Do you Focaccia?

focaccia_2I can’t say that I ever had before.  Sure, I’ve eaten it out of a bread basket at restaurants here and there.  But to have the urge to make it?  Can’t really say I ever had.  For some reason, one morning last week, I all of a sudden needed fresh focaccia bread.  (No, I’m not pregnant)  I poked around for awhile until I found a recipe that met my basic criteria (mostly good reviews, no ingredients I didn’t want or didn’t have) and had it thrown into my bread machine within 5 minutes.  I know.  Again with that bread machine.  But, you know what?  We went to the playground while the bread machine did all the work.  Gosh, I love that bread machine.

Overall, it was easier than I thought to get my focaccia on.  I didn’t go nuts leaving finger marks in the bread the way you are supposed to in order to get those indentations typical of focaccia.  Mine came out more rustic looking and that was fine with me.  Next time, I would halve the recipe and use a couple tablespoons of fresh rosemary (the recipe makes a full half sheet pan which is way more than my family needed!)  Happy baking :)

Bread Machine Focaccia Bread
Prep time
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Serves: 10
  • 1¾ cup warm water
  • 1 cup olive oil, divided in half
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 5 cups AP flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2¼ tsp bread machine yeast (or one package active dry yeast)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
  1. Place the warm water, ½ cup olive oil, sugar, flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of the bread machine according to bread machine instructions
  2. Set the bread machine to Dough setting and press Start
  3. When the dough cycle has completed, pour the other ½ cup of olive oil onto a half sheet pan (or standard baking sheet)
  4. Place the dough in the sheet pan and turn it over a few times to fully coat it with olive oil
  5. Begin kneading, pushing and stretching the dough to fill the entire pan
  6. Cover and let rise for about an hour
  7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  8. Sprinkle the kosher salt and Herbs de Provence over the dough
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes


Rosemary Garlic Bread

rosemary_breadIt seems to me like bread machines were so 1999.  Maybe even earlier than that.  I don’t remember exactly because I definitely wasn’t using one back then.  Do people (besides me) even use them anymore?  I’m awfully glad I was never a trend follower because, man, do I love my bread machine.  It’s not fancy, but it sure gets the job done.  I always have a jar of yeast in my fridge and bread flour in my pantry, which means I can have fresh bread whenever I want.  Well, actually, whenever the baby naps and I have 15 minutes.  5 to come up with the idea to make bread and 10 to put everything in the bread machine.  Whatever.  Fresh bread for everyone!

There are loads of basic bread machine recipes floating around out there.  I’ve yet to found “the one”, so in the meantime, I make one that’s good enough.  Some recipes call for letting the yeast “bloom”, while most bread machine instructions tell you to place all the ingredients into the machine and just hit start.  My experience has been that letting the yeast bloom definitely gives a softer, fluffier and taller bread.  The soft and fluffy part is good, but I have a small capacity bread machine, so the tall part ends up looking a little silly.  Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.

My rosemary plant is still thriving on the deck right now, and it was practically demanding to be baked into bread.  You could substitute any of your favorite fresh or dried herbs and I’m sure the result would be equally super.

Rosemary Bread
Prep time
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Total time
Recipe type: Bread Machine Bread
Serves: 1 loaf
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2¼ tsp bread machine yeast (or one packet active dry yeast)
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  1. Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in the bread machine
  2. Let sit about 10 minutes or until yeast bubbles
  3. Add olive oil, salt, rosemary, garlic and lemon zest to bread machine
  4. Select Basic or White bread setting and press Start


Zucchini Bread

zucchini_breadIt’s that time of summer where the flashy vegetables like tomatoes and corn haven’t made their appearance at the farm stand yet, and so the unsung heroes can have all the attention they’re due.  We filled our basket this week with beets, carrots, blueberries, leafy green lettuce and, you guessed it, zucchini!  I love taking the girls to the farm so they can see beets and carrots in their natural state (you know, with the greens still attached!)–I also love that we’re introducing them to lots of different foods, sometimes cooked in unconventional ways.

Zucchini bread is one of those things that seems strange.  Unnatural even.  It shouldn’t taste good, but somehow it defies the odds.  This recipe is just the right balance of sweet and savory to me.  I love the contrast of the olive oil and the brown sugar.  Combined with the zucchini, the result is light, fluffy and just a hint of sweet.  And if that wasn’t enough, they’re also dairy free, which means they really ring my bell right now.

I love using mini loaf pans because they make the perfect snacking slice for little fingers, but make big loaves or muffins if that makes you happy.  Adapted from The Kitchn.

