Zucchini Bread with Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Zucchini.  The vegetable that people are always giving away after it has inexplicitly multiplied and grown to ginormous proportions in their gardens.  One can only make so many zoodles and side dishes with tomatoes and onions and zucchini boats stuffed with meat and cheese.  But everyone loves zucchini bread and cake and other sweets.  Zucchini makes for very moist bread and cake and no longer even tastes like a vegetable.  Not even a little bit.  That’s probably the appeal to many people.  This bread is an easy quick bread that is at least a little healthy.  The inclusion of nuts and raisins,  ground flax seed, and, of course squash, bolsters that claim.  And cinnamon.  Cinnamon is very healthy!  It is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  You’ll feel so good after you have a slice or two of this tasty bread.


1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 T vanilla

3 cups AP flour

1/2 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup walnuts chopped

1 cup golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325.

Beat white and brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla together.

Sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add raisins, nuts, and flaxseed.

Add shredded zucchini and stir until well combined.

Grease 2 loaf pans or 6 small loaf pans.  Use parchment paper if you’d like.  Divide batter evenly.

Bake for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the pans,  Check for doneness using a tooth pick or cake tester after 40 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy!!

NOTE:  Zucchini bread freezes well.  If it lasts that long.  If you prefer you can use dried cherries or pecans.  A little different flavor but it’s all good.


Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread


This stuff is amazing!  Love!

We just returned from a family vacation to New Orleans.  The land of great food, really wonderful music everywhere, and a plentitude of adult beverages.  And people watching.  We enjoyed poboys, gumbo, oysters, shrimp, catfish and, of course, beignets.  As good as our food was, whenever I get home from a vacation I actually kind of enjoy eating my own cooking again.  Funny how that works.

I had some organic milk in the refrigerator that was going to go south in just a day or so and I wanted to put it to good use.  I decided to make us some bread with my remaining milk and came across this recipe that I had clipped from a Saveur magazine early last year but had not tried.  Until today.  The recipe says the bread is Swedish.  But since I’m Finnish, today it is Finnish Cinnamon Cardamom Bread.  Whatever your ethnicity I think you will enjoy!  The kitchen smelled wonderful while this was baking.

Ingredients for the Dough:

7 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk heated to 115

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, lightly crushed

1/4 tsp kosher salt


Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

7 T unsalted butter softened

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, finely crushed


To make the dough heat the milk to 115 degrees.  Use a thermometer unless you’re a lot better than I am at estimating temperatures and you don’t want to kill your yeast.  Melt the butter and add the butter and yeast to the warm milk.  Stir and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the yeast mixture until dough forms.


Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Or knead in your stand mixer.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  About an hour.


Prepare the filling stirring together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into approximately a 11×17 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.


Spread the filling over the dough.


Working from one of the long sides, roll dough into a tight cylinder and transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish towel and allow it to sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  About 45-60 minutes.


Heat the oven to 375.  Using kitchen shears and starting 1 inch from the ends of the dough, make crosswise cuts spaced 1 inch apart, three quarters of the way through the dough.  Now this is where it got tricky for me and my bread looks a little crude.  The recipe says to fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right.  Huh?  The center?  Maybe I was supposed to make this into a circle?  I don’t know for sure because I didn’t have a picture.  But it doesn’t really matter. The fanning does not affect the taste at all.


Whisk an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash.


Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the bread to cool before serving.


I made up a little icing with powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest.  Because we like icing.


Cut yourself a slice and enjoy.  Great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.


NOTE:  The recipe suggests that you use the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar before baking.  Since I was going to ice the bread I did not you the pearl sugar but you may prefer that.  If any of you bake a more attractive loaf please comment with a picture.

Kaalipiirakka (Cabbage Pasty)


If you’re Spanish you might have empanadas, if you’re Polish pierogis, Italian raviolis, and if you’re Finnish kaalipiirakka (cabbage pasty). I was reading a Finnish cookbook today and came across this recipe. I didn’t grow up eating these but I might have. These would be served as an accompaniment to soup or as a bread side with a meal. I think they would be great with tomato soup!  Bread is a mainstay of the Finnish diet…and true to his heritage my grandfather could not eat a meal without bread. I remember both of my grandparents eating bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt.

