Friday, September 7, 2012

End of summer veggies

Well, I thoroughly suck at this whole blogging process, but alas-here's a new post. I recently made apple blueberry bread off my basic banana bread recipe. I used brown sugar instead of standard granular, and a bit more of it since apples aren't as sweet as bananas. I still added my blueberries, and it was in fact delicious. Banana bread is a favorite in this house, and I look forward to a zucchini bread in the future. I don't have any recipes to share at the moment as I've shared the ones I use the most often. I have however been doing an incredible amount of produce processing and freezing. I've set our family up to have fresh frozen produce all winter long. I must admit I'm looking forward to fresh corn in December! As a heads up to my other midwesterners, if corn has been good in your area, this week is probably going to be the last of it at farmers markets. I have every intention of stocking up. Bumper crops are great for preserving. The fruit is at its peak and least expensive! A quick blanching in salt water is sufficient to set yourself up for quick cooking deliciousness. The vegetable will maintain its texture and nutrition while being a very quick cooking side dish or addition to any meal! I also plan on stocking up on the last of the tomatoes and preserving large amounts of tomato sauce! If anyone needs a recipe for tomato sauce, I'd be happy to oblige! Happy gatherings and happy cooking!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strawberry Banana Bread

Here's an awesome Strawberry Banana bread that I made this week, so far the husband and baby are big fans!

3-4 overripe bananas mashed
1/3 cup diced strawberries
3/4 cup of sugar
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup of canola or olive oil
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (1/4-1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup crushed pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan

No electric mixer needed, a wooden spoon does great!

Mix wet ingredients with sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle soda and salt over mixture then mix in, add flour in last. Once well combined pour into pan and top with pecans. Bake for 1 hour then cool. Once cool enough to handle cool the rest of the way on wire rack. Slice and serve!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On the Making of Bread!

I have been reintroducing myself to breadmaking recently. I got another bread machine from the thrift store for all of 4 bucks and am improving on previous attempts. So far, there have been some great successes. One thing that's pretty important in the bread machine thing from my experience, is they're really only good for the dough cycle. I have tried dozens of times to get good bread from one of the regular bread settings, and the loaves are simply too dense for any regular bread purpose. The dough cycle however allows for fresh, homemade delicious bread with the right texture and density without the constant hand kneading, proof, knead, proof cycle.

So far, I've made a dense (baked in the machine) white loaf. It was delicious but only good for french toast and bread crumbs once the rest of the loaf went stale. I've made an awesome fluffy whole wheat bread and an amazing Italian bread. Those recipes are below.

Since I believe in doing the dough cycle only, the order of ingredients is important, no setting this up and letting it work overnight, or in the morning after setting overnight.

Italian Bread
In this order place in the machine:

1 1/3 cups of very warm water (let the hot tap run then put measure your water from that)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp of active yeast (1 package)
1 1/2 tsp of olive oil
2 cups of bread flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp of salt
about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano

Close your lid select dough cycle and let it go. When done, just barely flatten onto a flour surface, roll it and place on a greased baking sheet seam side down. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise 30-40 mins. With a sharp knife or razor blade, slice a ~one inch deep slit down the center of the loaf (leaving an ~inch on either end) Brush with an egg wash and dust with garlic powder and salt. Bake at 350 about 30 mins.

Whole Wheat Bread
In this order add to the bread machine

1 1/4 cup of very warm water
2 tablespoons of honey
2 1/4 tsp of active yeast (one package)
2 tablespoons of oil
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of bread flour
1 1/2 -2 tsp of salt

Close your lid and select dough cycle. When finished pull out and place directly in a greased/floured loaf pan. Cover with warm towel and allow to double in size (approx 30-40 mins). Bake at 350 for half an hour and remove immediately to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rustic Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a from scratch chicken noodle soup that I made for the sick hubby. I used the veggies I had on hand, so its not a traditional soup, but super tasty all the same.

First you need to poach a couple of pieces of bone in chicken (I used 2 thighs) in boiling water. Add in your favorite herb bundles, in this case I used bay and rosemary. I also lightly salted the water...this is the only place I added salt making for a lower sodium dish, but you can add salt in other places, or a little more at the end to finish the soup.

While that is going, prep your veggies. I used some sliced mushrooms, one small onion, blanched broccoli, cooked corn that I cut off the cob (4 small cobs), and a tomato-carrot puree stash from the freezer (about 4tbls). Then garlic is an absolute must have for just about everything for me.

I sauteed the mushrooms and onion and grated in 3 cloves of garlic. I omitted salt so the mushrooms would brown faster, but once they begin to brown, this is the best place to add any other seasonings you would like.

Once the chicken was cooked, I pulled it out and shredded it off the bone with a couple of forks, threw it back into the pot with all the veggies and one box of tri-color rotini. By the time the rotini was cooked, the other veggies were soft and pliable and heated through. I served it up with peanut butter and honey cracker sandwiches. So delicious! This one takes awhile, but will feed a crowd and is very flexible!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Make Ahead Meals

Lately I've been experimenting with make ahead meals. Something that can be frozen and then just popped into the oven when you want to make dinner. I've done a shepherds pie (I mixed the cheese into the mashed potatoes rather than topping), chicken pot pie casserole-put the crust on before putting it in the oven rather than before freezing or just top with biscuits after its cooked, and lasagna. I would've done enchiladas too, but those we ate that day. Also, I'd be worried the tortillas would get a little too soggy, I mean they get soggy anyway, but I don't know how well they'd freeze and thaw then cook. A couple of tips, don't use a glass pan-the temperature differentials are not safe for glass, even the super duty tempered stuff like Pyrex. With most things, you probably want to bring it to room temp first, so pull it out a couple of hours before you put it in the oven. The big point of making stuff ahead is to cut down your prep time, if you use the disposable foil pans, you also cut down on cleanup at the same time!

Other recent experiments have been homemade granola bars and homemade enchilada sauce. I like to cut our overall costs as well as improving overall health by cutting out unnecessary sugars, dyes, and preservatives. They were both hits! The links below are to the recipes I used. I adjusted for our personal pallates, which makes it fun! You usually don't have to follow a recipe to the letter, its a guideline not a law!

Happy Cooking!

Granola Bars

Enchilada Sauce

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My first Turkey

Ok, so last weekend wasn't thanksgiving, but I made my first turkey anyway. A friend brought over an extra turkey that he had gotten from a work giveaway, and we had a little dinner! It was a 13lber and unfortunately was still frozen a little in the center, so it didn't quite cook through, though it was damn near close. He had pulled it out of the freezer two days early, but it just wasn't long enough. That mini disaster aside, it was awesome! The bird was salvageable, leftovers will be heated through in other dishes, so there were no worries. I made a compound butter with your standard poultry suspects (rosemary, sage, and thyme) to rub all over and under the skin. Can I just say, not only was it delicious, it was pretty! Aluminum foil is most definitely your friend here!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bacon Butternut Squash Risotto

I made this recipe awhile back, back before the holidays, at least before Christmas anyway. I've got a few pictures. Its adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe. The adjustments are turkey bacon and omitting a few ingredients I didn't have, and don't tend to keep around. Mostly its your typical risotto recipe, but you add in pureed roasted butternut squash and you start off with bacon, onion, and garlic in your veggie mix. Its delicious but very rich!