Christmas Recipes

Christmas Recipes
Christmas Recipes

Italian Recipes

Italian Recipes
Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini

The beginning of autumn in my corner of the world is pretty uneventful. I guess if you are really hoping for temperature changes like I am, you may notice a little bit of a less-humid breeze at the beginning of the day. Even though there isn't any major cold front our way for a while, I'm all about making soups these days...especially my favorite kale and bean soup!!

This time I made it with chickpeas and kale. I simply adore chickpeas!!

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini

What really makes this soup is the garlic rosemary crostini’s. You slice up a sourdough baguette and top them with a flavorful garlic, rosemary and olive oil mixture then toast them up in the oven. Their crispiness and sourness makes this soup irresistible.
Kale and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini

Soups are just wonderful and oh, so fulfilling. I could happily eat soup every day for lunch. Making your own soup at home is so easy and so economical. Are you cooking for yourself or just 2? Don't fret... Freeze the leftovers! They are so great to have to defrost for a last minute healthy dinner ideas.

This kale and chickpea soup is very healthy and tastes incredible. I have to admit that to some the best part of the soup is the garlic crostini. They are so easy to make! All you have to do is slice up sourdough baguette and brush with olive oil and toss on a little bit of freshly chopped garlic (and a bit of chopped fresh parsley) fantastic!
Kale and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini

Be creative with this soup base and add whatever beans you like and even change the broth flavor (I used vegetable bouillon, so this soup could easily be vegan if you skip the cheese part! yay!).  Add a portion of pasta, like ditalini, and you have the perfect easy and healthy weeknight dinner!!

What is one of your favorite autumn soup recipes? I have to say that after this kale soup, butternut squash soup is a top 5!!

 Kale and Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini
  1. 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  2. 1 garlic clove, chopped
  3. 1 small onion, chopped (I used a yellow onion)
  4. 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  5. 3 celery stalks, chopped
  6. 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  7. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  8. 1 can chopped tomatoes (I used 14 1/2 oz organic diced tomatoes or use a couple of fresh tomatoes chopped-plum tomatoes are great)
  9. 1 tablespoon vegetable base (I use Better than Bouillon)
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 piece Parmeggiano Reggiano rind
  12. salt and pepper, to taste
  13. 2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  14. 1 bunch kale stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped
  15. if you are adding pasta, 2 cups shell or ditalini pasta
  16. 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to toss on top when soup is ready
  17. for the crostini-
  18. 1 loaf of Italian or French bread {I used sourdough}
  19. 3 cloves chopped garlic
  20. 6 tablespoons olive oil
  21. 2 teaspoons sea salt (use salt to your taste preference)
  22. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes; season with salt.
  2. Add 3 quarts water, the vegetable base (or a bouillon cube), the bay leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano rind. If you don’t have the cheese rind, the soup will still turn out fine! Don’t sweat it! Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes with pot slightly covered.
  3. Uncover the pot and raise the heat to medium. Add the chickpeas and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. If you are adding pasta to the soup, add it now with the kale. If you are not adding pasta, just add the kale and cook stirring occasionally until the leaves are tender (about 7-10 minutes)
  4. Remove the bay leaves and the cheese rind. When serving the soup, add a drizzle of olive oil on top of each portion (and a little bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, if you like). Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. for the crostini-
  6. Slice the loaf in half and then slice it crosswise. Drizzle the bread with olive oil. Sprinkle on the salt, chopped garlic and parsley. Bake on 350 F until lightly browned (about 10 mins...depends how toasted you'd like your crostini).
  7. Top each bowl of soup with a a slice of the crostini and enjoy!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I forgot what it felt like to bake a bread: just because! I mean, I bake focaccia quite often and of course, I bake for my #TwelveLoaves baking group once a month. But it seems somewhere along the line, I forgot to bake an occasional "just because" bread.

I have to say I felt inspired by one of my friends I found through my blog.  Arlee will sometimes tweet a photo to me of something she's baked of mine. I'm a huge fan of Arlee and all she does. She's so creative and has most fun lunch ideas for her gorgeous kids! Now that we found each other on Instagram, I will also get a tag from her to show me what's baking. It just makes my day...seriously. Thank you, Arlee!!

