Baking · Breads · Vegetarian

Whole Wheat Bread

I recently brought a few loaves of homemade wheat bread to a friend of mine who lives on the other side of town.  That night he made a point to tell me how addictive it was.  I think he was telling the truth, because it was completely gone within a week.  That’s not too shabby, if you ask me. I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten around to blogging it until now, but here it is for your homemaking bliss! The best part is that it is (nearly) whole wheat and 100% guilt free.

Made with Love. My husband happens to be equally good at making bread, if not better. Oftentimes, he will force me out of the kitchen so he can have time with his special recipe. In fact, this is one that he found and I adapted for our family needs. This picture features some of the lovely loaves that my husband recently made.

Even better, it freezes well, I’m planning to make a bunch of loaves of bread in one weekend and we will be all set when school starts in a few weeks.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is pre-sliced before freezing or not.  I’ve tried it both ways and they’re both great.  If you do freeze it, be sure to let the loaves cool completely before slicing.  Wrap up in a regular bread bag, and then put into a freezer bag.  They should last up to 4 months in the freezer.

I love this recipe because it doesn’t fall apart when sliced, and it handles well for toast or sandwiches.  It is heavenly when sliced while still warm from the oven and slathered with soft butter and raw honey.

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat bread perfect for sandwiches or on the side of a hearty stew.  It holds together with minimal crumbs and doesn’t taste too heavy.  If freezing, cool completely before packaging.  Will last in the freezer for up to 4 months.  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active, dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered nonfat milk
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • additional flour for kneading

Instructions

  1. Liberally butter one 2lb bread loaf pan. 
  2. Combine warm water (around 105°F) with granulated sugar and yeast.  Allow to get frothy for 5 minutes while assembling other ingredients.
  3.  In a large mixing bowl, add yeast mixture, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, the all purpose flour, powdered milk, butter, and egg.  Mix this for two minutes.  Gradually add another 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour to encourage dough to pull off of the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn out dough and knead by hand for approximately 50 more turns.  
  5. Cover and allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn out dough.  Shape dough into your loaf pan, cover it, and allow it to rise in the bread pan for 35 minutes.
  7. While dough rises, preheat oven to 375°F.
  8. Bake bread for 30 minutes or until inside reaches approximately 200°.  If bread is at risk of browning too quickly, add a foil tent halfway through baking.  
  9. Turn out immediately onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely before slicing.

 

 

Breads · Brunch · Uncategorized

Going Bananas!

I’ve been spending the summer determined to relax and rest with the kids as much as possible. Even though we have been doing occasional outdoor activities, it is so darn hot and we don’t feel the need to keep up with the sun-scorched Jones. We are natural home bodies, and it is wonderful to do nice projects with them around the home or yard. We’ve been doing a fair amount of cooking and testing recipes for the freezer too. The reason this is so important to us is because during the school year, and when sports come back into season for our family, it feels like we have an activity nearly every night. This gets taxing on me since I have an infant and still fight on a daily basis to keep my thyroid energy levels optimal. As a result, I love doing as many things as I can in advance to lighten our burdens once it is the busy season.

I’ve been going bananas! Literally, bananas are constantly on my mind lately. Hah. It’s officially summer time in the valley, and for Las Vegas that means HOT. We like to eat as much fresh produce as possible this time of year to keep our bodies hydrated and not overheated. Sadly, one of the fruits that gets passed over is the overripe bananas. My family isn’t terribly picky. We all love bananas, but once one of them gets a bruise, my kids think it is ruined. That means I had to come up with a way to not let them go to waste. This was particularly difficult as I’ve never actually found a banana bread recipe which I absolutely loved. I mean, they’re all good, but none of them are outstanding.

I think I finally found the perfect banana bread recipe. It is adapted from Nigel Slater’s black banana cake. Instead, I decreased the amount of sugar because bananas are already sweet enough without help, and I increased the volume of the recipe to make it more practical for a large family. The best part? These beautiful loaves freeze wonderfully!! It will last up to 4 months in the freezer when packaged properly. Just take it, parchment paper and all, and wrap it up in a bread bag, and a freezer bag after that. When you’re ready to use it, pull it out of the freezer 8 hours in advance or the night before.

