Easy Braided Bread Recipe

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Ooooh yeah! Who doesn’t like fresh hot bread?!

The notion of making bread used to scare the bajeebers out of me. Notice it used to? I was given a bread machine forever ago. You know, a “box-like” machine where you dump all the ingredients in and hit the start button? Out pops a beautiful loaf…(for me, only rarely!) I never understood why I’d have a nice loaf of bread one time and then the next time the bread would come out so flat the only thing it was good for was to shoot skeet with! I lost confidence. Baking bread became frustrating, something I was too afraid to mess up on, so I stopped baking. (Insert sad face here*) Once I learned about yeast and the proper way to use it, the fear went away. Let the bread baking commence!

Just learning a couple of simple steps/tips, changed my view-point. I am no pro bread baker, but let me tell you this, if I can bake this bread, anyone can too! And once you do, you may find it very difficult to buy bread again. The taste of homemade bread is well…bake a loaf, and you will see what I mean.

Here goes…(Entire recipe is near the bottom of the post.)

Add the salt to the flour.

Add the salt to the flour. Pink salt! Yep this is Himalayan Pink salt. Not only is it pretty, it’s good for you!

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This is what yeast looks like when it’s alive and active! Well yeast doesn’t get like this on its own. This mix has warm milk, honey, and of course yeast. If you want to check out some fun info about honey, look here.  Tip: If your yeast doesn’t look like this after about 15 minutes then check the yeast expiration date; it may be old. Or the temp of the liquid could have been too hot and subsequently killed it. Or if temp is too cold the yeast says, “Nope, still hibernating”.

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Make a well in the flour. It should look like you pushed a ball in the center of the flour or basically scooped out some from the middle. (I’m only saying this because some of us don’t know what it means to make a well…) I hope that was a decent explanation. Pour the readied yeast mixture into the “well”.

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Don’t stir yet…add the lightly whisked egg…

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Now stir! Stir from the outside in, as in with each stir you will be pulling a spoonful of the flour into the liquid. Stir until you get a “rough” dough. Not like this… Notice the mug? Its made by Molly Hatch. Super cute right?! Bought it at Anthropologie.

Roughly looks like this! :)

More this. Rough mixed dough looks like this! 🙂

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Dump the rough mixed dough onto a lightly floured surface. Begin to knead. And knead. And knead.

Kneed the dough until nice smooth.

Knead the dough until smooth. It could be smoother than this 😉 Put the dough in a large clean bowl, covering it with a clean cloth. Set it aside in a warm place until…

This is what the dough looks like when it's doubled in size.

…It doubles in size. This is what the dough looks like when it’s doubled in size. It’s like magic!

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This was a second loaf I made. This time I separated the dough in three pieces right after I kneaded it. I knew I would be braiding it using three “strands” so I figured I’d separate it into three balls before the dough could rise. It worked out very well. So you can either let the dough rise in one ball and then cut it into three equal pieces or cut it in three before it rises; and cover each bowl with a clean cloth and let them rise as usual. Both works!

After the dough doubles in size, turn out the dough onto a clean surface and shape it into three long "bread sticks"!

After the dough doubles in size, turn out the dough onto a clean surface and shape it into three long “bread sticks”. Braid it like you would any braid, carefully tucking each end piece under to hold the “strands” in place. Notice my strands are not totally smooth…no worries still comes out great and tastes even better! In other words; perfection is not necessary.

All braided.

All braided! Put the braided bread on a greased cookie sheet/baking pan. I use coconut oil to grease pan as coconut oil has a high heat tolerance, not to mention very healthy.

Now don't forget to brush on the "glaze". If you do, it's not ruined. I've done this a few time! Fresh hot bread is still fresh hot bread. The glaze just makes it look so pretty!

Now don’t forget to brush on the “glaze”. If you do forget the “glaze”, it’s not ruined. I’ve forgotten it more than once! Fresh hot bread is still fresh hot bread! The glaze just makes it look so pretty!

You can slice this or tear it!

You can slice into this from top to bottom, or cut along the side, or tear it!

Homemade butter on fresh hot bread! Oh my! You can see how I make homemade butter here!

Homemade butter on fresh hot bread! Oh my! You can see how I make homemade butter here!

Note: All ingredients I use are organic/non GMO, or the very best I could find. Stores are starting to catch on how much consumers want organic. Finding most ingredients/foods in an organic form is quite possible.

Braided Loaf

The Ingredients:

2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup whole warm milk

2 teaspoons good honey

4 tablespoons butter, softened (melted is fine too)

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt

For the glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoon milk. I make it ahead and store it in the refrigerator.

