Whether you are hosting and cooking a holiday meal yourself this year; selecting a side dish to bring to a Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas gathering; or deciding what to serve your extended family for breakfast when they visit from out of town, we have many recipes to choose from.
Use this recipe to create the Cranberry Chili or Sweet and Sour Meatballs recipes below for holiday parties.
- 4 large eggs, beaten with a fork
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup finely chopped oniony
- 2 cups dry bread crumbs
- 4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 4 lbs. ground beef
- Whisk together all ingredients except ground beef in a large bowl.
- Add meat and blend thoroughly.
- Shape into 1½-inch balls and place on greased baking sheet (with sides).
- Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 160°F and no pink remains.
- Drain fat, cool meatballs, and then freeze.
Should make about 8 dozen meatballs. These can be used with spaghetti sauce for pasta dishes, or for meatball sandwiches. The next two recipes share ways to use Make-Ahead Meatballs for party appetizers. Plan on using 12-18 meatballs per batch of sauce.
Cranberry Chili Meatballs
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup chili sauce
- 1 cup jellied cranberry sauce
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 12-18 frozen, precooked meatballs
- Stir together everything but the meatballs in a pot over medium heat until smooth.
- Add the meatballs and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are heated through.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 1⅓ cups packed brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 12-18 frozen, precooked meatballs
- Mix flour and sugar together in a large pot.
- Add remaining ingredients; heat and stir until bubbling and thickened. Stir in meatballs and simmer until heated through.
Both of these meatball recipes can be served as a meal with the addition of rice or noodles and a side of vegetables.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 5 hours
Total time: 5 hours 20 mins
- 1 brined turkey, any size (see recipe below)
- 4 or more Tbsp. coconut oil (don’t use butter, which will burn)
- 1 Tbsp. or more salt
- 1 onion, wedged
- 4 sprigs fresh or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 6 sage leaves
- Place an oven rack on the lowest slot and remove your second oven rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the bird, breast side up, on a roasting rack inside a stovetop-safe roasting pan or another wide, low pan.
- Pat the turkey dry—a moist bird will not brown well.
- Tuck the wing tips down under the bird’s spine near the neck and coat the whole bird liberally with coconut oil, then sea salt.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the cavity. Place the giblets and neck in the bottom of the pan, beside the bird, if desired.
- Place the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes (15 for a breast).
- Remove the turkey from the oven; place an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, parallel to the spine, NOT touching the bone. Aim for the tip of the probe to be in the middle of the breast.
- Cover the breast with a double layer of aluminum foil and return it to the oven. The foil will prevent overbrowning of the meat.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cook until the thermometer reaches 161 degrees; set your thermometer to beep when it’s the right temperature.
- Allow the turkey to rest at least 20 minutes—longer if it’s a big bird—before carving or removing the thermometer to give the juices time to redistribute.
This method can be used to cook a turkey breast, too. Just omit the onion. It produces a nicely browned but not overcooked bird.
Hands-on: 20 minutes
Hands-off: 1-1/2 to 5 hours
Turkey or Chicken Brine
Brining a turkey does take a little more time and a few extra ingredients, but the spectacular results are well worth the effort. Your guests will wonder how you were able to get such amazing flavor infused into the meat. The meat will be juicy and tender as long as you don’t overcook the bird.
The beauty of brining is that you can do it with a whole turkey or just the breast and then cook the bird any way you wish: grill, deep-fry, smoke, or roast. It also works for whole or any cut of chicken and other poultry. The key to avoiding tough or dry meat is to not rely on the little pop-up thermometer on the bird. Instead, use a probe thermometer you can leave in the turkey while it is in the oven and set it to sound an alarm when the turkey has reached your target temperature.
You want to roast the turkey until the breast reaches 160 degrees. Make sure the thermometer is in the deepest part of the meat, not touching any bone. Carry-over will make the turkey hit the target temperature of 165 degrees. Allow it to rest a minimum of 15 minutes before carving to help the meat retain its juices.
- 7 qts. water
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1-1/2 cups sea salt
- 1 onion, cut into wedges
- 1-1/2 cups sugar, sucanat, or rapadura
- 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 3 cups apple juice
- 4 sprigs rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 2 oranges, quartered (or other herb to match your meal)
- Warm some of the water and dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Cool to room temperature and add the remaining water and all of the ingredients (squeeze the citrus and add both the juice and the peel). Place into a non-reactive (non-aluminum) container such as a stockpot.
- Remove the innards and neck from the cavity (don’t forget to check under the neck skin for the innards package if you have a big turkey) and refrigerate separately for later.
