Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, And Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

11 04 2011

Times, they are a’changing. But, for the sake of making an important point,  I’ll cut to the chase: RSS Friends, please take a second and update your feed reader to follow this feed:

I recently got with the picture and learned what Feedburner is and why it is important: Mainly, that I can change hosts over time and not lose you. I keep waffling back and forth on potentially changing hosts, and, I don’t want to lose you if I do! We have become so close, yet we’re so far away. And, if you stopped by on Friday evening and noticed something different…or perhaps nothing at all…I apologize. I was doing a little behind-the-scenes tweaking and experienced a little downtime. I should have better things to do on a Friday night!


Today, I have a tasty recipe for you. I just adore cinnamon raisin bread, but, store bought can be kind of dry in my opinion. And, the slices are always so small. Why are the slices so small? If anyone knows, I would love to be enlightened.

Here is a cinnamon raisin bread that is based on 2Chili’s favorite bread. When I made it the first time, 2Chili proclaimed, “This is GOOD bread,” without being asked. That’s how I know something is truly good – if I get positive feedback without prompting. Coming from someone whose nickname is “2ChiliBreadBowl,” I take feedback on bread very seriously. The man is a bread connoisseur.

The first go round, I made it in a bread pan so it had more of a traditional loaf shape. This time, I made it as more of a French bread shape because it got a little too big for the loaf pan. Either method works fine, and they both taste great!


Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

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Time Required:

  • 5 minutes to prepare ingredients
  • 90 minutes (passive) for bread maker to make dough
  • 5 minutes to roll dough
  • 23 minutes to cook

Skill Level (out of 5): Plate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStarStar


For the bread:

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 cups bread flour (or, 20 ounces if you weigh the flour)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast

For the swirl

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup raisins
  • More cinnamon, to taste


  • Add all the ingredients for the bread to your bread maker in the order suggested by the manufacturer, set the machine to the “dough” setting, and activate the machine
  • I have found if you add the olive oil before the honey, you can help the honey just fall out of the tablespoon, instead of sticking
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F when the dough is done and put it on a lightly floured surface.
  • While the oven is preheating, roll the dough out flat and spread the brown sugar, raisins, and cinnamon (if you choose) evenly over the dough.
  • Roll the tough tightly into a roll – much like you are rolling a cinnamon roll. It should be very tightly rolled!
  • You can either transfer into a bread pan and allow to rise while the oven preheats or bake in more of a French loaf as it is after being rolled.
  • Bake for 23 minutes, or until the top is golden brown

Based on 16 servings per loaf, each slice has:

  • Calories: 166
  • Total Fat: 1.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: .2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium: 122.9 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 35.2 g
  • Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Sugars: 9.7 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g

Bagel-riffic: Making Your Own Bagels Is Easier Than You Think

7 03 2011

As much as I rib 2ChiliBreadBowl for his interesting “food groups,” there was a time in my life when I treated bagels as a food group. I have definitely balanced out my nutritional habits – but there is still a place for bagels within that balance. After all, they are substantial, portable, and, delicious as all get out.

As a side note, one of my more favorite bagel uses is for French toast. Slice up your favorite bagel, dip it in some egg, and cook it like you would normal French toast. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar, or drizzle with honey or pure maple syrup, and devour.

Meantime, here’s an easy bread-machine bagel you can modify to fit your tastes. I like to make these as blueberry, cherry, or cinnamon raisin, but you could go savory as well. (Between homemade Lara Bars and bagels, you now see why dried blueberries and cherries are always in my food list for Project: Food Budget).

Making bagels is really very easy, especially if you let the bread machine do all the heavy lifting. These remind me a lot of the type of bagel you’d get from a street vendor in New York City (a mandatory purchase whenever I’m there) – they are hand made, not factory made, so they’re each unique and not quite as dense as a Sara Lee or Lender’s bagel. Yesterday when I made these, 2Chili couldn’t even wait for them to cool before having one.

Note: Bagel making purists would say to roll the dough and pinch it together in a circle to make the bagel, whereas this recipe employs flattening a rolled up ball. I seem to find rolling into a ball easier than the pinching method, but do what works for you.


