Sunday, February 28, 2010

my new apron!

If you read my family blog- sorry for the double post but I'm so excited I have to share!

Isn't this the most beautiful apron you've ever seen??? My incredibly talented friend Amber made this for me! And it's even cuter on!

I absolutely love the fabric and the design is so adorable. Now when I answer the door rather than seeing me still in my pajamas they'll think I'm wearing a fabulously stylish dress ;)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Barley Stir Fry

This was my first attempt at using barley in something other than stew. I really like the flavor of barley and the texture- much better than white rice. I've never really cared for white rice because it's so sticky, so this is a perfect substitute, it's like a mix between oats and rice. This is just a simple stir fry, chop your favorite veggies, stir fry and add a bit of soy sauce.  Yummy, healthy and so simple.

I liked the flavor & texture so much I saved a bit extra- added brown sugar, raisins, walnuts and a tiny bit of orange juice and it was fabulous (not sticky like oatmeal)- we couldn't wait until breakfast to eat it- the boys thought it was a great dessert and asked for more.

1 cup barley
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 chopped onion
favorite veggies: sugar snap peas, broccoli, carrots, celery, etc...
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
peanuts or sliced almonds

Boil 2 cups of water, add barley, reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes until barley is tender. Chop all vegetables. Heat oil in skillet or wok and stir fry just until tender. Stir in soy sauce, nuts and cooked barley.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pasta eFagioli

I love Olive Garden's Pasta eFagioli and have found this recipe to be pretty similar. It tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to infuse overnight. By adding more pasta and sauce you can make a huge pot. I like to make it large and put some in the freezer for a night when I just don't feel like cooking. The only thing that makes it better is serving it with yummy garlic breadsticks (you can freeze those too!).

1lb ground beef (or sausage)
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot julienne
2 stalks celery chopped
2) 14 1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes
1) 15oz can red kidney beans
1) 15 oz can great northern beans
1) 15oz can tomato sauce
1) 12oz can tomato juice
2-3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 lb elbow noodles (whole wheat), cooked according to directions

Cook ground beef with onion and garlic, stir in celery and carrots. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Add all ingredients to stock pot and cook until heated, approximately 15 minutes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yummy Cashew Chicken

I guarantee this will taste just as good (or better) than the cashew chicken at your favorite Chinese restaurant. It's very simple to make and tastes fabulous.

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup cashews
2 stalks of celery chopped
Sliced peppers (or any other veggies you like)
1/4 onion diced
Olive oil (for frying)
Brown rice/barley, cooked

Marinade:
1/2 teaspoon Fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon Soy sauce

Sauce:
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt
Finely grate ginger and mix with soy sauce. Cut chicken into 1” chunks and marinate in ginger-soy mixture 15 minutes. Chop onion, celery and if desired, peppers. Mix sauce in small bowl and set aside. Turn oven to broil and lightly toast cashews.

Heat oil in fry pan or wok over medium high heat. Fry onions until translucent. Add celery, peppers and chicken and cook about 10 minutes until chicken is no longer pink, turning and stirring every few minutes. Add sauce and cashews, stir then serve over rice/barley.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Too Much Chocolate Cake

Of course there's really no such thing as "too much" when referring to chocolate. When I was pregnant this last time I craved chocolate like an addict. I've never been much of a chocolate eater until I went to Europe and fell in love with the yummy chocolate there. I don't care for dry cakey chocolate, I like super rich super fudgy chocolate. The gooeyer (is that a word?) the better. Anyway- back to being pregnant- I tried several chocolate recipes and was so disappointed until I found this one from allrecipes.com. I am usually not a fan of boxed cake mixes but I was desperate, so I decided to give it a try. Let's just say I had a very healthy baby ;)  And please, people- don't try to reduce the chocolate chips or oil- it's cake- it's supposed to be fattening!!! (besides I tried it, it doesn't work...)

Too much chocolate cake, from allrecipes.com

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix (do not use german chocolate- it won't taste good)

1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake before inverting onto a plate. Dust the cake with powdered sugar.
*If you're a super chocolaholic you can frost with a chocolate glaze, I like it just the way it is with a little powdered sugar dusted on top- eat it warm though so you get the full gooeyness ;)

Easy Crusted Chicken

This is a super simple but delicious dinner. It can be made even easier by using purchased bread crumbs in seasoning (I like the garlic & herb kind). For even more crunch, try adding finely chopped pecans to the bread crumb mixture. The key to getting tender but crunchy chicken is to fry and then bake.