- Rinse the turkey and place it into the brine. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally if needed, for 12 to 24 hours. Weigh the bird down if necessary—using a brick in a Ziploc bag on top of a clean plate—to keep most of it in the brine.
- Rinse the bird thoroughly and cook by any method you choose.
Brining creates juicy meat by the process of osmosis. When it pulls in the water and salt, it also pulls in the flavor. This recipe creates enough brine for a 12- to 15-pound turkey, depending on the size of the stockpot you are using. A pot that is tall and just wide enough to fit your turkey will minimize the amount of brine you need.
If you need more brine, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup rapadura for every additional gallon of water added. Halve the recipe for a turkey breast or chicken. You can save the brine and use it for a second bird if you wish.
Slow-Cooker Baked Ham
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. horseradish
- 4 Tbsp. regular cola, divided
- 1 boneless smoked ham (5 to 6 pounds), cut in half
- In a bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, horseradish, and 2 Tbsp. of the cola.
- Mix well and then rub all over ham.
- Place in slow cooker and pour remaining cola over ham.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into ham registers 140°F.
Herb Crusted Pork Loin
- 4 lb. boneless pork loin, with fat left on
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme or 2 tsp. minced, fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp. dried basil or 2 tsp. fresh basil leaves
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary or 2 tsp. minced, fresh rosemary
- Preheat oven to 475°F.
- Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.
- Roast the pork for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 425°F and roast for an additional hour.
- Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155°F, remove the roast from the oven.
- Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.
Cornbread Dressing: A Two-Step Process
Step One: Make the cornbread the day before.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sugar (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the first four ingredients.
- Stir the yellow cornmeal into the flour mixture.
- Add the eggs, milk, and vegetable oil and beat just until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9” pan or a large, greased cast-iron skillet.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool on a rack in the pan, then cover and store overnight.
Step Two: Make crumbs and prepare the dressing.
Make crumbs of the cornbread made the night before and prepare the dressing according to the following recipe. Please note that the total amount of all bread crumbs is what is important. After measuring the cornbread crumbs, adjust the amount of other bread crumbs to total 12 cups of crumbs.
Easy Cornbread Dressing
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- Approximately 8 cups cornbread crumbs
- Approximately 4 cups bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 6 eggs, beaten
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Melt the butter or margarine in a large pan and sauté the onion, celery, and mushrooms until tender.
- While the vegetables are sautéing, mix the remaining ingredients in a large pot or mixing bowl.
- When the vegetables are tender, pour the butter and vegetable mix into the mixing bowl with the crumbs and broth and mix well.
- Pour into a 9×13” baking dish and bake for 30 minutes (or until the top and edges are slightly browned).
- Serve the dressing with turkey and gravy. Makes approximately 12 to 15 servings.
If you are baking a turkey, the dressing can go in the oven after you remove the turkey and let it rest before carving. Leftover dressing mixed with leftover turkey and gravy (or mushroom soup) makes a delicious casserole that just needs to be heated through.
Fresh Cranberry-Orange Relish
The total time needed to prepare and chill the relish is 2 hours. It can be made the day before you plan to serve it. Remember to wash and dry the outside of all fresh fruits and vegetables before using.
- 1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 navel orange (including zest)
- 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (can be adjusted to taste)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
- Rinse the cranberries with cold tap water in a colander and set aside to drain.
- Zest the orange into a small bowl and set aside.
- Add the cranberries to the blender.
- Peel and section the orange (discarding the peel and pith) and add it to the blender.
- Add the zest, sugar to the fruit in the blender.
- Pulse the ingredients in the blender, scraping the sides and stirring frequently between pulses until well-blended.
- Remove the relish to a serving bowl, mix in the pecans, cover, and chill at least 2 hours before serving. Makes approximately 2 cups, or 10 servings.
Two whole, seeded tangerines or 2 small cans of mandarin oranges can be substituted for the navel orange, but you will not have zest if you use canned oranges. Additional optional ingredients to add to the blender for taste and texture: 2 red apples, unpeeled, cored and sliced; you may substitute walnut pieces for the pecans.
To make a gelled cranberry relish salad omit the nuts and dissolve 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin in 1 cup of water over low heat. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add to the blender with the cranberries, orange slices, sugar, and mix well.
Pour into a serving dish and chill until firm. Cut into squares before serving. Don’t forget to save any leftover relish to make bread or muffins. Simply substitute the relish for bananas or pumpkin in your favorite banana or pumpkin bread recipe.
Sweet Potato Soufflé
Sweet Potato Soufflé looks fancy, but it is very easy to make. If you’ve never whipped egg whites before, stop and check periodically to make sure they aren’t getting too stiff. You want them to fall to one side when whipped, not stand up straight. Hands-on: 20 minutes; Hands-off: 30 minutes; Serves 8.
