef broth, vegetables, basil, thyme, salt, and bay leaf to the dutch oven. Stir all together, and heat to boiling. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf before serving.


Blueberry Tea Bread

Blueberries are viewed by nutritionists as being among the healthiest of foods to eat. Anytime I see a "Top 10" healthy foods list in the media, blueberries are sure to be in the rankings. I love adding fresh blueberries to my oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal for breakfast, and I also love baking with blueberries. This Blueberry Tea Bread is a delicious way to enjoy these dandy little berries.

When fresh blueberries are brought home they should not be washed until just before use. Fresh, dry blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to about ten days.

Blueberry Tea Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in blueberries. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, milk, oil, and orange zest until well blended. Add liquid mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into prepared pan; bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes 1 loaf.

Blueberries can be grown in the home garden, and also do well as a potted patio plant. I plan to try growing some of my own blueberries for baking next spring.


Orange Ginger Pound Cake

Even though the forecast here is for snow and icy winter weather, this Orange Ginger Pound Cake seems like sunshine and a warm breeze to me. The merger of fresh oranges and ginger root have a taste that suggest all is well with the world, even when the wind is howling outside. The inspiration for this recipe came from Tracy Ceurvels, a NYC food writer who wrote about this cake in January 2014 Relish Magazine. I have adapted her glorious recipe mainly by reducing the amount of sugar and by using vanilla yogurt in my cake. I also baked my cake in a non-traditional pan for pound cakes, a deep round rather than a loaf pan. This also allowed the baking time to be shortened.

Print Recipe

Orange Ginger Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely minced, peeled fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil

Orange syrup
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sugar

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 3-inch round cake pan. (Or use cooking spray and line with parchment paper.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, ginger root, orange zest, and oil; beat until well blended. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake tests done. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
To make the orange syrup, combine orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat until sugar dissolves. Turn cake out onto a parchment paper lined tray, then while cake is still warm, poke holes in top and pour orange syrup over cake, allowing to soak into cake. Cooled cake can be transferred to a serving plate.
To make glaze, combine powdered sugar and orange juice, stirring until smooth. When cake is completely cool, drizzle glaze over top of cake.

This is such a flavorful cake; orange and ginger are made for each other.


Black-eyed Peas for Good Luck

I think a person can create much of their own good luck by working hard, but I'm all for any tradition that involves gaining good luck by eating something delicious. Starting New Year's Day off with a meal of black-eyed peas to bring luck and prosperity has been observed at least since the Civil War, and probably even before that time. The traditional Southern New Year's Day good luck meal consists of black-eyed peas, pork, greens, and cornbread. I began the year today with the superb luck of having such a meal to start 2014, so no doubt I can look forward to a year of excellent fortune. Black-eyed peas are good any day of the year though, so no matter when you prepare this recipe I'm pretty sure it will be someone's lucky day.

Black-eyed Peas

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 1/2 - 2 pounds smoked pork hocks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Bay leaf

Place the black-eyed peas in a large bowl and cover completely with water. Soak overnight.

Place the pork hocks in a stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours, until very tender. Remove from heat, and let cool until meat can be removed from bone. Separate meat from bone and gristle, then chop the meat; set aside.

Drain the black-eyed peas, and place in a large dutch oven, covering with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Coat a skillet with the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onions begin to be transparent. Add sautéed onions and garlic, along with chopped pork, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to the simmering peas. Cover and cook for about one hour, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Be sure to look for smoked pork hocks for this recipe. There's not much meat on these, but they are very flavorful. Some like to cook the pork hocks directly in the peas. I cook them separately because of the grease, but either way you prefer will work.