Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strawberry Honey Butter

Awhile back I saw this recipe for Strawberry Honey Butter, and decided I absolutely had to try it. It just sounded too good. I mean, who doesn't like Honey Butter? Who doesn't like Strawberries? Okay, so if you don't like either of those, don't tell me about it, I really don't want to know. :) So anyway, the other day when I found Strawberries on sale, I knew exactly what I had to do. Buy them, of course.  As soon as I got home I launched into my project. 
Get your strawberries, and rinse them well.
Hull them, and if you like slicing things like I do, slice them also. :) I like chopping things. Plus, you feel a lot more validated eating a slice of your strawberries, than just eating a whole one. :)
Throw them in the blended and blend them all up. 
In a sauce pan combine your Honey, Lemon Juice, and blended Strawberries. Bring to a boil, and boil approx. 3 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Stirring continually.
Remove from heat and let set until mixture has reached room temperature.
Combine your softened butter with your cooled strawberry stuff, and blend it furiously.
Cool for about an hour to let the flavors blend.


Recipe

1 pint of strawberries, hulled
4 Tablespoons of Honey
3 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice
1 cup of softened butter [2 sticks]

Rinse strawberries and hull them. In a blender or food processor, blend until strawberries are smooth. Pour into sauce pan. Add the honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and boil for approx. 3 minutes or until mixture has thickened, stirring continually. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature. Put cooled strawberry sauce back into blender, add softened butter. Blend until smooth. Cool for 1 hr to allow flavors to mix. Enjoy!

This is so easy to make and absolutely delicious!! Definitely a new favorite!



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Friday, March 16, 2012

Flops on Friday

Wow! I can't believe it's been a week since I last updated this thing. I'm sorry everyone. But I had some tests to study for and take. I kinda spaz out when it comes to taking tests. So that, with some extremely awesome weather, kinda caused me to neglect my blog world. There was just too much stuff happening under my slice of sky. Wow. I can not believe how cheezy I am. I seriously never used to be able to write stuff like that.

Our family had a bent and dent grocery store for several years. It's name was Bananas. Yeah. Try explaining that to the customers, especially when they couldn't find any bananas. :) But my Mom was always coming up with these awesome things to write on signs and stuff: "Go Bananas over our prices"...for Valentines day: "I'm bananas for you"....when we had an excessive amount of one item the sign would say: "Too Many Granola Bars. We're going Bananas"! Yeah. Just all sorts of little quips and stuff using the whole "bananas" thing. I really can't specifically remember any of them. I tried to block them from my mind. But Mom liked it if I'd help her out by being the one to write the signs. No way! It was too cheezy. I could.not.make.myself.write.it. End of story.

But now look at me: "There was too much happening under my slice of sky". Um, I'm frightened now. :)

Oh! And you want to know what else I did? I totally painted a mirror. Yeah. I found it cheap at Goodwill and it was this hideous golden color. I couldn't believe myself when I actually went and bought some spray paint and actually painted the mirror. It looks way cooler now. Except I can't figure out where to put it. I'm beginning to think that I bought the mirror simply so I could feel and frugal and renovate-y and stuff. Because duh, you can't put a white mirror on a white wall. Hello? Where was the planning ahead part of my brain? Oh well. I'll figure it out, and feel all accomplished in the meantime.

Back to the cheezy thing. I was trying to come up with a name for my post today, and all I could think of was: "Flops on Friday". You know how real blog have these cool things like "Thrifty Thursday" and "Wedding Wednesday" and...yeah. I've been feeling like it's time for my blog to step up to the plate and find it's identity. But blogs just need one of those cheezy things to help it in that process. I thought "Flops on Friday" was cool. Because seriously, how many times do you make something and it just "flops". Well, I don't know about you, but it happens to me frequently. It's pretty much impossible to alter a recipe to the extents that I do, and get it perfect the first try. So then you're stuck with the disaster. My first impulse is to just dump it. Or bury it. Or burn it...whatever destroys the evidence the most effectively. But how wasteful is that anyway? So you start thinking about your budget and all the ingredients in the flop, and how much they cost...and wow. That's a dangerous road. But, if you save it, what in the WORLD are you supposed to use it for?

