Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Oatmeal (with Yogurt)

(Contributed by Esther)

Mix together: 1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup yogurt
2 cups oats
Bake 30 minutes at 350 in a 9 inch ungreased round pan, or 15-20 minutes in muffin tins. Pour warm milk and sprinkle cinnamon on it to serve. OPTION: Add some cinnamon to the cake when mixing.

Taken from a cookbook called "Wild Boar on the Kitchen Floor".

Baked Oatmeal

(Contributed by Debbi)

1/2 c. oil
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
Beat together and then mix in:
3 c. oatmeal
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
(The original recipe didn't call for raisins, but I put in about 1/2 c. of them.)
Bake at 350 for 30 mins.
Serve with milk like a cereal, or better yet put fresh fruit over it.

Healthy Muffin

(Contributed by Karen)

Here is a healthy muffin:

1 cup boiling water poured over 2 cups of all bran cereal.
In another bowl mix these items;
1.5 cups sugar (I don't like white sugar so maybe you could use brown or 'sugar in the raw')
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 cups buttermilk (I use orange juice)
2 1/3rd cups flour (I do not use white flour. Make a mix of whole wheat flour and some white flour MORE wheat or rye than white)
1 cup bran flakes
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
Now the fun stuff..... add: raisins, chopped dates, walnuts, grated carrots, chopped apples, fresh pineapple, dried cherries, blueberries and flaxseed....... whatever you want.
Mix the ingredients from both bowls together, mix well, pour into muffin tins. Pour into the tins to half full. The batter keeps in the fridge covered for a month and the muffins freeze well.
I packaged the muffins in
freezer bags so my mom can grab a muffin anytime.
Enjoy these very healthy muffins!

Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies

(Shared by Heidi via 100 Days of Real Food)

Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies

1 cup whole-wheat flour
¾ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup applesauce
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, softened but not melted
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a cookie sheet.
Whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl using an electric mixer beat the applesauce, maple syrup, butter, egg, and vanilla.
While beating the mixture on a low speed add the dry ingredients until well blended.
Fold in the nuts with a spatula.
Drop onto prepared cookie sheet with a spoon. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes or until they start to brown.
Yield: 20 cookies

Pumpkin Muffins

‎1 1/2 c. flour (I used hard white wheat)
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar (I used honey granules)
1 t. baking soda
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. oil (you could sub apple sauce)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. water (I used plain yogurt)
1/2 t. nutmeg (I used 1/4 for a milder flavor)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice (optional)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
handful of mini chocolate chips (necessary)

Mix dry ingredients. Beat wet ingredients. Mix in pumpkin. Fold wet into dry. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Bake at 350.

Mexican Shrimp Salad

(Contributed by Lori)
1 pound cooked shrimp
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup carrots, cut in 1/2" chunks
1 pickled jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 cups romaine lettuce, torn in 1" pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved if large)
1 cup frozen corn (oops, not whole, I guess and I actually used canned which was fine)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill.

4-6 servings

Tabbouleh Salad

1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. bulgur
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 c. finely chopped, seeded cucumber
1 c. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 c. thinly sliced green onions (optional)
1/4 c. fresh mint or 1 T. dried mint, crushed
1/3-1/2 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. EVOO
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
In large bowl combine water and bulgur. Let stand for 30-45 minutes. Drain in fine sieve. Return bulgur to bowl and add tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, onions, and mint. Prepare dressing by mixing lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over bulgur mixture and toss. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours, stirring occasionally.

(from The Sonoma Diet)

"Maple" Syrup

I live in the land of real maple syrup now, and my children don't even like the taste of it.

So I decided to make my own syrup this morning - a combination of 1 1/2 c. water, 1 c. Sucanat, 1/2 c. honey, 1 t. vanilla (I don't have maple flavoring on hand).