Bread Machine Bagels

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Original Recipe:

I adjusted this recipe’s salt and sugar a big and added the dried fruit option. 1 teaspoon of salt is more than ample…

Time Required:

  • 5 minutes to prepare ingredients
  • 90 minutes for bread machine to mix/let rise
  • 5 minutes to boil
  • 20 minutes to bake

Skill Level (out of 5): PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStarStar

Makes: 8-9 bagels


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (or sugar in the raw)
  • 3 cups unbleached white flour or bread flour
  • 1/3 cup dried blueberries (or cranberries, raisins, or add-in of your choice)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 egg white


  • Add all ingredients except the egg white to your bread maker in the order recommended by the manufacturer, set to dough cycle and activate machine (start)
  • Once the dough cycle is complete, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; Let rest for a couple minutes
  • Meanwhile, put a large pot of water to boil (roughly 3-4 quarts)
  • Cut the dough into 8 or 9 equal pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Then, flatten each ball (I use the bottom of a large mug to do this), poke a hole in the middle with your finger, and twirl it around a little to make the hole bigger
  • Cover the bagels with a clean dishtowel and let rest for 10 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal or flour (I use flour) or spray with PAM to keep the bagels from sticking. Break egg/separate white into a small bowl
  • Transfer bagels to boiling water in batches of 4 or 5. I put them all on the end of a wooden spoon and drop gently into the water
  • Boil the bagels for 30 seconds on each side, and briefly drain on a clean dishtowel, then dip one side of the bagel in egg wash and place the non-dipped side on the cookie sheet. (Don’t leave too long on the dishtowel or they will stick)
  • Repeat until all the bagels are boiled and dipped in egg white
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until well browned


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Sweet Potato Oat Muffins

27 12 2010

Did you survive the holidays? Or perhaps a more appropriate question is, do your pants still button? I did, and mine do, so I guess that is what we’d call a holiday victory indeed!

I am kind of surprised to be sharing another muffin recipe with you this week. Honestly, I usually shy away from muffins, because they usually have lots of calories, too much sugar, sodium, and fat, and if I’m going to splurge, I’d rather have many other things besides a muffin. (Donuts come to mind…)

Have you ever looked at the nutrition of your favorite store-bought or coffeehouse muffin? If you haven’t and decide to, better put on some kneepads ahead of time, because I’m pretty sure you’ll be so shocked you’ll hit your knees. While technically not a muffin, I used to think the Starbucks reduced fat banana chocolate chip coffeecake was a pretty decent “muffin-like” selection. Uh, yeah, not so much.

Sure, it doesn’t have much fat, but holy Chiquita bananas, it has almost 13 teaspoons of sugar, and 1/4 off your daily allowance in sodium! The day I looked this up (after having a piece), I spent an extra hour on the treadmill trying to undo my mistake.


Those nutrient-dense cranberry quinoa muffins from last week got my mind churning. If instead of a sugar delivery system, muffins were more of a nutrient delivery system, how awesome would that be? And, if I found a way to make that nutritious muffin, with oh, I don’t know, sweet potatoes, how much even more awesome would that be? With the holidays (and holiday treats) now solidly in the past, it seemed apropos to develop a truly healthy and hearty muffin that seems a bit like a splurge, but isn’t.

Alas, I present you with a Test Kitchen Tuesday original, straight from my noggin to your table, the sweet potato muffin.

These muffins are a good source of vitamin A (190% DV!!), Fiber (7g), are relatively low in sugar for a muffin (18g) and have a decent amount of protein (8.2g). I did my best on the sodium front, and a jumbo muffin netted out at 387mg. The pesky sodium sneaks in because you have to add something to make them rise a bit (in this case, baking soda).

A final note about sugar. I only added the bare minimum in the way of sugar. I like to add a schmear of almond butter or reduced fat cream cheese to mine. You may feel you need to add more sugar, in which case, I would suggest that you try to only go up to 1/3 cup of brown sugar or 1/2 cup tops. Or better yet, keep with the bare minimum first, and see how it goes. Please, for me. And, since we are bloggy BFFs, I know you’ll listen, right?!

sweet potato muffin

Sweet Potato Oat Muffins

Downloadable Word Document Recipe

Time Required:

  • 10 minutes to prepare batter
  • 35-40 minutes to bake

Skill Level (out of 5): PlatePlate

Makes: 6 jumbo muffins or 12 regular muffins


  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans (or nut of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 medium (5”) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Liberally spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray (or, use a spray mister as I do)
  • Add about cubed sweet potatoes to a microwave safe bowl with about ½ cup water and microwave for 3 minutes
  • Meanwhile, mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • When the potatoes are soft from microwaving, drain water and add them to a blender or food processor with 1 cup of milk and puree until smooth.
  • Pour sweet potato puree and honey/agave into the dry ingredients and stir until just-mixed. Do not over stir
  • Pour mixed batter into muffin tin and bake for 35-40 minutes for jumbo muffins, or 25-30 minutes for regular muffins, until the a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean




For jumbo muffins. Split data in half for regular muffins.

