Garlic Knots with Beer Cheddar Sauce

I always have food on my mind. It seems like it’s the only thing I can ever really think about. Even after I’ve just eaten, I start to brainstorm about what I’m going to eat next. And what I’ll eat after that. And after that. And after that. All that deep thinking makes me hungry. It’s just an endless cycle. One that I can’t seem to shake myself out of—not that I’m complaining because thinking about food twenty four hours a day isn’t so bad when you really think about it. What shall I have for dinner tomorrow? How long until breakfast? And would it be okay if I ate two lunches today because I’m really hungry? The answer to which is always yes, two lunches is definitely okay. In fact I highly recommend it because…um hello, two lunches. What’s there to complain about? Let’s get on this two lunches thing as soon as possible, people. Let’s make it happen. I want to live in a society where it’s perfectly acceptable to have two lunches without judgement or fear of being talked about. I’m not sure but I think I just invented two lunches. 

I’m constantly on the lookout for any possible situation that would allow me to eat bread, and lots of it too. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to bread, but let’s just say I can’t get enough of it and I’d be dead if bread had never been invented. Dead, I tell you. Okay, so maybe in some parts of the world this is considered to be an addiction. I like to refer to it as a healthy appreciation for the really good things in life. Nothing wrong with that. Fresh baked bread right out of the oven is like a lethal weapon. Stand back. Homemade bread that you’ve taken a lot of time and effort to make is the best treat on earth. Soft pillows of bread drenched in a flavorful garlic butter sauce with fresh parsley, well that’s just sinful. 

I just recently got back from a trip to Asheville, NC, getting some work done with a friend. I remember the first night I got in, we went out to eat pizza and have some beer because I was starving and because I happen to love pizza and beer. We sat down and ordered our extra-large pizza (pepperoni with pineapple, it’s a thing, get used to it) and we got a pitcher of beer because we were thirsty. We were both super hungry so we thought about it for a split second, that’s all it really took to convince us, and decided upon ordering pretzels as well because we didn’t think there’d be enough bread in the pizza itself. SO we told the waitress we wanted the pretzels as well and she offered us a beer cheese sauce (magic) to go along with it. We didn’t even have to think about it twice. Well if I’m being honest, I actually said no but my friend said yes. Ultimately the cheese sauce and pretzels arrived at the table and I ended up eating ALL of the beer cheese sauce myself. I don’t even remember saying no to it, thank you very much. I always wanted it. I realized then and there in North Carolina that bread should always be dipped into a beer cheese sauce. So I got back home and knew that I needed to make a bread of some sort for the blog but only because I needed an excuse to make a beer cheese sauce for dipping. That’s when these garlic knots came into the picture. I regret nothing. As it turns out, garlic knots and beer cheddar cheese sauce are meant to be together. Like two lost souls, finally reunited. Let’s hear it for bread and cheese and garlic and butter and beer!

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Loaded Baked Potato Scones

I don’t think I have to explain my undying love of potatoes to you. I think you just get it. If I were to say to you that potatoes are the best vegetable/starch ever, like in all the worlds, well you would know I wasn’t lying. You’d most likely agree with me, because umm hello, potatoes. I have this obsession with potatoes. That’s where Potato Tacos and Potato Balls come into the picture. Not like a “they’re so good I’m obsessed can’t get enough of them” kind of obsession. While yes that’s true, it’s more like a “I need to eat potato everything and anything because they’re that good,” kind of obsession. I think it’s a healthy addiction. Nothing to worry about. It’s quite common if you really think about it. Don’t look at me like that!

I know that at some point I’ll be asked if these are scones or biscuits, and to tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure myself. I have no idea. Let’s be frank, they look exactly the same. All I know is that they’re flaky and delicious and I want to eat them all. I guess we can call them biscuit scones. Biscones. Or sconsuits. Hey look at us, we’re inventing new things. Aren’t we clever? The answer is yes. Always, yes. In all honesty, jokes aside, scones and biscuits, they’re pretty much the same thing, right? I mean, I can’t really tell the difference. Some sources claim to know the answer. The answer being that scones have eggs in the dough. Um no. I know plenty of scones that don’t have eggs in them so therefore, are they biscuits? Others claim that scones are scones if they are triangular and biscuits are biscuits if they are circular. This might be the case but at the same time, I’ve seen circular scones so I don’t think there’s a right answer here. I think the people who invented each of them got together and decided to play a trick on all of us. They wanted to mess with our heads. 

