Monkey Bread in Jars

I’m coming off a high… sugar and altitude related.

For a post busy season de-stresser, I took a long weekend trip down to Denver to visit Becky (you’ve seen her on here before) and her husband Brent.

Becky and I had discussed from the day I purchased my ticket that we would be doin’ some serious work in the kitchen. We made 3 desserts including meringues, marshmallows, and pumpkin cupcakes (many of which you will see shortly here), salmon with miso sauce, and this…

Monkey bread… in a jar. It is to die for.

And all that dark stuff on the bottom??? It is indescribably good. Off the charts. Gooey, cinnamon-y, out of this world.

This was the first time either of us had really experimented with yeast. We had our reservations. But man oh man, we sure did get excited when it started working.

Excitement in the kitchen seems much more normal and less psycho when it isn’t talking to yourself.

On top of not being considered crazy there are so many benefits to having a partner-in-crime in the kitchen.

 Including a dough-kneader.

And someone to help you take and stage the food photography.

Sometimes I get so focused on getting things done in the kitchen I forget to have fun. After this Bake-a-thon weekend, I remembered how much fun being in the kitchen can be.

Yeast in action, part 2. After the yeast activates and is incorporated into the dough and the dough is kneaded, it is set to rise for about 1-1.5 hours or until doubled in size.

Disclaimer, we started this process at 9 PM. I would not recommend this, as there are multiple “stop and let the dough rise for 50+ minutes” in the instructions. That being said, we wrapped this bad boy up around 1 AM.

Doin’ work.

Once the yeast doubles, place on a clean surface to roll out.

The original recipe did not state how thick to roll out and a “large rectangle” is not nearly specific enough for 2 CPA’s. So we went with approximately 1/4 inch and it turned out great.

Using a pizza cutter, slice up the dough into small squares, roughly 1-2 inches in size.

Take those darlin’ little squares and dip in melted butter (oh em gee), then a cinnamon-nutmeg-brown sugar mixture (oh yeah) and “plop” into the jars.

Also, this is a highly recommended snack time. Instead of a “plop” into the jars, just “plop” right into your mouth.

The buttery sugary squares need to rise for another 50 minutes but then are ready for the oven. 25 minutes later and you are ready to experience heaven on earth.

Here’s how to do it:

Monkey Bread in a Jar

Ingredients:

12 tbsp butter

1 cup milk, heated to about 110 degrees F

1/3 cup water, heated to about 110 degrees F

1/4 cup sugar

1 (1/4th oz) package dry active yeast

3 cups flour

2 tsp salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Warm the milk and water in the microwave until it feels like warm bath water. Combine the warm milk, water, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Let sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt and 1/2 tsp cinnamon together in another bowl. After five minutes, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on medium high speed using a dough hook attachment for about eight minutes, or until dough becomes a smooth ball. If you don’t have a dough hook, you can knead using your hands, just keep kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. (It may still be very slightly sticky as you form the ball but don’t let that scare you, as long as it has a smooth appearance after the ball is formed.)

Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place your dough ball inside. Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise for about an hour. You want the ball to double in size. (This could be anywhere from 50 minutes to 1.5 hours.)

After the initial rise, roll out dough to a large rectangle approximately a 1/4 inch in thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut one inch squares of dough out of the rectangle.

Melt four tablespoons of the butter and use it to grease eight 8-oz glass jars (OR four 12-oz mason jars or three 16 oz jars).

Melt the remaining butter and pour it into a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Dunk each square of dough in the melted butter and then into the brown sugar. Drop it into a greased glass jar. Fill each jar only half way full then set the jars in a warm spot to rise for another 50 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place jars on a baking sheet two inches apart and bake for 25 minutes, or until dough has cooked through. Serve warm!

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Hazelnut Cocoa Granola

I live my foodie life with one common theme. What can I do to make “x” (any given recipe) reflect the flavors of Nutella?

Okay this doesn’t exactly apply to things like fish or rice and grains or beans but most everything else (think sweets), it works. Just hear me out…

Oatmeal – add some chocolate and hazelnuts.

