Lori's Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread Sticks

Have you seen or tried Lori's cranberry pumpkin bread sticks? If not, you're in for a treat. So easy to make, with barely any rising time at all. You can make them from start to finish in under an hour. How often can you say that about a recipe with yeast as an ingredient? And they freeze beautifully.
I didn't have any dried cranberries, so used some dried cherries I had left over. I'm not going to label these bread sticks a "quick bread", but honestly, some quick breads take longer to make than these gems.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread Sticks

Adapted from Lori at Recipe Girl

Yield: About 32 bread sticks 
Note: I halved this recipe and got 10. I thought they were the perfect size.

3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 package (.25-ounce) instant dry or active dry yeast
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon honey
4 cups bread flour (I used regular flour and they turned out beautifully; see * below)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I used dried cherries)
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted salted butter
Kosher salt

* Re: bread flour vs all purpose: 
Bread flour has more protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development. Some recipes call for it when an especially chewy and elastic crumb is desired.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water/yeast, pumpkin and honey. Mix to combine. Insert the dough hook and gradually add in 3 cups of the flour (scrape sides, as needed). Add the cranberries. Sprinkle in the remaining 1 cup of flour, and let the dough hook do the kneading for 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. (Barbara's note: knead a few minutes by hand, something I always like to do; there's just something about getting your hands in the dough to get a feel for the elasticity, don't you agree?)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Break off small pieces of the dough (I used golf ball size; Lori got more bread sticks, so you could use less dough for more bread sticks.) and roll into thin bread stick "logs" - 6 to 8-inches long. Place them on the baking sheet. You should end up with about 32 bread sticks. Cover the baking sheets with a clean dishtowel and place them in a warm place to rise. Let rise for 30 to 60 minutes, until the bread sticks have puffed up a little bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. After rising, brush each bread stick with butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly, then serve. Or wrap in foil to store in the freezer- to be served later. Let thaw at room temperature, then bake at 300 degrees F. for 5 minutes to warm up.


Salsa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Crema

There's nothing not to like about this great supper! It's easy, it's fast and it's healthy. First you have a yummy sweet potato, topped with your favorite corn and black bean salsa (homemade or store-bought), topped with melted cheese, served with a great avocado crema. The crema is rich, cool and creamy (I made mine with a hand mixer because I wanted a little texture), making a nice foil for the hot and somewhat spicy potato. A winner of a supper for your family. 

Salsa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Crema

From Averie Cooks

(This recipe is for one potato, serving two people. There was plenty of crema for more)

Sweet Potato and Filling
1 medium/large sweet potato
heaping 1/2 cup corn and black bean salsa ( a nice chunky one)
salt and pepper, optional and to taste
1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend 

Avocado Crema
1 medium ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice 
pinch salt, to taste
water, if necessary
cilantro, optional for garnishing

Pierce potato with fork a few times before cooking in microwave on high power for about 7 minutes (medium) to 10 minutes (large). (It took mine 15 minutes) Cook until fork tender and done. 
Preheat oven to broiler setting.
Remove potato from microwave and slice in half lengthwise on a cutting board.
Hollow out a center column of each half with a spoon. Don't actually remove any flesh, but pile/push it around the edges of the potato so the center is a bit shallower to make room for the filling.
Place the halves on a non-stick baking sheet.
Evenly divide the corn and bean salsa between each potato half.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Top each potato half with cheese.
Broil for about 3 minutes, or just until cheese begins to melt and is bubbly. Remove from oven and set aside to cool momentarily. While potatoes cool, make the avocado crema.

Avocado Crema

In a food processor or blender (I used a hand mixer because I wanted the crema to have some texture), combine most of the avocado (reserving a small portion of chunks or slices for garnishing if you want), sour cream, lime juice, salt to taste, and blend until smooth and creamy. If mixture is thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle avocado creama over potato.
Garnish with reserved avocado and optional cilantro. Potatoes are best enjoyed warm and fresh. 


Apple Cinnamon Palmiers

Oh my, yes! Crunchy, sticky, cinnamony and appley. Are these perfect for tea or what? And so easy to make. Yummy on my tummy. I love making palmiers...sweet AND savory. Let me count the ways......

Apple Cinnamon Palmiers
Found on Our Chocolate Shavings


2 sheets of square puff pastry
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 apple


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix the sugar, salt and cinnamon. Spread 1/2 cup of sugar mixture onto your working area. Place one sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar. Add another 1/4 cup of the mixture on top and gently press down with the palm of your hand. (I used a rolling pin)

Peel and grate the apple. Tightly press onto a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle half of the grated apple onto the puff pastry. Lightly press them down with the palm of your hand. Fold 2 sides of the square puff pastry into the middle of the puff pastry surface. Fold the sides towards the middle again to create double-layered folds. Then, fold one of the sides onto the other (as if you were closing a book). Reserve and do the same with the second puff pastry sheet. 

Slice the puff pastry into 3/8 inch slices and place cut side up on a parchment-line baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes, turn the palmiers over, and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until perfectly golden. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Don't know how to fold palmiers? Take a look HERE.


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