So...Arlee was up to some baking again and this time she was baking a cinnamon raisin challah. I made this one a while back. I thought it was time to try to change the recipe a little...maybe the shape? I had the thought of braiding the bread and then twisting it into a round shape.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Each strand is filled with some fantastic goodness: cinnamon sugar and plenty of raisins...oh, yes! Can I tell you? There is nothing like freshly baked bread!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I may have left my dough to proof a bit long. But, no fear...this dough was so easy to work with!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I pinched the sides and ends of the ropes together. There were some that were sneaking open and some butter making its way out. I persevered!

There was no way I would give up on this bread. You dedicate so many hours to making it with the high hopes of soon having the most heavenly smell come out of the oven.

I thought it best to carefully lift it into a 9-inch spring form pan (I did spray it with baking spray). The bread was braided on top of parchment paper. I ripped the paper around the sides and left it only right underneath the form of the bread (a circle of parchment paper with a little overhang for me to carefully lift).

 my thoughts on this bread:

I didn't have to let it rise too long. It rose again for about 15 minutes. I knew it was ready to go in the oven and that it would rise beautifully...and boy, did it ever! I baked this bread as one round bread. I wasn't sure how my dough was going because I let it rise too long. But this dough is really enough to do 2 breads. So use 2 round spring form pans (or a 9 inch cake pan). I lowered the temperature after 30 minutes because it wasn't quite done in the middle. I kept on baking for about another 30 minutes on 325. Check your bread because you don't want it to get too brown. If you aren't as daring as me and want to try to braid and then twist into a round shape, keep it as a braid. The braid will bake could see my post on the braid here. Suggestions for any leftover: French toast! Yes, this makes killer French toast!! Trust me, it's worth making it to just have the French toast!

Tomorrow we have a dinner with friends for their Jewish holiday so I will be making a regular challah braid to bring to them. I know they will be thrilled to receive it...and I can practice my braiding  a little more!! To my friends that celebrate, Happy Rosh Hashanah!!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Yield: 2 round breads

  1. For the dough
  2. 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  3. 1 cup warm water (no more than 110°F [43°C])
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour, or 5 1/2 to 6 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 1/4 cup peanut, corn, or canola oil
  8. 2 teaspoons salt
  9. For the filling:
  10. 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  11. 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  12. 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, according to taste
  13. 4 Tbsp melted butter
  14. For the egg wash:
  15. 1 egg
  16. 1 teaspoon sugar
    1. In a mixer, with a dough hook attachment, add the warm water and yeast. Mix until blended. Add the sugar and mix about a minute. Slowly mix in 1 cup of the flour until combined. Mix in the eggs one at a time until they are combined. Add another 2 cups of the flour, oil, and salt. Mix together on medium-low speed stopping the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the rest of the flour (the remaining 4 cups) and mix until combined. Stop the machine as you add each cup of the flour to scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate the flour. Mix on low speed for 12 minutes until dough is incorporated. Be sure to give your mixer a break and as you don’t want to burn it out. Add flour if needed 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will be a little sticky but also firm.
    2. Take dough out of mixer bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl (when I put the dough in the bowl I swish the dough around the bottom of the bowl and then flip it over so all of the dough is covered in a light film of oil. I use vegetable oil). Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1-1 1/2 hours).
    3. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and allow it to rest with plastic wrap on it for 5-10 minutes.
    4. Cover 3 of the dough balls and let them rest. Roll 3 of the dough balls into long piece and then flatten to form a rectangle. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar filling. Top with raisins.Pinch together to form 3 filled strands.Carefully move the 3 filled strands onto a sheet of parchment paper. Braid the strands together to form a loaf. Carefully twist the braid around into a round loaf. Rip the parchment paper around the sides of the loaf and leave a little to be able to lift the bread up. Lift up the loaf, and place into a spring form pan that has been sprayed with baking spray.
    5. Repeat process with the other3 dough balls. Cover and let rise in a draft free place for about 30 minutes (I let mine rise for just about 15). While resting, preheat oven to 350 F.
    6. When ready to bake, brush with egg wash.
    7. If making one large loaf, bake the challah for 30 minutes (on 350 F). Lower the heat to 325 F and bake for about another 25-30 minutes. If making two round loaves, the bread may be done in about 45 minutes. You still could lower the heat after the first 30 minutes.
    8. The bread should be golden brown. Ovens may vary so check your challah see how it’s doing. If the top is browning too much, cover with foil for remainder of baking time. Let it cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.


