• Braided Jammy Breakfast Breads

    Over this year I’ve conquered many a fear, but none that I am more proud of than my old fear of bread. Maybe I was just doing everything wrong before now, but after making these beautiful braids, it’s clear that this recipe is going to become a staple in my home. Inspired by two different people, this original recipe comes from Zoe Francois of Zoe Bakes, in her new book Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I believe the original recipe used raspberry jam and cream cheese with a hint of lemon, so my second bread closely resembles that one. Last week, I came across Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, preparing her variations on this beautiful bread and by then, I was convinced. So, here we are, with one classic raspberry and lemon, and a second that tastes like breakfast and pie in one. What is it, you ask? Oh only blueberry jam with cinnamon cream cheese and maple glaze! I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s truly heavenly.

    With next week being Christmas, I’ll be taking a week off to spend time with all my siblings and family together, as well as my best friend, who works with the Peace Corps and is home from Ethiopia for just two weeks!!! But never fear, for I will be back New Year’s Day with a fresh start to 2019 and plenty more to be happy about in the future. If you celebrate, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy, prosperous New Year full of food and happiness.

    Some notes on this bread: I give the preparations for two variations of cream cheese, jam and glaze fillings, but you have total creative license here! Fill them with chocolate like my incredibly talented friend Taylor, fill them with different jams or homemade jams or make them savory! It’s totally up to you, and it will be delicious any way you slice it. Also, when following this recipe, she mentions that the dough is easier to roll and slice if it’s been chilled after it rises, I was slightly pressed for time so I skipped this step and found it to be perfectly manageable, but if you’re having difficulty with forming the shape, try to refrigerate the dough for a while! Finally, this dough should be cooled completely before it’s glazed so that the glaze doesn’t melt right off, but it would be delicious warmed up before eating. There’s also no need to double this recipe for two loaves, one batch of dough is divided into two.

    Before we get to breading and braiding, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. The smell of bread baking and filling your whole house.

    TWO. Having specific candles for specific holidays and seasons.

    THREE. Hosting a dinner party with a signature cocktail.

    FOUR. Star Wars Episode IV.

    FIVE. Spending New Year’s Eve in your pajamas with friends and never having to venture into the cold.


    Makes:
    2 braided loaves
    Prep Time: 1 hour
    Inactive Time: 2 hours
    Bake Time: 30 minutes

    Bread Dough Ingredients

    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
    1½ tsp dry active yeast
    1½ tsp kosher salt
    ¼ cup honey
    4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    3½ cups bread flour

    Filling Ingredients

    8 ounces cream cheese, divided in half
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    Pinch of nutmeg
    ½ tsp lemon zest
    2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided in half
    ¼ cup blueberry jam
    ¼ cup raspberry jam
    Egg Wash (1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water)

    Icing Ingredients

    1 cup powdered sugar, divided in half
    ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
    Splash of vanilla extract
    2 to 3 Tbsp maple syrup
    ½ tsp lemon zest
    2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    Milk, to thin glaze as necessary

    Steps

    ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon), mix together the beaten eggs, yeast, water, salt, honey, and melted butter. Add the flour and, without kneading, mix with a paddle attachment or with a large spoon until combined. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

     

    TWO. In two separate bowls, make the cream cheese fillings. In one bowl, mix together 4 oz. cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar. Set aside. In a second bowl mix together the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese, lemon zest, and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.

    THREE. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust your rolling surface with flour, and divide your dough in half. With the first half of dough, roll into a rectangle that is roughly 9″ x 12″. It may take some stretching, I found that it tends to shrink back at first.

    FOUR. Transfer the rectangle of dough carefully to your first baking sheet. Using a ruler and a knife or bench scraper, lightly mark the dough into 3 long sections, this will make it easier to fill and fold. In the center third, spread an even layer of the cinnamon cream cheese, then top with the blueberry jam, spreading with an offset spatula to keep everything uniform.

    FIVE. Using a pair of kitchen shears (or a knife), cut the two outer thirds into ½ inch strips all the way down. To form the log shape, alternate folding a strip from each side across the filling in a slant, from top to bottom, to form a braid. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap the baking sheet loosely in plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour before baking.

     

    SIX. Repeat steps two through five with the second type of cream cheese and jam, and allow to rest for an hour.

    SEVEN. When there’s about 15 minutes left in the bread’s hour long rest, preheat your oven to 350ºF. To bake, brush each loaf with your prepared egg wash, and bake for 30 minutes, switching trays halfway through to ensure both loaves brown evenly.

    EIGHT. While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glazes in two bowls. In the first, mix ½ cup powdered sugar with cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. If it’s too thick for pouring, it can be thinned with milk as necessary, or thickened with more powdered sugar. For the second, mix the remaining powdered sugar with lemon zest and lemon juice, adjusting the amounts of lemon juice and sugar as necessary so that the glaze is opaque and thick.

    NINE. When the breads have cooled completely, drizzle generously with the glazes (with a spoon or with a ziplock with the tip cut off) and enjoy at any time of the day or night, but specifically for breakfast with a cup of coffee by the Christmas tree or on the couch.

    YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoD

  • Christmas Spritz Cookies

    WOOOOOOO got that holiday spirit this weekend who is WITH ME?? Last week was such a wonderfully Christmas themed week at the Lewis house- we took our annual trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in the city (it never gets old), saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and wandered the Bryant Park Christmas village like a bunch of tourists and it was a blast. THEN, on Saturday we bought our Christmas tree and decorated it while eating these very cookies, and it was all very cozy and warm and happy. Funny story, on last year’s Christmas tree, my siblings and I stuck a picture of Harry Styles’ face over the angel on top of our tree (because he is the true angel), and waited to see when our parents would notice. The days went by, Christmas went by, and NO ONE noticed until the day we took our tree down. Now, we’re already plotting who to make the angel of our tree this year…any suggestions?

    Isn’t she lovely!!

    If you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying Christmas presents like crazy and wondering if you’ll ever have enough, but I doubt there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be overjoyed to receive these babies in a lil box. The recipe I adapted comes from this recipe from the New York Times by Alison Roman, whom I admire very much. I didn’t change a whole lot, aside from using salted butter instead of unsalted because I had run out, and was pleased to discover that the combo of regular salted butter and the recommended teaspoon of salt made for a beautifully sweet and salty combo that I will be making from now on. 10/ 10 would recommend adding this to your Christmas cookie repertoire, and pull it out for your next cookie exchange or office party.

    Enough chit chat however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. Jelly doughnuts.

    TWO. Seeing a second trailer for Captain Marvel (I will lose my mind seeing this movie).

    THREE. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

    FOUR. Giving presents feeling better than getting presents.

    FIVE. Having a favorite tree ornament.

     

    Makes: Roughly 130- 140 cookies (I KNOW!)
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
    Required Tools: Spritz cookie press (I used one from OXO)

    Ingredients

    3½ cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
    1¼ cups granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Colored sugar, sprinkles for decorating

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

    TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is creamed together and becomes light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.

    THREE. Carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about a minute. Load the dough into the cookie press in batches, and press cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles immediately so that they will stick. (I used an egg wash, which you are welcome to do, but I didn’t like the way it made the colors of the sprinkles run so I won’t be doing that again.)

    FOUR. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden. Be careful not to overbake, these cookies are small and will go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.

    Best enjoyed with a large mug of hot chocolate (regular or peppermint!) xoxoxoxoxoD

     

     

  • Chicken Tortilla Soup with The Works

    Welcome to my first savory recipe in some time huh? I knew we’d meet again. Now, anyone who has ever stayed at my house knows that this is my “company meal” (back me up here guys). Like, you know when you want to show off to your guests so you really pull out all the stops and make something extra impressive? That’s what this soup is all about. I literally love soup so much and this one is the most perfect combination of spicy, warming, filling, and just about the most satisfying lunch/ dinner/ maybe breakfast (idk I don’t judge) in the whole wide world. This masterpiece comes adapted from The Pioneer Woman, and because I am always doing more work than I need to, the thing that makes this soup really special is the addition of homemade tortilla chips and all the toppings you could ever imagine. It’s so important to my family in fact, that when I mentioned to my mom that this was what I was writing about for today, she couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t posted this yet. I figure now with the chill of winter in the air it’s the perfect time.

    This dish is a labor of love and although there’s a lot of prep work and moving parts, it will be well worth it. Plus, you can feel no guilt in putting your guests to work as sous chefs because the soup is its own reward!

    I’m going to keep things here short because we all know what the star of this post is, but quick! Here are 5 things to be happy about today:

    ONE. Freshly fried restaurant tortilla chips and pico de gallo (can you tell I’m in a mood?).

    TWO. Nights where you have no plans so you take a long shower, do a face mask, and really treat yourself.

    THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.

    FOUR. Embroidered flowers.

    FIVE. Blue Planet (I & II) and their accompanying soundtracks.

    Let’s get souping! Yes, I did make soup a verb, someone call the dictionary ASAP.
    Serves: 8-12 people
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Ingredients

    3 tsp ground cumin
    2½ tsp chili powder
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp kosher salt
    6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    4 Tbsp olive oil
    2 cups diced onion (about 3-4 onions)
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    2 red bell peppers, diced
    2 green bell peppers, diced
    2 10-ounce cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
    8 cups chicken broth
    6 Tbsp tomato paste
    8 cups hot water
    4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    6 tablespoons cornmeal
    Corn Tortillas
    Diced avocado
    Chopped cilantro
    Diced red onion
    Shredded cheddar cheese
    Sour cream

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Lay chicken breasts on a baking sheet and drizzle each one with olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the spice mixture over each piece of chicken, then reserve the rest. Bake the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow to cool completely before shredding.

    TWO. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Add remaining spice mixture and cook until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

    THREE. Add the shredded chicken, the cans of Rotel with their juice, the chicken broth, the tomato paste, and hot water. Stir to combine, then cover and bring to a boil.

    FOUR. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. In a small bowl, mix the cornmeal with 1 cup of water, and add to the soup. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

    FIVE. While the soup is simmering, brush a stack of corn tortillas with olive oil, slice into uniform strips (or wedges), lay out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. You could also fry them in a skillet of oil on the stovetop, but this just makes more chips in one go. Take 5 extra corn tortillas (unbaked) and slice them into uniform strips and add to the soup.

    SIX. To serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into each bowl, then promptly lose your mind adding as much of the toppings as you can fit.

    Welcome to the rest of your life where the only thing you’ll want to eat is this soup. XoxoxoxoxD