Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shredded Beef

Shredded Beef

Place a “cheap” pot roast in large crock-pot. In another bowl, mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 onion soup mix, 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour over roast and cook on low for about 7 hours. Shred.

We always make a few roasts when they are on a great sale. Then we have portions in the freezer to make tacos or enchiladas. Makes for an easy dinner when time is short!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Buttermilk Bread

I love this bread. It is my absolute favorite bread. I love it when it is hot out of the oven. Mmmm…

Buttermilk Bread

5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon margarine or butter, melted

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and yeast; blend well. In small saucepan, heat buttermilk, water and 1/2 cup margarine until very warm (120 to 130 degrees F)-mixture will look curdled. Add warm liquid to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in an additional 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl.

On floured surface, knead in 1/2 to 1 cup flour until dough is smooth and elastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degree F) until light and doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.

Grease two 8x4 or 9x5 inch loaf pans. Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Divide dough into 4 parts; shape into balls. Shape into 4 rolls by rolling out each ball into a 10x7 inch rectangle. Starting with shorter side, roll up; pinch edges firmly to seal. Place 2 rolls side by side, seam side down, in each greased pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until dough fills pans and tops of loaves are about 1 inch above pan edges, 15 to 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover dough. Back 30 to 40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Immediately remove from pans; brush with 1 tablespoon melted margarine. Cool on wire racks. Makes 2 (14-slice) loaves.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken Fajitas with Lime

This was a really good fajita marinade recipe and I don't want to lose it. I love lime so this was perfect.

1 clove garlic minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbl. olive oil
juice from 1 lime (+ another half for during cooking)
about 1-2 tsp. sugar (optional)
about 1 tsp vinegar (optional)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
2 bell peppers (green, red or orange)
1 onion

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix in chicken to coat. Marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Cook chicken and marinade in a skillet with a little olive oil. Remove. Cook onions and peppers in some of the marinade left in the pan. Add extra lemon squeeze to the veggies if desired. Add chicken and heat through again.

Serve with tortillas, cheese and sour cream.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sourdough Bread

I have a pet.
It lives in a jar in the fridge.
I feed it once a week.

It is my Sourdough Starter.

I had the starter recipe in a cook book my mom made for me, but no directions on what to do with the dough after I had a starter! So, I did a little online research and I found a fabulous Sourdough Bread website. I will give my start recipe and directions on the bread, but for more information, I'd definitely go to this website to learn all about sourdough bread making.

It may seem like a LOT of work and a long process, but once you figure out how to do it, it goes faster and is a lot easier. So, don't be scared of it!

Sourdough Starter

2 1/2- 3 cups lukewarm potato water (this is the water you boiled potatoes in)
1 pkg. dry yeast (this is a "cheat" to getting your starter going faster)
1 1/2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour

Make this a day or two before you need the starter!

Pour potato water into a bowl. Sprinkle with yeast, sugar and salt. Let rest 10 minutes.

Sift flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in yeast water. Stir to combine. Beat with an electric mixer.

Drape a towel over the top and set in a warm place for 1-2 days.

The sourdough starter should have a slight odor. If it doesn't ferment or it turns very discolored, discard it!

You can either use the starter to begin baking (after it has had its 1-2 day rest), or put it in a container and place it in the fridge until you are ready.

Here is my refrigerated starter. As it sits, it develops a hooch- a stinky, colored liquid that will sit on top. Either drain it off or stir it in.

Here is my starter after I have fed it and stirred it up. I usually feed it equal parts of flour and water. Usually 1/2 a cup of each. If you want it to grow in volume faster, feed it 1 cup of each and/or more frequently.

When you are ready to bake, you first need to "proof the starter". Bring the starter to room temperature (although, I forgot to this last time and it was just fine).

Pour all of your starter out into a bowl!
Add 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Stir well and let it sit for anywhere from 1-8 hours.

The amount of time really just depends on you. I let this batch of proofed starter, called
sponge, sit out all night, I think it was about 20 hours from when I started proofing to when I used it to make the dough. It should bubble when it is ready like this:

Take 2 cups of sponge and place into a separate bowl (return the remaining starter to your jar (wash it again) and return to the fridge).


2 cups sponge
2 Tbl. olive oil (if you want)
4 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour (in 1/2 cup portions)

Stir the sponge, oil, sugar and salt together. Add 1/2 cup of flour and mix. Then add another 1/2 cup. At this point you can begin to knead it with your hands in the bowl. Add the flour by 1/2 cup each time. Pay attention to the dough! You'll know when it is ready: elastic and flexible and easy to work with. I rarely can get more than 2 cups of flour into it. One time I forced 2 1/2 and it was hard work. This kneading takes a lot of arm power (I don't have a food processor)! Form into a ball, cover with a towel and let rise until double.

