Christmas Prepping: Poppy Seed Bread

I’ve had a couple requests to post a blog about all the crafting I’m doing for Christmas presents this year.  This blog will come, but it’s going to have to wait.  I can’t really post about the presents I’m giving to people next week!  To get you in the Christmas spirit though, I thought I’d share a recipe I make for Christmas every year.

I’m not generally much of a baker.  Honestly, I almost never, ever bake.  It’s just so time consuming, it generates a huge amount of dishes, and you have to be so accurate with the measurements.  It does seem odd that I don’t like to be analytical in the kitchen, because being analytical is one of the traits that got me through school and it helps me excel at my job.  Maybe I just need the kitchen to be a place where I can just relax with wine and cook by feel?!?

Whatever the reason, baking just isn’t my forte.  When I do bake, I tend to make bread.  Which is odd because bread generally isn’t considered like “Intro to Baking” level activity.  I always seem to have a huge collection of bananas in the freezer, and every now and again I’ll get a wild hair to whip up several loaves of banana bread.  The other thing I bake “regularly” is my Grandma’s recipe for poppy seed bread.  It isn’t a traditional poppy seed bread.  Forget the visions of lemon poppy seed bread currently dancing through your brain.  This bread involves making some poppy seed goo and then rolling it all up a la jelly roll.

There’s nothing  particularly “Christmas-y” about this recipe, and I don’t remember that Grandma ever made it specifically for Christmas.  However, once she got sick and stopped cooking, I started making the recipe, because someone needed to be making it.  I was in college then, so I always ended up making it over Christmas break.  Now I try and make batches every Christmas and give them out for part of Christmas gifts.  No one else really makes it, so it’s my little attempt to keep a family recipe alive.

 

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These two though…..they hang in my closet and I see them everyday.  Their memory reminds me to stay humble and work hard.

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A little Nutcracker action, to keep you in the holiday spirit!

The problem with this recipe is that it’s not really much to go on.  My Grandma, and her mother, were that old school breed of women who could cook for days without a recipe at all and everything just ended up perfect.  They used specific bowls to measure thing, and the phrases, “mix till it feels right” and “just throw some in” are what come to mind when I remember cooking with my Grandma at the farm.  I remember calling Grandma one of the first times I decided to bake the poppy seed bread because my goo wasn’t becoming goo.  I had already added way more cornstarch than she had originally told me, and like I often do when things are going astray….I started to panic!  We sat on the phone for a while and chatted while I stood and stirred my goo in hopes that something would start to happen.  She just kept telling me to add more…….few minutes later, “Is it getting thick?”  Nope……”well just add some more!”  So, I guess if you try this, and things don’t seem to be working out, just remember to add more cornstarch!!

Recipe: Makes 2 Loaves

Dough

  • 1 Package Yeast
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Margarine
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 4-41/2 cups Flour

Filling–The Goo

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 oz Poppy Seeds
  • 2-4 heaping tbs Corn Starch mixed in small amount of water

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Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.  Warm the milk and margarine in the microwave until just melted, and add to the yeast mixture.  Add in the salt, sugar, and egg and whisk well to combine.  Whisk in the first 2 cups of flour.  The last two cups need to be stirred in.  Don’t worry if you can’t get the whole last cup of flour to mix in.  Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.  Place in a large bowl, cover, and place in a warm space.  Let raise to double and then punch the dough back down and let it raise again.

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This is a double batch, it will raise enough to totally fill this huge bowl.  I only use this bowl for poppy seed bread.  Maybe I’m more like my Grandma than I thought!

While the dough is raising, prep the filling.  Place the milk, sugar, and seeds in a saucepan on the stove.  Heat until just before boiling while stirring to prevent scalding.  Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water, I just do this in a coffee mug.  While stirring the seed mixture, pour in the cornstarch slurry.  Continue stirring to avoid lumps and heat to boiling.  The mixture will thicken as it cools some, but it’s better if the mixture is too thick.  Runny goo will make your life a struggle later.  Don’t be afraid to add more cornstarch!  I made two batches of bread this weekend.  Yesterday’s batch had goo that was slightly on the runny side, today’s was maybe too thick.  Trust me, thick is definitely easier.  It stays where you put it and doesn’t come oozing out the ends before you can crimp them up!

