Categories
Bread Breakfast Dessert

Do what feels ‘ripe’ with those brown bananas

This is just a very simple recipe for banana bread, but it’s fabulous in its traditional flavors, including the warmth of ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

Once, back in my college days, when I was living away from home, I was visiting over a weekend. I grabbed a banana off the counter, and about that time, my sister came around the corner.

She gave me a horrified look.

“What are you doing?” she demanded.

“Eating a banana?” I told her, confused.

“Dad and I were leaving those so Mom would make banana bread,” she said.

I’d ruined the plan.

I don’t think they’ve fully forgiven me yet, even though Mom has blessed us with plenty of loaves in the many years since then.

I was thinking about that story recently when I whipped up a couple loaves for an event we were having at the office. I had a couple brown bananas in my freezer that I didn’t have time to bake with when they turned, and I figured it was a good time to put them to good use.

My recipe for banana bread comes from my mom. I’m sure there’s an origin story for it, but my only copy is a well-worn, handwritten version from her.

Print

Banana Bread

This is just a very simple recipe for banana bread, but it’s fabulous in its traditional flavors, including the warmth of ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword banana, brown bananas, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, overripe bananas, sweet bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 4 mashed overripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cloves

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans, and set them aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, start by beating the eggs, and then beat in the rest of the ingredients until the batter is smooth.
  • Distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
  • Once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove the pans from the oven, and let them cool to a temperature where you can handle them comfortably. Carefully invert the pans to remove the loaves, and let them cool the rest of the way before slicing them. Store the slices in an airtight container.

You can absolutely add some chopped walnuts to this bread, too, if you like them. I actually love banana nut bread, but since that’s not how we normally ate it when I was growing up, my nostalgia leads me to continue to leave them out.

I love this recipe because it has more spices in it than a lot of traditional banana bread recipes do. There is nothing better than plenty of warm spices along with the flavor of overripe bananas.

And to add insult to injury, both of these loaves were eaten by all of us at the office, and my sister was left out once again. I mean, she’s an adult now, so I’m sure it’s my niece and brother-in-law conspiring to let bananas brown on her counter these days.

I know one thing: if I go for a visit, I’ll leave any fruit in her kitchen alone.

This piece first appeared in print on June 13, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Bread Breakfast

Using a softer flour is the ‘fluff’ dreams are made of

This recipe for homemade biscuits is good when made with hard red winter wheat flour. It’s even better when you can get ahold of soft winter wheat flour, making these fluffier and tastier than ever.

The Kansas Wheat Commission reports on its website that there are six varieties of wheat grown in the United States.

Those include hard red winter, hard white, soft red winter, soft white, hard red spring and durum.

Anyone who has been around wheat farmers in Kansas knows that most farms produce the hard red winter variety. The wheat commission notes we grow more of it here than anywhere else in the country.

I’m sure I already knew that there were other varieties of wheat, but until a few months ago, I didn’t give it much thought. Wheat flour is wheat flour, right?

But, as many of my weird experiments tend to begin, I watched a video online of a woman claiming that she made the best biscuits of her life by using flour produced in the South—soft winter wheat flour.

It stuck in my mind, but since our grocery stores don’t sell it (if someone does, let me know), I didn’t see any way to test it out. But then we were invited to speak at the Kentucky Press Association convention, and I had the perfect opportunity to visit a Kroger, get myself some soft winter wheat, and give it a try.

And I have to admit that I was honest-to-goodness angry, because, you guys, it worked. I had the fluffiest biscuits I have ever made. So I’m sharing a recipe with you that I actually shared clear back in September of 2013 for homemade biscuits (you can find that post on my website, spiceupkitchen.net), and while you can totally make these with hard red winter wheat flour, I’m imploring you to try to get ahold of some of the soft stuff to see the difference. It’s a weird experiment but totally worth it.