The bottom line is I made these potato scones/biscuits with bacon and cheese and I can’t think of anything more delicious at the moment. They’re something out of this world, especially right out of the oven all warm and flaky and delicious looking. Am I convincing you yet? These biscuits/scones are sort of like the ultimate snack, perfect for on-the-go. It’s potatoes, cheese and bacon and bread in a small package that you can eat with one hand while you (safely) drive to work or school or where ever else you drive. How about now? Are you convinced? These scones/biscuits are all like, “Hey look at us, we’re loaded with potatoes and crispy bacon and delicious cheese. You need to eat us!” They’re calling out to you because they know you can’t resist. Don’t fight it anymore, go on and make these biscuits/scones for yourself. 

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(Everything) Slider Buns

Bread has a bad reputation of being too difficult to make at home. There are some pretty nasty and vicious rumors going around that it takes way too long and requires a lot of effort (and lots of elbow grease) to make homemade bread. I’ve had just about enough of it. Those are all dirty lies. Don’t believe a word of it. It only takes a minimal amount of elbow grease. What’s more, if you have one of those fancy stand mixers or bread machines then you’re solid. You’re good to go. You’re all set. You don’t even have to break a sweat. No need to get dirty. The odds are in your favor, you should be making bread more often, what’s wrong with you?! Do you have any idea how delicious homemade bread is? Do you know what you’re missing out on? You haven’t been living if you haven’t tried warm bread fresh out of the oven, at least once in your life. But don’t worry about it. That’s all about to change. You’re about to become addicted, and I’m happy to help.

I try to make my own bread, whether it be rolls, loaves or buns, as much as I possibly can. Whenever I have the chance. Now I’m no magician, I’ll be honest with you, most often I don’t have the time to make my own bread. What with all the rising and the resting and the baking and the cooling times, I don’t think it’s always possible. I’m realistic, but when I do have the time, I make sure to bake my own bread. It’s unbelievably delicious. I can’t even begin to describe the experience to you. It’s like an out of body phenomenon. You literally get out of your own body. Okay, I might be exaggerating. Just a little bit. Don’t take my word for it though. You need to try it out for yourself, if you haven’t already. And if you have, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Most homemade bread is actually really easy to make. Sure the kneading can be a bit tedious but it’s nothing you can’t handle, and again, these machines all the crazy kids are using these days can do all the work for you. This recipe here that we’re about to dive into is super easy. So much so that I wanted to prove it to you by making it by hand. I know I know, I’ve lost my mind. No machines allowed. Adios amigos. I’m up for the challenge.

Everything bagels are my favorite bagels. They’re the only bagels that matter, if you ask me. Of course, aside from cinnamon raisin bagels on a cold and gloomy day. Or a warm asiago cheese bagel on those days when you simply want cheese and bread and more cheese for breakfast. Okay so come to think of it, I love all bagels, but why am I harping on and on about bagels? This isn’t a bagel post (but this is). No, this is just your everyday, run of the mill, homemade burger/slider buns post. It’s not just any ol’  buns post either. This is an out of this world, blow your mind, I can’t believe Jonathan just did this, kind of post. Nothing makes sense right now, but somehow everything makes sense. Everything Slider Buns that is.

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Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Doughnuts

