Monday, March 31, 2014

Cracker Coated Haddock

Fish (and just about any type of seafood for that matter) is one of my favorite sources of protein at mealtimes. But I do love to try different types of fish, or at least if I have the same kind, I like to switch up the preparation technique. I'm growing a bit tired of the standard breadcrumb coating, and a bread slice was an interesting technique, and got me to think of what else I could do. A cracker crumb coating is not exactly a new and unique idea, but it can definitely differ in success rate depending upon what type of crackers used and how finely crushed they are. I took inspiration from my whole grain and seeded crackers I had on hand (typical me). The fish I enjoyed was prepared with these crackers, not crushed to a fine powder but with no visible cracker pieces either. It was cooked simply by pan-frying. I really liked the texture of the cracker crumbs - it wasn't really crispy, but certainly not soggy with just the right amount of crunch. The flavor was also nice, as the crackers were not overly salty with just a hint of sweetness and plenty of flavor from the whole grains - no seasoning required. In addition, the fish was not heavy or fatty as the crackers were not butter crackers. I'll have to search the pantry to see what other coatings I can come up with next! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Apple Whole Grain Pancake

This is another individual breakfast I came up with. It makes one large, moist pancake with plenty of apple flavor and the goodness of many grains. In addition, it is quite quick to whip up so you have a hot breakfast in minutes! 

Apple Whole Grain Pancake
1/4 cup whole grain flour or cereal mix (or dry multigrain oatmeal mix - I use this: Hot Cereal Mix)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
1-2 Tablespoons milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat a little oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Mix all batter ingredients together and pour into pan to form one large pancake. Cook for a few minutes per side until golden.
Serving Suggestions: all-natural peanut butter, caramel sauce and chopped apple, apple slices and maple syrup, yogurt and berries, honey and cinnamon. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chocolate Drop Cookies

Chocolate Drop Cookies
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease or line cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, cream together the utter and sugar. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla. Stir in cocoa, powder, and salt, followed by flour.
Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set.

This is a simple version of double chocolate chip cookies. The difference is they are softer and darker than the usual, and don't have the cookie crunch. Since they don't really flatten when baking, I recommend forming the cookies with a miniature ice cream scoop in order to yield uniformly round cookies. I made these before awhile ago, but this time my mother made these. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gingerbread Overnight Oatmeal

Well, the Christmas season may have come and gone, but winter, and unfortunately the snow, is still sticking around. So I still love having a warm hearty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I also love gingerbread, and recreated the flavors in this bowl of oatmeal. It really does remind me of gingerbread - whether it is a loaf or a cookie, the unmistakable flavors of ginger, molasses, raisins, and spice bring me back to memories of the Christmas season.

Gingerbread Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
1 Tablespoon molasses
2 Tablespoons raisins
1/2 cup milk
Place all ingredients in a bowl or jar, mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, eat as is or heat it up. Makes one simple pre-prepared breakfast with lots of coconut flavor! For similar ideas, type "overnight oatmeal" in my blog's searchbar at the top. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Breakfast Fruit Crisp

This recipe idea is basically an individual serving of fruit crisp made quickly in the microwave with prepared granola. I use my homemade granola, but use any type you like and any fruit you would like. This makes a different and welcome well-rounded breakfast choice, or a warm snack or healthier dessert option.

Breakfast Fruit Crisp
1/2 cup mixed fruit of choice (fresh, frozen, canned or dried)
- I used orange, kiwi, and blueberries.
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (use more for frozen or juicier fruits)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granola
In a large microwaveable mug, mix together the fruit, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the granola over top. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for about three minutes until fruit is hot and bubbly. I wouldn't recommend serving this with ice cream for breakfast, but maybe some vanilla yogurt would do the trick.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Double Chocolate Cake Brownies

Brownies are pretty easy to make when you use a brownie mix. But they don't taste quite like homemade brownies, and what if you don't even have a brownie mix? I would think more people would have a cake mix on hand than a brownie mix (though maybe I am wrong) and a cake mix can be cleverly manipulated so it doesn't taste much like a brownie mix or a cake mix. This way you have tasty homemade brownies that are so quick and easy to make. No, I am not normally one for using mixes and taking shortcuts, but I thought this cake mix-turned brownie idea sounded interesting, and it is definitely a time saver, not to mention a good way to use up spare cake mixes instead of making cakes.

Cake Mix Brownies
1 package (two layer size) chocolate cake mix (chocolate fudge, devil's food, etc, doesn't matter)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, melted
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x13 inch rectangular pan.
Combine the cake mix, eggs, and butter until mixed, batter will be stiff. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. 

