bread experiments

usually sunday is my bread making day. i posted about my bread making process last week and today i did a few experiments. they turned out good!

first of all i added about 3 handfuls of oatmeal. i love oatmeal in my bread and figured it would be fine if i added. i think i shall do this all the time now!

this time i skipped the dough enhancer. i felt like i could tell it was missing but the results were not bad. the dough didn’t seem as light and airy is i how would explain it i guess. i’ll probably keep using it since i have it but not sure i feel the need to purchase again.

oh, and when i was shopping the other day i decided to look and see how much the vital wheat gluten was. it was pleasantly surprised it was only $1.76 a box! it was actually on a sale a bit. at first i wasn’t going to get it because it wasn’t on my list and i knew i still had some. i wasn’t sure if it was enough to last to me 2 weeks so, i got a box. i thought i paid about $3 for a box when i posted about my bread making process a few days ago.

i’m so glad my experiments were a success. i am very tired today after 3 nights of not good sleep so, having to make bread again would have NOT been fun!

 

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my bread making process

i’m working on bread right now and thought i would blog about the recipe i’ve been using and my process. so far it hasn’t failed me yet! it’s very yummy, hearty, light… (i’ve been trying to write this blog for days now. yay for me getting it done!)

WHOLE WHEAT HONEY BREAD

1/2 cup very warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons yeast

Dissolve the sugar in warm water. add the yeast and mix to dissolve. cover with a washcloth/towel and let proof (get foamy. the sugar causes this).

While the yeast is proofing mix together the following. (i use my kitchen aid to make/knead bread so i mix it in there.)

1/2 cup honey
1/4 coconut oil (can use melted butter)
3 teaspoons sea salt
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (use a good quality flour like king arthur, it makes a better bread)
2 1/4 cups very warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (can be found near yeast/flour in the grocery store)
2 tablespoons dough enhancer (i’ve had to order this online)
3 good-sized handfuls of flax seeds*
2 handfuls of sunflower seeds*
2 handfuls of steel-cut oats (or oatmeal)*
the yeast that has been proofing

Start mixing together. while mixing add in another 3-4 cups of whole wheat flour. knead until a nice soft, elastic dough forms. grease a bowl and let it rise, covered with a towel until doubled. thanks to a great suggestion by a great smart friend…i let mine rise in the oven along with a dish of boiling hot water. the steam/humidity helps the dough rise wonderfully and in a much shorter amount of time! it usually rises in about 30-35 mins both times! (in the summer time i put them out in our hot steamy garage.)

once the dough has risen, punch down and divide in half. form your dough into loaves and place in greased bread pans. i use 9x5x2 in pans. cover again with a towel and let rise. i switch out the boiling water for the second rising time. once it has risen, take out of the oven and heat it to 375 degrees.

bake for 30 mins at 375. turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 15-25 mins. i usually bake mine until it reaches 185-190 internal degrees. i learned this from the king arthur website and seems to work well for me. i’ve always had a hard time telling when the bread was done. i know there are tricks like…if you tap it and it sounds hollow its done, if the sides of the bread are getting golden brown its done…but, so far checking the internal temp has worked great for me!
once its baked, take out of the pans and cool on wire racks.

 

 

 

doesn’t it look so yummy? it’s so hard for me to NOT slice it while it’s warm. if i do this…i can’t stop eating it! see the seeds and oats?

 

 

 

once it has cooled i slice it up…and still don’t eat any! i really need a good bread knife by the way. i stack up the slices nicely while slicing the entire loaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

then, i place it nice and tight into a good ziploc freezer bag. (i reuse these as long as the ziploc zipper doesn’t get busted or there are no holes in the bag.) when we need bread for toast or sandwiches we take out the slices we need and the rest goes back in the freezer! so far, two loaves has been lasting us a week. we eat toast most mornings and i pack anywhere from 1-3 lunches a day. i don’t always pack sandwiches…good thing because we’d go through more than 2 loaves a week!

its such a good hearty bread and we all love it! thanks to my friend sarah for the recipe…which yes, i made changes too!