(Click to enlarge)

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Cranberry Quinoa Muffins

21 12 2010

You might recall 2Chili and I have a running joke about quinoa, whereas I say it is very mainstream, and he questions the stream in which I’m standing. You might also have figured from yesterday’s interview that 2Chili has quite a sense of humor, and he asked me to eliminate quinoa from our pantry. Not gonna happen, buddy.

I had never tried quinoa until this year, and I absolutely love it. It’s a complete protein, which is awesome for a grain, and, its nutty flavor provides a unique replacement for rice, oats, or flour. 2Chili isn’t keen on it, but he at least knows to pronounce it keen-wah.

If you want a way to introduce quinoa to your family without them really knowing it, try using it in a baked good. These muffins, adapted from Martha Stewart, might just do the trick! If you’re entertaining house guests for the holidays, perhaps whip these up for an easy breakfast. Odds are your guests will have never had a quinoa muffin before, and you’ll have built-in breakfast conversation about the ancient grain.

The muffins are pretty hearty and a mix of slightly sweet and savory. Jumbo-sized muffins are a meal in themselves, and perfect for an on-the-go breakfast replacement for your normal bran muffin or breakfast bar.

Cranberry Quinoa Muffins
Downloadable Word Document Recipe


Original Recipe Inspiration: Martha Stewart’s Quinoa Muffins 

Downloadable Word Doc Recipe

Time Required:

  • 20 minutes to cook quinoa
  • 10 minutes to mix batter
  • 30-45 minutes to bake muffins, depending on size

Skill Level: PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating: Even though he really isn’t crazy about quinoa, he tried these without me even asking, and rated them “not bad.” He didn’t provide a star rating, but if I was to translate, I’d say that means it’s probably about a 3 out of 5 in his book.

The Cook’s Taster Rating: StarStarStarStar

Makes: 6 jumbo muffins or 12 regular muffins (I only have a jumbo muffin tin, so jumbo it was!)


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil or other cooking oil like canola
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar or honey (this is a reduced amount from the 3/4 cup brown sugar that is called for in the original recipe; if you have a big sweet tooth, you may need to up the sweetener)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions
  • When quinoa is cooked, preheat oven to 350 F
  • Prepare a muffin tin with either nonstick spray or by rubbing the cups with a bit of oil and dusting with flour, tapping out the excess
  • In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, dried cranberries, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, agave, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups. (Don’t over-stir or they will be tough)
  • Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes for regular muffins; 40-45 minutes for jumbo muffins
  • Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Nutrition Info:

Jumbo muffins
(click to enlarge)
Regular muffins
(click to enlarge) 

The Verdict:

I’ll definitely make these again. I reduced the amount of sugar and oil in the muffins from the originals, and halved the called-for salt, but left the baking powder alone to help with the sodium content, and I think the end result was tasty and healthy, so that’s a win!

Lastly, I used agave as the sweetener, but think honey would probably be better, and is much easier to find. Happy baking, and perhaps after having these muffins you’ll find yourself saying that quinoa is very mainstream too!

Soft Knotted Rolls

29 11 2010

As we know, 2ChiliBreadBowl and bread go hand in hand. So, when I find interesting new ways to prepare his daily bread, I am happy to test them out. Ever since I figured out to mix and let dough rise in the bread maker and cook in the oven, I have been pretty successful with new bread creations – 9 times of out of 10 they are a hit, and these soft knotted rolls were definitely a hit.

Reminiscent of a crescent roll, they instill much more of a sense of accomplishment than rolling out some premade dough.  Which, by the way, I could never seem to get into the proper shape anyway. I have always been geometrically-challenged, so perhaps that was the problem – I couldn’t unlock the code on how to make an oddly-shaped triangle into a crescent, which apparently should be so easy even a fake talking dough-boy can do it!

If you share my geometric challenges, I can confidently state that you will have no problems with these rolls. They require tying a knot, but no awkward triangle rolling. And, they are dee-lish-ious.


By the way, that is some of the Butternut Squash Soup I wrote about over at Cheap Healthy Good.

Soft Knotted Rolls

Downloadable Word Document Recipe

Original Recipe/Inspiration: The inspiration was a recipe from King Arthur Flour for garlic knots, but I went a slightly different route with them, making them a little sweet instead of savory.

