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Monday, April 30, 2007

Split Pea Soup

This is a wonderful, inexpensive and very versatile dish. You can easily make it vegetarian or make it traditionally with ham. I usually don't measure my ingredients but here is a rough estimation. You can adjust accordinly. You can also make it on the stove or crockpot. I prefer crockpot as it's hands off. Just throw everything in and you have rich soup at the end of the day.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb dried split peas
1 cup each of chopped celery, carrots and onions
6-8 cups water or broth
1 cup minced ham
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse peas well. You may soak overnight but it is not necessary. Combine everything in a large pot or a large crockpot. Let simmer 2 hours on stove or 8+ hours in the crockpot on low (4-5 on high). Make sure it doesn't get dried out. If you want a creamy texture, blend with hand blender or beaters.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Super Simple 5 Minute Brownies

I admit, I love the microwave. I know there's a lot of debate over how healthy it is but I still enjoy using it. I enjoy making quick desserts in there as it's easier than it sounds. This is a super quick fix for admittted chocoholics such as myself. You can easily substitute ingredients for healthier ones, which is part of the beauty of homemade desserts.

I've used several recipes that were basically the same for brownies but this one I got from Recipezaar. Using this particular recipe, I found that 5 minutes was too long if you like gooey brownies like I do. I will definately go with 4 and a half minutes next time.

Microwave Brownies in 5 Minutes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup coocoa
1/2 cup flour

Cream sugar and butter. Add the eggs then the vanilla. Stir in cocoa and flour. Pour into a greased glass pie plate and microwave on high for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My New Favorite Bread Recipe



Here is my new favorite bread recipe.

I sustitute a cup of flour for flax meal and I think I'm going to try and add a cup of bran to the next batch I make. I also used some honey with less brown sugar because DH likes a touch of honey in his bread. I also make this totally by hand. Oh, and I only got 4 large loaves when I made it, but it lasted and was soo moist until it was gone. The kids love this bread! Making bread is an excellent arm workout ;). I will be making a batch today.

Fabulous Homemade Bread Recipe
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 10 cups bread flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, stir together 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 cup bread flour, and yeast. Let grow for about 5 minutes. It will bubble almost immediately.
  2. Measure oats, 4 1/2 cups warm water, whole wheat flour, salt, 2/3 cup sugar, and 2/3 cup oil into the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed slightly, and begin adding bread flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Humidity determines how much flour you need before the bread pulls away from the edge of the bowl. It is normal for the dough to be sticky.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Shape loaves, and place in greased 8 x 4 inch pans. Let rise until dough is 1 inch above rim of pans, usually 1 hour.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F ( 175 degrees C) for 35 minutes, or until tops are browned. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Make Aheads: Rice

Brown rice is one of those foods that take forever to make so it's always a good idea to make a big batch all at once. You can store it in the fridge up to a week or you can freeze it in single meal serving sizes. Minute rice may be faster but it's stripped of all that is good for the sake of a faster cook. Take the extra time to make it ahead and meals will be a snap. Rice goes well with so many things and with it made ahead of time, you can make a quick stir fry while the rice heats up or you can use it as a side or in soup or casserole. The possibilities are endless!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bake Mix

The kids love pancakes and waffles. We usually buy frozen ones but they get sooo soggy when they have the least bit of syrup on them to the point the kids won't eat them. I bought a waffle maker but they don't like them made in that (although maybe they'll give them a second chance). So I made up some bake mix tonight, a "Bisquik" substitute some would call it. At least with homemade bake mix, you can add what you want, including using whole wheat or suguar substitutes. I'll just post the basic recipe:

Bake Mix
8 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup dried milk powder
1 cup oil
4 heaping tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt

Mix together well and store in a sealed container. Add water to desired consistency for biscuits or pancakes/waffles.

I think for biscuits, you bake them at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Since I make bread, I probably will just use the mix for pancakes and waffles. I hope the kids want them in the morning as I also made some syrup to go with them :)

Edited to add: We have made pancakes and waffles sucessfully with this by adding an egg and water to make the right consistency (using about a cup of mix at a time). the kids love it so we will save a ton on frozen breakfast foods, not to mention being able to make them healthier and less consumer waste. I may try garlic cheese biscuits to go with lunch later.

Yo yo Yogurt

Yogurt is a greatly consumed food in our home. When we shop, we always check to see if there is any yogurt for half off and go to the checkout with at least a coupon or two. It is my 2yoDD's favorite food.

In my pre-kids days, I used to often make it. Then I had a batch fail and didn't bother anymore. I don't know why. Yogurt is sooo simple to make! I got the recipe I use from a church cookbook we got as a wedding gift. I have a batch in the oven right now and it too no time to prepare. Here we go:

Homemade Yogurt

4 cups water
2.5 cups powdered skim milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt to use as starter (gelatin free, check ingredients)

Whisk water and milk powder together in a large saucepan. Heat on medium until warm **Not Hot**. Put yogurt starter in a glass bowl. Add the warm milk and gently stir together. Cover and put in the oven over night or 8-10 hours with the light on (if your light doesn't work like mine, I put it in the oven about half an hour after making bread when it's still kind of warm but not too hot). Makes 4-6 cups.

This usually makes a nice thick yogurt. If it is very runny or looks like mucus, it either didn't set right, it was too warm or the starter wasn't good. I haven't figured out what bad results come with things gone wrong.

You can use yogurt that has been frozen if you want to keep some starter on hand. I usually use Astro Balkan Style natural yogurt or Western Plain yogurt as both only contain milk ingredients and bacterial culture.

Youc an add lots of yummy things to yogurt or just enjoy it plain. You can use it as a sub for sour cream or you can drain it through a cheese cloth for yo-cheese (almost like cream cheese and can take it's place).

Edit to add: Before going to bed, I checked the yogurt after having it in the oven on a warm temp most of the day and it hasn't formed yet so I added a little more starter yogurt and put it in the oven for overnight. Hopefully it's "done" in the morning or I may just use it for sour cream or maybe make frozen treats with it. It certainly won't go to waste!

Edited again to add: By morning this came out perfectly. DD declared she loved it with some jam added to it and DH seems to like it :)