the process sounds long but once i did i a few times i got into a good routine. the ingredients i have marked with an (*) are not necessary but they add grains/nutrients/omega 3’s…they provide many health benefits! regarding the dough enhancer and the vital wheat gluten. i have attempted to make a good light, whole wheat bread many times and always ended up with a dense, dry bread. adding the vital wheat gluten i key to a good whole wheat sandwich bread. i can find it at my local grocery store and i think i pay $3 or less for a little box of it. it lasts me more than one month, maybe even more than 2. it promises to make higher rising loaves, increase protein, extend freshness and has vitamin c. it tells you how much to add per the amount of flour/dry ingredients your recipe calls for. once i started using the vital wheat gluten i never had problems with my whole wheat dough rising. once the dough has gone through the kneading process it feels so soft and elastic, something i had hard time achieving without it. the other key ingredient i feel in making a good whole wheat sandwich bread is using a good quality flour. i’ve tired just using the store brand whole wheat flour but it doesn’t cut it. the difference between a store brand and a good quality whole wheat flour like king arthur is quite different. the store brand is coarse. king arthur flour is very fine. once i started using king arthur with the vital wheat gluten my bread starting coming out beautifully!

as for the dough enhancer, which a friend and i searched for in our area with no luck – we use it in most bake goods we make. i’ve been wanting to try to make the bread without it and see if i notice a difference. i use it in muffins, biscuits…anything like that that isn’t going to eaten right up. it promises to make fluffier bake goods, enhance natural flavor and increases dough strength and shelf life. it has a handful of ingredients but all ones i recognize and can pronounce! it will last me months!

now, someday i would love to get my hands on some wheat and a grinder and grind my own flour as i need it! that would be so wonderful!

the bread is done and it smells wonderful…just wonderful!

whole wheat tortillas

just finished making a batch of homemade whole wheat tortillas. here they are…
(i use olive oil instead of lard. in my search for tortilla recipes i found many that called for oil. the recipe is super easy, you should try it! you’ll never want yuck  mission tortillas again!)

 

made 20 of them. i save so much making them myself…even though its a bit of a     process. i can buy freshly made tortillas at my local HEB (grocery store) but it costs $3.99 for a pack of 10! i pay $3.78 or so for a 5lb bag of king arthur whole wheat flour. you know how many loaves of bread or how many batches of 20 torillas i can make with one 5lb bag? a lot.

we go through times where we use these a lot. one batch makes me enough to do enchiladas/burritos and put some in the freezer. i like having them in the freezer to whip up some quick and easy quesadillas!

another thing i do to help save money and make for healthy, quick meals is buy pinto beans dry. i can get them for less than a $1 a pound. we love them cooked in the crock pot with lots of cumin and beef bullion. i don’t like using lots of bullion but it add such a rich delicious taste! sometimes geoffrey and i add fresh chopped cilantro and or chopped jalapenos!! yummy! i never used pinto beans until living in texas.

the last time i cooked up 2lbs in the crock pot. i took probably took a little less than half of them and put them in the freezer. i pulled them out the other day in preparation to have them with enchiladas. i warmed some of them up and gave to the kids for lunch. the rest i drained some and put through the food processor. we love refried beans! these are so tasty.

i like making enchiladas and beans because they are great as leftovers! i’ve also frozen enchiladas before and it works great. some times we just have cheese enchiladas but other times i make them with beans/lentils/veggies.

geoffrey will now have yummy enchiladas & refried beans when he comes home from work!

 

sun-dried tomato risotto

so, last week i had sun-dried tomatoes sitting in the fridge that needed used up! i starting doing some research about what i could do with them with what i had in the house. i stumbled upon this recipe and decided to give it try! i didn’t have the exact ingredients but i was sure i could make it work and boy it was yummy! the kids loved it as well. seamus helped me towards the end. he helped with the cheese – the boy loves cheese!

so, the recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. you know the little jars they come in for about $6 or more?  yeah, well, i don’t really buy those anymore for 2 reasons.
#1, too much unnecessary oil hence too much fat!
#2, i can get sun-dried tomatoes at the olive bar for way less money and way less oil! i usually pick the ones on the top not sitting in the oil. they work great! i got a good amount of them the last time i shopped and i paid less than $2 for them! i bet i got enough to make the risotto 2 times.

