Friday, April 30, 2010

SNICKERDOODLE MUFFINS



Normally when I think of muffins, I think wheat, oat, flax, bran, carrot, applesauce; you know - healthy stuff. These muffins might as well be called cupcakes! What really differentiates a muffin from a cupcake or sweet bread anyway??? Well, these are delicious no matter what you call them!

This recipe came from www.barbarabakes.com She made this in loaf form to sell at The Great American Bake Sale in the Salt Lake area a few weeks ago. So, since it was a good seller for her I figured I'd try them at the fundraiser bake sale I am contributing to Saturday. They really do taste a lot like a Snickerdoodle cookie with their crispy cinnamon-sugary exterior and soft buttery interior!





SNICKERDOODLE MUFFINS
(OR LOAF) makes 2 dozen muffins or 2 loaves

2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. sour cream
1 1/2 C. cinnamon chips (1 pkg. Hersheys brand)
2 Tbsp. flour

Topping:
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350

Combine 2 1/2 c. flour and baking powder in small bowl. In separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Beat until creamy, approx. 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream, mix to combine. Add flour mixture stirring just until combined. Coat cinnamon chips with the 2 Tbsp. flour and stir into batter.

For muffins: Fill muffin tins 3/4 full of batter and sprinkle topping on each. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in crack in center comes out clean.

For loaves: Divide batter into two 9x5 loaf pans. Sprinkle with topping mixture and bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in crack in middle comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BLACK & WHITE CHEESECAKE SQUARES


I had to post two photos of this dessert because 1) I'm SLOWLY learning how to make food look good in a photo and these turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself. 2) They're so good they deserve two photos! I'm testing recipes for a fundraiser bake sale Saturday for a lady with leukemia so I want something that will be a great seller. These are at the top of my list so far. A lot of desserts are best straight from the oven while still warm, but brownies are one thing I definitely prefer completely cooled. You have to be patient with these as they take a while to finish, but it's SO worth it!!

BLACK & WHITE CHEESECAKE SQUARES (recipe from www.dealstomeals.com)

Brownie layer:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Layer:

1 egg
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
½ tsp. vanilla

Topping:
½ c. white chocolate chips
½ c. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until smooth. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla, and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture. Increase speed to medium; beat until incorporated. Reserve 1 cup of dough. Press remaining dough into bottom of prepared dish. Bake until base is set and edges are puffed, 22-25 minutes (don't overbake or this brownie layer will be too hard and crumbly). Take out of oven. Mix cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and remaining egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Spread over cooled base; crumble reserved dough on top. Bake until filling is set, 22 to 25 minutes. When bars come out of the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the bars and let them melt onto the bar (you might need to spread around a bit with a knife). Let cool. Cut into 24squares. Squares will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

JUST PEACHY CHICKEN

Here's another yummy recipe from my ward (church) cookbook submitted by Sylvine Seeley. The recipe calls for curry, but if you're not a fan of it you can leave it out. I made this for the first time a few months ago and have to admit that in my 11+ years of marriage, it was the first time I have used or tried curry. Growing up my mom never used it because my dad despised it, so I just figured it must be nasty. Wrong! The first time I made it I decreased the amount of curry just to be on the safe side, but used the full amount this go round and it was great, not overbearing at all.
This recipe also uses mango chutney which is a less commonly used ingredient that I have come to like, and the peaches give it a nice sweet, summery taste.

I served it on a bed of white/brown rice (I usually do a 50/50 combo) in my rice steamer, and lemon broccoli on the side.

For the Lemon Broccoli: Steam desired amount of broccoli. Zest a few strips from lemon and add, then squeeze a few squirts of fresh lemon juice over top. Drizzle with good quality olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.



JUST PEACHY CHICKEN

*Note - if you only use half the amount of chicken, I recommend still using the full amount of sauce!

Mix 4 tbsp. flour, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Pound four (5 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves until slightly flattened and dredge in flour mixture till well coated.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in large nonstick skillet. Add chicken breast and cook over medium-high heat approx. 6-7 minutes per side, turning only once if possible. When golden and cooked through, remove to a plate.

