Sunday, March 22, 2009

Miracle Bread

My friend Hannah brought me a loaf of this bread, along with a copy of the recipe. It's really good! And the best part is, it only takes one hour to make, start to finish! (That's why I named it miracle bread. It seems miraculous to me.)

I've made the white and the whole wheat, and they are both delicious and super-fast. Both a hit with my family. With bread this fast and easy, I just might stop buying bread altogether!

5 1/4-1/2c. white bread flour
1/4 c. sugar or honey
1/2 T. salt (I use kosher)
1 1/2 rounded tablespoons instant yeast (I buy my yeast at Costco and keep it in the freezer)
3 T. vegetable oil
2 c. hot tap water

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Mix briefly and check consistency. If dough is too dry, add a little more water; if very sticky, add a bit more flour. (It's best if you leave it on the slightly sticky side.) Mix for 5 minutes. Spray bread pans with Pam. Divide dough into two equal portions; shape loaves, place in pans and cover with a dish towel. Let rise 25 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. (I use 9" loaf pans, but 8" ones should work as well.)

Makes 2 loaves.

For whole wheat bread, use the same recipe, substituting whole wheat flour for the white; add 1/2 c. applesauce with the hot water and oil and use 1/4 c. oil instead of 3 T. You may need to increase the mixing time a bit.

If you have a high-capacity mixer, you can double the recipe and make 4 loaves.

*Lately, I've been mixing this by hand, since my KitchenAid is on the fritz. I knead it for about 3 minutes, and the texture of the bread is wonderful! (I like the texture of all of my breads best when I mix them by hand, but do what you prefer.)

Multi-grain miracle bread!

Recently I've been experimenting with a multi-grain quick bread. I've tried it several different ways, and this is what I've had most success with:

2 c. 10-grain cereal (I use a Bob's Mill mix)
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. sugar or honey
1 1/2 heaping T. instant yeast
1/2 T. kosher salt
2 T. dough enhancer
2 T. vital wheat gluten
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. applesauce
1 1/2-2 c. hot water

(I added the dough enhancer and gluten because the loaves were a bit too heavy and dense (you can purchase them at grocery stores or on Amazon.) I sometimes add a couple of tablespoons of flax seed as well, because I love the texture that it adds.)

Mix dry ingredients by hand or in a stand mixer (I use a KitchenAid). Add wet ingredients and mix well. I sometimes need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Let the machine knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half and form into oblong loaves. At this point, you can sprinkle the loaves with additional oatmeal or other grain or seeds, if you wish. Place in greased loaf pans (I use 9" ones) and cover with a dish towel. Let rise for 25 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

The whole wheat bread used to be my family's favorite, but now the multi-grain version has surpassed it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tex-Mex Nachos

  • 3/4 pound ground round
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 3/4 cup taco sauce (I used water + taco seasoning)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained (I used pinto beans)
  • 1 can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 2 ounces fat-free baked tortilla chips (about 2 cups or about 18 chips)
  • 3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

Cook meat and green onions in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well, and return meat mixture to pan. Stir in taco sauce, garlic powder, pepper, beans, and corn, and cook until thoroughly heated. Spoon 1 cup meat mixture over 1/2 cup chips, and top with 3/4 cup lettuce, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup cheese, 2 tablespoons salsa, and 2 tablespoons sour cream. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

4 servings

Gratin of Beets with Walnuts and Roquefort Cheese

I found this recipe years ago in a little tiny Bon Appetit cookbook. Marc and I love it and I still make it lo these many years later. (With my passion for trying new things, not that many recipes stay in rotation.) If you think you don't like beets, it may be that you've only tried pickled beets. Roasted beets are a different thing completely -- earthy, delicately sweet -- and if you're lucky enough to have garden-fresh beets, well... you're just really lucky. This is delightful alongside a steak.

2 medium beets, stems trimmed to 1 inch
2 t. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T. butter
3/4 c. fresh breadcrumbs
3 T. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 T. snipped chives or minced green onions
2 oz. Roquefort, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap beets in foil. Place in baking pan and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Maintain oven temperature. Cool beets slightly. Peel and cut into 1/2" dice. Mix with vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, spoon into a buttered gratin dish.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and stir until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Mix in walnuts and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Add Roquefort and crumbs to beets and mix gently to distribute evenly. Return to oven and bake until hot, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 2, but can easily be doubled or tripled.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Suzy's Mud Cookies

This is a bit of a funny recipe, but I made them with no problem. The hit of girls' camp!

1 1/2 + 6 T. butter
1 c. + 2 T. cocoa
3 c. brown sugar
1 T. vanilla
3 eggs
4 1/2 - 6 c. flour, as needed
1/2 - 1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. salt

Melt butter and cocoa together in microwave. Stir to fully incorporate. Add brown sugar and mix. Add vanilla and eggs and mix.

Add 2 c. flour and mix. Add 1/2 c. buttermilk and mix. Add 2 c. more of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add more flour as needed -- the consistency should be slightly less thick than playdough. (it should cling to a spoon or fall off in a clump)

Drop by tablespoons and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should have a cracked surface.

*Bake 2 or 3 cookies as a test batch -- if they are too flat, add more flour. If too puffy, add more buttermilk.

Cool and frost with:

4 c. powdered sugar
6 T. butter
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4-1/2 c. milk

Makes a lot.

Denise's Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. margarine (Denise calls for Land O Lakes margarine, but since I don't know where to get that, I usually use 1/2 c. butter and 1/2 c. shortening)
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. water
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Sift flour before measuring, then resift with baking soda and salt, and set aside. (I don't bother with this -- gasp! -- I just put a sieve over my mixing bowl and dump it all in.)

Combine margarine, sugars, vanilla, and water. Beat about 2 minutes, until very creamy. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.

Gradually add sifted ingredients and beat another 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets (I use Silpat or parchment paper). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. *Do not overbake.

Remove when lightly browned and slightly crisp on bottom; they may seem slightly undercooked. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet, then remove to paper towels to cool completely.

Makes about 40 small cookies.
(These freeze well, but they disappear quickly around here!)