Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bread Machine Challah Bread

I love challah bread.

It always reminds me of when I was a little girl, playing with my dolls up in my room on Friday nights. Mama and Bubbye would spend every Friday cooking and cleaning all day to get ready for the Sabbath meal. Mama would call me downstairs to set the table. My sisters, Sadie and Sophie, would help Bubbye in the kitchen, tapping on the bread to listen for the hollow sound, indicating that it was finished baking. The smells of fried fish, potatoes and onions, and fresh baked bread wafted through the house, and we would eagerly await the arrival of cousin Moyshe, to help us celebrate the Sabbath.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t me.

That was Rebecca, An American Girl ®.

Every single time I make challah bread, my daughter informs me that in 1914, challah was only baked on the Sabbath or holidays, because each loaf required 2 eggs, and eggs were expensive.

And she tells me that you can tell if it’s done by tapping on it and listening for the hollow sound.

God bless you, American Girl. Your dolls may be freakin’ expensive, but you sure have taught my daughter some history.

Bread Machine Challah Bread


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • poppy seeds, optional


  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the beaten egg and the poppy seeds into the bread machine pan, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Process the ingredients in the dough cycle.
  3. Remove immediately when the machine beeps.
  4. Preheat oven to 350˚
  5. Divide the dough in half.
  6. Divide each half into three sections. Roll each section into a long strand.
  7. Braid the three strands, pinching the top and bottom ends together.
  8. Place on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Repeat with the remaining dough, making the second challah.
  10. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  11. Brush the challah with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.
  12. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Click here for printable

Bread Machine Challah Bread

Isn’t it so pretty?

On, this recipe is titled, “The Best Bread Machine Challah Bread.” Those bragging fools sure aren’t kidding! It really is the best. And I should know. Me and Moyshe have had our share of challah breads!

Oops, there I go again.

Well, this may not be New York City in 1914 (if it was, I’d be soooo confused about this computer I’m using) but we still love our challah bread. I make this a lot (eggs aren’t quite the hardship they were back then). We make sandwiches  with it, use it to make french toast, eat it with soup, or dip honey in it. And did I mention it was pretty?

So make this bread for Rosh Hoshana this week. Make your Bubbye proud. And if you don’t have a Bubbye, make it for Rebecca’s Bubbye. And Moyshe. But you can eat it yourself, because they aren’t real.

The End.

Mexican Brown Rice and Beans

Do rich people eat rice and beans? Do they sometimes go to a restaurant and think, ‘Hmmm… do I want the lobster tail tonight… or the rice and beans?’

If you do an internet search for “frugal family meals,” then you will be told to make rice and beans. And shepherd’s pie. Because apparently that’s what you eat when you’re on a budget, and don’t have Jeeves around to cook for you.

"The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that's all I need." -The Jerk

There are a gazillion recipes out there for rice and beans. All different styles. I have tried many of them. I finally found one that I really like. This recipe is easy, cheap frugal, healthy, and most importantly, tasty. And that’s good, because I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t really like rice. Or beans. But I really like this recipe.

Okay, wait. Full disclosure. I’m kind of a picky eater. I mean, I’m a big talker with my kids (and my blog) and I say, “Wow, how can she not like sauce? How can he not like cheese?” but the truth is, if my doctor suddenly told me that I had to live on a steady diet of cheeseburgers, french fries, and milkshakes, I’d probably die of happiness long before my arteries had time to clog.

So anyway, I knew I wanted a rice and beans recipe that would become a staple in our house, so it was important to find one that we all my husband and I liked. I found this recipe on, but it originally comes from the book Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.

Mexican Rice and Beans

  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste or sauce
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans


  1. Heat oil in a 2-quart pot. Add cumin and chili powder and sauté for a few seconds. Add onion and salt and continue cooking until onion is soft.
  2. Add rice and stir well to coat. Add water and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until all of the water is absorbed (about 40 minutes).
  3. Stir in pinto beans. Serve on tortillas and garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, avocado… whatever you like on your tacos.

Click here for printable

Mexican Brown Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans Tortilla

Terrible pictures, I know. I apologize. The next time I make this I will replace the pictures with better ones.

Here’s what the Critics had to say:

Don Corleone: This is delicious!

Sarah Crewe: It’s delicious! And beany!

Batman: It’s really good!

Elmo: It’s good. They’re not hot anymore.

Curious George, upon sitting down at the table: I already know I don’t like it.

That’s a pretty typical reaction. Everyone but Curious George liked it.

If I ever When I become rich, I think I’ll still make have my servants make rice and beans once in a while. It’s delicious. And beany.

How am I going to get rich, you ask? I may end up being a carny:

"Ah... it's a profit deal! Take a chance and win some crap!" -The Jerk

Maybe I’ll invent something cool, like for glasses or something:

Don’t mock my pictures. You know they look exactly like Steve Martin.