In same skillet combine:

1 (8.5 oz). jar mango chutney such as Major Grey's brand (found in aisle near ketchup)
Use 3/4 of a (14.5 oz.) can diced peaches (if sliced, just dice them yourself) do not drain
1 tsp. curry powder
Stir until boiling; reduce heat and simmer 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Add chicken back to skillet and turn to coat with sauce. Warm through. Remove from heat and top with sliced green onion and slivered almonds.

Serve over warm rice.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

KELLI'S FAVORITE WHEAT BREAD

Yes, I am posting ANOTHER wheat bread recipe already! I got this recipe from www.dealstomeals.com where she called this bread "Emilie's Whole Wheat Bread", but since I don't know who Emilie is, I figured I would rename it. This is my number one favorite bread recipe. The results are consistent and it has a great texture and flavor! A lot of people are intimidated by yeast breads, but this is as easy as it gets. I dare you to try it! As with all home made bread that doesn't have preservatives in it like store-bought bread, it's best to be eaten within a few days. It freezes well too.


KELLI'S FAVORITE WHEAT BREAD (makes 4 loaves)

7 C. whole wheat flour (grind your own if possible)
2/3 C. vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 Tbsp. instant yeast
5 C. hot water (120 - 130 F)
2 Tbsp. salt
2/3 C. oil
2/3 C. honey
2 1/2 T. bottled lemon juice
5 C. whole wheat flour
** optional ingredients:
1/4 C. soy lecithin
1/3 C. ground flax seed

Mix together the first 3 ingredients in your stand mixer with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix for one minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes (this is called sponging). Add salt, oil, honey, and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for about 8-10 minutes until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This makes very soft dough.

Preheat oven to 200 for two minutes and turn off. Turn dough onto counter top; divide and shape into loaves. Place in bread pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Let rise in warm oven for 15-20 minutes or until dough reaches top of bread pan. Do not remove bread from oven; turn oven to 350 F and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let rest in pans for 5-10 minutes, then let cool on racks. This recipe can be halved to make 2 loaves.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

BAKED SWEET POTATO / RUSSETT FRIES


I LOVE fries. But... since they are sooo not good for you, I rarely order them at restaurants. When I make them at home, I know what oil was used (and that it was fresh!) there's no trans fat and I can season them as I like. I usually do sweet potato fries because again, they are better for you, but the good old russett potato can't be beat for fries! These are so easy and fast, they make a great last minute side dish!

P.S. I actually use what the supermarket calls a "yam" because well... I'll spare you the lengthy reading I've done on yam vs. sweet potato; just use the "yam".


BAKED FRIES:

The amount of potatoes to use differs depending on how big the potatoes are and how many people you are feeding. I figure 1/2 - 1 russett per person and 1/3 - 1/2 "sweet potato" per person.

Preheat oven to 425 and place rimmed baking sheet inside oven while it heats up
Slice potatoes according to your liking. I cut mine as close to 1/4" thick as possible. Much larger and they get soggy.
Place cut potatoes into cold water for a few minutes (supposedly this helps remove some of the starch and produces a crispier exterior)
Remove from water and pat dry with clean towel
(You can skip the water soaking and be fine)
Remove baking sheet from oven
Place on rimmed baking sheet in a single layer (if they're too crowded they'll steam more than bake)
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Use your hands to toss them around so all sides are coated in oil
Season with salt, seasoning salt, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, cumin, parsley etc. (Use what you like!)
Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through with a spatula

Sunday, April 18, 2010

LION HOUSE ROLLS


I have never been good at making rolls...until I found this recipe on dealstomeals.com. They are so perfect. Light and fluffy but have just the right amount of chew to them. I've made them both in this butterhorn style as well as the traditional roll form. The original recipe calls for all purpose flour only, but I used a portion of a/p and white wheat. I also added ground flax seed (that's the flecks you can see). These were so good, my kids wanted another one even after eating their dessert!

LION HOUSE ROLLS

2 C. Hot tap water
1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. softened butter
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 C. nonfat dry milk
5 C. Flour (can use all purpose or I used 3 C. a/p & 2 C. wheat)
optional ingredients:
ground flax seed
powdered soy lecithin

Mix the above ingredients together until combined. Make sure to tap down flour into cup and level with a knife. After this has been sufficiently mixed add:

2 eggs
2 heaping Tbsp. yeast

Mix together again until combined.

