Posts tagged ‘baking’

Stuffed Buns aka Kolache

Have you ever had kolache?

For that matter, do you know what they are?

I didn’t until we moved to Texas, and suddenly there are all these kolache places everywhere.

Kolache, pronounced ko-lah-chee, are a stuffed bun of sorts. From what I understand, they originate in Central Europe (namely the Czech Republic/Slovakia area), but they’re also similar to Russian piroshki.

Like I said, they’re basically stuffed buns, and here, you can get just about any filling in them. There’s spinach cheese, sausage egg, potato cheese, apple cinnamon, cream cheese, etc.

They’re also really yummy.

You can have these any meal of the day, depending on what you stuff them with. They can also be dessert too. They’re really great for picnics and packed lunches though!

If you’ve been to or lived in Japan, you’ll know that stuffed buns are nothing new there. You can find a lot of different stuffed buns in bakeries. Some of the more common fillings are curry, anko (sweet azuki bean paste), custard, jam, etc. They’re yummy too. Except the anko filled onces, I am not a fan of sweet bean paste. But that’s just me…

Hisa stuffing those buns!

Anyway, Hisa and I thought it would be fun to actually make our own stuffed buns/kolache, so last Sunday, we did just that. I made my standard bread dough, but really any yeast bread dough will do I think. You could even buy pre-made frozen bread dough to use if you want. We made five different fillings, stuffed them, baked them, and had a kolache feast. And it was good.

I’ve included the recipes for the fillings we made, but feel free to try out your own fillings! There’s so many options with these! Next time I want to try making pumpkin spice, custard, curry, and sausage & egg fillings. Oh, the possibilities!

Tip: Use a topping or mark your buns in some way, so you can distinguish which bun has which filling. We topped ours with a walnuts, almonds, and sesame seeds to distinguish them.


General Stuffing/Baking Instructions:

  1. Pinch off a piece of dough. I would say larger than a ping pong ball, but smaller than a tennis ball. But really, make them whatever size you want [note that a larger size bun might need to bake longer].
  2. Roll out the dough piece into a circle. You want it fairly thin. Place about 1/4 c. of the filling in the center, fold the sides up over the filling, and pinch them closed. Place on a greased baking sheet, pinched side down, and cover and let rise for 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Beat an egg in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush and brush the top of each bun with the egg.
  4. Baking the buns at 375° F for about 20 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown. Place on a cooling rack to cool.

One of the meat filled and spinach and cheese filled buns. Ooh, they were so good.


Russian Style Meat Filling

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dry dill weed
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 boiled egg, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper
  1. Melt butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onion, and cook until beef browned. Add garlic, dill weed, and tomato paste, and cook another 2 – 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat. Add boiled egg and yogurt, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature before stuffing dough for buns.

Potato, Ham, & Cheese Filling

  • 3 medium-large russet potatoes
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. diced ham
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 c. milk or cream
  • 1 c. shredded colby jack cheese (or whatever cheese you’d prefer)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Peel, wash, and cut potatoes into cubes. Boil until tender, then drain, and return to the pot.
  4. Add butter and milk to pot. Mash potatoes until the desired consistency. Add onion/garlic, ham, and cheese, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Let mixture cool to room temperature before stuffing dough for buns.

Spinach Ricotta Filling

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 – 7 oz. fresh spinach (a little over half a bag)
  • 1 1/2 c. ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 3 – 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  2. Add spinach mixture, ricotta cheese, and parmesan cheese to a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Let mixture cool to room temperature before stuffing dough for buns.

These were like bread stuffed with apple pie. Delicious. And yummy for breakfast too!

Apple Spice Filling

[note: everyone had their own preference for how strong they like the spices for this type of apple filling. Add more or less than the recipe says according to your preference.]

  • 2 large sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  1. Add cubed apples and lemon juice to a pot over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add sugar and spices, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking until apples tender, another 5 – 10 minutes. Adjust spices/sweetness to taste.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before stuffing dough for buns.

Sweet Potato Filling

[note: everyone had their own preference for how strong they like the spices for this type of apple filling. Add more or less than the recipe says according to your preference.]

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  1. Boil, steam, or bake sweet potato cubes, according to your preference, until tender. Add to a bowl, and mash until smooth.
  2. Mix in the brown sugar and spices. Adjust spices/sweetness to taste.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before stuffing dough for buns.



