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    Bringing back the lost art of home cooking.
    Oct 6, 2011 2:05PM

    Chocola Babka

    So here's the deal about making Babka.  It is very easy to make. No special skills are required.  What you will need is about three hours, and lots of bowls.   It is totally worth the effort though, because this Babka is amazing!  Much better than any bakery version (even Schnitzer's!).


    Babka is a soft, buttery, slightly sweet yeast bread (similar to a panenttone) swirled with lots of chocolate and cinnamon and topped with streusel.


    This is a great dish to bring to a Break Fast dinner or to serve as a snack or breakfast.  Don't let the recipe intimiate you.  It is actually quite a relaxing process and the recipe makes three large loaves.  One for you to eat right out of the oven, one to bring to a friend and one to freeze for another day.


    Chocolate Babka

    recipe makes three loaves

    (courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker)


    1½ cups warm milk (110°F)

    2 envelopes (¼ ounce each) active dry yeast

    1¾ cups plus a pinch of sugar

    3 whole large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

    6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

    1 teaspoon salt

    3½ sticks (1¾ cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and pans

    2 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped

    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1 tablespoon heavy cream

    Streusel Topping (recipe follows)


    1. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm milk; stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together ¾ cup sugar, 2 eggs, and the yolks; add yeast mixture, and whisk to continue.

    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add the egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until completely incorporated and a smooth, soft dough forms, about 10 minutes. The dough should still be slightly sticky when squeezed.

    3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead a few times until smooth. Place dough in a well-buttered bowl, and turn to coat with butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

    4. In a bowl, stir together chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and the cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in remaining 1½ sticks butter until combined; set aside filling.

    5. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2¾-inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1½-inch overhang along the sides. Brush more butter over the parchment, and set aside. Punch down the dough, and transfer to a clean work surface. Let the dough rest 5 minutes.

    6. Meanwhile, beat the remaining egg with the cream. Cut dough into three equal pieces. On a well-floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to a 16-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. (Keep other pieces covered with plastic wrap while you work.) Brush edges of dough with the egg wash. Crumble one-third of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving about a ½-inch border on the long sides. Roll up dough lengthwise into a tight log, pinching ends together to seal. Twist dough evenly down the length of the log, a full five or six times. Brush the top of the log with egg wash. Crumble 2 tablespoons filling down the center of the log, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold log in half into a horseshoe shape, then cross the right half over the left. Pinch ends together to seal and form a figure eight. Twist two more times, and fit into a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

    7. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the lower third. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash; sprinkle with one-third of the Streusel Topping. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until dough has expanded and feels pillowy, about 40 minutes.

    <span style="font-size: medium;">8. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; bake until loaves are deep golden, 20 to 30 minutes more. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.) Transfer pans to wire racks to cool completely. Babkas can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

    Streusel Topping

    Makes enough for 3 loaves (about 3 cups)

    1-2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar

    1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

    1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

    <span style="font-size: medium;">Combine sugar and flour in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some  larger clumps remaining.



    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: dessert ~ Tagged with: babka, yeast, cinnamon, bread, chocolate
    Mar 21, 2011 4:24AM

    What?!?! Another Banana Bread?

    No.  You are not crazy.  This is the third Banana Bread recipe I have featured in C.I.P.  I am just slightly obsessed with Banana Bread.  Not only do I love it, but I always think I can find a better recipe, that is easier recipe than my previous favorite.  Not to mention that I always have a ton of bananas in my house, either on the counter or in my freezer (I use them in my morning smoothie).  I am pretty sure that a banana has never gone to waste in my house.

    So I came across this recipe and I just had to give it a try.  It is made in one bowl and uses all staple ingredients that I always have in my house.  It was in the oven in 10 minutes and the house smelled amazing while in was baking.  I let it cool, sliced it and forgot about it until Phil tasted it a few hours later.  He said it was the best Banana Bread I ever made!  I quickly grabbed a piece to taste.  It is moist and loaded with pieces of banana.  I loved that I could taste the cinnamon and the brown sugar.  I thought it was excellent.  Was it the best?  It is definitely in my top three.  I usually like the additions of a few chocolate chips and chopped pecans in the batter and a sprinkle of brown sugar on top, but my family seems to prefer a more basic version.  Even this basic version will not last more than a day or two.

    Awesome Banana Bread

    adapted from Simply Recipes




    3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed

    1/3 cup melted butter

    1 cup brown sugar

    1 egg, beaten

    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Pinch of salt

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1 1/2 cup of flour



    Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and cinnamon. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.