Print

Even Fluffier Homemade Biscuits

This recipe for homemade biscuits is good when made with hard red winter wheat flour. It’s even better when you can get ahold of soft winter wheat flour, making these fluffier and tastier than ever.
Course Bread, Breakfast
Keyword easy biscuits, fluffy biscuits, homemade biscuits, soft red wheat flour

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose soft winter wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup shortening

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until it’s well combined (the texture will become a bit mealy).
  • Add milk and stir. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead until all of the ingredients are well-combined and the dough is soft and easy to roll. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it’s tough and hard to work with, add a little more milk.
  • After the dough is kneaded into a soft ball, roll it out to about one-inch thickness.
  • Use a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass to cut out biscuits. Continue to roll out dough and cut it into biscuits until all the dough is used (if you have a weird little bit left over, go ahead and bake it. It won’t be pretty, but it’ll be tasty.).
  • Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

We had these with sausage gravy, and I changed nothing about how I made the biscuit recipe I’ve made dozens of times since 2013 except the type of flour.

Could it have been confirmation bias? Sure.

But Joey was convinced, too, and I honestly might bake two batches to compare side by side just to see.

Regardless, this recipe is one to try, no matter what kind of wheat flour you use. It comes together quickly and is way better than the canned variety.

Now I’ll have to figure out how to keep supplying myself with soft winter wheat flour for future biscuit baking. I still have several pounds left, but with how much we enjoyed this experiment, I don’t expect it to last long.

This piece first appeared in print Thursday, April 11, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Cookies Dessert

Combining cookies and cinnamon rolls is totally friend‘chip’ goals

Chocolate chip cookie cinnamon rolls are exactly what the name implies: a gooey, delicious combination of cookies and sweet rolls. Since the recipe uses pre-made ingredients, it’s extremely easy for even amateur bakers to accomplish.

Every once in awhile, I run across a food idea so dumb but so obviously delicious that I just have to try it.

It happened when I made poutine tacos. It happened when I decided to try Mountain Dew and Doritos cupcakes.

And it happened again this past week, when I saw a simple recipe that promised to combine two high-calorie, delectable treats: cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies.

So I went to the store, dumping a package of pre-made cookies and pre-made rolls into my cart and hoping no one who regularly reads my column saw me and wondered if I was losing a step.

And then I made magic in my kitchen.

I was right. They were dumb. But they were so, so good, and now that I have the knowledge that this can be done, it’s only right that I share it with all of you so you can shame buy packages of refrigerated dough and try this out at your house, too.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Dude Foods” by Nick Chipman. (If you’re into weird food experiments, he’s your guy.) You can find the original post at https://dudefoods.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-stuffed-cinnamon-rolls/. There were only two ingredients for this, so I didn’t change those up, but I did clarify some directions that should make your life a little easier when trying these.

Print

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate chip cookie cinnamon rolls are exactly what the name implies: a gooey, delicious combination of cookies and sweet rolls. Since the recipe uses pre-made ingredients, it’s extremely easy for even amateur bakers to accomplish.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword canned cinnamon rolls, cookie dough, easy dessert, quick dessert

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 12.4 ounce package of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough with icing

Instructions

  • Let the cookie dough come up to room temperature before starting assembly.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside.
  • Cut two large pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper, and sandwich the cookie dough between them. Using a rolling pin, roll out the cookie dough to about one-quarter inch in thickness, trying to keep it in as much of a rectangular shape as you can.
  • Carefully remove the top layer of paper and set it aside. Unroll the cinnamon rolls and place them, lengthwise, evenly across the cookie dough. It’s OK if you end up with a little space between or if they hang off the end a little.
  • Take a table knife or pizza cutter and cut a line in the cookie dough between each cinnamon roll, making long strips.
  • Place the paper back on top of the dough. Slide it onto a baking sheet, place another baking sheet on top, and flip the stack over.
  • Now, peel the top layer of paper off and begin tightly rolling the cinnamon roll/cookie dough lines into rolls, and place them on your prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least an inch apart.
  • Once all of the dough is rolled, bake for about 15 minutes or until the dough is soft but set up on the bottoms. While the rolls are hot, cover them with the icing included with the cinnamon rolls. Serve them immediately and store any leftovers in an airtight container. This will make eight rolls.