Golden Banana Bread

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 medium, ripe bananas

1 (half cup) stick room temperature butter

2 ounces brown sugar

2 ounces granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:  10 oz. of your favorite chocolate chunks (I prefer 70% soy-free chocolate chunks)
and/or 8 oz. of chopped walnuts or pecans.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and line with parchment one 2lb bread tin.

Mash bananas with a fork in a small mixing bowl and set to the side.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add bananas, mix.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth.  Gently stir in the flour and baking powder.  Do not over mix or it will make the bread tough.  Fold in optional chocolate chunks and nuts.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.

Tip: A plain toothpick should be able to come out clean when inserted into the center of the banana bread.

Breads · Brunch · Uncategorized

The 12 Days of Christmas, Day 11: Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding

Make your Christmas morning SIMPLE with this make-ahead show stopper. All you need to do is pop it into a preheated oven, before you unwrap gifts and it will be ready when you are.

This pumpkin pie bread pudding is a dream recipe because it is not only ridiculously simple to make, but it uses simple, inexpensive staples most everyone always has on-hand in their kitchen.

Pro tip: Always keep a loaf of stale french bread on top of your fridge or in your bread box. Its a great multi-tasker, whether for bread crumbs, bread pudding, or more.

In my fridge recently sat a lonely, partial can of pumpkin just begging to be used up. With the big holidays I try my best to prepare as many dishes in advance so that I don’t have to deal with many messes on the big day, so this was a no brainer. We don’t (yet) have a traditional breakfast which we do on Christmas mornings because our children are small and enjoy pretty much everything. This year I concluded, who doesn’t love bread pudding? It’s easy, versatile, and potentially more nutritious (or at least less unhealthy) than so many other breakfast staple options.

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Preparing to go into the oven!

You will need:

9×13 casserole dish, liberally buttered

1 loaf of stale bread, cut or torn into approximate bite size pieces

1 cup melted butter

12 eggs

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

pinch of salt

Whipped cream

Maple syrup

Toasted pecans

Directions: Cube bread and place into greased casserole dish. Drizzle melted butter over stale bread. In a large bowl, beat eggs, whip puree into eggs, then add sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Slowly incorporate milk, one cup at a time. Pour over the bread and butter. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until sides are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out mostly clean from the center.

Serve with whipped cream, maple syrup, and toasted chopped pecans.

Breads · Special Occasions

The 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along, Day 8: New England Apple Cake

I’ve been late in the day posting my lovely recipes these past few days because of kids holiday and school activities. Last night, two of my children had to choose between two different singing gigs on opposite sides of the valley. They opted for Christmas caroling. The thing is that one of the people who helped plan it ended up having emergency gall bladder surgery, couldn’t attend, and the group needed an extra driver. They saw me pull up in my minivan and I couldn’t say no. It turned out to be an extremely enjoyable evening and I feel blessed that I could be part of it. At the end, one of my new friends gave me a bag of gorgeous hand picked apples which she picked up from an orchard in Santaquin, Utah last week. They’re so beautiful, aren’t they?

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I was delighted. I’m not sure what kind these are, but they apples are fragrant, firm, delicate in flavor, and super sweet. They brought back fond memories of when I lived in New England, surrounded by apple orchards and farms, and you could pick your own apples and pay by the bag full. Out there those were McIntosh apples, which are my absolute favorite, followed closely by Granny Smith. In fact, I have both kinds in my kitchen right now. I bought them for today’s featured recipe, but these gift apples were so pleasing, I could not resist honoring them by featuring them in my special apple cake.

Over a decade ago now, I served a mission for my church to Hartford, Connecticut. It was one of the best experiences of my life and some of my fondest friends live there. During my first few months, my trainer and I visited a dear woman every week. She would tell us stories and make us dinner and care for us almost like we were her own daughters. One of my best recipes is one she taught me, and this one came from her grandmother. I miss her and think of her every time I make it. She simply called it apple cake, but I call it New England Apple Cake. The only difference I have made is that I changed the oil to butter and increased the quantity and variety of spices because it reminds me even more so of New England this time of year.