Once your dough is ready, divide in half.  Roll out half on a floured surface to about 1 foot long and 6 inches wide.  Place a small line of goo about 2 inches from the end of the dough.  Flip the dough over to make a pocket around the goo.  Press down all around the edge to seal in the goo, make sure the get the ends well sealed.  Add another line of goo on the crimp line, and flip the original pocket over to make another pocket.  You’ll keep doing this until you get to the end of the dough.  The goo probably oozed out of the ends slightly , and you might be feeling a bit sticky at this point.  It’s all fine, and I promise it will taste just fine.  Carefully, place the loaf final seam side down in a loaf pan.  I sometimes don’t get my dough sized right, if it’s too big for the pan just squish the ends in a little…..no one will know!

Under the advice of a boy I attempted to spread the filling across the dough and roll it like a jelly roll.  Let’s just say that Grandma’s know how to do these things best.  I have to admit I had always been curious about why it wouldn’t work.  It ended up being much harder to seal, it totally burst open in the oven, and it is definitely the saddest of the 4 loaves I made yesterday.  Live, learn, and trust Grandma on that one I guess!

Cover the pans and let rise slightly before baking at 350 for 45 mins.  Once baked and cooled slightly, tip out of pans and place in bags to freeze or let cool on a cooling rack.  If you didn’t get all the ends and seams sealed up, some of the goo might have burst out of the bread.  Again, this is all fine and won’t effect much other than maybe the floor of your oven. Let cool before cutting so that the goo can reset.  I like mine with butter, but its equally good plain.

 

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You might get some air pockets and you might get some oozing filling, but trust me…..your mouth doesn’t care at all!

The dough can also be used as Long John dough.  I’ve never done this, but Grandma always used the same recipe.  After the dough has raised, roll and divide into equal portions, shape, and deep fry.  In traditional Peterson style, your Long Johns should be topped with vanilla frosting and chopped peanuts.

Happy baking!  If I don’t write again before Christmas, here’s hoping that you and your families have a very Merry Christmas!

❤ MisHappenings

What Goes Good with Tequila…….?!

…………….SPICY FISH TACOS!!!

Like many of my recipes, this one isn’t super exact.  Generally when I cook I find recipes online, study them to get the general idea, and then just sorta go off and do my own thing.  I’ve made these tacos 3-4 times now, so I think I’ve pretty much got a handle on it.  I get packages of fish from friends and family and they range in variety and size.  I would say that generally a pound is the average size package.  When in doubt, just use the same amount you’d use to feed your crowd any other variety of protein.  It’s a pretty easy recipe to scale up or down depending on the amount of mouths you have to feed or the amount of leftovers you want.

The Supplies

  1. MARGARITA SUPPLIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. 1 lb. of your choice of white fish (Cod, Halibut, Tilapia)
  3. Some!?!?!?……..Small Tortillas or Taco Shells
  4. Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
  5. 1 Avocado
  6. 1 Jalapeno
  7. 1 Bag Broccoli or Cabbage Slaw
  8. Olive Oil
  9. Cilantro Paste
  10. Salt and Pepper
  11. Equal Amounts — Cajun Seasoning, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, Dried Cilantro, Cumin, and Garlic Powder
  12. Half of an Equal Amount — Cayenne Pepper
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Don’t ask be what kind of fish that was…..IDK…..but it was yummy yummy in my tummy!

Step 1: Rub Down the Fish

In a small bowl mix together all the dry spices.  I just guesstimate on the amounts, it will depend on how much fish you’re planning to make.  Also, you can adjust the blend depending on how spicy you want your spicy tacos to end up.  Around here, we like things hot!  The tacos will get topped with a cream sauce which will help cool things down, so keep that in mind when you prepping the spice rub.