- 5 or 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar, sucanat, or rapadura, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces
- Place the sweet potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish all the way to the top and set aside.
- Place the cooked sweet potatoes, egg yolks, oil, 2 Tbsp. rapadura, and salt in a bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle the crispy nuts over the top of the casserole and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy.
- Add the remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar a teaspoon at a time and continue beating another two or three minutes until the meringue is glossy and holds a soft peak—when you pick the beaters straight up and turn them over, the egg white clinging to the beater forms a peak that falls to one side instead of standing up straight (hard peaks).
- Gently spread the meringue over the sweet potato to the edges of the dish, using a spatula.
- Place in the oven and bake until the meringue is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Roasted Carrots (and other veggies)
- 4 cups vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, red peppers, broccoli, etc.)
- 2 to 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Herbs to taste (our family likes Mrs. Dash® Garlic and Herb blend)
- Process 2 cups of veggies at a time. Wash and cut veggies into bite-sized pieces. Process tubers (carrots, potatoes, beets, etc.) separately from other veggies, as they take longer to cook. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 2 cups veggies into a bowl. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil over the veggies.
- Chunky veggies like broccoli need more oil than peppers do. Sprinkle a couple dashes of salt and a couple dashes of herbs over the veggies. Toss veggies so that all the veggies are coated with oil and have some salt and seasonings on them. Add more oil, salt and seasoning as needed. Pour veggies out onto a baking sheet and spread so that none are on top of each other.
- Place sheet in oven and cook tuber veggies for 18 to 20 minutes and peppers, broccoli and other veggies 12 to 14 minutes. Serve.
Make-Ahead Twice-Baked Potatoes
- 6 medium potatoes
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup hot milk
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
- 1/2 tsp. onion salt
- 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- Garnish: green onion or chives, grated cheese, and cooked, crumbled bacon
- Scrub potatoes thoroughly, and pierce a few times with a fork. Bake on oven rack at 400°F for about an hour, or until a sharp knife can be easily poked through the center of the potatoes. Remove from heat and cool until potatoes can be handled. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the cooked potato pulp into a bowl, leaving a thin coating on the skins to form a shell. Add all the remaining ingredients (except for garnish) to potato pulp and mash well. Stuff mixture back into the potato skins. (Pipe it in if you want to be fancy!) Bake at 350°F for about 1/2 hour until heated through. Garnish with chives or green onion, grated cheese, and bacon.
- To make ahead:
- Bake and stuff potatoes earlier in the day or the night before. Cover and chill. To serve, bake as above.
- To freeze:
- Place stuffed potatoes on a cookie sheet and freeze for one hour. Then wrap potatoes individually in foil and freeze for up to four months. To serve, thaw and heat wrapped potatoes at 350°F for a good 1/2 hour, or until heated through. Garnish and serve.
Slow-Cooker Fish Chowder
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- >2 (14-ounce) cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups vegetable juice
- 1 cup vegetable or fish stock
- >1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup uncooked, instant rice
- 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
- 2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
- 1 lb. firm fish (haddock, swordfish, halibut, salmon), cut into 1-inch pieces
- Mix all ingredients except fish, rice, parsley, lemon peel, and parmesan cheese in a slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours (high setting 3-4 hours) until vegetables are tender.
- Stir in fish and rice. Cover slow cooker and cook on high setting for 30-45 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
- Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix together parsley, lemon peel, and cheese. Serve this topping with stew.
Three Sisters Chowder
Native Americans traditionally planted corn, squash, and beans together—and these have become known as the three sisters. This hearty, meatless, soup provides lots of nutrition and fiber. Serve with your Thanksgiving meal or for a yummy meal on a cold evening.
- 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- ½ cup chopped red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 (8-ounce) can lima beans
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups light cream
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can creamed corn
- 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise then sliced
- Spread drained corn on a cookie sheets and roast, uncovered in a 450° oven until lightly browned.
- In a large soup pot, cook onion, peppers and garlic in oil until tender.
- Stir in beans, potatoes, chile peppers, water, and roasted corn.
- Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Then stir in cream, cream-style corn, and zucchini.
- Heat for another 5 minutes or so, but don’t allow to boil.
- Serve this with cornbread or muffins and slices of cheese.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 5 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 4 cups water
- 4 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups light cream
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- In a large soup pot, cook onion, garlic, and green onion in butter until tender.
- Add water, bouillon cubes, sweet potatoes, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg.
- Bring to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft.
- Let cool slightly.