It tastes pretty good, and my oldest even had some which is surprising! I made whole wheat/flax pancakes. I love that I can put flax in just about anything - I grind it finely in my blender (it is too oily to go in the wheat mill). My kids don't like fish, and only 2 of them really like eating eggs, so I can give them a good dose of Omega 3s unbeknownst to them! :-)

Black Bean-Edamame Salad

(Contributed by Martha)

Soda Crackers

Today I made whole wheat Soda sweet sister-in-law Debbi's recipe. I ended up with something a little more like pita chips than light soda crackers, but they're still pretty good. I think my mistake was that I let the mixer knead the dough too long - the dough was very elastic; when I would roll it out thin and then cut the crackers out, they shrunk back up thick like shrinky dinks. So live and learn - and now you can learn through my mistake. I'm sure these would be more light and fluffy with processed white flour, but since that is not our purpose here...

Combine: 4 c. whole wheat flour, 3 c. water, 2 T. yeast. Place in fridge overnight.

The next day, add: 2/3 c. oil, 3 T. salt, 1 t. soda dissolved in 2 T. warm water. Add 4 c. flour and knead (not too much!!).

On an oiled surface, knead VERY thinkly, cut, prick with fork. Bake at 350 until golden and crisp.

Whole Wheat Bread

(Note: This post is all about wheat and breadmaking. If you don't mill your own wheat, no worries. You can still follow the recipe and just use whole wheat flour from the store. I recommend King Arthur's. But do still read about milling your own.)

I have a lot of friends who mill their own wheat and make bread. A couple of years ago, I just didn't get it. "They sell bread at the grocery store, you know," I would say to them. They would tell me about the many health benefits of milling your own wheat, but I ignored the growing desire to follow them into the world of Make-Your-Own-Bread. Quite honestly, I was more intimidated than skeptical. (I would go into the health benefits of using the freshly milled WHOLE grain vs. what flour manufacturers do, but it is so lengthy. Google it.)

Finally, I decided to make my own bread. But I would do it my way. I still didn't fully understand what processes a bag of store flour goes through, so I decided I would just use the whole wheat flour from the store. And I bought a breadmaker.

I was so excited. I was going to do this. But I had found a short cut. The breadmaker did make things easy. About 10 minutes to throw the ingredients in, and then it did the rest. And the house filled with a wonderful bread-baking smell. And when it came out, though it was an odd square shape, it did look good. "Fresh bread!" I called to the kids. They came running...and devoured the whole loaf in 10 seconds flat.

Yeah. 1 loaf of bread for a family of 6. Not brilliant. I must note, though, that I hang on to my breadmaker for one single use on one single special night of the year: on Christmas Eve the bread machine makes perfect dough for my Clone of a Cinnabon recipe which makes a DELICIOUS addition to Christmas morning breakfast. I'm not so sure I can healthify those yummy rolls; however, I do have 85 days to figure it out. I'll consider that my challenge.

Anyway, we were visiting some dear friends in MO, and Kim is a wheat grinder, bread maker (don't you love the titles I so lovingly bestow upon people?). While we were there, she made bread for us, and I was able to not only taste how delicious WHOLE bread is, but also observe how very easy it is!

So then I had to decide - with my husband's help and wisdom - if we wanted to do this or not. It is about a $600 initial investment, but when you look at it as an investment in your health...well, I had my husband sold on that part. What he was skeptical about was if I would purchase all this stuff and then add it to my Shelf of Unused Appliances after a week or two. (It's not like he didn't have a good argument. Exhibit A: The Bread Machine (though I had to argue that the Christmas Cinnabon Rolls totally make that worth it)). But in the end, we decided to take the plunge, and I'm happy to say that my mill and mixer get much more than just a once-a-year workout.

Anyway, this is the equipment I use:
mill & mixer

On the left is my Wondermill, and on the right is my Bosch mixer, which can mix enough dough to make like 10 loaves of bread. I only make 6 at a time, so I don't exactly remember its capacity, but it's adequate for our family. I got all of my start-up equipment and bulk ingredients like yeast and dough enhancer from Urban Homemaker.