Usually my fish is frozen, so thaw it out if necessary.  I lay it all out on a baking sheet and cut it into strips….like cutting steak for fajitas.  You can make the strips a bit large, they will shrink and flake apart once they are cooked, but more surface area means more flavor and faster cooking time.  Sprinkle the pieces generously with the spice rub, and then sorta press in in so it stays on.  I like to throw the pan in the fridge and let the fish hangout for a couple hours before I cook them.

Step 2: Prep the Slaw

I use broccoli slaw because it’s crunchier and I think it holds up against the hot fish better.  (It also seems to last longer in the fridge for leftovers.)  Dump the slaw into a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and add about 2 Tbs of the cilantro paste.  You could also use fresh, diced cilantro leaves….but I’m lazy.  Also, I use the cilantro paste for pineapple salsa….I made Pineapple Salsa….Solid First Effort…..which is amazeballs with or on top of the fish tacos.  Getting super summery and festive around here!  Stir up everything just to mix and stash in the fridge for later.

On this particular day I had leftover pineapple which I added directly into the slaw....this is also a good option!

On this particular day I used cabbage slaw with some leftover pineapple which I added directly into the slaw….this is also a good option!  I generally prefer broccoli, but the store was out. :/

Step 3: Make Cream Sauce

I whip this up in my “wanna be” magic bullet, but any blender or food processor type thing should work.  Wash and chop the jalapeno into chunks….you can de-seed or not.  It’s always hard to tell how spicy jalapenos are gonna be, but I tend to use the whole thing and I don’t really ever bother to de-seed them.  Add the avocado and about an equal amount of greek yogurt or sour cream.  Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, a squirt of cilantro paste if you want, and process until smooth.  Get ready to have your life changed….you’ll want to put this on everything!

Step 4: Make a Margarita

…..or take a tequila shot if your lazy!  Remember….we are channeling summertime funtime here!

Step 5: Cook the Fish

Drizzle some olive oil in a large fry pan and add your fish once the oil gets hot.  Don’t over crowd the fish or it won’t brown nicely.  Cook 3-5 mins and then flip.  Keep cooking until the fish starts to get flaky.  Remove to a plate and continue adding more fish to the pan until everything is cooked.

Not much to see here.

Not much to see here.

Step 6: Assemble and Chow Down

You can warm your tortillas or shells in the microwave for a couple seconds if you want.  I’m usually super HANGRY by this point and totally opt out of that step.  Layer in the fish, slaw, and cream sauce and prepare to have your world rocked.  If you want to opt out of the cream sauce they are also excellent with the pineapple salsa and slaw, you may want to adjust the spiciness since there won’t be any cream to cut it.

If you followed Step 4 correctly....you should have limes.  Feel free to get extra fancy and squeeze a bit over your fancy tacos!

If you followed Step 4 correctly….you should have limes. Feel free to get extra fancy and squeeze a bit over your fancy tacos!

Arts and Crafts, Fireball, Hangovers, and Besties for Life

I meant to get this posted sooner, but it’s been a busy week.  I spent most of the week in Omaha at a lab managers conference I wasn’t actually supposed to be at.  But, everyone else from work was going, so I got to tag along like the ugly stepchild and drink unlimited coffee and Diet Coke.  The only perk was that I got to spend Monday night with my Chananana eating sushi, drinking beer, and talking about boys.  It was perfect!

I mean, I guess in the grand scheme of life it wasn’t the worst of times, but I did have legitimate work to be doing in the lab which I obviously did not get done……

However, before rolling out into Cornhusker territory I spent the weekend with the besties!  Lil B came over from the West side to visit, and we had some epic adventures.  Granted, we had some epic plans that didn’t get accomplished, but anytime spend with friends is time well spent.

THURSDAY

The Cowboy said this looked like trouble....I don't think he has any idea!

The Cowboy said this looked like trouble….I don’t think he has any idea!