Time Required:

  • 5 minutes to add ingredients to bread maker
  • 90 minutes to mix dough and rise in machine
  • 10 minutes to roll into knots
  • 15 minutes to bake

Skill Level (out of 5): PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStar

Makes: 10 rolls


  • 1 1/8 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Drizzle of honey


  • Add all ingredients except the honey to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer, set it to the “dough” cycle, and start the machine 
  • When the dough has completed its cycle, remove from the mixer pan and roll out into a loaf onto a lightly floured surface
  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Cut into 10 equal pieces and roll into ropes about 10-12 inches long, adding flour if the rope becomes sticky
  • Tie a knot in the center of the roll, and tuck the loose ends into the center, and place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet
  • Drizzle each roll with a little bit of honey
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned

From SparkPeople’s recipe calculator:


The Verdict:
We both agreed these are tasty and worth making again. They are soft and only slightly sweet, and if you spread a little Nutella on them, they taste like a chocolate croissant!

Sweet Honey French Bread

23 11 2010

The way to 2Chili’s heart is undeniably through his sandwich. In fact, I distinctly remember a tweet he put out a while back before a vacation we took to the east coast expressing his joy to have found a town of Sandwich in Massachusetts. The boy loves bread.

So, when I started changing our diet, one of the first places I focused was bread. I started looking at labels, and wouldn’t you know it, that sneaky high fructose corn syrup turned up in just about every bread product in our house.

Determined to provide the most basic staple for my sandwich-lover, I bought a bread machine, and went to work. I cannot tell you how many rock-hard, bland, or just plain gross loaves of bread I turned out. The birds in our neighborhood made out like bandits (shhh…don’t tell anyone I fed the birds). It seemed no matter the recipe, I could not get a good loaf of bread out of a bread maker. And, 2Chili never quite warmed up to that weird hole at the bottom from the little mixer thingy.

Then I read a tip that changed everything. Everything!

Thank you, whoever you are, who made a comment on an bread recipe stating that you use your bread machine to mix the dough and let it rise, but prefer to bake it in the oven. Genius, I tell you. Once I started employing that handy little trick, I was turning out delicious homemade bread. Why is it that my bread maker cannot turn out a good loaf of bread? I mean, it’s name is Bread Maker, which would imply that its sole job is to make bread.

Oh well, that’s water under the bridge at this point. Mr. Bread Maker and I have been living in harmonious accord ever since this discovery, and here is the bread that has 2Chili coming back for more. Enjoy!

honey french bread

Sweet Honey French Bread
Downloadable Word Document Recipe

Original recipe source/inspiration: Sweet Honey French Bread

Time Required:

  • 5 minutes to add ingredients to bread machine
  • 90 minutes (on my machine) for the machine mix and let rise
  • 23 minutes to cook in oven

Skill Level: Plate

2Chili’s Taster Rating: StarStarStarStarStar 
(When I forget to drizzle the honey on the top, this is only a 3.5 star recipe for him, and I am strongly reprimanded for leaving off said drizzle.)

Serves: Makes one loaf. The amount of servings varies based on how big you cut your slices. We do about 3/4 to 1 inch thick slices, and get somewhere between 14-16 slices per loaf.


For the bread:

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 cups bread flour (or, 20 ounces if you weigh the flour, which I do)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast

For the topping:

  • Honey to drizzle on the loaf


  • Add all the ingredients for the bread to your bread maker in the order suggested by the manufacturer, set the machine to the “dough” setting, and start the machine
    • I have found if you add the olive oil before the honey, the olive oil coats the measuring spoon and lets the honey just drip out instead of sticking
  • When the dough is done, remove it from the machine and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. I sometimes use a little bit of flour dusted around the edges of the pan to help get the dough out. It won’t keep its shape, so don’t try to make it retain its shape.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • While the oven is preheating, roll the dough out into the shape of a French loaf and place onto a lightly sprayed cookie sheet– it doesn’t have to be perfect!
  • Make a few angled cuts on the top of the dough to provide crevices for the honey to rest
  • Drizzle honey over the top of the bread and set it aside to wait for the oven to finish preheating. I usually just place it on top of the stove. It will rise a bit during this waiting process
  • Bake for 23 minutes, or until the top is golden brown
  • Cool, slice, and enjoy! This bread is particularly good with peanut butter sandwiches

Based on 16 servings per loaf, each slice has:

  • Calories: 136
  • Total Fat: 1.2g
  • Saturated Fat: .2g
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium:
  • Carbohydrate: 27.4g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 3.1g
  • Protein: 3.5g

The Verdict: Ever since I figured out the “bake the bread in the oven” trick, I have been on on retainer to keep this bread fully stocked in our house. I have tried it numerous ways, including with whole wheat flour, pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, and I have to say, the only way it is really, really good, is with un-enriched white flour. 2Chili calls this the best bread ever. I’m not sure if that’s really the case, but it is pretty delicious, and nary a drop of high fructose corn syrup to be found!

Also, it should be noted that when I have tried making this exact recipe by letting the bread machine do the work, it comes out pretty blah. So, cook it in the oven!