The How To:

1. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan. It’s been years since I’ve used a thermometer. I test it by touch. (It’s ready when it doesn’t feel cold. Warm, a bit over tepid temperature), however if you want to use a thermometer about 105 degrees is about right. (If the temp gets too high just take it off the heat and wait until it cools.)  In a medium bowl, mix the honey and soften/melted butter. Add the warm milk. Then add the yeast. Stir slowly until nicely combined. Leave for 15 to allow it to work its magic!

2. While you are waiting for the yeast mixture, in a large bowl, add the flour. Stir in the salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.

3. In a small dish, add one egg and whip it slightly. Set aside.

4. After the 15 minutes your yeast mixture should be nice and bubbly/alive looking. Pour the yeast mixture gently in the flour well. Add the beaten egg. Now with a wooden spoon, stir pulling some flour with each stir, until a rough dough is created.

5. Lightly flour a clean surface and knead dough until smooth. Place in a large clean bowl, and cover with a clean cloth. Find a warm spot for it to rise. I usually am cooking something so next to the stove is a good place. You know it’s ready when it doubles in size; usually around 2 hours (Depending on how warm the spot is. Sometimes it’s ready in an hour, sometimes it takes 3.)

6. Grease a baking sheet. As I’ve mentioned above, I like to use coconut oil.

7. Turn out the finished rising dough on a clean surface and cut it into three equal pieces. Begin to roll each into long strands; like a long bread stick. After all three strands are made, start braiding them together. I fold the pieces under and it holds just fine. Set the braided bread on the greased pan. Cover it with a clean cloth and let it sit for 30 minutes in a warm spot to rise.

8. Preheat the oven to 375°F. I usually start preheating oven about 20 minutes into the braided bread’s rising.

9. Brush the bread with the egg yolk and milk mixture.

10. Bake bread for 30 minutes. You will know it’s done by the golden color. Every oven is different, so start checking at 25 minutes for color. I’ve baked this bread for 35 minutes and it was still fine. For my oven; 30 is perfect! When done, I remove the bread and set it on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely if storing it in any container, because if you don’t, it will get soggy! If storing is not needed, dig right in while it’s warm. Now for a bit of homemade butter and good jam or honey…oh my!

This is a great bread to go with soups or stews. You can make garlic bread with this or top it with cheese. You can add cheese into the dough! This is great sliced for toast too. It makes for a great egg sandwich bread. And if there’s any bread left a couple of days later…tear it up and make it into a strata! Want a recipe for a strata? Mention it in your comments below. 🙂

This bread is a great bread to gift to family and friends and great to serve up anytime bread is called for. It’s very enjoyable to make and the presentation is lovely. Give it a try!

Thank you for reading. If you want to know what else I’m up to, you can always follow me on twitter and instagram!

Wherever you are, don’t forget to pull your shoulders back, smile boldly, and breathe! My hopes for you this week is for your to find your center and enjoy something that makes you happy.

Cheers, Koko

Please “like”, “share”, and “follow”. Your comments are fantastic and I read everyone!

 

 

 

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Fruity Frozen Greek Yogurt Ice Cream Sandwiches

IMG_0993 This is an old family favorite. Perfect for anytime. What I like about this is you can make it with basically any fruit. You can even swirl in your favorite jam! I had a lovely basket of strawberries and bananas (a staple in my house) just waiting for me to do something fun with them! Continue reading

Butter: Homemade butter: How to…

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I’m not gonna lie; I kinda felt like a magician. Just for a moment. It was so cool…I mean after all, I MADE BUTTER! How awesome is that? I’ve never made butter before. I don’t know why. Maybe because I was afraid. Perhaps I thought it would be too hard. And worse, maybe, I’d fail at it. There was always an excuse; I will do it on the weekend, next week, after… I decided no more saying later…It was time.  What I found out…Making butter is easier than I thought! You know how you felt after knowing how a trick was done? Almost like the “magic” had gone out of it…well, this is NOT the case! The magic was still there. I knew how the trick was done and it’s was still incredible! “I MADE BUTTER!”

This is how I did it…

I used a 1/2 quart–(a pint) or (2 cups) of whipping cream. Bought from the store. (Next time I will make this using the thick cream at the top of my raw milk.)

Pour the entire 1/2 quart of heavy whipping cream into mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment (kitchenAid) I started out at medium speed and gradually increased the speed so as to not splash milk everywhere!

It will seem like you are whipping forever! Your whipping cream will start to become beautifully “whipped” cream and then from whipped cream to small bits of…well like the picture you see below.