It’s always ideal when you can start your weekend off on a Thursday night with $2 wine night at your favorite bar!!!  We then decided that a Walmart run was in order because we had crafts to do and more wine to be drinking!  I would like to point out that taking my two slightly tipsy besties to Walmart was a bit like herding cats…..and there may have been several jokes made about Lil B’s melons…….yup…..we are those girls.  Hide yo kids, hide yo husbands!!!!!!!

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Rolling around town with these two weirdos!

We may or may not have tried to con the Hubby in Law into watching Magic Mike XXL with us….it didn’t really work.

On a side note, could we discuss that Magic Mike XXL is too random to even exist?!?!  I mean the first Magic Mike was weird….but acceptable.  There was an actual plot line and you felt like something was actually happening.  The second one is just random, and then when it finally starts to get good….it just ends!!!!  Like here’s a mostly naked Channing Tatum, now goodbye! Granted……..I did have to take a hangover nap Saturday morning during part of the middle section, but the besties assured me I didn’t miss much.

We all went to bed without much incident, and I did manage to scrounge up enough blankets so that Lil B didn’t freeze to death in my house!

FRIDAY

I didn’t work Friday since Lil B was here and the Bitch Faced Bestie (Triple B) gets off around noon.  Lil B and I made breakfast and did manicures while we waited for lunch time.  Triple B and the Hubby in Law came over after she got off work, and I made spicy fish tacos with slaw and avocado cream for lunch.  (I should probably throw that recipe up on the blog….someone remind me!) The Hubby went to work and we ran to the mall because underwear was on sale…..and you can’t waste a sale on underroos when your dog eats them the way mine does!  Post shopping it was shower time followed by wine and crafts!

I did have grand plans to make rings, and so we bought wire on Thursday night.  Unfortunately, the wire we settled on was too thick.  Triple B did manage to create a cute squiggle ring, but I couldn’t get my “Bitch Fuck Off” rings accomplished.  Oh well, another day I’ll try again.

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It’s gonna have to be another day another craft for this little project I guess.  I really think the trio of “Bitch Fuck Off” would be really helpful for nights I go out….or trips to Walmart…..life in general really!

We did manage to accomplish making our matching bestie sweatshirts.  Triple B found a Pintrest hack for making your own screen printed shirts.  It is a bit labor intensive, however I think wine really takes the edge off that.  It would be less labor intensive if everyone pulled their own weight….cough cough Lil B……!!!  However, some of us are more crafty than others of us apparently.  Triple B showed off her pro level skills by cutting out two of the stencils in the time it took me to cut out one…..

  • The Things You Will Need
  • Sweatshirt or shirt of choice
  • Acrylic paint
  • Sponge brush
  • Freezer Paper
  • Printer
  • Scissors and a knife
  • Tape
  • Pen or Sharpie
  • WINE!!!!!!!!!!!
  1. Type the saying or picture into Word and blow it up to size.  Once you’ve got what you want, just print the documents.  This took us a couple trials to get the size right, but it’s not a difficult process.
  2. Align all your words in the position you want and tape them down onto your work surface.
  3. Trace the words onto a sheet of freezer paper, making sure that the waxy side of the freezer paper is down.
  4. After you get done tracing, you’ll need to cut out the words.  This is by far the worst and longest part of the process……..just keep drinking your wine and you’ll make it through.  Be sure to save all the middles of your letters….so your letters will have their holes if that makes sense.
  5. Lay out your shirt and gently iron on the template.  If it isn’t positioned just right, or if one of the middles moves, just peel it up, reposition, and iron down again.  We also put a piece of freezer paper inside the shirts in case the paint bleeds through.
  6. Sponge the paint onto the stencil making sure to cover everything well.
  7. Carefully peel off the stencil….it won’t come all in one chunk….and pick out the middle of the letters.  Try and avoid getting paint onto any parts of the shirt that aren’t supposed to have paint.
  8. Let shirts dry undisturbed over night and you’re all set to rock your new creation!