That's what "Flops on Friday" is all about. Sharing different ideas on how to incorporate your flops into something else. It's so awesome when you can effectively disguise the flop and make the end result look like it was something you planned all along. So here is a step by step process on what to do.
First of all. Take a moment to mourn the loss of your potentially successful flop. You put a lot of time and energy into making it. So it's emotionally stressing to pull it out of the oven and find that it was a failure. So, take your flop, set it beside you, and then just feel free to bury your head in despair for 30-45 seconds. Don't take too long on this step. Because, likely as not, it's probably late in the afternoon and your husband, [or some other onlooker] is soon going to arrive on the scene. Your objective is to destroy the evidence by creating something new. :)
Okay, Your 45 seconds are up. This is where you raise your head, and summon the saddest face you can. End of step. Get over it. Start thinking. Start thinking of what time it is. What ingredients you have on hand...stop thinking about the disaster.

In this case my flop was a chocolate chip scone. I had made the recipe before using whole wheat flour and it was fantastic. I was trying to make it with Oat Bran. FAIL! It just crumbled and yeah. I don't want to talk about it. Cookies and the like, are one of these easiest things to disguise. Make a trifle! :) I don't know how many times growing up my Mom took one of us kids' flops and made it into a trifle. Most of us have pudding mixes on hand, or, if you don't, you probably have the ingredients to make pudding. So start making pudding. Then start thinking about what you're going to make to go with the Trifle.

But first there's something we have to address. When was the last time you made dessert for supper, in the middle of the week? Yeah. That's what I thought. You have to explain away the presence of the dessert. Perfect answer? Date night!!! :) [Sorry if you don't have a handsome someone to have a date night with.] Date night calls for a little more awesome of a meal. So I decided to make a Vegetable Stir Fry, and Orange Sesame Chicken.

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F

Plan ahead, make some tea or something for a drink. :)

Thaw your chicken and marinate them for as long as possible. Here's where I start running into trouble. I don't follow recipes at. all. when I'm cooking. I just dump until it tastes how I want it to. But I'll try for y'all's sake. Mix: 1 cup of orange juice, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 3 drops of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I generally add some more seasonings just because I like seasonings. So add some Crushed Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, and a little bit of Ginger. Or don't. I don't really care. I was just throwing it out there. Put chicken in a container and add the marinade. Let this marinade for as long as possible.

Put half a cup of sesame seeds in a pan on medium heat. Toast them until they are brown. Stir frequently. You want to keep your eye on these because they burn easily and quickly. Once browned remove from heat.
In a shallow dish, Mix a cup and a half of flour with about 2 Tablespoons of butter. Add seasonings.  Here again I generally just put in the red pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, and a little ginger. Add the sesame seeds. Mix. Take your marinated chicken breasts and place them one at a time into the dish coating them well with the flour mixture.. front and back.I apologize for not having a picture of this step. I kinda forgot to take one. :(
Put floured chicken breasts on a cookie sheet and top with a slice of orange.  Place them in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.
While the chicken is baking, cut up your vegetables and start on your stir fry. Put some olive oil into a frying pan on medium heat. Use vegetables of your choice. I used, Red, Orange, and Green Bell Peppers, Sweet Onion, Carrots, and Mushrooms. Put them in sauce pan. Add some Sesame seeds if you want. Also put in a little Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce, to taste. Let it do it's thing.
You want to make a sauce to pour over the chicken and stir fry.
In a sauce pan combine: 1 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 teaspoons of  soy sauce, 3 drops of sesame oil, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to a little bit of cold water. Add to sauce and stir until it thickens. You might want to add more cornstarch depending on how thick you want the sauce to be. Salt to Taste.
While all of that is doing it's thing. Get the pudding out of  the refrigerator. Crumble the cookies. Get your cups ready. I have two different kinds of pudding so I'll want to get two ziploc bags. Stuff the ziploc bag into a cup, like the picture shows. It's a lot easier to fill a bag this way than to hold it in your hand and fill it. Spoon pudding into bag. Seal Bag. Cut a small piece off of one of the corners. I use a bag to pipe the pudding into the cup, because it's rather difficult to keep the pudding from slopping all over the cup if you're just spooning it in.
Pipe in your first layer of pudding and add cookie crumbs.
Repeat process until you've reached the top. :) Place in refrigerator. By this time everything should be done.

Remove Chicken and Stir Fry and put them on your plate. Drizzle with sauce.
Get your table set. Make it pretty. :) Take out your Trifle and add it to the scene.  Pour tea into glasses.
And Wa-LA! Your meal is ready.
After you finished your awesome meal. :) Go watch NCIS. How's that for an awesome night?