These little cabbage pasties are fairly easy to make. The slightly sweet pastry dough and the savory cabbage are a nice combination. They might be tasty with a dip of some kind…I’ll have to work on that. Suggestions??

Yeast Pastry ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1 tsp salt

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 cup sugar

4-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter


Dissolve the yeast in the water. Beat the egg well with a whisk.


Combine the milk, salt, egg, and sugar in a large bowl.


Add the yeast and 2 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and elastic.


Stir in the butter until blended. Add the remaining flour and mix until you have a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. About 5 minutes.


Place dough in a lightly buttered bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a draft free place until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again for about 30 minutes. While dough is rising make your filling.

Filling Ingredients:

4 T butter

2 cups sauerkraut drained

2 medium onions sliced thin

2 T brown sugar

1 tsp caraway seeds


In a heavy skillet melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is tender and beginning to caramelize.


Add the sauerkraut, sugar, and caraway seed. Stir until well blended and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Our filling is ready.


Preheat your oven to 375.

Now you’re ready to roll your dough and fill your kaalipiirakka. Divide the dough into thirds and roll the dough about 1/3 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a glass or cookie/biscuit cutter on the dough. I used a scalloped cutter but round would work just fine.


Brush each circle with half and half to moisten the edges for sealing. Put a tsp of filling in the center of a disc, put a second disc on top and crimp the edges with a fork.


(The amount of filling in each will actually depend on the size of your discs). Brush each filled and crimped kaalipiirakka with half n half and cut a little steam vent in the center. Put on a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until golden brown.



You’ll have extra filling. Just get out a fork and finish it off. Tastes great!!



Almost everyone loves pizza!  Hot pizza or cold pizza, deep dish or thin crust, lots of cheese or lots of sauce, meat lovers or veggie, white or red.  There are so many variations, pizza can make almost everyone happy. You can divide the dough into small balls and roll out little individual pizzas. Let everyone choose their own toppings; a particularly fun thing to do with kids. Pizza. It’s what’s for dinner.

Pizza night starts with the crust.


1 1/4 cups tepid water

2 1/4 tsp dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1 T olive oil

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp each dried oregano and basil (optional)

1/2 tsp garlic powder


Place tepid water in a bowl and mix in yeast and salt. Add the olive oil. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, garlic, and herbs and stir with a wooden spoon. Add remaining flour and knead for five minutes until you have a smooth dough. Grease a bowl and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately an hour.

Divide dough in half or in smaller portions if making small, individual pizzas. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface.


Preheat the oven to 450.

Once you roll the dough out place on a lightly greased pizza pan. Fold the edges over, lightly rub down with olive oil and pre-bake for approximately ten minutes. This helps to keep the crust from getting soggy.




Now we are ready to top the pizza. There are many prepared sauces that you might like or you can use fire roasted tomatoes, a little olive oil, and some herbs.


Blend the tomatoes, 1 T of olive oil and herbs to taste. Spread the sauce on your pre-baked crust.


Choose your favorite toppings. Tonight I’m using onions, peppers, artichoke hearts, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes and some organic pepperoni.




Spread the toppings.


I used romano cheese and fresh mozzarella. Grate the hard cheese over the toppings and distribute slices of mozzarella.


Bake for approximately 25 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy this thing of beauty with a cold beer, soda, a nice wine  or a glass of milk.


Like I mentioned earlier there are countless pizza toppings for every taste. Sausage, bacon, ham, pepperoni. Spinach, fresh basil leaves, arugula. Sweet peppers, banana peppers, peppadews, green olives, kalamata olives, black olives. Mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini. And pineapple…my least favorite topping. Love it in an upside down cake but leave it off my pizza.

