Jan 19, 2007

One Of Those Days...

Have you ever had "one of those days" when it comes to preparing a meal for your family? I woke up this morning excited about the dinner I was planning to prepare for my family tonight. I was planning to prepare a recipe I had found a few years ago and we had really enjoyed when I made it the first time. The recipe is called Turkey Breast Peruvian and I found it in a Weight Watchers cookbook. It is so flavorful and I could just taste it! I proceeded to prepare the marinade this morning, got some dough for dinner rolls going in the bread machine this afternoon and had the turkey in to roast right on time. After a while I could hear a slight sizzle and figured that the pan must have gone a bit dry and a little water was needed as not to create smoke. Forgetting that my pan is made of Pyrex and the water from our water cooler is COLD I proceeded to pour water into the pan. Thankfully I was standing far from the oven door as I poured and the kids were in the other room. The next thing that happened was a very loud POP as the pan exploded in the oven. Needless to say the meal for tonight (and the leftovers I had planned for the next two) are ruined. **Sigh**. The pan is still cooling so now I'm figuring out how I will clean out the stove and what we will eat for dinner. Hoping to buy another turkey breast soon so I can share the recipe and some nice photos to go along with it. Stay tuned....

Jan 16, 2007

Container Gardening

When my oldest daughter was two years old, I decided to endeavour into the world of gardening. I have never been one to take much of an interest in plants, but my deep love for cooking pushed me towards trying to grow our own vegetables. At the time we were living in a small apartment with a tiny patio. Although the space was adaquate for a small container garden, the sun exposure was minimal and our success was minimal. Now that we have moved into a house with nice sunny windows and more yard space, I thought we would try our hand at growing some of our favorite veggies and herbs once again.

This week our homeschool studies have tended towards learning about plants so what better time to get started on our seedlings. In our growins zone (AZ9) it's really important to get the seeds planted in January because the intense summer heat can start as early as April or May.

This year we have seeds started for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, Anahiem chilis, okra, mini bell peppers, cilantro, basil, dill, chives, garlic chives and flat leaf parsley. We planted all of these about a week ago and so far the cucumbers, basil and squash are peeking out of the soil. In a few weeks I will be transplanting them into 5 gallon buckets and setting them out on tht patio. We are also planning to start (directly from seed) some oregano, rosemary and a couple different kinds of flowers.

If all goes well I should have some more pictures to share in a week or two when all the seeds have sprouted :)

Jan 13, 2007

Potato Rolls and Classic Country Bread

I have been spending a lot of time this past week baking bread since I got the new bread machine. So far I have been very happy with the results. I've only baked one loaf in the machine. I prefer to use the "dough" setting and bake the loaves in the oven to get a more authentic shape and crust. So far, aside from the Whole Wheat Flax Seed Bread, pizza crust and a sourdough loaf. I have also made a couple of Classic Country Bread loaves from a recipe found on a package of Red Star Yeast.

All the recipes have turned out very well expect I think I will reduce the olive oil for the pizza dough next time when I make it in the bread machine. The dough was very sticky and hard to work with. The recipe I used (I doubled it for the machine) would have made 4 pizzas but we ended up with three because I botched the first one due to the extra sticky dough. I'm not quite sure why it works fine when done by hand but not in the machine. I'm sure I will figure it out sooner or later :)

Today I found a couple lonely baked potatoes in the fridge, just begging to be used for something. So of course, I had to try a recipe I saw in one of my cookbooks for Potato Rolls. They turned out great!

Here are the recipes for the Classic Country Bread and Potato Rolls. Sorry for the lack of a photo for the Country Bread, but the kids ate it too quickly!

