homemade cocktail rye bread + reuben dip

Tell me I’m not the only one who grew up on those mini cocktail rye breads at holiday gatherings. You know the ones — they’re square-shaped and, well, mini and they perform like champs when it comes to bringing spinach dip from the bowl to your mouth. Sometimes they also make fun lil’ cucumber sammies. I love ’em.

I love them so much, in fact, that I fear the day when I will need them for a party and they will be all out at the grocery store (which probably will never happen, because I always see stacks and stacks of them by the deli counter, BUT STILL); or the day when I have a craving for them but there’s a blizzard outside (may it never be again this winter, though); or, more likely, when I’m too lazy to put on real clothes and walk out the door but I still want the cocktail rye bread yum yums.

This is my brain on pregnant.

Anyway, that’s how this homemade cocktail rye bread came to be. And the reuben dip is a bonus recipe because, well, what good is cocktail rye bread without a dip? You’re welcome.

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whole wheat baguettes

Mastering the art of making baguettes at home, in my experience, is really no art form at all — it’s actually very similar to making a sandwich bread or a free-form loaf, but instead you shape the dough into a torpedo. And somehow it tastes just that much better that way.

And making whole wheat baguettes at home, in my experience, is very similar to baking regular baguettes — but with whole wheat flour.

I baked these last week with a Snowstorm of Doom in the day’s forecast. It was cloudy and snowing (and snowing, and snowing), I was housebound, my dinner date for burgers with friends was cancelled — you know how it goes. Baking bread — specifically, baguettes — was the only thing that could calm me down (I was really bummed about not getting a burger).

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basil, olive and sun-dried tomato bread

So here’s something I don’t so much love about pregnancy: um, NIGHTMARES.

I’m serious. Apparently this is a thing that can happen when you’re with child — something that’s been happening to me nightly, if not twice nightly. You get these crazy, vivid, out-of-control dreams-slash-nightmares and the worst part is? You can’t do a thing about it. You just have to ride it out.

Which means I’ll be spending a lot of time every night with zombies in my attic and murderers trying to decapitate my husband and/or cat and waking up a sweaty mess with my arms clutching my sides like I’m hugging myself in fear. Fear of the zombies, that is.

The last couple of nights have been a little better — as in, I have more stress dreams than dreams of the undead — and I have decided to credit it to this bread. Because after I made this bread, the zombies went away. Ergo, I’m making and eating this bread every day henceforth until May. And then I might even keep eating it afterwards. Just to be extra-safe, you know.

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eggnog cinnamon swirl bread

The Christmas season always brings with it a flood of memories and emotions for me (all of which, mind you, are grossly exaggerated right now thanks to my physical status. Pretty sure I teared up after watching a life insurance commercial the other day). It reminds me of gatherings with old friends; glittering, nostalgic memories of waiting for Santa to come deliver our presents on Christmas Eve; spending my first Christmas with my husband when he surprised me by decorating our entire place (indoors) with Christmas lights.

It also reminds me of the ones I’ve loved and lost — my sweet grandfathers who never ceased to make me laugh and whom I miss terribly with an aching, gutting feeling every year as the snow begins to fall; and my loving aunt, whose two young boys will be without their mother for the first time this holiday.

Most of all, it reminds of how ridiculously blessed we are in this life. I say this humbly, because I know there are so many hurting and alone this season. Sometimes I feel that pain in my own life, too. And sometimes I feel it for others so much that I become paralyzed with indecision on how to help them. Do I send cookies? A card? Do I just offer a hug? A sympathetic tweet or Facebook message? Will I sound selfish? Aloof? Sometimes I feel like a drop of a few coins in a red bucket outside of the mall just isn’t helpful, so I don’t even do it. Sometimes I clean out our cupboards and completely forget to set aside a few pantry items for the local food shelf. We send money to a child in India, but sometimes I forget we even divvy out that payment every month. Is that enough? Why do I become so overwhelmed by the needs of others that I neglect them?

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sweet potato-marshmallow cinnamon rolls

Sometimes I wonder if I could be one of those people who literally eats the exact same foods every day for his or her entire life. I mean, it would be convenient and there are plenty of foods I love enough to eat on a daily basis. Mashed potatoes are one of them. Same goes for peanut butter and jelly. Bread, duh. I could probably live on enchiladas, too, and cookie dough ice cream for dessert.

But then I think about all those other foods I love that would be neglected (like my beloved brussels sprouts, or macaroni and cheese, or my mom’s spaghetti sauce) and I realize that eating the same foods every day for my whole life would be a real drag (these are the things that take up space in my brain sometimes, I know).

One thing I could eat every day — if my hips would allow it, anyway — are breakfast rolls, reason being because there are so many variations you could make. Like these gingerbread rolls, for instance. Or these raspberry-filled ones, or these Meyer lemon poppy seed ones. Most likely, however, I’d go for these sweet potato-marshmallow cinnamon rolls time and time again because… well, I don’t think that really requires an explanation, do you?

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