1 more cup flour

Let this mix on high for 5 minutes until dough becomes stiff and stretchy. (I think this is the secret to these rolls. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer on a setting of about 7 and it shimmy shakes around the counter because of the force, so watch it or it may end up on the floor! You will see the dough's color and texture change around minute 4.)
Let the dough rise until double. Pull and roll into 30 balls and place (5 rows of 6) on cookie sheet. Let rise on sheet until touching and large. Bake at 350 on bottom rack for 25 - 30 minutes. (I shaped mine into butterhorns and baked them for 22 minutes which was about right. The ones pictured above were baked on the middle rack and the tops turned out more brown than ideal, so I do recommend the bottom rack!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

BBQ CHICKEN SALAD


Just because the hubby's not going to be home for dinner doesn't mean I'm going to make a mad dash to Wendy's with the kids. I've had my eye on this salad for a few days now and decided I couldn't wait any longer. It tastes like something you'd pay big bucks for at a restaurant! It's really not much of a "recipe" and preparing the chicken is so simple too! Why not make enough of this chicken to use in other dishes for meals over the next day or two such as for a wrap, on a pizza or just by itself. YUMMY!

For the Chicken:

Preheat oven to 350
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pounded to thin out a bit)
BBQ Sauce of choice (I've learned that there is a big difference in quality. Buy the good stuff! I LOVE and strongly recommend Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar)

Place chicken in a baking dish. Pour BBQ sauce over chicken, then flip and add more sauce. Bake for approx. 25 -35 min. (depends on thickness of chicken).

** Chicken can dry out quickly in the oven, so take it out and check around 25 min. If juices run clear when pricked with fork, it's done and stays juicy!!

For Salad:

You can use whatever greens you like, but here's what I used:
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Baby Spinach
Diced tomato
Diced red onion
Chopped avocado
Tortilla Strips
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Top salad w/ diced BBQ chicken and serve with Cilantro Lime Ranch dressing.

For Dressing:

Store bought ranch (I LOVE Atwoods Lite. It's locally made in Northern Utah and has a much better flavor than Hidden Valley, etc.)
Add few big squirts lime juice (fresh is best)
Add Chopped cilantro (to your liking)






Tuesday, April 13, 2010

HEALTHY HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS

I have been searching quite some time for the perfect granola bar recipe; one that doesn't have a lot of oil and doesn't fall apart on you to where you end up with granola but no bar. I think I've found it! I've used this base recipe 3 or 4 times now and have loved the outcome. I added some extra nutrition to the bars by including wheat bran, wheat germ and flax meal (ground flax seeds). These are SO much better for you than any you buy in the store that have corn syrup and hydrogenated oils and a ton of sugar! The bars pictured in front are Coconut chocolate nut and are crispy like a Nature Valley granola bar. The ones in the background are P.B. apple cranberry, and are thicker and chewier. I have to be honest; the "crispy" batch was kind of an accident. I wasn't really paying attention to the recipe and was trying to cut down on dishes by using the same 9x11 pan to bake them in that I used for toasting the oatmeal in. It wasn't until I got them out of the oven that I realized my mistake. I was so disappointed! Until...I tasted one and it was actually good! I did another batch and switched out some of the ingredients and this time made them in the correct size pan. Which is my favorite?? Both! (as my 4 year old always says).

** You can customize this recipe and have fun trying different combinations such as cinnamon-raisin, chocolate-cherry, white chocolate-craisin, smores, etc.


Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (Quick oats works fine)
Handful of wheat germ, wheat bran, flax meal, toasted with oats
    1/2 cup sliced almonds (can use chopped pecans, walnuts, etc.)
    1/3 cup of honey
    1/4 cup of brown sugar
    2 tbsp unsalted butter (I use Smart Balance spread)
** If using peanut butter, add it in with the honey mixture. I used about 3 heaping Tbsp.
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (decrease slightly if using table salt)
    1/2 cup of shredded coconut
    1/4 cup of mini semi sweet chocolate chips
Spray a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the oats and almonds onto a baking sheet pan. Place in the oven (while preheating) and toast for 8 -10 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the brown sugar mixture, next add the coconut and chocolate chips then stir to combine. If you don't want the chocolate chips to melt & disappear completely, wait to add them on top of the bars prior to baking. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 22-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Cut into squares or bars, wrap individually in saran wrap then store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes about 9-12 bars depending on how big you cut them.
** If you want a crispier bar; spread mixture in a 9x11 shallow metal pan (like a small rimmed baking sheet) and bake as above.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

