Archive for category NomNom; Food and Recipes

Do It Yourself – “Farmhouse White Sandwich Bread”

DISCLOSURE: Home made breads are not your run-of-the-mill normal grocery store bread. It is heartier, dense, flavorful, stick to your ribs. It preserves differently as well.

After making Artisan Bread several times I felt I was adapted well enough to graduate to another standard. So I hit the google machine and type in homemade white sandwich bread and I hit the JACKPOT!!! On the first page I checked out Farm Girl Fare‘s blog site, and I fell in love with it.

I read her article on the perfect loaf of bread for beginning bakers and I was confident I could do this! The article is wordy, but it encompass information that is important to bread making. Things you need to know and also book recommendations and extra things you can do with the basic recipe to change things. In the latter part of the post is your baking directions and I suggest you read it in it’s entirety before you begin the process.

Honestly there is a lot more reading and waiting than actually doing work.

What do you need?
-4 cups all-purpose flour
-1½ Tablespoons Instant Yeast
-2 Tablespoons granulated or brown sugar
-2 Tablespoons your favorite neutral oil, or melted butter (neutral flavored oils being Canola, Safflower, Vegetable, etc)
-4 cups warm milk or water, about 85° F (Milk is the best imo)
-About 6 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
-1½ Tablespoons salt (VERY IMPORTANT)
Tips:

 
1. Read her blog post entirely.
2. I like using 1 TB of instant yeast. I just let it sit and meld longer.
3. Don’t leave out the salt. I forgot it once and the whole batch taste like cardboard.
4. Honey is a nice addition to the bread.
5. It really is true that the longer the bread sits and goes through its process the better it tastes. 
6. Once you do this a couple of times you’ll become pro. It really is not as hard as it originally looks like. 
7. If your bread dries out, using a damp non-terry cloth type towel to wrap the loaf of bread, turn the oven to about 200 and give it about 8-10 minutes. It brings back in the moisture. 
8. When you store your bread, it’s good to wrap it in surran wrap and then put it into a zip lock baggy. 
9. If your bread becomes hard and stale don’t throw it away! There are 100 things you can do with that stale bread like making croutons or stuffing! 

This has been my go to recipe, and I LOVE IT. 

Give bread making a shot! Skip out on the preservatives, have a heartier lunch sandwich, and it cost less in the long run.

 

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Do It Yourself – Artisan Bread

As I had mentioned before I began this journey by the undoubtable need to save money and become more frugal. So here we are with bread! Lots of people will rave on that there is nothing like a loaf of freshly baked bread, and they are not wrong!

Bread making can be VERY intimidating so I knew I need to start simple and I have found it! Artisan bread is easy peasy! I found this GREAT recipe from The Italian Dish Blog. (Which BTW is my FAVORITE Italian Recipe Got To Place.)

I’m not going to post the entire instructions here so I recommend you visiting the page directly. She has it very clean cut, nicely place pictures, and a video showing you how to fold the bread. I can’t make it any more simple than what she has already. 

Artisan Bread / Peasant Bread / Italian Bread… etc etc etc. 

What do you need?
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting (instant) yeast (2 packets)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour

THAT IS IT! That’s all you need. (See posted link above for directions)

You get a nice crispy outside and warm moisture inside.

If you have NEVER baked a loaf of bread a day in your life, this is where I suggest you start! Make a big pot of spaghetti, salad, and some artisan bread and your family will be begging you for more!

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Do It Yourself – Chocolate Hard Shell Sauce

I don’t know about you, but I love chocolate covered fruit and ice cream. Instead of buying that magic hard shell chocolate sauce I make my own! Not only is it easy but it’s cheaper! (My favorite combination!)

Hard Shell Chocolate Sauce

What you need?
 
-6 ounces of Chocolate (Personal Preference Semi-Sweet)
-1 table spoon coconut oil
-1 small pot 1/2 way with water
-1 small pot that can sit on top of the one with water. 
 
What to do?  First, my disclaimer, my microwave and I have frequent disagreements so I just the stove, however this can be done in a microwave. 
 
Bring your water to a low simmer. Once it is simmering pour in your chocolate chips and coconut oil into the top pan and set it on top of the pan with simmering water. You chocolate should begin melting very shortly. As it melts, stir until it is completely melted. 
 
Immediately add to the top of your ice cream and put it into the freezer for a minute. Viola, hard shell chocolate sauce. 
 
Another Favorite is chocolate covered strawberries. Use a kabob skewer and insert the end into the top of the strawberry and swirl it around (I find it easier to leave the stems on.) If you want to add coconut or nuts just sprinkle them on top of the strawberry while the chocolate is still wet and then refrigerate until chocolate is set. 
 

It really is that simple. Coconut oil gives it that nice shine and helps the chocolate harden faster with very little work. ENJOY!

 

 

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DIY – Starter Garden

In the early spring I decided to try my hand in gardening. I would not say that I particularly have a green thumb, but I did learn a nice thing or two about planting my own stuff.

HERBS – Being a cook I LOVE to season everything and mix it up. Making my own herb garden has been wonderful! Most have been really easy! I began everything as seedlings.

I took an idea from this gal; You Grow Girl. I used toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls to make my own seed packs. I then put them into a clear sterlite container and made a sort of green house using another as a topper to trap in heat and let the sun shine through.

THEN I used containers of all kinds to make little planters. Inspired by Green Roof Growers.

I also used 5 gallon buckets inspired by The Rusted Gardener and The Urban Gardener have all inspired me.

Cat Litter Buckets, Coffee Plastic Containers, Two Liter Soda Bottles, Juice Bottles, Milk Jugs….. they are all great to use!