Zucchini Bread
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Serves: 4 mini loaves
  • 1 pound zucchini (1 large or 2 medium-sized)
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Shred the zucchini using either a box grater or food processor with grater blade.
  3. (Optional) Use a cheesecloth or kitchen towel to gently ring excess moisture from the zucchini.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, olive oil and vanilla extract.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.
  7. Gently fold the zucchini into the mixture.
  8. Scoop into greased pans--4 mini loaf pans, 2 regular sized loaf pans, OR 2 muffin pans.
  9. For 4 mini loaf pans, bake on convection for 35 minutes, or slightly longer without convection. Adjust baking time up for regular sized loaf pans or down for muffin pans.



Breakfast Muffins

oatmeal_muffinThe baby and I have been eating dairy free for awhile now.  Definitely not by choice.  The truth is that I figured we would be eating ice cream like champs by now, so I didn’t put much thought into loads of dairy free recipes.  But, since we’re still doing this, and I really couldn’t last another week without a baked good (and I’m pretty sure she couldn’t either), I finally got down to business.  Poor girl couldn’t watch her sister eat homemade waffles any longer.

The first time I took a stab at these muffins, they were a bit dry and not overly sweet.  The engineer practically spit his out (I think he would sugar his sugar if he could).  The girls and I ended up scarfing down the whole batch though.  The next time, I upped the applesauce and oil by a bit and the result was just right.  These are truly a breakfast muffin–not too sweet, but filling and satisfying thanks to the oatmeal.  I love that they’re made with applesauce, which is something that’s in my pantry year round.  When they’re in season, I definitely plan to add some fresh shredded apple as well.  Adapted from Hannah Barringer Loudon.

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins
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Satisfying and delicious dairy free muffins
Serves: 12
  • 1¼ cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, applesauce, water, oil, egg and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined
  4. Carefully stir oats into mixture
  5. Immediately spoon into 12 lined-muffin tins and bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


Father’s Day Traditions

cin_bun_rollYou know what the best thing about a tradition is? You can start a new one any time you want. You can even start one and not realize you started one until three years later. That’s kind of what happened in this house for Father’s Day. The first Father’s Day we celebrated after our daughter was born, I went all out. I started planning weeks in advance and had thoughtful and memorable gifts, perfectly wrapped and presented by our smiling baby girl. The pièce de résistance: homemade cinnamon buns. A special treat because, due to some really annoying food sensitivities (red wine, chocolate, cheese, need I say more?), my husband hadn’t eaten one in years. I found this recipe while searching for one that I could use my bread machine. Listen, I’m sure there are plenty of baking purists who would be horrified at this little act of laziness. To them I say, we’d never be friends. Just kidding. Kind of. Anyway, it’s been three Father’s Days that our little family has celebrated now and my husband is lucky if we let him sleep in until 8 before we wake him up with his only gift (a card). But you know what? We still let him have the cinnamon buns. And by let him have, I mean, I make them for me and let him (and the kids) have one too.

I’ve made this recipe the morning of, night before and even made the dough weeks in advance and frozen it. I’m pretty sure there’s no way to mess this one up.  Adapted from Marsha Fernandez’s Clone of a Cinnabon.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Buns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 4½ cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ tsp bread machine yeast ( or 1 packet dry active yeast)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2½ tbsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup softened butter
  • 3 ounces softened cream cheese (or low fat cream cheese)
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 1½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. Warm the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Remove and stir. Check that milk is neither hot nor cold. Add milk, beaten eggs and melted butter to the bread machine followed by the bread flour, salt, sugar and, finally, the yeast.
  2. Set bread machine to 'dough' cycle and start.
  3. Once the cycle has completed, remove dough from bread machine. If freezing all or a portion of the dough for future use, freeze at this point. Otherwise, cover and let dough rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. If butter has not been left out to soften, place in the microwave to soften.
  5. Roll dough out to roughly 12x20 (if yours ends up circular, don't sweat it, you can trim the edges afterward).
  6. Spread the softened butter onto the dough using a flexible spreader or large spoon.
  7. Spread the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough.
  8. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and cut evenly into 12 rolls (cut roll in half, then cut each half into thirds and each third in half--clear as mud?)
  9. Place each roll into a 9x13 baking pan that has been sprayed with baking spray (here's my favorite spray)
  10. If making the night before, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator at this point. If making them now (waiting is too hard), preheat oven to 400 degrees F, cover and let them rise about 30 minutes.
  11. Bake buns about 15 minutes, or until beginning to turn golden brown and brown sugar is bubbly.
  12. Meanwhile, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in a mixer. Mix until combined.
  13. Immediately spread frosting on buns when they come out of the oven.