September 12, 2012 at 11:58 am 2 comments

Walnut Crusted Dijon Salmon

Wow. What a crazy week it’s been! This was my second week of school, and the first week of my new part-time job, so between the two, I’ve been busy full-time this week! I think I’m sort of kinda getting back in the groove of waking up at 6:30 am each morning (getting used to, but not liking). Fridays are the only day I don’t have any classes, so it’s a chance for me to catch up on things here at home (i.e. laundry, cleaning, making yogurt/bread, etc.).

I’m still really liking my classes, but man, three-hour classes are loooooong. I always kinda feel like my brain has died by the time they’re over. Still, I think I’m going to learn a lot, so I’m enjoying myself.

Let me back up a little though!
We had a lot of fun on Labor Day Weekend. Saturday, we went to Braozs Bend State Park to see…the alligators! Yes, the park is known for its large population of wild alligators that you can see roaming around the park. Neither of us had ever seen a wild alligator, so we went there to go on some of the trails and hopefully see alligators.

It was kinda funny, really, because there were signs everywhere with warnings about the alligators that said things like, “Stay at least 30 feet away from the alligators,” “Avoid areas of tall grass and gradual embankments as alligators are often in these areas”.

Now, the reason this is funny, is because the trail we went on was a gravel trail about 4 feet wide that was surrounded on either side by tall grass and gradual embankments into the water. We were never more than 8 feet away from the water, so we couldn’t very well avoid the tall grass areas and we sure couldn’t be 30 feet away from any alligators lurking nearby.

It was like high risk hiking. It was fun, but I was constantly checking for alligators, so I wouldn’t really say it was relaxing. I spotted 3 alligators on the trail, one of which was at least 10 feet long. One, I was taking a picture of the scenery, and when I looked down, there was an alligator in the water watching me. Freaky? Oh yeah. Freaky, but fun. I’m weird like that.

No, I won’t hurt you. Come closer my pretty…

Sunday, we rested at home mainly (that and grocery shopping), but Monday we went to Galveston to the beach and swam. I haven’t swam in the ocean since we were in Hawaii for our wedding, so I was excited. We took some food with us and swam for awhile, ate lunch, swam some more, got frozen yogurt at an Orange Leaf located conveniently right next to the beach, and then headed home. We weren’t there all afternoon or anything, but we were both exhausted by the time we got home.

Something about swimming in the ocean is very tiring. I suppose it’s all that getting pushed around by the waves. I managed to get sunburned despite being super diligent about wearing sunblock (What can I say, I have super fair skin), so now I have a funky bikini tan line. All part of summer, right? Be both had a great time though. I’m happy we were able to go to the beach and swim before the end of summer. Of course, here in Houston, the end of summer probably isn’t until, oh, maybe the end of October.
All in all, it was a great weekend!

I’m always on the lookout for new fish recipes. Especially non-complicated fish recipes. I like to keep it interesting, but simple. I got the idea for this recipe from pecan-crusted trout, which I love. I saw somewhere a recipe for walnut-crusted salmon, which I’d never heard of. I was intrigued by the idea of it though, so I created my own version, which turned out very nicely. I thought just a walnut crust would be a bit boring, so I coated the salmon in a simple honey-dijon sauce, then coated the top in a walnut and panko crust.

The result? Delicious. This is a very fast main dish to throw together, but looks and tastes like something from a fancy restaurant.

One tip: As salmon fillets come in different sizes and thicknesses, Cook your fillets 10 minutes per inch of thickness. It they’re only an inch thick or less, 10 minutes should be plenty. It they’re thicker, adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Walnut Crusted Dijon Salmon

(serves 4)

  • 4 individual size salmon fillets
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. Rinse and pat salmon fillets dry. Place on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a plastic ziplock bag, add chopped walnuts, panko, and parsley. Seal bag and shake for several seconds.
  4. In a small bowl, combine mustard, honey, and melted butter, and mix until smooth.
  5. Pour mustard mixture over the tops of the salmon fillets. Use a spoon to spread it around evenly. Carefully spoon bread crumb mixture on top of fillets until covered. Gently press down on crumb mixture to prevent it from falling off.
  6. Bake fillets 10 minutes per inch of thickness, or until cooked through and walnut crust is golden brown.


September 7, 2012 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

Pumpkin Bread

Once again, I know I’m kinda jumping the gun here with Fall, but…

I just really wanted some pumpkin bread.

I always start dreaming of Fall in August. Cool, crisp weather. Red, orange, and yellow leaves. The faint smell of smoke in the air from people’s fireplaces. The flavors of crisp apples and rich pumpkin. The smell of bread (and other goodies) baking filled with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Ah, I love Fall.

Of course, I have a feeling there isn’t a whole lot of cool crisp weather, colored leaves, or wood smoke from chimneys in the fall here in Houston. Alas. I can still enjoy the flavors of Fall though!