Frost them, drizzle them with melted chocolate, or dust with icing sugar if you'd like.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Scallops and Wine Sauce

Scallops are a quick and easy protein addition to a well-balanced meal. They are quite nutritious, versatile, and tasty. Scallops are not bad breaded in a crispy coating, but I prefer to allow the scallops to really shine through and just accompany them with a simple but flavorful sauce. Usually reductions are the best type of sauces - something delicate and slightly sweet with simple but pronounced flavors. My father is the scallop and reduction sauce master in this house, and this time he chose to do a red wine reduction with a little garlic. The reduction is very strong and concentrated on its own, even after being reduced down, but it is perfect to dress the scallops. The easiest way to achieve this, is to quickly sauté the scallops in a hot pan with a little oil until just cooked, then use the same pan to cook garlic and onion and reduce down an alcohol or acidic ingredient. What do you think, does this plate look messy or artistically creative?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Double Chocolate Espresso Muffins

Remember the {Espresso Chip Muffins} from a couple of months ago? Well, my mother revamped the recipe and made them again for an even more delectable treat. The key? Adding more chocolate of course! She simply replaced a small portion of the flour with some unsweetened cocoa powder. In this case, it was not necessary to add extra sugar, as the small amount of cocoa does not make a huge change and it is just like a dark chocolate muffin. However, the sugar could be increased slightly if you wish. Be sure to cut back of the amount of flour as well, or else the muffins may turn out to be a bit dry. This is a chocolaty delight that is delicious warm from the oven on a chilly day, perhaps with a cup of coffee? This version has even amped up the flavor enough that you may omit the espresso powder if you prefer. 
A warm treat on a snowy day!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

What to do with some leftover sour cream? Make coffee cake! Not everyone's first thought, but when you think about it, ingredients such as yogurt and buttermilk are often added to muffins and cakes to make them moister. There are even some recipes entitles sour cream coffee cake and such. And boy, does the sour cream makes this coffee cake so incredibly moist, even a few days later. Combine that with a sweet cinnamon streusel and a fluffy cake base, and you've certainly got yourself a winning snack for a coffee break or afternoon tea. This is one time when chocolate as actually not needed. Thanks Mom! 
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square baking pan. Mix the streusel ingredients together and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add sour cream and baking soda. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Spread half of batter into bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel, spread with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining stresuel. Bake for about 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bowl of Fruit Oatmeal

Bowl of Fruit Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
squeeze of vanilla extract and honey, if desired
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk of choice
your favorite fruit:
1/4 kiwifruit, thinly sliced
handful halved grapes
2 Tablespoons blueberries

Combine all in a bowl or a jar. Refrigerate overnight. This is just another fruit-filled variation on all of my overnight oatmeal recipes. This is one I do not recommend heating before eating, but I suppose it does depend on what types of fruit you choose. I prefer this oatmeal cold, as a nice and refreshing breakfast, so don't plan to have it on a chilly day.
Grapes and kiwi are tropical flavors, but certainly not common in oatmeal. I really like the kiwi in this, as it is soft and gives a nice kick of citrus. The grapes are just like raisins, only bigger and juicier, and together they pair well with blueberries. Feel free to try different fruit flavors though - fresh, frozen and puréed work, probably canned and dried would as well! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nautical Cupcakes

These are some nautical themed cupcakes I made the other day. These cupcakes were an order and I decorated them based on special request. I used nautical-themed cupcake paper liners and decorative toothpicks and decorated the cupcakes to match this theme. My ocean-themed cupcakes included fish, whales, starfish, sailboats, submarines, anchors, seashells, and lifebuoys. I used both white and chocolate cupcakes (half of each kind) and decorated them with my signature vanilla buttercream. I decided to pipe blue swirls for he base of the decorations to make it look like blue waves. Then I used red and yellow buttercream to pipe some different shapes onto the cupcakes. I chose six different shapes: yellow seashells, yellow starfish, yellow fish, yellow and red submarines, red sailboats, red anchors, and red lifebuoys. This only required two basic decorating tips, a plain round open tip and an open star tip. The shapes were also fairly basic and easy, but with a little imagination, I think I created some great nautical-themed cupcakes! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