Recipe

Marinade

  • cup orange juice
  • teaspoons soy sauce
  • drops sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
    Additional Seasonings

Sauce

  • cup orange juice
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • tablespoons honey
  • teaspoons Soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in cold water water
  • Salt

    INGREDIENTS
    4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 7 oz. each)
    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 Tbsp butter
    1/2 cup sesame seeds
    Additional Seasonings

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Friday, March 9, 2012

What I Do With My Remaining Bread Dough

Here's the promised update on what I use the rest of my bread dough for. :) Like I said, I generally only make 3 regular loaves of bread. I make a fourth loaf of cinnamon bread. :) Because I love cinnamon...and bread. :) It's just an awesome snack. :) I also love diversion, and getting as much stuff done in one process as I can. :)

You will need: Bread dough, cinnamon, honey, flour, rolling pin.
So, what I do is mix up about 1/4 cup of honey,  a Tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/2 Tablespoon of flour. I'm honestly not sure on these measurements, because I tend to just dump at this point and go with it. :) 
On this loaf, instead of just immediately forming it into a loaf, I instead get out the rolling pin and roll it out into  a rectangular shape. You are going to want to get this as close to a rectangle as possible. How thick the dough is after you roll it out depends entirely on how many "swirls" of cinnamon you want in your loaf. Just be careful not to get it too thin, or it will leak.
When you're done rolling it out, spread the cinnamon mixture onto it, be careful not to get it too close to the edge of the dough or it will all gush out when you go to roll it up.
After you've done that, you need to roll the dough. Starting at one of the ends. Roll it up tightly. Don't be alarmed if there's a pile of honey and stuff oozing out the other end once it's all rolled up. Just scrape it away with a spoon and be done with it. I then, just help the shape of the loaf out a bit with my hands, to make sure it looks normal when it comes out of the oven.
Place it in a greased bread pan. I also like to make a bit of a "design" in the top of my cinnamon loaf. This bakes for as long as the other ones do. I generally just put all four loaves in the oven at once.
Here they are when they are done. The Cinnamon loaf is the one on the far right.  Like, I said, I like mixing things up a bit. It's also nice to have at least one "normal looking" loaf... for sandwiches. :) Notice the 2nd one in from the left? That is what happens when you cut to deep. :) I think I love blogs now. :) If something doesn't turn out quite right I just use it for an example: "don't do this, or it will look like this". ;) Gotta love it.
Does anyone else LOVE those sandwich thins that you can buy? Well, I do. They're awesome  for so many reason...more sandwich, less bread...mini "pizza's"...yeah. They're awesome, as I mentioned before. But I just don't really like breads that arent home made. My husband prefers that I use those to make his sandwiches for his lunch. So I always make them along with my bread. Again this is using the same recipe.

For these you will need: Bread dough, Rolling Pin, Fork, Italian Seasoning, Crushed Red Pepper, Chopped Onion, Parmesan Cheese. Cookie Sheets.
So. If you haven't noticed we've only made 4 loaves, when the recipe yields "5", start noticing. There's going to be a little over a loaf's worth of dough left. So I divide that up into balls about the size you'd use when making dinner rolls. I then divide each of those balls.
You need the rolling pin for this part too. :) Take the balls and roll them out into a circle, one at a time. I don't know about you but it's rather difficult for me to roll something out into a circle. So here's one way to increase your odds of getting a nice circle. :) Take the ball, and roll it, it will stick to your rolling pin and will be somewhat oval shaped. [figure 1.] Peel it off, lay it back on the table and place your rolling pin right in the middle of the oval. The narrow parts of the oval should be sticking out on either side of the rolling pin. Roll it again. Until the dough appears to be in a circle. If it's still not quite shaped the way ya want it...feel free to use your hands. [Figure 2, 3, and 4.] Then lay the circle onto a greased cookie sheet. Repeat the above steps, placing the next circle of dough on top of the previous one. Thus making a sandwich out of the dough. Continue until you run out of dough. :)

After you have one pan filled, you can pull out your fork and just punch piles of holes into the tops of these things, it makes them look much cooler. This is my favorite part. :)
I make the next pan, exactly like the first except I like to have some seasoned ones. So When I'm finished with this pan, I sprinkle the tops with: Italian Seasoning, Crushed Red Pepper, Chopped Onion, and Parmesan Cheese.