now, the broth… i really don’t like buying/using broth or bullion but do at times. when a recipe calls for it but i think i can do without, i usually do.  in the case of this risotto i came up with my own broth/seasoning using what i had. i had some white wine so i used that. i wanted the tomatoes to be nice and tender and in small pieces so i put them in a skillet with maybe less than a cup of water and let them simmer  (covered so water wouldn’t evaporate out) until they were nice and soft and made a yummy broth all on their own! when they were soft i took them out of that yummy broth and chopped them up. i did add a few things to the water and tomatoes while the simmered – garlic, salt, pepper and dried basil (from our garden this summer). it smelled delish!

i didn’t have arborio rice but the brown rice i did use was just fine. it did take longer too cook though and i kept the cover on while simmering probably half the time.

i didn’t have mozzarella cheese but had just about a 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. i did some reviewers thought there was too much cheese and seeing more cheese equals more fat i was sure the 1/3 cup of cheese would be just fine. a good strong parmesan cheese can go a long way!

i kept tasting the rice/broth as it cooked to be sure it was flavorful. it turned out just heavenly and my children loved it! layla wouldn’t have minded about the tomatoes in it but if i  told seamus he would have turned his nose up right away! he was eager to taste it after he had helped grate and put the cheese in it! i was worried he would be turned off by the pieces of tomatoes in it so we ate by candlelight! man, i love when i am so smart! the key is getting him to eat things that i know he will like if he will just try. now when i make it again i can tell him he already had it and remind him that he helped me with the cheese, sat on the counter, ate by candlelight…’oh yeah!’ he’ll say. i love him!

i would have loved to sprinkle some fresh basil on top my serving as the recipe called for but seeing i used the dried basil in the recipe i was happy with that! we will be having this risotto again! i used to think risotto was full of fat but i learned i can make it not that way and still very yummy! (this was the first time i made risotto. who knew i could whip up some  delicious risotto with very few ingredients?)

if you’ve never made risotto, don’t be afraid to try! (rosie, you should try this! we should also look for a better mushroom risotto!)

enchiladas

i have some more vegetarian recipes to share!

so, i think last week?…i made some enchiladas. we do love enchiladas and i am always making them different. seamus (4) prefers just cheese but sometimes i add beans or rice to them. he doesn’t mind. sometimes i add other things because geoffrey, layla and i aren’t too picky. i stumbled upon a recipe and was happy to find a white enchilada sauce! i mean who doesn’t love some mushroom spinach enchiladas with a white cream sauce? seriously…they were so good! fresh mushrooms. fresh spinach. oh boy! i want more.

well, anyway..here is the recipe.

WHITE ENCHILADA SAUCE
1/4 cup butter
1/4 wheat flour (or your favorite flour. use a gluten free if needed)
2 cups water
8 oz sour cream (we use light around here)
garlic powder (or some fresh garlic)
salt/pepper
mexican seasoning (i didn’t have this and it was ok. i think i just used salt, pepper and garlic powder cause i was in a hurry.)

melt your butter in a saucepan. stir in the flour and cook a min or so. whisk in the water. add seasonings. cook until it thickens then mix in the sour cream. yum!

i had sauteed up some fresh baby bella mushrooms, onions and fresh spinach. but i didn’t saute to long. i added some salt and pepper to taste.

i filled some sun dried tomato flour tortillas with the veggies and drizzle of sauce. (i usually have whole wheat tortillas.) i lined them up in a baking dish, poured about half of the white enchilada sauce over them and topped with some cheese. not a lot. maybe a cup?

now, my sweet boy, seamus, doesn’t like mushrooms. i was just going to make some cheese enchiladas but i had some leftover black-eyed peas so i decided to mash up the beans a bit and throw those in. so, the cheese and black-eyed peas got the other half of the white enchilada sauce poured over them too but no cheese on top because they had it inside! we loved them!  both pans of enchiladas were so yummy! another meatless meal.

i think i need to gather ingredients and make up a few batches of these for the freezer! they make great leftovers too and daddy doesn’t complain when he gets yummy enchiladas in his lunch!

next time i should take a picture of what the inside looked like…but you can just imagine. oh, now that i look at this picture i remember what else i added to the sauce! i had some leftover adobe peppers in sauce so i cut one up and put it along with a scoop of sauce into the enchilada sauce. i would have liked to add more but i didn’t want it too spicy for the kids.

