Apple Strudel

My Mother-in-Law makes this delicious strudel every Christmas Eve as part of the traditional Ukrainian 12-course feast. It is always a highlight of the meal for me. 🙂

I used tart apples (Granny Smith) but may use a combination of tart and other firm sweet-tart apples next time. I also used a mandoline to slice the apples. My Mother-in-Law has the magic touch… hers tastes better than mine, of course, but I did use her recipe! Yum.

Yield: One Strudel, about 8 servings

  • 2 1/2 to 3 tart and firm apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • lemon zest from 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 2-3 T fine bread crumbs, plus more for sprinkling
  • 8 sheets of thawed phyllo dough
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • strawberry preserves

To Make the Filling:

  1. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. (I used a mandoline to slice the apples 1/8-inch thick.)
  2. Mix the sliced apples with the sugar, raisins, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon, and 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs.

To Make the Strudel:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap.
  3. Remove on sheet of phyllo dough and place on a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Brush the entire surface with melted butter, sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs, sprinkle with brown sugar, and dot with strawberry preserves (use very little preserves).
  5. Repeat this process for the next 7 layers of phyllo dough.
  6. After the dough is prepared, place the filling evenly on top of the dough, starting at the shorter end and leaving 1-2 inches uncovered at the opposite end.
  7. Lift the edge of the parchment paper closest to the filling to help roll the dough and form the strudel.
  8. Place the roll, seam side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with remaining melted butter.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Classic Bread Pudding

My husband requested bread pudding for his celebratory Father’s Day dessert this year. This classic dessert is second only to cheesecake in his heart. ❤

This isn’t technically another strawberry dessert… but the fresh strawberry topping definitely brought this fabulously creamy bread pudding to the next level.

The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart.com. I omitted the raisins, modified the presentation, and added the fresh strawberry garnish. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened, for baking dish
  • 12 ounces brioche or challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional (I omitted them)
  • 1 cup boiling water, optional (if using raisins), plus more for pan
  • fresh strawberry slices, for garnish, optional

Sourdough Muffins: Oatmeal Raisin & Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon

I love making muffins with my sourdough starter discard. Both of these muffins were very wholesome, minimally sweet, and had a wonderful crumb/texture. I incorporated whole wheat flour into both varieties and also sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar prior to baking. I think that the sweetness on top was an essential addition.

The Oatmeal Raisin Muffin recipe was adapted from Food.com, contributed by Yankiwi. I weighed the ingredients, incorporated whole wheat flour and cinnamon in the batter, and sprinkled the tops with cinnamon sugar prior to baking. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven.

Sourdough Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 90 g (1 cup) rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 113 g (1/2 cup) sourdough starter, unfed
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 57 g (1/2 cup) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (see Note)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine rolled oats and milk. Set aside to soak.
  3. Grease 12 muffin cups; set aside. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  4. Stir sourdough starter, oil, egg and raisins into soaked oats; set aside.
  5. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar.
  6. Add oats mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are just moistened; don’t over mix.
  7. Divide batter among the 12 cups. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  8. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar.
  9. Bake in preheated oven 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove promptly from muffin cups.
  10. Can be served hot or cold.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Apple Cinnamon Muffins

The Whole Wheat Sourdough Apple Cinnamon Muffin recipe was adapted from tastykitchen.com, contributed by baking barrister. I weighed the ingredients, added salt, incorporated brown sugar and reduced the total amount of sugar by half, modified the proportions and baking time, and used a Pink Lady apple. They were very moist and tasty.

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 170 g (3/4 cup) sourdough starter, unfed
  • 113 g (1 cup) whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch chunks (I used a Pink Lady apple)
  • cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling (see Note)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  2. Thoroughly mix the starter, flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, egg, vanilla extract, and oil.
  3. Fold in the apple chunks.
  4. Using cooking oil spray, generously grease a muffin tin.
  5. Divide batter among the 12 cups. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  6. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake for 17 to 24 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test. Promptly remove from muffin cups.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature. Let cool completely before storing.

