Parmesan Crackers – Simple and Delicious!

I have been baking these crackers for many years.  We all enjoy them but they are one of Martin’s family favorite recipes. I am pushing this to the front of my blog.  I baked a double batch this morning. One for us to enjoy this evening with some cheddar and balsamic parmesan cheese and the other to mail out a small package to Martin in NYC.  By the way, I found out today I can grate parmesan cheese in my food processor.  Never even thought to use my food processor! That made this recipe even simpler.  Takes under 30 minutes to make homemade crackers.  Give it a try!!

Parmesan Crackers
(New York Times recipe)


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup cream or half&half
Kosher salt (you could also top with fresh ground pepper, poppy seeds, minced garlic – whatever you want)


1.  In a food processor pulse together flour, salt, cheese and butter.
2.  Add cream and mix until dough forms into a ball.  If you need more liquid, add more cream a teaspoon at a time.  You will not need much more.
3.  Place dough on lightly floured surface. (I use parchment paper lightly floured)
4.  Roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick.  I use a pizza cutter to cut into 2×2 or smaller squares. You could easily use a sharp knife.
5.  Poke dough with tines of fork.  Sprinkle with kosher salt or whatever you desire.
6.  Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
7.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  I turn the baking sheet around after 5 minutes.  This way the crackers brown evenly.

Believe me you will enjoy these crackers with cheese or all by themselves!

Banana Bread

This recipe is from a Betty Crocker cookbook I have had forever. I have baked this bread for as long as I have been with my husband and that is 36 years.  Timeless, huh!!  Our whole family enjoys this recipe every. single time.  As always, Simple and Delicious!

Banana Bread



1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
3 medium mashed ripe bananas (I used a fork to mash them is separate bowl)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we don’t usually use nuts)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom of loaf pan.  I use a 9x5x3 inch pan.  I also mix this recipe by hand.  No stand up mixer for this one!
2.  Combine sugar and butter in large bowl.
3.  Mix in eggs until well blended.
4.  Add bananas and water and blend together.
5.  Stir in remaining dry ingredients until moistened.  (If you like nuts, add now)
6.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes.
7.  Loosen sides of loaf pan and remove from pan.  Cool completely before slicing.



Pitka or Soda Bread-My Favorite

This is a recipe that I got from Martin’s baba. (FYI: Baba – Bulgarian for Grandmother) She just throws ingredients together visually.  I am more of a “how many cups” kind of girl.  Over a 2016 phone call she told Martin the ingredients she used for her Christmas Eve Pitka.  With those ingredients and a bit of luck I put a Pitka recipe together.  A couple of years have flown by and this year I updated with a few “FauxChef” additions.  For Christmas 2018 I added some sugar and buttermilk.  I thought these were a nice addition.

If you like, a Christmas Eve tradition is to put written charms and/or a coin in the bread. I wrap the coin in parchment paper or aluminum foil. With the charms I write a few positive expectations for the following year; good health, much happiness, that kind of stuff.  I flip the bread over and make a slit with a knife and put the coin/charms in random spots.  It is fun on Christmas Eve to see who gets the coin.

Martin said this was the best Pitka yet.  I have made many different “Pitka’s ” throughout the years.  This one seems to be a winner!!

january 011



5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk (keep the egg white.  You will need it to brush on top of bread)
2 cups plain yogurt (NOT non fat)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I use Sunflower oil)


  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour baking pan.  I used my cast iron skillet.  (You don’t need to grease or flour if nicely seasoned.) You could also use a 9″ round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add eggs, egg yolk, oil and yogurt and buttermilk in center of bowl.  Mix with hands. (Also, I use my standup mixer.  That is easier for me.)
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2″height)  Place in prepared baking pan.  Brush top with egg whites.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown on top. I check doneness by checking temperature.  190 degree internal temperature is what I use.
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in a towel.  When cooled place in plastic bag to store.