Easy Crusted Chicken

2-3 chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1/2 cup italian seasoned bread crumbs (make your own using italian seasoning)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
2T. olive oil

Beat eggs with lemon juice in shallow dish. In separate dish combine bread crumbs and pecans. Cut away fat from chicken and slice into thin strips. Thoroughly coat chicken strips in egg mixture. Press chicken strips, one at a time, into dried bread crumb mixture thoroughly coating each piece. Set aside to rest (if your coating falls off, let rest 5-10 minutes to set). Turn oven to Broil. Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in skillet over medium high heat. Fry each strip of chicken until browned- 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken strips to an oven-proof pan and on the middle rack broil an additional 10-15 minutes, turning once, checking regularly. You want the all the pink to be gone- but don't overcook the chicken, you want it to be tender. Serve with your favorite grains and vegetables.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Granola



I love granola and could eat it every day for breakfast. The best part about granola is that you can make it any way you like, don't like an ingredient? No problem, leave it out or substitute it for one that you do like. See below for "real food" recipe using coconut oil. Both recipes make a huge batch- 16 cups worth, enough to fill a 4 quart plastic cereal keeper.

Granola
8 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup flax seed
1 cup flaked coconut
2 cups of your favorite nuts, chopped (I love pecans, almonds and raw sunflower seeds)
2 cups dried fruit (raisins, craisins- stir in after baking)
 
Syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

After baking add:
2 cups raisins and or sweetened dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.

Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on two baking sheets lined with foil or parchment.

Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. (Don't overcook though- it doesn't have to turn brown- it will get crunchy after it cools.) Stir in raisins or cranberries and store in an airtight container (if you cook the raisins they will taste really nasty and be too tough to eat).

*adapted from allrecipes.com


Granola with coconut oil and natural sweeteners

8 cups rolled oats

1 cup wheat germ
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup flax seed
2 cups of your favorite nuts chopped (pecans, almonds, raw sunflower seeds)
1-2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut
2 cups raisins or other dried fruit (stir in after baking)


Syrup
1 cup coconut oil at room temperature (should be soft)
1 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325

In a large bowl stir together coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well (do not add raisins or other dried fruit at this time).

Spread the mixture out evenly on two baking sheets lined with foil or parchment.



Bake in the preheated oven about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. (Don't overcook though- it doesn't have to turn brown- it will get crunchy after it cools.) Stir in raisins or other dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Lentil Tacos (they really are good!)

I know what you are thinking- the first time I saw this recipe I thought- Lentil Tacos? That sounds so gross. I remember my mother making us lentils once and we all gagged but I have since made lentil soup and I really like it(sorry mom, I'm sure you tried). Anyway...Anthony needs really high protein meals when he does his 1000 calorie workouts; and I've been thinking about foods we can eat that abide more by the word of wisdom, SO...I figured I'd give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised...

Apparently you can add chili powder and cumin to anything and make it taste great! I am not even tempted by beef tacos any longer- this is my new taco substitute that I use in everything Mexican (I even used them for baked beans and they were so yummy).

I also have a bunch of pearl barley and have found some yummy looking recipes for that so you'll probably be seeing a lot of *interesting* recipes around here. But rest assured if it tastes nasty I won't be posting it. I refuse to eat something healthy if it tastes like crap (we die either way, right?) plus I have young kids who have to eat my food (and franky I love meat- just not every day)... If you have any healthy meatless dishes please share! And stay tuned for lots of experimental barley recipes...

FYI: Lentils are much quicker cooking than other dried beans and they have tons of protein and fiber. For more info click here.

Lentil Tacos

1 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa

Serve with:
taco shells, tortillas or chips
shredded lettuce
chopped fresh tomato
shredded Cheddar cheese
avocado
sour cream

Directions
1.In a large nonstick skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Uncover; cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Mash lentils slightly.

2.Stir in salsa. Spoon about 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell/tortilla. Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese, avocado and sour cream.

*recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fortune Cookies

I know, they're not really Chinese. I was sooo dissapointed when we didn't get any fortune cookies with our pig sandwiches in China. But it's still so fun I had to try them. I've tried the griddle method before and they did not turn out well at all. My friend sent me a recipe from her friend so I figured I'd try it again- this time in the oven. The recipe had way more flour than I wanted and I read reviews that said butter made the paper greasy, so I found a Paula Deen recipe and merged the two with fabulous results!

