DIY

The Only Recipe for Sandwich Bread You Need

by Shawnda on February 27, 2014

in Bread,DIY

Classic American Sandwich Bread

It’s probably no surprise to anyone, but I handle the bulk of the grocery shopping around here. And by that, I mean that Jason knows where HEB, Costco, and Aldi are. And that they allegedly sell things other than cheese and wine and Blue Bell.

ALLEGEDLY.

So on the super rare occasion that he has to go grab a forgotten ingredient or two, I make sure my phone is right next to me. Because I know it will ring.

And it will ring more than once. (The over-under is at 3.) (Fair disclosure: Jason would probably rather cut off both his ears with a rusty spoon than send me back to Home Depot for lumber again.)

Classic American Sandwich Bread

Why is there artificial smoke flavor in this?
[Confused, because he went for bread and cheese] They… put it in so they don’t actually have to smoke the meat?
I’m reading the bag of bread.
Dude. Gross.
I’m not buying this. Show me how to make it when I get home.

Or… you could go play dinosaur lunchtime tea party upstairs with Landry and just let me do it because as huge a dino-geek as I am, I cannot play that game for one single second more some days.

Classic American Sandwich Bread

Enter the last recipe for sandwich bread that you’ll ever need.

It’s light, white, and fluffy. It’s soft, tender, but still holds up to a serrated knife. When I make Landry’s butterfly- or dino-shaped PB&Js for lunch, I don’t throw these scraps away – I eat them in the before-school chaos for my breakfast.

The recipe is even fairly quick and painless, as far as bread goes (assuming you’re not kneading by hand). I have been baking it twice a week, to stay ahead of the lunch curve: once on the weekend and then again on Wednesday nights. And only once has it ever done this:

Keepin' it real

Don’t skip that step to lower your oven rack. Otherwise, you’ll be sawing off the top of the loaf.

Slice it up, freeze what you don’t need in the next two days, and then tell me that it doesn’t make the very best “plain” turkey sandwich you’ve ever eaten for lunch.

American Sandwich Bread

Light, airy, soft. and tender - it's the only recipe for sandwich bread you'll ever need.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp (1 package) dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (I use low-fat)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted (I microwave it with the milk)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more if needed
  • Oil or cooking spray for greasing bowl and loaf pan

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and proof for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the milk, butter, sugar, flour, and salt to the bowl, mixing in low until combined.
  3. Increase speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes, until dough mostly cleans the side of the bowl and is smooth. (If the dough is still very sticky half way through kneading, add a few extra Tbsp flour.)
  4. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for ~45 minutes in a warm spot.
  5. Spray a loaf pan (original recipe recommends 9-inch, I use a 10-inch) with cooking spray.
  6. Press the dough into a rectangle 1-inch thick, approximately 9-inches long, and then begin rolling the long edge into a cylinder.
  7. Crimp the bottom edge of the dough and lightly press it into the loaf pan, spreading it to the corners.
  8. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes while the oven is preheating to 350 and you're rearranging your oven racks to back in the lower/middle of your oven (remember - top third will look like that sad loaf above!).
  9. Bring 2 cups of water to boil and place it in a small pan in the oven when you place the loaf pan in the oven.
  10. Bake for ~45 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  12. I slice once cool (16 slices + ends) and freeze the bread in stacks of 4 in a large zipper bag. I let the bread thaw overnight in a zipper bag on the counter to make lunches in the morning.

Notes

Yields: 1 loaf, or 16 slices of bread

Source: Cook's Illustrated Cookbook via Smells Like Home

Estimated time: 2 hours 45 minutes

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Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn

by Shawnda on December 16, 2013

in Appetizers,Candy,Christmas,DIY

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

I am all cookied out. Every single cookie that I brought home from last weekend’s exchange is gone. I didn’t eat them all, because that would be a terrible idea, but I had my share. And now I can’t even bring myself to edit the photos for the butterscotch cookie post that’s hanging out in my drafts folder.

I’m so over cookies that I’m actually looking forward to a spinach salad for lunch.

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

What I am not over, besides that salad, is caramel popcorn. But not just any caramel corn. Caramel corn spiked with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.

It’s Christmas in a bowl… you know, if you’d ever put Christmas into a bowl and then try to ruin it by sitting on the couch to hate-watch a Homeland mini-marathon. But at least while the frustratingly empty minutes tick by, your house smells like gingerbread and you have handful after handful of spicy, crunchy gingerbread caramel corn to keep you company.

