I think most of us need that morning cup of something. Whether it be coffee, tea, or even a ritual AM smoothie, our mornings taste better with a drink that will start us off on the right foot. Today I’m sharing this simple recipe for warm apple tea, and I have a feeling it’s going to make your mornings a whole lot sweeter.
I’ve been incredibly blessed with two (and a half!) really easy pregnancies. The first trimester usually brings an onslaught of morning sickness and yawning and bloating, but I’m otherwise in the clear. Aside from a few out of the norm food cravings (I’m looking at you, sausage egg and cheese biscuits), the only really strange thing that happens to me early on in every pregnancy is that I suddenly can’t tolerate coffee. Although I’m normally a devout morning coffee drinker, the smell, the taste, and even just looking at my French press doesn’t settle with me at all those first few weeks of pregnancy. Thankfully, now that I’m on my way into the second trimester this aversion is mostly gone, but for a month or two I survived the mornings solely because of tea.
This warm apple tea is just the type of thing I would have reached for. Lightly caffeinated, quick to make, and completely free of any scent of java, this warm apple tea is the perfect beverage to cozy up to during our chilliest weeks of the year. A comforting drink made up of Red Diamond Ready to Drink Sweet Tea, this beverage is infused with fresh apples, cinnamon, and vanilla bean, with just a touch of lemon added for balance. While I’ve mainly enjoyed it as a morning sip, this is a perfect little beverage to serve in the afternoon to fireside friends and your other favorite couch loungers. Let’s chat about how to make it.
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine a few cups of Red Diamond Sweet Tea with one roughly chopped apple, a cinnamon stick, and 1/2 of a vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer over low heat for about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to rest on the burner so that all of the flavors can mix and mingle with one other. Give the mixture a taste after about 10 minutes and allow it to rest a bit longer if you want that cinnamon flavor a touch stronger. Pour your desired amount of apple tea into a heat-safe glass and finish it off with a bit of lemon juice.
This drink is perfectly sweetened with flavors jumping out at you from all sides. Although I have preferred to enjoy it warm, you can easily chill the mixture for an iced-down daytime beverage as well! It batches nicely, so be sure to make a few servings at a time to reheat all week long. Just take care to strain the fruit, cinnamon, and vanilla bean pods out of the liquid so that the flavors don’t intensify too much.
Give this warm apple tea a try and be sure to check out Red Diamond Ready to Drink Sweet Tea! As a Southern transplant, I’ve learned my way around sweet tea, and this is one brand that I can trust to provide quality, real ingredients with consistent flavor. If you’re craving more sweet tea recipes, be sure to check out the sweet tea hot toddy I created a few months ago! It’s another warm drink, just a little boozier. Enjoy, friends!
This warm apple tea is made from refrigerated sweet tea infused with fresh apple, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon! Serve it warm or chilled!
2 cups (480 gm) ready to drink sweet tea
1 large apple, roughly chopped (I prefer a tart baking apple)
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla bean, cut open, or ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste/extract
Juice of ½ lemon
Combine the tea, apple, cinnamon, and vanilla bean in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pan on the burner for all the flavors to infuse together. Take a taste test after 10 minutes and pour into a glass if you’re satisfied with the level of spice from the cinnamon. If not, allow to it sit for another 5-10 minutes. Squeeze some lemon juice into your prepared tea and enjoy! This recipe batches nicely, so feel free to double or triple the recipe, strain out the fruit, cinnamon, and vanilla, and reheat as desired. Beverage can also be chilled and served over ice.
It’s been a while since we’ve included some sprinkles in our lineup here. The sprinkles, birthday cake flavor, and bright colors that make up these funfetti rolls make me feel like we’re celebrating, and you guys know how much I love a party. Our mornings deserve something extra-special, extra-festive, extra-fun, don’t you think? If you ask me, these funfetti rolls are just the ticket.
With all of the breakfast recipes we’ve been sporting on this site this month, mornings have been seriously special in my house lately. The other morning I prepared my kids what is, to use, a normal healthy breakfast and they were appalled. Like, where’s the cinnamon rolls, Mom? Where’s the chocolate bread and pound cake and muffins? WHERE IS THE SUGAR IN THIS BREAKFAST? Clearly I need to send the little sugar junkies to breakfast bootcamp for a little reset.