Mozzarella is the most common of pizza cheeses but provolone, feta, Parmesan, Romano, asiago, goat cheese, even Gorgonzola are great options. Different cheeses pair well with different veggies and meats. Most grocery deli sections and frozen food aisles have countless types and brands of pizzas.  If you don’t have time to make a pizza from scratch doctor a grocery pizza up with fresh toppings and extra cheese to make it your own.

Note:  The crust recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas. If you only plan to make one, freeze half the dough BEFORE you let it rise. Divide the dough and place half in a zip lock freezer bag. When you’re ready to make a second pizza let it thaw/rise and your ready for pizza #2.





Today was a perfect bread baking day. We had the first snow flurries of the season. And it isn’t even November. As soon as the bread came out of the oven we had to slice into it, smear on a little butter and munch away. I got the heel of the bread, my favorite. Known in Finnish as the “kantapää.”  My grandfather had to have bread with every meal and in between meals. I remember my grandparents slathering very generous amounts of butter on their bread and then sprinkling it with salt. That was probably in the days before salted butter but even so. Must be where I acquired my love of salt. The baguette is French, not the bread of my childhood, but very simple and very good. There are only four ingredients.   The most time consuming thing is letting the dough rise multiple times. Here we go.

2 1/2 tsp dry yeast

1 2/3 cups water (Divided)

3 1/2 cups  unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp salt



Sprinkle yeast into 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and stir to dissolve. Whisk together the flour and salt in a larger bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the dissolved yeast.  Use a wooden spoon and draw enough flour into the yeast/water to form a paste. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it froth for 20 minutes.


I have favorite cotton “bread” towels that I always use.


After the twenty minutes have passed mix in the remaining flour with a wooden spoon and add the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time, just until you have a nice soft, sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Try to avoid adding extra flour as you knead.


Put your nicely kneaded ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with your bread towel and let it rise in a warm place free of drafts for about 1 1/2 hours.


Punch down, re-cover and let rise 45 more minutes.


Punch down, re-cover and let it rise about 45 more minutes until double in size. That’ll be the third rising.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape. Each should be about 12 inches long. Place them on a lightly floured baking sheet, re-cover and let them rise until doubled in size, about 50 minutes.  Preheat oven to 475.


Cut several diagonal slashes in each loaf.


Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.


Slice and enjoy.


You can have your bread and eat it too.

A few posts back I roasted tomatoes and used them to make pasta sauce. Those same tomatoes with a little olive oil would be delicious on this bread. Or just dip a slice into some olive oil seasoned with fresh ground pepper and a little grated Parmesan.  That will be especially good if you’re lucky enough to get the “kantapää.”

Pulla – Finnish Cardamom Bread



Okay!  It’s the Finnish Dish and finally!  A real Finnish dish. My grandmother used to make it best. She would make several loaves at a time and we would enjoy a slice or two with coffee. Whole cardamom seeds are a must vs ground cardamom. This bread reminds me of the unique way my grandfather used to drink coffee. Grandma always made coffee on the stove top in a percolator. No Mr. Coffee, Bunns or Keurigs. So the coffee was VERY hot. My grandpa would pour coffee from his cup into his saucer, balance the saucer on one hand and drink it with a lump of sugar in his cheek and a slice of buttered pulla to go with his coffee.   But I digress. Let’s make a loaf.



2 tsp dry yeast

3/4 cups plus 2 T milk

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 T sugar

1 T whole cardamom seeds

2 eggs beaten

4 T unsalted butter melted

egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk beaten with one T water

Sprinkle yeast over warmed milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center and pour in dissolved yeast. Use a wooden spoon to draw in enough flour to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and let it sit for 20 minutes until frothy and risen.



Add the sugar, cardamom seeds,  beaten eggs, and melted butter to the flour well. Mix in the flour from the sides to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or you can knead in a mixer with a dough hook. After kneading put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let it rise until doubled in size. About 2 hours.