I first tried to make them on tin foil (I didn't have parchment paper) that did not work. Just use a regular cookie sheet and spray with pam before putting down the dough. I use a rubber scraper and spread the dough in a circle motion making it really thin. You want it to be as thin as crepe dough or thinner and really small- you'll be tempted to make them big but don't, they fold easier and cook better if they're small. If you use regular paper it will stick to the cookie but I didn't have any rice paper on hand, so they were a little hard to get out- BUT the cookie tasted yummy- much better than store bought ones and were crunchy.

Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I didn't use)
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Have fortunes ready to go on small strips of paper folded in half (rice paper works best).
2. Whip the egg whites and sugar until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and/or almond extract and water. Mix in flour. Batter should resemble thin pancake batter.
3. Spoon batter into 3" circles on greased baking sheet, spreading very thin, don't do more than 4 at a time
4. Bake for 5-7 minutes until edges begin to brown slightly. Using a metal spatula quickly remove cookie (one at a time, working quickly- the cookie will harden in seconds) place fortune in center, fold in half (or thirds if you have a large cookie), then fold ends together. Place in muffin tin to cool and help hold shape.

Egg Fried Rice

This is yet another recipe I have tried to make and failed miserabley many many times. I finally found this recipe here where they explained the *secret* to making fried rice.

I was always using fresh rice- it needs to be old rice. I didn't plan in advance- but I tried his method of putting the rice in the fridge uncovered for a few hours. Then I dumped it out on a cookie sheet, broke up the rice and let it sit uncovered for a few more hours to dry it out. It turned out great- FINALLY!

Ingredients


5 cups cooked white rice
4 eggs, beaten
Diced onions
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
Ham, julienned
1/2 cup carrot, finely sliced
1/3 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons soy sauce

Method
Break rice into individual grains with your hands and put aside.

Beat eggs. Add 1/2 of onions, salt and pepper. Mix well. Heat a frying pan to a medium and make an omelette. Slice into small pieces and set aside.

Heat oil in wok at a very low heat. Add garlic and fry for a minute until oil is fully garlic-flavoured - do not brown garlic. Remove garlic but leave as much oil in wok as possible.

Bring wok to full heat. Add pork, stirring rapidly for 30 seconds. Add carrots, and onions while stirring. Add stock and soy sauce. Return garlic to wok. Cook vegetables for no more than a few minutes.

Add rice and stir everything together for a few minutes until rice is hot. If rice starts to stick to wok, reduce heat. Add omelette and cook for a minute more before serving on a plate.

Chinese Fried Noodles

When we were in X'ian, I had just about had it with the food- there were no American fast food places around and everything on the menu was labeled things like "pig sandwich" "fried frog legs" "cow heart" and things like that, so it kind of took the fun out of ordering food. The one thing I ate almost every day there was fried noodles and egg fried rice. I loved their fried noodles and found a recipe that is almost the same. Theirs were much crunchier, but this is pretty tasty. I found this recipe here.

Ingredients:


Chinese noodles
Ham, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt
Carrot, julienned
Onion, julienned
Black pepper
Soy

Directions:
1. Boil Chinese noodles until just cooked. Drain.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Cook and stir the ham minced, carrot and onion in oil for 1 minute. Add the Chinese noodles and salt, black pepper and a little soy, then cook and stir for 1 minute.

Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi) and Egg Rolls (Spring Rolls)

I searched long and hard to find a traditional dumpling like we ate on the streets of Beijing and X'ian and I think I finally found it. When we were there we bought a little dumpling press and I am ashamed to say that after almost 6 years this is the first time I've used it.

I always have to modify the recipe a bit- I omitted the pork because I wanted to do an all veggie one- and I wanted to use the same mixture for the egg rolls/spring rolls. And since I don't eat mushrooms I changed the veggies around a bit too. You can add whatever veggies or meats you like. Also, these dumplings are fried and then steamed- trying to stay authentic- but I actually prefer the taste of just fried ones, so you don't have to do the extra steaming if you like them crunchy. I primarily used this site for the recipe http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2009/01/pot-stickers.html
Dough:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:
grated carrots
finely chopped cabbage
fresh grated ginger root
diced red peppers
diced celery
diced onion
ground pork (I omitted)
soy sauce
hoisin sauce (use very sparingly)
chicken stock
Mix dough, kneading until smooth and set aside to rest.

I let all my veggies sit in the stock and sauces for about half an hour, then drained all the liquid out. Because I was frying & boiling I didn't pre-cook the veggies. If you're just going to fry I'd recommend frying the veggies in a wok before stuffing- just make sure to drain any liquid really well before you stuff.