After it has risen double its size, punch it down, knead for a few minutes. Then form into a loaf.

One good way to make a loaf ( I didn't take a picture, sorry) is to flatten it out on the counter a bit, dimple with your fingers then grab the edges at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock on the dough and pull it up to the center and pinch it together. Turn the lump over so that the edges are all now tucked neatly underneath. Use cupped hands to smooth it down and out a little bit.

Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double- again.

Place the dough in the oven. Then turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Do not preheat the oven! Cook for 30-40 minutes or until golden and it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

If you just place it in the oven, it will be a light color and the crust will get soft after cooling. If you brush it with milk, it will brown a little more (see below) but still be pretty soft. If you brush it with egg, it will be shiny and brown and the crust will be a little more chewy/crispy. I think it is prettiest with the egg wash!

(that ring is from milk that went under the loaf as it baked).

It is delicious plain, toasted with butter, used for sandwiches, used as the toast for creamed tuna and toast, garlic toast, bread bowls and anything else!

The longer you let your starter sit in the fridge and the longer it proofs, the more "sour" it will taste. Happy bread baking!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chicken and Veggies in Parchment Paper

My in-laws bought some of those pre-seasoned chicken breasts at the grocery store the other day. I needed to use them before they went bad, so I tried to decide how to best cook them up. Bake them? Broil them? Pan cook them? Then I decided to cook them in parchment paper- sort of like a tin foil dinner.

I cut a square of parchment paper, put the chicken, cut potatoes and carrots in the center (sadly, I had no other good veggies to put in at the time). I added a little seasoning for the veggies since the chicken already had a little, and a spoonful of chicken broth (since we have some in the fridge from cooking a batch of chicken on Sunday). Then I just folded it up, cooked it for 35 minutes on 375 and we ate with a little bit of brown rice and BBQ sauce. It was pretty good! I look forward to trying it again but with my own chicken seasoning (it wasn't great pre-seasoned) and some different veggies like zucchini or something. Anyway, it was good and it was fun to rip open the packet and eat it inside the paper like a foil dinner. I got the folding directions here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Biscotti

Today it is snowing. In honor (or abhorrence) of the snowy day, I decided to make some biscotti to go with a mug of hot chocolate. Andrew had to work in the Burn Unit today, so I know he'll be excited to come home to a couple of these.

Biscotti Recipe

1/2 cup butter or margarine, soft
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (today I used 1/4 tsp)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until blended.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture, stirring until blended. Fold in chocolate chips (and nuts if using).

Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a 10 x 2 " log on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (I did 20 in my oven today) or until firm. Let cool 5 minutes on sheet. Remove to racks.

Cut each log diagonally with long knife. (It says to use a long serrated, but I thought that the sawing tore up the cookies a bit so I just cleanly cut downward with a regular knife.) Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake another 8-9 minutes. Remove and cool on wire racks.

Today I shortened the first cook time to 20 minutes, the second cook time to 8 and the third to 9. I wanted to see how they did as a little less crisp than they usually are. They were pretty good. I like them both ways. More and less crisp are both good.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homemade Refried Beans and Spanish Rice

Sorry that the pictures aren't great. I've been using my phone-my camera is dead.

We had enchiladas, Spanish rice, and homemade refried beans for dinner this week. It was so good! The enchiladas are pretty typical so I am not going to include the recipe. Plus I am kind of over these enchiladas right now, so I want to try something new next time.

I've never really "made" beans. We love refried black beans so when I saw this recipe I decided to try it. I got the recipe off my friends blog. You can get it here. I accidentally put a little too much garlic (didn't think that was possible) and I would suggest adding a little salt. Other than that, they were delish!

I use the Betty Crocker Spanish rice recipe. So far it has turned out everytime I have made it.

Spanish Rice
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked regular long-grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small green pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

Heat oil in 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Cook rice and onion in oil about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is golden brown and onion is tender (it usually takes like 8 minutes for me). Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender.

Super tasty!

When I make these things together again, I would only use one onion for both recipes. I used a medium onion for each, but it was a little too much for me.