- Remove cinnamon stick. Ladle about ¼ of the soup into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl.
- Repeat until all of soup is processed. Pour soup back into pot.
- Add cream and maple syrup, and heat through.
- Garnish this pretty soup with slices of green onion and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and serve with breadsticks or plain crackers. It’s so yummy!
Wild Mushroom Soup
You start with a variety of fresh mushrooms, using the stems for the vegetable stock, which is also made from scratch. After the stock is made, you cook leeks in butter, and then add the mushrooms. It smells divine! Use this soup before a meal or let it be the meal itself!Ingredients
- 5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 8 ounces fresh portabella mushrooms
- 2 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp. good olive oil
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 tsp. minced thyme leaves, divided
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 cup light cream
- 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel.
- Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems.
- Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if they are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot.
- Add the chopped mushroom stems, onion, carrot, sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
- Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Strain; reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
- Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks.
- Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown.
- Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot.
- Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.
Potato and Corn Chowder
- 4 to 5 medium potatoes (try a yellow or red variety potato for more flavor)
- 2 Tbsp. oil or butter
- 1/2 onion
- 4 cups water or broth
- 4 cups of corn (not on the cob)
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh or ground parsley
- Wash and cut potatoes into 1–2-inch chunks. Put aside while getting the onions going. Dice 1/2 onion. Put 2 Tbsp. oil or butter in large pot and sauté onion on medium heat until translucent. Carefully pour 4 cups of water or broth into the pot and turn heat up to medium-high. Put the cut potatoes into the pot, then the 4 cups of corn. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the 2 cups of milk and cook another 10–15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add the parsley to the top of the pot and cook one more minute. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then serve.
Mandarin Almond Salad
- Salad Ingredients:
- 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- Dressing Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
- 1 tsp. celery salt
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup oil
- Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar with the almonds in a skillet.
- Over low heat, stir together until sugar is melted and coating almonds. Be careful; it can burn easily. Turn out onto plate to cool.
- Toss almonds, romaine, and oranges in serving bowl.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.
Notes:This is a very flexible salad. Use different fruit vinegars—pear is especially yummy. Walnuts or pecans can be used instead of almonds, and apples or pears work well instead of, or in addition to, the mandarin oranges. A sprinkle of feta cheese is a delicious addition! Also, although fruit vinegar may be a bit pricey, one bottle goes a long way, and will make several batches of dressing. It is much tastier and healthier than purchased dressing, and less expensive too.
Nana’s Bean Salad
- 1 15-ounce can yellow wax beans
- 1 15-ounce can green beans
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans (rinsed)
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
- 1 small onion, finely sliced
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup malt vinegar
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Drain all cans and combine the beans and sliced onion in a serving bowl.
- Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.
- Toss beans with dressing to coat and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Holiday Broccoli Salad
This is salad is delicious. It’s a very adaptable, flexible recipe. Shredded cheese and/or hard boiled eggs can be added; the sunflowers seeds can be omitted; raisins can be substituted for the dried cranberries; and cauliflower for some of the broccoli. You can also try using Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise and part of the vinegar.
- 1 or 2 heads broccoli cut in bite-sized pieces
- 9 or 10 slices bacon, fried crisp, then crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup (or more) dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (use more if your salad seems too dry)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar
- Salt and pepper, optional
- Combine broccoli, bacon, and onion in a large serving bowl.
- Mix mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar together to make dressing, then toss with the remaining ingredients.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
BREADS, ROLLS, and MUFFINS
Bread, the simplest of foods, can be so rewarding to prepare for our families. One of the most comforting gifts we can give our loved ones is to bake fresh bread. Think back to when you were a child, coming in from playing outside to wash up for supper or walking into the home(s) of family for a Sunday dinner or special occasion. You were immediately hit with the aromas of a meal waiting to be shared. When you smell some of those same foods today, are you taken back to those childhood days? Give your family the gift of good bread baking in the oven and create special memories that resonate in the comfort of homemade goodness. Are you ready to try? Here’s a basic recipe and instructions. Roll up your sleeves, tie on an apron, and let’s see what we can do.
- Before beginning, warm your oven to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit and turn on the oven light. Once you’ve acquired this temperature, turn off the oven and leave the oven light on. Depending upon your particular make or model of oven, you may need to remove one of the oven racks to give the dough enough room to rise. Know where you plan to knead your dough (counter top, table top, etc.).
- Clean and lightly flour this surface. You’ll need to have extra flour available to flour your hands, coat your kneading surface and to add to the dough as you work the ingredients together. Measure one cup of warm water (not hot, but fairly warm) into a narrow bowl. Add the yeast to the water and stir in. Let this rest at least 10 to 15 minutes.