    Piedmont photo essay: a visit to Cascina Garitina with Gianluca Morino

    Piedmont photo essay: a visit to Cascina Garitina with Gianluca Morino

    There is so much I would love to know about wines. The process of producing an amazing bottle of wine is simply fascinating. I met Gianluca Morino, wine producer from Castel Boglione (AT), owner of Cascina Garitina and President of dell'Associazione Produttori della Barbera Superiore Nizza, as most people may have: on Twitter. Yes, Gianluca's nickname is "viticoltore digitale" for a reason! Gianluca gets social media and he does it very well!

    Gianluca is passionate about innovation and about getting his message out to the world. By knowing how to travel around the web, he is spreading the Barbera and Nizza message to anyone that needs to know any thing about wine. Even to people like me that just love excellent wine.  Gianluca is more than aware of the importance of his digital presence to assist wine producers in growing. He has created some hashtags to follow his Barbera story: in 2011 he created #barbera2; in 2013 he created the round table #digitalbarbera.

    I'll back up a little and start with our drive to Piemonte (Piedmont). We were visiting family in Aosta and left that afternoon for what should have been a fairly short drive to Nizza Monferrato (Asti), Piemonte. My husband listened to me at one point and took the wrong turn at one of the rotondas and we ended up heading to the center of Aqui Terme. Gianluca patiently took our 3rd call and explained where we went wrong in our directions. It could have been that we were mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape.

    We passed vineyard after vineyard and it is very easy to say, it is not a terrible place to get lost in.

    We arrived an hour later and walked through the entrance of Cascina Garitina. I said buongiorno to a lady sitting outside that I guessed correctly to be Gianluca's nonna. She greeted us with a story of what they had for lunch and said Gianluca should be waiting for us.

    Gianluca arrived in his red overalls and boots. He told us we could walk over to see a little of the vineyards, but it had rained the night before and we may get our shoes muddy. It seemed to be an option to not go, but there was no chance I would miss even a short visit to his vineyards. We followed Gianluca quickly, trying to keep up with long strides, as he explained a little about the grapes and about his land. It was exciting to see some grapes growing from vines that were planted in 1956.

    We made it back to the Cantina and entered Gianluca's wine tasting area. Cascina Garitina is full of history-actually, 3 generations of family history. It was founded in 1900 and was named after Gianluca's great-grandmother, Margherita, whose nickname in dialect was: Garitina. I could feel his family history as soon as we entered his relaxing wine tasting room. The room was filled with antique pieces and photos of his ancestors. And there, in front of his ancestors photos, was Gianluca, in his red overalls, ready to introduce us to his production. Beaming with pride and confidence, he commenced the tasting.

    The kids were busy eating the amazing cheese and crackers. They were excited to get a taste of the Brachetto. It is a wonderful sparkling wine that is so perfect to enjoy in the summer. My husband and I both grew up having a taste of wine at the table on certain occasions.They couldn't wait to get back to nonna's house and tell them what they tried.

    It was an amazing afternoon in Piedmont. We had a chance to try some of Gianluca's incredible wines and learn a little about the wine production in this spectacular part of Italy. The last image that I have in my mind of the visit to Cascina Garitina is a school photo of a young Gianluca hanging over his desk. Gianluca has the same expression in that photo that he has now when you meet him: determination, passion, and a twinkle of humor.

    Here is a recent post that explains what is happening in Nizza written by Gianluca:

    "It’s definite: Nizza docg will be available from the 2014 harvest.