Rustic Dinner Rolls/Bread

I have been baking this recipe for a few years now.  Found on America’s Test Kitchen website.  It takes some time and attention.  Give yourself 3 hours and it should be enough time to bake this delicious bread.  You can do rolls or a couple of loaves of bread.  I generally make the rolls.  Today I made loaves of bread.  There are no leftovers.  Here is the recipe;

Rustic Dinner Rolls/Bread



1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon water (12 1/2 ounces -I always weigh my ingredients if the recipe calls for it), room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons honey
3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon bread flout (16 1/2 ounces), plus extra for forming rolls
3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour (1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt


  1.  Whisk water, yeast and honey in bowl of stand up mixer until well combined, making sure no honey sticks to bottom of bowl. Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until cohesive dough is formed, about 3 minutes.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
  2. Remove plastic wrap and evenly sprinkle salt over dough.  Knead on low speed (speed 2 on Kitchen Aid) 5 minutes.  Increase speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute.  If dough is very sticky, add 1-2 Tablespoons flour and continue mixing 1 minute.
  3. Lightly spray 2 quart bowl with nonstick cooking spray; transfer dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise in warm, draft free place util doubled in size, about 1 hour.  (I use my microwave for a draft free place.)
  4. Fold dough over itself; rotate bowl quarter turn and fold again.  Rotate bowl again and fold once more.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.  Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let dough rise until doubled in volume, 30 minutes will be enough time.
  5. Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  6. Transfer dough to floured work surface, sprinkle top with more flour.  Using bench scraper or knife, cut dough in half and gently stretch into 16 inch cylinders. (Or cut in half and make 2 small loaves.). If making rolls, divide each cylinder into quarters, then each quarter into 2 pieces.  You should have 16 pieces total.  Dust top of each piece with more flour.  With floured hands, gently pick up each piece and roll in palms to coat with flour, shaking off excess and place in prepared pan. Arrange 8 dough pieces in each cake pan, placing one piece in middle and others around it, with long side of each piece running from center of pan to edge and making sure cut side faces up.  Loosely cover cake pans with plastic wrap and let rolls rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  30 minutes before baking, adjust racks to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  7. Remove plastic wrap from cake pans, spray rolls lightly with water, and place in oven.  Bake 10 minutes until tops of rolls/bread are brown; remove from oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees; using oven mitts, invert rolls from both cake pans onto rimmed baking sheet.  When rolls are cool enough to handle, turn right side up, pull apart, and space evenly on baking sheet.  Continue to bake until rolls develop deep golden brown crust and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 10-15 minutes; rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. (If baking 2 loaves of bread check at 10 minutes.  That should be enough time. 15 minutes is maximum for bread.)  Transfer rolls to wire rack and cool to room temperature; about 1 hour. (We never cool to room temperature.  We give it 5 minutes, slice it up or take a roll, slather with butter and we’re good!)

You have to pay attention and set your timer so you keep on task.  It is well worth the effort.  Whether you make the rolls or loaves of bread you will be happy you spent that time wisely.  Simple and Delicious!


Italian Bread

My dad used to love Italian Bread from Columbus Bakery.  Whenever we go back to Syracuse we like to stop there if we have time and grab some fresh Italian bread.  I checked to see if there was a recipe out there in the internet world for their delicious bread.  Of course, there is not.  I decided on using King Arthur’s website.

I wanted a recipe that included a biga.  Biga is basically a starter.  Per King Arthur’s website; A biga is a pre-fermented dough that the French call pâte fermentée. It’s started with a tiny bit of yeast, and allowed to work for several hours. The advantage of making a biga is that because it ferments for a long time, it adds flavor and character to the bread you make with it.

Here is the recipe I used.  I made the biga the night before.  It is best to set at room temperature for 8-10 hours.  By the way, this bread goes great with my Tomato Sauce with Meatballs, which we also had today in celebration of Dad.

Italian Bread



Biga or Overnight Starter

3/4 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast

2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 3/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water


  1. To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. Combine the starter and the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix, then knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, fairly smooth dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, turning it over and gently deflating it after 45 minutes. If you’re using a bread machine, remove the dough when the cycle is finished, deflate it gently, and let it rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface.  Make into a loaf shape.
  5. Place loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap, and let rise it rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, or until it’s very puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  7. Uncover the loaf. Brush it with the egg white glaze.  You can also top with sesame seeds.  I did not do this step.
  8. Bake the loaf for 25 to 35 minutes; the longer it bakes, the crunchier it’ll be. (I baked for 30 minutes.  That worked out perfect!)
  9. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack. For extra crispness, cool it in the turned-off oven with the door propped open. (I did the latter and it worked great.  We like the crust crispier.)
  10. Store the loaf in a paper bag for 24 hours; wrap in plastic and freeze for longer storage. 

