Tag: winter

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cinnamon Raisin Bread // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cinnamon Raisin Bread // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cinnamon Raisin Bread // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I like being home. Traveling the world is awesome, don’t get me wrong. I will happily go on adventures like the one to Vietnam any time. But there is something about coming home to your own bed, your own shower, and your own kitchen. I feel like I need to give all my kitchen tools little hugs and tell them I’ve missed them. Which, at this point, I’ve basically done, because I’ve been cooking up a storm this week.

Portland, however, is being slightly less welcoming than my kitchen. Mostly just in its weather-related mood swings. Seriously, this whole week has been days of sporadically alternating sunshine and rain. Sometimes each lasts 5 minutes, sometimes an hour. But it’s making it awfully hard to cook. What I’m going to make is always determined by my mood, which is often influenced by the weather. Between the rain and sun breaks, I can’t decide if I should be making spring recipes or winter recipes.

This cinnamon raisin bread is the perfect balance between spring and winter, though I already know I’ll be making it year round. It’s homey and warming thanks to the springy crumb and the way it fills your kitchen with the most comforting smell. But the raisins and cinnamon bring a little fruitiness and fun to the mix, a little surprise if you will. This isn’t just plain ol’ bread, you know. This has a beautiful swirl of cinnamon sugar and beautifully juicy pops of fruit throughout it.

This recipe made two loaves, and I thought for certain I’d freeze one loaf, because my roommates just don’t usually eat that much bread (unless it’s beer bread). But I was wrong. In two days, we are down to half a loaf left. Everyone has been enjoying this bread, toasted, slathered with butter, or raspberry rhubarb jam, or nutella for breakfast and dessert and a snack here and there.

Point is, make this bread and your house will smell like heaven, your friends will love you, and you’ll be perfectly toeing the line between the seasons.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Makes 2 loaves


2 1/4 tsps (1 package) dry instant yeast
2 1/4+ cups warm water
3 Tbl and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 Tbl salt
3 Tbl butter
6 -7 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins
canola/vegetable oil
1 Tbl cinnamon


In the bowl of an electric mixer (or not. If you don’t have one, this can easily be made with the strength of your own two arms.) combine 1/2 cup warm water, the yeast, and 1 Tbl of sugar. Set aside and let sit until it’s foamy. In another bowl, cover the raisins with warm-hot water, at least 2 cups. This step is optional, but it will plump the raisins, making them a bit juicier in the bread. After about 3 minutes, pour 1 3/4 cups of the raisin water off into a measuring cup and discard the rest. Pour the raisin water into the mixing bowl with the yeast, in addition to 2 Tbl sugar, the salt, 2 Tbl melted butter, 3 1/2 cups of flour, and all of the raisins. Mix with the paddle attachment until thoroughly combined, adding up to 3 more cups of flour until the dough is smooth enough to handle, but still moist. Switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook, and knead for about 7 minutes (10 minutes if you’re kneading by hand). Dump the dough out onto a floured surface, coat the mixing bowl with canola or vegetable oil, and put the dough back into the bowl, turning it to coat, and cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. Set the bowl in a warm spot (I like to turn on the light over my stove and set it under that) and let it rise for about an hour, or until it’s doubled.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbl of cinnamon and mix well. Butter two bread pans. When the dough has doubled, remove it from the bowl onto a floured surface and punch it down, then divide it in half. Roll out one half of the dough into a rectangle that measures roughly 16 by 8 inches. Once rolled out, sprinkle the dough with 1 Tbl of water, and half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough up starting from the short end, and pinch the seam shut. Drop the roll of dough into one of the greased loaf pans. Repeat with the second half of dough. Brush the top of both loaves with the remaining 1 Tbl of melted butter, and cover them again with a clean dishtowel to let them rise for another hour in a warm spot.

About 15 minutes before your bread is done rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, or until the loaves look beautiful dark brown on top. Remove the loaves from the pans (beware, as cinnamon sugar may have oozed and become rather sticky – aprons are your friend) and set on a cooling rack. I recommend slicing into one of these bad boys when it’s still pretty warm. You can toast it and put a nice layer of cream cheese on top, like I did with my cinnamon raisin bread when I was younger, but a little butter will do nicely as well. Enjoy.