These funfetti rolls really do not help the cause. Aimee caught a glimpse of a test round of these buns on the counter and literally lost all chill. Within 3 minutes she had dragged a stool over to the counter, climbed onto the marble, and was nibbling on sprinkles from the sticky tops of these treats. The look on her face was equal parts guilt and delight, because, let’s be honest- there’s not a kid (read: human) in the world that doesn’t get a little bit excited by the site of sprinkles. They’re so special that I really couldn’t blame her.
So these funfetti rolls are maybe the most fun you can have in your morning. Yes, they take time to prepare, and , yes, there’s several steps involved. But are they worth it? Yes. Will they make your kids/roommate/BFF feel like the most special kid on the block? For sure. And do they taste ridiculously close to the funfetti box cake mix you grew up loving? Yep. If you’re tracking with me let’s chat the ins and outs of these rolls. You’re going to love them.
To make these funfetti rolls we start with the dough. I adapted my overnight cinnamon roll dough to work for this recipe. It’s the same fluffy, lightly sweetened yeast dough that I’ve grown to love, and while it does take some time to rise and roll, you can certainly follow the instructions from that original recipe to space out the work overnight. While we wait for the dough to proof we can go ahead and prepare the birthday cake crumb filling.
You might remember these crumbs from the funfetti ice cream cake I made a while back, but these little beauties are the same recipe that Christina Tosi made famous at NYC’s Milk Bar. With little more than cake flour, sprinkles, and sugar, we whip up a wet, crumbly dough that bakes into crispy, cake mix-favored crumbles. The essential ingredient here is the clear vanilla extract. Regular vanilla simply will not do if you want to recreate that box cake flavor. You can find the extract at your grocery store, craft stores, or online here. Follow the instructions to create the little crumbles, allow them to cool, and then whiz them in a blender or food processor to grind them to a coarse sand consistency. If you’d like to shorten the day-of baking process, feel free to make and freeze these crumbs in advance.
When your dough is ready to roll, use a lightly floured surface and rolling pin to flatten out a large rectangle of dough. Spread your melted butter all over the dough to serve as the glue for your birthday cake crumbs, sugar, and sprinkles. Roll the dough into a long log and slice 1-1/4-1-1/2″ segments to turn out into your pan. For softer, gooier rolls, you can snuggle them into the pan closely, but if you’re looking for those perfect spirals, space them out about 2″ apart in your baking dish. Bake until the tops are barely bronzed and the internal temp reads 180 degrees. Do not overbake! Underbaked cinnamon rolls taste way better than dried out overbaked ones, so if you have a thermometer, now is the time to use it!
These funfetti rolls finish nicely with a sweet cream cheese frosting and a dusting of sprinkles. You can use your extra birthday cake crumbs as a garnish as well, but if you’re anything like me those little guys will already have long been consumed. These breakfast treats put the FUN in FUNfetti and are worth every ounce of the effort they require. Give them a try and let me know what you think! Happy baking, y’all!
If you like these funfetti rolls you should check out:
These funfetti rolls have all the birthday cake flavor wrapped up in a morning roll. Topped with a sweet cream cheese and sprinkle frosting!
For the dough:
1 cup (240 gm) milk, lukewarm
¼ cup (60 gm) water, lukewarm
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
6 tablespoons (85 gm)unsalted butter, melted but not too hot
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of clear vanilla extract
½ cup (100 gm) brown sugar
2–3/4 cups (385 gm) all-purpose flour
1–1/2 cups (210 gm) bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
For the funfetti crumbs (recipe adapted from Christina Tosi):
½ cup (100 gm) sugar
1–1/2 tablespoons (25 gm) brown sugar, packed
¾ cup (90 gm) cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
¼ cup (50 gm) canola oil
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
For the rolls:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons sprinkles
2 tablespoons sugar
For the frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (115 gm) powdered sugar
2+ tablespoons of milk
To prepare the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, combine the milk and water and sprinkle the yeast over top of it. Allow the yeast to dissolve, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter, egg, egg yolks, clear vanilla extract, and sugar until smooth. In a small bowl, combine the flour, bread flour, and salt. Dump about half of the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Pour in the remaining dry ingredients and knead in the bowl using the dough hook attachment until smooth and slightly tacky, about 7 minutes. If you notice your dough isn’t pulling away from the sides of the bowl or it’s too wet, add flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a little dough “tornado” around the dough hook. Once done kneading, place the dough into a large lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to double in size, about 1-1/2 – 2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the crumbs.