I did 2 biga recipes last evening so I could have 2 loaves of bread.  We go through fresh bread in one day.  2 loaves may last 2 days!!  Simple and Delicious.  Enjoy!


Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Martin suggested making something with cream cheese and raspberries.  Sounded like a great combo to me.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins



8 oz cream cheese (I do not use low fat, you can if you want)
1/2 cup butter,softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (I used fresh)


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2.  In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.
  3. Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended.  Add sugar, beat until fluffy.  Add vanilla, egg whites and egg, beat well. (I used my stand up mixer)
  4. On low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.   Gently fold in raspberries.  (If you want to add some nuts you could do that too.)
  5. Place 24 cupcake liners in muffin/cupcake pan.  Spoon in batter evenly into liners. (I use an ice cream scooper. IMG_3750My scooper is one we used when we were kids.  It reminds me of when my mom used it to make me an ice cream cone when I was little. Nice memory to have every time I bake cupcakes.  It is also the perfect size for filling cupcakes or muffins.)
  6. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes than take muffins out of tin.  Cool on wire rack.

That’s it.  Enjoy!!

Doughnut Muffins – Simple and Delicious

I follow King Arthur Flour and saw this recipe.  I am on a cupcake/muffin kick so I thought I would give them a try.  Very easy to make.  Very delicious to eat.

Doughnut Muffins


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk

3 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 Tablespoons cinnamon sugar


  1.  Preheat oven 425 degrees.  Lightly grease muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil and sugars.
  3. Add eggs and whisk until combined.
  4. Using wooden spoon or spatula, stir in baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.
  5. Stir flour into the mixture alternately with the milk until all is combined.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups,filling until nearly full.
  7. Bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes or until they are a pale golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and let them cool a few minutes.  While they are cooling melt the butter for the topping.  I did that in the microwave.
  9. Brush the tops of the muffins with the melted butter.  Dip and roll the tops of the muffins in the cinnamon sugar.
  10. Serve warm, or cool and wrap airtight.  Store for a day or two at room temperature.


Pitka – Village Style

For Christmas this year Martin requested I make Pitka the way his Grandma used to make it.   (All along, that is what I thought I was doing.)  He calls it “village style”. He had a lengthy conversation with his grandma and she explained the recipe.  I made it the way she told me and it was good but a little chewy. (I should have left in the oven a bit longer. Darn!!)

I ended up making another Pitka on Saturday.  I played around with the ingredients a bit. This one turned out tasty too.  Very similar to soda bread.

I am posting both of the recipes I did because we enjoyed both breads.   By the way, this takes no time at all.  The Pitka I made in prior years took a long time but they were delicious just the same.  I will make my third attempt New Years Eve.  This one will be closer to what Olga told Martin.  Third time is a charm! 😉

Pitka One

December 006


8 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk (set aside the egg white to brush top of Pitka before baking)
3 cups yogurt
2 Tablespoons sunflower oil or vegetable oil


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour baking pan.  I used my cast iron skillet for my first attempt.  That was a good choice.
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add eggs, egg yolk, oil and yogurt in center of bowl.  Mix with hands.  You can add more yogurt until combined.  (I had to put this in my stand up mixer to combine.)
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2-3″ height)  Place in prepared baking pan.  Brush top with egg whites.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes (that would be longer than I did!!)
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in a towel.  When cooled place in plastic bag to store.

Simple and Delicious!

Pitka Two

December 007


4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9″ round cake pan or whatever you want to use.  I could have used my cast iron skillet but wanted to try a different pan
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add yogurt and buttermilk in center of bowl. (You could just use yogurt.  I liked the buttermilk addition.)  Mix with hands. (I was able to mix by hand with this recipe)  You can add more yogurt or buttermilk to combine.  (I did not need to add anymore.)
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2-3″ height) Place in prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake 30-45 minutes
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in towel. When cooled place in plastic bag to store.

When making Pitka for Christmas Eve the Bulgarian tradition is you put a coin and positive notes (“good health”, “happiness”, etc.) in the Pitka.  I cleaned off a quarter and wrapped that in foil.  I put notes on parchment paper and folded and placed in the Pitka.

We enjoyed both breads.  However, Martin missed the egg white brushed on top of Pitka 2.  We did end up eating the entire Pitka 2.  Like I previously mentioned Pitka 1 was not baked all the way through.  Too chewy.  I will post number 3 after New Year’s.