I was seriously almost angry that these were so stinking good, because they were way too easy to make. They were soft and cinnamon-y and chocolaty and would be phenomenal with a big glass of milk. We were lucky to have a get together the day I made these, so I managed to get away with only eating half of a roll, which I shared with Joey, before passing these calorie bombs off on our friends. (Sorry, gang!)

I can officially cross another weird recipe off my to do list, though, and that’s pretty cool. I have discovered that curiosity is a large part of what drives my kitchen experiments, and I was happy to answer the “what if” of this food combination.

This piece first appeared in print on March 28, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Try a great mini sweet that’s perfect to have ’round

Mini pumpkin spice donuts are completely addictive, with tons of delicious spices and a fabulous cinnamon-sugar coating.

When I was a kid, our Sunday morning breakfasts before church would often be something special from the day-old bakery we had in town.

One of my personal favorites was when we’d get mini donuts. I would dip them in milk, trading off between chocolate-covered and cinnamon sugar flavors.

I have been thinking about those donuts ever since I found a mini donut pan at our local thrift shop, and I finally took the plunge on baking some of my own.

Around Thanksgiving this year, I accidentally bought pumpkin pie filling instead of regular canned pumpkin, and it has been sitting in my pantry ever since, so I decided it was high time to both use up that can and break in my new pan.

The recipe I made is from the blog “Lovely Indeed.” You can find the original post at https://lovelyindeed.com/mini-donut-recipe-baked-pumpkin-spice-mini-donuts/. I added extra spices in my version.

Print

Mini Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Mini pumpkin spice donuts are completely addictive, with tons of delicious spices and a fabulous cinnamon-sugar coating.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword baked donuts, canned cinnamon rolls, cinnamon-sugar, cloves, donuts, ginger, mini donuts, pumpkin

Ingredients

Donut Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

Coating Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray the wells of a mini donut pan with cooking spray and set it aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking powder until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the flour just until it’s all incorporated.
  • Transfer the batter to a piping bag or a large zip-top plastic bag with the tip snipped off.
  • Fill each well on the pan about three-fourths full, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the donuts from the pan and let them cool.
  • In another zip-top bag, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
  • Lightly brush each donut with melted butter, and then drop them (a few at a time) into the bag, and gently shake to coat them in cinnamon-sugar. Serve immediately, and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

This took some time to make, as my donut pan only has nine wells, and this recipe easily made several dozen donuts, but it also gave me plenty of time to wash up my dishes and listen to a podcast.

And these were worth it. We shared them with our guests for a mingle at our office, and then we shamelessly snacked on the leftovers for a few days afterwards. They were moist, full of flavor and very addictive. I had a few with a cup of coffee, and it was the perfect pairing.

I didn’t get a chance to dip any of these in milk like when I was younger, but it was still nice to remember those Sunday breakfasts with my family. And the best part? I didn’t even have to share these with my sister.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 29, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Roll through your cinnamon cravings with a simple cake

A cinnamon roll cake is an easy way to accomplish the great flavor of homemade cinnamon rolls without all the work.

Do you have those friends in your life where you have to try several times to plan a get-together before you can actually find a date on the calendar that works?

This past weekend, the stars aligned for us to finally spend an evening with just such a pair. They were gracious enough to invite us to their home, where they had a delicious bowl of chili and fresh cornbread waiting for us.

Knowing that chili was on the menu, I started to wrack my brain earlier in the day about what kind of dessert goes with it, and my mind just kept going back to cinnamon rolls.

I mean, yeah, cinnamon rolls are a perfect compliment to a big bowl of chili, but they’re also generally pretty time consuming, and time was not on my side that afternoon.

Thank goodness I found a recipe for a cinnamon roll cake that came to my rescue instead, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

This comes from the blog “The Country Cook” by Brandie Skibinski. You can find the original post at https://www.thecountrycook.net/cinnamon-roll-cake/. I doubled the vanilla and quadrupled the cinnamon in my version.