CARROT CAKE OATMEAL

This recipe came from a Smith's Food booklet that comes in the mail on occasion with recipes mixed in with some coupons for the ingredients listed in the recipe. My husband is a big fan of oatmeal and the combination of ingredients sounded pretty tasty. The original recipe title was "Hearty Harvest Oatmeal", but I opted to rename it "Carrot Cake Oatmeal" because it has a lot of the same ingredients as carrot cake and is ALMOST sweet enough to be a dessert. I made this batch yesterday morning and had leftovers that I refrigerated and rewarmed for a late night "snack" tonight. I imagine it would keep fine in the fridge for a few days. I just rewarmed in microwave with a little milk to thin it out. I made 1 1/2 times the recipe and prepared it just as the directions indicate other than I added raisins and poured a little milk on it prior to serving.

CARROT CAKE OATMEAL

serves 4

2 C. Old Fashioned Oatmeal
3 C. water
dash of salt
2 C. carrot, peeled & grated
1 C. apple, diced (I used dried apples from the LDS Cannery)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 C. walnuts, chopped
Handful of raisins (optional)

Bring water to a boil. Stir in oats (if using dried apples, stir in at this point) and reduce heat to medium; cook 2 minutes. Stir in cinnamon, carrot, apple (if using fresh) and raisins. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar and walnuts. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

LIME BUTTER CHICKEN W/ CILANTRO LIME RICE


I saw this recipe on bountiful kitchen blog and had to try it. Sometimes chicken recipes are so mundane and predictable, but this called for cocoa powder and cinnamon! I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the flavor was awesome! Unique; yes, but definitely worth trying. Grilling chicken on an outdoor grill can be tricky for me to get the timing, heat and marinade just right so it doesn't dry out. The chicken was tender, moist, and perfectly cooked. The butter sauce was a bit of an indulgence for my husband and I who normally omit or skimp on the real "good" stuff, but I thought, what the heck! My kids are pretty good about trying new things, but my 7 year old took a few bites and said she was done, but when I told her there was chocolate (cocoa) on the chicken, she ate it all then wanted more! I served it with Cilantro Lime Rice (from deals to meals website) to compliment the lime flavor in the chicken.


LIME BUTTER CHICKEN W/ CILANTRO LIME RICE

3 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin and even

Chicken coating:
1 Tbsp. cinnamon (I used 1/2 Tbsp. and that was plenty)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Lime Butter:
1/2 C. butter, melted (I used 1/4 C.)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (not bottled)
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Serrano pepper, minced (optional - I omitted this)
Cilantro, chopped (optional)

Combine chicken coating ingredients in shallow dish or pan. Dip chicken breasts on each side to coat evenly. Place in a clean 9x13 pan. Grill on medium heat 7-8 minutes per side.

While chicken is grilling; add ingredients for lime butter in a small bowl. Before serving, slice chicken in strips horizontally, but not cutting all the way through. (This will allow butter to seep into all the cuts in the chicken.) Pour lime butter over chicken and serve with Cilantro Lime rice.

CILANTRO LIME RICE

2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/4 c. rice (I use part brown rice part white)
2 1/4 c. chicken broth
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
juice and zest of one lime
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. cumin

In a skillet, melt butter and add rice. Let cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes (depending on type of rice). Fluff w/ fork and serve.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

OH-SO-EASY CREAMY TOMATO SOUP


Rachel, this one's for you! I found this recipe tucked away in my huge binder of "recipes in waiting. Typically I would not be thinking soup this time of year, but considering the snow we are still getting in Utah, I'm game for something warm to eat! Sometimes I'm a bit leery of anything too simple, thinking it won't be as good as something more complicated, but this proved me wrong. The recipe came from Taste of Home and I made a few personalizations to it. It honestly took all of 5 minutes to prepare and another few minutes to warm on the stove. No more excuses for not having a hot meal at the end of the day. I served it with one of my all time favorites; garlic bread, and it was a hit!


