Category Archives: Hints & Tips

Give Your Muffins an Extra Special Something

It’s easy to give your muffins that extra special something. My husband spends weeks at a time working long hours, weekends included. He’s usually home one weekend a month. On these mornings I like to make him a huge breakfast. On other mornings, though, when I want to send him off with something quick and simple, but with a little something extra, I make these fruit muffins.

I use a packet of pre-made, “just add milk” muffins in any variety of flavors. Fill the muffin pans as usual and top them with fresh, or frozen fruits. It doesn’t matter which you use. For smaller berries, just chop them in half or quarters, and for larger ones, like strawberries, slice them thinly and lay on top. Bake them as usual and put them on a platter or in a bowl.

For more special touches, Forgo the fruit. Once baked, cleanly cut a deep circular hole in the middle of the muffin. Fill the hole with jam or warmed fruit sauce. Replace the top and dust with powdered sugar. Add roasted pecans to complete.

Bread Bowls Pt. 1

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You can use bread bowls as great vessels for soups, stews, etc. The question is what kind of bread and how? Well, I have everything covered for you. First, let’s start with the bread.

You can use almost any type of bread for your bowl. My favorite is a sourdough loaf, pictured above. It’s best if the loaf is circular with a flat base. You also want bread that you enjoy eating, and that tastes good with the meal you are preparing. The base of the loaf should be about palm size or thereabout. Also, a bread with a firm outer crust works well to hold the contents and looks very nice.

Now that we have the bread we want to use, how do we prepare it? Here are the three easy steps to to preparing your loaf.

ImageInsert a sharp knife, I have a tomato knife i use specifically for this purpose, and cut beneath the top, following the natural curve of the bread. This loaf has a natural square top, so that’s how I cut it, but you can make your top circular as well.

ImageWith the lid off, we can concentrate on hollowing out the middle. If you are using a softer loaf of bread, like a basic white bread or beer bread, you can usually just pull out the inside. If you are using a loaf like a sourdough, you can simply use the same knife to carefully cut between the crust and the inside of the loaf. You can leave some bread along the sides inside. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This is just going to help you remove the interior. You need to be careful not to cut through the bottom or the side crust or your bowl will leak. If you do cut too deeply, though, all is not lost. When you begin to remove the inside of the loaf, you can use pieces of it to cover up any slits or any place where you pull out a little too much. This makes the next and final step the most important.

ImageThe final step is brushing the outside and inside of the loaf in olive oil and baking it in a 350˚ oven for about 12-15 minutes. This warms the loaf, acting as a warm bowl, and helps to seal any holes or slits. It also makes your bowl look extra shiny and yummy. If you want to be really fancy, sprinkle sea salt or Parmesan cheese over the top of the lid. 

There you go, your bread bowl is complete. You can make your bowls the day before and warm them up right before you fill them. You can serve them with or without the lid, but I like to tear the lid apart and dip it in the soup. Overkill, maybe, but oh, so yummy. You can also make croutons out of the inside bread pieces you removed. Use the insides now for croutons or save them for later, let them dry out and use them for breadcrumbs.