Note: I usually have leftover cinnamon sugar in my kitchen. Proportions vary, but 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon is a nice start. More sugar can be added to taste.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts & Raisins

One of my mom’s best friends shared her recipe for this special pumpkin bread with me. I first tried it last year over the holidays and absolutely loved it. She recommended using olive oil and whole wheat flour. I used olive oil and half whole wheat pastry flour this time. 🙂 It was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made one loaf in a standard loaf pan and the other in my new Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan to make it that much more special. I froze the special loaf to serve over Thanksgiving weekend. I love recipes that make one batch to enjoy right away and another for later- or to share.

Yield: 2 standard loaves

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz can pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (can substitute pecans)
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with a spout.
  4. Blend in the oil and water.
  5. Add and whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  6. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
  7. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; whisk to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin-egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  9. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
  10. Using a ladle, disperse the batter between the two loaf pans.
  11. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests clean in the center. (I baked mine for 62 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool on a rack in the pans; remove when cool.

Zucchini Bread

As if my CSA zucchini wasn’t enough, my friend brought me more beautiful zucchini from her garden. I made four loaves of this bread (two batches) with a single zucchini! Amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen. I incorporated whole wheat flour. As suggested, I used less sugar and also omitted the add-ins. We ate some, shared some, and froze some for later. This loaf improves with time- perfect to make the night before serving it for breakfast. I imagine it would also be delicious lightly toasted and topped with butter.

Yield: 2 loaves or 24 muffins

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil (can also used olive oil or another vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (can also used half (or even all) turbinado or half light brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out (from about 10 oz zucchini)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 1 to 2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chocolate chips (or a combination), optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease 2 loaf pans (8×4 or 9×5) with butter and flour or with nonstick spray. Alternatively, grease 24 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  3. Whisk eggs, oil, butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bottom of a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the wet ingredients and whisk them in well.
  5. Stir in zucchini.
  6. Gently stir in flours, mixing only until incorporated.
  7. Fold in any add-ins, if using.
  8. Divide between prepared pans and bake for 55 to 65 minutes for a loaf, 20 to 25 minutes for muffins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before inverting and removing from the pans. The loaves can also cool completely in pans.
  10. Store wrapped in foil at room temperature for up to 5 days. Loaves also freeze well.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish Soda Bread is a must-have celebratory breakfast in our house. This version was delicious slathered with butter.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Pegeen. I incorporated whole wheat flour and golden raisins. I baked the bread in a 10-inch ceramic baking dish. It was very tender- perfect with a cup of coffee. 🙂

Yield: One 10 or 11-inch round loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold (you may need a little less or more)
  • large eggs, cold
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon coarse salt
  • tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, COLD, cut into smaller chunks, plus more for greasing the baking dish
  • cup dark seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Greek Stuffing

I have gone to a hair salon owned by a lovely Greek family for many years. Beyond being a relaxing experience to just be there, we often discuss food and new restaurants- it’s great. After hearing about this Greek Thanksgiving stuffing for almost as many years, I finally got the treasured family recipe. 🙂

This dish is reminiscent of one of my son’s favorite rice and meat dishes, Thai One-Pot, with a Greek twist. It incorporates cinnamon, raisins, roasted chestnuts, as well as pine nuts.

My friends eat it as part of their Thanksgiving feast, but it is also hearty enough to be served as a main course. We ate it for dinner with roasted broccoli on the side. I modified the original recipe by using fresh mushrooms and ground turkey instead of ground beef. It was very unique and delicious!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 24 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 13 oz organic roasted, peeled chestnuts, crumbled lightly
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 turkey liver or 2 chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 1-2 T ground cinnamon
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 T freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a 14-inch skillet.
  2. Add the chopped celery and onion; sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the rice: In a medium pot, bring chicken stock, rice, and 1/2 tsp salt to a simmer. Add the chestnuts, crushed tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, and cinnamon stick; mix. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pot so that I could use it to finish the dish.)
  5. While the rice is cooking, add the olive oil to the hot 14-inch skillet, followed by the ground meat and chopped liver.
  6. Season the meat with 1 T salt, 1/2 T black pepper, and 1 T ground cinnamon. Cook until no longer pink, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the rice is tender, remove the cinnamon stick.
  8. Add the onion, celery, and mushroom mixture to the cooked meat, followed by the cooked rice mixture. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

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