EASY CREAMY TOMATO SOUP: 4 servings

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil (I used Kroger brand), undrained
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 (8 oz) package reduced fat or fat free cream cheese, softened (Could use 4-6 oz. and still be plenty creamy)
1/4 C. coarsely chopped fresh basil (I used dried because that's what I had on hand, but bet it would be wonderful with fresh!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender, cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan; heat through.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

LOW FAT CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE


My 4 year old daughter insisted we make chocolate cake for dessert tonight, so I tried this
from Taste of Home. Somehow when I make low fat or healthier desserts, I end up eating a LOT of it because I feel justified that it is low fat! This mentality kind of defeats the purpose of a low fat dessert don't you think? The cake texture is a little different than if you were to make it the "full fat" way, maybe a little more like a damp sponge?? My description doesn't sound too appetizing, but really it was good!

One thing I like to do with a cake mix is to substitute seltzer water for the water. It seems to add a little more "life" to the cake and makes it nice and moist.

The topping was a nice change from your typical frosting. The recipe called for chocolate pudding but all I had on hand was vanilla so I added in a bit of cocoa powder and powdered sugar and it turned out just fine. The crushed Oreo's on top were my own addition and I liked the extra texture it gave the cake. I opted to put the topping on each individual piece instead of the entire cake so that the leftovers would stay fresher longer and because I didn't want to have to refrigerate the whole thing. I would not hesitate making this again!

LOWFAT CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE:

16 ServingsPrep: 20 min. Bake: 15 min. + cooling

Ingredients

  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 package (2.1 ounces) sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1-3/4 cups water (I used seltzer water)
  • 3 egg whites (I used 2/3 C. liquid egg whites from carton)
    FROSTING:
  • 1-1/4 cups cold fat-free milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 package (2.1 ounces) sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen fat free whipped topping, thawed
  • Crushed Reduced-Fat Oreo's, optional

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, water and egg whites. Beat on low speed for 1 minute; beat on medium for 2 minutes.
  • Pour into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  • For frosting, place milk and extract in a large bowl. Sprinkle with a third of the pudding mix; let stand for 1 minute. Whisk pudding into milk. Repeat twice with remaining pudding mix. Whisk pudding 2 minutes longer. Let stand for 15 minutes. Fold in whipped topping.
  • Frost cake.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers
Nutrition Facts: 1 piece (calculated without chocolate Oreo) equals 197 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 409 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fat.

Monday, April 5, 2010

WHEATGRASS

As you'll soon find out, I love using wheat and other grains that get overlooked. It was just a year or so ago that I learned how incredibly versatile wheat is! This was actually my first attempt at growing wheatgrass. For sprouting wheat (looks like bean sprouts you buy at the grocery store in the produce section) you simply soak the grain (berry) in water then remove it and let set and soon it sprouts. To get wheatgrass the process is basically the same except once the berry has been soaked, you add soil which makes it turn to grass! I did it mainly for decorative purposes for Easter, but wheatgrass has a plethora of claimed health benefits such as soothing skin, eliminating toxins and bad bacteria, lowering blood pressure, etc. etc. Wheat grass is considered a dietary supplement and can be added to salads, smoothies and can even be juiced. I have yet to try it in any of those applications, but I've read that the darker green it is, the more grassy the flavor, but also the greater nutrition you get from it. If you keep it away from sunlight, it will be paler and maybe even a little yellow, which will give it a milder flavor. I know this is a pretty atypical thing to use, but let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

WHEAT GRASS

Soak wheat berries in water for 24 hours at room temperature away from light.
Put soil in a pot with drainage holes (I just used an empty Cool Whip container and punched a few holes in the bottom).
Plant wheat berries in soil about 1/2" down.
Place pot in a dish or larger bowl that will allow for drainage (I elevated mine on some straws that I cut to fit between the Cool Whip container and the bottom of the larger bowl).
Water frequently (I would just add a little water to the bottom of the larger bowl).
Keep away from direct sunlight until it has poked through the soil about 1/2"
Once you see shoots about 1/2" long, place near sunlight if you want it to green up.

