Hot Cross Buns

These little buns have a fairly famous history, some interesting folklore, and even a nursery rhyme…  Thanks to Wikipedia, here are a few of the facts I learned …  “In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during Lent, beginning with the evening of Mardi Gras (the evening before Ash Wednesday) through Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion.”

English folklore from Wikipedia includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns:

  • One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year.
  • Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.
  • Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time.
  • If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

History and folklore aside I find they are just really delicious, so I attempted for the first time to make the old recipe I have seen my Mom make for years.  A bit of phone research with my Grandma shows that this was her Mothers recipe, so this one dates back to my Great Grandma, my Mom’s Mom’s Mom.  Lets get started…

Hot Cross Bun Recipe:

  • 2 Packages of Instant Yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 3 1/2 Cups of Bread Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Melted Butter (between 95-115 degrees)
  • 2/3 Cup Warm Milk (between 95-115 degrees)
  • 3 Eggs (Megan Note: Bring eggs up to room temperature before using, just set out a couple of hours or so before use)
  • 2/3 Cup Raisins (I added a heaping 2/3 cup because I like the raisins in this recipe)
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 Egg White, with 1 Tablespoon of Water – set aside


In your mix master bowl add sugar, salt, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and cinnamon.  Mix briefly with a spoon or spatula just to shuffle the ingredients around.  Over your stove melt the butter, then add milk, mix and bring up to a temperature of 95-115 degrees, this does not take long so watch it.  Pour this mixture into your bowl with the dry ingredients and mix.  Add your raisins and mix briefly.  Then add another cup of flour, and the eggs and mix again until eggs are fully incorporated.  Then add 1/2 cup of flour, once it is mixed in, switch to the dough hook and add remaining cup.  If the dough still looks too soft, feel free to add a bit more flour, but as soon as it is not sticky stop you do not want to dry out the dough.  Dump dough onto counter, knead briefly, and shape into a round ball.  Place in greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth let this rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  It is a pretty heavy dough with all the milk, eggs, and butter so give this dough some time to work its magic.  Below is a filmstrip of photos trying to capture the above.

Hot Cross Buns 1

Once the dough has doubled (I forgot to take a picture of the green bowl after my 2 hour rise, sorry)  dump it onto a flat surface, punch down and divide.  This batch should net you between 20 – 24 rolls, so cut them to your size.  I opted for 20.  This is the part I messed up on, the shaping… I shaped them more like dinner rolls and I should have worked the dough more to get better rolled balls, but live an learn.  So make sure you shape the divided pieces into rolled balls, really work the dough, and place on a greased sheet pan, if not you will end up with blobs like I did.  Cover with that damp cloth and let rise until double another good 60 – 90 minutes.  See pictures below.

Hot Cross Buns 2

About 15 minutes before your buns are done rising preheat your oven to 350.  Once done rising, cut a cross into each roll, then whisk that 1 egg white you set aside with a tablespoon of water and brush over the tops of the buns.  Then bake in oven for 12-14 minutes.  Be very careful not to over bake these as they can dry out very quickly.  I baked mine 12 minutes on the nose and they were perfect.  Some of my family does not like how pale these come out of the oven so they bake at 375 for 10-11 minutes to brown the edges more.  Either way is fine.  I went with the traditional 350 for 12 minutes way so my rolls are a bit paler but still baked to perfection.  (Now just ignore how awful mine were shaped, they came out of the oven more like hot “blob” buns, but they still tasted awesome).  See below.

Hot Cross Buns 3

The last step is adding your frosting glaze cross.  You can add as much or as little frosting glaze as you like.  Traditionally people only frost the groves of the cross shape you cut into your buns to form a frosting shaped cross.  I however have “sweet teeth” and so I prefer to cover mine in the glaze.  To make the frosting glaze mix powder sugar and milk together until you have a thick yet drizzly consistency.  Then I dunk mine in the frosting once they have cooled slightly.  I left a few plain for Huz, he has sweet teeth too but does not like frosting much.  See pictures of my final hot blob (cross) buns below.  Not bad for a first try, just got to work on my shaping!

