Sunday, November 18, 2012

A little hiatus revoked....

So, it's been a few weeks. It's not that I haven't been trying new recipes, I just haven't had time to blog about them! And while I'm really focussing on bread, no one wants to read about my kneading process, and learning about starters, and figuring out how to make a whole wheat roll my husband will eat. Other than maybe my mom, who hears about it in person anyway.

But this Sunday morning sees my hubby in Chicago at some big fancy work conference, and I'm going to mom's for lunch. Sunday Lunch Southern Style is a big fancy ordeal, with lots of I'm being adventurous and trying something new that I would probably end up eating all by myself at home.

And while we're being adventurous, might as well try two recipes, no?

Cranberry Pom Relish and Homemade Graham Crackers.

The relish was super simple to make and the recipe was spot on - no variations, nothing. It's tasty, looks really fancy, and is full of things that ward off the flu.

The crackers were another story. It said to mix everything in the food blender just laughed when I filled it with flour and butter and turned it on. So, I kneaded it by hand....and since I was short on time, froze it for 30 minutes. I cut out little stars, instead of hearts...because Thanksgiving Stars are a real thing. And I didn't have graham flour, so I used whole wheat as suggested. They are lacking a bit in that kid-rememberance grahamy flavor, but they are good nonetheless and will make a great compliment to the relish.

All in all, happy repeats will be had, methinks. What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Monday, October 29, 2012

A break to try something different....

 So these past two weeks, I have been furiously beading and sewing and getting ready for my first craft show! Saturday, Paul and I loaded up to spend the morning at the DePuy Craft Bizaar. Which, while not food related, was a brand new experience!

Paul is a great sales man, and due to his pushy smile, we came out on top, with some profit. The way people buy is so funny to me - I had sold one apron in the first 3 hours...and sold 3 more in the last 30 minutes. So many people stopped to look at the Rita Hayworth earrings (pictured on that little yellow leaf on the right side of the photo to the left). They would ooh and ahh and pick them up, hold them up to their ears, and even when everything was marked down to 50% off, no one bought them!

All in all though, a very fun experience. I made oodles of Christmas earrings, fall designs, aprons, and gift bags. There are a few left that I'm selling 20% off of show price on the DaiseyBelle Designs Facebook page. So if you want to start some early Christmas shopping....

Despite the crazy crafting rush, I was still able to try a two new bread recipes, and an egg roll recipe. Bread and I are still becoming friends, and it's the skill I would most like to perfect. Yeast and sourdough starter are so different, and while anything can go into bread, the dough is less than forgiving. But I have a new book to help me through it...So stay tuned next Monday for more kitchen experiments!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trying Something New: Week Four: Cinnamon Rolls

Some cold, dreary days just beg for something sweet and doughy. Or, any day, really, if you're me, calls for something this delightful!

I often get a super strong hankering for doughy carbs, and as I had been thinking about these for a while, it was time.

I recently was given a bit of sourdough starter from a good friend. Audrey, the starter, is twenty years old! I had never really worked with a starter before (Friendship bread doesn't count!) and I had read that sourdough could be finicky.

So I was a smidge scared, but I wanted cinnamon rolls! And I wanted to make good, homemade ones, that weren't full of sugar and additives that make my tummy hurt. I want to have my cinnamon roll and eat it too!

So, I did some research and found a great recipe. I got my starter ready last night by feeding her, and then planned my day around the rising schedule of this dough. The blog I pulled the recipe from does a great job giving step by step instructions, so I won't over elaborate. I will say though, that while time consuming, these are super simple.

The ingredient list is short - butter, flour, milk, baking soda, vanilla. And there is very little sugar! Two tablespoons in the dough, and only a 1/3 cup brown sugar in the filling, and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in the icing. That's less than a cup for the whole batch! Even though you have to plan your day around them to some extent (they have to rise twice), you only spend ten-fifteen minutes on each step, and as they are spaced out, it doesn't take over your day, or your kitchen.

I did make a couple of changes. I used coconut milk and coconut oil (in place of butter) and used Vanilla Nut extract for the icing, instead of standard vanilla. I was supposed to cut 12 rolls, but made mine a little big and cut 10.

And just for the record these are amazing. And that's saying something - just ask Paul, I never, ever am completely satisfied with anything I make. But these are sooo good!

So, week four was a definite success! Now who wants one? I don't think it's safe to keep them all in my home....I will eat the whole pan.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sometimes I'm an overachiever: Week Four: Smorgasbord

Zuke tots mixed up - so many pretty colors! 
 Now that it's October, autumn baking was calling to me. So, this week, I decided to take on not just one new thing, but three new things! I had frozen zucchini from the garden, organic Gala apples from Azure Standard, and the rest of my acorn squash from last week.

 #1: Zuchinni Tots - I love zucchini because it is full of good for you green stuff, but takes on the flavor of anything it is mixed with. These little bites are zucchini wrapped in flour, cheese, and egg. I of course, used almond cheese instead of cheddar, and frozen zukes instead of freshly grated. 