Friday, April 2, 2010

WHOLE WHEAT APPLESAUCE BREAD



Last year my goal was to be able to make the PERFECT whole wheat bread! I tried many recipes, techniques, etc. I would be set on a recipe that I thought was THE ONE and make it several times, then get tempted to try another and another. A year and a half later, I have come up with a combination of recipes to become what my family considers the PERFECT whole wheat bread! I had been using that recipe for quite some time, then I stumbled upon this interesting recipe calling for applesauce. I had never heard of using applesauce in a yeast bread so it intrigued me and I had to try it. It was AWESOME! I still haven't abandoned my other tried and true recipe, but now I can say I have two go-to recipes for whole wheat bread!

Here are some tips I've learned along the way to the perfect loaf:
* Don't let your dough get too dry! When you are adding the final amount of flour, dump it in about 1/2 c. at a time and wait till it's mixed in all the way before adding more. Stop adding when dough is still tacky, but not sticking entirely to sides of bowl.
* When using a stand mixer, let it mix on speed 1 or 2 (no higher) for as long as you dare (before motor gets too hot); usually 6-8 minutes. I consider this my kneading for the most part. I take the dough out and just knead it on the counter for maybe 1-2 minutes, then divide into loaves.
* I weigh my dough to get loaves equal size so they cook at the same rate.
* If at all possible, use freshly ground wheat. I use a combo of white wheat and red wheat.



WHOLE WHEAT APPLESAUCE BREAD
(Adapted from Mindika Moments blog: AMAZING MINNESOTA WHOLE WHEAT BREAD)

2 tablespoons rapid rise yeast
2 3/4 cups of warm water
1/4 cup melted butter (I used Canola oil)
4 1/2 cups wheat flour (I used fresh ground)
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar (I used combo)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup smooth applesauce
2 3/4 cups -3 3/4 cups wheat flour
optional additions: approx. 3 TBSP. Vital Wheat gluten, approx. 1/3 C. Dough Enhancer, 1/4 c. Soy Lecithin, flax meal (I use these and I think they do make a difference!)


1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar.
2. Add the wheat flour, butter, honey, salt and applesauce. Beat until smooth.
3. Add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth, elastic dough that can be handled.
4. Let rise until doubled. Form into three medium size loaves or two large loaves.
5. Place in a greased loaf pans and let rise until doubled.**
6. Bake at 350 degree for 40-50 minutes or until done. (I baked mine for 35-40 min.)

**A trick to getting bread to rise faster is to preheat oven to 200 for 1-2 minutes. Turn oven off and place bread in oven. After 30-45 minutes of rising, turn oven on to 350 and set timer for about 40 minutes, adding more time as needed.

APRIL FOOL'S DINNER



















I know these aren't the prettiest pictures, but I had to snap them quickly before my family dug in and discovered my trick! The "cupcake" is meatloaf with whipped potato topping that I colored with food coloring. The "mini doughnut" is a bagel with Laughing Cow Lite Swiss Cheese (which is quite tasty by the way!). I prepared the meal without any of the kids around so that the trick wouldn't be spoiled. I had my husband take the kids into their room to play while I plated everything. Allie, my 4 year old was the first one out when I called them to dinner. She was speechless when she saw her plate full of "dessert". Her eyes said it all! I almost felt bad that she was going to be so disappointed! Adria, my 7 year old could hardly wait to get her hands on it. She looked at me like this was her dream come true and I was the best mom ever! Brett was even pretty curious, so he sneaked a finger into the "frosting" to see what it could possibly be. I told them just for once I was letting them have dessert for dinner, but I had to throw on some broccoli to make it a little healthier. I reminded them it was April Fool's day, but then sat down to eat without saying anymore. I watched out of the corner of my eye at Adria as she licked the "frosting" and took a second before she said, it's not very sweet. Allie took a bite of the "doughnut" and looked at it strange. I then yelled, "April Fools!". Being so young, they didn't totally get the concept of April Fools, but it was fun anyway. I gave this idea to my sister to try and things didn't go so smoothly for her; her little boy ended up in tears over it! I served dessert later in the evening. I thought maybe the kids wouldn't fall for it, but they did! I told them we were having fish sticks and mashed potatoes with gravy. Even though they said, "Aw, but we want something else", they still took a bite and were pleasantly surprised to find the "fish sticks" were actually sugar wafers coated with peanut butter and dipped in crushed graham crackers. The "mashed potatoes" were made from vanilla ice cream and caramel topping. For once, something went as planned!