Roll dough out into small circles- I had a press so it was easy to measure- but you can make them as big or small as you like. You only put about a tablespoon of filling in each dumpling otherwise the stuff will fall out when frying. Seal tightly. There are tons of youtube videos on how to properly seal a dumpling so check them out.

 

You can refrigerate or freeze until ready to fry. Heat oil in wok and fry. If you're doing traditional- dump the rest of the oil into another container and add 1/2 cup chicken stock into the wok and quickly cover with lid because it will splatter out.





For Egg Rolls or Spring Rolls- I  simply used the leftover filling and stuffed them in egg roll wrappers, rolled and fryed. Pretty simple. There is a recipe for egg rolls- that is slightly different- but I think the most authentic (which I will be adding to my recipe book) at http://steamykitchen.com/65-my-mothers-famous-chinese-egg-rolls.html

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hawaiian Haystacks

There's really nothing Hawaiian about this dish- but is super easy and fun for kids. Just cook up some rice, heat the gravy till it's warm and top with your favorite veggies. This is how I like it:

Rice, cooked

Gravy:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk- I don't really measure, just add some until it's not too thick, but not so thin that it's soupy
1 packet of white albacore tuna or canned chicken breast
Toppings:
Chopped celery
Grated carrots
Chunky pineapple
Grated cheese
Flaked coconut
Sliced almonds
Chow mein noodles
Any other veggies (mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc.)

Orange Cranberry Spinach Salad

This is one of my favorite salads. I don't eat salad dressing- at all. I can stand a light vinaigrette, but I usually take my salad dry, so I like salads with lots of flavor and this is delicious. You can toss it with a raspberry vinaigrette or simply squeeze orange juice for flavoring.

Fresh spinach leaves

Craisins
Whole Walnuts
Sliced orange bits (or drained mandarin oranges)

Toss and serve!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Black Bean Veggie Chili

1/2 red pepper diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 Large sweet onions diced
2-3 C chicken stock
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp Chili pepper
1 1/2 C black beans-cooked (or one 15 oz can)
1 C chopped carrots
1 C chopped zucchini
1 C corn
1. Sauté onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and zucchini, for about 5+ minutes until onions are tender. Then add stock. (You can add this some at a time) cook about 10 more minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, beans and spices simmer until thick. Add the corn then cook about 3-5 more minutes.
3. Top with sour cream, cheese and fresh cilantro, and serve with avocado!

*Recipe from Joann- just modified a bit

Chicken Tortilla Soup



1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup chopped onion
1 can black beans (1 cup dried beans, cooked)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
S&P to taste
1 cup chunky salsa
3 corn tortillas (optional, here is a great recipe to make corn tortillas)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the chicken in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and mix well. Then add the broth, corn, onion, chili powder, lemon juice and salsa. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Cut corn tortillas into thin strips and either broil in the oven or fry in olive oil until crispy. Top with Monterey Jack cheese, tortilla strips and a little sour cream.

Notes: to double the recipe simply add another can of black beans, if you use dried beans you will need to add salt to give it flavor, but if you use canned beans, there is no need to add salt.

White Chicken Chili

This is my favorite soup recipe, it's so simple yet delicious. Thanks Heather for the recipe!


 
1 lg. onion
1 stick unsalted butter
¼ c. whole wheat flour
¾ c. organic chicken broth
2 c. milk
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper (I use black)
2 cans Great Northern Beans (about 1 cup dried beans cooked)
2 cans green chilies
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 1/2 c. Monterey jack cheese
1/2 c. sour cream

In skillet cook onion in 2 T. butter until softened. In 6-8 qt. stock pan, melt remaining butter over med-low heat and whisk in flour. Whisk constantly until blended and smooth. Stir in onion and add broth and milk, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer until thickened. Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt, and white pepper. Add beans, green chilies, chicken and cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Serves 4-6

*Recipe from Heather McVay
Notes: I only use one can of green chilies, chicken bullion instead of broth, one chicken breast marinated in zesty italian dressing and broiled in the oven, omit tabasco and black pepper instead of white.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cakes & Chocolate Filigree Hearts


What better Valentine's Day dessert than this warm gooey chocolate cake? Make it even more romantic with these adorable chocolate filigree hearts! I recommend serving it with something yummy like praline sauce or sugared raspberries, you can also put a caramel candy in the center before baking. These babies even taste great cold the next day (if you're lucky enough to have any leftover!)