If like me, you find yourself wanting a preview of Fall, try this bread. It’s easy and quick (thus, quick bread, harhar!), and smells wonderful while it’s baking.
Go ahead. Who says you can’t have pumpkin goodies in August? Certainly not I.

Pumpkin Bread

(makes one loaf)

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar or sucunat
  • 2/3 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Grease or spray a regular loaf pan.
  2. In a medium size bowl, add the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, sugar, butter, buttermilk, and egg together. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and mix well. Mix in the nuts.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. [note: if bread starts to brown too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil to prevent top from burning]
  5. Cool on a wire rack.

350 1 hr

August 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato, and Spinach Quiche

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good quiche.

They’re so versatile and easy, yet delicious. Good for breakfast, good for lunch, good for dinner. A good quiche is hard to beat.

This is similar to a frittata I made a few weeks ago, but with sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted peppers, and in quiche form.

I usually make my own pie crusts, but I’ve been buying pre-made crusts lately. Whole Foods has some really good ground spelt and whole wheat pie crusts in their frozen foods section. I especially like the ground spelt ones.

Feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe for this quiche or buy a pre-made crust. It’s up to you. Do whatever floats your boat. We’re flexible around here.

One thing. While you can make quiche using all milk, it’s really good if you use half milk and half cream. The cream gives it a bit of lusciousness and depth of flavor that you don’t quite get with just milk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great with just milk, but if you’re looking to impress, add some cream.


Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato, and Spinach Quiche

(makes 1 quiche)

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (ground or links cut into slices; pork or turkey)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 c. fresh spinach
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • 4 – 5 large eggs
  • 1 c. whole milk (or 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. heavy cream)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360° F.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until almost completely browned.
  3. Add onion and garlic, and continue cooking for 2 – 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cream (if using) together. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
  5. Place prepared pie crust on a baking sheet. In the crust layer half the cheese, the meat and vegetable mixture, and the rest of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over everything.
  6. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes, or until top of quiche is golden brown and the egg filling doesn’t jiggle when gently shaken.

August 21, 2012 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Peanut Butter Cookies

I turn 26 today.

Yes, it’s my birthday.

I’m not sure how this happened…(the turning 26 part, not the birthday part).

I mean, I was just 21!

Now I’m 26?

Over the hill of my 20’s?!

Closer to 30 than to 20?!?!

I feel woozy…

I think I better have a cookie.

I don’t want to get low blood sugar or anything.

Ah well. Like they say, another year older, another year wiser!
Bring on the birthday cake!

I do get birthday cake, right?


This is a pretty classic peanut butter cookie recipe. These cookies come out soft, not crispy. I hate crispy cookies. I like ’em soft and gooey!
First mix 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and a couple shakes (or 1/8 tsp.) salt. Mix everything well.
There are few things more exciting than a picture of a bowl of flour. Am I right?

In a separate bowl, cream together 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) of room temperature butter, and 3/4 cup creamy natural (unsweetened, nothing but peanuts) peanut butter.

Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 egg, and mix well.

Gradually mix in the flour mixture, a little at a time.

This is the hardest part…Try not to eat the dough.
You can add other things to the dough at this point if you want. Chopped peanuts, chocolate chips, Reese’s pieces, etc. Or bake them plain like I did.

Roll a small amount of dough into a ball and place it on an un-greased cookie sheet.
Use a fork to press down the cookie in one direction, then turn the fork 45 degrees and press it down again to form the classic peanut butter cookie design (who came up with this, I have no idea, but they just wouldn’t seem right otherwise).

Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to cool on a cooling rack.

Mmmm, cookies….
Gotta love the paper napkin. I need some fancy cloth napkins or something for my pictures.
Gotta keep an eye out for those.


Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes about 2 dozen cookies)

  • 1 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) room temp. butter (unsalted)
  • 3/4 c. creamy natural peanut butter (nothing added, 100% peanuts)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Add-ins (chocolate chips, peanuts, etc.) (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream sugar, butter, and peanut butter together. Add egg and vanilla, and mix well.
  4. Gradually mix in flour mixture, a little at a time.
  5. Mix in any add-ins you want (chocolate chips, nuts, etc.) (optional)
  6. For each cookie, roll a small amount of dough into a ball and place on an un-greased baking sheet. Using a fork, press down the top of each cookie, then turn fork 45 degrees and press down again until cookie is about 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack to cool.


August 16, 2012 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Homemade Pizza

I used to not like thin crust pizza.

