Kick start your day with a good breakfast

A Revolution in Pastry Making

Ever since I made this brownie pie from Ms. American Pie by Beth M. Howard, I’ve been evangelizing for her commonsensical approach to the craft.


Beth is a pie baker, teacher, and judge at Ground Zero for pie, the Iowa State Fair, so she knows a thing or three about how flour, butter, shortening, salt, and ice water come together to make a flaky crust. Her stance is that the pilgrims and the pioneers made pie–without refrigeration or food processors. Her instruction boils down to a simple command: Handle the dough as little as possible.

When you’ve worked the cold butter and cold shortening into the flour until the crumbs are the size of almonds, you’re ready to drizzle ice water in a little a a time. After each of maybe four additions, toss the mixture between your hands just until it holds together. Shape it into a disk and you’re ready to roll (no refrigeration necessary). This way, it’s pliable enough to roll out nice and thin. Put it in your pie plate, fold over those edges, and crimp. No more tears!

I’ve got my eye on so many of her recipes: Strawberry Crumble, Pumpkin Pie, Tomato Pie…all so fast and easy, perfect for breakfast any day of the week.

ms. american pie

You can read more about Beth and her Pitchfork Pie Stand at the American Gothic House in Eldon, IA at her blog, http://theworldneedsmorepie.com/




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The Benefits of a Meat-Free Friday

My Lenten sacrifices–well, sacrifice, singular–are pretty paltry, I’ll admit: eat no meat on Fridays. It’s no sacrifice at all, really. Last night, I made from scratch–pastry and all–an onion-red pepper-Monterey Jack quiche. Leftovers for breakfast! Hot or cold, quiche is one of nature’s most satisfying dishes.

P.S. More on this easy-peasy pastry later…thank you, Beth Howard, author of the new pie-making primer, Ms. American Pie.


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A Joni Mitchell Morning

I had a thought to do something with the Mamas and the Papas’ “Monday Monday,” but when I listened to it again… I just hated it. Pretty melody…indecipherable message. Is Monday good or bad, drab or fab? The heck with it.

You know I’m a big Joni Mitchell fan and I can almost always find a perfect song for every occasion from her amazing catalog.

ladies of the canyon

“Morning Morgantown”,  with its “ladies in their rainbow fashions, colored stop-and-go lights flashing,” has an innocence and brightness that shines a whole new light on the start of another work week. Spring is just about here, the daffodils are coming up, so how could anybody be blue?


“The only thing I have to give
To make you smile, to win you with
Are all the mornings still to live
In morning Morgantown.”

Good morning!

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Welcome to my world

If only Vermeer were around to paint this scene of domestic tranquility!


This Sunday morning, I thank God for my happy little family.



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One Green Apple

I didn’t know how many little puff pastry tarts I wanted to make yesterday morning and ended up with a green apple left over. I had baked a memorably mouth-watering brown-sugar glazed apple bread from Sally McKenney’s new book, Sally’s Baking Addiction, when I handsold the book for The Good Cook, so an encore performance was just the thing. The glaze is just heavenly. The more the better!


Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Bread

“If you only make one apple bread in your lifetime, this is the recipe you need. One taste and you’ll be sold, I promise! Quite a bold statement for apples, right? But this is the kind of soft, dense bread you’ll want to have around for coffee, snack time, and unexpected guests. Sweet enough to fit the dessert category but humble enough for breakfast. The yogurt and eggs leave it fabulously moist, and the thick brown-sugar glaze smothers the bread and knocks it out of the park!”

Prep time: 25 minutes  Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes, plus cooling      Makes 1 loaf

Apple Bread

¼ cup (60g) butter, softened to room temperature

¾ cup (180g) plain yogurt, Greek or regular

¼ cup (65g) dark brown sugar

⅔ cup (130g) granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

¾ tsp salt

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced

1 cup (140g) chopped pecans

Brown Sugar Glaze

1 cup (170g) dark brown sugar

¼ cup (60g) butter

⅓ cup (80ml) heavy cream

½ cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar sifted

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5in loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. MAKE THE BREAD: In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, yogurt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer if using a stand mixer. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Slowly stir everything together until no more flour pockets remain. The batter will be thick, but do not overmix it. Fold in the chopped apple and ⅔ cup of the pecans.
  4. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, making sure to loosely cover the loaf with aluminum foil halfway through cooking to prevent the top from getting too brown. The loaf is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  5. MAKE THE GLAZE: Combine the brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring the mixture often. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Add the remaining ⅓ cup of pecans. Allow to cool for 3 minutes then spoon over bread while it is still warm. The bread stays fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days and in the refrigerator for up to 7. Serve warm or cold.

☺Sally Says: I love using this brown-sugar glaze on top of muffins, cakes, and even pumpkin bread. Add a dash of salt, and you’ll have a glaze that tastes just like salted caramel. The best part? This glaze can be made in advance, so once you’re ready to use it, simply warm it on the stove for 3 minutes then spoon it over the bread.

Copyright © 2014 Sally McKenney

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TGIF Treat–Apple Tarts

What a nice change–this morning, at work, we’ll be celebrating two birthdays instead of saying good-bye to anyone. I’m contributing these puff pastry apple tarts with apricot jam. They look almost like they’re curled up on a fluffy comforter. Let the yawning begin. We’ll all be ready for a nap before noon!


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Cuteness Alert!

It’s the first day of spring. I couldn’t help myself.

baby bunny

baby chick

baby goat


calf and cow


baby birds in nest

Make this morning’s breakfast a healthy, happy one–things are looking up!

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Bs for Breakfast

No, that headline is not an abbreviation of a bad word! This morning, I’m celebrating my favorite letter in the alphabet.


To music lovers, the three Bs may be Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. To me, the three Bs are blueberries, butter, and buttermilk, key ingredients in Lauren Chattman’s recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins (read on for the recipe).


I used whole-wheat flour and that’s butter, not honey, but I slapped that on before I re-read the post! Either way, these muffins will satisfy.

Spread with organic honey from busy bees, these muffins are pure bliss. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I work on another blog for work with some very talented crafters, bakers, and artists which I think you all would enjoy. Today’s post is a St. Patrick’s Day one, so please visit HowtoPickleASweater.com. Enjoy!

Wheaten Soda Bread from Noel McMeel's IRISH PANTRY (Running Press, 2013)

Wheaten Soda Bread from Noel McMeel’s IRISH PANTRY (Running Press, 2013)

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Girl Scout Cookies for Breakfast!

For someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, why do I get so excited when my Girl Scout cookies arrive? They’re my madeleines, one bite and my childhood is there again for me in all its happy, busy, suburban, 1960s, Technicolor glory.

Weston, Connecticut

Brownies in Weston, Connecticut

I’m in the second row, third from the left, looking rather somber. That’s my neighbor and friend Sally Rogers (in whose living room I learned to do the pony) next to me. I’m actually connected today to Dale Coykendall (top row, upper right) via LinkedIn. Amazing how the Internet brings old friends together.


Back to breakfast: I got my delivery of Samoas and Do-si-dos yesterday and thought, “Yes! Throwback Thursday Yogurt Parfait!” Vanilla yogurt, fruit from my freezer (strawberries, blueberries, and peaches), and cookie crumbs on top.

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