Saturday, January 28, 2012

Recycled Grain Sourdough Bread

This recipe is one I got from my sister, Kathryn. It is adapted from Cynthia Lair's amazing Book: Feeding the Whole Family. This is some of the most delicious whole grain bread I have EVER eaten. The texture is smooth and wonderful. Just dense enough to make gorgeous sandwich and toast bread. Not too difficult to make at all. Best of all, it uses up leftovers you may have of cooked whole grains. I personally use quinoa almost all of the time, but you can use leftover cooked oatmeal, steel cut oats, brown rice... the possibilities are endless.
This is a great way to avoid waste, and make healthy delicious bread. The first step is to make the sourdough starter. I prefer a milder taste to my bread, so the longest I let the sourdough start is 12 hours, although if you prefer a stronger flavor, you can let it go up to 24 hours. Put all the ingredients for the sourdough start into your blender, blend, and let sit overnight. I find it gets a little difficult to blend if I add the whole wheat flour into my blender as well. I like to blend everything but the flour, and then pour the mixture into my stand mixer, and mix in the flour with my bread hooks. Then I just let the mixture sit at room texture overnight. In the morning, add the sweetener and the flour. Adding the flour one cup at a time while you mix helps avoid dough that is too dry. Dough should be supple and elastic by the time you're through kneading. It should not be sticking to the sides of the mixing bowlor to the counter or your hands, if you're kneading by hand. When the dough has been kneaded–about 15 minutes–drizzle a little oil over the dough, and coat the dough. Then allow to rise in a covered container for about one hour. After dough has risen, form your loaves, and set them to rise for another hour in loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. I like to make mini-loaves, in my little silicone loaf pans. When the loaves have risen, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. While bread is still warm, paint the tops of the loaves with a mixture of 2 T olive oil and 2 T water. This keeps the crust soft so my kids will eat it.

Allow loaves to cool–if you can resist–before cutting and serving.


Cut-and-Paste Recipe

Recycled Grain Sourdough Bread
(makes 3 large loaves, or 10 mini-loaves)

Sourdough Starter

2 C cooked whole grains
2 C water
1/4 C olive oil or melted butter
1 T sea salt
1 T yeast
1 C whole wheat flour

Blend until creamy, cover, and let sit 12 - 24 hours at room temperature.

Add to starter:

1/4 C honey
2 C whole wheat flour
3-4 C flour (I find using at least 2 C white flour makes for the best texture.)

Add honey, and then add flour one cup at a time while mixing in a stand mixer, or by hand. Knead dough for 15 minutes, or until the dough is supple, elastic, and not sticky. Let rise one hour. Form loaves, and let rise one more hour. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Paint tops of loaves with a mixture of oil and water to keep crust from hardening.

After 12-24 hours, add sweetener to starter and stir, add ww flour, and pulse together. Add remaining flour, when dough is less sticky, transfer to floured surface and knead . Let dough rise for 1 hour. Make loaves. Let rise 1 more hour. Add to top: 1 tsp water, 1 tsp syrup, 1 tsp butter, 1/4 tsp sea salt, brush on. Bake 45-50 mins at 350.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simple Stir Fry

I love a simple stir fry to eat over sticky rice... or brown rice if I'm behaving myself.

I start by heating 2 T olive oil in my large skillet, and turn the heat on to medium.

Then I add 1 T minced garlic and a half a large onion, sliced into little spears.

Then I add 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast sliced into thin strips. I like to use kitchen shears to slice it right into the pan, into the cooking oil, onions, and garlic.

Next I add 1/2 C soy sauce, and 1-2 T shredded fresh ginger. Hint: I peel my fresh ginger, and then freeze it. It shreds fine while it's frozen, and that way you never have the temptation of using powdered ginger for any Asian recipe. TRUST ME... it is not the same thing. Kathryn originally told me that... and she is right. Listen to her. Your food will taste SO much better.

I prepare the vegetables while the chicken is cooking all the way through.

When chicken is done, I begin adding vegetables and mixing them into the stir fry, starting with the vegetables that take longest to cook. Some veggies that I'd love to add, but that weren't in my fridge at the moment were: broccoli, cauliflower, bean sprouts, and mushrooms.

I added: 1/2 lb baby carrots, sliced into spears by slicing them lengthwise in quarters,

1/2 a head of green cabbage, chopped,

four stalks celery, thinly sliced at an angle,

and one bell pepper, sliced into thin spears.

I mixed and fried the whole mixture until the veggies were a little less done than I would like them. Very al dente, bordering on crispy.