St. Patty's Fettuccine Alfredo

So Fettuccine Alfredo (and pasta in general) is definitely not a typical Saint Patrick's Day dish or really an Irish food. However, that is what we ate on St. Patrick's Day this year. My mother wanted to try a new recipe - sort of her spin on something. She did make it festive by incorporating green broccoli and green beans and peas into the dish for a spot of green color, though it still isn't corned beef and cabbage by any means. This is not a typical fettuccine alfredo sauce, but it is tasty. It contains a lot of milk, some sour cream, and a little light cream - very high in calcium. This along with some seasonings mushrooms, onion, and a great deal of pasta, plus some chicken breast pieces for protein. This is a case where the dish was actually better the next day, as we found the sauce did not thicken that well and was almost soupy. The next day however, even when reheated, the sauce was thick, creamy, and maybe even more flavorful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Multigrain Raisin Bread

This is a tasty twist on cinnamon raisin bread. It is definitely healthier as it is 100% whole grain. This does make the bread a bit heavier, but that way it is satisfying. This isn't a sweet, snack-like raisin bread, but more of a hearty sandwich bread enriched with some raisins.
Multigrain Raisin Bread
1 1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons oil or softened butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup multigrain mix (I use this:{Hot Cereal Mix}) 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon yeast
3/4 cup raisins

Place all ingredients except raisins in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. Add the raisins when the mix in signal chimes. This makes one large loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can of Beans Cookie Dough

You won't believe this. No one does. This bowl of delicious cookies dough is made primarily from a can of beans? No butter, no white flour, and it can be made without refined sugars? What, it's vegan too? Why yes, it is. Believing is tasting. it also helps if you didn't make it and don't actually know what is in it until later (if I choose to tell you that is). This is a healthy cookies alternative - use it as a cookie dough dip, a spread (such as an icing for the brownies from yesterday's post), raw cookies, baked cookies, or by the spoonful. Healthy never tasted this good!

Can of Beans Cookie Dough
1 cup dates
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained very well, without outer skins
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon smooth natural peanut butter 
3 Tablespoons oats
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
Soak the dates in the water for at least 8 hours.
Blend the dates (with liquid) and chickpeas until smooth.
Blend in remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips, until very smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
I find the flavor improves after being chilled in the fridge for a day or so. The cookie dough will remain a soft consistency, but will be slightly easier to work with if you wanted to use it for truffles of something similar. 

Recipe Notes: If you don't mind a peanut butter flavored cookie dough, use 3-4 Tablespoons of peanut butter and omit the coconut oil. A different nut butter may also be used. 
If you don't have a huge sweet tooth, the brown sugar can be omitted as the dates provide enough sweetness for a sugar-free version (aside from the chocolate chips). However, if making for the first time, or making for others (who are not accustomed to "healthy food") I recommend using some sugar.
For a sweeter, less healthy version, simply omit the dates and just use 2/3 cup brown sugar.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cookie Dough Brownies

This recipe uses the divine chocolate brownie recipe from yesterday's post, and the cookie dough recipe that will be featured in tomorrow's post. There is a secret to the cookie dough topping, but I will wait until tomorrow to divulge that. To assemble these brownies, I spread about half the recipe of cookie dough on top (which is why I had extra for the pi pies from a few days ago). Of course this cookie dough was originally intended as a dip, which is why it is a bit softer in consistency than regular cookie doughs. However, instead of devouring it as a dip (or by the spoonful, though I definitely could have) I decided to make it into something new. 
These brownies definitely are not overly sweet, they are more for dark chocolate lovers, and those who do not enjoy sickly sweet desserts, or want something a bit healthier. In order to make the brownies a little bit sweeter, more special, and more attractive, I simply melted a little semi-sweet chocolate and gave it a quick drizzle over top. These cookie dough brownies combine two favorite flavors, brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough, as well as three different appearances of chocolate. (Maybe next time I will try a double chocolate chip cookie dough). The cookie dough is a bit of a different recipe, so it contains no raw egg and is perfectly safe to consume raw. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Devilishly Divine Brownies

Devilishly Divine Brownies
1 cup all-purpose flour (use whole wheat if you want to be really healthy)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk (can substitute regular milk)
2/3 cup canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
2/3 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (omit at own risk) 
NOTE: These brownies are vegan without chocolate chips or with vegan chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 330F. Line a 9x13 inch rectangular pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the first six dry ingredients.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, vanilla, and flax. 
Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for exactly 16 minutes. They may seem a little underdone, but they should be. They will firm up upon cooling.
Cool then refrigerate. They may be enjoyed as is, but I bet you'll prefer them as they appear pictured below. Details in tomorrow's post!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mini Chocolate Cookie Dough Pi Pies