After we finished making the three shirts, we headed out to the bar.  We ended up not staying very long, but that was long enough to put away some fireball and get hit on by some random old guys who may or may not have been married and who may or may not have been at the bar with women other than their wives……..

We did manage to order food on the way out of the bar, however Lil B ate all mine before we managed to get home. :/  This caused less than stellar results for some of us the next morning…..

SATURDAY

You'll notice the only perky one is the one who got the food!

You’ll notice the only perky one is the one who got the food!

Eventually, I did manage to choke down some toast, and rallied for the end of Magic Mike XXL….. Again, apparently I didn’t miss much in the middle section while I was sleeping off the pukiness.  I think Lil B and Triple B made eggs….but I was in bed so I’m not entirely sure.  I do think the mark of true friendship is when your friends can forage in your kitchen and no one thinks it’s weird that you’re not there!

Girls who veg together stay together!

Girls who veg together stay together!

We spent the rest of Saturday at Triple B’s playing Star Wars Monopoly.  The Hubby in Law made us fancy steak and shrimp dinner, and we all just hung out and watched movies.  We had originally had plans of going downtown to one of the bars for a neon dance party, however the residual hangovers were just too much to rally from.  Also the mere thought of going downtown seems exhausting.  It’s expensive, far away, it seems like that’s were the annoying Bro type dudes would hang out…..just generally not really my cup o’ tea.

SUNDAY

Sadly, Lil B had to leave us Sunday morning, but there was time for one more breakfast and coffee.  I know it’s hard for her because Triple B and I are both here now and she’s sorta out West all by herself.  It’s always sad to see her go, but anymore, our livers can only take so much of each other at one time.  I’m actually headed out the direction in a couple weeks so I’ll see her again soon.  Until then, there’s always awkward and strange group texts to get us through.  Seriously, if you read our group chats sometimes you’d think we didn’t get along…..you’d also think we were probably drunk all the time….we aren’t, that’s just how we act!

A Lazy DIY Weekend

Last weekend was my first “homework free” weekend since summer class started 8 weeks ago.  I was pretty excited to get some stuff done around the house.  My original plan was to finish the dining chairs that have been taking up space in my garage all winter.  However, some of the required supplies ended up at Mom’s house, so that idea was out.  Instead, I did some low key projects around the house.  It’s been awhile since I’ve done much of anything to the house, so I’ll try and get you up to speed.

Friday Night

In prime summertime funtime form, Friday afternoon was spent at the pool.  Post sunning I may or may not have taken a nap before deciding that it was finally time to head out to the store and buy some food.  After getting cat called and followed around the Walmart….ugh disaster……I ended up at a bar with Pimp Money talking about my rally adventures.  Apparently, you know you’re “single as fuck” when your friend calls you at 10pm on a Friday night, and you’re out grocery shopping.  Thanks for that little reminder Pimp Money!

Saturday

I didn’t do much.  I was still way to sore from the gym to even think that going back for another workout would be a good idea.  Instead, I made coffee and eggs and bummed around on the couch watching NCIS.  Fun fact….Netflix has 11 seasons of NCIS.  If you need me at any point in the near future, that’s what I shall be doing.  If your activity doesn’t beat Gibs, Abby, and Ducky….I’m probably opting out.  #atleastimhonest #abbyismyspiritanimal

SCIENCE FOR THE WIN

SCIENCE FOR THE WIN

I did eventually motivate to clean my house, and I did grill a bunch of food so I’d have leftovers to eat all week.  Brats and zucchini over charcoal…..life doesn’t get much better.  The bestie came over and helped me switch out a light in my stairway.  My house has really ugly light fixtures, and they all have to go!  Through the power of google, Angry Orchard, and some creative ladder placement, we swapped the flush mount ickiness for my hanging orb, and it’s looking much nicer now!  Thank goodness I know how to use a wire nut!  (I just took a safety class, and promptly ignored everything I learned while balancing a ladder on two different landings.  We did however flip off basically every breaker in my entire house because electricity is tricky! Safety first kids!)