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The beautifully creamy whipped cream is looking rather grainy! 😛

Then you will need to change your attachment to the paddle attachment. And continue whipping.

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Looking a bit more like cottage cheese!

You will start to see liquid forming. That is buttermilk! Abracadabra, more magic! 😀 With this buttermilk you can drink it, add it to your pancake batter or biscuit recipes. There are many recipes that call for buttermilk. (My pets love it too!)

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More of the buttermilk is released.

Keep whipping to get as much buttermilk out as possible.

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Even more buttermilk, YUM!

You will have a good idea when to stop whipping.  The butter will clump together. Scoop out all the butter solids and give it a good squeeze to release any buttermilk trapped between the folds. You can squeeze with bare hand or put the solids into cheesecloth and squeeze.

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Pretty butter!

Next, I poured out the buttermilk into a glass jar and returned the butter to the mixing bowl. I added ice water and continued to squeeze the butter, thus washing it. (This washing method helps to keep the butter from spoiling.) I repeated until the water ran clear. The ice bath helps to keep the butter a solid.

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Giving butter an ice bath!

After the water is clear, empty out all the water, dry bowl or put the butter into a dry dish…this is where you can salt and “season” the butter to your desired taste.  Garlic butter and chives! Honey butter! Possibilities are endless. For this butter I just salted it with Himalayan salt. I sprinkled it on and used a spoon I had set in ice water to help keep the butter from melting.

This will save for a week in the refrigerator and about six months in the freezer.

Shape the butter and enjoy!

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And there you have it…butter! Wah-lah!

Some fun facts:

Buttermilk has fewer calories and fat than regular milk.

Buttermilk is soothing to the stomach.

Buttermilk is soothing to the skin and makes a fabulous face mask! (Use 1 teaspoon of french clay to 1-2 tablespoons of buttermilk.  Mix and apply on face. 10 minutes or so, rinse and pat dry. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer. If you don’t have french clay (you can use most facial clays), or use ground oatmeal.)

Buttermilk has many beneficial nutrients and probiotics.

Butter made from grass-fed cows has high amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)–basically a beneficial fatty acid that helps the body protect against some forms of cancer!

Did you know it’s the beta carotene in butter that gives it the yellow color? And by using milk from grass-fed cows depending on what they are grazing on, the color of the butter can change! Pretty neat!

Butter made from grass-fed milk has a high content of vitamin K2 which is incredibly important for your heart. It De-calcifies your arteries!  Amazing…kinda like magic. Looks like I will be picking up an extra gallon of raw milk in my weekly visits to the farm. Did I mention I own part of a cow?!

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I hope this tutorial gets you excited to make magic!  Have you made butter before? I’d love to hear from you and how you seasoned yours.

Please like, follow and share…your support means the world to me!

Here’s to you finding magic in the simple things around you. Have a beautiful day everyone. Hugs, Koko 😀

Cha-cha Chai…a delicious hot beverage you can make at home!

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I am a Chai fanatic!  I’ve tasted it made many ways.  It was a delight to try this recipe from  http://figandquince.com/2014/02/03/cacao-herbshoppe-brooklyn-cardamom-yummy-drink/ (Chai; brought to you by, Fig & Quince!)  

As she mentioned in her recipe…all ingredients; adjust to your taste!

As for the ingredients, I made mine with 2 cups grass-fed raw unpasteurized milk

8 whole cardamoms

10 cloves

1 tablespoon organic cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon organic ground ginger

1/4 cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon good vanilla (homemade by me in Bourbon)

1 teaspoon raw unpasteurized honey.

Slowly simmer the whole cardamoms and cloves in milk. When milk is hot, add all other ingredients.  Gently stir.  Pour into large mug and enjoy!  (I didn’t strain out the cardamoms and cloves, but for those of you who want to…please do! 😉 )

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This was a wonderful treat and sipping it by the fire was extra nice.  Thank you Azita!

If you try this drink, please drop me a comment.  If you have a chai recipe you’d like to share…I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s to you finding your “treat” today! Cheers! Koko ✿

Please like, follow and share…your support means the world to me!

Let’s Have Cheesecake!

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A simple cheesecake that will impress the most finicky of dessert connoisseurs!  This really easy dessert was quickly named one of the most delicious creations I’ve made to date.  (Does this mean my peeps are easy to please?)  Here goes:

This makes about seven ramekins.  My ramekins are 8oz cups.

Ingredients:

3–8oz bricks of cream cheese

3/4 cup of brown sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons of really good vanilla

You will also need a package of peanut butter cups.  Cut them up to desired sizes.