I’ve been in a funk lately. An unexplainable funk. I was recently on a mini vacation, visiting a friend in Michigan and I had the best time ever. Of course the company I shared, definitely helped with that. Can I just take a moment to tell you how beautiful Michigan is during this time of year?! I mean seriously, it really is. It was my first time there and I was blown away by everything. It’s the type of beauty that takes your breath away. The kind you only see in movies and certainly not the type you see in Los Angeles. I mean sure LA is awesome in it’s own right. We have the beaches and sun and pretty consistent perfect weather. A few palm trees here and there. Just a few. It’s a different kind of beauty all together. I was born and raised here and I’ll forever consider this place my home, even if life takes me somewhere else. However, to experience a real autumn where there are actually colors on trees and leaves on the ground with a chilly air clinging to everything, now that’s something everyone should experience at least once in their life. How do people do it in the East Coast? I wouldn’t get any work done at all. I’d find any excuse to go outside. Anyhow, needless to say it’s been hard getting back into the groove of things. I was so sad when I had to leave, even threatened to stay. I haven’t been able to shake off the good times I had there and jump back into the mindset of doing the things I have to do. Does that happen to anyone else when you’ve come to the realization that the good times have come to an end? How do you go back to work and your daily routine when all you want to do is go apple picking, wine tasting, nature-seeing, antique shopping and cuddle up in a warm place with someone special? That’s been my dilemma lately, which is why I’ve been slacking on my work on here. I apologize. I’m back though (slowly but surely) trying to remind myself I’m not on vacation anymore and daydreaming about the possibility of going back. I snapped a few pictures here and there with my phone and those are definitely helping with my blues. I thought I’d share a few with you here. You can also see more on my instagram. Are we friends on instagram? If we’re not, we should be. What are you waiting for?

I started thinking to myself, wondering what would be the best way to get back into work. This is my 100th post after all (no big deal) and so I wanted it to be special. Or at least special to me. I began to brainstorm all of my favorite things. That wasn’t easy because when it comes to food, it’s all my favorite. In the end it sort of made sense to make this big one hundred a doughnut recipe because doughnuts are my life. I mean seriously, I can’t get enough of them. Remind me to tell you about the one year my family didn’t give me a birthday cake and instead a tower of doughnuts with candles. Best birthday ever? Yes. It’s really a short story that involved me eating them all. I also thought a doughnut recipe would be perfect to share because it was super cold in Michigan—like freezing cold although everyone there thought I was crazy all bundled up while the locals are in shorts, tees and flip flops—and doughnuts are perfect on cold days with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or tea.

Now, I’ve already professed my love—some might call it an obsession but let’s not go there okay?—for doughnuts on this blog before. Yeah it was a good celebration in honor of my favorite snack/breakfast/dessert/treat. If you recall, that recipe involved blueberries, bourbon and basil. What?! Crazy I know, but boy oh boy were they delicious. This time around I thought I’d honor my most favoritest (totally a word) of favorite doughnuts. It’s common knowledge from anyone who knows me so well that I always make an instant jump for any and all cake doughnuts more than the yeasted ones. Not that I don’t care for yeasted doughnuts because I do, I don’t discriminate. I just happen to really love cake doughnuts. Especially the kind with the chocolate glaze and chopped nuts on top. Forgive me for a second while I drool over the thought of those. Okay, I’m done drooling. Normally those doughnuts are just plain ol’ vanilla. I wanted to switch things up a bit by making my doughnuts with a peanut butter cake base because we all know that peanut butter and chocolate were meant to be together until the end of time. Old friends that go way back. And we all now know that I need those doughnuts in my mouth.

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Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake

Let’s talk about cake for a second. Okay, I lied. Let’s discuss cake for more than a second. If I had it my way, I’d only talk about cake. All the time. That’s the only thing thing on my mind. If someone asked me a specific question or was talking to me about a completely different topic, I’d respond simply with “CAKE!” I’d just shout it out to them. Scream it to their face. Part of me wants to do it just because I’d like to see what their reaction would be. The other part wants to do it because I love cake. I wouldn’t even care if it made sense or not. Cake makes perfect sense. ALL THE TIME. In reality, if I could, all I would talk about is butter and sugar and cinnamon. Talk about a love affair. Those three ingredients have my heart. Forever and always, I’ll never say no to them. Butter and sugar and cinnamon together is the stuff dreams are made of. Put those three together and I kid you not, you could solve all of the world’s problems in one easy swoop. Seriously though, it would make the world a better place. Just imagine if criminals had a piece of cake before they committed their crime, they’d change their mind and wouldn’t go through with it. That’s how good cake is. That’s the power of the cake. I’m probably exaggerating a tad. I mean not all criminals would change their mind after eating cake. But I’m sure a select few would. I say, give everyone cake. Cake for all.