To prepare the crumbs:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking sheet. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cake flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles on low speed. Add the oil and extract all at once and continue to paddle on low speed until small clumps form throughout. Spread the crumbs out onto the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring twice throughout. Allow to cool completely and then use a food processor (or a plastic bag, rolling pin, and brute strength) to pulverize the clumps into a coarse, sand-like crumb. Set aside while you wait for your dough.
To prepare the rolls:
Once the dough has risen, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a 10” x 22” rectangle. Spread the melted butter all over the dough and sprinkle on the sprinkles, sugar, and about ¾ of the funfetti crumbs. Starting with one of the long ends, tightly roll the dough from end to end and pinch the edges together to seal. Cut the dough into 1-1/2” sections and lay them out 2” apart in a lightly greased baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow to rise on the counter for about 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake in the oven for about 22-25 minutes or until the edges are barely golden and the internal temp is 190 degrees. Remove from the oven and prepare your frosting.
To prepare the frosting:
Cream the cream cheese and butter in large bowl at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and milk and beat to combine. Add additional milk to thin out the frosting or more powdered sugar to thicken it. You can also gently warm the frosting to pour over the rolls as a glaze. Sprinkle with remaining funfetti crumbs or sprinkles, if desired.
Crumbs cake be made in advance! You can even make double and use the rest as an ice cream topping, cake filing, or just to scarf down on your own.
Clear vanilla extract is ESSENTIAL for getting that funfetti/ birthday cake flavor. You can find it at most grocery or craft stores.
I’m just going to say it: I’m old. It’s official. While it’s easy for me to cover up the physical manifestations of this aging process (i.e. gray hairs, fine lines, and an increasing willingness to step out in public without makeup on) there are other, less-obvious behaviors I exhibit that let me know I’m no longer 22.
Unsurprisingly, most of this aging can be traced back to the two toddlers that currently rule my house, and every day there are tests of my patience and stamina. Just this morning, I made a phone call to my own mother to apologize for giving her hell over my clothing choices as a teenager. My 4 (going on 14) year old and I had just duked it out over her outfit for school, and I really thought I was reaching the brink of insanity. Almost immediately, I thought of my mother and all of those years I spent terrorizing her with my dreams of owning crop tops and booty shorts. That same strong will that made me think I was entitled to dress like Britney Spears is similar to the one I see sprouting in my own spicy little gal, and it. is. terrifying. I think those aha moments where we suddenly identify a little bit more with our parents are the rungs of the proverbial ladder that inch up every day in the aging process.
Along with the parenting stuff and gray hairs, there’s also this change in my perception of my own health as I age. I suddenly know way too much about multivitamins and antacids, and most of the cabinets in my bathroom look more like a pharmacy aisle as opposed to a beauty counter. I think about stuff like gut health and stress-related blood pressure, and truly, if I see one more fiber supplement commercial that I can easily identify with I just might freak out. As a baking blogger, I feel an even deeper sense of urgency to occasionally do a little better for myself. Cue these whole wheat blueberry muffins.
You guys know I am all about some butter. I like dessert, I’m not afraid of sugar, and my life motto might as well be, “Everything in Moderation.” But sometimes I get the hankering to make something that I can feel good about enticing you to make, so I decided to healthy it up a bit with these whole wheat blueberry muffins. Despite the increase in 100% whole wheat flour and the decrease in sugar, these muffins are fabulous and every bit of delicious as you’d want a normal muffin to be. It’s just the type of thing those January resolutions need.
To make these whole wheat blueberry muffins, we start with the liquid ingredients. Milk, oil, and a single egg are stirred together with vanilla extract and a bit of sugar. The dry ingredients include both whole wheat and all purpose flour as well as cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Fresh or frozen blueberries are folded into the batter before the little cups are baked in a super-hot oven.