It's pi day. You take some leftover (egg-free) cookie dough from the fridge and search for inspiration. One package of milk chocolate is all that is needed to complete these miniature pies or tartlets. I simply melted some milk chocolate and used a pastry brush to "paint" mini paper muffin cup liners. I chilled them and once hardened, peeled off the paper. Then I used a miniature ice cream scoop to place uniformly-shaped balls of cookie dough into the pie shells. I then used some additional melted milk chocolate to pipe pi symbols on top. Sweet and simple. The cookis dough is something I had leftover in the fridge that I wanted to creatively repurpose. I also wanted to make pies for pi day so I put two and two together and came up with this simple confection. I will feature the cookie dough soon, and explain more about that and what its original purpose was. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Broccoli Mushroom Quiche Pie

Happy Pi Day! To celebrate, enjoy some pie (or do some math problems). This is a quick "pie" recipe I came up with for dinner tonight. It is fairly basic (and quick and easy) so feel free to take the recipe and make it your own. Use any vegetables you like, different seasonings, and add some cheese for more flavor if you wish. The bread adds a little more texture and heartiness to the quiche, and almost melts into the egg.
Broccoli Mushroom Quiche Pie
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 package (227 grams) white button mushrooms (6 large), thinly sliced
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
3 slices thick, crusty or homemade bread (not sandwich bread), torn into cubes
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk (fresh, canned or reconstituted powdered)
salt and pepper, to taste
dash paprika

The vegetables should be cooked briefly beforehand, to ensure they are tender in the finalized quiche. I steamed the broccoli, mushrooms and onions all together for a few minutes until tender-crisp, but they could also be sautéed or stir-fried for more flavor.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer to an oiled 8x8 inch square pan. At this point, the quiche may be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking for advanced preparation. Bake at 375F for 45-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Be sure to check out my dessert pie in tomorrow's post!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cereal Machine Bread

Can't decide between bread and cereal for breakfast? Have both in one with this healthy, homey bread.

Cereal Machine Bread
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons moalsses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cereal* (see NOTE)
2 1/2 + 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional, to promote rising)
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. This makes one large loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 
*NOTE: This recipe uses 1/2 cup of a hot cereal mixture. You can easily use a commercial mix - any multigrain mix should do, as long as it is a HOT cereal mix that cooks relatively quickly (think microwave and not awhile on the stove). Plain oat bran or oatmeal may be used as well.
For this recipe, I used my own homemade hot cereal mixture that I keep on hand, which contains oats, oat bran, wheat germ, flax, and wheat bran. The recipe can be found at this link: {Hot Cereal Mix}. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seedy Yogurt Muffins

Seedy Yogurt Muffins
1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2-4 Tablespoons molasses or honey
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the first ten dry ingredients. 
In a separate medium bowl, mix together the remaining liquid ingredients.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir until just moistened.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden. 

Makes 12-18 (depending on size) healthy, hearty muffins with lots of great crunch and flavor. Perfect for part of a balanced breakfast slathered with nut butter, jam, or molasses!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vanilla Custard

Vanilla Custard
2 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 cup milk (not fat-free)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a tiny bit of the milk. Gradually beat in the cornstarch, then sugar. Beat until thickened. 
Meanwhile, heat remaining milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, just until bubbles begin to form around the edges, do not allow to boil. Add two spoonfuls of milk to the egg mixture, and whisk to temper. Then slowly stream in egg to the milk, whisking continuously. Continue cooking just until thickened, do not overcook. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then refrigerate until cool.

My first custard ended up overcooked and didn't turn out very well. It still tasted delicious, but the texture was awful. That isn't to say I didn't still eat it, as I hate to waste anything. It was my very first time ever making custard. So I tweaked my recipe, and came up with this one, which ended up smooth and creamy, almost like vanilla pudding. This is the filling I used for my pavlova. 
The trick to this custard - I used homemade vanilla extract. The real vanilla flavor came from real vanilla bean made into vanilla extract. It is a gift I received for Christmas, and it really does lend a great vanilla flavor to this dessert. Real vanilla is a must here, so do not use artificial! 