I was all about deep dish pizzas. Original/regular crust was okay too, but if I had a choice, deep dish was the way I always went. Something about all that lovely, soft yet chewy, delicious bread just made my day.

Not that I don’t still like deep dish pizza. Oh, I do. I’ve just learned to appreciate thin crust pizza.

When living in Japan, I realized that pretty much all the pizza there is thin crust. At first, this greatly bummed me out (when I actually did eat pizza that is, which wasn’t very often). Eventually, however, I came to appreciate thin crust pizza.

There’s something wonderful about the perfect balance between bread, sauce, and toppings. Too thick of a crust, and it’s like eating, well, nothing but bread. Too little crust, and it turns into something like a cracker. Too much cheese and…wait. What am I saying? You can never have too much cheese on a pizza (or anything for that matter! It’s the American way! ).

The point is, thin crust pizza can be just as wonderful as a well executed deep dish pizza. Plus I think it’s more authentic, really, if you’re going for real Italian style pizza.

Unless it’s really crispy. Like a cracker. That’s just not cool. If I want a cracker-like pizza then I’ll put some sauce and cheese on a Saltine and bake it (disclaimer: I know some people love crispy cracker-like crust for their pizzas. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just don’t like it. Power to you).

The pizza dough for this recipe is quite versatile. You can use it to make 4 small thin crust pizzas, 2 large thin crust pizzas, or 1 large deep dish pizza. You can also use it to make my egg, sausage, cheese bread, stromboli, calzones, etc. It also freezes well, so whatever you don’t use, wrap with plastic wrap, put it in a storage bag, and pop it in the freezer until you need it.


Homemade Pizza

(makes 4 small thin-crust pizzas, 2 large thin-crust pizzas, or 1 large deep dish pizza)

  • 2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 1/2 c. bread flour (approximately)
  • pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese (fresh or shredded)
  • desired toppings (onion, green pepper, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni, ham, sausage, etc.)
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Let set for 10 minutes.
  2. Add salt and oil, then mix in 2 1/2 c. flour.
  3. Continue adding flour until a ball forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough, adding flour as needed, until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray, add dough to bowl, cover, and place in a warm spot to rise until double in size, 1 – 2 hours.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 425° F (220° C).
  6. Punch down dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out into the desired number and size of pizzas.
  7. Place rolled out pizza crusts in an oiled pan/pans.

For deep dish pizza: Allow crust to rise for 10 – 20 minutes. Bake crust for 10 minutes on the oven’s middle rack, remove from oven, add pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings, then return to oven to bake for an additional 15 – 20 minutes. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

For thin crust pizza: Spread pizza sauce evenly over top of pizza crust. Cover with mozzarella cheese and any desired toppings. Brush crust edges with olive oil (optional). Bake on the oven’s middle rack for about 20 minutes, or until crust edges and golden brown. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

August 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

Banana Bread

If there’s something this world can never have too much of…

it’s banana bread.

Considering that before 1870 (ish), Americans had never even heard of bananas, it’s quite amazing when you think about how predominant in our food culture they’ve become in such a relatively short amount of time (banana pudding, bananas foster, banana and peanut butter sandwiches, chocolate dipped bananas, bananas with cereal, bananas with oatmeal, etc.). Especially considering we don’t even grow bananas in this country. And they’re so cheap! Pretty amazing, right?

I hated bananas when I was a kid.
Okay, that’s kind of an exaggeration, but I didn’t really like them all that much. We often had to eat them, or some other type of fruit, with our breakfast as kids (My parents had this thing about us eating fruit every day. Imagine that).

Now I love bananas. I almost always have a banana with my breakfast, whether in my oatmeal/cereal, with plain yogurt, or by itself. I love my bananas.

One thing I really love: banana bread. I may not have like bananas so much as a kid, but I did love banana bread (weird, right?). There’s something heavenly about the smell of a loaf of banana bread baking. Banana bread, like bananas themselves, really has no season and is good anytime of the year.

This is my go-to recipe for banana bread. Simple. Classic. Delicious.
Try it.

Banana Bread

(makes one loaf)

  • 2 over-ripe bananas, mashed (about 2/3 c.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 3/4 c. sugar or sucanat
  • 2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F (175° C).
  2. Beat mashed bananas, egg, butter, sugar, and buttermilk in a large bowl.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a smaller bowl.
  4. Add flour mixture to bowl with liquid mixture and mix. Add in nuts.
  5. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Note: If top of loaf starts to brown too quickly, cover loaf with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.

July 24, 2012 at 11:14 am 4 comments

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About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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