Print

Cinnamon Roll Cake

A cinnamon roll cake is an easy way to accomplish the great flavor of homemade cinnamon rolls without all the work.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, cake, cinnamon, cinnamon roll, coffeecake, easy cinnamon roll, vanilla

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk I used skim
  • 1/2 cup butter melted

Filling Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons milk I used skim
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Set it aside.
  • For the cake, in a mixing bowl, beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and milk until everything is smooth and well combined.
  • Hand stir in the butter, and then spread the batter evenly into your prepared pan.
  • For the filling, in another mixing bowl, beat together all of the filling ingredients until it forms a smooth paste.
  • Drop the cinnamon mixture by the tablespoonful onto the cake batter, and then swirl it into the batter using a knife.
  • Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, whisk the glaze ingredients until it is smooth. If you want a thicker glaze, add a little more powdered sugar. If you want it thinner, add a little more milk.
  • Pour the glaze over the cake and serve warm. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

This was very much like if a coffee cake married a cinnamon roll. The main difference is because you put the glaze on the cake while it’s still warm, it melts into the cake instead of staying visibly on top like a normal cinnamon roll. If you’d rather have that look and texture, I’d recommend letting the cake cool completely before glazing and making a bit of a thicker glaze.

I ended up making an eight-by-eight pan of this by halving the recipe. There was only going to be four of us, and I really didn’t need the leftovers in my kitchen all week, so that made it perfect.

Even better, we had an excellent meal with excellent people. Being able to spend time with friends, cinnamon rolls or not, is so, so sweet.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 11, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Breakfast bars are ‘apple’utely great for a morning treat

Apple crisp breakfast bars are not overly sweet. The warm cinnamon flavor, along with the nuttiness of oats, makes these a fabulous morning treat with a hot cup of tea.

Recently, I had the chance to meet one of our readers from Hesston.

We had a fairly short (but very pleasant) conversation, and before I left, he gestured to a bag on his kitchen counter.

“Do you like apples?” he asked me.

And that’s how I became the excited owner of four huge, beautiful golden delicious apples. He said he bought an entire case of them recently and had been working through them, little by little. I was happy to take these off his hands.

I was very tempted to just eat all of them, but instead, I felt like the gift deserved a spot in a new recipe, and after searching for an apple recipe that used sweet apples instead of tart, I landed on the one I’m sharing with you this week.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Healthy Family Project” by Amanda Keefer. You can find the original post at https://healthyfamilyproject.com/recipes/apple-crisp-breakfast-bars/. I added extra maple syrup and cinnamon in my version.

Print

Apple Crisp Breakfast Bars

Apple crisp breakfast bars are not overly sweet. The warm cinnamon flavor, along with the nuttiness of oats, makes these a fabulous morning treat with a hot cup of tea.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword apples, breakfast bars, cinnamon, Golden delicious apples, maple syrup, quick oats, sweet apples

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup and 4 tablespoons maple syrup divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 sweet apples I used golden delicious, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper, and set it aside.
  • In a bowl, mix the oats, flour, salt, one-fourth cup maple syrup, butter and two teaspoons cinnamon, and mix until everything is well combined and the texture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Set aside one-half cup of the mixture.
  • In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork, and then pour it into the remaining crumb mixture, stirring to incorporate it completely. Spread the dough into the prepared baking dish into an even layer.
  • In another bowl, mix the apples, remaining maple syrup, remaining cinnamon and cornstarch until the apples are well-coated.
  • Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough in the pan, and then top it with the oat mixture you set aside, crumbling it evenly over the top. (It won’t completely cover it; just get it evenly over the entire thing.)
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the apples are fork tender.
  • Let the bars cool completely before slicing them into squares.
  • Store the bars in an airtight container.

These are not overtly sweet, even with the extra maple syrup I added in my version. They truly are a great breakfast bar, even though you could totally get away with sharing them as a dessert, too.