These muffins are fluffy, moist, and flavorful thanks to the spice and berries. My two year old and husband both devoured these as if they were fried jelly doughnuts. They’re really shockingly good! Give them a try and I can almost promise you that no one will guess they have whole wheat flour in them! My old lady wisdom tells me that you’re going to love them! Happy baking!
If you like these whole wheat blueberry muffins you should try:
These whole wheat blueberry muffins are soft and moist. The whole wheat flour adds extra nutrition to these delicious treats!
Total Time:30 minutes
¾ cup (180 gm) milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup (80 gm) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (100 gm) sugar
¼ cup (50 gm) brown sugar packed
1 cup (140 gm) all-purpose flour
1 cup (140 gm) 100% whole wheat flour (see notes)
2–1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
¼ cup sparkling sugar (optional)
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and put paper muffin lines in a 12-compartment tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg, and extract until smooth. Stir in the sugars. Add the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir just till barely combined. Fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter among the 12-muffin compartment. Mine usually end up about 2/3- 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle the tops of each with sparkling sugar (if desired) and bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool briefly before consuming!
As an option, you can use 1-1/2 cups of whole wheat flour and only ½ cup of all-purpose flour. In this instance, use ½ cup brown sugar and only ¼ cup of white sugar. This will help to keep the muffins moist.
If you don’t plan to consume the muffins on the day of preparing them, seal them in a Tupperware or large plastic bag and freeze until ready to consume. This will help to keep the muffins moist and fresh!
There’s something about January that is comforting to me. The gray skies force me inside to cozy up in worn blankets, and thick sweaters cover me like a second skin. Life’s pace seems to naturally slow after the holidays, and there is a calm within that time lulls me to rest. Almost instinctively, I read more, sleep more, think more, and as I fall in step with the gentle metronome of these winter days, I’m reminded to slow down.
I like that this lemon pound cake feels right for January. Just as it seems fitting to warm myself by a simmering pot of stew on the stove or to sit with my children in front of the oven watching loaves of bread rise, I like waiting for this cake to bake and to cool. Just like these January days, this lemon pound cake feels simple and lazy. It’s the type of recipe that it suitable for snacking on throughout the day but is always best served with a cup of coffee or an afternoon tea.
Preparing this lemon pound cake is simple. Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Eggs and extract come next and is incorporated before the dry and wet ingredients are added. Lemon zest and juice lend a bright and tangy flavor to this dense and moist loaf. After baking, the lemon pound cake should be golden, fairly flat on top, and left to cool in the pan before flipping out onto a serving platter. The glaze for this lemon pound cake is entirely optional. I like the tang and zip the sour cream and lemon juice icing adds to the loaf, and although the glaze simple, it makes an pretty adornment for an otherwise plain cake.
So what do you all do this time of year? Are you rushing to get caught up from the holiday whirlwind? Are you busy tackling your resolutions and to-do lists? Or have you, like me, settled on being settled for a while and to quiet yourself and your life? Either way, I hope you’ll give this lemon pound cake a try and let me know what you think. Happy Baking to you, friends!
This lemon pound cake is a bright and sweet in flavor, but comforting and rich in texture. Perfect for breakfast or dessert!
Total Time:55 minutes
Yield:1 Loaf 1x
1 cup (230 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (200 gm), see notes
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1–1/2 cups (210 gm) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (120 gm) milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice
For the glaze:
1–3/4 cup (200 gm) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sour cream (buttermilk can be substituted in a pinch)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with baking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beating an additional minute to incorporate. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir on low until almost combined. Add half of the milk and the lemon juice and stir to almost combine. Repeat this process with the remaining dry and wet ingredients, and fold with a rubber spatula to incorporate the last bits of ingredients. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
To prepare the glaze:
When you’re ready to prepare the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients until a viscous glaze forms. Add more powdered sugar to thicken it up and more sour cream or lemon juice to thin it out. Drizzle over top of the prepared cake and enjoy!
For an ultra dense and moist cake, you can add up to a ½ cup of brown sugar to this recipe. This is a delicious addition, but in the spirit of the new year, I decided to keep it light for you all. Make the adjustment if you prefer.