Chewy Gingersnaps, Perfect for the Holidays



These are possibly the best gingersnaps I’ve ever had. Or maybe they should be called Gingerchews, because they don’t snap. Instead, these cookies are perfectly chewy in the center and crispy on the edges.

For my birthday, my co-workers – who know me incredibly well – bought me this Real Simple magazine/cookbook thing. It looks like a magazine, but is just full of fall and winter recipes. Jonah and I have enjoyed more than a few of the recipes from it, but it being gingersnap season and all, I wanted to share this one with you sooner rather than later.

Chewy Gingersnaps


2 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 clove
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup packed (light) brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus some for sprinkling


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if you have 2 baking sheets, line 2 – these take a little prep time on the pan, so it’s nice to have time to get them ready while there’s a batch in the oven). In a bowl, mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cloves; put aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening and brown sugar until fluffy: you’ll want to use at least a medium speed for about 3 minutes. Turn the speed down to low, and mix in the egg, molasses, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Put the granulated sugar on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Take about a heaping tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and roll it in the sugar to coat. Put the balls on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, and then, using the bottom of a glass, press the balls till they’re a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle them with a tad more sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Enjoy these gingernsaps by your holiday decorations (tree? menorah?) of choice with a glass of cold milk.

Roasted chicken with root vegetables

Roasted chicken with root vegetables

Roasted chicken is, in my opinion, one of the easiest, most delicious meals you can make. Cut everything up, season it, put it in a dish, and stick it in the oven. I promise, anyone can do this. My mom used to make this dinner all the time because it was so simple and didn’t take too much time, and I remember when I finally got the recipe, I thought, “That’s all? Really?”

It makes a really good winter dish because it’s hearty, healthy, warming, and full of root vegetables (or whatever vegetables you want, really).

Roasted Chicken

Note: After the basics listed below, you can add whatever you want. Martha (Stewart… we’re on a first name basis now) adds prunes, which I’ve never done. Sometimes if I want lots of leftovers I do even more veggies. If I want more starch, I add potatoes. You could add turnips, parsnips, shallots, beets… Anything you can roast, you can put in this dish.


2-4 bone in chicken breast halves (skin on!)
a bunch of carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
about 6 garlic cloves, quartered
a red onion, halved and cut into wedges
vegetable or olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Rub chicken with butter, place in a baking dish (I always use glass/pyrex). Toss vegetables with some oil and arrange around the chicken in the dish. Season with salt, pepper, and anything else you want (I’ve used thyme, rosemary, tarragon… try a different spice every time!). Jonah and I like to use the fresh bulk herbs at the grocery store in the produce section. They’re so cheap because they’re sold by weight, but a couple sprigs of thyme really weighs almost nothing.

So everything is in the dish, yes? Roast for 10 minutes, then toss the veggies and check on how everything is cooking. Continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, usually 15-30 minutes depending on your oven.

See how easy that is? Now enjoy it with a good glass of wine (if you’re of age, that is).

30-Minute Chili

30-Minute Chili
30-Minute Chili

30-Minute Chili

I made this for dinner yesterday, and it was the perfect chili for this time of year: hearty, filling, warm, and really easy to make!  Lots of canned foods, so very cheap as well.  This version makes the perfect amount for 2 people with some leftovers.  Double or triple it and you’ll have soup for the whole week!

Also fun fact….it has beer in it!

Its adapted from the recipe for 30-minute chili on marthastewart.com.

30 Minute Chili

Makes 4 servings | 30 minutes


1 Tbl vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
3 oz tomato paste
2 Tbl chili powder (or more if you want more heat)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz canned green chiles in sauce, diced
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) kidney beans
6 oz lager beer (I used PBR!)
cheddar cheese, grated


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomato paste, chili powder, ground cinnamon, and chiles and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook another 5 minutes, breaking up the ground beef and making sure that it gets browned all over.

Add the cans of diced tomatoes with their juice, the beer, and the can of kidney beans (without their juice). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes, until kidney beans are nice and tender.

Serve into bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.  I recommend eating this with corn chips!