    The new regulations for the super Barbera made in the area of excellence consisting of 18 municipal districts south of Asti, located around the town of Nizza Monferrato, should come into force this year.

    The announcement comes from Filippo Mobrici, appointed just a few weeks ago as head of the Consorzio di Tutela Vini d’Asti e del Monferrato: “By the end of July – says the president – the National Committee will examine the papers of the public assessment for the new Nizza regulations, then all we need is the go-ahead from Brussels. Without wishing to create any kind of illusion, we can safely say that the path to the new regulations has been clearly laid”.

    The procedure for the “new” Nizza docg began just a few days before Christmas 2013, when the Consortium Members’ Meeting unanimously approved the renewed regulations. The positive response of the Comitato vitivinicolo nazionale came just a few weeks later.Now the public assessment has been carried out, convened by the Ministry of Agricultural Policies on the 7th of July in Isola d’Asti.

    The dream of linking the name of a Barbera to its production territory has come true: the Associazione Produttori del Nizza (whose president is Gianluca Morino) has believed in this since November 2002, when the association was first set up. Today, the Association’s faith has been rewarded.

    The main innovations that have been introduced into the regulations: the new Nizza is 100% Barbera.

    The alcohol content cannot be enriched. Nizza will not be made in years in which the grapes are unsuitable.

    There will also be a Nizza Riserva, which will spend at least 30 months (a minimum of 12 in wooden barrels) in the cellar."

    Nizza docg in figures:

    160 hectares

    18 Municipalities

    250 thousand bottles

    44 estates

    46% export (Germany, Switzerland, USA, China, Netherlands and Denmark)

    2000: the first vintage

    19 November 2002: the birth of the Associazione Produttori del Nizza

    Where you can find Gianluca:

    A recent post by Gianluca on Instagram: "The great thing about us winemakers is that we're always delighted by the beauties of nature, even when it does everything within its power to make life hard for us. Today, the battle between the elements has been won by the sun, and the fog created by the sea wind during the night has been banished - until tomorrow's dawn.#nizza #Barbera #piemonte #harvest14 "

    *My daughter took all of these gorgeous photos and she also did the editing. I'm so proud of her photography skills!

    Penne and Cheese

    Penne and Cheese

    I've been debating on posting this recipe. I've been wondering if all of you care as much as I do about pasta recipes. I was curious to know if you love a great mac and cheese recipe as do I. Do you dream of comfort food dishes when the temperatures drop? Do you dream of mac and cheese once in a while?

    Sometimes I do. But very specifically, it has to be my mom's mac and cheese. I never make mac and cheese, because mom's is the best. But I came across this recipe from Alton Brown a while back in a Food Network issue and I thought, "Hey! This I have to try!". Maybe because it was their most popular recipe in 20 years. Maybe because Alton tempers an egg. I was very curious.

    Penne and Cheese

    I didn't have any elbow macaroni on hand. So I did stray and make this a little bit more Italian by using penne pasta. I also added a touch of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a little bit of provolone.

    You essentially make a besciamella (or bechamel)sauce and then it has the tempered egg part. Not how mom typically makes hers...hence, why I was so super curious! Are you curious on how to temper an egg? Good question!

    Here's a great link to get the scoop on egg tempering...very easy...

    Penne and Cheese

    When fall comes around, I am all about easy casserole dishes, slow-cooker soups, rich sauces.

    What's your favorite spin on mac and cheese? This is now my favorite variation!!

    Slightly adapted from Alton Brown's Baked Mac and Cheese.

    Penne and Cheese
    1/2 pound penne pasta
    3 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons flour
    1 tablespoon mustard
    3 cups milk
    1/4 cup sweet onion, finely diced
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1 large egg
    10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
    2 ounces shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (or whatever other cheese you like)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    Fresh black pepper
    3 tablespoons butter (I used 1 Tablespoon and 2 Tablespoons butter)
    1 cup panko bread crumbs

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to just before al dente.
    3. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes.
    4. Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
    5. Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add in the olive oil and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

    Banana Coconut Upside-Down Cake

    Banana Coconut Upside-Down Cake

    I like to make upside-down cakes. I do. I really do! I think about these sort of cakes often. I know, it does sound weird.