 

 

 

quinoa cakes

oh my.

tonight i made something new. something delicious. something new, delicious, healthy (but i’ll make it more healthy), vegetarian.

we eat quinoa. i’ve posted about quinoa before. its a superfood. its so yummy and i wanted to explore other ways to prepare it. well, i found this yummy site! i browsed there for quite sometime.

i decided to make quinoa cakes. i had gathered my supplies and my spinach really was telling me it needed to be used up so, tonight was the night! i love this recipe because everything is homemade! the dressing for the salad, the salad itself and of course the quinoa cakes! i knew for sure geoffrey and i would love this recipe. i was thinking layla would try it and i was hoping seamus would try the little cakes. (instead of buying the container or washed organic baby spinach for probably $5.99 i bought the bunch of organic spinach for $1.99 and washed it, cut off the stems and cut down the leaves in smaller pieces. it worked fine but took more time.)

well, as i was preparing it they both wanted to know what i was making. i told them ‘quinoa cakes’ and of course i hyped it up that they were going to be super delicious and they were so healthy. we talk a lot about what is healthy and what it not. sometimes they get excited about things being healthy and things not. (for those who don’t know our precious babies are layla who is 6 and seamus who is 4)

as the first batch of these little cakes were done i split them in half to help them cool seeing i had two kids who really wanted to try them! i tried first…to make sure they still weren’t too hot, of course!

yum! but i remembered about the cayenne i put in and i could taste it a bit. so, i decided id better give them something to dip the cakes in so their first bite wasn’t too spicy for them. even though it wasn’t the best ‘healthy’ choice i grabbed the mayo and put a little squirt a bowl for them to dip. yum, again!

they really liked them. i got all sorts of comments and they were telling me how they were kinda like ‘chicken nuggets’. they were. crunchy on the outside, soft and moist and flavorful on the inside. its has been SO long since our kids even had chicken nuggets. never in this house or in my husband’s presence in over a year i bet! i was so happy they liked them!

i will be making them again and i am thinking they should reheat nicely. i really needed a double batch to satisfy us all. i had to cut them off so we could save 3 for daddy to enjoy with the salad!

oh, and back to the dipping. when the kids started comparing to them to chicken nuggets…by the way, there really is NO comparison, but i think you knew that! got out the ketchup and told them to try the ketchup. they liked that too. so, next time…. i’ll make a double for triple batch so we have leftovers and i’ll be sure to run out mayo and only have ketchup on hand! 🙂 but don’t tell them that.

i am always changing recipes and making them my own (my mother loves this! 🙂 ). i’m always trying to make them as healthy as possible. the only thing i would like to try with this recipe is to bake the cakes rather than fry them in a few tablespoons of olive oil. i realize it isn’t awful but i bet i could maybe broil them. use less oil and still get the crispy outside! they really are heavenly! and i didn’t even talk about the salad and its yummy dressing. so delicious!

geoffrey will be home from work soon. when i get this meal ready for him i’ll take a picture. i wish i was better at taking a good picture of food. i’ll do my best and post.

geoffrey says it tastes wonderful! he love its. i don’t think this picture does it justice but…oh well, here it is…

black-eyed peas

so, as i’ve been out grocery shopping the past week and checking some blogs i frequent i been seeing lots of black-eyed peas. i do like black-eyed peas but why was seeing them so much. there must be something. i then thought there was something about the and new years. my good friend, google, reminded me that yes, lots of people enjoy them on new years. supposedly, they bring good luck. well, i don’t believe in all that but i did get some for 3 reasons.

#1- its been awhile since we’ve eaten them.

#2- they are a good  source of fiber and protein.

#3- i saw this yummy recipe and HAD to make it! so, so yummy! i added corn to mine. after seeing the picture of ree’s dip with pieces of corn i decided i would just throw some in!

when we got up in the morning i put a bag of dried black-eyed peas in the crock-pot to cook.  after i took out cooked peas for the dip i set the rest aside.

i made the dip and the kids loved it! i was so happy and i figured they would. i was sure to not make it too spicy for them.

while the dip was baking i cooked up some brown rice to make up another dish. when i cook my rice i just add a bunch of water and drain out the excess. i always seem to have other things going on while rice is cooking and don’t have time to babysit it. i read this tip once and am very thankful i did! so, when the rice was done to my liking i saved a bit of the water and added to it pepper, dried oregano and beef bullion. (i really need to move away from using bullion.) i then mixed the seasoned rice with the black eyed and put it in the fridge.