I’ve been on a savory kick lately, as you can probably tell from the last couple of posts. I mean sure, potato tacos are freaking delicious. I ate about fifty of them, and I’m not even joking. Okay, I’m joking. It was more like forty-nine. Calzones? Why not? Give them to me. On cold rainy days, panini and roasted tomato soup is sort of my jam. But with all that being said, cake (cinnamon, sugar and butter) well that’s just hands-down-no-contest, a sure fire winner for me. All I want to do lately is stuff my face with cake. Cake of all kinds. If you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll have noticed the chocolate bundt cake recipe I included in it. Ate all of that without even a second thought. If you read the newsletter—which you should have by now because I sent it out at midnight. What are you waiting for?!—you’ll also know that it was my sister’s birthday this week. Of course I made her a birthday cake. It was a chocolate hazelnut cake with a nutella filling. Ate it. Stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. So when I decided to swing things back to sweet on the blog, the only logical thing to make and shoot and share was a cake. Duh. Cake for life. I immediately thought to myself that all I needed in life at that very moment was sugar, butter and cinnamon. So guess what…I made a cinnamon sugar coffee cake. I wanted it to be simple and yet a classic recipe that you guys would want to make. I hope you want to make this cake because let me tell you, it’s a delicious breakfast cake. I should make an entire cookbook of breakfast cake. I’d call it “Yes I’m Eating Cake For Breakfast And No You Can’t Have Any.” Or something like that, it’s a work in progress. It would give me an excuse to recipe test and eat nothing but cake for breakfast without people judging me. (Like my mom and doctor). I’d say, “I’m just working on the book. I have to eat this cake because it’s research!” We’d all have an excuse to eat cake first thing in the morning once the book came out. I’d be the reason every kid (and a few adults here and there) would be demanding cake for breakfast. I’m okay with that. I could live with myself. Gimme that cake.

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Pistachio Cherry Cream Stuffed French Toast

All I’ve wanted to do lately is talk about bread. And french toast. And butter. Really I just sit around all day long thinking about soft pillows of bread, spread with butter, and then made into french toast. My mind usually drifts off to all sorts of crazy delicious scenarios that involve me eating nothing but bread. Large mountains of bread. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, right? Of course that’s totally not really weird for me because I’m always thinking and talking about bread and butter and french toast on a daily basis. Just a normal day in the life of Jonathan Melendez. A few weeks ago I made homemade challah, which actually was the last post and my current addiction. If you think that I can’t eat two entire loaves of challah bread in the span of 24 hours, then you are very much mistaken. You underestimate my love for bread in general. It’s a love affair. I’m only half embarrassed to admit that I can eat two challah loaves in one sitting, but at the same time I’m kind of, sort of, maybe just a little bit, proud of that important unimportant fact. I’m like “Golly oh boy Jon you’re a magician when it comes to eating bread. You should have your own reality show or something!” Then somehow I go off on a tangent, much like I always do, thinking about what the title of my show would be. It would have to be something bread related like “Cutting The Crust with Jonathan Melendez.” “Two Loaves, One Man.” “Oh If I Was A French Baguette…” Clearly I’m still working on the title and the plot of the show, although I know that whatever it is it would involve a lot of bread. I mean like a lot of bread (we’re talking an obscene amount really, so envision with me here). I can live with that. You won’t hear any complaints from me. Unless of course I somehow run out of this supposed “never-ending” bread. In which case, I’d probably just move away slowly from me before I bite you for taking my bread. I’m totally kidding….you wouldn’t take my bread.

I may or may not (let’s be real, we all know I did) have eaten the two loaves of bread from the last post before I could even make this french toast post. Of course I was SO upset that I had to redo this recipe. I mean more bread, really?! Ugh, gosh what a drag. My life is so difficult. Woe is me. I dragged my butt back into the kitchen and made more bread—like I was being forced or couldn’t think of something better to do when we all know it’s all I really wanted to do. How tragic does that sound? Don’t feel bad for me though, I had four loaves of bread. When I finally practiced enough will power to prevent myself from eating the fourth loaf, I turned that last challah into a delicious breakfast and brunch dish. I think you just found an excuse to make breakfast for dinner. I’ll let you take all the credit too as long as you invite me over.

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