So have I told you our exciting news? Are you privy to the crazy, fun, awesome changes coming to our family? WE’RE HAVING A BABY!
Baby #3 for the Wood family is coming July of this year, and I could not be more excited. We talked about growing our family for some time, and we felt beyond blessed when I took a positive pregnancy test back in November. The past few months have been full of stretchy pants and fast food cravings and all too much nausea, but I’m finally in my second trimester and starting to feel a little closer to myself again. No word yet on whether this baby is a boy or a girl, but I’ll be sure to divulge all of the details as soon as I have them. You know I can’t keep a secret too long.
One of the many strange things about this pregnancy so far is the changes in my preferences for food. In an ironic turn of events, I find my sweet tooth is really not so sweet at all these days. I’d much prefer a crunchy salad or a paper bag full of salty French fries. Give me chicken noodle soup and chips, not cake and cookies, okay? This no desserts this has been great for keeping off too many prego pounds, but as you can imagine, it’s kinda bad for business if the baking and desserts writer doesn’t want to eat dessert! What is a girl to do?!
Luckily, my desire for baked goods in the morning is still fairly normal, so don’t be surprised if you see a whole lot of breakfasty things over here this month. Last week you got the orange swirl bread, next week will be a lemony breakfast pound cake, and this week we’re keeping it healthy-ish with these almost vegan coconut white chocolate pancakes. YUM.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. What does “almost vegan” mean? Well, these pancakes COULD be vegan if only I could get my hands on vegan white chocolate. As my small, rural town of Selma, AL has a really poor supply of such commodities, I could not find vegan white chocolate, so these vegan coconut white chocolate pancakes are vegan all except for the chocolate. Comprende?
These cakes are super easy to whip up. Melted coconut oil, coconut milk, and vanilla are combined in a bowl before the dry ingredients are tossed in. We’re not talking anything crazy here, just flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Keep in mind that some processed sugars and flours are not actually vegan, so be sure to check your brand of preference if you’re trying to play it safe. Stir in the dry ingredients and then fold in the finishing touches- sweetened coconut flakes and finely chopped white chocolate. If you have a hard time finding vegan white chocolate you can totally skip this and add extra coconut. I’d also consider regular chocolate too, because, duh.
These almost vegan coconut white chocolate pancakes get baked on a griddle with a little extra coconut oil until they’re just barely tanned and puffed. Serve immediately with your syrup or topping of choice. I whipped up a coconut whipped cream for the batch you see pictured, but this is totally optional. This recipe makes a small batch of pancakes, about 10- 3″ cakes, so if you’re serving a crowd be sure to double it up.
Thank you so much for sharing in our joy. I’ll try not to be too obnoxious with baby news, but you should probably count on a healthy amount of hormonal banter. You’ve been warned. Whip up some of these almost vegan coconut white chocolate pancakes this week and enjoy!
If you like these vegan coconut white chocolate pancakes you should try:
These almost vegan coconut white chocolate pancakes are loaded with coconut flavor and sweetened with white chocolate bits. Top with a coconut whipped cream for an extra special breakfast treat!
Total Time:15 minutes
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 cup (240 gm) coconut milk (water or another plant-based milk can be used in a pinch)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 gm) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2–1/4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup finely chopped white chocolate, more if desired
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes, more if desired
Preheat a griddle or skillet on the stove to 325 degrees, about medium heat. In a large both, whisk together the coconut oil, milk and vanilla. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and stir just barely to combine. Some clumps are okay and will help keep your pancakes from being dense. Fold in the white chocolate and coconut flakes. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if your batter is too thick or an additional tablespoon of flour if it is too thin. I usually end up adding a tablespoon.
Melt a teaspoon of oil in your pan and spoon out ¼ cup sized rounds of batter. Use the back of your spoon to spread the circles out as desired. If you find your batter is too thick or thin, adjust with a little flour or milk. Cook for about 3 minutes on that side or until the pancake bottom is turning golden. Carefully flip and cook until the pancake is done! Repeat this process with the remaining batter. Serve with coconut whipped cream, additional white chocolate, or coconut flakes or syrup if desired.