Monday, March 10, 2014


Here is my first attempt at a pavlova. I think it turned out quite well, it is certainly pretty and was also quite tasty. Here is what this pavlova consists of:

  1. Crispy meringue shell base
  2. Vanilla custard
  3. Fresh kiwifruit and grapes
  4. Sweet vanilla gaze (makes the fruit shiny and keeps it longer)
  5. Milk chocolate drizzle
  6. Chocolate chips at the corners
  7. A happy face in the middle :) 
Of course pavlova can really consist of anything - what really makes the pavlova is the meringue base. Use any fresh fruit in any pattern as you wish!
For something a little different, I really wanted to emphasize the vanilla flavor. Usually most things I make are heavy on the chocolate (and with good reason). But this time I wanted to be different and focus on a light dessert with a vanilla flavor. Yes, I did accent it with a dash of chocolate. I used a heavy dose of vanilla extract in both the meringue and the vanilla custard - more on that tomorrow. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Pavlova Meringue Shell

It may not look like much yet, but I will share my finished pavlova tomorrow. However, here is the star of the dessert, the crisp, sweet meringue shell. It is particularly difficult to make, it just takes awhile, but once in the oven, no further work is required.
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. 
Spread mixture on prepared cookie sheet, spreading to approximately a nine inch circle. Bake for about an hour, then turn off oven and leave in oven for at least one hour more until dry. 

Pavlova is a dessert consisting of one large meringue shell and usually some type of filling, which could be whipped cream, mousse, custard, chocolate sauce, etc. It also usually has some type of topping, often fresh fruit but it could also include chocolate. Fruit is the most common because this dessert is meant to be light and refreshing - the fat-free meringue base and fresh fruit makes it a healthy dessert, somewhat summer themed, but it is also nice to have to brighten up a dreary winter day, as long as you can find some good fruit. Pavlovas can also be made individually-sized if preferred. 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Rustic Bread Machine Brown Bread

Another bread machine recipe. This recipe has a standard healthy mix of whole grains, but they could be switched up a bit. It is a pretty forgiving recipe - I had it in the bread machine for awhile and I was wondering why the machine hadn't beeped to tell me to remove the kneading paddle. Then I realized I had accidentally unplugged the machine instead of the other appliance I had meant to unplug. It had been unplugged for awhile, so the machine could not resume it's cycle. But since it had sat so long, the bread was well risen. I removed the paddle and baked it, and it still rose very well and turned out just fine! It's funny because I thought I had double checked to ensure I was unplugging the correct machine. Oh well, another lesson learned, and thankfully nothing wasted. 

Rustic Bread Machine Brown Bread
1 cup warm water
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons softened butter
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup oat bran
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon yeast
Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. This makes one large loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Oat Milk Pancakes

Oat Milk Pancakes
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup milk (of any type)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or melted coconut oil
1 Tablespoon molasses or honey
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat a greased griddle or frying pan over medium heat.
In a large bowl, pour the milk over the oats and let stand for about five minutes. Mix in the egg, applesauce, and honey. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook the pancakes for about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden, using about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Makes about ten pancakes of this size.

This are healthy, wholesome pancakes that are thick and tasty. Nutrients stem from whole grain oats, flour, and milk. They may be a bit heavier than regular pancakes, but make a great base for a variety of toppings, sweet or savory. Try berries, egg, jam, nuts, yogurt, etc. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Challah French Toast

This is some fancy French toast/pain doré/pain perdu my parents had the inspiration to make not too long ago. The inspiration really came from seeing a nice, rich loaf of egg bread/challah bread/braided bread at the grocery store for half price. It is also nice to try a little something different for lunch every now and then that isn't just "a usual". Yes, French toast is more often consumed at lunch or supper than at breakfast in this house. This recipe is nothing special, just the usual egg-milk-vanilla French toast mixture with the perfect type of bread. This bread is ideal because it is not as soft (and commercially prepared) as sandwich bread, so will not be as soggy, and is richer, crustier, and not homemade but at least bakery made. It is also good to keep in mind that drier or stale bread, as opposed to fresh, works better with French toast, which is where it gets its other names - "golden or enriched bread" and "lost bread". It's also a great use of leftovers - bring new life to old bread! 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

St. Martin's Day Muffins

This is a recipe my mother created. It is based from the recipe she makes every year in November, {St. Martin's Day Bread} . This is a bread flavored with orange and chock-full of plump, juicy raisins. The bread is delicious, especially warm form the oven, but it is a bit of work and a lengthy process. Despite it not being November, my mother made these similarly-tasting muffins. She didn't even tell me what they were, but from the first bite I was instantly reminded of her St. Martin's Day Bread. They definitely taste just like the bread, but moister and more compact. It is a good, yeast-free, quick-rise substitute for the bread without sacrificing any flavor. And the muffins are so rich, they don't even need a dab of butter!
St. Martin's Day Muffins
1/2 cup raisins + water to cover
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of one large orange