    But really, it's not that weird if you're into baking. The truth is, I don't bake enough cakes over here.  I know that this also may sound weird coming from a blogger who first started out only intending to blog about cakes (and other sweets). I started this blog one day 4 years ago on a whim. There was no plan. I was missing my Hungarian aunt that was like my grandmother. She used to bake so many Hungarian sweets and especially, cakes. I was reminiscing about her. I used to call her "sweety" because I couldn't pronounce her Hungarian name correctly (Mariskaneni...which means, aunt Maria). I thought I should start to save some of my favorite recipes for my kids, who one day may actually use them. Thinking of my dear "sweety", I came up with the name Cake Duchess. That's how my blog first came about!

    I 'm just a girl that loves baking simple and not too fancy things. Like this cake. Please don't be afraid of it because it's an upside-down cake. Why does it scare you? Because you may burn yourself when you flip the pan? Ok, I get it...I do. Because I have burned myself doing the flip thing. More often than I care to remember. But you get better with each flip of the pan. It just takes some practice!

    Hey, I was told by my daughter that it's time to bake a cake. She told me I was a slacking in the baking area and suggested a cake with a caramel sauce. I adore any dessert with coconut. I thought that this cake could make up for my lack of cake baking. It did..really, it did! It disappeared in one afternoon. We did even share some with the neighbors. Now that's the sign of a good cake!

    I used my lovely cast-iron skillet for this cake. I am recommending you use an 8-inch square pan instead, as it's much easier to flip onto a serving plate. Bananas, coconut, a caramel sauce...oh, my word! Dreamy. Yes, very dreamy!

    Banana Coconut Upside-Down Cake
    1. 8 tablespoons unsalted butter,room temp
    2. 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
    3. 1 cup granulated sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
    4. 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
    5. 2 large eggs
    6. 1 ripe mashed banana
    7. 1 1/3 cups cake flour
    8. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
    10. 1/4 teaspoon allspice (I used cinnamon)
    11. 1/2 cup milk
    12. 1 cup shredded coconut
    13. for the caramel sauce
    14. 4 tbs of unsalted butter
    15. 3/4 cup of lightly packed brown sugar
    16. 2 tbs of dark maple syrup
    17. 3-4 just ripe bananas, sliced diagonally
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
    2. For the sauce-melt butter over a medium heat in a saucepan. Add sugar and maple syrup. Stir for 3 minutes or until bubbling but do not burn.
    3. Pour the sauce into an 8-inch cake pan and coat the base well. Arrange bananas in staggered overlapping rows, covering bottom of pan evenly.
    4. In a large bowl, cream 8 tablespoons of butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Mix in the mashed banana until combined.
    5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
    6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk and starting and ending with the flour.
    7. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the bananas in cake pan. Pour batter into cake pan, and spread evenly over coconut and bananas. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes (my oven was about 40 minutes). Invert cake carefully onto serving plate.

    Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns- #TwelveLoaves

    Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns

    I love to plan ahead and surprise my family with fluffy rolls for breakfast. I love to bake cinnamon rolls and probably could have a tray each Sunday morning. But, that isn’t reality! So in honor for #TwelveLoaves September Pear challenge (and to find a good excuse to bake some buns!), I baked these lovely Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns.

    What is the difference between your typical buns and sticky buns…well, the sticky part, of course!

    You could make these as sticky as you’d like. I always lean towards less in stickiness…but I did have extra glaze on the side to pass on to my friends that I shared these with. Because they were looking for MORE STICKINESS!
    Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns

    #TwelveLoaves -September: Hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Welcome, fall baking! The month of August was all about baking with fresh, summer herbs. September is all about baking with PEARS!  Let’s share flat breads, rolls, buns, grilled breads-whatever sweet or savory version you’d like and whatever you feel reflects summer flavors! Whatever you bake, (yeasted, quick bread, crackers, muffins, braids, flatbreads, etc) have fun and let’s have a delicious month of bread for Pears. Let’s get baking!

