Dec 30, 2015

Your Top 10 Favorite Recipes for 2015

Thank you to everyone who visited this little food space this year. Truly, thank you so much. It means a lot to me that you drop by and check out what's going on over here. Of the 160 posts this year, these were the ones that, you, my favorite readers, visited the most. Here are the top 10 favorite recipes of 2015, plus two posts that don't include recipes.

Top Ten Reader Favorites for Karen's Kitchen Stories

Dec 28, 2015

Savory Corn Muffins | #MuffinMonday

Savory Corn Muffins

These savory corn muffins are airy and moist, and full of cornbread flavor. What's wonderful about these muffins is that they have all of the moistness and rise of a sweet muffin along with the savoriness of corn bread.

Dec 26, 2015

Caramel Custard Tart with Sliced Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds

Caramel Custard Tart with Sliced Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds

This Caramel Custard Tart with Sliced Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds is so completely decadent and rich. It can also be quite the showstopper with its deep caramel color and the toasted nuts and seeds. I used toasted and salted pumpkin seeds in this tart to compliment the sweet caramel, which turned out to be a great choice. 

Dec 23, 2015

Cranberry, Walnut, and Pecan Rye Bread

Cranberry, Walnut, and Pecan Rye Bread

This cranberry, walnut, and pecan rye bread will make your house smell amazing while it is baking. It's the combination of the the toasted walnuts and pecans, plus, naturally, the smell of baking bread.

It's delicious with goat cheese or Boursin and, of course, it's wonderful just toasted and buttered.

Dec 21, 2015

Barbecue Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls

Barbecue Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls

Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls are such a quintessential Chinese take-out appetizer. They are also one of my favorite comfort foods.

As Christmas approaches, I thought it might be fun to attempt these. Why you ask?

Dec 17, 2015

Salmon Rillettes for the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Salmon Rillettes for the Feast of the Seven Fishes

This Salmon Rillettes spread is a totally delicious mixture of poached salmon, peppery smoked salmon, a lot of spiciness, and a little butter.

This is the perfect first course for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Dec 16, 2015

Anadama Bread with Sesame, Flax, and Poppy Seeds | Sweet Corny Bread

Anadama Bread with Sesame, Flax, and Poppy Seeds | Sweet Corny Bread

The first time I made Anadama Bread was five years ago. This was when I first started baking bread and was baking my way through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. Since then, I've made a lot of bread. In fact, my friend Sally of Bewitching Kitchen counted the number of bread recipes I have on my index and came up with 247 (and growing). Yikes!!! That's a lot of loaves between my first Anadama Bread and this one.

Dec 15, 2015

Chocolate Almond Biscotti | #CreativeCookieExchange

chocolate almond biscotti

These Chocolate Almond Biscotti are a little more tender than the typical biscotti. They are crunchy, but they are tasty on their own, without the required dunking in coffee or wine. Kids actually like these!

Dec 12, 2015

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies with a Hard Candy Center | And a Huge Giveaway

Welcome to Day 6 of Christmas Week. This annual event was started in 2012, and is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. This year we have over 35 bloggers sharing festive sweet recipes for the event. Plus we all chipped in for a huge Amazon Gift Card Giveaway so be sure to enter!

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies with a Hard Candy Center

I've always wanted try making Stained Glass Cookies.

Stained Glass Cookies? They are cookies with brightly colored see-through hard candy in the middle. If you poke a hole through one side of them, you can actually hang them as Christmas decorations.

Dec 11, 2015

Cranberry Sourdough Country Bread

Cranberry Sourdough Country Bread

This Cranberry Sourdough Bread is soft and moist on the inside with a dark crunchy crust. It is delicious toasted and buttered, and is great for turkey sandwiches (maybe with a schmear of stuffing and turkey gravy!). I also love it for apple and grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches.

Dec 9, 2015

Chewy Sugar Cookies for Santa

Welcome to Day 3 of Christmas Week. A huge group of talented bloggers joined forces to bring you some holiday cheer. We hope you love all the festive recipes we're offering up this week. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win some amazing prizes.

Chewy Sugar Cookies for Santa

Do you like your sugar cookies crispy or chewy? I like both, but when I think of the traditional sugar cookie, I always think "chewy" and coated in sparkling sugar.

Dec 8, 2015

Onion Bagels | #BreadBakers

Onion Bagels

How would you like to have freshly baked bagels on a Saturday or Sunday morning without heading out to the bagel shop? Well, you can.

Yes, you'll have to get up about two hours earlier than everyone else, but you will have amazingly fresh bagels, making it totally worth it.