Preheat oven to 350. Punch down and let the dough rest 10 minutes. Divide into 3 equal pieces and roll to form 3 ropes (about 16 inches each). Attach the ropes and braid. Place on a buttered baking sheet, cover with a dish towel and proof until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.



Brush with egg glaze and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes until richly golden and hollow sounding when tapped from underneath. Cool on wire rack.

If you’re Finnish or grew up around people who were hopefully each slice will bring back happy memories. If you grew up eating challah it may remind you of that. Pulla makes great toast, French toast or grilled sandwiches.

I watched an awesome video recently of a French lady making a variety of braided breads. Some had three ropes, some four, some five…  They all looked easy when she did them. I tried the one with four ropes that I thought I remembered. Well, I didn’t remember and after several failed attempts to make it look as awesome as hers I gave up and just did my best. Hence the irregular shape of my finished product. Next time I’ll stick with three ropes.

TIP: I was always told that when dissolving yeast the water/milk should be the temperature of a baby’s bath. If you’re unsure use a cooking thermometer. Yeast can be killed by temps of 130F or over. Ideal temp is approximately body temp, 98.6F.

Swedish Cinnamon Twists

A friend recently gave me this recipe and since it’s a dreary, rainy day I thought baking would be a good idea. The house smells wonderful. I know, this is the Finnish Dish and these are Swedish twists so if I make them for my Dad I will put cardamom seeds in them and tell him it’s an old Finnish recipe.  The recipe is fairly simple and made enough for a very large coffee klatch. Thanks to my friend and neighbor for sharing this recipe with me.

Let’s get started with our Swedish Twists. 

Two .25-oz packages active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp if you buy yeast in jars like I do).

1/2 c warm water

Dissolve yeast in warm water. 


8 T unsalted butter, melted

2 c warmed buttermilk

2 large eggs

6 T granulated sugar

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda


Add the warmed buttermilk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and baking soda to the dissolved yeast. Mix well.

7 1/2 c all purpose flour

Stir in flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes).

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Place dough in a greased bowl turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours). I always think that using my grandmother’s bread bowl makes my yeast breads extra special.

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Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each into a 16×19 inch rectangle.  For the filling:

4 T unsalted butter melted

1 c packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon



Brush each rectangle of dough with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the brown sugar cinnamon mixture.


Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise and pinch edges to seal. Cut into one inch strips and twist each strip a few times. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. While the dough is rising a second time preheat your oven to 375.


Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Combine the following ingredients to make a glaze and drizzle over twists while they are still warm.

1 c powdered sugar

1 T unsalted butter melted

1 T hot water

Whisk together and drizzle over warm twists.


When I’m baking or cooking I find it easier to prep all my ingredients before I start…measuring out everything so I don’t have to stop and start continually and so I don’t forget if I’ve added something. 

Whenever I make a recipe the first time I mostly following the instructions. I will try adding some cardamom seed to my dough next time and perhaps a tablespoon of orange juice in place of the water and some orange zest to the glaze. But these are awfully good just as they are. Tomorrow I’ll pack some up and take them with me to share with my knitting lady friends. Thanks for sharing your recipe Deb.

Corn Bread

Nothing goes better with chili than cornbread!  I used to think I made pretty good corn bread but my daughter gave me her recipe and, hands down, her cornbread recipe is definitely better. It’s easy to make and so good warm from the oven. 


Chili and cornbread….it’s what’s for dinner. 

Preheat oven to 375

Whisk together until well blended:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted…use real butter

2/3 cup sugar 

2 eggs



Add and whisk into butter and egg mixture:

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir in gently:

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

Batter should have some lumps. 

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Put batter in a greased 8×8 pan or large muffin tin (6 muffins).  I like to make muffins. 


Bake in a preheated oven – 20 minutes for muffins, 30 minutes for 8×8 pan. 


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Enjoy!!  You can add some cubes of cheddar cheese and jalapeños to the middle of each muffin if you’d like. Put half the batter in each cup, add the cheese and chilies, and top with remaining batter.