I don't let these raise for very long, because that would defeat the purpose of them. I generally put them in the oven after they've had about 10 minutes to rise. Keep the oven set to 350 degrees F and set the timer for 15-20 minutes. 
Take out when they are done, let cool and then make yourself an awesome sandwich. :)
For this sandwich I used: Spinach. Sharp Cheddar Cheese. [that comes from my parents-in-law's organic dairy farm. They make cheese's and yogurts to sell. The cheese tends to be rather strong. Making it an awesome choice for this particular sandwich.] Bell Peppers. Baby Bella Mushrooms. Balsamic Vinaigrette. :)

It's absolutely delicious!!! :) :)


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I linked up with: Becoming Lydia & A Mama's Story

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

This is the bread recipe I use on a daily basis. My Mom has the recipe for it, back home, in a cookbook that's been used so much it's falling apart. The original recipe used white flour and sugar though...and to be honest, I am not sure if this recipe is even the same as that one anymore. I memorized it. Went several months without making it, got married, and then went back to making it. But I'm not sure how accurate my memory is.

Anyway, I love this recipe because it is so flexible! You can mix and match flours, add seasonings, everything. It's fantastic, and, in my opinion, you will go a long way before you find an all around better tasting bread.

I generally do half whole wheat, and half another type of grain, but for this time I think it'd be less confusing to just use the basic recipe.

You will need: Yeast. Whole Wheat Flour. Milk. Water. Eggs. Vegetable Oil. Honey. Salt.

....................Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.......................

Take 2 cups of Milk heat in a sauce pan just until its warm. If you use a microwave I'd put it in there for probably 3 minutes. I add the honey into the warming milk. Because otherwise it's difficult to get the honey to dissolve or mix into the liquid. Put 1 1/2 cups of honey into the sauce pan and stir until it dissolves. Remove from heat and dump into mixing bowl. In my case, its a Bosch mixer. Add two cups of coldish water, and 4 Tablespoons of yeast. Or 3 Tablespoons. Whatever you want.


Mix everything up, and let set for about 5-10 minutes. Just until the stuff starts to bubble on top. As you can see, my mixture is seriously bubbling. That's what happens if you abandon the mixture for awhile. It's not a problem. It's just not necessary.
Add oil, salt, eggs, and flour to the yeast mixture and mix. For like, ever. I'm kidding 10 minutes will do it. Keep in mind though, that if the dough seems a little on the stiff side, (ie if you somehow put in a little too much flour or something)...whole wheat gets stiffer with mixing. So go easy on the kneading part if it seems too stiff.
Let the dough rise for another 10-15 minutes...or longer. Again, it's up to you. It also depends on whether or not you used instant yeast. While the dough is rising, grease 5 bread pans.
After the dough has risen, divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. One way to ensure that they're evenly divided is to take two of them at a time and "weigh" them in your hands. Transferring from one to the other. You will be able to feel if one of them seems heavier than the other. Do that to all of them, and try to get it as evenly divided as possible.
After they're divided. Form them into loaves.
Carefully place the loaves into the bread pan. One way to help make sure the loaf rises evenly is to press the dough into the bottom of the pan.
I am not a "poke-the-living-daylights-out-of-the-loaf-with-a-fork-to-keep-bubbles-from-occurring" person. Because if you form the loaf correctly there will be no bubbles. Also, I think a bunch of fork marks on a loaf of bread, really hinders the loaf's "cosmetic appeal". Which is to say, it looks ugly. But, if you are...here's an alternative, that has the same effect. Take a knife and cut a cool design in the top. You want to go deeper than the surface, but don't go quite as deep as that middle line is, because, it doesnt look as cool in the end. Let it rise again, for approx. 30 minutes. Then stick it in the oven for  25-30 minutes. Time varies because of ovens and also a loaf made entirely with whole wheat takes longer to bake. It just does. 
When the timer goes off, you want to see first if its a nice brown color. If it isnt, put it in for longer. If it is, it still may not  be totally done in the middle. It takes a lot of practice to be able to "tell" when bread is baked sufficiently. So one way to help you out, is take your middle finger, and tap the top of the loaf. Your going to want to tap pretty hard. It should make a nice, distinct, hollow sound. If it doesn't, let it bake for another couple minutes. If you're still not sure after tapping it, you can take the pan and flip the loaf out into your hand. [make sure and use a hot pad or glove.] The sides and bottom should look slightly browner than the top. You can also slightly press on the sides to see if there's a lot of give. If there isnt, it's done. So take it out, but don't be afraid to let it bake a little longer if you are doubtful. A slightly over done loaf of bread, is definitely preferable to one with a goo-ey, dough-y center.
Take them out of the pan immediately so they can cool, and butter all of the sides, including the bottom. This helps keep the crust from drying out and getting hard.