Place the raisins in a bowl with enough water to cover and allow to soak overnight. Drain, but do not discard water. 
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, and milk. Stir in remaining ingredients except raisins until just combined. Stir in raisins. If mixture seems dry, add a little of the liquid from the soaked raisins. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Coconut Vanilla Overnight Oatmeal

Coconut Vanilla Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon oat bran
1 Tablespoon coconut butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut milk (almond milk or cow's milk work as well, just less coconut flavor)

Place all ingredients in a bowl or jar, mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, eat as is or heat it up. Makes one simple pre-prepared breakfast with lots of coconut flavor! For similar ideas, type "overnight oatmeal" in my blog's searchbar at the top. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Cute Whole Wheat Machine Bread

Cute Whole Wheat Machine Bread
1/2 cup warm water
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon softened butter
1 Tablespoon liquid honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order given, or according to manufacturer's instructions for whole wheat cycle. This makes one small loaf, although size setting will depend on machine. 
I call this cute whole wheat machine bread as it only makes a small loaf, as opposed to the usual two pound loaves I make. It is small and perfectly round, and just a good basic homemade whole wheat bread recipe - very quick and easy.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Lamb Stew Risotto

We had some leftover lamb stew from the past two day's posts. We didn't really feel like eating that salty dish again, and knew we had to do something to improve it. So we decided to transform it into something else - a favorite dish of ours that would definitely benefit from the salty broth. Risotto! There was certainly a lot of liquid left in the stew, and it was easily separated from the remaining meat and vegetables, which become a small accompaniment and extra flavor to the risotto dish. Just as sometimes other ingredients are cooked with risotto to add flavor and texture - onion, butternut squash, meats, etc., this was already cooked so we simply reheated it and served it alongside the risotto. Now for the risotto. Risotto is a creamy rice dish that is based off rice and a tasty broth. Water won't work for this dish, the rice really benefits from the addition of some flavor. Chicken stock is usually our go-to for this, but since we had this stew on hand, it was time to shake it up a bit. The broth from the stew was the perfect choice for risotto - it was already loaded with flavor and very salty, it had a nice bacon flavor and already contained wine - another staple ingredient for risotto. After separating the broth form the other ingredients, the broth was brought to a boil, as hot liquid is best when cooking risotto. Then the risotto was prepared as usual. Since the dish was still quite salty, a dash of apple cider vinegar was added - which really did succeed in cutting the salt and added an interesting new depth of flavor. Of course it is a lot of work to go through making this stew just to get a nice risotto the next day! 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Bread Lid for Stew

Well, this is the finishing touch from yesterday's lamb stew. The stew was cooked with bread as the lid. A very interesting concept, and a good way to cook your soup and bread all in one. I suppose it is somewhat like the idea of serving stew in a bread basket, though this time the bread is on top. The bread dough is actually placed directly on top of the cover of the pot - that is why there is a metal handle sticking out on the center. The bread is supposed to help seal the pot and keep in moisture, as well as help cook the bottom of the bread and keep it flavorful. I am not really sure how this works since the cover is already creating a complete layer between the bread and the stew, and well really we discovered that the bread didn't really fulfill this purpose. However, that is not to say that this wasn't a neat idea that didn't work out, because it did seem to.

The resulting bread is an extremely crisp and crunchy hard bread - like a hearty European bread and nothing like a soft American sandwich bread or even a homemade loaf - think crispy baguette. This occurs because the bread is baked for a long time - first at a very high temperature, then at a lower temperature for a few hours, so it really cooks through. In addition, the bread is placed on the lid in a fairly thin layer, so it does not take long to cook and is thin and crispy. 

Really any basic white (or I suppose whole wheat) bread recipe can be used for this recipe - though you do not require a large amount, you only need a thin layer of bread. I found the bread didn't have a lot of flavor, and wasn't a rich bread or anything, but that too could depend on the recipe. This bread is really designed for dipping in the stew. The bread absorbs the yummy broth just like a sponge and still retains some of the crisp texture. Then the bread becomes flavored with the salty, flavorful broth, and some of the bacon sticks to the bread and makes it delicious. 

One more word of advice - since the bread is baked directly on the cover of the pot - it is essential that the cover is well greased. The recipe also recommends brushing the lid with some egg yolk, which gives the bread a richer color and a bit more depth of flavor. But still, the cover may be difficult to clean.