What to do:

I used my kitchen aid mixer…Beating the cream cheese until all bricks are softly blended.  Add brown sugar.  Mix well.  Add eggs one at a time mixing well in between.  Add your really good vanilla 😉

As for the bottom of your cheesecake…you can use crushed graham crackers (basic recipe is crushing a cup worth of graham crackers and mixing that with 3 tablespoons of melted butter).  You also can omit the bottom crust all together.

Put 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker mix at the bottom of a ramekin.  Fill cup with about a 1/4 cup of cheesecake mixture.  Add cut up peanut butter cups.  Fill cup with another 1/4 scoop of cheesecake mixture. If you have left over mixture, simply add a spoonful to each cup!

I like to put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven.  I believe the extra moist air keeps the cheesecake from cracking.  If you omit this step…whats a few cracks anyway? You will be covering it with whipped cream.  No one will know!

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Let it cool.  Top with freshly whipped cream!

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Tips: Try crushing Oreo cookies or Nilla wafers or even Nutter Butter cookies for the bottom of cheesecake.  (Most any cookie will do!)

For the center try: Snickers, Heath Bar, Butterfingers, or feeling fruity?  Try a tablespoon or two of really good jam, chopped up mango, or peaches.

This truly was easy to make.  If you are needing a quick dessert idea that you can make ahead of time and surely will impress your friends/family; I hope you give this a try.  I’d love to hear what kind of combination/creation you came up with. Enjoy! Hugs, Koko❁

Please like, follow and share…your support means the world to me!

Banana Bread

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I cut the parchment paper to fit the length of the long side. I don’t worry about the short sides.

There are thousands of banana bread recipes out there…yep, here’s yet another one.  Even with this recipe I adjust.  If I am short on an ingredient I will sub out or add.  For instance I will use 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup of coconut flour in place of some of the flour.  I might do the same with whole wheat flour.  I’ve been known to add coconut flakes and play with the spices (You can adjust to your taste… 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  I’ve even used a teaspoon pumpkin pie spice!).  If the batter seems dry I might add a tablespoon of applesauce or even apple butter!  Have fun.  Isn’t that what cooking is about?  This one, I just baked today and I made it exactly as written down here.

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt (sea salt is fine too 🙂  )

1 1/2 cups smashed bananas

3/4 cup sugar in the raw (Any sugar will do)

2 eggs

1/2 cup of melted butter ( I make mine with 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup coconut oil)

Get out two bowls…

In one bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.  In the second bowl beat the two eggs, then add sugar, smashed bananas, melted butter/oil.  Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and combine gently.

I line a 9x5x3 loaf pan with parchment paper (Loaf comes out with ease every time!).  Pour batter in and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.  Test with wooden stick.

I’d love to hear any tips you may have for baking the perfect banana bread!  ❀

Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

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Chickpeas or garbanzo beans…however you like to call this particular bean, they are delicious.  This bean is used in many different ways.  Have you eaten humus?  That is made using this bean.  They are great in salads, soups, cold pasta, bean salad, the possibilities are endless.

Cooking the chickpeas this way makes it a fun snack by itself or fantastic tossed on salad! This can be considered an appetizer to serve along with other party finger foods.

My daughter is on holiday break from college.  We’ve been having fun experimenting with food.  She wanted to make this.  So we did!  She threw together the ingredients and I baked and stirred it.  Team effort.

Making this is almost as easy as eating them!  Here goes:

2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.  Pat dry!

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

2 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt.  Or sea salt.  (can omit all together)

1/4 cup grape seed oil  (can use olive oil or coconut oil)

Preheat oven at 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients coating the chickpeas evenly.

Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Stir one time and bake again for another 10 minutes.  Done.  Serve warm or cold.  (I couldn’t wait and ate them hot right out of the oven!)

All ovens cook differently so peak in on them.  (I have an oven light which makes it convenient.) I’ve baked them at 450 degrees and stirred them two times during cooking.

Also, you can cook this on the stove.  The texture you are going for is slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  You may like it dryer so cook/bake longer and less cook/bake for softer.  Either way you like it, it will be delicious!

This can be made hundreds of ways.  Keep in mind the oil helps to crispy it up and to help the seasonings stick to it.  Use your imagination and toss the chickpeas with your favorite seasonings.  Chili power,  powdered onion, powdered garlic, Worcestershire sauce!  When done baking try sprinkling Parmesan cheese over it! YUM! Give it a try and please let me know the amazing ways you’ve made this!