Then of course you need the wheat. Hard red will give you that very unique "whole wheat" taste. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I only use hard red for bread. I use hard white for everything else. (Again, if you are not ready to take the plunge into the fun world of wheat and milling, use King Arthur's whole wheat flour.) You can also get soft white which is recommended for cookies and cakes. I had some for awhile, but I really didn't notice a difference between the two, and I found the soft wheat harder to work with because it didn't always measure 1:1. Perhaps if I was doing pastries, I would opt for the soft wheat. I keep my bulk hard red and hard white in big buckets like this that will store grain forever!
buckets of wheat

wheat berries

I used to always get my grain at Bread Beckers. That's because they are located in GA. Even to ship a 50lb. bucket of wheat to my home an hour away in GA was only $14. To CT? Shipping is about $47! It looked like my wheat milling, bread making days were over because I could find NOTHING like Bread Beckers up here. THEN I found Honeyville Grain. They ship for a flat $4.49. Yes, that's four dollars and forty-nine cents! So I recently got a 50lb. bag of hard white wheat shipped to me from California for $4.49!

So anyway, let's get on with making the bread. This is such an easy recipe. I heard got it from my MO friend who heard got it from a friend who...(I'm hearing REO Speedwagon right now for some reason). It's actually Marilyn Moll's recipe (from Urban Homemaker).

Mill enough wheat berries to get 10-12 c. flour

Warm together:
6 c. water (or 5 c. water + 1 c. plain yogurt)
2 c. of the flour
3 T. yeast
Sponge mixture for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat together 2/3 c. honey and 2/3 c. oil

Mix together:
remaining flour
1 1/2 T. salt
3 T. dough enhancer (lecithin)
1/4-1/2 c. wheat gluten (optional)

Add honey mixture to yeast mixture and stir; while mixing, gradually add flour mixture.

Knead in mixer for 8 minutes. Turn out on to oiled surface and dividein to 6 loaves. Place in oiled pans and let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

So I start by milling my wheat. I don't know how it works, but you get more flour than you use wheat (ex: 1 cup of wheat berries generally yields about 1 1/4 c. flour). I know there's an explanation for this, but it probably involves math, so I'll leave it alone.
grinding the wheat

Anyway, in GA I had to only use 8 cups of wheat berries to get the right dough consistency. Up here for some reason, I have to use 9 (everything costs more here, so that must be why). So I mill 9 cups of wheat berries.

Then I put 5 cups of the hottest tap water possible into my bowl. I then add 1 cup of yogurt. The cold of the yogurt makes the hot water cool to lukewarm which is perfect for yeast. Add the flour and yeast and pour into your mixer.

Then you have 15 minutes to do whatever you want to. My 15 minutes included administering a grammar test to 2 wiggly boys. And cleaning up my mess so far (I am obnoxiously meticulous about cleaning as I go - ask my husband. I make him so mad because he'll call us for dinner, and I'll immediately clean up the mess before sitting down for dinner; I just can't enjoy a meal with a messy kitchen). And preparing for the next step: I put the lecithin and salt in the remaining flour. I also grind up some flax seed which I also add to the flour. Finally, I combine and then heat up the honey and oil for about 45 minutes in the microwave. This blends it better and adds a little more heat for that yeast.

When my 15 is up, I start the mixer, swirl the oil/honey in, and then start adding flour. This is very important. The mistake many people make with bread is making the dough too stiff. You don't want a consistency like pizza dough. You want a soft dough. The way you know it is right is when the dough just begins to pull off the side of the mixer NOT when it is cleanly swept off the sides like with pizza dough.

So get the right amount of flour and then run the mixer for another 8 minutes to knead the dough. Then - and here's a great trick I learned from my MO friend - you know how usually when you throw some dough on the counter you sprinkle some flour down first so the dough won't stick? Well, that flour always ends up drying out your dough. So instead, spread some oil over your countertop. Get lots on your fingers and hands too so YOU won't stick to the dough!