Dec 7, 2015

Molasses Ginger Cookies with Fresh Ginger | #ChristmasWeek Giveaway

Welcome to Day 1 of Christmas Week. This annual event was started in 2012, and is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. This year we have over 35 bloggers sharing festive sweet recipes for the event. Plus we all chipped in for a huge Amazon Gift Card Giveaway so be sure to enter!

Molasses Ginger Cookies with Fresh Ginger, Vietnamese Cinnamon, and Sparkling Sugar

These molasses and ginger cookies are so perfect for the holidays. The cookies are soft and chewy, and the fresh ginger adds a lovely warmth... perfect for Christmas giving.

Dec 5, 2015

Noodle Soup with Stir-Fried Scallops and Enoki Mushrooms | Wok Wednesdays

Noodle Soup with Stir-Fried Scallops and Enoki Mushrooms | Wok Wednesdays

This Noodle Soup with Stir-Fried Scallops and Enoki Mushrooms recipe introduced me to adding ginger to chicken broth. This was a revelation.

Dec 4, 2015

Pain de Mie - Pullman Bread

Pain de Mie - Pullman Bread

Baking a Pain de Mie loaf has been on my list of breads to make for quite a while. In fact, I bought the Pullman pan a few months ago, and it has been taunting me from the cupboard.

Dec 1, 2015

Pecan Kringle

Danish Pecan Kringle

This Pecan Kringle is the perfect breakfast treat for Christmas morning.. or any morning! The pecans in the filling are toasty and flavored with buttery cinnamon and brown sugar.

Nov 30, 2015

Corn Dog Mini Muffins | #MuffinMonday

Corn Dog Mini Muffins

I know, I know. These Corn Dog Mini Muffins are a bit of a novelty, but they really made me happy.

Nov 28, 2015

Green Cabbage, Apple, Fennel, Watercress, and Pecan Salad


Green Cabbage, Apple, Fennel, Watercress, and Pecan Salad

This Green Cabbage, Apple, Fennel, Watercress, and Pecan Salad is perfect for fall.

I love fresh cabbage salads. They are so crunchy and hearty, and they hold up so well to being dressed in advance. No worries about wilting lettuce. This is really handy when you are entertaining. Rather than going through a lot of last minute fuss, just toss the salad in advance, cover it, and stick it in the refrigerator to serve later. It will stay fresh for at least a day.... even if you forget the salad and discover it in the refrigerator after your guests leave, which has never, ahem, happened in my house.

Nov 24, 2015

My Top Ten Favorite Dinner Rolls - So Far - I'm on a Roll!

My Top Ten Favorite Dinner Rolls - So Far - I'm on a Roll!

I love home made dinner rolls. They're perfect for holiday dinners, and they are great for making sandwiches out of leftovers. These are great straight out of the oven, and leftovers are easily revived with a 20 second turn in the microwave.

These rolls are my favorites (so far), and will make you look like a superstar. You'll never go back to "brown and serve" rolls again. Here are my Top Ten:

Nov 22, 2015

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac

Chili Macaroni and Cheese - Cheesy Chili Mac

Chili Macaroni and Cheese combines the best of two comfort food worlds, chili and macaroni and cheese.

My favorite chilis are prepared on the stove top or in a slow cooker. My favorite macaroni and cheese is baked in the oven with a sauce loaded with onions and thyme.

Nov 18, 2015

Stir-Fried Balsamic and Ginger Glazed Carrots

Stir-Fried Balsamic and Ginger Glazed Carrots

These Stir-Fried Balsamic and Ginger Glazed Carrots are so incredibly flavorful. After I finished stir-frying them, I tasted one of the carrots and nearly swooned. They are that tasty.

Nov 17, 2015

Browned Butter Snickerdoodles | #CreativeCookieExchange

Brown Butter Snickerdoodles from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Browned Butter Snickerdoodles are pretty magical. They are chewy and cinnamon-y, and not your average snickerdoodle. This is because they have a slight nutty caramel flavor from browned butter.

Browned butter you ask? It's butter that is cooked until all of the water has evaporated and the butter begins to brown. Once it starts to turn golden, you have to watch it very closely, or it will burn very quickly. You want some brown and black bits, but you want the liquid to remain a golden brown. The minute the butter reaches that point, remove it from the heat and pour it out of the pan to stop the cooking and achieve that perfect nutty flavor.