Pretzels – just dip those suckers in Nutella.

Cookies – definitely add some chocolate and hazelnuts. Maybe make some breakfast cookies.

Granola – add some chocolate and hazelnuts. It seems to be the only logical thing to do.

This recipe was inspired by the Joy the Baker Cookbook. But her recipe seemed like a little too much work, heating the wet ingredients in a saucepan and then combining with the dry…

Okay not really that much work but the less heating appliances to use the better. It’s been warmer (I’m using that term relatively, as in 75-80 degrees) in the city for multiple days now and most apartments don’t have AC, including mine. Oh and one of my fans broke. Thus apartment = sauna-esque.

Start with the dry ingredients. There’s oats under all that goodness along with almonds, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa powder, brown sugar, hazelnuts and wheat germ.

I decided to add hazelnuts and the wheat germ. Not to be confused with wheat cooties.

Okay, no one’s going to confuse them. I’m a CPA, we get 1-5 lames jokes a week. It comes with the title. I’ll cross number 1 off.

Add in the agave, oil, and vanilla. The cinnamon repels the liquid mixture… my nerd brain finds this fascinating.

Now, I can see why swallowing a tablespoon of cinnamon would be a terrible idea.  Because there are soooo many other reasons why it’s a good idea. Kids these days….

Combine it all together. It kind of starts to look like no-bake cookie batter without the peanut butter and butter (a.k.a. healthier) and it’s just as tasty. Make sure its all coated before spreading in a thin layer on a baking sheet and popping in the oven.

It’s so easy and delicious by itself as a snack but perfect with yogurt or milk too!

P.S. I realize I need to get some new bowls, not everything works in a red bowl and well, that’s all I got. Or maybe I’ll make more plate foods. I’ll let you know how this develops.

Here’s how to do it:

Chocolate Nut Granola

Inspired by Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

3 c. Oats

1/2 c. Slivered Almonds

1/2 – 3/4 c. Chopped Hazelnuts

1 c. Coconut

1/2 c. Wheat Germ

2 tbsp. Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 c. Brown Sugar

2/3 c. Agave Nectar

1/3 c. Canola Oil

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 1-2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Combine all the dry ingredients and mix together. Add in the agave nectar and oil. Stir to thoroughly combine and coat all of the dry mixture.

Place on the baking sheets in a thin layer and bake until a deeper brown color, about 25 minutes. Flip the mixture 2-3 times during the baking process.

Let cool and then break apart. Serve as a snack by itself, with milk, or my favorite Greek yogurt. It will last in an airtight container for up to a week.

Hiking and Almond Granola

After living in the Seattle area for 2 years… I finally ventured to hike the infamous Mt. Si on Saturday! I went with a co-worker turned friend and another great friend and frequent hiking partner-in-crime/sweat.

4 miles up and 3,150 ft. of elevation gain gets you this. Well not this exactly… take the three of us out and that’s what you get.

We booked it up the mountain, climbing the first 4 miles in an hour and 40 minutes. Yeah that’s right, all 3,150 feet elevation gain. The average time up is about 2.5 hours. Let’s just say, no one passed us.

Talk about timing, we got up to the top and had a view of Mt. Rainier for about 5 minutes and then the clouds rolled in.  (You can see it just faintly). The panting, “let’s uh talk uh later uh because uh I can’t uh breathe” moments, and unreal amounts of sweat (so sexy) were worth it.

The 4 miles down, we took a more stroll-like pace, laughing and chatting. I’d imagine the people going up were probably extremely perturbed at those “happy laughing girls.” We’re ladies… get it straight.

“Hey, you guys look at those pretty berries.”

“Oh, oh, and those moss-covered trees are so cool! I’ve got to take a picture.” It’s all about appreciating the flora and fauna, folks. AND I’m so turning into my mother, she’s never seen a rock that didn’t catch her eye.

What better to do after 8 miles? Make granola, duh.

