praying for westToday my heart, mind and prayers are in West, Texas.

I love that tiny town on I-35.

It’s where my friend Lindsay and I bought our senior prom dresses.

It’s where I stop on every trip to Austin, without fail, at The Little Czech Bakery for their world famous kolaches.  It’s my favorite bakery in the world, just as it is for many Texans.

Photo courtesy of CNN iReport

Photo courtesy of CNN iReport

After the massive explosion at the West fertilizer plant Wednesday evening, hundreds are injured, dozens of homes are destroyed, and we’ve yet to find out how many lives were lost.

Coming just two days after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, it all seems like a bad dream.

However in the face of tragedy and destruction, Texans can take small comfort in the fact that the Little Czech Bakery still stands, doing their part to keep spirits up and first responders fed, offering free food and water to emergency workers.

photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com

Photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com

Today I’m praying for those who lost their lives, for the injured and their families, for those who lost their homes or their schools, for the emergency responders, and for the community of West as a whole.

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Get Your Entries In!

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Two weeks left, cookie monsters…

The deadline for entering The Cookie Wars 2013 is exactly two weeks away!

Get your creative juices flowing and those ovens going and submit your recipe for a chance to win some great prizes.

In other news, I’m sorry for being completely MIA the last two weeks- I blame graduation, wedding planning, paper writing, and let’s be honest- procrastination :)

That just means I have a stockpile of great new recipes to share with you guys soon!

Until next time,

Happy Baking!

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Sweet Talk Episode 10- “Mimi Bread”

Homemade Sourdough Bread

Homemade Sourdough Bread

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again- this homemade sourdough bread, or Mimi Bread as I call it, is my favorite food in the entire world.

Why should you care?

Well friends, because after a year of promising you the recipe, I’m finally going to tell you how to make it.

Or better yet, my Mimi’s going to show you how. Check it out in the final (and my absolute favorite) episode of Sweet Talk!

This recipe, just like my Mimi, is so special to me, and I’m so grateful she was willing to share it with all of us!

I hate that most people don’t make their own bread anymore because they think it’s too complicated or difficult.  It’s really an easy process it just takes a bit of commitment.

Just keep in mind that this bread, unlike most of the recipes on this blog, is a time-consuming process so plan to devote a weekend at home to get it done.

Trust me, it’s so worth it.

 

Mimi Bread

For the Starter

Notes on starters: You’ll need to make your first starter 3-5 days before you attempt to make your bread. Once you have that first starter, you’ll always be good to go, as long as you feed or preserve your starter in between  bread bakings.

You can feed your starter by removing 1 cup of the starter (give to a friend or discard it) and add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk until blended but not smooth. Cover loosely and return to the refrigerator.

Read more about starters and feeding here.

Starter Ingredients

1 cup potato water (water you have boiled peeled potatoes in)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar

Mix ingredients well, and store loosely covered in a jar in the fridge for at least three days. When your mixture starts to bubble and smell similar to beer, you’re ready to make your bread!

For the bread

First you need to feed your starter.  Take one starter and add:

1 cup flour
1 cup potato water (off two peeled potatoes)
1 cup sugar

Mix together in a large mixing bowl. Allow to set in a warm place (inside an open oven with the oven light on works best) for 12 hours.  For this reason, it’s best to start early in the morning.

12 hours later, your mixture should be bubbling.  Return 2 cups of the fed starter to your jar, and return to the fridge for next time (remember to feed it every few days!).

Add to your remaining starter:

8 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 level tablespoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups warm water (add more slowly if dough is too stiff)

Knead dough for several minutes, press firmly into bowl and return it to your dry, warm place overnight.

In the morning, take out dough and knead thoroughly, then divide into three equal loaves.  Spray three loaf pans with non-stick spray, and lay your dough loaves inside. Bake in oven preheated to 350F for 25 minutes.

Remove from pans immediately and allow to cool thoroughly before baking. Enjoy!