Nov 16, 2015

Chrysanthemum Bread with Sausage, Pepperoni, and Mozzarella Cheese

Chrysanthemum Bread with Sausage, Pepperoni, and Mozzarella Cheese

My version of this Chrysanthemum Bread probably doesn't make you immediately think "that looks just like a flower!" It did look like a flower at one point, but then I tossed a handful of grated mozzarella on top just before placing the carefully shaped bread in the oven. What else was I going to do with leftover cheese?

Nov 10, 2015

Butterflake Rolls | #BreadBakers

Butterflake Rolls from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Butterflake Rolls are brushed with melted butter between layers of enriched dough prior to baking. They are so soft and tender, and are perfect for a family feast.

I pulled these out of the oven around 5:00 PM, a little early for dinner. For "quality control purposes," I pulled a small layer off of the smallest roll, spread a teensy bit of butter on it, and taste tested it. About 15 minutes later, I felt it was necessary to try one more layer "just to make sure."

Nov 7, 2015

Normandy Apple Bread with Levain and Apple Cider

Normandy Apple Bread with Levain and Apple Cider

This Normandy Apple Bread is made with both dried apples and apple cider in the dough. It's name is derived from the apple growing regions of France.

This recipe calls for dried apples, which you make yourself. I used some honeycrisp apples that I found at our local farmers market, and loved them. You an use any tart/sweet apple you prefer. I had a hard time judging how many apples to use to get to the correct amount, and made way more dried apples than necessary. Fortunately, the leftover apples were tasty on their own.

Nov 4, 2015

Sandpot Stir-Fried Chicken Rice | Wok Wednesdays

Sandpot Stir-Fried Chicken Rice

This Sandpot Stir-Fried Chicken Rice is a traditional Cantonese dish. Rice is cooked in a sandpot, while chicken, ginger, and shiitake mushrooms are stir-fried in a wok. Before the rice is fully cooked, the stir-fry mixture is placed on top of the rice to finish cooking.

As Grace Young says, this "exemplifies the fuel efficiency of Chinese cuisine." The hot rice continues to cook the chicken, and the juices in the chicken flavor the rice.

Nov 3, 2015

Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls from Karen's Kitchen Stories

I've always wanted to try making Parker House Rolls. They are an American classic, originally recorded in the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook, published in 1933. The rolls are soft and airy, and most of all, buttery.

They were evidently created by Boston's Parker House Hotel, which also created the Boston Cream Pie (which is actually a cake, but that's okay, when you create something, you get to name it).

Nov 1, 2015

Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread | Bread Baking Buddies get Fluffy

Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread

This month, I got to be the kitchen of the month for the Bread Baking Babes, and posted this recipe for Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread. The tangzhong method involves using a flour and water or milk roux that is cooked to 64 degrees C/149 degrees F, cooled, and then incorporated into the dough. It creates an amazing softness in the bread. You can visit my post to learn more about the method and get my recipe.

Oct 28, 2015

Potato Pizza | Pizza di Patate | with Rosemary

Potato Pizza | Pizza di Patate with Rosemary

I am absolutely crazy about this Potato Pizza. The crust is super crunchy and the potatoes are incredible.

Amazingly, the pizza is topped simply with thinly sliced potatoes, diced onions, and rosemary. The trick is to slice the potatoes as thinly as possible so that they will cook more quickly, and crisp up on top.

Oct 26, 2015

Raspberry Jam Crumb Muffins | #MuffinMonday


These Raspberry Jam Crumb Muffins are very tender and moist, filled with raspberries and a swirl of raspberry jam, and then topped with streusel. I made my own raspberry jam to fill these muffins, but jarred jam would work just as well. What's so cool is that you can use either frozen or fresh raspberries, so you can have these muffins any season.

Oct 25, 2015

Hot (or Cold) Crab Dip

Hot crab dip from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This Hot Crab Dip is the perfect game day snack. It will make your friends and family very happy, and keep them fueled for a long day of game watching. It kind of reminds me of the hot crab dip my mother used to serve in clam shells in the 1960s for cocktail parties.

This dip can also be made ahead of time, and is just as good cold the next day. Make it for a potluck. Your friends will swoon.

Oct 21, 2015

Slow Cooker White Bean and Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker White Bean and Chicken Chili

This slow cooker white bean and chicken chili was a huge hit in our house. What I love about its that the broth is thickened with hominy, which is pureed with broth. No cream, flour, or corn starch were (or is it "was") sacrificed to make this chili.

While this is not your typical dump and go slow cooker recipe, the advance preparation is well worth it.

Hong Kong Style Silky Stir Fried Minced Beef | Wok Wednesdays

This week, the Wok Wednesdays group is making Hong Kong-Style Silky Stir-Fried Minced Beef. 