I ended up doubling my batch of these bars and sharing them as part of a brunch with friends. It’s an incredibly easy recipe to double.

It was nice to be able to take a simple gift and turn it into another gift for others. (I’m sure there’s a small-town metaphor in there somewhere.)

And it was a doubly sweet experience to have a nice conversation on a cold afternoon. Thanks again, Harvey; I hope we will chat again one day.

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 9, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Air Fryer Bread Breakfast

This easy air fryer recipe will totally ‘bagel’ your mind

Baking in an air fryer is much easier than it sounds, especially with a simple bagel recipe that uses only a couple ingredients to create soft, yummy bread in only 10 minutes.

Three years ago, I shared a recipe in this space for an easy homemade pizza dough.

If you remember that recipe, this week’s experiment is going to look very, very familiar, as it starts with the exact same basic ingredients. That’s why I knew it would turn out well, and I definitely wanted to try it.

I also wanted to try it, because it gave me an excuse to use my air fryer in a little different way. I have really been wanting to experiment more with baking in it, and this let me give it a try.

Plus, I have a strange addiction to bagels, and the promise of being able to bake a small batch in only 10 minutes was enough to get my attention.

This comes from the blog “Adventures of a Nurse.” You can find the original post at https://www.adventuresofanurse.com/air-fryer-2-ingredient-weight-watcher-bagels/. I didn’t add any ingredients outside of topping my bagels with everything bagel seasoning.

Print

Air Fryer Bagels

Baking in an air fryer is much easier than it sounds, especially with a simple bagel recipe that uses only a couple ingredients to create soft, yummy bread in only 10 minutes.
Course Bread, Breakfast
Keyword air fryer, bagel, easy baking, easy bread, non-fat Greek yogurt, self-rising flour, Weight Watchers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup self-rising flour plus more for your work surface
  • 1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • Your favorite bagel seasoning

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and yogurt. Mix with a spoon until the dough forms into a rough ball.
  • Coat your work surface with a generous amount of flour, and turn the dough out onto the surface, kneading a few times to bring it together. Add more flour if it’s too sticky to work with.
  • Separate the dough into four balls and then roll each ball into a rope about one inch in diameter. Join the ends together to create a bagel shape, and place them into the basket of your air fryer.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg well, and then brush the tops of the bagels liberally with the egg. Sprinkle on your desired seasoning, turn your air fryer to 350 degrees, and bake for 10 minutes or until the bagels are browned to your liking.
  • Eat immediately or store in an airtight container.

These were delicious. They were definitely not traditional bagels as far as texture goes, but they had fabulous flavor and were a lot less work than bagels normally are.

I do think you could mix in some other ingredients, too, like dried fruit or nuts or something along those lines. You could easily make them sweet or savory, depending on your mood.

I also liked that the recipe only made four. That cut down on the amount of time it took to make them, and I didn’t have to worry about having a dozen or more bagels for just Joey and I to try to eat by ourselves.

I still regularly use my flour/yogurt pizza dough to make all kinds of great pizzas at home, but I have to say this is my new favorite use for this ingredient combination. It’s made me wonder what else this easy miracle dough could accomplish.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 7, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Say ‘oui’ to this yummy overnight breakfast casserole

Overnight French toast casserole is a much easier way to feature French toast for breakfast. Add in a little fresh fruit, and you have quite the wow factor for your morning meal or even a dessert table.

When I began writing this column over 10 years ago, I had grand illusions of people sending me their favorite recipes and me trying them.

What I found was that people are normally pretty guarded with their best dishes, and even more so, everyone wanted me to tell them something new to try instead of the other way around.

Since then, I have amassed quite the Pinterest page of recipes, a notebook of magazine cutouts and a large collection of saved tutorial videos that I source each week for my inspiration.

But for this week’s recipe, I didn’t have to go out looking. It found me.

Every summer, I get the opportunity to direct a short kids camp at Camp Mennoscah, and for the past I-don’t-know-how-many years, a wonderful group of ladies has volunteered to man the kitchen during our little camp.