New England Apple Cake

4 cups of apples, peeled and chopped (Pick your favorite kind. I usually choose between McIntosh, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp, depending on availability.)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp cloves

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Liberally grease a 9×13 pan.

Mix apples, sugar, spices, and butter. Allow to sit for a couple minutes to draw the water out of the apples. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in the salt, baking soda, and flour. Fold in nuts if desired. Spoon mixture into pan and gently spread evenly. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Breads · Brunch

The 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along, Day 6: Nuns Puffs

Want to feel like a bad*** in your kitchen?  Do you sometimes have visitors who will be coming for tea in less than an hour and you didnt have time to prepare something?  Wish you could whip up something special at the drop of a hat?

Memorize this:  “Half a cup, one cup, three-quarters cup, four.”

“1/2c, 1c, 3/4c, 4.”  (Say it again about 5 more times in your head.  It’s SO worth committing to memory.)

It’s that simple.  What is it, you may ask?  Pâte à choux!  You know, the fabulous balls of buttery pastry which are used for croquembouche (cream puff towers) and éclairs.  (Pâte= paste/pastry, Choux= cabbages/rosettes.  This is why you will always see the batter piped into small rosettes before baking for cream puffs.)  However, I am not going to make either of those with it today.  Éclairs and cream puffs usually use pâte à choux as a vehicle for fancy fillings.  Today I am going to let it shine on its own.

20171218_1143131992266626.jpgAs Nuns Puffs have gained popularity recently, even taking on different shapes, stories of origin, and even cooking methods, this is the original way I learned, and by far the simplest method to cook them.

All you need in addition to the ingredients is a heavy pan (I use a ceramic coated cast iron pot), a high quality wooden spoon, a muffin tin, and your muscles.  Now, you already know the sequence.  Lets add ingredients to it.

1/2c butter

1c milk

3/4c flour

4 large eggs

This makes one dozen puffs.  I always have to double it for my family (which is what I have done in the pictures, but not in the written recipe).  Oh, and before I forget, I want to share with you something wonderful: this recipe works wonderfully with 1:1GF flours.

Liberally grease (or butter) one 12 cup muffin tin.  Preheat your oven to 375.

Melt butter until it is lightly golden browned and starts to smell nutty.  Add milk and bring to a simmer.  I like to just barely scald it.

20171218_105220875735176.jpg(I adore the look of those foamy bubbles on the edges of the milk as it begins to scald.)

Turn down the heat to its lowest setting.  Dump in the flour and stir vigorously until it forms a semi-tight ball.

20171218_1056371934934236.jpg Just about there!  Now, let it rest for 5 minutes.

Then add your eggs, one at a time.  Mix it thoroughly until fully incorporated before adding each additional egg.  (Sorry!  I got distracted by my newborn and forgot to take a picture of what it looks like after all the eggs are incorporated.)  Now spoon equal amounts into your muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until theyre golden brown and pull away from the edges of your tin.

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I like to serve them with raw honey and a light dusting of ground cinnamon.  For less than 15 minutes of prep time, this is a pleasing presentation for your family on Christmas morning, or any time at all.  Happy baking!

Baking · Breads · Cakes · Soups · Special Occasions · Supper

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
For all you last-minuters like myself, I just have one piece of advice:

DOWN WITH CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE!

Okay, not really. It’s yummy, and I appreciate corned beef at least once a year, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: (whispers: It’s not reeeeally Irish.) It’s totally Americanized Irish food faire. Granted, my ancestors left blessed Ireland a couple hundred years ago, but we still love our heritage. (I’m more English and Scottish, but my husband has loads more Irish than I do, so we’re covered.)

I digress…

Back to the point then. If you want to celebrate tomorrow with something delicious and slightly more authentic, I’ve got some recipes for you to try. Our dinner menu tomorrow will include Beef Stew, Soda Bread, and Apple Cake. These are all adaptations from recipes I have collected from friends and internet over the years. I’ll make them into .pdf and printable versions later when I am up to photographing the yumminess. For now, enjoy!!