Hong Kong Style Silky Stir Fried Minced Beef

Grace Young, the author of the cookbook, Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, says that she first tried it in Hong Kong and loved its richness. She got this recipe from Chef Danny Chan

The secret to the richness of this dish is hand mincing the beef, and then adding an egg and two egg yolks to the partially cooked meat. It's a really interesting technique. The beef is spread out in a layer in your wok, and the whisked eggs are dropped on top to cook for about 45 seconds, and then stir fried. The eggs pretty much disappear into the meat mixture, but, as Grace says, make this dish "sumptuous."

Oct 20, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies | #CreativeCookieExchange


I am so excited about these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are so amazingly soft and cake-like, and get better over time. They're pretty much pumpkin pie in a cookie.... with chocolate chips.

They are easy to mix up, and come together in no time. They are fairly low in sugar, which makes them the perfect breakfast cookie. I offered some of these to my grandkids and they loved them. I also took a bunch of them to work, where they were a big hit. The pumpkin puree seriously adds to the softness and moistness of these cookies.

Oct 16, 2015

Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread | Bread Baking Babes get Fluffy

Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread is absolutely the best sandwich bread ever! And guess what? I am the host kitchen for the Bread Baking Babes, and had the privilege of choosing this month's bread.

Bread Baking Babes you ask? We are a small group of bold, boisterous, and hilarious women who share the love of baking bread (and wine). We live across the globe, and come together every month on the 16th to share our experiences with a recipe chosen by one of the members. Everyone gets to play around with the recipe, so be sure to click on the thumbnails at the bottom of this post after the recipe to see the rest of the Babes' versions of this bread.

Oct 13, 2015

Homemade Salted Caramels

Homemade Salted Caramels

I am very excited about these salted caramels. They are so unbelievably tasty!

I sat on this recipe for about a month because I was totally intimidated about making candy. For example, what the heck is "hard ball stage?" How is it different than "soft crack stage?"

I guess it's all about what the candy looks like when you drop a bit of it into cold water. Here's a little bit of candy making science. Thank goodness someone invented the candy thermometer.

Bottom line: This candy is delicious, and reminiscent of what you might find in a gourmet candy shop. When I'm ready to take my candy making "skills" to the next level, I might actually coat these in chocolate and sprinkle them with salt. In the meantime, I'm so happy with how these turned out.

Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread | #BreadBakers

Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread

This Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread has a wonderful nutty, sweet flavor and a beautiful yellow crumb. It is wonderful with butter, and makes delicious toast. It is the perfect accompaniment for fall's soups, stews, and chilis. It also makes delicious garlic bread.

The best part? You make the dough in advance, shape it, and bake it the next morning.

Oct 10, 2015

Hakka-Style Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables | Wok Wednesdays

Hakka-Style Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables

This Hakka-style stir-fried shrimp and vegetables is such a simple dish, yet it is so delicious. It is symbolic of the Hakka, as Grace Young (2010) describes, "the gypsies of China." They were originally from northern China, were driven out by a multitude of reasons, and forced to settle in an area where they were second class to the Cantonese. In the 1800's they were again forced to leave their homes due to famine, disease, and natural disasters. Many ended up in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, as well as "contract laborers in Hawaii, the Caribbean, South America, North America," and many other places across the globe (Young, 2010).

Oct 7, 2015

Garlic and Vegetable Cheese Spread

Garlic and Vegetable Cheese Spread

I made this Garlic and Vegetable Cheese Spread to go with these Cheddar Cheese Crackers. The crackers were very savory and tangy, and this spread was the perfect balance.

Oct 6, 2015

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

I'm pretty excited about these cheddar cheese crackers! They have such a wonderful savory flavor... and they came out crispy!

I've always had good luck making savory shortbread crackers, but have been challenged at times with creating a crispy yeasted cracker. Sometimes they can come out tough or chewy instead of crunchy.

Oct 4, 2015

English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread

I have made this English Muffin Bread many times, and can't believe I never posted it! This bread, sliced, is kind of the equivalent to English muffins, without the griddle. The bread pan is dusted with corn meal to mimic traditional English muffins. This bread is delicious toasted and spread with butter and jam. The combination of yeast and baking powder produces the "nooks and crannies" that one would expect from English muffins.

Sep 28, 2015

Cornbread Bacon Muffins | #MuffinMonday

Cornbread Bacon Muffins with maple syrup and toasted pecans

These cornbread bacon muffins combine the sweet and savory flavors of the bacon, corn bread, and the secret ingredient, maple syrup.

The thick cut bacon is julienned and then cooked to a golden color. Next, the bacon is cooked in maple syrup. The muffins also contain toasted pecans and brown sugar.