Beef and Broccoli

I made beef and broccoli for dinner last night. The picture does not do it justice. This is a picture of the cold leftovers that were in the fridge overnight. This picture is also "beef heavy" as there were more veggies when it was all in the skillet. Anyway, this tasted like the chinese restaurant- only 10x better. I also would have served it over brown rice but I was out.

I doubled-ish the recipe. I doubled the sauces but the beef and veggies weren't quite doubled I don't think- I was expecting more people to eat last night + Andrew and I live off of left overs so I made more on purpose.

Here are the ingredients:

1/2 lb steak
1 T cornstarch
4 T soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 clove of garlic minced
1 lb. broccoli
1 1/4 c water (I honestly didn't remember this when I made it and eye balled adding water on my own as I went)
4 tsp cornstarch
3 T vegetable oil
1/2 c. thin sliced carrot

Plus I also added to the recipe on my own to help get the beef more tender:
a few squeezes from half a lime
about 1/2- 1 T rice vinegar

1. Cut the beef into slices. (I cut mine probably 2 x as thick as they do it at the restaurant)

2. Combine sugar, ginger, garlic, 1 T soy, 1 T cornstarch, rice vinegar, and lime juice in a bowl and mix together. Add the beef, cover and let sit. (I let mine sit for about an hour)

3. Cut veggies and place aside.

4. Combine 4 tsp. cornstarch and 3 T soy in a bowl and set aside.

5. Heat oil. Add beef and stir fry 1-2 minutes. Add the veggies and stir fry. Add water as needed so nothing burns up in the pan.

6. I broke with the recipe here- I stir fried until the veggies were still crisp (crisper than you want to eat them) and added the soy mixture. I cooked the sauce with the beef/veggies until the sauce thickened and bubbled a bit.

7. Then I pulled the pan off of the heat and placed a lid over top. The veggies steamed the rest of the way and it helped keep the meat tender (often my meat gets a little over cooked in stir fry and this worked like a charm).

8. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lemon Yogurt Cake

I got this Lemon Yogurt Cake recipe from the cooks at Eat Your Veggies, Peas. It was really yummy!

(I hope you ladies don't mind I used your cake picture since I ate mine too fast to take one)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

We love sweet potato fries. We really like oven fries, but these are much healthier so we do these, too. They are really easy. The most important thing to have is a sharp knife. Sweet potatoes are pretty hard.

2 large sweet potatoes (let's be honest-they are actually yams)
olive oil
spices of choice : we like garlic salt, pepper, and creole-which we were out of so settled for our Red Robin seasoning :)

Peel and wash the sweet potatoes.

Cut the potatoes into 3 chunks.

Cut each of those chunks into small fries. You want to do smaller fries. Larger steak fries tend to get mushy.

Put all the fries into a large Ziploc

Drizzle in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Just eyeball it. The fries should be coated but not dripping. Lay the fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure it is a single layer! For easier clean up, line the pan with foil. Don't forget to spray! The olive oil can be deceiving-it does NOT prevent the fries from sticking. Then season. You want to err on the side of too much spice-even when it looks like tons of spice it can turn out a little bland. If you look closely you can see all the extra garlic salt on the pan.

Cook at 400 degrees until golden brown on the bottom (about 15 minutes-mine took about 17-20). Flip the fries. Season the other side if desired. Cook for about 15-20 minutes more until the other side is golden brown.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Lovers Day

Happy Peanut Butter Lovers Day! I didn't know that such a day existed until today. Though I can't say I'm surprised, there are all kinds of silly made up holidays. Anyway, I decided to dedicate dinner and dessert to peanut butter. I made a homemade thai peanut chicken marinade/sauce over fried rice for dinner and peanut butter cookies for dessert. It was delicious!

I left the peanut butter cookie recipe upstairs, I'll post it tomorrow.

Peanut Chicken

I used two chicken breasts for Andrew and I to eat (plus a little left over for one lunch for tomorrow). I mixed together the sauce and marinated the cut up chicken bites in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then I just heated about a Tbl. of oil in our pan and cooked the chicken through. I took out the chicken and made the fried rice (rice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and onion salt, green onions, broccoli, scrambled egg, frozen carrots and peas) in the same pan. We have bought a bottle of peanut sauce for stir fry etc and Andrew said he liked this homemade version much better. I liked it because it tasted fresher and I could control the heat with the red pepper flakes.

4 Tbl. hot water
4 Tbl. peanut butter
2 Tbl. soy sauce
3 tsp. vegetable oil
3 tsp. white vinegar or rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1/4 tsp red pepper or red pepper flakes

Mix up the water and peanut butter first- whisking it works really well. Then add the rest.