Monday, August 31, 2009

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I finally got up the nerve to try some sandwich bread and I'm decently pleased with the results. I halved the recipe found here.
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8 oz whole wheat flour
6 oz hot water
4 oz all-purpose flour, plus an addition 1/2 - 1 1/2 c.
7.5 oz milk
3 T honey
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp yeast

Mix the hot water and wheat flour in a bowl. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside for 60 minutes.

Add the milk, honey, salt, yeast, and all-purpose flour to the wheat mixture and mix well until combined. Add additional all-purpose flour until mixture is tacky, but not sticky. (I did this by hand, but it might have gone more smoothly using a stand mixer as I added a whopping 2 cups of flour!)

Place ball of dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes.

Shape dough until load shape and place in greased loaf pan. Note: This dough is far looser than an artisan bread and the loaf pan shapes it. Thus, try to resist the urge to add more flour to make it hold its shape.

Allow to rise in the loaf pan 60-90 minutes, covered loosely with plastic wrap.

During final 20 minutes of rising time, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the plastic and slice the top, if desired. Immediately decrease the heat to 375 when you place the bread in the oven. I had a pan filled with water in the oven from my previous breadmaking, so I left it in for a steam bath.

Bake for 45 minutes until bread is well-browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool complete on wire rack.
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Simple French Boule

I think this recipe appears in the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg. I've found it widely posted across the internet and used the one posted here. The full recipe boasts that it makes 4 one-lb loaves and that the dough can be stored for 14 days in the fridge. I halved the recipe, made one loaf, and will try the other one later in the week. The method was a simple as can be and a tasty winner.


1.5 c warm water (100 degrees)
4.5 tsp granulated yeast
1.5 tsp kosher salt
3.25 c all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast, water, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until well mixed and uniformly moist. This took about 5 minutes of loose kneading. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours. (After this stage, put amount of dough that you will not use in the fridge for up to 14 days.)

Shape a ball of dough into the size of a grapefruit, sprinkling with flour so end result is not sticky and set on a board dusted with cornmeal. Allow to rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. It will only rise slightly.

About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, place a pizza stone or heavy cookie sheet in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut a large X or several hash marks on the top of the boule and place on heated stone or cookie sheet. Place a pan of warm water in the bottom rack of the oven to create a steam bath.

Bake for about 30 minutes until boule is nicely browned. It should sound hollow when tapped.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last week, I placed an order at Named after the Brady Bunch's housekeeper, it has been reviewed in the Trib and in other news. Soon in need of toilet paper and shampoo, I decided to try it out. Shipping's free and the prices are decent, although there is a minimum order requirement. The site has a large selection of toiletries, cleaning supplies, and paper products and is adding food and makeup.

I ordered 8 items and paid under 30 dollars. Here's my invoice. It's crisp and clear, and has odd children on it.
It came via UPS in about 3-5 days in this pretty blue box.
Everything was well packaged and sealed.
I got all this!

Interestingly enough, there were even some products that I had not seen in the regular store, including:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Walnut Cookies


1 c butter
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk chocolate chips
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 walnuts

Using mixer, combine softened butter with sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt. With a spoon or on low, stir in remaining ingredients.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Drop cookies 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

The recipe says that it will make 5 dozen, I got about 4 dozen.


Slowcooker Chicken Cacciatore


This recipe has been adapted from this one. However, that picture looks nothing like my result, likely because I had too much liquid.

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion (Spanish or sweet)
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
8 oz baby bella mushrooms
3-4 lbs chicken pieces (I used chicken thigs), skin removed
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes, juices drained
salt and peper

Combine all ingredients except chicken and tomatoes in base of slowcooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chicken to top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour tomatoes on top. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4. Serve with rotini, farfalle, or penne pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Swiss Chard Lasagna

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6 lasagna sheets (no boil or cooked)
1 lb Swiss Chard, ends trimmed, rinsed and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 T olive oil
1 T water
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 c parmesan cheese, finely shredded
3 and 1/2 cups tomato sauce (fresh or using favorite jarred)


Place swiss chard in a high-rimmed pan or pot. No water other than the bit from rinsing is required. Place a lid on the pan and cook over medium heat until wilted for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain excess liquid.

Cook garlic in a small pot with a T of water and T of olive oil. The goal is to soften the garlic so it is mashable. (The recipe says to cook until the water evaporates. I added more water because my pot was too large and boiled or simmered until done.)

Mix chard, ricotta, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

Pour 1/2 c tomato sauce on bottom of the pan. Spread ricotta mixture on first layer of pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and another 1/2 of sauce. Repeat for another layer. Top with last pair of pasta noodles. Pour remaining sauce on top and cover with mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese. Drizzle last two tablespoons of olive oil on top.