OK, so at this point occasionally I will use a scale to get uniform loaves but usually I do not have the time to give in to such compulsions, so I just eyeball it. I cut it into 6 "equal" pieces and form loaves with 5 of them. With the 6th one, I spread it out, sprinkle a Sucanat/cinnamon mixture on it, roll it up, form it into a loaf, and plop it into a pan.

Oh, and my pans - I got them from Urban Homemaker too. They are on the smaller side (8" maybe vs. 10"??), so I get 6 loaves. If you use larger pans, you might only get 5 loaves.

Then the loaves rise for 30 minutes (time to do school with the littles one, clean up, start this post).
risen dough

Then in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. And done!

Once they're all cooled off, into my professional bread bags - you can buy them by the 100 from Bread Beckers or Urban Homemaker (or you could just save some from the store bought bread you used to buy).

That's it! It really is an easy process, especially once you've done it a couple times. I mean, I taught my kids some school and cleaned my kitchen and baked bread all in an hour and half!

Peanut Butter, Brownies, Pizza

I learned two things today. First when I'm not lazy, there are more hours in the day. And second, my food processor is my best friend.

After school, I attacked my planned whole living experiences for the day: homemade peanut butter (I actually made the PB yesterday, but it's easier just to lump it in to today), Rich Peanut Butter Bars (aka, brownies), and whole wheat pizza with "special" sauce.

Homemade Peanut Butter
We have been pretty good about buying "natural" peanut butter over the last couple years; however, those jars of "natural" peanut butter still include a lot of sugar and are still somewhat processed to increase shelf life. So I figured...what do I have to lose giving it a try?

It was SO easy.

I dumped a pound of peanuts into the food processor and turned it on. After the peanuts started to break up, I dribbled a bit of oil over the mixture through the little hole thingy at the top. I let the food processor keep going until the peanuts turned to paste. The kids thought that was pretty cool. Then I dribbled a couple teaspoons of the delicious honey I got at the farm yesterday on to the paste.

peanut butter

That was it. And it's good! Michael even said it tastes better than the "normal" peanut butter. The only one who doesn't like it, surprisingly, is my best eater, Audrey. She's not so fond of the straight peanut taste. But 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Rich Peanut Butter Bars (aka, Brownies)
I decided I needed to put the homemade peanut butter into some sort of snack for the kids today. I still don't have my honey granules from Bread Beckers, so I went to the Bread Beckers cookbook for help. I have a bucket of Sucanat which came with us from Georgia, so I found a recipe that called for it. Sucanat is evaporated cane juice. Regular Sucanat has a rather strong flavor, so it cannot always be substituted for refined sugar. It can almost always be substituted for brown sugar, however. If you don't have Sucanat, use regular sugar or even light brown sugar.

Anyway, this recipe from the Bread Beckers cookbook already calls for Sucanat, and the end product turns out very brownie-esque...which the kids really liked (with the exception of the Princess who still had an issue with that peanutty peanut butter). They were very quick and easy too!

Rich Peanut Butter Bars
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. Sucanat
2 eggs
1 c. whole wheat flour (I used hard white)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. cocoa
1 t. vanilla

Melt butter and peanut butter together. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Press into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

So I got stuck with dinner duty tonight. Ugh! Even though I am only at this time focusing on healthifying snacks, I thought I'd take the challenge and make dinner worth it too. And all I had to work with was some ground beef. So I decided on pizza.

The kids always opt for cheese pizza, sometimes with some kind of meat. They don't opt for pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, or onions. So I waited until they went outside to play, and I dumped big hunks of green pepper, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and onion into my food processor and pureed it a la Deceptively Delicious style.


I then added tomato sauce (someday I am going to try my hand at making my own tomato sauce) and threw it in a saucepan. I added seasoning, a couple of bay leaves, and some molasses. Molasses takes away some of the acidity of the tomato sauce and enhances the flavors.

OK, so I don't really know if that's what it does, but my mom used to always add it to her sauces. Plus I wanted to sound all Food Network-y. But here is something I do know about molasses (I read it anyway): Blackstrap molasses is the only kind that has any nutritionl value.

