Whole Wheat Bread

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another recipe I found on Babycenter, and I made just a few tiny changes (in parentheses) for my own taste. This is a really tasty, basic bread. I think it tastes good on its own, or with butter and/or jam. Dense and chewy, with just a hint of honey flavor. The vital wheat gluten can be found by the flour at the grocery store, and it really adds something good to the texture. I make this often!

Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/3 c. very warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/2 T. canola oil (I use 1 T)
2 T. honey (I use 3 T)
1 t. salt
2 t. rapid rise yeast
2 T. vital wheat gluten
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I use 3 c.)

Combine water, oil, honey and salt and mix. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Add yeast and vital wheat gluten and mix well. Add the rest of the flour gradually, adding the last 1/2 cup very gradually until dough 'cleans the bowl', if using a stand mixer. If mixing by hand, the dough should be just a bit sticky, but easy to manage with a bit of flour or non-stick spray on your hands.

Let rise until double in bulk (with instant yeast this will take 20-30 min). Form into a loaf (I put mine into a bread pan) and let rise again til double again (20-30 min-don't let it over rise or it may 'fall' while baking). Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Perfect Pizza Dough

A double batch makes 4 nice individual pizzas

This is my GO TO dough recipe. I like trying different recipes, but this is the one I love the best. One of the best things about this dough is how easily it rolls out. It doesn't 'bounce back' like most pizza doughs do when you're trying to roll it out. And it doesn't stick to the table. This is VERY good when you like your pizza crust nice and thin. Look at how thin this dough gets! When baked it is the perfect combo of thin and crisp, yet chewy inside.

You don't have to roll it out this thin, but it's nice having the option. :)


I don't use the special pan they ask for in the recipe. I use a regular cookie sheet and take the pizzas off immediately to cool on a rack. One recipe makes one 12 inch pizza, or 4 mini pizzas (our favorite way to do it for lunch!). I usually have to double the recipe to feed the family. I included tripled and quadrupled measurements in the recipe for my own convenience, in case I need more for guests. ;)

Perfect Pizza Dough
(found in Shape Magazine)

                                              x 3                 x 4
1/2 c. bread flour                (1.5 c.)....         (2 c.)
1/2 c. whole wheat flour      (1.5 c.)....         (2 c.)
3/4 t. active dry yeast          (2 1/4 t.)...        (3 t.)
1/4 t. salt                             (3/4 t.)....         (1 t.)
1/2 t. sugar                          (1 t.)...             (1 1/2 t.)
6 T. cold water                    (1 c. + 2 T.)... (1 1/2 c.)
1 T. olive oil (optional, but I really love adding it)

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, then create a well in the center and add the water. Using your hands, gently combine dough for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until it comes together.

Move dough to a lightly floured surface; knead for 10 minutes of until firm and smooth. Form into a ball. Cover with a clean dish towel; let rest for 5 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to form an 11 inch circle; place on a round metal pizza pan with small holes so the dough just reaches but doesn't overlap the edges. Let rest for 45 minutes before adding toppings.

Add your toppings and bake at 450 degrees for 7-10 minutes.


Okay, maybe this is a super basic tool...but I didn't own one until I really started cooking from scratch a lot. Essential for straining out whole herbs and spices, or seeds. Definitely need to have one around, even if its not used often.

Chickpea Soup With Spinach

Monday, November 28, 2011

This is a gorgeous soup that I adore but the family doesn't do cartwheels over. I made it once for everyone, but the reception wasn't stellar, so I make it for myself now, freezing individual portions for lunches. I think it tastes fantastic! It has a strong chickpea and onion flavor. It is 'soupy-brothy', perfect for cold days when you need to sip some soup at the table while reading a book.

1/2 pound dried chickpeas (about 2 1/2 c. cooked)
4 T. olive oil
2 large onions, sliced (I chop them; easier to eat)
1 medium red pepper, chopped
salt and pepper
4-5 c. vegetable broth
good dash of red pepper flakes
1 lb fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

Soak dried chickpeas several hours or overnight in water to cover. Drain, and place in a pot with fresh water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer, covered, at least 1 hour, or until tender.

Put oil in deep skillet, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later, add onions, a large pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook, adjusting heat as necessary so onions soften rather than crisp. Stir occasionally, and cook until onions become very soft and quite brown, at least 10 minutes. Add red pepper and cook a few more minutes.

When chickpeas are tender, remove from heat, and drain, reserving their cooking water. Puree half the chickpeas in food mill, immersion blender or upright blender, adding enough of the reserved cooking water (or fresh water) to keep mixture moving smoothly. (Use care when pureeing hot liquid. If you have time, let mixture cool to room temperature first.)

