Monday, January 31, 2011

Onion Bread

There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of homemade bread fresh from your oven. I am a carb lover and don’t plan to change that anytime soon. We had this with the vegetable stew and next time I think I’m going to add a half-cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. The onion flavor was definitely there, but not overpowering and the texture was spot on. I was worried that my kids wouldn’t like it with the onions in it, but they all gobbled it up like it was the best bread they’d ever eaten. 

Onion Bread

1 cup warm water
¼ cup diced onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon yeast
1 ½ Tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons dough enhancer

In a small bowl mix the warm water, onion, 2 teaspoons sugar, and yeast until the sugar is dissolved. Let sit for 5 minutes. Put the yeast mixture into a stand mixer, then add butter, salt, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and 1 cup of flour and beat 2 minutes, then add remaining flour and dough enhancer. Knead on medium-low speed using the dough hook for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to form a slightly sticky dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Grease bowl, put dough into bough, and then turn dough greased side up. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. Punch down, then form into a loaf shape and put into a greased loaf pan. Let rise until double, about 1 hour. Preheat oven for 10 minutes to 375 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and when you tap the top crust it sounds hollow. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Adapted from Just Dutch It!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vegetable Stew

So, we like soup around here. I mean, really like it. We eat it about once a week when it's not too hot to eat it. I asked my husband if he had any requests for dinners and he promptly replied with “more soup”. I love the throw everything in a pot and let it simmer kind of dinner anyway. I made this in a dutch oven, but you could just as easily make in on the stove or in a crock pot. This vegetable stew was better than I was expecting and no one even missed the meat. I think it would be good with tomatoes or really any kind of vegetable you have lying around.

Vegetable Stew

8 cups water or chicken broth
2 chicken bullion cubes (not needed if you used broth)
1 cup split green peas
½ cup barley
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 medium-large chopped potato
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Soak the split green peas and barley in water 2 hours or overnight (do not soak in the dutch oven). Drain the water off and put all the ingredients in a 12-inch dutch oven. Use 24-28 briquettes, all on the bottom, with the lid on for 1 hour or until peas are soft. Serve and enjoy!

If you make this in a crock pot then follow the same directions and cook on high heat for 6 hours.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pretzel Dogs

These make a fun after-school snack (or lunch, shhh, that's our little secret) or would be perfect for a finger food for a party. My two younger kids ate the meat out of them and left the bread (which they do with corn dogs too) but my older kids couldn’t get enough! They are great for adults, too. I love getting pretzels at the mall and these fill that craving (and dare I say, taste better?) for much less money out of my pocket. If you didn’t want to do the L’il Smokies in them, you could just do regular pretzel bites or full sized pretzels. Also, I didn't think they needed any dipping sauce, but if you are a dipping kind of person, cheese sauce, barbeque sauce, or even ketchup would be great with these. 

Pretzel Dogs

1 bag L’il Smokies (like these)
1½ cups warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
Kosher salt

In a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast using the paddle attachment until the sugar and yeast are dissolved. Slowly add the flour and butter until the dough just comes together. Then switch to the dough hook and let it knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. Take dough out of bowl, lightly coat the bowl with oil, and put the dough back in the bowl and turn so coated with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.

While you are waiting for the water is coming to a boil punch down the dough and knead for a few minutes. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into half and continue cutting pieces into half until you have eight balls of dough.

Open the package of Li’l Smokies and drain the extra liquid. Then pat dry with a towel.  
Working with one piece of dough at a time roll into 24 inch long rope. Take one Li’l Smokie at a time and wrap the dough around it and cut off the rope for just enough dough to go around the Smokie (this took me about 3 inches each). Pinch the ends together so they don’t come apart when they cook.  Put 4-6 at a time into the boiling water and let boil for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place, seam side down, on the cookie sheet. Continue until all the Smokies are used. If you have any extra, cut into small pieces (for regular pretzel bites) and boil for 30 seconds as well.

After all the dough has been boiled, beat one egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon water and brush on the top of each piece. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until the dough is a dark golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Friday, January 28, 2011

S'mores Brownies

Ok, so I love the idea of s’mores. I love the combination of flavors, but I can never eat them without getting marshmallow all over me and the chocolate never melts like it should. These brownies are all of the flavor and none of the mess of s’mores. My kids can’t seem to get enough of them, either. And am I the only one that thinks of Sandlot every time someone says s’mores? I love that scene!

These have a great, gooey brownie and just enough graham cracker crust and marshmallows to go with the chocolate. 

S’mores Brownies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (which turned out to be about 14 crackers for me)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted, divided
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (1 5-ounce can) evaporated milk
1 cup chocolate chips
3 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil.