Consensus: Decent. I wish I had thought to thaw my zucchini sooner so I could have gotten more of the moisture out, and I should have baked them a little longer. I loved how much they felt and tasted like tater tots...and about half of them were great! The other half, were a little too zukey. Paul liked is first bite, but not his second. Also, best served hot! Super easy to mix up, so I'll probably try again. 

#2: Baked Apple Streusel - Fantasic! So super easy to mix together (basic apple crisp topping...used honey and coconut oil instead of butter and sugar) and you can use a cookie baller to scrape the seeds out quickly.

Consensus: Paul doesn't like baked fruit in any form, but I thought they were great!
#3: Acorn Squash and Honey Custard - by far, the best idea of the evening! I liked the squash rings last week, but honestly, I never got back to them. They were a little smoothy and very sweet, and I wasn't totally in the mood for them the night we made them. And then the sat in the fridge for a week.

But pie? Oh my goodness! Steam squash, scrape off of rind into blender, puree with other ingredients (honey, milk, egg, spices), and pour into tins. I was too busy to make pie it's custard.

Consensus: Paul had no idea this wasn't pumpkin pie. He loved it - then found out what it was, and said it wasn't dessert since it was a vegetable. And I'm okay with that. We'll do this again!

New apron....

All in all, a good night! It was fun to start the week in the kitchen and go crazy making stuff....all while preparing dinner too! And I felt very cheery in my new apron that I made this weekend. (Btw: craft show coming up! Aprons for sale!) I haven't forgotten about the cinnamon rolls, but holding those for next week. Had to use my produce while it was still fresh!

So...what things does autumn make you hungry for?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stretch Recap

So all of the elusive posts about grocery budgets and food prep culminated this month in an awesome program at the Warsaw Community Public Library called Stretch: How to make your groceries last. 

It was a four week program geared towards menu planning, grocery budgeting, food preparation, and healthy substitutions. We had about twenty ladies (some from Mission Point!) each night, and we had a good time discussing and sharing information. 

I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for this, and feel like I have a decent curriculum made now. So if anyone is interested in learning more....let me know! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Week Three: Squash-scapades

It's autumn now, officially, and that means it is time to make my kitchen smell warm with cinnamon and brown sugar, and to find new ways to cook some of these root veggies that we'll be blessed with all winter!

Besides cutting up some of the yellow squash from our garden for stir fry, I have never really worked much with squash. They come in such fun sizes and interesting shapes, and their name is a cool sound effect that makes me want to scrunch up my lips and make a funny face whenever I say it.

So, I bought a two pound acorn squash at the grocery this week, and started some research on how best to prepare it. Other than soup, it seems that this veggie mimics pumpkin in texture and taste. I opted for a couple sweet ways to prepare it.

I need about a quarter of it to make these sweet squash rings last night, and I still have the seeds left to roast and the rest to make into Squash Honey Pies (stay tuned for more on those later!).

The rings were super easy to make.

Cut your squash in half, then in strips length wise. Take a knife and cut off any fleshy seeded parts. Dot with butter and season. I used cinnamon, all spice, and brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a greased baking sheet. Flip and butter/season other sides and back for 7 minutes longer.

They come out with the edges cripsy, and the squash meat soft and moist. They honestly taste like little pumpkin pie bites - warm and cinnamonny. Paul wasn't a huge fan, but I think I like them. And if I can eat a veggie that tastes like'd better bet I'm going to do that!

I still have some left from dinner, and I'm hoping that frying them in a little butter for lunch will perk them back up.

Any new autumn favorites you've tried lately? I'm thinking next week....maybe cinnamon rolls....

Monday, September 24, 2012

If at first you don't succeed: Week Two: Yeast Rolls

Partially baked
If we've learned anything from previous kitchen blunders, it's that you can't let a few simple ingredients beat you.

This week I chose a recipe for yeast dinner rolls that I had tried before. It was the first time I had worked with yeast, and I used whole wheat flour (which is what I generally have on hand) and they didn't turn out well at all.

So I did my research. Evidently, wheat flour requires extra kneading and a little more fat. Well, I happened to be out of whole wheat flour today, so I used all purpose flour (the non-bleached, non-enriched variety though).

Anyway, they turned out fantastically! As promised on the blog I stole the recipe from, they were super simple and I will definitely keep this recipe on tap.

A few notes though:
1. If you don't have a fancy mixer with a dough hook, never fear - you can just knead the dough a couple times with your hands.
2. Baking times vary. The above picture shows the rolls after the ten minute suggested baking time. They were still very white, and gooey in the middle. After talking to my all knowing friend, Cydney, I found out that everything from room temperature to kneading styles can affect the length of time needed to finish baking any type of bread. Her rule of thumb is to pull the rolls out when you can smell them, then tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow, they are done. So after about another ten minutes.....

All done! Fluffy dinner rolls, with nice crispy top layers. They were so yummy - and so simple! The rolls were a little denser than I thought they might be, still tasty, but maybe next time, with some more practice, I can make them a little fluffier. 

I decided to pair these tonight with spaghetti - which I think was a good choice. Choosing to try a side dish, that could be easily replaced if ruined, took the pressure off, and made the process more enjoyable. 

What have you been working on this week? Anything new and exciting? How did it go?

Stay tuned for next week - butternut squash, here I come!