Cook uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cranberry wild rice

1 cup mixed wild rice, I used Trade Joe's
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c toasted walnuts
1/2 c dried cranberries (or cherries)
salt and pepper

Saute celery and onion in olive oil medium pot until tender. Sprinkle with salt. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add rice and stir for another minute. Add stock, heat until boiling. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a small skillet on med low. Add cranberries and walnuts to rice mixture, salt and pepper, mix well. Cook covered for another 20 minutes or so, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice has the texture you desire.

(Note: in the picture from yesterday's post, I cooked the rice a bit too long with too much liquid. The result was more of a risotto texture. Still tasty, but not as pretty.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

6 chicken thighs
3 T lemon juice (half a large lemon)
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

Arrange chicken skin-side down on a broiler pan. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Brush 1/3 mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Broil until thighs are browned, about 7 minutes.

Turn chicken. Brush 1/3 of mixture over skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Broil until thighs are browned, about 7 minutes.

Turn off broiler and bake at 450 degrees until thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes.

I served this on movie in the park night with broiled zucchini and wild rice. Recipe for the rice to come tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bagels from scratch!

This morning, I was carb-craving, so I made bagels from scratch using this recipe posted on one of my housewife blogs, Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. She credits Joy of Cooking. I didn't make any major modications, but here's the recipe with my step-by-step pictures.

1 1/4 cups warm water (I microwaved tap water for 15 sec)
2 tsp yeast
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
1 T vegetable oil
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1 egg beaten with 1 T water.

Combine the water, yeast, sugar, oil and salt in the mixer. Let rest for 5 minutes until a "sponge" had formed.

Add the flour, 1/2 a cup at a time. Mix until smooth and elastic using your stand mixer. I swapped the all-purpose blade after 2.5 cups of flour were in and used the dough hook and my hands.

Let it sit in the bowl, covered for 15 minutes--it will not be doubled in size, but will be larger and slightly poofy. Divide into 8-10 pieces and roll into 10" lengths. I didn't measure and think I exceeded that length. Make sure that the dough is even the entire length.

Form into rings and wet the ends to seal. Place on a floured baking sheet, cover and let rise for 20 minutes.

Boil a large pot of water, add 1 Tbls sugar, and 1 tsp salt once the water begins to boil. Carefully cook the bagels about 3 minutes each. I believe this step is so the bagels hold their shape. Be sure not to crowd the pot. (If you didn't seal the bagels properly on the previous step, they will fall apart here and you'll have crescents instead of bagels.

Return to baking sheet and brush with egg mixture.

Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees until golden brown.

The final result wasn't too bad. Some were a little thin and therefore crisper that I'd like, but not bad for a first try.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This recipe was adapted from a Cooking Light recipe in the July 2004 issue.

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3/4 c sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 c apple sauce
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
6 T unsweeted cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c shredded zucchini or one large
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix wet ingredients in a mixer at low speed.

Sift flour through salt into wet mixture.

Stir in zucchini and chops.

Pour into prepared muffin pans, about 3/4th full.

Bake 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Peach Pie


Pasty dough for a 9" double pie crust
5 cups peeled abd sliced peaches, about 8 small
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 T butter
1 egg beaten with 1 T water

1. Preheat 450 degrees.

2. Roll 1/2 of dough out until it is about 11-12 inches in diameter. Place in pie dish, brush with butter.

3. Combine all dry ingredients and toss with peaches.

4. Pour peach mixture into pie, dot with butter.

5. Roll remaining dough and cut into strips. Make a simple lattice and brush with egg mixture.

6. Bake 10 minutes in 450 degree oven, then reduce to 350 and bake for an addition 30-40 minutes until crust is golden and mixtures is bubbly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe appearing in Cooking Light, December 2008.

3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c water
1/4 c canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (2 egg whites, 1 egg)
12 oz all purposes flour (about 2 2/3 c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cups roughly chopped semi sweet chocolate or mini chips
1/2 quick cooking oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine wet ingredients, mix well using a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

3. Gradually incorporate dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder) with the mixer on low.

4. Stir in oats and chocolate.

5. Drop using a 1 T cookie scoop about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

6. Bake 12-15 min until golden brown.

7. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Desserts for the movie

Tonight, the movie at the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival is Psycho. I will be bringing the following desserts, recipes to be posted later.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Peach Pie

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Banana Blueberry Muffins


As I posted previously, these muffins were made using this recipe available at I loved this recipe as the muffins came out moist and delicious! I am retyping it below to indicate the modifications that I made to make muffins.