The white chocolate will melt and caramelize on your skillet leaving little brown circles on the top of your cakes. If this bothers you, you can sprinkle the white chocolate chips on the top of the batter after your spoon the cakes onto the griddle. Please note that the underside of your pancakes will be splotchy if you do this, but the tops will look pretty.
White chocolate is NOT vegan. That’s why this recipe is “almost!” vegan. Just a friendly reminder. Keep in mind some processed all-purpose flours and sugars are not vegan as well. Check with your specific brand for more info.
Happy New Year, friends! I hope your midnights were filled with kisses and bubbles and all sorts of wonderful glittery things. We ate dinner with friends but were home in our pajamas eating cereal by 11:00 pm. It was GLORIOUS. I’m all about parties and fun, but it felt good to be comfortable enough to be tired and content at home. Count on more of that from me this year.
I always like to ask people what their New Year’s resolutions are, and in years past I’ve totally been one to produce a laundry list of goals. This year, instead of goals, I spent some time considering what types of things I wanted more of in 2019- what things would be productive and healthy inclusions to my coming 12 months? After loads of consideration (and, okay, a little list making), I want to share my ideas with you in hopes that you may be able to include some of these things in your own life. It felt good to be self-reflective in a loving, encouraging way, so I hope you get the opportunity to do so yourself. So here it is: my to-do list of sorts for 2019.
Cook More Real Food. The end of 2018 saw me ordering lots of carry-out and fast food. I was exhausted from our pending move and decided to give myself a break by leaving dinners to someone else. But here’s the thing: I love to cook. In an effort to get back in my kitchen, I plan on joining Epicurious’ Cook 90 Challenge. They’ve mapped out ways to make it easier to prepare fresh, real food three times a day for an entire month. Even if I only end up cooking 75 or so meals this month, I’ll consider that a victory.
Take Better Care of Me. When you’re a mom of two toddlers, self-care can go down the drain quickly. I spend a lot of time with greasy hair and unshaven legs because I’m really just kinda tired. My dear friend recently became really passionate about the benefits of clean skincare, so I decided to invest in a few new products that I knew were good for my body from the outside in. If this whole thing is new to you too, you can check out Follain online, which is kinda like the Sephora of clean beauty. Two of my favorite products so far are this nighttime moisturizer and this rosehip oil. I may still have fuzzy legs, but it feels good to know I’m taking a little better care of me
Get Organized. Ok, this looks totally different for everyone. I know you’ve heard me ramble on about decluttering and my favorite day planners, but I wanted to do a little extra at the beginning of this year to stay tidy. For me, that meant closet and drawer organization. I purchased brand new velvet hangers online and invested in several sets of plastic drawer organizers. Now my closet look streamlined and my chip clips, measuring spoons, bobby pins all have a home in my drawers. I don’t know what getting organized would look like in your life, but I think that it’s sometimes healthy to have a little method to our madness.
Spend Time Connecting. Look- 2019 was weird, y’all. I felt out of sorts and insecure and really kinda lonely at times. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m alone in this. So in 2019, I want to be more connected. For me, this means more one-on-one conversations with dear friends and more date nights with my husband. It means more time playing on the floor with my kids instead of shooing them away. It means more time praying and more time spent telling people why I love them. A simple way to get connected? Engage in an out-of-the-box manner. I’ve long been a fan of snail mail, and I’d encourage you to consider taking time to write a note to someone you love. I adore Kate Spade notecards like these, and I have purchased multiple sets of custom watercolor stationary from my artist friend here. Put your phone down and spend some time loving someone- it’s always worth loving a little harder.
Read More. There’s a million different studies that have been done on the benefits of reading. My goal to read more began simply from wanting to be a better writer here on this space. I have literally zero clue where to begin reading again, but I think I’m going to start with Oprah’s book club. I’ve heard rave reviews about this month’s addition (Michelle Obama’s book!) and I can’t wait to get started.