Hot Cross Buns 4

Few Things:

  • Once they cool to room temp and the frosting dries, I would bag them up or put them into a Tupperware and pop them into the freezer.  Since they are a sweet roll they tend to go stale with in a day or two but they will keep much better frozen.  When ready to use just pull out an hour or two before use and they will be defrosted.
  • I shared some of these with Huz’s Grandma and she approved, cross or no she liked the frosted ones.
  • They go great with butter and coffee.  Also you need to try them fresh out of the oven, they are extra delicious.
  • Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter season!

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. Enjoy ~ Megan


Taco Grande!

With this super simple recipe a picture is worth a thousand words!!!  The recipe itself is very easy to make, I find the most confusing part when giving this recipe to friends  is the “putting it together” instructions.  I remember I could not comprehend the “putting it together” until my Aunt Ellen once took the time to show me many years ago.  Since then this meal has been a staple in our house.  It is fast, simple, and makes great leftovers.   I know a lot of my extended family has this recipe but I think they are all a bit different.  Mine is a cross between my Moms and my Aunt Ellen’s (I think).   So here goes, it’s delicious…

Taco Grande Ingredients and Items You Need:

  • 1 LB of ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt, Pepper, Cumin, and Garlic Powder (Megan Note: Can sub garlic powder with one clove of fresh squeezed garlic if you prefer, I have done both ways just depends on how many dishes I feel like having)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Salsa (12 OZ)  (We use home canned; cannot wait to share that recipe this summer when we make it!!!)
  • Shredded cheese – a good couple of cups or so
  • 1 package of 9 inch taco shells that hold 8 or 10 shells OR you can make them like we do, click HERE, for that recent post!
  • A 9 inch or 10 inch pie baking dish

Directions: (Preheat oven to 350 or 375)

Either over the stove in a skillet or in a pampered chef rice cooker combine meat and spices.  Cook and drain fat.  In the picture below I used my rice cooker this time around, some times I use my cast iron skillet.  If you use the rice cooker I usually cook for 3 mins on high, then remove break up the meat with s wooden spoon or my mix & chop, then cook again for another 3 or 4 minutes on high.  It is a pretty quick process.  Once cooked, add your 1 1/2 cups of salsa.   See below.

Taco G 1

Next shred your cheese, grab your pie dish, spray a pinch of pam in the bottom, and the layering begins.  First put 1 shell in the bottom of the pie pan.  Then add about 1/3 of the meat mixture, then top with cheese.  See these steps below!  Note, if you use the homemade shells make a double batch which will net you 16… but as you are making them make 2 larger shells for the top and bottom so you end up with 14 total homemade shells.  You will have around 6 left over after making the Taco Grande.  See that post on how to keep and for other eating ideas!

Taco G 2

Now we repeat, but we use 3 shells and scallop them over the edges.  The store-bought shells will scallop out farther than my homemade ones but you will get the idea.  Then add about 1/3 of the meat and top with cheese.  See picture below.

Taco G 3

Now repeat again.  Using 3 more shells cover the meat/cheese mixture, and scallop in different directions.  Then top with remaining 1/3 of meat and add more cheese. See pictures below…

Taco G 4

Last but not least add 1 shell over the top of the meat/cheese mixture, then top that with a bit more cheese.  Bake around 350 or 375 for about 15 or 20 minutes.  The idea here is to heat through and melt the cheese in the different layers, because all your meat had already been cooked.  Once the cheese on top starts to brown I usually call it hot and done.  You should even notice your scalloped edges to crisp up a bit like a chip.  See final pictures below!

Taco G 5

Few Tips:

  • Cut and serve just like a piece of pie.
  • Serve with some extra salsa if you have any.
  • Goes great with green beans, rice, or corn as a side.  I also usually serve with some of my canned peaches or applesauce.
  • If for some reason after you cut it and you notice the middle is not hot enough, just pop that piece in th microwave.  That happens occasionally for use because I am usually too hungary and pull it out a bit early.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

Pita Bread Dinner – Easy and Fun to Make!?