    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: quick bread ~ Tagged with: banana bread, Snacks, cinnamon, bananas
    Jul 18, 2010 4:24AM

    Low-Fat Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins


    There is no way anyone will guess that these muffins are healthy.  They are light and fluffy, with a delicious fruit center and a crunchy topping.  I have tried every flavor of fruit filling in the middle and I keep going back to strawberry.  It is just a matter of personal preference.  You can try any flavor of fruit jam that you can find.  I like using the "All-Fruit" versions, rather than a traditional jelly loaded with sugar, but there is only a dollop in each muffin so use what you have on hand and what you like.  Another favorite fruit center I used was a Blackberry jam that I purchased at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.

    You can see from the photos here that these muffins don't look pretty before they go in the oven.  The photo on the left is what they will look like after you spoon your jam on top of the bottom layer.  The photo on the right is what your muffin tin will look like right before it goes in the oven.















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    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: muffins ~ Tagged with: jam, cinnamon, strawberry
    Jun 24, 2010 9:05AM

    Barefoot Blogger: Sour Cream Coffee Cake

    It is my turn to chose the Barefoot Blogger recipe!  The rules for posting have been relaxed for the summer, and we have two recipes to try out and post by June 30th (mine included), so you can check out everyone else's results (for BOTH recipes) by the 30th of June.  It was incredibly difficult to choose a recipe...there are so many I still haven't tried!  Since it's summer, I ruled out soups, stews, cobblers and anything else that would require too much time and heat in the kitchen.  Blueberries are in season, so I began looking through my Barefoot Contessa books for something with blueberries.  I was thinking of blueberry muffins, but I kept going back to this amazing looking coffee cake.  I finally decided on the coffee cake, but, I would add in fresh blueberries.

    One of life's simplest pleasures is sitting down to a slice of coffeecake with a cup of coffee.  Best part is, you can enjoy this treat in the morning, afternoon or evening.  Coffeecake is always appropriate any time of the day.

    So, what makes a good coffeecake?  Personally, I like LOTS of streusel.  I always double the amount of streusel that the original recipe calls for.  I also think the cake part should not be very sweet.  Since I may be eating it for breakfast,  I don't want to start off my day with a huge sugar rush.  It must be light, moist and fluffy, preferably with no nuts (just my personal taste) and have the taste of cinnamon somewhere in the final result (topping, cake and/or streusel).

    Ina's Sour Cream Coffee Cake is really, really good!  She knows her stuff.  Next time I make it, I think I will substitute mini  chocolate chips for the blueberries, or even try swirling in some Nutella, to try another option.  Chopped apples or pears would also be delicious, as would chopped pecans or walnuts.

    Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: snack ~ Tagged with: coffee cake, cinnamon, cake
    Oct 3, 2009 2:21PM

    Simple Banana Bread


    I love Banana Bread!  Why, you ask?  Here are a few of my reasons:

    1 - It gives me an excuse to eat cake for breakfast (and as a snack, and before bed).

    2 - I always buy more bananas than my family ever eats, and at any given time there are at least three black bananas on my kitchen counter (I CANNOT throw them away, that would be wasteful!!!).

    3 - It takes 10 minutes to throw a banana bread batter together, and it is a pretty fool-proof recipe.  I mean really, do you know anyone who has ever messed up a banana bread?

    4 - Baking banana bread makes the house smell so yummy!

    5 - You can get very creative with banana bread.  Chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruits...you can practically add anything to banana bread, to make your own, unique, new loaf.

    6 - Banana bread makes a great gift.  Who wouldn't like to receive a homemade banana bread when they are sick, or as a hostess gift?  Teachers and employees LOVE to receive banana breads as gifts!

    7 - They freeze beautifully, so you can make them in multiples whenever you have the time, and stick them in the freezer.  Defrost and eat as needed.

    8 - It costs practically pennies to make.  Be honest....you know you are just going to throw those gross  bananas in the garbage anyway.  The rest of the ingredients are dirt cheap.  In today's economic climate, eveyone can afford to make banana bread.


    Have I convinced you yet to make Banana Bread?  Good!  This is a wonderful, basic recipe.  A few weeks ago, I posted another of my favorite Banana Bread recipes, but this one is a "must-have" simple, easy recipe.  After experimenting with this recipe, I have found that I can take all of the ingredients, dump them into a big bowl, stir it with a spoon, and bake.  There are no complicated directions...don't worry about mixing the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, or creaming the eggs, oil and sugar.  Literally, throw all of the ingredients in a bowl, in any order, mix with a spoon and pour into 2 greased loaf pans.  Pop in the oven, and less than an hour later....amazingly delicious Banana bread!  Everyone is happy!


    Basic Banana Bread

    1 c. sugar

    1/2 c. oil

    2 eggs

    1 c. mashed, overripe bananas (about 2)

    1/2 c. sour cream

    1 tsp. vanilla

    1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

    1 tsp. baking soda

    1/2 tsp. salt

    1/4 tsp. cinnamon

    Optional: 1 c. chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350.  Mix ingredients.  Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.  Bake 45 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By Gwenn Weiss
    Filed in: snack ~ Tagged with: banana bread, cinnamon, bananas