I am hoping I can get good produce for my first time. We shall see. Thus far, I have great herbs!

Lemon Tyme, Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil, Oregano, Mint, Apple Mint, Peppermint, Parsley, & Chives.

The Rosemary and Sage I could not get to grow. I think the seeds are duds.

So if you want to try it, take a 5 gallon bucket, drills some filtering holes in the bottom for drainage and plop in a tomato plant to have some wonderful sweet tomatoes!  It’s not hard. I water them and trim off the suckers and use the wire racks. I have two going. Easy Peasy. I put them out onto my patio!

I also have a plethora of bell peppers and green onions. I hope they turn out well. So far so good!

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Water & Making It… Yummy!

One of the biggest battles I have is getting myself to drink more water. I have a medical condition called Orthostatic Intolerance (have fun Googling that!) and it is very important that I stay hydrated especially in the warmer months. So I must drink water, but I water always seems to take on the taste of the container that it is in which means bottled water tastes like plastic to me. YUCK!

My solution had always been to just add some lemon to my water and then I ran across this blog and I had the biggest “why didn’t I ever think of that?” moments in a long time.

Take a look at this from The Yummy Life

Beautiful right?!

I have this wonderful old glass 2 quart jug sitting in my cabinets collecting dust.

What do you need for Yummy Water?

-Fruit (Get inventive)
-Ice
-Filtered Water
-Smasher
-Herbs
-Something fun
 

What I did: My first run was Citrus. I took two large slices of Orange and two large slices of Lemon. Threw the slices in the jug and used my potato smasher to squish some of the juices out. The I piled on a bunch of ice cubes and filled up the jug with some filtered water from my Britta and let it sit for an hour.

I loved it. I didn’t need sugar and I didn’t need a ton of flavor but it gave it a nice filtered water with lights traces of orange and lemon. Wonderful and refreshing. I’d imagine a packet of splenda maybe nice for those needing it sweet.

Other Flavors I dig:

Strawberry and Apple Mint Leaves

Blackberry Sage

Orange, Lemon, Mint

Peppermint and Mango

Peach & Mango

Kiwi & Strawberry

Raspberry & Lime

 

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Homemade – Jeanette Lemon Italian Cookies

One of the best things about where I work is the amount of cooking that goes on around here. Most specifically, baking! Someone is always having a birthday, baby, married, holiday….. something is going on and food is about. It can be a very dangerous place if you’re not careful. Haha!

On of these food perks is being able to grab recipe’s from my co-workers. One of the ladies in my department made these sinfully delicious lemon based cookies and I knew I just -had- to have the recipe.

Most commonly know as Jeanettes; they are a lemon zippy soft cookie that are very simple to make.

What you need:

 -2 cups unbleached white flour
-1/3 cup canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-2 tablespoons of milk
-2 tablespoons of baking powder
-2 tablespoons of lemon extract (or other extract. I used lemon rind of the same amount)
 
Icing
 -1 & 1/2 cup of confections sugar
-Desired amount of milk for desired icing thickness

What to do: This makes roughly 2 dozen cookies; Oven should be pre-heated to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together well blended. The dough should be pretty sticky so a little flour on the hands doesn’t hurt. Scoop up some batter and roll it into about an 1 inch ball and place ball onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cook for roughly ten minutes.

Mix confectioners’ sugar and milk. I preferred mine to be a very thin icing.

Once you Jeanette’s are done let them cool for a couple of minutes until they are bearable to touch. While still nice and warm lightly dip the top of each cookie into the icing. I then added a nice extra touch of Raspberry coarse sugar to the tops.

These are light, fluffy, lemony, and not too sweet. They vanished quickly in my house! My boys give me two thumbs up on this treat.

 

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Homemade – Granola Mix (*A home favorite!*)

This Granola Recipe is my absolute favorite breakfast item. I mix it with my Greek yogurt, eat it as a cereal, or just a snack. This is a favorite for my son as well and my mother. She would have at it morning noon and night seven days a week if I had let her.

What is great about this recipe is its versatility. You can make extra crunchy, softer, healthier or not so healthy. This also can be melded into granola bars. This recipe belongs to the mother of a co-worker of mine and I am so grateful to have this recipe and be able to share it with everyone here.

Without further adieu; Mrs. M’s Granola Mix Original Recipe

 What you need:

-3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

 What to do: Pre-heat the oven to 200. Mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl, (but not the dried fruit). After everything is blended together add your oil and syrup and mix thoroughly. On a lined cookie sheet with parchment paper evenly spread the mixture onto it and slide it into the oven. I recommend setting a timer for 15 minutes, the granola needs to be stirred roughly about every 15 minutes baking for an hour.

This comes out wonderfully.

 Mrs. M’s Granola Mix Original With Variations

Honey Variation (this changes the taste of the of the granola by quite a bit)

-3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup of pure honey
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

 Healthier Variation. 

-3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

 Diabetic Variation

 -3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/8 cup or 6 teaspoons of splenda brown sugar mix
-1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

Crispy Instructions

If you want to have the granola a little crisper try setting the oven on 350 and cooking for 45 minutes stirring the mixture every 15 minutes.

Softer Granola Instructions

For a softer granola cook as normal on 200 and the hour stirring every 15 minutes. However once you take out the granola from the oven let it stand a cool until it is just warm and can be touched, then place into an air tight container while warm. This will make it a bit softer.

Extra tips and tricks:

Just remember you can always substitute for things you don’t like or have allergies to. Instead of Almonds try walnuts. If you don’t like Canola Oil then use another flavorless oil to cook with. Experiment and play with the recipe.

My personal favorite is with no fruit and using sugar-free syrup.

What  new variations are you interested in trying?

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