Potato Buns
(Originally from Old World Breads - modified for ingredients I had on hand)

1 c. milk
2 tsp. canola oil
2 tsp. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 small potatoes, baked then mashed (boiled would work well too I'm sure)
3/4 tsp. salt
2 c. bread flour
1 c. whole wheat flour

Add ingredients to bread machine in the order suggested by manufacturer. Set on "dough" cycle. When dough is ready, remove from machine and cut into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place balls into a greased muffin pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. For a golden crust, brush with butter or margarine before baking. Makes one dozen rolls.

Classic Country Bread

1 1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/3 c. molasses
2 1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c. oatmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Cereal)
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c. bread flour
2 tsp. quick rise or bread machine yeast

Put all ingredients in bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Set on "dough" cycle. When dough is ready, split into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Please each loaf into a greased bread pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks and allow to cool before slicing. Makes 2 loaves.

Jan 6, 2007

Whole Wheat Flax Seed Bread

Although I have a multitude of small appliances, one I have been wanting for a long time is a bread machine. My wish finally came true this Christmas. I was able to order a breadmaker on-line a couple days after Christmas and it finally arrived yesterday.

I did a lot of research before I chose this breadmaker. I needed to find one in my price range but that had good ratings among consumers so I wouldn't have to replace it after a few months like some of the appliances I have had in the past. I finally settled on the Sunbeam Bread Maker. It makes 1.5 and 2 lb loaves and had 12 different settings. It can dely baking up to 13 hours. It can even be used to make jam! A word of caution... if you ever purchase this model, the manual has many recipes but from all I have read on-line the proportions are incorrect and the loaves turn out awful. So be sure to find a good bread machine cookbook or find recipes on-line from reputable websites if you buy this model.

I made my first loaf today and I must say I am in love with this machine. It is so easy to use, easy to clean and quiet. I found this recipe on-line and tweaked it a bit to fit what I had on hand. Here's the recipe. I'm sure it would turn out very well made by hand as well. It is moist and delicious.

Whole Wheat Flax Seed Bread

1 1/3 c. warm water (I microwave room temp. water for 20 seconds)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour (I prefer King Arthur brand)
1/2 c. ground flax seed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. bread machine yeast (fast acting or quick rise yeast will work fine as well)

Add ingredients to bread machine in order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic setting and light crust. Makes one 1.5 lb. loaf.

Jan 5, 2007

Crock Pot Potato Soup

The weather has been dreary and a bit cold lately... perfect weather for warm comfort food. Today I decided to make potato soup. This is a recipe I adapted from several I found in different cookbooks... taking what I know my family loves best to make a nice satisfying dinner. We're having Garlic and Herb Sesame Rolls to go along with it.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

8 potatos, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
2 leeks or 4 scallions, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 onions, diced
1 c. diced ham or crumbled cooked bacon
5 c. water
4 tsp. chicken boullion
1 Tbsp., dried parsley
1 Tbsp. chives
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1 (13 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/2 c. shreded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c. sour cream

Add all ingredients except milk, cheese and sour cream to crock pot. Cook 6-8 hours on high or 10 - 12 hours on low. During the last hour add the milk, cheese and sour cream, stir well then cover again and allow to cook until cooking time is done.

Jan 4, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years! We were quite busy with out of town guests and then my huband and all three kids got sick so I haven't been on-line much lately. We were truly blessed this Christmas and as always enjoyed celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.

I got a new cook book yesterday and wanted to share a review with you.

Years ago I had picked up an old copy of The Joy of Cooking at a second hand bookstore. It was (and still is) my very favorite cookbook. Dispite the lack of color photographs that all the new cookbooks seem to have in abundance, the wealth of knowledge contained in this book is beyond measure. If I could choose only one cookbook to own it would be this one. In it you will find recipes for everything from simple things like boiled eggs to very elaborate dishes, menues, cooking techniques and ingredient and nutrition information.

My original copy was ruined when a storage closet in our old apartment was flooded by the hot water heater. So I was very excited to see this new 75th Anniversary Edition available. It is just as good as my old copy... in fact better! It contains over 4500 recipes and is an invaluable tool for anyone who enjoys cooking.