1/2 c. butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (two large bananas)
1 pint or a cup and a half fresh blueberries
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 325°F degrees.

Prep muffin tins with liners or spray with cooking spray. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add mashed bananas.

Measure flour, reserving 2 tablespoons of flour to coat blueberries.

Stir baking soda and salt into flour, mixing well. Stir in oats. Fold into banana mixture. Stir in vanilla.

Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons flour over blueberries, then fold into batter. Stir in nuts.

Transfer batter to muffin pans. Bake 25-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Puppies and Pandas

Two recent cards that I whipped up to put in care packages.



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yummies to try

I'm planning on making Banana-Blueberry bread using this recipe. I'll let you know how things go. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

store closing

Apparently I don't drink enough. The Sam's Wine & Spirits on the corner near me is closing in three days. Very sad. It wasn't the best wine shop, but it certainly was handy to have so close, especially since I dislike going upstairs in Jewel. I hear there's a wine shop south of me on Michigan--I have to go hunting for it. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blueberry hearts


This recipe has been adapted for blueberries from the Cherry Pocket Pie recipe found on the William Sonoma website.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
8 Tbs. ice water
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
2.5 cups fresh blue berries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water


In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the flour, the 1 tsp. salt and the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar on low speed for 10 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 1 1/2 minutes more. Gradually add the 8 Tbs of ice water, adding more or less to reach the desired consistency (the dough should cling together and not be too sticky)

Divide the dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

In a saucepan, whisk together the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch and pinch of salt, then add the blueberries and vanilla. Set over medium-high heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Let the filling cool.

Let the dough stand at room temperature until it can be rolled. On a floured surface, roll out 1 dough disk into a round 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Using a pocket pie mold, cut out 8 of each shape (4 solid and 4 with the decorative cutout). Reroll the dough scraps, if necessary, and cut out more shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough disk.

Place a solid dough shape in the bottom half of the cutter and gently press the dough into the mold. Fill the center with 2 Tbs. filling and brush the edges of the dough with some of the egg wash. Top with a shape with a decorative cutout. Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie. Remove the pie from the mold and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Freeze the pies for 30 minutes or refrigerate for a couple hours. (This step is very important as skipping it lead to mishapen results.)

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Brush the top of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is gently bubbling, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

Makes about 8 pocket pies.

Finally, my netbook arrived

It's so cute and little. The Amazon shipping box was no larger than the usual ones that I receive books in, and light as can be. It's an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-VU1X-BU 10.1-Inch Blue Netbook, purportedly with a battery life in excess of 8 hours. Here's the first shot of it out of the shipping box.


Look how small it is when next to my regular desktop, which incidentally only has a 19 inch monitor.

Despite it's small overall size, its keyboard and touchpad are quite workable (purported to be 93% of regular size, but it feels about 85% of the desktop I'm used to working with). There's also built in bluetooth and even a webcam!

Since I can't wait to take it out to play, I crocheted this very gaudy case last night using scraps. As soon as I determine the best case to buy, it will have a more stylin outfit...I'm thinking body glove material or something water-resistance.
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Very important question, folks: What should I name it? Is it a boy or a girl netbook?

Garlic Spinach Pizza

I'm loving all the recipes that I find on personal blogs on the web. I've had many successes duplicating them and happily add this pizza dough recipe from Our Best Bites to that list. This is a universal dough recipe, although its author uses it most often to may very yummy looking bread sticks. On to the pictures and recipe!

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Dough for one pizza, fresh from the link above or store-bought
4 cups fresh spinach
2-4 cloves of garlic
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's)
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 c parmesan, grated or shredded
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Prepare the dough according to the directions. Roll dough into the shape of your pizza pan. Make a small "crust" so that toppings won't spill over. Prick with a fork at least a dozen time to prevent bubbles during this pre-baking step. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. (Do NOT avoid this step unless you use store-bought dough as the recipe I used is low on salt as it assumes salty toppings.) In a 425 degree oven, bake the crust till it begins to turn golden brown or about 10 minutes.

2. While the crust is pre-baking, in a medium skillet, brown roughly chopped cloves of garlic until they begin to soften. Remove from pan and chop fine. In the same pan, adding more olive oil if necessary, cook the spinach with some salt and pepper until wilted. Return the garlic to the pan for the last minute of cooking.

3. Top the pizza with the tomato sauce and the spinach and garlic mixture. Sprinkle liberally with cheese. Brush the edge of the crust again with butter or olive oil (maybe even an egg white). Bake for another 10 minutes or so until the cheese begins to turn golden.