Friday, January 29, 2010

A New Favorite Bread Recipe! (and I'm getting a grain mill!!!!!)

Up until this week, I had not found a completely healthy, soaked, whole-grain bread recipe that I was completely satisfied with. All of my other soaked recipes just made a loaf of bread that was too dense. But thanks to Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, I've found my recipe! love this bread! It is dangerous, though, because it makes me want to eat bread all the time. And now my husband has informed me that I must make it every week :) But that, my friends, is a huge compliment, because he is super picky about bread! AND I'm excited because he liked the bread so much that he told me to go ahead and order my grain mill! Yay! Oh, and I'm excited because I can cross off another one of my New Year's Resolutions already -- I made big, but flatter dinner rolls out of the dough and they work just fine for hamburger buns! So here is the recipe, but you should really check out her blog post for her tips on making the best bread!

Makes 4 loaves
I make this recipe once a month, and freeze them, and we are set!

4 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (or 2 packages)
1 tsp honey (for activating yeast)
1 ½ Tbls. Salt
¾ cup coconut oil, butter or olive oil (melted)
1 cup honey
11-12 cups whole wheat flour or combination (I will occasionally throw in some kamut, barley, etc., but I mainly use hard white winter grain and/or hard red winter grain) – You can replace 1-2 cups with unbleached white flour for an even lighter texture, if desired.
2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flax seeds, optional
1/3 cup raw millet, optional
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, optional
2-4 Tbsp dough enhancer (4 Tbsp works best for me!) – makes for some wonderfully light loaves of bread! I highly recommend this dough enhancer, as it works very well, but you can also replace with any combination of the following: 3 table­spoons vital wheat gluten, 1/2 tea­spoon soy lecithin, a pinch of citric acid (use spar­ingly!), and a sprin­kling of ginger

Combine yeast, 1 tsp of honey, and 1/2 cup of the total water required. Let sit for 5 minutes or so, until fully proofed. Combine the yeast mixture, remaining 4 cups of water, and all the rest of the ingredients in your mixer. Only add as much flour until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the gluten is fully developed. Remove to a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let sit until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and divide into 4 loaves. Roll out with a rolling pin into a rectangle and roll up into a loaf (this makes the perfectly shaped loaves). Place in greased bread bans and rise again until doubled, about 30-45 minutes minutes (the best place is the oven! Just turn it on low 150-170 degrees till heated and then turn it off, prior to putting the loaves in). Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes. Bread is done when it is fully browned on all sides! Remove from oven, rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Benefits of Soaking Your Grains

If you want to add the benefits of soaking the grains to this recipe, my soaking method is as follows:

Combine the following ingredients, cover and soak for 12-24 hours:

1 cup kefir, cultured buttermilk, or whey (for dairy intolerant you can substitute with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and 3/4 cup water)
3 cups of water
11 cups of ground flour (you can replace 1 or 2 cups with unbleached white flour for a lighter end result)
2 cups oats
1 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil, butter or olive oil, melted
1/4 cup raw millet, optional
1/4 cup flax seed, optional

After soaking, activate the yeast by combining:

1/2 cup water
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast

After activating the yeast, combine it with the soaked flour and add the remaining ingredients:

1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
2-4 Tbsp dough enhancer
1 cup unbleached white flour, if necessary (usually not necessary)
Sunflower seeds, if desired

Kneed for approximately 8-10 minutes. Continue with instructions as listed above.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuscan Soup

This recipe is a spin-off of a popular soup at Olive Garden and I was excited that Passionate Homemaking posted it. The girls and I all loved it, but Mark wasn't a huge fan. But he is not usually a soup person, unless it is chili or Taco Soup that he can eat with chips :)

1/2 lb bacon (preferably natural, nitrate free)
1/2 lb chicken Italian sausage or bulk sausage of your choice
4-6 potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock (you can easily replace some with water as you have available – I used 4 cups stock, 2 cups water)
2 cups whole milk, half & half, or raw cream
1 head of kale (5-6 leaves, as desired), chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese

In a small pan, cook the bacon. Save bacon grease, if desired. Cool and finely chop. In a large pot, cook the sausage, onions, and garlic (in bacon grease, if desired) until the sausage has browned. Crumble sausage as you cook it. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Once it has reached a boil, turn it down to low and simmer for 20 minutes or so, just until the potatoes are tender. Add the milk, kale, and bacon and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste. Top with parmesan cheese for extra flavor! Enjoy! Makes 6-8 servings. Freezes well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quinoa cakes

I had a lot of leftover quinoa the other day and decided to do something different for breakfast. The girls and I really enjoyed these little cakes and we used the leftover ones to make tiny PB&J sandwiches for lunch :)

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
maple syrup
oil for frying (I used coconut oil, but butter or olive oil would work nicely as well)

Directions: Mix quinoa, eggs, and salt together. Fry in a greased pan just like you would fry pancakes. Serve with maple syrup.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spaghetti Squash-Spinach side (A healthy chip dip?)

Since my husband was such a surprising fan of spaghetti squash, I bought some more last week. I was planning to look up another fabulous recipe online, but both of our computers were down. So I had to improvise. I finally decided to just add to my basic creamed spinach and see how it turned out. The girls thought it was fun the first time I served it to them, but didn't really want it the next day. But my husband surprised me. He loved it and said it was kind of like a spinach chip dip. The next thing I knew, he was getting his tortilla chips out of the pantry and dipping them in my spaghetti squash! The man never ceases to amaze me :) I didn't really see the connection with the chips, but I did enjoy my side dish. So here it is:

1 spaghetti squash
1 box frozen spinach, thawed, or fresh baby spinach leaves
1 stick of butter
one small sweet onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
4 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
cheese as desired (I use any combination of swiss, cream cheese, parmesan, etc.)