If I had thought this through a little more, I would have made granola in time for a pre-hike breakfast but hindsight’s always 20-20, as long as I’ve got my contacts in.

Start with the dry goods. Oats, coconut, raisins, almonds, wheat germ (not pictured, I forgot about it until step 3), cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of ginger.

Add in the wet. Agave nectar and canola oil.

Mix the dry and the wet ingredients all together. Is it weird that I thought this tasted good? Post-hike delusion maybe?

Spread it on a lined baking sheet in one thin layer and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden in color.

Serve with your favorite yogurt, by itself, or some nice cold milk.

Raisin Almond Granola

This is a combination and tweaking of multiple recipes so I could get what I really liked. 🙂

2 c. Rolled Oats (not quick cooking)

1 c. Slivered Almonds

1 c. Raisins

1/2 c. Wheat Germ

1 tsp. Cinnamon

Dash Nutmeg and Ginger (about 1/8 tsp. each)

1/2 c. Agave Nectar

1/3 c. Canola Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add add the oil and agave and mix to combine. Make sure everything is well coated with the oil and agave mixture.

Spread in one thin layer onto a parchment (or foil) lined backing sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden, mixing and turning 2-3 times during the cooking process.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to week.

Word to Your Mother…

I’m away from my baby on Mother’s Day. And by baby, I mean my cat that I treat like a child. Let me remind you…

Ollie on the Couch.

Ollie in the Dryer.

I have pictures of him from every stage of life. Annnnddd… you’re cat lady alert just went off.

He is actually away at ‘Summer Camp’ because I was away for such a long period of time on vacation, I let him stay with Grandma and Grandpa instead of finding and paying someone to take care of him here.

Thankfully, he has the greatest grandma in the world. Just so happens, if we follow the logic, it means I have the best Mother in the world. I mean it. I really don’t think there is much use in trying to compete either. It’s already settled.

She loves me unconditionally.

She always puts my sister and me first.

She never stops thinking/worrying/caring about us. Mom – “Ally now, if you are going to go out, make sure to bring your mace.” Ally- “Mom, I think it will be fine, I’m just going to Church.” Maybe it’s not that extreme… but you know what I mean. I’ll always be her baby.

She loves Ollie as if he were her own. If she loves a cat this much, imagine how fantastic its going to be when it’s an actual human being.

She loves sugar, butter, and sweets as much as me, including this baked french toast.

We made this the first time last Easter and I made it my new Easter tradition… it was that good. It’s a French toast/bread pudding hybrid but definitely still classified as breakfast.  Perfect for any brunch occasion, like Mother’s Day!

I’ve got two words for you. Streusel Topping. The original recipe uses pecans but you can mix it up with any nut you’ve got.

Slice the bread of your choice (I prefer Challah about 3/4 inch thick), layer in a 9X13 inch pan and sprinkle each layer lightly with cinnamon before layering the rest of the bread  on top. It will make two layers.

Pour over the egg mixture (which includes: egg, milk, sugar, vanilla, and a little more cinnamon) and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, sprinkle the streusel over the bread mixture and it’s ready to go in the oven.

After 45 minutes at 350 degrees. It get’s slightly puffed and ready to eat. Just serve with real maple syrup and a fresh fruit salad to balance it out.

Nothing says “I love you, Mom” like this… crunchy, buttery, cinnamon-y, down right delicious breakfast.

Here’s how to do it:

Baked French Toast with Pecan Streusel

Adapted from Coastal Living

Serves 8-10 people, easily.

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf bread of choice (Challah, french, artisan) cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 cups half-and-half, (fat free works too!)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + extra to sprinkle over the bread
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Maple syrup

Pecan Streusel

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preparation

  1. Arrange bread slices in a greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkling each layer with cinnamon.
  2. Combine eggs and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until well blended. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Combine the first 4 ingredients of the pecan streusel and stir in the nuts. (This works well with a fork to get the crumbly texture.)
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle Pecan Streusel over bread slices. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until slightly puffed and golden. Serve with maple syrup.