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

Caramel popcorn gets a holiday makeover with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar*
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)
  • 2-3 tsp gingerbread spice (purchased or homemade)
  • * I don't buy brown sugar so I substitute with 1 tsp molasses + 1/3 cup granulated sugar.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Have a rubber spatula handy.
  3. Pop the popcorn and transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Heat the butter, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add 2 tsp gingerbread spice and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Let a little of the mixture cool on a spoon and then taste - not gingerbread-y enough? Add another tsp of spices.
  7. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  8. Stir and immediately pour over the popcorn.
  9. Use a rubber spatula to stir until the popcorn is nicely coated and then transfer to the baking sheet, spreading out to an even layer.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  11. Let cool ~15 minutes before eating.
  12. Store leftovers in a ziptop bag on the counter... if you have leftovers.

Notes

Yields: 6 1-cup servings

Adapted from Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

by Shawnda on October 17, 2013

in Appetizers,Candy,DIY

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

I hesitate to oversell and call that bowl of awesomeness “amazing” because it’s “just” caramel popcorn. But if caramel popcorn can be called amazing, then that stuff most certainly is amazing.

It’s “just” popcorn coated in caramel sauce and baked. But that super easy caramel sauce is made in barely 10 minutes, without even requiring a candy thermometer.

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

And then that super easy caramel sauce is spiked with a generous bit of salt, a vanilla bean, and an ounce of bourbon. That bag of sweet and borderline-stale stuff you get in the foil bag at the baseball game? It has nothing on the molasses and vanilla notes in this grownup version.

“Just” amazing? Yeah. It totally is.

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

I imagine that just about any whiskey would work. The first batch disappeared so quickly and used the last of the bourbon that I had to make a second batch with Crown Royal Black.

But I like run and stuff and therefore have no problems justifying caramel popcorn for dinner. Or breakfast.

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

A grown-up homemade caramel popcorn spiked with bourbon and vanilla bean.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar**
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling**
  • Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)
  • 4 Tbsp bourbon (or other whiskey)
  • * I don't buy brown sugar so I substitute with 1 tsp molasses + 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
  • ** Don't dig your caramel salty? Use a level 1/4 tsp of salt.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Have a rubber spatula handy.
  3. Pop the popcorn and transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Heat the butter, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and add the whiskey (watch up for splatters) and vanilla.
  7. Stir and immediately pour over the popcorn.
  8. Use a rubber spatula to stir until the popcorn is nicely coated and then transfer to the baking sheet, spreading out to an even layer.
  9. Taste a couple of kernels - not "salted caramel" enough? Sprinkle with more salt.
  10. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  11. Let cool ~15 minutes before eating.
  12. Store leftovers in a ziptop bag on the counter... if you have leftovers.

Notes

Yields: 6 1-cup servings

Adapted from Real Simple

Estimated time: 50 minutes

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DIY Beer Paddle and Monogram Beer Flight Glasses

I can’t walk into Target without taking a stroll through the Dollar Spot. Usually, I’m looking for a pack of stickers, a rubber ducky, a sparkly pencil… something cheap with which to bribe The Little into riding in the cart without going full mushroom cloud mode on me.

More than once, we’ve had to turn right around and leave. ‘Cause there ain’t no meltdown like a crowded-Target meltdown.

This week, on a stock-up-for-a-road-trip trip, I took a solo detour through the aisles and left with the greatest Dollar Spot find ever: a beer paddle and beer flight glasses.

For $7.

DIY Beer Paddle and Monogram Beer Flight Glasses

I fashioned a DIY monogram stencil out of painting tape, clear packing tape, and an Exacto blade and used a jar of Armour Etch that I’ve owned since… well, I was planning to monogram the vases for our wedding reception. Back in 2006.

The original finish on the beer paddle was awful. The polyurethane coating was uneven and most boards had dried drip marks down the sides. (What did I expect for $3?) I sanded it away (down to a matte finish) and brushed on some leftover stain I found in the garage.

DIY Beer Paddle and Monogram Beer Flight Glasses

The best part wasn’t that it only cost $7. The best part was I completed the whole project during a rare-these-days naptime. To celebrate? Yep, I had a beer. But only a small one!

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