Directions: In a large stock pot, put about 2-3 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Wash outside of squash, cut squash in half and place in the stock pot of boiling water, flesh side down. Cover and boil for 15-20 minutes, until squash is tender. Drain squash. Holding halves with a potholder, use a fork to scoop out the stringy "spaghetti". Set aside. Melt butter in a sauce pan. Saute garlic and onions in butter til soft, then add spinach and squash. (The spinach and squash will soak up most of the butter. ) Sprinkle on flour and mix thoroughly. Slowly add milk, and stir til the sauce thickens. (It is kind of like making a basic white sauce.) Add in cheese and stir til melted. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Italian Cream Cheese Chicken

Chicken Divane is one of my family's very favorite dishes. However, Chicken Divane contains soups and mayonaise that I am trying to avoid. So I was excited to find this recipe on Donielle's blog that seemed like a worthy substitute. The girls and I really loved it, but Mark just thought it was ok. But I used more broccoli and noodles than the recipe called for because I was trying to stretch my expensive organic chicken. So it didn't really have enough of the yummy sauce that makes it so good. So I am going to make it again soon and double the sauce and see if my husband likes it more :)

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour or cornstarch

3 cups chicken broth

8 oz cream cheese

1 Tbsp Italian Dressing Mix

1/2 Tbsp dried minced onion

1/2 Tbsp dried minced garlic

1-2 cooked and cubed chicken breasts

1 box of rotini pasta (we use brown rice)

1/2 head of steamed broccoli or about 1/2 bag of frozen broccoli

Cook pasta until al dente or slightly firm. (if you’re freezing this undercook it) Melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour or cornstarch (cornstarch for you gluten free folks) to make a rue. Once mixed together well, add the broth in slowly while whisking. Once at a gentle boil, whisk occasioanlly and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened. Add in cream cheese and all the seasonings. Mix well and taste. If you like more seasoning, add it now. Let simmer for a few minutes while you grease a 9×13 pan and dump the pasta, chicken, and broccoli into it. Pour cream cheese mixture over everything and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Take out, stir, and enjoy!

Variations we like:

  • Use 4 cups of cooked rice instead of the pasta
  • For an extra creamy version you can use milk in place of all but 1 cup of broth
  • You can also use 2 cups of cream of chicken soup for the broth as well

Italian Dressing Mix

One of my favorite bloggers, Donielle, posted this great mix on her blog and I was so excited! My husband likes me to marinade all of our meat in Italian dressing before grilling and I hate to do it because of all the rancid and "bad-for-you" oils in the store-bought kind. This mix is really handy for other things as well. I actually used it last night when I tried to make a pizza and realized that I didn't have any pizza sauce. I just mixed some tomato paste, diced tomatoes, coconut oil, honey, and a couple teaspoons of this mixture together and warmed it on the stove. (I wish I could give you that recipe, but I didn't measure a thing! It is definitely something that I'll try to keep on hand!

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar (something like evaporated cane juice would work well)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Use as Italian seasoning in breadcrumbs or sprinkled on grilled chicken. Can also be used as a dressing or marinade by mixing 2Tbsp of the mix with 1/4 cup vinegar, 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, and 2Tbsp water.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sweeter Mashed Potatoes

Ever since our success with yummy parsnip chips, I've been interested in recipes using parsnips. I was skimming through an old recipe book last night (because I was getting ready to donate it to our share shop and wanted to make sure I wasn't missing a fabulous recipe :) and noticed a recipe that used parsnips in mashed potatoes. I couldn't find it again if I tried, but it came to mind tonight when I was fixing dinner. So I tried my own version and really liked it! My husband, who always tells me EXACTLY what he thinks of my concoctions (whether I want to hear it or not :) said, "I really like these; what did you do to them?" He was quite a fan. Even my picky toddler ate a whole bowlful of them! The parsnips definitely add a subtle sweetness that we all really liked. So here is what I did:

4 small baking potatoes
3 parsnips
1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter
enough milk to make them creamy (Sorry for the lack of measurement -- I just pour a little, mix a little, pour a little, mix a little, etc. til I get the consistency we like :)
salt to taste.

Directions: Wash potatoes and parsnips. I peel my parsnips because they remind me of carrots, but I really have no idea if most people peel them or not :) We don't peel our potatoes, but you can if you want to. Chop potatoes and parsnips into big chunks. Boil potatoes and parsnips together in a pot of water until soft. Drain. Mix together in a bowl with butter, allowing it to melt before adding the cold milk. Salt to taste.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A new favorite Oatmeal Bake

I love my oatmeal casserole, but the directions don't call for soaking the oats, which I like to do for better nutrition. I found this recipe and have been using it instead. We really like it. I usually pour milk over it for Karis because she loves to eat it that way :) I got this recipe from Keeper of the Home, a blog I really enjoy.

1 cup oil (I use any combination of butter, coconut oil, or olive oil)
1 ½ cups sugar (I use honey- about 1/2- 3/4 cup or even less. Because we also add fruit, this seems to be enough sweetness for us. I've also used maple syrup with great success.)
4 eggs
6 cups oats
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (a bit more cinnamon is good, too!)
2 cups yogurt or milk
Variations: Adding chopped apples or raisins (or both) before baking is a wonderful addition, almost like eating dessert for breakfast!

1) Prepare (oil) a 9x13 pan. Mix oats well with milk or yogurt mixture. If you used yogurt, let soak in pan overnight for better absorption of nutrients. Then add in the rest of the ingredients the next morning; mix well.
2) Bake at 375° for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.
3) We pour raw milk or cream, and add raisins or other fruit (if not added during baking) before eating.