Wishing us all a peaceful 2016.  My New Year’s wish; Let there be peace on this earth please!  Let us all break bread together!!

Mekitsi (Bulgarian Fried Dough)

I make Mekitsa quite often.  I originally posted this recipe in 2011.   I have noticed I get quite a few hits for this recipe.  I pulled it up today and realized that my original draft was difficult to understand.  I am hoping my revisions will make it easier to follow my recipe and enjoy the end result. Martin enjoys Mekitsa stuffed with feta cheese.  He is the one who always asks for these so I make them to his preference.  However, if you sprinkle with confectioners sugar or cinnamon and sugar they are quite delicious too.  Martin is from Sofia, Bulgaria. He moved to Green Bay when he was 11.  I try to make some of his favorite foods that he enjoyed when he lived there with his grandparents. Food can bring back the best memories, wouldn’t you agree??  I know when my house smells like garlic it brings back many holidays spent at my grandparents in Syracuse NY.  You would enter their home into the kitchen.  You would immediately be hit with the aroma of that anticipated delicious meal.  Great memories!!


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1 yeast packet or 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/8 cup of warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup yogurt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon oil (I use Sunflower oil if I have it.  That is an oil that is use frequently in Bulgarian foods.  You can always use canola oil)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Peanut Oil for frying (you can use canola oil also.  Peanut oil has a nice flavor but is also a great oil to use for high heat.)


1.  Start the yeast in the warm water and set in a warm place for 10 minutes.
2.  In a separate bowl add yogurt and baking soda, stir together (this will bubble) and set aside.

If using food processor:

1.  Place 3 cups of flour in your food processor bowl.
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until a ball forms.  It takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove from food processor.  Make into a ball.
3.  Place dough in lightly oiled bowl.  Let rise 60 minutes.  Ready for frying!!

If you want to mix by hand:

1  Place flour in a bowl. Make a well in center of the flour and add the yogurt, yeast mixture, oil, vinegar, sugar and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, mix well to form a soft dough.
2. Turn out onto a clean, unfloured surface and lightly knead for about 10 minutes.  Put in a glass bowl and let rise for 1 hour.
3.  They are ready to fry or transfer to plastic bag and refrigerate for 1/2 day or overnight.  If you refrigerate and make later, take out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are going to fry.  That will get the dough to room temperature.

Let’s fry them up:

1. Heat peanut (or vegetable) oil.
2. Cut off a golf ball size piece of dough and with moist hands pull the dough into a flat disk about 3-4 inches in diameter. (The shape can be irregular, no need for a perfect circle).
3.  Fry in oil being sure to turn the dough when the first side is brown.  When both sides are brown, remove from oil and place on a paper towel.  For a sweet treat, when cool sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar or powdered sugar.


4.  For a savory treat, I most always  stuff with feta cheese.  To do this you make the disk, put crumbled feta cheese in the middle, december 013december 014fold over and fry in peanut oil.  december 017Get one side brown, the flip over and brown other side.

5.  Place on paper towel to drain. december 018 Watch it when you eat these as the cheese can be very hot in the middle.

Let them cool a little bit before taking that first bite!  Sweet or Savory, these are a delicious treat!


Quick Cheese Bread (with a little Rosemary if you like. We sure do!)

Fall is in the air. Time to bake some bread.  Here is a recipe I found in an America’s Test Kitchen magazine a long time ago. We add rosemary and it makes a great complimentary flavor.  Everyone enjoys this simple and delicious bread!

Quick Cheese Bread

September 024


3 ounces (1 cup) Parmesan cheese, shredded (use the large holes of a box grater to shred this cheese)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon Rosemary, fresh and chopped, optional (it adds an awesome flavor though)


1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese evenly in bottom of pan.
2.  In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper to combine.  Using rubber spatula, stir in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until cheese is coated with flour.
3.  In medium bowl, whisk together milk, sour cream, butter, and egg.  Using rubber spatula, gently fold milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined (batter will be heavy and thick, don’t overmix).
4.  Scrape batter in prepared pan; spread to sides of pan and level surface with rubber spatula.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly over surface.
5.  Bake until bread is deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes.  Let bread cool in pan on wired rack for 5 minutes.
6.  Remove bread from pan and let cool to room temperature. Take a spatula and go around the pan before removing.  It will release out of bread pan without any problems.  Let cool about and serve.