Return puree to pot along with remaining chickpeas, plus whatever chickpea cooking liquid remains, plus red pepper flakes, plus broth. Stir, adjusting heat so mixture simmers. Add spinach, and stir. When spinach is tender, after 5 minutes or so, taste, and adjust seasoning.

Mom's Vegetable Beef Soup

This is my husband's mom's recipe. Every time she makes it I eat WAY too much! It's a homey and thick pot of magic! I haven't made it myself yet, but I still consider it tried and true. I rarely use ground beef, so when I do finally make it myself, I will probably use ground turkey.

2 lbs. ground beef
3 large potatoes, diced
2 small cans V8 juice (or 2 c.)
1 lb can whole tomatoes, crushed with hands
2 cans green beans, drained
1 can white corn, drained
1 onion, chopped
garlic powder
Mrs. Dash
salt and pepper

Brown the ground beef and onion in soup pot. Add remaining ingredients (spices to taste), and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.

Mexican Rice

Another babycenter recipe that has become a tried and true for me. It reminds me of 'restaurant' Mexican rice--fluffy and light.

Mexican Rice
1 c. white rice (I use long grained)
Vegetable oil
3 T. white onion, chopped (I use more...I love onions)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 c. canned plain tomatoes, blended smooth (I like to use salsa)
1 Knorr chicken bullion cube
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt (I omit this...bullion cube has enough salt for us)
2 c. water

Pour rice into saucepan and add enough oil that all the rice is evenly coated (I've never measured it, but I'd guess about 2 or 3 T.). Stir almost constantly over medium heat until the rice is very 'tan'. Add the onion and garlic and continue to stir for another minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. You can add a bit of frozen veggies at this point if desired. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid, fluff it up, and enjoy!

Tuna Casserole I

This is one of the recipes I fall back on when time and inspiration run short, but I want to avoid takeout pizza. It is creamy and delicious...gets a thumbs up from the whole family, which is increasingly difficult to do!

I have to note, however, that anymore I don't have cream soups in the cupboard. They are just so full of yucky things. I'm still experimenting with substitutions for 'cream-of' soups, which I used to rely on for so many recipes.

Tuna Casserole 1
2 c. dry penne, or experiment with other pastas (whole wheat works well in this recipe)
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
2 (6 oz) cans tuna, well drained
1 can cream of celery soup
1/4 c. low-fat mayo
1/2 c. milk
2 t. Mrs. Dash (original)
1/2 t. powdered garlic
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. shredded cheddar (we love sharp)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 11x7 casserole pan (the pan I use is actually smaller than this, put the casserole fits in fine). Boil the pasta according to 'al dente' directions on box. Drain the pasta, and add onion and tuna to the pan, mix well.

Put remaining ingredients, except cheese, in a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring until combined. Add to pasta mixture, stir, pour into casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle on the cheese, and return to oven for 5-7 minutes to melt cheese.

White Chicken Chili

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple and delicious! I only use a sprinkle of the cayenne because one of the boys is ANTI-spice right now. Out of all the white chicken chili recipes I've made, this one is my favorite.

1 to 1.5 pounds chicken
1 t. beef base
1/2 c. water
2 c. chicken broth
48 oz Randall Beans
1 t. olive oil
2 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small can green chiles, in juice
2 t. cumin
2 t. oregano
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Dice up the chicken, cook in pan with water and beef base until water is gone. In separate pan, fry olive oil and onions until onions are transparent. Place chicken and the rest of the ingredients in the pan, simmer for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I found this gem on babycenter's cooking board last winter and I've made it countless times. I am in LOVE with this soup!

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup~*~Sandy~*~ via The Six O’Clock Scramble

1 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) whole tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tsp cumin (or curry)
2 T dry sherry (can use applejuice, but I think the sherry adds awesome flavor)
**pinch of sugar
Sour cream for serving

In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté them until they are softened, about 5 minutes.

Chop the beans and tomatoes in a food processor or blender until they are pureed with some chunks remaining. Add them to the onions and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, except the sour cream.

Mix the soup well, bring it to a gentle boil, and simmer it for 20 minutes. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream.

Makes 6 servings

Calories 140, total fat 3.5g sat fat 0g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 580mg, total carbs 23g, dietary fiber 6g, protein 5 g, sugar 7g

Baked Potato Soup

Friday, November 25, 2011

I used to have a crockpot potato soup that I swore by. I made it for years. Then one day I tried this recipe, and I'll never go back! It is so simple, and yet the flavors are downright explosive. Like almost everything I do with potatoes, I leave the skins on. The garlic is not overwhelming at all, even though a whole head is used during cooking, and the leeks add just the right amount of onion flavor. One of my absolute favorites for a chilly night, served with a big green salad and fresh bread!