I've noticed that the heat in the stir fry always keeps cooking the vegetables after I remove the pan from the heat, so try not to over-cook.

I served this over Calrose sticky rice with chow mein noodles on top.

And while I loved it, my kids were not enamored of the big veggie pieces. So like the sucker Ii am, I ran some of the stir fry through my little food chopper, and mixed it in with the rice.

You should have seen how they snarfed those veggies down once the texture was no longer an issue.

Cut-and-Paste Recipe

1-2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1/2 large onion, sliced into spears
1/2 C soy sauce
1-2 T finely grated fresh ginger
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/2 lb baby carrots, sliced into spears
4 large stalks celery, sliced on an angle
1/2 head green cabbage, diced
1 bell pepper, sliced in spears
(optional: replace any of these veggies with others. Just remember to add the ones that cook slowest first.)

Add ingredients in order listed to large skillet over medium heat. Pause until the chicken breast is cooked through. Then add vegetables one at a time, stopping cooking when the veggies are still partially crisp. Serve over sticky rice or brown rice, and top with chow mein noodles or slivered toasted almonds.

Super Sunday Stew

I love to make this recipe for Sundays, because we've got church for three hours, and we come home at 5:15 -- hungry!

Also we're often busy before church, and this one is easy as pie. You can choose to cook this for 3-4 hours in your slow cooker on high, or for the same amount of time in a lidded dutch oven in the oven at 350 degrees.

For meat in the stew, I will either use 1 lb boneless skinless diced chicken breast, or like today, I had leftover frozen turkey from Christmas. I just throw the 2-3 C turkey in frozen and unchopped, and then pile the veggies on top.

I add 1-2 C sliced carrots,

four large stalks of celery, sliced,

1 medium chopped onion,

and 10 medium chopped potatoes. I like to use red and leave the skins on, but today I only had russet potatoes.

Next, I make the sauce in my 8 C liquid measuring cup.

I start with 8 C water, and add 1 T minced garlic, 1 T dried basil, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 C brown gravy powder, or 5 envelopes brown gravy mix. (If you'd rather, I'm sure you could just add 8 tsp beef base, and some corn starch.)

I mix up the broth in the liquid measuring cup, and then pour it over the veggies and meat in the dutch oven.

When I get home from church, my kitchen smells amazing, and a hot, healthy meal is ready to serve.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Cut-and-Paste Recipe

2-3 C frozen turkey, or 1 lb fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 C sliced carrots
4 stalks sliced celery
1 medium diced onion
10 medium diced potatoes
8 C water
1 T minced garlic
1 T dry basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 C brown gravy powder, or 5 envelopes brown gravy mix.

Combine all ingredients and bake in a lidded dutch oven at 350 degrees for 3-4 hours, or in a crock pot on high for 3-4 hours.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Whole Wheat Cornbread

Easiest recipe of my life. And delicious. Perfect every time. Healthier than most cornbread recipes I've encountered, too.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add all the ingredients from the cut-and-paste recipe below and mix them. I usually start with the dry ingredients and then add the wet ones. The batter should be about this consistency:

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until it's a lovely golden brown and a knife or fork comes away clean. Perfect with chili or soup.

Cut-and-Paste Recipe

Whole Wheat Cornbread

1 C cornmeal
3 C whole wheat flour
2/3 C sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 C applesauce
6 Tbsp butter or canola or olive oil
4 eggs
2 1/2 C milk (I use powdered for all my baking)

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Top should be turning golden brown.

Veggie Enriched Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Sneaking up more veggies on my kids is part of my job as a mom. I do it with glee and satisfaction. What they don't know might help them. This is my motto when it comes what I like to call: Stealth Veggies.

It's also a good way to keep your budget reasonable while feeding you children nutritious food. I almost NEVER make a pasta sauce without a healthy serving of stealth veggies. I use my amazing little food chopper to make this possible. The vegetables are cut up so finely, that they blend right in with the consistency of the ground meat in my spaghetti sauce, and my little picky eaters never know the difference.

The start of this sauce may be different today than other days for me, and for you as well.

I start off with about a pound of ground meat, 1 medium finely chopped onion, and 2-4 C of finely chopped assorted veggies. Favorites for spaghetti sauce are carrots, zucchini, and occasionally bell peppers.

Now, this time, I had some gorgeous Italian chicken sausage as my meat, and it is so lean that you'll see I had to add 1-2 T olive oil to help it all sauté without sticking. If you're using 93% lean ground beef, I'd just add the meat and the veggies and sauté without oil, and without rinsing and draining. If you have any higher fat content on your meat, I'd cook the onions and ground beef together, then drain the fat, and then add the other veggies, or your sauce will be really greasy and high in fat.