- Measure four generous cups of bread flour into a large mixing bowl. Sifting is optional. Add at least two teaspoons but not more than one tablespoon of salt to the flour. Make a small crater in the center of the flour and slowly add the warm water and yeast mixture. With floured hands, work the flour and water mixture together. Add more water to the flour mixture, a little at a time (about 1 cup), pulling and working the flour with your hands. If the flour remains dry and crumbly, you’ll want to add water, if the flour mixture becomes sticky, you can add more flour back to it a handful at a time.
- As the dough comes together and forms a ball, it will become smooth to the touch. Transfer the dough from the mixing bowl onto your kneading surface. (You’ll want to take a moment to wash your mixing bowl, then dry and grease it. You’ll be returning the dough to this bowl for rising.)
- Continue to dust with flour as needed while you work the dough. Plan on kneading the dough for a good 10 minutes. To knead, you will start with your dough in a rounded disc shape and you can use one or both hands. You will use the heel(s) of your hand(s) to push into the bread dough with a pushing away motion, then pull the top portion of the dough back toward you, folding the dough over and press your heel(s) into it again. Turn the dough and repeat this process over and over until the dough is worked thoroughly and becomes smooth. You can dust the dough with flour to work into the dough if needed. The dough should be elastic but not sticky. If you need a visual example of how to properly knead dough, YouTube has a number of videos available with demonstrations on kneading bread dough. WikiHow has some photos and additional kneading directions as well.
- After kneading is complete, neatly round your dough into a large ball and return it to your greased mixing bowl. Cover with a dampened dish towel and place inside your warm oven to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. It should double in size. Grease your loaf pan. Take your bread dough from the oven and return it to your kneading surface. Knead the dough for another 10 to 15 minutes. Shape into a loaf and place in your greased loaf pan. Place the loaf pan inside the warm oven, cover with dampened dish towel and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the dough to rise between an inch to two inches above the edges of the loaf pan. Remove dish towel and turn oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake bread on the middle rack for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and hollow sounding when you tap the crown of the loaf. Remove from oven and allow loaf to cool completely.
To keep the bread crust soft, place a piece of aluminum foil loosely across the top of the loaf (like a piece of paper) while it cools. Enjoy!
This basic recipe can easily be built upon. Consider adding a tablespoon or two of sugar or honey for a bread that is a little sweeter. Drizzle up to ½ cup of olive oil or other type of cooking oil into the dough at the beginning. You can add herbs and garlic as well, and/or brush the top with butter or an egg yolk wash. Experiment on your own, or go to the library and check out some great bread books. Bread baking should never be intimidating. Bread is something you can enjoy preparing for your family and friends.
Harvest Bread (2 loaves)
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (or 2 cups pureed)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 cups uncooked rolled oats
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
- 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- Beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.
- Add flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- Stir in oatmeal, raisins, and nuts.
- Divide dough in half and pour into two greased 9×5” loaf pans.
Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350°F. Remove from pans and cool. On the days I bake Harvest Bread, my house smells good enough to eat. This bread is great with a dollop of whipped cream on top as a dessert, just like it is for breakfast with coffee or tea, or whenever your tummy begs for a slice.
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 5 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- Stir the first three ingredients together and let stand for 10 minutes.
- While that is dissolving and resting, heat the milk and oil until warm to the touch.
- In another bowl, beat the 1/2 cup sugar and three eggs together. Set that aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Add the yeast, milk, and egg mixtures. If the dough is still too sticky to handle, add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, but do not exceed 2-1/2 cups.
- Knead until smooth and soft but not sticky, about 5 minutes. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down and let rise again till doubled, about 1 hour.
- Cut dough into fourths. Roll out each fourth into a large pie crust shape, about 1/4” thick (or a little bit less). Taking a pizza cutter or a knife, slice the pie crust shape in half, then into fourths, and then into eighths. After cutting, you should end up with eight triangles.
- Roll each triangle starting with the wide edge and make sure that the pointed end is well tucked and pinched under the roll.
- Butter lightly. Let rise again till doubled in size.
- Bake at 400ºF for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
Yield: Approximately 32 rolls.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour*
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded carrot
- 1 cup (1 medium) apple, peeled, cored, and shredded
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup oil
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- *I make a gluten-free version using 1 cup rice flour (brown or white) and 1 cup sorghum flour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease with oil or shortening.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine carrot, apple, raisins, nuts, and coconut. In a third bowl, combine beaten eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla.
- Stir carrot/apple mixture into the wet ingredients, and then add this all at once to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened—about a dozen strokes.
- Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Yield: 2 dozen.