Anyway. Then the crust. This recipe comes from Marilyn Moll who owns Urban Homemakers, which is where I purchased my grain mill, Bosch mixer, and other start-up bread making stuff. This is quite possibly the easiest pizza crust I've ever made.

I had a sudden panic attack at 4:00 this afternoon because I hadn't yet looked over the pizza dough recipe, and I worried that I wouldn't have enough time to make it, let it rise, shape it, let it rise again...BUT this dough does not need to rise! Here is the recipe:

Basic Pizza Crust
4 c. whole wheat flour (I used hard white)
1 T. yeast
1 T. olive oil
1 T. honey
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water

If you have a pizza stone, preheat it now. If you don't have a pizza stone, get one; pizzas are so much better from a stone! I only have one and need to get another one because 1 pizza doesn't feed all these growing children anymore.

OK, so put the warm water in your mixer bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients (maybe go easy on the flour at first - not all at once). With your dough hook, mix ingredients and add enough flour to make a stiff dough that pulls cleanly from the side of the bowl. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 3-5 minutes until dough is elastic.

Roll out pizza dough on cornmeal and then place on heated stone. Brush with olive oil and prick with a fork. Pre-bake in 400 oven for 5-8 minutes.

Remove and add sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake about 10-15 minutes.

So why no photos of my masterpiece pizzas? Well, if you know me, you know cooking is really not my thing. My pizzas did not look all that pretty. But they sure tasted good!

Banana Bread

Today was a busy day. For one, last night the moment Irene made her exit, our power went out, prompting us to take our frozen and refrigerated food to a friend's house. Our power was only out for a couple of hours, but I waited until this morning to go get our food.

While I was retrieving our food, I stopped by a farm. I've said before how much I love all of the farms around here; you don't see this in the south. We have 3 or 4 of them within a mile or two of our house. If you remember, I visited one last year at the end of the season. All I got was some not-so-good end-of-the-season corn. Today, though, I was seeking two specific things: farm fresh eggs and local honey. I got both at one stop...eggs only a couple hours old and honey from hives right there on the property. ("They" say consuming local honey can help if you have allergies; we'll see if "they" are correct.)
eggs & honey

I also had other things to do like teach the kids school, sign Michael up for swim team, and find some new running shoes for me that will hopefully help my painful ankles. As expensive as they are, they ought to enable me to comfortably run a marathon.

All this to say, today was more of a prep day than a day to focus on making elaborate new and healthy snacks for the kids. I did, however, have some yummy banana bread on hand that I had made the day before Irene visited so we would have a ready-made breakfast.

In college I had this yellow cookbook that, though lost, I can still picture in my mind. I also still use some of the recipes from it, like the banana bread recipe. Here it is:

Sift together:
1 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

In separate bowl, eat until frothy:
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs

1 c. mashed banana

Add wet ingredients to dry and fold. Bake at 325 for about an hour.

I used freshly milled flour in this - hard white wheat. I only use my hard red wheat in bread as it does definitely have a stronger whole wheat taste. Honestly, you really can't taste that much of a difference between the processed white flour you'd find in the store and freshly milled hard white wheat, but the health benefits for the freshly milled flour are plentiful! Don't be fooled by "whole wheat" flour in the store either; it is still processed in order to allow for a long shelf life. I will tell you more about fresh milled wheat later this week when I make bread.

Anyway...for the sugar, I used the last of my honey granules; thankfully, I have my new bucket arriving sometime this week from Bread Beckers. I didn't quite have enough bananas to make a cup, so I filled the rest of the cup with organic plain yogurt, which I actually think made the bread more fluffy; I may make yogurt a regular add-in!

I meant to add some ground flaxseed because, honestly, that can be added to ANYTHING, and it's so healthful! But I forgot. I also often add chocolate chips and/or finely ground nuts of some kind (the kids don't like big pieces of nuts in bread or cookies).

So that was their snack today - whole, real food, just leftover whole, real food! Tomorrow hopefully there will be less running around so I can get more creative.