Mimi's Sourdough Bread

Mimi’s Sourdough Bread

Making (and eating) this bread is one of my absolute favorite childhood memories… and even though I’m “all grown up” now,  like Mimi said, I still fight my brother for the biggest half, every time.

I usually win too.

Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my childhood with you, and I hope you’ll make this recipe a family tradition of your own.

Until next time,

Happy Baking!

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Sweet Talk Episode Nine: Homemade Peanut Brittle

Homemade Microwave Peanut BrittleWe all have those certain tastes that take us back to being eight years old, at your grandparents house, not a care in the world except finishing that giant mountain of squash on your plate in order to get dessert.

For me those tastes are Extra Spearmint gum (my grandpa always carried a pack), Hershey’s Kisses (you could find them in just about every room of the house), and peanut brittle.

My grandmother made the best peanut brittle.

All these years, I wondered how she had the time and energy to labor in the kitchen, making endless supplies of the world’s most perfect candy.

After sorting through all of her recipes I found this one, and now I know the secret: Six ingredients, five steps, and one microwave equals a perfect batch of peanut brittle.

Check out the how-to video in this week’s episode of Sweet Talk!

The caption on my grandmother’s recipe card states, “Never have failed on this one, not even on a humid day.”

It’s quick, easy and best of all, foolproof.

Here’s the list of ingredients with their measurements:

  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white corn syrup
  • 1 tsp margarine
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

It’s been a long road since I first started working on compiling my grandmother’s recipes into a cookbook, but I’m getting closer to the finish line.

Here’s a sneak peak at the book cover.

Recipes I Remember cookbook cover

I can’t wait to get it finished so I can share it with all of you :)

The next episode of Sweet Talk is the LAST one and I’ll be keeping a promise I made to all of you over a year ago.

In the second part of the Recipes I Remember preview, I’ll finally be sharing my grandmother’s famous sourdough bread recipe, otherwise known as Mimi Bread (and otherwise known as the greatest bread ever).

Until next time,

Happy Baking!

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Sweets of the Week (Plus a Paleo Recipe Adaption!)

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have cookies on the brain…

Maybe it’s the upcoming Cookie Wars Contest, maybe it’s my attempt to eat healthy, or maybe it’s the six boxes of assorted Girl Scout cookies I found tempting me in my fiance’s kitchen this weekend.

Whatever it is, I figure the only way to get cookies off my mind is to get them into my stomach!

Unfortunately for my sweet tooth, I’m currently in the process of getting ‘wedding dress ready’ and cookies aren’t exactly part of my Paleo diet plan (if you haven’t heard about Paleo, click here for some great information!).

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The Second Annual Cookie Wars

2ndannualcookiewarsIt’s the most wonderful time of the year again…

Time for The Second Annual Cookie Wars!!!

This time last year I was looking at an insane list of ingredients, drafting crazy cookie recipes with my mom, and having a blast baking up some odd concoctions.

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White Chocolate Popcorn

White chocolate popcorn

And the award for best dessert goes to (drumroll please)…

For your Academy Awards watching party pleasure, there’s no better way to celebrate great movies, than with great popcorn.

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Puppy Love

Homemade Dog TreatsTomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and we can’t forget to spoil our VIPs (Very Important Puppies).

Show your pup some love with these yummy at-home treats from Dog Treat Kitchen.

This recipe couldn’t be easier, and when made in bulk, is much more affordable than store bought treats!

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Sweet Talk Episode 8: Homemade Valentine’s Day Candy

sweettalktvlogo

Whether you’re a Valentine’s Day lover or hater, in a relationship or single, it doesn’t matter because we can all agree on one thing: The whole candy part of this holiday is a good thing.

But you know what’s even better?

Homemade candy.

It’s cheaper, heartfelt, and best of all- you get the leftovers.

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5 Step Healthy Homemade Granola

IMG_1297

Granola gets a bad wrap as being one of those “fake healthy” foods, and usually… it is.

Grocery store shelves are lined with box after box of granola claiming to provide endless health benefits, when in truth, most of their nutrition labels read like a candy bar.

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