This summer, on the last morning, they served us a fabulous blueberry French toast casserole for breakfast, and as I came through the chow line, they teased me a bit.

“Are we going to see this one in the paper?”

“If you send it to me, you will,” I told them.

So Marla emailed it to me right after camp, letting me know that her way of spicing up the recipe was to add the blueberries.

Well, over a month later, I finally had time to give this a try, only I used fresh cherries, since that’s what I had on hand. It was still delicious.

This original recipe comes from the blog “Fresh April Flours,” was tweaked by Marla Gillmore and the rest of the amazing kitchen crew, and received some more cinnamon in my version below.

Print

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

Overnight French toast casserole is a much easier way to feature French toast for breakfast. Add in a little fresh fruit, and you have quite the wow factor for your morning meal or even a dessert table.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword breakfast casserole, breakfast for a crowd, brown sugar, canned cinnamon rolls, easy breakfast, French toast, fresh fruit, vanilla

Ingredients

  • 8 to 9 cups stale bread cut into one-inch cubes
  • 2 cups fresh fruit cut in bite-sized pieces (I used cherries)
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk I used 2 percent
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3 rounded teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Prepare a nine-by-13-inch casserole dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Spread all the bread cubes and fresh fruit evenly into the dish and set it aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and whisk well until everything is well incorporated. (My brown sugar got a bit lumpy. If that happens even after lots of mixing, don’t sweat it. Just evenly distribute the lumps on the next step, and it’ll be fine.)
  • Evenly pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes in the dish and cover it with aluminum foil, plastic wrap or a lid. Refrigerate overnight or for at least three hours.
  • To bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, for one hour or until the top is nicely browned and the custard is set.
  • Serve warm by itself, with some syrup, or even with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

I ended up making a half batch of this in an eight-inch casserole dish, and it turned out great. It was more sugar than I’d want to have all the time for breakfast, but the warm, fresh cherries combined with the cinnamon and custard-y bread was excellent.

I don’t think mine turned out quite as well as the one I had at camp, but I think it’s because I made mine on my own. I suspect when you add the love of half a dozen wonderful volunteers, everything is bound to taste better.

This piece first appeared in print on July 27, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

A crustless pie recipe can really take the cake

This fresh strawberry cake is moist and light and a fabulous dessert to pair with a bowl of vanilla ice cream or a cup of coffee.

Every week, I go have lunch with my Little for Big Brothers Big Sisters. We solve the world’s problems over school food and Uno cards as only a 13-year-old and a 39-year-old can.

Recently, we discussed the nature of sandwiches. Is a hot dog a sandwich? How about a taco? Where do quesadillas come into play?

Her assessment was that tortillas didn’t count; we stalled out on the subject of buns. We’ll have to come back to it at some point and figure it out.

I was reminded of that conversation when I made this week’s recipe, except my internal struggle was: cake or pie? The recipe author calls it a “crustless pie,” but honestly, it’s a phenomenal, moist cake that just happens to be made in a pie pan—at least in my humble opinion.

Whatever the ruling, though, it was really good, and it is perfect for all the sweet berries that are starting to hit our grocery store shelves right now.

This comes from the blog “Averie Cooks.” You can find the original post at https://www.averiecooks.com/crustless-fresh-strawberry-pie/. I added extra vanilla in my version.

Print

Fresh Strawberry Cake

This fresh strawberry cake is moist and light and a fabulous dessert to pair with a bowl of vanilla ice cream or a cup of coffee.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword almond extract, crustless pie, easy cake, easy dessert, fresh fruit, strawberry, vanilla

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces fresh strawberries halved or quartered, divided

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare a nine-inch glass pie dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter (let it cool a bit), eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract. Beat the mixture to combine.
  • Add in one cup of sugar, the flour and salt, and beat until you have a smooth batter.
  • Fold in all but about 1/4 cup of your strawberries, and pour the mixture into your prepared pie dish, spreading it out evenly.
  • Lightly press the remaining strawberries into the top of the batter, and sprinkle two tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before slicing. Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.

