Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bread Again

Whenever the first of the month comes, I get excited to find out what challenge I'll be doing for Daring Bakers.  We've been doing a lot of bread recently, but that's fine with me...D Loves bread!  Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread! Usually, bread takes a good amount of time to complete; however, this bread was pretty quick, only requiring about an hour to rise.  I made it one Saturday afternoon.  The different part of this bread was a "topping" that we added to the top.  I did get the beautiful browned, cracked look that it was supposed to create...but I didn't take a picture right away.  Boo!

 The only picture I have is several days later, so it's not quite as fresh.  Neither D nor I were quite sure if we liked the "topping."  It was a bit sweet and, to me, had a little too much of a yeasty taste.  Still quite fun.  For my sandwich, I used roasted squash, sauteed peppers, mushrooms, and swiss cheese with some hummus all toasted together.

 It was actually really good but I waited too long to make it, so the bread had dried out.  Still...quite a fun challenge!  Can't wait for April!

Dutch Crunch Topping
2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons  vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups rice flour (I used brown) 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes. Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping. When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.

 Soft White Rolls
1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
1 cup (240 ml) warm milk - I used almond milk
1½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons salt
Up to 4 cups all purpose flour (I needed about 1/2 cups more flour)

In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).
  Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together. Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size (see photo comparison).

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into equal portions for the size rolls you'd like.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.

Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another Fish in the Sea

One of the things that I've found that D and I both really like for dinner is fish.  I'm liking that!  We typically use salmon, tilapia, or catfish.  I've tried to find trout but the stores here just don't have it.  So, a couple of months ago, I bought (unfortunately) frozen mahimahi.  One of my favorite dishes at Julep is the mahi mahi sandwich.  At work that day I searched for mahimahi recipes.  I guess most people just have the typical fish recipes because not many were very "special." However, I did find a recipe that looked interesting. 

It was coated in hashbrown potatoes and prepared horseradish.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly but I think it was pretty close.  This was one of those recipes that tastes fine but didn't blow my socks off.  I think D and I had the same opinion of it.  To go with it, I pulled out some of the hashbrowns, formed them into patties and topped it with cheddar cheese then baked it in the oven alongside the fish. Next time I might would try the saute method the recipe called for...my problem was that I left the recipe at home!  Baking worked out really well, though.  D enjoyed that but K refused to try it.  Oh, well...one day she'll try!

Horseradish MahiMahi (pretty much halved this but think I way overdid the horseradish!)
1 cup shredded potatoes, precooked and thawed
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (I probably used 2 tablespoons...oops!)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 pieces mahi mahi
4 teaspoons reduced fat mayo

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine the potatoes, horseradish, and mustard.  Spread the mayo on the fish then top with the prepared potatoes.  Place the fish on baking sheets and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 13-15 minutes or until fish flakes.  *The recipe had this cooked in a skilled by sauteing.  You heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Place the fish in the pan potatoes down and cook until browned (4-5 minutes). Turn over gently and reduce to medium heat and cook until fish flakes.*  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Fish

So, what do you serve with mac and cheese?  When I was little....Kraft MC and hot dogs!  Now, this MC and lemon pepper chicken or salmon croquettes...at least so far!  The first time I made this MC, I made lemon pepper catfish.  I really like the lemon pepper flavor.  We used Mrs. Dash lemon pepper.  I could definitely tell that there was real lemon zest in it...such pop!  Just spread the seasoning on the fish and cook for about 12-15 minutes at 400F.  Great meal! 

Last week, I made salmon croquettes and the leftovers went well with the same MC...but with whole wheat egg noodles.  We used to have the croquettes when I was little.  I loved them then and love them now!  You don't have to use a lot of oil to make them have a bit of a fried taste to them.  I like them with ketchup. 

Thought I could persuade Miss K to eat them by putting ketchup on hers, but she just ate the ketchup and not the fish.  Oh, well!  One day she'll decide to eat and will like them, too.  So, take your pick of fish and enjoy a healthy meal.
Salmon Croquettes
1 can salmon (14.5oz)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1.5 tablespoons salmon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Take salmon out of the can and clean off the skin and bones (specifically bought chicken of the sea b/c I thought this was already done...not so, not so!).  In a bowl, mix together the salmon, egg, and flour.  Stir together 1.5 tablespoons juice and baking powder.  Then add this to the salmon mixture.  In a saute pan, heat up 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Form the salmon into 4 patties.  When the oil is heated, place the patties in the oil.  Cook for about 4 minutes on one side or until browned.  Flip to the other side and cook about 4 minutes, or until browned.  Remove and place on paper towel. Serve with YOUR favorite side or some mac and cheese.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