WHO EVEN LIKES THESE?!?

WHO EVEN LIKES THESE?!?

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Seriously though…..make sure you turn off the power before you start rewiring light fixtures. Zaps hurt!

The next item on our bestie to do list was replanting my terrarium.  I’m not sure what happened, but when I moved he died……..like a very moldy, crispy, dried out sorta death.  So, off to Walmart we headed.  The plant selection was a bit depressing so we decided that girl’s night with the dogs, wine, and ice cream would be better.  No complaints here about HAVING to drink wine and watch Gerald Butler! 🙂

I die.......

I die…….

Sunday

Woke up late with no particular plans again.  Made more coffee and breakfast because ya know……a girl’s gotta eat!  Saturday night I bought the Lonesome Dove box set at Walmart so I decided that I would be lazy and watch it.  I had forgotten that just Lonesome Dove is a 4 part movie!  Needless to say, I only made it through the first 2 parts on Sunday.  While lounging and watching the movie I did manage to make 3 batches of banana bread for no real apparent reason.  So, I’m set on the bread front for the foreseeable future.  I also picked a whole pile of tomatoes off my little plant and made some bruschetta for dinner……because it’s amazeballs!

Side Note– Scout has turned into a deranged tomato puppy.  The first thing she does anytime we go outside is run over to the tomato plant and prance anxiously around whilst licking the plant.  Then she sits there, whines, and pouts until she gets a tomato……spoiled lil diva dog.

I did manage to dress myself and head off to the garden center and got 3 new baby plants for my terrarium and an air plant.  The terrarium plants were classified as “Fairy Garden Size”, and I oddly enjoy that fact.

From crispy dead to fresh and green with a little baby plant to spare.

From crispy dead to fresh and green with a little baby plant to spare.

Terrarium Tutorial

  • Make sure to wash and dry your chosen pot, and wipe hard to remove smudges
  • 1 inch of small pebbles in the very bottom
  • About 1/4 cup of aquarium charcoal to help purify the water
  • Add a layer of larger, flat-ish rocks to help keep the soil out of the pebbles (You could also use a layer of coffee filters, but I find you can see it around the edges)
  • Mix water and an additional 1/4 cup of charcoal into potting soil.  Soil should be wet, but not soggy.  (This helps your new plants get the water they need without having to over water the terrarium)
  • Arrange plants as desired and keep adding small amounts of damp soil as needed
  • Cover, water sparingly, and trim plants as needed.

A covered terrarium, like I have, should in theory “self-water”.  Water filters down through the soil and into the pebbles were it eventually evaporates up and condenses on the lid.  If you want an open terrarium you’ll have to water more often.

After the plants I headed to the mall.  I had money to spend at Victoria’s Secret, and of course the coupons didn’t work online…..so off to brave the weekend mall crowd I went.  Normally, I wouldn’t have spent so much money there, but

A. Sports bras were on sale, and I NEEDED one!  I get sick of doing laundry purely because my gym clothes are dirty.

B. Some of my regular bras have taken to trying to impale me, and I will only attempt to sew them back into submission so many times.  So this…..was also a NEED!

Finally got an air plant for my champagne cork….isn’t he cute?!?!

Mischief managed for the weekend I guess!

I’ve also made some decisions about the rest of my house….finally!

  • Colors for the bedroom have been picked!  I won’t paint until the fall when the humidity returns to a some what tolerable level, but the decision has been made!Bedroom 1I don’t think I’ll paint the whole wall blackberry, but I will be adding a chair rail and trim/molding to the room eventually to up the fanciness level!
  • I’ve decided the time has come to finish my garage.  Bestie, the Hubby, and I will fix all the tape and it needs to be painted.  I’m just going to use leftover house paint, so whatever my garage is gonna be “townhome beige”.  After that I will get all my shelving hung and hopefully get everything up off the floor and organized.
  • I’m debating the purchase of a chandelier for my bedroom.
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I think this may be a need in my life!