Anyway, I sautéed the sausage and veggies together until the sausage was cooked through. You can see how adding in the chopped veggies can really expand your meat. The finished sauce was about four quarts. Enough to feed our family of four for four different meals. This sauce freezes really well.

When the meat was cooked, I added 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes. I puréed both in the blender, since my kids aren't big fans of chunks of cooked tomatoes. Sometimes I purée one, and leave the other for more texture.

This is the point when I realized my error in starting in the large skillet, and transferred to my 6 quart stock pot. Too much sauce!

After adding the tomatoes, I began adding spices.
3 bay leaves
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 T oregano
2 T sugar
1 T beef bouillon, or 3 cubes
1 T of minced garlic

Seriously, the giant canister of minced garlic... one of my best culinary friends.

I allowed the whole thing to simmer for about 30-45 more minutes, getting nice and thick, and wonderful, before adding 8 oz of fresh quartered mushrooms right near the end. These are optional, but so delicious. If your family can handle the chunky texture, I also love to throw in some more coarsely cubed or diced or sliced zucchini at this point.

I then added 2 cans of tomato paste and 2 cans of water, and 1 large can or bottle of pre-prepared spaghetti sauce. I use Hunts, because it is the cheapest.

And voila!

Serve over whole wheat spaghetti, top with parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

Cut And Paste Recipe

Veggie Enriched Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb very lean ground meat
1 medium finely chopped onion
2-4 C finely chopped veggies (carrots, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms)
1-2 T olive oil if meat is nearly fat free
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 T oregano
2 T sugar
1 T beef bouillon, or 3 cubes
1 T of minced garlic
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
2 cans tomato paste
2 cans water
1 large can pre-prepared spaghetti sauce

Sauté meat, onions, veggies, and oil until meat is cooked through. Add 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (puréed if preferred). Add all spices. Simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until water is reduced, and sauce is thickened. Add mushrooms. Add tomato paste, water, and spaghetti sauce, simmering and stirring until well combined. Serve over whole wheat pasta and enjoy.

Sauce freezes well, as long as you don't mix it with noodles. Cook fresh noodles, and thaw out sauce, and serve.

Heavenly Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

It's a darn good thing I made a double batch! That's all I have to say.
All instructions following, however are for a single batch, which makes 24 muffins.

When you have a pile of bananas on your counter that are starting to look like this...

...then you know it's time for the Heavenly Whole Wheat Banana Muffins.

Whether or not you add chocolate chips will depend on whether or not you are in the throes of a chocolate craving that must be satisfied or not... last two months of pregnancy... I need no more excuse.

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

It's a matter of texture preference how you mash your bananas, but I find I prefer banana muffins with the flavor, but without the large chunks of banana in the middle. You can mash with a fork, mix with a hand mixer, or like me, purée to a smoothie in your blender.

However pleases you, just squish up four overripe bananas.

Next I melt a stick (1/2 C) of butter so it can be cooling.

Next I add all wet ingredients first, and then dry ingredients after into my mixer or mixing bowl.

Wet ingredients:
banana purée
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C applesauce or other fruit purée
1/2 C melted butter
2 eggs

Dry ingredients:
1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour

I was out of brown sugar, so instead I added 3/4 C white sugar and 1 1/2 Tbsp molasses.

I used fresh ground wheat flour, a combination of hard white and hard red.

The applesauce I added was an attempt to reduce the oil in this recipe. You could attempt to replace more of the butter with applesauce, at a 1:1 ratio. I wasn't feeling that brave, today.

At the last minute, I folded in 1 C chocolate chips, but you could put in chopped nuts or raisins or nothing if you prefer. Just mix as little as possible to combine all ingredients and remove any major lumps.

You can choose to grease your muffin tins, but I prefer the cupcake papers, since they are so much tidier. Try not to overfill. I found one heaping soup spoon to be the perfect amount of batter per muffin.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick comes away clean. Mine were perfect after 18 minutes.

And I do mean perfect.

Cut-And Paste Recipe:

Heavenly Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

4 overripe mashed bananas
1/2 C melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 C applesauce
1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 C chocolate chips / chopped nuts / raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two muffin pans (24 muffins) by greasing, spraying, or adding cupcake papers. Mash bananas. Melt and cool butter. Combine all wet ingredients in mixing bowl. Add all dry ingredients one at a time. Mix to combine with no major lumps. Fold in chocolate chips or nuts. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes until fork or toothpick comes out clean.