Sep 27, 2015

No Knead Jalapeño Cheesy Dutch Oven Bread

No Knead Jalapeño Cheesy Dutch Oven Bread

No Knead Jalapeño Cheesy Dutch Oven Bread. How do you feel about bread that has a custardy interior filled with melty cheese and bits of jalapeño peppers? Yeah. Me too. 

Add the fact that it is amazingly easy to make. 

While it contains fresh jalapeño peppers, the spiciness is fairly dialed down during baking. Evidence: Mr. Kitchen, who is not a fan of spicy, loved it. 

The dough for this bread is mixed with a spoon or dough whisk the night before it is baked. The next morning, it is shaped and allowed to rise while a Dutch oven preheats in your oven.

How do you feel about cheese oozing out of your bread? I'm with you.

Sep 24, 2015

Stir-Fried Salmon with Wine Sauce | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-Fried Salmon with Wine Sauce

This Stir-Fried Salmon with Wine Sauce popped up in the Wok Wednesdays rotation around the same time that my cousin brought back this gorgeous piece of salmon he caught in Alaska. He goes up there every year to go fishing and brings back amazing freshly caught and flash frozen salmon, cod, and halibut. He is so generous to share it with family.

Sep 22, 2015

Praline Pecan Coconut Shortbread Bars | #CreativeCookieExchange

Praline Pecan Coconut Shortbread Bars from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Praline Pecan Coconut Shortbread Bars are deliciously crispy and rich. The shortbread base is easy to put together in the food processor, and the topping comes together in one pan.

Sep 16, 2015

Conchas (Mexican Shell Bread) | The Bread Baking Babes go to Mexico

Conchas (Mexican Shell Bread) Pan Dulce

I am totally excited by these Conchas!

Conchas you ask? What are they? They are a brioche-like bread that is popular in Mexico as well as border states such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The first time I tried conchas was in a bakery in East Los Angeles in the 1970's (yes, I'm that old). They came covered with sugar shell coatings of pink, brown, and yellow.

Sep 13, 2015

Individual Meatloaves with Chili Sauce

Individual Meatloaves with Chili Sauce from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These individual meatloaves with chili sauce are so amazingly good.

It's just meatloaf, right? Not really. First, these are mini meatloaves, which makes them extra fun to serve, especially to kids.

Second, instead of bread or crackers, the binder in this dish is rolled oats. Gluten free! (Did I just say that?).

Sep 12, 2015

Sourdough Focaccia with Preserves


This Sourdough Focaccia with Preserves takes some time to make, but the results are so worth it. The bread has the tang of sourdough, which is balanced with the honey in the dough and the cream and preserves brushed on top.

This bread recipe was contributed by two of the most amazing bread bakers in our Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook group. The formula was developed by Josep Pascual, a master bread baker who teaches classes all over Europe for professional bakers. He taught a course with my dear friend Ralph, the owner of Breadworks, who also makes and teaches about bread baking in the Netherlands. With Josep's permission, Ralph contributed this recipe for the August BOM, or Bread of the Month.

Sep 9, 2015

Stir-Fried Cellophane Noodles with Enoki Mushrooms | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-Fried Cellophane Noodles with Enoki Mushrooms

These Stir-Fried Cellophane Noodles with Enoki Mushrooms gave me the opportunity to cook with two new (to me) ingredients, cellophane noodles and enoki mushrooms. Yes, it's time to tackle another dish from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young for Wok Wednesdays!

By the way, this stir-fry was delicious!! And easy peasy!

Cellophane noodles are made from mung bean flour, and are pretty flavorless on their own. They are dried, and look similar to rice sticks. The ones I found in my local grocery store came in a sealed plastic package, and were labeled Saifun. In the book, Grace referred to them as fun see, glass noodles, bean thread noodles, and green bean thread. Fortunately, they looked exactly like the photo in the book, and the subtitle was "bean threads."

Sep 8, 2015

Rosemary, Garlic, and Parsley Whole Wheat Bread | #BreadBakers

Rosemary, Garlic, and Parsley Whole Wheat Bread

This Rosemary, Garlic, and Parsley Whole Wheat Bread will fill your house with the amazing aroma of garlic and rosemary when it is baking. It is wonderful for BLTs, and makes wonderful toast.

The dough for this bread comes together easily, and has a very short rise time, making it easy to make in an evening for the next day.

This month, the #BreadBakers were charged with baking bread containing at least half whole grains. These loaves are about 60 percent whole wheat and have a mild whole wheat flavor.