while we were gone to church i put 2 of geoffrey’s hot smoked venison sausage links in the crock-pot to cook. i actually forgot to take them out earlier (even though i had planned on making this dish) but they cooked up very nicely even though they were frozen. i also had half an onion so i sliced that up and threw it in. i sliced  up the links  and added it to the black-eyed peas and rice along with the onions. it makes a great dish! the smoked sausage is too spicy for the kids so i didn’t add it to all of the peas and rice so the kids could still enjoy. i don’t really know what to call this dish other than something like…’smoked venison sausage with black-eyed peas and rice’! it is so yummy.

so, there you have it…two easy, yummy ways to eat black-eyed peas! i need to make them more this winter. maybe i’ll do a search for other recipes and try something else. stay tuned.

black bean chili with orange and cumin

it was late last winter, i think, when i found  this black bean chili with orange and cumin recipe from think liz. we do love chili and i thought this would be a great recipe to try. seeing we don’t eat much meat i was drawn to this vegetarian chili recipe. the kids and i just had some. yummy! at first seamus wasn’t sure about it  because it had oranges in it. he saw me working up the oranges earlier in the day and layla also found it necessary to tell him the chili had oranges in it. texas oranges!

i soaked the black beans overnight in hopes i could pull of making the chili today. my only dilemma was the tomatoes i would need. remember that paper bag full of tomoates? the one that has all the tomatoes we pulled of the tomatoes plants that died from the freeze when we didn’t cover? well, i was hoping when i went and got that bag i would have some red tomatoes and sure enough, i did!! yay! now our chili would be made with tomatoes and cilantro from the garden and texas oranges!

here are the delicious tomatoes that have been ripening in the brown paper bag. i’m looking forward to using more as they ripen!

 

i’m also working on bread right now…some honey whole wheat bread! it’s a new recipe, so if it comes out good i’ll share in a later blog.

things i like. things i like better.

so, baking cakes for the wedding and i ended up getting bake even strips from wilton. i needed my square cakes to not mound up in the center but to bake more evenly. these bake even strips work wonderful!! i love them! they even 30% off at hobby lobby when i went to get them yesterday.

now, onto eggnog… yummy eggnog. a few days ago i picked up some southern comfort eggnog. it was yummy and geoffrey and i had been enjoying it in our morning coffee. this worked out great seeing i forgot to pick up more half & half. well, when i went to the grocery store, again, i knew we would be running out of eggnog so i decided to pick up some more. well, the southern comfort was gone. i ended up getting borden’s eggnog. while it was thick and creamy it lacked the spices and was sweeter than the southern comfort. so, i like southern comfort eggnog best.

now, my favorite eggnog of all time is my mom’s homemade eggnog. i have been thinking about making some this year. we’ll see. she makes it every christmas eve.

cake

cake.

cake.

and more cake!

ugh…i’m gonna be so sick of cake after this week. which is probably good for my waist line! HA!

my sister-in-law (geoffrey’s sister) is getting married on wednesday and i am doing the wedding cake and the groom’s brownie cake. now that the winter party at layla’s school is over i can focus more on what needs to be done before and leading up to this wedding. geoffrey, layla and i are in the wedding as well. so the next few days are gonna be crazy. just like the last week!

the kids are excited to dress up! got seamus some black pants, crisp white shirt and a long tie! (the long tie was his request!) it is red and he is he so smashing! he was shaking his cute hiney when we tried it all on for daddy!

so, there probably won’t be much blogging until maybe the 22nd. we are scheduled to have a meet the farmer at the jewish community center on the 24th. then its christmas. so, i will be back…sometime!

i’m struggling to find the peace and quiet this christmas season. somedays i do have pandora going playing me some christmas music but its just the background. the other day when i was driving, alone!!! i had no distractions and didn’t keep having to to turn it off to give the kids my attention. i found every song wanting to make me cry!

this christmas i want the same thing my father-in-law wants every christmas.

peace and quiet!

maybe i’ll find a bit of that while i’m baking 10 different cakes tomorrow! 🙂

 

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