Molten Chocolate Cakes
Ingredients
1 cup butter or margarine
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or bars, cut into bite-size chunks
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar (granulated or powdered)
1/3 cup flour

Praline Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

Directions
1.Melt butter and chocolate in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds to avoid burning. Beat eggs and sugar until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead)

2.Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 6-8 cups individual ramekins, dust with granulated sugar (or cocoa powder). Divide batter among muffin cups.

3.Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cakes to cool 10 minutes. To serve, turn out cakes, and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder, and serve with fresh whipped cream and/or fresh fruit, or praline sauce!

Praline Sauce
In small saucepan, combine butter, pecans, sugar and whipping cream. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened. *Makes enough sauce for two batches of cakes or serve over ice cream.

Chocolate Filigree Hearts

1. Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Allow to cool slightly. 
2. Scoop melted chocolate into ziploc baggie and snip the corner (or use pastry bag)
3. Pipe hearts onto parchment paper (or tin foil sprayed with oil) connecting loops together so it will not break when removed from paper
4. Freeze until firm, remove from paper and adorn your favorite dessert!

*Chocolate Heart Filigree from Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Soft Dinner Rolls

I live for bread. I have tried dozens and dozens of dough recipes searching for the perfect light fluffy dinner rolls, whole wheat bread and white sandwich bread (just to name a few). I have adapted this recipe and find it to be one of the best, I am always getting asked for this recipe so here it is. The ultimate dinner roll- soft, fluffly and melt in your mouth. If you want them to be soft the next day as well be sure to add the potatoes- if you're like me though, they'll all be gone in about 5 minutes, so no need to bother. And if you're like me you usually run out of something (like eggs) or want to try a variation, I've included those as well.

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
2 packages yeast
1 stick butter, melted & cooled
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4+ cups flour

Directions:
Combine yeast and water and cover until foamy. Add butter, sugar, eggs, salt and one cup of flour, mix. Add flour one cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and soft dough forms. Cover and let rise 1 hour until double in size. Form into balls, cover and let rise until double. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Brush with melted butter.

*For softer dough add potatoes- you can simply use re-constituted mashed potato flakes and add them when you add the eggs and other stuff (I usually add about a cup re-constituted)
*If you don't have eggs, no problem either use potato flakes or my favorite- Dough Enhancer
*If you don't have or want to use butter- just use oil
*If you don't want to use sugar- use honey

Best Whole Wheat Pancakes & Waffles EVER

I have tried dozens of whole wheat pancake and waffle recipes over the years and they all ended up tasting like dry pasty bricks. I was about to give up on ever making 100% whole wheat pancakes again when I got these fabulous recipe from my friend Joann- check out her site here. She has the recipes at her site so I'm just going to link you there- seriously, these are the lightest fluffiest waffles and pancakes- you would never know they were whole wheat (assuming you grind your own white wheat- I don't think store bought or red wheat would be quite as light)


Whole Wheat Waffles
Whole Wheat Pancakes

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup- from scratch

This is one of those recipes that seems daunting but it's actually quite simple. When we're in a hurry for dinner we love getting those rotisserie chickens from the deli- that's the perfect way to start chicken noodle soup. If you don't want to make the soup in the next few days- fine- put the bones and skin in a ziploc bag and toss in the freezer.

When you're ready, put it in a pot. Fill with water- the quantity really depends on how strong you want your soup to be flavored, I filled my stockpot halfway. Then add a rough chopped onion (with skin on), rough chopped celery and other seasonings as you desire although the skins should have pretty good seasoning already- all I do is add a bit of salt if needed (you're going to throw all this out afterwards so don't waste a lot of time chopping). I like actual chicken in my soup- so throw in one or two frozen chicken breasts or if you already have cooked chicken it's a great way to use leftovers.

Boil this concoction for an hour or two until the chicken is no longer pink inside- really you can't go wrong here- if you can smell it and it tastes like soup then it's done. Strain all that icky stuff out of there (kinda gross I know, try to squeeze out all the flavor) then throw it away (if you added chicken breast make sure to shred it before putting back into stockpot), pour your soup back into the pot and return to a boil. Add chopped carrots, celery or frozen mixed veggies and cook until tender. Now for the fun part!


Basic Egg Noodles

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
(can add frozen chopped spinach or other herbs to flavor the pasta)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired lengths and shapes. An easy way to get uniform shapes is to roll the dough up and slice into thin strips. Cook pasta in boiling chicken stock until tender 8-10 minutes.


See? It couldn't be simpler. Or tastier. And if you're like me and hate leftovers- a great way to use the rest- strain off most the broth and serve on top of wild rice. Enjoy!
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