Challenge Yourself. I think we sometimes have the tendency to play it safe. We stay on the sidelines because the possibility of failure seems kinda scary or just downright depressing. I’m planning to challenge myself more in the kitchen this year. I don’t want to stray away from recipes or skills that seem outside of my wheelhouse simply because I think I’ll fail. I want to be better! So count on me deboning whole chickens, cooking more seafood, and experimenting more with from-scratch recipe development. 100% I’m going to fail sometimes, but my bet is that I’ll surprise myself a little too and that will feel awesome. For a baking challenge, I’d encourage you to check out my cinnamon bread, tiramisu profiteroles, or maybe even today’s recipe: orange swirl bread.
I actually developed this recipe for orange swirl bread for Southern Cast Iron last year. My image landed on the cover (!!!) and I have been waiting for the right time to share the recipe on this site. If you didn’t buy the magazine when it was out (how dare you, btw), you’ll finally have the chance to take a stab at this recipe yourself right here from the comfort of this site!
This orange swirl bread is an airy yeast bread with orange zest, cinnamon, and sugar spiraled in the center. The dough is rolled, braided, and formed into a wreath before it’s baked in a cast iron skillet. Once golden and baked, the bread is drizzled with an orange glaze that makes the otherwise mild bread just a touch sweet. I like to serve wedges of this bread for breakfast and snack on little edge pieces in the evening as dessert. My children love feasting on this in the morning, and honestly, it’s just so beautiful that I’m really proud to serve it to anyone. You know?
Spend some time reading through the instructions for this orange swirl bread before you get started. The rising process takes time and you certainly don’t want to rush it. In a pinch, you can bake the loaf, freeze it, and rewarm to serve with the glaze at a later date. I think it tastes best warmed, but there’s no shame in grabbing a room temp piece on the go.
I can’t wait to spend more time with you all this year. I’ve got a ton of ideas and I can’t wait to connect with more of you. So happy new year, happy January, and as always, happy baking. Cheers!
If you like this orange swirl bread you should check out:
This orange swirl bread has a cinnamon sugar and orange zest filling and is topped with an orange glaze. The bread is an airy braided yeast loaf!
Yield:1 Loaf 1x
For the dough:
½ cup (120 mL) whole milk, lukewarm
¼ cup (50 gm) sugar
2–1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups (260 gm) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, divided
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
½ cup (100 gm) sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature.
For the glaze:
1 cup (120 gm) confectioner’s sugar
2–3 tablespoons orange juice
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm milk and half of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the milk and allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. The mixture should froth and foam slightly. You can stir it gently to make sure all the yeast has been moistened, but if the yeast does not foam, dump it out and start over. Once the yeast has been activated, stir in the remaining sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour into the milk mixture. Add 1 egg and the salt and stir to combine. On low speed, add the remaining flour and beat to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Once evenly combined, increase the speed to medium (I use speed number 4 on my KitchenAid stand mixer) and add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then continue to beat on medium speed for an additional 4 minutes or until the dough is moist, sticky, and slightly stretchy.
Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough inside, covering it tightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot in the kitchen until it has approximately doubled in size, about 1-1/2-2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 12”x18” rectangle on a lightly floured surface. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest for the filling. Use the back of a fork to cut in the butter, smooshing it together to make a thick paste/spread. Spread this mixture evenly over top of the rolled out dough.
Starting with one of the long ends, roll the dough somewhat tightly into one long tube and pinch the ends of the dough to seal in the filling. Use a sharp knife to slice down the middle of the length of the dough, leaving one inch at the top of one of the ends uncut. You should end with two strands of rolled dough connected by a 1” chunk of dough at the top (this will serve as the starting point for your braid, so you want the dough to remain connected here). Turn the exposed innards of the dough roll to face upwards and then twist the dough, right over left, right over left, until the entire length of dough has been twisted into one long piece. Join the ends of the dough to make a ring, pinching the ends together slightly. Carefully transfer the ring of dough into a lightly greased 10” cast-iron skillet. Cover the skillet with a piece of plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Once the oven is preheated and the loaf has risen slight (about 40 minutes), stir the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush a thin layer of the mixture over the surface of the dough. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and golden brown throughout. Allow to cool slightly.
Once cooled slightly, combine the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Add additional sugar, if desired, to thicken it up or extra juice to thin it out. Drizzle over top of the bread and serve. Bread is best served warm and will keep covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.