    #TwelveLoaves September: Pears

    Look at the wonderful pear breads the #TwelveLoaves bakers have created!

    Asian Pear Muffins by NinjaBaking

    Pear and Almond Muffins by Basic N Delicious

    Pear and Cherry Sourdough Bread by Karen's Kitchen Stories

    Pear and Walnut Sticky Buns by Kudos Kitchen by Renee

    Pear, Banana, and Quinoa Muffins by Rhubarb and Honey

    Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns by Cake Duchess

    Pear Streusel Sweet Rolls by Try Anything Once Culinary

    Savory Pear Flatbread with Gorgonzola by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

    Sour Cream Pear Bread by That Skinny Chick Can Bake

    Spiced Buttermilk Poached Pear Bread by girlichef

    Turkish Pear Coffee Bread by A Shaggy Dough Story

     I just get giddy when the temps drop a little. I have to say, they haven’t dropped even minimally here and it was a challenge to get into the mood and bake a yeast type of a bread. But the smell of these sticky buns baking reminded me it was definitely worth the extra work!

    The dough is such a great dough recipe…very easy to put together. I thought of adding the cranberries to the filling instead of raisins. My kids aren’t crazy about raisins in my baking…they prefer chocolate chips! I didn’t add chopped pecans to the filling, but if you love pecans, you could certainly sprinkle some in! I sprinkled some on top after I added the sticky glaze. I didn’t add the whole amount of the glaze, because it’s too sugary for us…but I did reserve on the side and saved it for our friends that we shared some rolls with (they were thrilled for extra glaze!).

    I’m thinking of this filling again…and I’m thinking of cakes and pies with pears! Oh, I love baking with pears!

    Can’t wait to see what you inspired bread bakers come up with! Happy baking!

    Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns
    1. for the dough
    2. 1 cup whole milk
    3. 1 (1/2 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
    4. 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
    5. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    6. 2 eggs
    7. 1/4 cup unsalted butter plus 1 Tablespoon (reserve 1 Tbsp for brushing the rolls), melted
    8. 4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
    9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
    10. Filling
    11. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened plus 1 Tablespoon
    12. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    13. 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    14. 3-4 tablespoons cinnamon (depending on how much cinnamon you like)
    15. 2 pears, peeled and chopped in small pieces
    16. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    17. 1 Tablespoon jam (whatever flavor you like, to cook the pears in)
    18. glaze
    19. 4 Tablespoons butter
    20. 1/4 cup cream
    21. 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    22. 1/4 cup honey
    23. dash of salt
    24. 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped –optional
    1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl.
    2. Add 1 T of the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
    3. Beat in the remaining 2 T sugar, eggs and butter. Beat in cooled milk. Gradually add the flour and salt, scraping down side of bowl, until a soft dough forms.
    4. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead the remaining flour into the dough, adding more flour if too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. The dough will be soft.
    5. Grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
    6. Coat two 9-inch round baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms with waxed paper; coat paper with spray.
    7. Prepare Filling-
    8. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt 1 Tablespoon butter. Cook the pears until tender. Stir in 1 Tablespoon of jam (you could use whatever jam flavor you like...I used apricot.).Sprinkle on the dried cranberries. Stir to mix and set aside.
    9. Mix butter, both kinds of sugar and cinnamon together in a medium-size bowl.
    10. Punch down dough. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to an 18 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread the butter-sugar mixture over the dough.
    11. Sprinkle on the pears and cranberries. Starting on one long side roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch seam to close. Cut crosswise into 12 generous 1 1/2 inch pieces.
    12. Arrange 6 pieces, cut-side down, in each prepared pan.
    13. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until buns double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
    14. Or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the following morning.
    15. Heat oven to 350°F.
    16. Uncover pans and bake buns until they are golden-brown and bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes.
    17. Glaze-while rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, cream, honey and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy (3-4 minutes).
    18. When rolls have finished baking, remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool 10 minutes.
    19. Drizzle on glaze and sprinkle chopped pecans, if you're using them