In a food processor pulse your graham crackers until they are in crumbs (if you don’t have a food processor, put them in a big Ziploc bag and have fun smashing them with a rolling pin or glass). In a medium bowl combine the graham crackers, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter until well blended. Firmly press crumb mixture evenly into bottom of your foil-lined pan. Bake for 5 minutes or until set and lightly golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the remaining ½ cup melted butter, vanilla extract and evaporated milk until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Batter will be very thick. Stir in chocolate chips. Carefully spread batter evenly over graham cracker crust.

Bake 22-25 minutes or until the edges are just set. Remove from oven and turn oven to broil setting. Evenly sprinkle the marshmallows over the brownies. Broil 1-3 minutes longer, until marshmallows are puffed and browned. Make sure and stay by the oven, checking frequently so you don’t burn the marshmallows.

Cut into bars with a knife sprayed with cooking spray.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Confession time: before last night I had never eaten eggplant (to my knowledge). I have been having this desire for the last couple months to just buy some and try it and I'm not sure what kept stopping me, but I couldn't bring myself to actually do it. I'm not sure if you've heard about Bountiful Baskets before, but if you haven't they are a fresh produce co-op that we try to participate in when we can. Anyway, they had an eggplant in the basket last week and I got so excited! I started trying to find recipes to use it right away.  

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this. The flavor was really good and the texture is a little different, but it didn't turn me off from it at all. The husband liked it as well (probably even more than I did, if that's possible), but all four of the kiddos didn't eat more than the required one bite. They were just fine only eating the spaghetti served with it, so I'll definitely be making this again.  If you've never tried eggplant, I would give this recipe a go if you are wanting to see what it's like.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 medium sized eggplant
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup grated Mozzerella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Chop off the top and bottom of the eggplant and peel all the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Slice into ¼ inch rounds. Place in a single later in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Turn all the eggplant rounds over and sprinkle the other side with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant then dry well on towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the Panko, 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, and basil in a shallow dish pan (I used a 9 inch round cake pan). Heat olive oil over medium-high in a medium sauce pan until hot. Cook breaded eggplant for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Place in one layer on a cookie sheet. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce on each eggplant round and spread it evenly, almost to the edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons mozzerella cheese on top of each one and then top with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with spaghetti.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Garlic Breadsticks

So, I was going to take a picture of these breadsticks this morning when I had natural light and my third child (there is something about third children, isn’t there?) ate half of each one of what was leftover of the breadsticks from last night for breakfast this morning while I was busy with other things. So, because of that, I have no pictures for you other than what you got with the soup yesterday. 

These breadsticks couldn’t be easier and they have the perfect texture and are buttery and delicious. These are maybe not the best things to have around if you are trying to lose weight though. I got the original recipe from a neighbor years ago who has since moved. I changed it to suit our tastes a little bit and our whole family loves them! Just be careful not to over salt them with the garlic salt like I seem to tend to do. More is not better in this instance.

Garlic Breadsticks

1 ½ cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter
Garlic salt

Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl until yeast and sugar are dissolved. In a medium bowl mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center and add the water mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until it’s a smooth dough. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface and knead with floured hands for 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky, so don’t worry. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, preheat oven to 350 degrees and put ¼ cup butter in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan and stick it in the oven until the butter is melted. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin to about ¼ to ½ of an inch thick. Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into 1 ½ inch thick strips then cut the other direction in about 4 inch long pieces so you have rectangles. Carefully transfer into your 9x13 inch pan over the butter so the pieces of dough are touching, but aren’t squished. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave and using a basting brush, spread butter on the top of all the dough pieces. Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

It snowed today yet again. And when it snows all I want to do is make comfort food (and all my little ones want to do is go out and build a snowman). And what is more comforting than homemade chicken noodle soup? I am such a soup lover in the wintertime! In this recipe, I used homemade whole-wheat spinach noodles because I had some left over. I was a little worried how the flavor would be with the rest of the ingredients, but they turned out so good and really made it filling. Usually I just use the frozen noodles you get in the store (like these Grandma's Pasta) and they are just as good. This recipe makes about the right amount for my family of 6 when I make garlic breadsticks to go with it. I’ll post the recipe for the breadsticks tomorrow. They are so easy and you won’t want to miss their buttery goodness!

Chicken Noodle Soup

2 Tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic
2 cups shredded chicken
4 cups chicken broth
8 oz egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the carrots in it, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are transparent. Set aside.

In a soup pot put the chicken, broth, noodles, and carrot/onion/garlic mixture. Heat on medium-high heat until carrots are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Are you ready?

For some delicious recipes, of course! I am so excited to be starting this blog so I can share with you the food I'm making in my kitchen. Have a little patience with me as I find my way through starting up a cooking blog. It will be a learning process for sure, but I'm looking forward to the adventure!