So there you have it! Hopefully you like it as much as I do! :)

Recipe

2 cups of warm milk
2 cups of cold water
3-4 Tablespoons of Instant yeast
1 1/2 cups of honey
4 eggs
2 Tablespoons of salt
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
8-9 cups of whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bread pans. Combine milk and honey, add water, add yeast and dissolve. Cover and let rise 5-10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Knead for approx. 10 minutes. Cover and let rise for 10-15 minutes. Divide dough evenly. Form loaves and put them in greased bread pans. Cover, and let rise for approx 30 minutes. Put in oven and bake for 25+ minutes.
Remove when done. Cool. Slice and enjoy! :)

[I generally only make 3 loaves of regular bread. Tune in next time to see what I use the remaining dough for!]
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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan Quinoa Muffins

For starters, I love these muffins, and so does my husband. :) They're so moist, and, well, amazing and I absolutely love the texture that the Quinoa adds to it. Throw in some nuts of your choice and your all set.

You will need: .Whole Wheat Flour. Quinoa.  Molasses. Ginger. Nutmeg. Baking Powder.  Baking Soda. Salt. Sour Milk. Eggs. Canned Pumpkin. Vanilla Extract. Nuts of your choice.
[an oven is also helpful]

.............Preheat oven to 350..............
You'll want to get your Quinoa started right away. The recipe calls for 1 cup of cooked Quinoa, but I am far too lazy to figure out the water vs Quinoa ratio. So, I measure out a cup of Quinoa, and 2 cups of water. Cooked, it makes approx. 2 1/2 cups, but I'm cool with that. I make these frequently so I just freeze the leftovers and get them out next time I go to make them. Anyway, dump the water and Quinoa together into a sauce pan with a slice of butter, and bring to a boil. Cover. Put the burner on low, and let the whole thing sit for 15 minutes.

While the Quinoa is doing its thing. Take your pecans and hull them. Then save out the 12 nicest looking ones you can find. I like to put a pecan on top of each one of my muffins. It just makes them look cooler. Put the remaining pecans in a nut chomper, and chop them into many little pieces. [I don't know what those things are called, I've always just called them "nut chompers" and will happily do so for the remainder of my life]
Okay, so I seriously never have sour milk on hand. Who does? It's nasty, and sour. But we all probably have some white vinegar . So we're going to use that to create a "substitution". Measure out your milk, in this case; 1/2 cup. Then add about a tablespoon of white vinegar. You probably could get away with less, but I try to stay on the safe side. The vinegar causes the milk to curd, and sour. Very quickly. So I just set the milk up on the window sill and let the magic work while I get everything ready for it.
Mix together dry ingredients.
By now the milk is ready. So mix your milk, eggs, pumpkin, molasses and sugar in a separate bowl.
Get your Quinoa and Pecans and add them to your dry mixture. It will look something like this when its all mixed up.
Add the pumpkin mixture and stir well.
I use cupcake pans because: A. I don't have muffin pans. B. I like my muffins to be a manageable size.
Grease the pan if you don't have cupcake papers.
Fill them almost to the top.
After they're filled, the pecan haves that you saved back, on the top and then stick them in the oven for 20 minutes.

While you're waiting on them to bake, you can go read a book. Or do the laundry. Or Text your friend. Or check them continually. Or take a shower. Or, you could make some tea and clean up your mess and do the dishes, like I did. Basically, do whatever floats your boat until the timer goes off. I mean, I would recommend not running off and forgetting about them. But that's just me. I tend to be the type of person who turns the oven light on and am always watching my food. But, be warned, if you watch these, you might have a freak out moment, in the 7-10 minute area. It looks like the pecans are too heavy, and the batter is too weak...and like the whole recipe is flopping before your very eyes, while you stand helplessly on the other side of the door. Piece of advice: Resist the urge to stomp your foot or kick the oven. Because that will make them fall.
Take a deep breath. Chill. And stop watching it. If you did everything right, it will make an impressive comeback. :)
When the timer goes off, check them. They should be done. Every time I've done this recipe its taken exactly 20 minutes. But I still do the whole tooth pick thing. You know, where you stick the toothpick into the cent one and pull it out to see if anything is sticking to it. If it is, let it bake awhile longer. If it isn't (like the picture), then they're done. :)
Take them out, and enjoy at your leisure. :)

Recipe

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup of molasses
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of Quinoa, cooked and drained
2 eggs
1/2 cup of sour milk
3/4 cup of canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/4 cup of crushed nuts of your choice (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil or butter a 12 cup muffin pan, or use muffin pan liners. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add the Quinoa and nuts. In a separate bowl beat together molasses, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla. Gradually stir into dry ingredients. Mix just until its all consistent. Spoon batter into muffin pans and put nuts of your choice on top. Bake 20 minutes.

So there ya go! Enjoy. :)