We really, really enjoyed this one. The vanilla and almond extracts compliment the flavor of the fresh strawberries perfectly and really help the fruit be the star of the dessert. This was delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee, too.

You could easily swap in blueberries, raspberries, etc., if you’re not a strawberry fan or your local grocery store has something else on the shelves.

If you make this, you’ll have to tell me if I’m wrong in the cake vs. pie debate. I haven’t asked my Little to weigh in yet. If she’s anywhere near the expert on baked goods that she is on sandwiches, though, I’ll have a definitive answer in no time.

This piece first appeared in print on March 16, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Overcome your baking fears and give these rolls a ‘swirl’

These homemade cinnamon rolls are soft, with lots of cinnamon, and topped off with a fabulous cream cheese icing. They’re the perfect side for a bowl of chili.

I have had cinnamon rolls on the brain lately.

Making them from scratch has always intimidated me a bit, and after making a particularly dry batch a couple years ago, I just haven’t had the bravery to try them again.

I have two distinctly different recipes—one from my grandma and one from my great aunt—that I couldn’t get enough of as a kid, and I’ve really been thinking about how I want to give them a go.

But I didn’t want to try those nostalgic recipes first and fail at them, so I decided instead to give a stranger’s recipe a try. And they turned out so well.

This comes from the blog “Butternut Bakery Blog.” You can find their original post at https://butternutbakeryblog.com/easy-homemade-cinnamon-rolls/. My only change was adjusting the amount of cinnamon.

Print

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

These homemade cinnamon rolls are soft, with lots of cinnamon, and topped off with a fabulous cream cheese icing. They’re the perfect side for a bowl of chili.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon roll, cream cheese, cream cheese icing, vanilla, yeast

Ingredients

Dough Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 packets yeast 4 1/2 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • cinnamon to fully coat dough about 2 tablespoons

Icing Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together two cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast and salt for the dough.
  • In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine the water and butter. Heat for about 30 seconds. You want it just warm.
  • Add the butter mixture along with the egg to the flour mixture, and mix well. (I used the dough hook on my stand mixture. You can also do this by hand with a big spoon.)
  • Stir in two more cups of flour to create a thick, sticky dough. Finally, add in the last one-half cup of flour. Once it’s well-combined, either knead by hand or using your dough hook. If the dough is still sticky, add one-quarter cup of flour and continue to knead. If it becomes smooth and not sticky, you’re ready to go. If not, add another quarter cup of flour.
  • Once you can press a finger to the dough and it doesn’t stick, you’re ready to let the dough rise. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  • Flour your counter, and roll the dough out into a large rectangle—about 10 by 15 inches.
  • Spread the butter for the filling in a thin layer, leaving one-half inch around the outside uncovered (I found this easier to do with my hands than with a utensil).
  • Sprinkle the brown sugar all over the buttered area, and press it down lightly into the dough. Liberally sprinkle the entire area with cinnamon.
  • Tightly roll the dough, starting from the long, 15-inch side. Be sure to press it together a bit as you go so you don’t leave open spaces in the roll.
  • Once the dough is rolled, place it seam-side down and cut it into 12 even pieces.
  • Lightly grease a nine-by-13-inch pan and place the rolls, cut-side down, into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and place it in a warm spot for one hour. They should double in size during this time.
  • To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top of the rolls are a light brown.
  • For the icing, whisk the cream cheese and butter together with a fork. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread the icing on the warm rolls and eat right away. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

These were soft and full of great cinnamon flavor, and the cream cheese frosting was amazing. We ate them along with some smoked chili Joey made, and they were a perfect combination.

Thanks to this recipe, I think I have finally conquered my fear of trying to bake cinnamon rolls, although I’m still a little nervous my favorite family recipes won’t turn out. But I also know that if either of those amazing women were still here with me, they’d go out of their way to encourage me to give it a try anyway. Maybe even an imperfect recreation can still be pretty great.

This piece first appeared in print on March 2, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Exit mobile version