This is a good one from my Mom, which she got from her sister, and as with any good recipe my mom has altered it slightly so here is my Moms spin on a great classic…   The post will be broken into 3 parts:

  • How to make Pita Bread – seriously folks in your own oven, no need for store bought here, these are so easy and fun!  We don’t have kids but I would argue that this would make for fun project to get them helping in the kitchen.  They are so fun to watch “poof” in the oven!  It’s magical…
  • The Pita Bread Meal – (as I call it) from Aunt Beth again!
  • The Eating… with Tips/Suggestions.

How to make Pita bread  –  I found this recipe from The Fresh Loaf, please check it out HERE, I pretty much copy this recipe, but it is worth checking out, as they go a bit more indepth…Makes 8 pitas:

  • 3 cups flour – (I like to use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour or bread flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey (Megan Note: I use honey)
  • 1 packet instant yeast (Megan Note: This is 2 & 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Pita Bread Directions:  I do all this in my kitchen aid mix master, so my directions will follow how to make it in the mixer.

Mix the yeast in with 1 cup flour, the salt, and the sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup warm water (80 – 105 degrees) and stir together with mixer paddle.  Slowly add remaining flour, after about adding the second cup switch to dough hook and add remaining flour.   All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water (I sometimes have to add an extra 1/4 cup, winter months are usually drier than summer months so you will need more or less depending on time of year).  Once the dough is all incorporated and it has kneaded with the dough hook for 5 to 10 minutes remove it from mixer.   Below are a couple of pictures in the mixer and the quick hand knead I give it before putting in the bowl.

Pita Bread 1

Once done kneading, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. I use canola spray oil, but you can also just pour a teaspoon of oil into the bowl and rub it around with your fingers.  Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.  See below for before and after rise.

Pita Bread 2

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.   See picture below, of divided pieces.

Pita Bread 3

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling-pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.  See picture of this step below.

Pita Bread 4

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface, in the batch pictured here I bake them 2 at a time.  They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn’t necessary.  Then repeat until all pitas are done.  These are so fun to watch poof in the oven.  The below picture is before and after the 3 minutes.  (I forgot to take the after picture with the first batch so you get the “after” picture from the second batch.)

Pita Bread 5

When all is said and done you will have 8 pitas – see pictured below!

Pita Bread 6

Next, Pita Bread the Meal: (Feeds 4 or 5)

  • In a large frying pan, brown 1 pound of ground beef with 1 small onion minced, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • Then add:  1 quart of tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of basil, oregano, and sugar, and seasoned pepper to taste.  (if you prefer stronger spices feel free to play with the quantities and flavors or even add a couple super chili hot pepper shakes, I sometimes do)
  • Simmer for 30-40 minutes until it has thickened.  DONE – See picture below.  It has the look and feel of a delicious spaghetti or lasagna sauce.  I actually use this meat base for my lasagna also.

Pita Bread 7

The Eat: How to put it all together.

Cut pita’s in half, add a slice of munster cheese (or mozzarella works too if you are in a pinch) then scoop in the meat meal above.  I pair with green beans, or any veggie will do as well as some of my canned peaches or apple sauce.  See pita bread dinner below… I hope you enjoy and much as we do.  This is such a good meal, really simple and FUN!

Pita Bread 8


  • For those left over pitas store in a ziplock bag for a few days on the counter, otherwise freeze and pull out for later use.
  • Leftover Pitas also make for excellent sandwiches.  Stuff some lunch meat in them, with some cheese and a dill pickle.  Yum, a quick easy healthy lunch.
  • Occasionally when making the pita bread you will have a pita that does not want to poof, no worries just bake it for the time like normal, then when you eat it, just slide a sharp knife thru the middle to create the pocket.
  • These pitas also pair great with some hummus dip!

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

Salsa Chicken!

This is a good recipe to share.  I love it for a few reasons:

  1. Has great flavor
  2. It is easy to “make now” and “bake later”
  3. Makes wonderful leftovers.  Huz is a leftover hound, he loves to pack them in his lunch.

First the recipe and directions, then at the bottom of the post you will find a few helpful hints on my favorite part of this recipe, which is “make now” and “bake later”.  Plus a Facebook “like” request!!!

