Light Brioche Burger Buns

Barely Brioche Burger Buns

I have been slightly stress-paralyzed lately. For some reason, every time I sit down in front of my computer with the intent to write a blog post (or pay bills…you know, minor things…), I suddenly feel the overwhelming urge to take a nap.

I am going to blame this on the fact that I am still trying to slide back into my real life after our awesome vacation in New York City.

And maybe on the fact that I have made exactly three dishes in the last week that turned out to be huge disappointments. Disheartening, right?

So…I totally meant to share these burger buns with you before the fourth of July. They would have impressed your guests…they would have jazzed up any burger you served…they would definitely have made your cookouts a little more spectacular!

But, alas. Stress-paralyzed.

I actually almost didn’t make them, myself. I nearly had myself convinced that store-bought buns would suffice, that it was more important to spend time on other cookout necessities like potato salad and pasta salad. But who am I kidding?

After the first time I made these, I knew I could never go back to store-bought buns. These (barely) brioche buns are dense and chewy with beautiful browned tops and fresh flavor that doesn’t quit. Dave was definitely right when he said that the right bun makes all the difference between a decent burger and a delicious one!

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Classic Pizza Crust

Classic Pizza Crust


They just taste better when they are homemade. It’s not a judgment, just a fact.

I get a lot of raised eyebrows, sighs, smirks, and shrugs thrown my way when it comes out that I make my own pizza crust (and pie crust).

But here’s the thing. It’s really not hard! I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it takes about 10 minutes of actual effort to make bread—or pizza crust. Kneading isn’t a big deal, and you can often let your stand mixer do the work. Then you just ignore it for about 2 hours to rise (rising time, that’s what the 5-minute-artisan-bread folks don’t mention…) before tossing it in the oven.

If you make your own pizza crust, in addition to having something delicious to eat and feeling totally accomplished and proud of yourself, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what you’re eating: no unpronounceable additives or preservatives! I think it’s fun to save a few pennies and do it yourself.

Let me convince you. This pizza crust is thick and bready, just perfect!

Abandon the store crust. You should definitely whip up your own pizza dough! This recipe makes enough for two pizzas, and you can even freeze it to bake later, if that’s your thing.

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Irish Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread and Dubliner

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! My husband is Irish, so this is really a day I can’t overlook. Of course, he always wants just one thing in celebration of his heritage: corned beef and cabbage. (Actually, he wants that all year long.)

Since I don’t eat meat, I struggled a bit with figuring out how to celebrate Ireland on the blog. I really wanted to make soda bread, but Dave’s idea of soda bread is dry and unpalatable. I decided to go for it anyway, just to prove him wrong.

So here we are. I searched the interwebs for a recipe that would impress him. I considered white or dark bread, dried fruits or plain, seeds or no seeds…I even pondered totally untraditional offerings, such as minced herbs and browned butter.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that I have a fantastic cookbook by a revered Irish chef, Darina Allen (and thanks to my brother-in-law, for giving it)! She is all about history and tradition, but at the same time she is willing to update the classics to reflect modern access and changing tastes. I figured that her recipe for soda bread was the best place to start!

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Mrs. Smith’s Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

One of my college friends has a terrific mom. She is such an excellent hostess—she remembers every conversation we’ve ever had, no matter how long ago; she works hard to make sure everyone who comes to her house has something delicious to eat that suits their dietary restrictions; she has a warm, welcoming spirit; and best of all…she makes amAZING rolls. I have literally eaten meals almost entirely composed of her rolls.

A few years ago, she was gracious enough to share the recipe with me.

This pumpkin version has become a staple at my house, and I know you will love them, too! Happy pumpkin season!

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Green Pepper and Onion Stromboli

Green Pepper and Onion Stromboli

What is the difference between a stromboli, a calzone, and a pizza?

At least the way I understand it, the pizza is flat (duh), the calzone is a pizza that has been folded in half and pinched together at the seams, and a stromboli is a pizza that has been rolled up into a spiral loaf.

Stromboli have always intrigued me, but the classic preparation involves a thick layer of greasy pepperoni. Maybe that sounds great to you, but even before I became a vegetarian, I avoided pepperoni like the plague.

This version, with green pepper and onion and a ton of melty cheese, is just right for me!

Quick! Run to your farmer’s market and buy some fresh veggies! Let’s make lunch!

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Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

If you have ever been to Red Lobster, you know that one of the highlights of the meal is the endless supply of delectable, buttery, cheesy biscuits. I could easily eat about a dozen of them by myself…

I have had these biscuits on my to-do list for about four years, ever since I saw that they were included in the famed collection of Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. But you know how it goes. Stacks (or files, in my case) of delicious recipes multiply weekly, and sometimes perfectly wonderful foods continue to get shuffled to the back burner, so to speak.

