Thursday, September 30, 2010

Changing Recipe

Changing a baking recipe can be really scary.  I always worry that I am going to do something that causes the bread, cookies, or cake to go flat or taste funny.  I've been wanting to experiment with the master recipe from "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" for a few weeks.  I found some asiago cheese that was a great price and decided to add that to the bread.  I added about 1/3 cup of diced asiago to the dough while I was mixing and then added 1/4 cup shredded asiago to the top of the bread right before I baked it. I also made some "everything" bagel seasoning a few weeks ago and thought that might go well with the master recipe.  I sprinkled 1 tablespoon of my homemade seasoning, which consisted of equal parts minced dried garlic, minced dried onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and caraway seeds into the dough.  I also added an extra teaspoon of the garlic into the dough.  Right before I put the bread in the oven, I generously sprinkled the top of the bread with more seasoning.  The bread turned out great. If you have a basic white bread recipe that you love, go ahead and experiment.  Add a new twist to an old favorite!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eggs and Beans

I was recently introduced to the wonderful world of putting a fried egg on top of beans or leftovers and calling it dinner.  Sometimes it is pretty basic- canned black beans, salsa, and one egg over easy.  Other times I will take taco leftovers or yellow rice and chicken leftovers and serve them with a fried egg on top.  I recently found myself with extra avocados.  We order an organic produce box from time to time and a few weeks ago, it looked so good that we ended up with an extra large box. Eating up the extra plums, grapes, and corn wasn't a problem at all.  Finding things to do with the avocado took a little bit more creativity. I discovered that I really like avocado with ranch dressing, so I mixed up some ranch dressing.  I accidentally bought mayonnaise with lime juice, but it made great ranch dressing. I threw a few ingredients into a skillet, fried an egg, and topped it with some goodies.  It made a wonderful dinner.

Black Beans and "Ranch" Eggs
1 can black beans
2 ears of corn, cooked
1/2 cup jack cheese
2 eggs, cooked to your preference (I like runny yolks)
1 avocado, chopped into cubes
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup ranch dressing
Black olives
Tortilla crackers

Heat beans in a pot over medium-low heat.  After cooking the corn, cut off the kernels.  Place the black beans on a large plate, top with corn, cheese, and egg.  Top the egg with salsa and sprinkle the avocado and black olives around the plate.  Drizzle with ranch dressing.  Serve with tortilla crackers.

2 servings

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

One of my biggest motivations for learning to bake bread was the amount of bread my family eats in a week.  We are a family of 4 and my kids are pretty young, but we still manage to eat close to 2 loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread each week and usually we ended up buying specialty rolls and breads for making paninis, subs, or as a side dish with dinner.  I wanted to learn how to make a good whole wheat sandwich bread that my kids would eat. I've tried a few recipes and some were way too dense, others too crumbly.  A friend of mine, sent me a recipe from the King Arthur flour website.  It was really easy to make.  The first time I made it, I did not have the white whole wheat flour, so I used traditional and it turned out fine.  This bread makes wonderful sandwiches and toast.  I haven't tried grilled cheese for the kids on it yet.  That will be the true test of this bread. The kids are used to the store bought whole wheat bread, which is nice and light. It has taken a little bit of time for the kids to get used to the more dense homemade breads.  My son is even learning that bread crust isn't such a bad thing.  If you are looking for an easy whole wheat sandwich bread, I highly recommend this one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lucky Number 13

I planted the only 3 tomato seedlings that survived all the the rain we had a few weeks ago.  They were pretty sad when I planted them, but I am happy to report that they have grown close to 6 inches since they went into the ground!  The survivors were one each of the striped cavern, green sausage, and yellow pear.  I went to a local nursery and picked up a 4 pack of roma and a 4 pack of sweet 100s.  I saw a big rainbow that I couldn't pass up, so I bought that one too.  It turns out that the big rainbow had 2 plants in it.  I ended up planting a total of 13 tomato plants in one day.  I told my husband I would be happy if 6 of them survived.  Well, almost 2 weeks later, I still have 13 healthy tomato plants.  I am going to have to invest in some more tomato cages.
My cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale seedlings are doing great.  They are in a sheltered area in the back yard.  They are getting enough sun to grow, but escaping some of the heat. I picked up some kale at the nursery the other day because I really like homegrown kale.  It is so much better than store bought, in my opinion.  I am looking forward to having 2 different varieties.
Both of my eggplants are looking so much better than they were a few weeks ago.  I think they just needed a nice pruning, some fertilizer, and low 90s instead of high 90s during the day.
I hope to have some good pictures of my peppers soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