Lemon Zesty Blueberry Muffins

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This was a request from my husband.  All he wanted for his birthday was a bunch of lemon zesty blueberry muffins.  His biggest challenge was fighting the kids for them! (Actually it wasn’t too difficult.  Both kids had a full day of college classes and didn’t come home until the wee hours.  So dad got to have his birthday muffins all to himself! He saved them some 😉 )

This is a very easy and forgiving recipe.  I’ve also made this with orange zest. Very tasty.  The hardest part about this recipe is finding beautifully plump blueberries.

This Made 18

Muffin cups or grease muffin pans
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup blue berries
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (I use raw unpasteurized)
6 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
The zest of one whole lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together flour, baking powder, sea salt, then add brown sugar and blue berries.

In another bowl beat eggs, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and lemon rind.

Every recipe I’ve read says to make a well in the dry and pour the wet into it…well, I did the opposite and added the dry to the wet. I noticed no difference. Not saying the “well” thing isn’t a good idea, just that it made no difference in the outcome.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top. (All ovens are different. Please keep that in mind.)

I made these with a lemon cream cheese frosting.
8 oz of cream cheese.
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
zest of one whole lemon
5 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar
whipped in kitchen aid until fluffy

This was enough to top all muffins nicely.

 

 

Apple Spiced Infused Tea

I baked an Upside-Down Apple Cake last night.  Part of the directions was to boil water and then add the sliced apples, cloves, and cinnamon stick, turn it down and simmer for five minutes…then discard the cloves, cinnamon stick, and water.  Well if you know me, you know I don’t like to waste, as well as I LOVE getting more than one “thing” out of something.  So instead of dumping out this amazing apple/clove/cinnamon infused water, I made tea!

I remembered a tea that http://hariqhuang.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/apple-cinnamon-tea/ Hari made and it sparked my brain, “Brilliant I know what I can do with this apple spiced infused water”!  Oh my! It was so good, that I am doing this every time I make this cake. In fact perfect compliment to it.  When I was a kid and not feeling well, i’d add sliced ginger to this concoction.  Ginger is very soothing for the tummy!

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Apple Spiced Infused Tea

Now even if you are not making this Upside-Down Apple Cake you can still make this infused tea.

Boil 6 cups of water.  While water is boiling…

Peel, core, and slice two apples.  I used granny smith. I like the tartness to them.

After the water comes to a boil…

Add the apple slices

Add 8 cloves

One stick of cinnamon

Simmer for 8-10 min.

Strain out the solids.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 nice mugs full of apple spiced tea!

FYI: If you want you can grate the apple like (Hari) did.  Or, you can slice the apple, then chop up the sliced apples, to expose more of the apple for a deeper infusion. I found just slicing them and simmering them for the 10 minutes did the trick. No real right or wrong.

The flavors will depend on the types of apples used, but if you are an apple lover, then any type of apple will make for a nice tea.

An herbal infusion is a tea that is steeped longer than a couple of minutes and usually more than one herb is used in a larger amount.  By steeping it longer you get the maximum amount of essential nutrients from that particular herb/flower/etc.

Herbal tea is really any “tea” that is non-caffeinated made from an infusion process using any herb, flower, or spice. 

True teas come from the tea bush (Camellia sinensis), which is where we get our green, black, oolong, etc. teas from). 

By the way…The upside -down apple cake was a hit.  Family had it for dessert, then the next morning with half and half poured over top!

This was a happy cake.  We all couldn’t help smiling while eating it.

Here’s to you all having a happy day, no matter what kind of cake your are eating!❀

Flavored Water…Simple and Inexpensive!

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An easy way to drink more water…Get a container, preferably a large one with a lid.  (The one pictured is a 56 oz. bottle). Fill up the container with good clean water.  (I say that because not all water is created equal!)  I don’t always; but drop a tea bag in, any flavor; this one happens to be a passion tea by TAZO.  And sip away.  I will drink one to two of these bottles a day.  And that doesn’t count the hot teas or a cup of coffee I may have throughout the day.

Water is so important for the body.  Did you know that hunger pains you feel could also be a sign of needing to be hydrated?  Water is necessary for many functions of the body; for proper elimination, for great skin, for energy (yep, feelings of sluggishness can be a sign of needing more water). So go grab a bottle and sip throughout your day.  Make it into a game.  My sister-in law and I will text each other back and fourth….”Drank another glass!”  It makes it silly fun 😉

That’s my version of flavored water.  Simple and inexpensive!

What do you do to help you drink more water?

Here’s to Awesome Health,  Koko❀