When I stumbled across another recipe for cheddar bay biscuits this month, posted on Morsels of Life, my Secret Recipe Club challenge blog for March, I knew it was finally time to indulge in some flaky, cheesy, garlicky biscuits fresh from my own oven!

Secret Recipe Club

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Glazed Cinnamon Buns

Glazed Cinnamon Buns

To read the updated post about making perfect cinnamon buns, complete with tips and tricks and much improved photos, click here! 

These cinnamon buns represent one of the worst kitchen meltdowns I have ever had.

Let me be clear…the cinnamon buns were amazing. Which makes me think they are idiot-proof (yay!).

But me in the kitchen at 2:00 in the morning with melted butter oozing all over my counters? Not so amazing. I huffed and puffed about how horrible the buns were going to be and what a failure I was, and my poor husband just kept sprinkling sugar and trying to keep me from going off the deep end and using my giant knife for something more sinister than slicing the buns.

Note to self: If you are making something you’ve never made before, and you intend to share it with a large room full of hungry moms the next day, don’t wait until 10:00 pm to get started.

Despite the fact that my cinnamon buns leaked their filling all over the counter, that they flattened completely when I was cutting them apart, that I only ended up with 36 unevenly sized buns when I was hoping for 50, and that I forgot I needed to make the glaze while the buns were in the oven…they honestly turned out perfectly! I scooped the cinnamon sugar over top of the buns, which rose and filled out until you couldn’t even tell they were once oblong and somewhat different sizes. And the slight delay in glazing the buns didn’t seem to make a bit of difference—they were still moist and sweet and pretty much the best things I have ever put into my mouth.

You should make them for yourself. And all of your friends (because who needs 3 dozen cinnamon buns in their fridge, just waiting to be eaten?). Seriously. These babies are delicious!

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English Muffins

When I was little, English muffins had one primary, special purpose: fried egg sandwiches.

These were truly one of my favorite treats as a kid—fried egg sandwiches have everything a kid could ever want: a healthy dose of melted butter, a warm egg, Velveeta cheese, and plenty of ketchup. (If that sounds gross to you, don’t worry…I don’t mandate that you use these English muffins to make fried egg sandwiches…though I do still absolutely love them. Guilty pleasures die hard.)

Now I know most people like their English muffins topped by butter and jam. As an adult, I have come to prefer mine with Nutella, that glorious excuse to eat a mountain of chocolate for breakfast.

But no matter how you fix up your English muffins in the morning (or afternoon…or evening…), I definitely recommend that you take a break from the store brand and try your hand at making English muffins fresh! They will blow your mind, I swear.

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Grilled Beer and Cheese

Guess what? I also joined the Daring Bakers!

The challenge for the Daring Bakers this month was quickbread, which, as the name suggests, was quick. Also, it allowed me to make something I’ve been planning for quite some time: beer bread!

The first time I ever had beer bread was at one of those sales parties that people who don’t like you very much drag you into (oops, please don’t be insulted if you host Tupperware or Mary Kay parties!). In this case, it was a horrible roommate who was hosting a party to sell clothing that was old lady-ish and about four times more expensive than anything I normally purchased. I felt super awkward knowing that I wasn’t going to purchase anything, so I hid behind party snacks. Namely beer bread. Yum! Lightly slathered with a bit of butter or coated with a tasty dip, beer bread is a simple snack with a complex flavor.

After a few years of making this bread for myself, I discovered a recipe for grilled cheese using beer bread. Holy moly, what could be better!?

You, of course, can serve your beer bread however you like. But if you like your taste buds, then you should treat them to grilled beer and cheese at least once.

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Veggie and Fontina Pizza

This is probably the best pizza in the world. I know, I know, that is a fairly outrageous claim. After all, everyone looks for different things in their ideal pizza: cheesiness, how sweet or spicy the sauce is, the thickness of the crust, the layers of toppings…

So how can I possibly claim that this pizza is so fantastic? It’s simple: both my husband and I love it. I think we could both be happy eating this pizza every night for a week.

In case this still doesn’t seem like a very definitive proof, then I will leave you with a gross understatement: Dave and I have very different tastes in almost everything, particularly when it comes to food. Dave would be happiest eating nothing but Asian food for every single meal of his life. If a food is not drowned in some kind of sauce, he thinks it is a bit lacking. I, on the other hand, like the taste of fresh vegetables, and try to serve simple meals that are overflowing with veggies whenever possible. It’s not often that our taste buds line up, but when they do, the dish is generally pretty amazing.

Hence, I bring you this pizza, with its sautéed veggies and fontina cheese. The veggies in this pizza act like a deconstructed sauce, and covered in just a light layer of cheese, the pizza is healthy and tasty. This pizza is amazingly delicious—but don’t worry, after you try it, there will still be room in your heart for your favorite delivery pizza!

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