My family started doing "Meatless Mondays" a few years ago.  We had quite a few reasons for doing this: economic, health, environmental, and because we like beans.  We also love sweet potatoes. I came across a recipe for sweet potato and black bean burritos in a cookbook.  There were a few things I didn't like about the recipe, so I searched online.  I combined the recipes and added a few of my own twists to it.  It took a few tries, but I finally came up with one that we really like. 
A few notes on this recipe:
1)  If you don't have ground coriander, don't go out and buy it.  The recipe will be just fine without it. 
2) The cheese is optional.  I've had it with and without cheese and love it both ways.
3) Feel free to experiment with the chili powder.  I like to use a combination of traditional and ancho chili powder.
4) These make great soft tacos on corn tortillas.
5) The salsa on top is really important.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
4 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 1/2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
6 large, burrito sized flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350
1) Heat oil large skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until soft. 
2) Stir in beans, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and cayenne.  Gradually stir in water and heat until warm.
3) Remove from heat and stir in mustard and soy sauce. Gently mash some of the beans until the mixture thickens.
4) Divide bean mixture, mashed sweet potatoes, and cheese evenly among the tortillas.  Fold the tortillas and place, seam side down on a baking sheet.
5) Bake at 350 for 12 - 15 minutes
6) Top with salsa and sour cream

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden Update

For the first time ever, I started seeds on time.  I started my tomato seeds a few weeks ago so that they would be ready to go into the ground this weekend.  I ended up with 5 different varieties of tomatoes. Originally, I planned on only 4 plants- 2 striped cavern and 2 green sausage tomatoes.  When I was getting my seeds out, I found a few yellow pear seeds, a package of valenciano that I got free at the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival, and a package of Oregon spring tomato seeds that I got through a seed of the month club.
I started everything indoors and even repotted a few after I moved them outdoors.  Things were looking great!  Then the rain started.  Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday brought a ton of rain to our area.  I even went out and moved the plants so they would have some shelter from the rain.  Yesterday I moved them out into the sun.  While I was out today, we had about 2 hours of heavy rain.  My tomatoes look really sad right now.  Some of them may do OK once I get them in the ground.  At least my golden zucchini look great. My guess is that tomorrow will bring a trip to my favorite place- the South Brevard Nursery!

Yesterday I started my first round cabbage, broccoli, and kale seeds indoors.  I know it is a good time, but it is hard to think about planting cool weather veggies when it is so hot outside.
The only things in the garden right now are some ancho peppers, garden sunshine peppers, 2 types of eggplant, rosemary, basil, Malabar spinach, and a ton of wild vincas.
I hope the weather is nice this weekend so that I can get the rest of my peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes planted.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dinner Rolls

Tonight I made some wonderful garlic soup and used up the last of my dough to make dinner rolls.  I originally thought they were going to be hockey pucks again, but they turned out great.  The looked like mini artisan breads!  Unfortunately, we ate them before I had a chance to take a picture.  Oops!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vegetable Broth

I went to a great produce market in Gainesville and picked up organic leeks, garlic, and onions. I added my leftover celery (including the leaves) and carrots from last week's produce box. I used a recipe from Caroline Wright as a guide for the broth. I ended up with about 5 pounds of vegetables. I added a few seasonings and cooked it for 3 hours. After straining it, I ended up wtih 14 cups of vegetable broth in my freezer! Not too bad for less than $7 worth of vegetables.

Getting Closer

I decided to see what would happen if I used 2 pounds of dough instead of one. It turned out great. It worked well for sandwiches, too! I still need to practice pulling the dough across a little bit more...but it is a big improvement over last week! I still have one pound of dough left. I am not sure what I want to do with it yet. The one pound loaves are a little too small for toast or sandwiches. Maybe I just need to make the ball a little bit tighter so it rises a little bit higher. I may try making rolls with it. Whatever I do, I will try and remember to take a picture.