One of his Favorites

A couple of weeks ago, I asked D what he thought we should have for dinner.  He mentioned spaghetti.  Now, as long as I can remember, I have not been a fan of spaghetti.  Whenever we had it when I was a little girl I was less than enthused when that was on the menu for dinner...but I ate it.  He also suggested fish.  So, I chose fish but made macaroni and cheese to go with it.  That's one of D's favorites!  I haven't really made mac and cheese except for the kind from the blue box. 
So, I went in search of easy MC recipes.  I found one here at Sunday Baker.  I didn't use her exact recipe but based mine on it.  It was quick, easy, and lightened from a normal MC recipe.  I took some whole wheat egg noodles but when I got to D's house, he had pulled out some elbow macaroni; so, I used that.  Not sure how much it was, but it seemed to be almost the whole bag. 

Since that time, I've used the same recipe with half a bag of whole wheat egg noodles.  This takes all off 10 minutes to make.  Just boil the noodles.  While they cook, you make a sort of beschemel sauce, add cheese, and then stir the drained noodles into the sauce.  I thought it turned out well.  D said it was really good...and gave him lots of leftovers!  :-)  Try it soon...goes great with fish.

Quick homemade Mac and Cheese
your favorite noodle (elbow macaroni, egg noodles, rigatoni, etc)
2 tablespoons margarine
3 tablespoons white
1 cup milk
4 oz. cheese (I used 1/2 block of sharp cheddar), shredded

Boil water, put noodles in water and cook until done.  Meanwhile, put margarine and flour in a saute pan over medium heat.  Stir together until "paste" forms.  Then add milk and whisk together.  Cook until a thick sauce forms.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.  When noodles are done, drain and then stir into the cheese sauce.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Baby Showers Begin Again

Last year, we had several babies born in our department...well, we have started again!  Virginia will be having sweet Marian this month (and there are three babies due in June...all girls!).  We had Virginia's shower last month and I pulled out my Southern Living cookie book to pick something shower worthy.  I knew there was a fun sandwich cookie in there and got some strawberry jam to make it.  I decided to make the dough for this, the night before I made the cookies. 
When I made it, I thought it looked a bit dry, but wasn't sure.  The next day when I got ready to roll it out, it was so dry that I just couldn't do it!  I had to make another batch.  Made it the exact same way, but it turned out completely differently.  Not sure what made the difference other than the second batch...the sun was out.  :-)  This was a fun cookie and I think the jam just made it!  This would be a fun one for valentine's day, too.  Or even an Easter tea using egg shaped cookie cutters.  Hope you try it and enjoy!

Strawberry Sandwich Cookies
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup strawberry jam
powdered sugar

Beat butter in mixer until creamy.  Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and blend.  Combine flour and salt, add to butter mixture and beat well.  Wrap in wax paper and chill for 1 hour. 

When ready to make cookies, preheat oven to 350.  Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick and cut with the desired shape cutter.  In half of the cookies, using a smaller cookie cutter, cut a section of dough out of the center.  Place prepared cookies on a cookie sheet.  Place sheet to oven and bake for 5-6 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

When cooled, spread the solid cookies with strawberry jam.  Dust cutout cookies with powdered sugar and place on top of jam.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Fajita Soup

A few weeks back, I got off early and decided to go ahead and make soup for dinner for me and D.  The night before I grilled some chicken on my George Foreman grill.  It worked surprisingly well!  I think it looks like actual grill-grilled chicken, especially when it's cut.  Anyway, I wanted a Mexican flavored soup and had gone in search of a fajita soup. 

I found one that looked good here at Maria's site.  She always has great food and I know I can trust her recipes.  The soup was easy to make and tasted great.  D liked it and brought it to work the next day for lunch....I had my leftovers for dinner on call that weekend.  He did wish there was more chicken and I thought maybe a bit more beans would have been good.  Once again, a great recipe.  Served it with the buttermilk bread I made.  All went well together though you could serve it with cornbread or chips just as easily.  Top with sour cream, salsa, or avacado for some extra yumminess!  (Sorry for the poor quality pictures...I forgot and this is the end of my leftovers.)  Try it out. For a veggie entree, forego the chicken and add another can of beans.

Chicken Fajita Soup from Two Peas and a Pod
2 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 jalapeño, minced
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small orange red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
several squirts key lime juice

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat...or the one setting on your George Foreman! Season chicken breasts with Season All and put on grill. Grill, turning chicken breasts until cooked through, about about 10 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove chicken from the grill and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut into thin strips. Set aside.

In a large pot, spray with cooking spray and add the onion and peppers, cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño.  Cook until tender, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes, black beans, and broth. Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let soup simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chicken strips. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm with garnishes, if desired.  Enjoy!