Salsa Chicken: (From Aunt Beth)

  • 4 beasts of chicken skinned or 6 drumsticks skinned – set aside.
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa, (pick your spicy range) a 12 oz jar is usually enough. (We use our homemade canned stuff will share that recipe later)
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup-ish of chunky pineapple – juice drained – (or drink it, why waste good juice)
  • Optional – 1 small onion and couple of stalks of celery both chopped.


If baking right away preheat oven to 350 or 375 . Combine all of the above except for the chicken in a large bowl and mix.  Note on the pineapple I usually add one 20 oz can of pineapple chunks, less the juice.  See picture below of the fully incorporated mixture.

Salsa Chicken 1

Then place your skinned chicken in a pan large enough to hold the chicken that has a cover if possible.  If not you can always use aluminum foil over the top while it is baking in the oven.  Here is the final dish in the pan, then into the oven covered.

Salsa Chicken 2

Bake for 1 to 1 & 1/2 hours in 350 or 375 degree oven covered.  It is done when the chickens internal juices run clear and the temperature reads around 170 degrees.  See finished product below!

Salsa Chicken 3

Few Tips:

  • Serve over rice.  This dish also pairs nicely with green beans.  (We have been working on eating our freezer beans, because before you know it July will be here and it will be time to put up the fresh beans from the garden.)
  • I love to make this dish during the day when I have time.  Then I pop it into the fridge until I am ready to bake it.  Sometimes I even program my oven to turn on & off and bake while I am out.  Yes you guessed it, I make this a lot on Wednesday nights.  Before I leave at 5ish for church class I pop it in the oven, program the oven to turn on & off, and by the time I get home at 7:45 I have a hot fresh-baked salsa chicken dinner waiting!
  • This is also a wonderful meal to make for those in need.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

PS:  I know I know I need to get my butt back on facebook, soonish I think… but in the meantime.  Please take a moment to provide a  Facebook Like for Vodar Films.   Why?  ….

Infertility is an important personal topic to me.  To read more about why this film please visit:  Silent Sorority’s most recent blog post:  Let’s Make a Documentary, it starts with this:   “I don’t know how to  deal with this…” That’s a common response, albeit  usually unspoken, for people in the throes of reconciling an infertility diagnosis……..

Yes the Megan you see in comments of that blog is me.

Thanks! Megan

Chickens & 2 other topics…

This week:

  •  A crazy chicken story to share
  • Wanted to follow up on Cusick House Honey Ale
  • Provide a spring planting update – yup it is that time!

First the crazy chicken story… Every once in a while life gets interesting out here on the farm and I begin to wonder what the heck we are feeding our chickens!  As many of my family can attest we have some of the best free range egg’s around, but this one still has Huz and I scratching our heads.  Last week Huz collected the eggs and one was a MONSTER egg…  It was HUGE, like 2 and a half times as big as a regular egg, we weighted it with our food scale, it came in a just over 1/3 of a pound or 5.78 ounces. WOW.   See picture below!!!

monster egg 1

That poor chicken must be sore!  Next, we had to crack it open to see if it was a single, double, or the VERY rare triple yoke… and it was not any!!!  Much to our surprise, it was a single yoke with another whole egg, shell and all on the inside.  What the H?  It was crazy… see picture below, it is worth a thousand words.  Never a dull moment around here!

monster egg 2

Next on the list – we finally cracked into our Cusick House Honey Ale, it is full of flavor & delicious for our first attempt into home brewing.  We have already thought of a few tweaks for the next time we brew this recipe but for now, excellent start.  Goes great with pizza, popcorn, chili… the list goes on!

Last but not least the Garden… for those of you out there who are seed starters for your garden now is the time to start some.  We are starting our rocket snapdragons for cut flowers and early tomatoes for our cold frame this weekend (3.2.13).  Hold off on starting the tomatoes if you are not planing on transferring them to a cold frame, our August harvest tomatoes are started more mid March/early April, will keep you updated on the planting timeline.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions and thanks for letting me share our crazy chicken story!  Enjoy ~ Megan