Irish Beef Stew
2lbs beef stew chunks
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 bag of pearl onions
3 cloves minced garlic
a healthy dollop of tomato paste (About 2-4 oz…what, you don’t know what a dollop is?)
1 large chopped potato
2 medium peeled and chopped parsnips
2 medium peeled and chopped carrots
1 small to medium turnip, peeled and chopped
1 small to medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium beef broth
12 oz Guinness (I do a non-alcoholic substitution with usually apple or juice and a shot of malt vinegar because we don’t consume alcohol in our home- or you could add more broth and some sautéed mushrooms)
A few shots of Worcestershire sauce to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish

Use an enamel stew pot or dutch oven and coat the bottom with oil. Brown the stew meat on all sides in small batches on medium-high heat. Each time a small batch of the meat has been browned, just remove it and leave on a plate on the side. In the same pan, sweat onions and garlic, salt and pepper, and tomato paste. Be sure to scrape up all those yummy browned bits from the bottom of the pan and also let some of that tomato paste brown a little from the heat of the pan. Add beef chunks and any remaining juices back to the pan now and deglaze the pan with the stock, your beer or beer alternative, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 1-2 hours.
In a separate pan, sauté with olive oil all the chopped veggies to give them a nice brown exterior. Don’t fully cook and especially do not burn them! This is just to give them extra flavor. After your stew meat has simmered for 1-2 hours, add in the veggies. Simmer for 30 or so more minutes. (Adjust the salt and pepper as needed before finishing.) Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

It’s excellent with Irish cheddar scones. However, I like to skip the cheese scones and go for the sweet Irish soda bread. Truthfully, it’s because I only have so many calories I can spare in one day, so tomorrow I’m going for the soda bread. Leave a comment on this blog post if you want me to share my scone recipe later.

Irish Apple Cake
4 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and diced, about 2 cups (extra is fine)
1 c granulated sugar
4 T butter, softened (room temperature)
1 egg, beaten (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 c all-purpose flour
¼ c chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Chop apples and macerate in sugar, salt, and spices while preparing other ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix butter, egg, and vanilla. Add apple mixture and gently mix. Add baking powder, baking soda, flour, and nuts. Mix well.
The dear woman who shared this recipe with me used to make it in a large bread pan, so that’s what I do. Although, you could just as easily pour it into a charming little cake pan or dish and serve it that way after baking. (Prepare the pan with your favorite method: butter, baking spray, etc.)
Bake for 45min until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is lightly browned. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or dusted with powdered sugar. (I’m in heaven with just the cake and a glass of milk.)

Here’s a fun tip- I also make this recipe in a muffin tin for quick breakfasts. Skip the muffin liners and just spray the tin directly with baking spray.

Sweet Irish Soda Bread
5 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ c (1 stick) butter
2 1/2 c raisins, soaked in water for 15-20 minutes and drained
3 T caraway seeds (I don’t always have these and it tastes fine without)
2 1/2 cups buttermilk (I don’t often have buttermilk on hand, so I do that milk and lemon juice trick. If I don’t feel like doing that, I just use normal milk. Whatever you have on hand will work fine.)
1 large egg
Milk for brushing tops of bread
Raw sugar for sprinkling tops of bread before baking

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter 2 (9 by 5-inch) bread pans.
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter and mix very thoroughly with your hands until it gets grainy. Stir in the plump raisins and caraway seeds.
Add the buttermilk (or milk) and egg (beaten) to the flour mixture. Stir until well moistened. The “dough” should resemble thick cake batter like a standard quick bread. Equally fill 2 loaf pans. Lightly brush just a little bit of extra milk on the tops of the bread, then sprinkle the top of each with raw sugar to make it shimmery! Bake for 60-70 minutes. A toothpick in the center will come out clean when it is done. Cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Another fun tip- Slice it and leave it out overnight to dry a bit and then make French toast with it in the morning. It’s YUM-AZING! (Haha… Sorry, couldn’t help myself– don’t worry, I don’t actually say that in real life.) It’s the best!

And if these holiday meal ideas still don’t appeal to you, despite how Irish they may or may not be, then here’s one more interesting tidbit. Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish either, so just make what sounds good and celebrate however you wish. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and Éirinn go Brach!

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