I really need to start getting my kids to do the drawings again.

All I know is, I’ve got my name in the phone book, and that, of course, is the first step toward greatness:

"Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. Things are going to start happening to me now." -The Jerk

Back to School Madness and Some Recipe Links

Well. I managed to blog through last year’s end-of-school year madness, blog while on vacation, blog every day in July, and yet this back to school business the last few weeks has really thrown me for a loop.

I do most of my writing in the morning, before the kids wake up. And since my kids are early risers, that usually means I’m at the computer by around 5 a.m. I’m a morning person, so this usually doesn’t bother me. I like the quiet. I like that I can think a complete thought without getting interrupted. Of course, I don’t have that many complete thoughts that early in the morning, but the point is that I could complete a thought if I wanted to.

I don’t know why, but the start of school this year has really worn me down. I don’t remember ever being this tired without having a newborn in the house. I haven’t gotten up early, and I crash on the couch as soon as the kids are in bed at night. So blogging kind of… didn’t happen.

I have some recipes that I’d like to share, but I’m still working on getting my act together. In the meantime, because I miss my blog, I’ll just  share some other people’s recipes that I found recently that I can’t wait to try.

Chipotle-Chicken Meatballs from Rachael Ray:

Chipotle-Chicken Meatballs

Southwest Chicken Chili Mac from Picky Palate

Poppy Seed Chicken from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Baked Breaded Eggplant from Aggie’s Kitchen:

Tomato Cobbler with Gruyere Biscuits from Annie’s Eats:

Oh, there are many, many more, but since it’s 10:00 and waaaaaay past my crash-on-the-couch-time, I’d really better be going.

I hope to get back into the swing of things next week. I promise to share some new recipes soon!

Chicken and Stuffing Bake

Summertime is a great time to be married to a teacher, especially when there are little kids to be wrangled.

Do you believe I actually ran errands this summer in the middle of the day?? It’s always exciting when I can go to the grocery store at say, 11 am, with no children.

Yes, you heard me right. That’s what I call exciting. A trip to the grocery store without kids.

Anyway, I digress. My husband went back to work this week. He had inservice days, but the kids go back next week.

He always loves the first day of school, when the kids get off the bus singing, and joining in a school-wide dance number outside the building before the bell rings:

"Back, back, back to school again..." -Grease 2

Of course, not everybody shows up:

"Bueller... Bueller..." -Ferris Bueller's Day Off

And when they do, it’s not always easy. Sometimes a life lesson or two must be imparted in this harsh, harsh world:

To Sir, With Love

And when those lessons aren’t heeded, punishment must ensue:

The Breakfast Club

Of course, he loves those teaching moments when his students rally together to support him in times of trouble:

"Oh captain, my captain!" -Dead Poet's Society

And there’s always a couple of quirky kids in every bunch, isn’t there?

Napoleon Dynamite

Of course, my husband teaches elementary school music, so I’m pretty sure none of those scenarios every really happen at his job. But do you know how hard it is to find movies about elementary school music classes?

I don’t either, I didn’t even try. I’m just assuming it would be hard.

On Don Vito Corleone‘s first day back to work after summer vacation, I of course, being the loving wife that I am, had to make one of his favorite meals for dinner:

Chicken Stuffing Bake

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz swiss cheese
  • can of “cream of something” soup, or see  below for substitute
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • a few tablespoons sherry
  • 8 oz stuffing
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick butter), melted


  1. If you are using the cream soup substitute, prepare that now.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚
  3. Spray bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange chicken pieces in dish, and arrange swiss cheese over top.
  4. Pour soup into a large measuring cup. Add 1/4 cup milk, and top it off with the sherry. It should equal about 1 1/2 cups total. You could add a little more milk and a little less sherry if you prefer. Pour soup mixture over chicken and cheese.
  5. Sprinkle the entire dish with the stuffing. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the stuffing.
  6. Cover and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Personally, I think canned cream of something soups are kind of gross, so I use them sparingly. Here is a great substitute I found at Buns In My Oven:

Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. When melted, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until smooth and bubbly.
  2. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Return to the heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly, until the soup thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Substitute this for one can of cream of chicken soup.

Click here for printable

Chicken Stuffing Bake

The Critics thought:

The Don: This is really good!

Sarah Crewe: It’s good! It tastes like chicken.

Batman: (whining) I don’t really like it.

Curious George: I don’t really like it, either.

Elmo: Can I have some more of this?

So, it’s back to work, and I’m back to grocery shopping at night or on weekends. Boo hoo!

What about you? Do you have kids going back to school? Are you a teacher going back to work? How do you make going back to work/school after vacation more bearable?