(this photo is not mine, it is from SmittenKitchen.com)

baked potato soup

From SmittenKitchen.com

Serves 6
1 head garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped small
5 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used 5 cups; add the extra cup after pureeing if you’d like a thinner soup)
2 bay leaves
Table salt
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup sour cream
Ground black pepper
Toppings, optional:
Minced fresh chives or scallions
Bacon bits
Sour cream
Grated cheddar
A drizzle of melted (or melted and browned) butter
Rinse the head of garlic to remove any outside grit or dirt. Cut the top third off the head and peel any loose papery skins off the bottom two-thirds. Instead of discarding the top third (CI’s suggestion), pop out a bunch (or all) of the garlic clove tips and mince them. If you’re Deb, breathe a sigh of relief that you have wasted nothing.
In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook them until soft (but not brown), about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the larger part of the garlic head (whole, not chopped), broth, bay leaves and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very tender when pierced with tip of knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Discard bay leaves. Remove garlic heads. Optional: If you’d like an extra garlic boost to the soup, using tongs or paper towels, squeeze garlic head at root end until cloves slip out of their skins. Using a fork, mash the garlic cloves to smooth paste and add it back to the soup. [I felt our soup was garlicky enough without this. It had a great suggestion of garlic without overpowering the baked potato flavor.]
Add sour cream to soup and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Using immersion blender, process soup until chunky-creamy, leaving lots of potato texture intact. (Alternatively, transfer a portion of the potatoes and broth to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.) Serve with whatever makes you happy on top, or nothing at all.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

This is the kind of soup that I would describe as 'soul food'. Thick, hearty, and it warms you up more with each bite. Very fulfilling, and a great way to use leftover thanksgiving turkey. Try not to omit the almonds...I think it is the secret ingredient that gives a little extra 'wow'.

from AllRecipes.com


  • 2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups turkey broth
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream


  1. Bring the wild rice and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender but not mushy, 40 to 45 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, fluff the rice with a fork, and cook uncovered 5 minutes more. Set the cooked rice aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion and celery until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook until it turns a pale yellowish-brown color, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the turkey stock until no lumps of flour remain. Stir in the carrot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, whisking constantly, until the stock is thick and smooth and the carrot is tender, about 2 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the wild rice, turkey, salt, pepper, and almonds. Return to a simmer, and cook 2 more minutes to heat the ingredients. Stir in the lemon juice and half-and-half; bring the soup almost to a boil, and serve hot.

Magic Bullet

My husband bought this thing from the infomercial years ago, when he was really into infomercials and all the useless stuff they sold. I rolled my eyes. It sat in our pantry, unused, for a couple of years. Then we went through a phase of loving smoothies for breakfast; after a few weeks of using my blender, I realized the convenience the Magic Bullet might provide. Less mess, and the smoothie is blended right in the cup that you drink it from.

Well, we are out of our smoothie phase for now, but my the Magic Bullet found a permanent home on my counter. I use it so much! A lot of recipes call for a little of this or that to be pureed, and getting the blender out every time is just not practical. I can't say enough how much more convenient this thing makes cooking for me. There are other brands out there, and I am not endorsing Magic Bullet exclusively...just any small blender like this would be nice to have.

As a sidenote, if you have a Keurig coffee maker, the Magic Bullet fits under it nicely for storage. ;) If you've seen my counter space (nearly non-exsistant), then you know how important that is for me!

Green Rice

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another variation of rice that we enjoy with our Mexican-themed suppers!

2 fresh green chiles, preferably poblanos (in a pinch I use a small can of green chiles)
1 small green pepper
1 c. long grain white rice
1 garlic clove
large bunch cilantro
small bunch flat-leaf parsley
2 c. chicken stock
2 T. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped

1. Dry roast the chiles and green pepper in a griddle pan, turning them frequently so that the skins blacken but the flesh does not burn. Place them in a strong plastic bag, tie the top securely and set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Put the rice in a heatproof bowl, pour in boiling water to cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

3. Drain the rice, rinse well under cold water and drain again. Remove the chiles and peppers from the bag and peel off the skins. Remove any stems, then slit the vegetables and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife.

4. Put roasted vegetables in a food processor (I use Magic Bullet), with the garlic. Strip off the leaves from the cilantro and parsley stalks, reserve some for garnish and add the rest to the processor. Pour in half the chicken stock and process until smooth. Add the rest of the stock process the puree again.

5. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and rice and fry for 5 minutes over medium heat until the rice is golden and the onion translucent. Stir in the puree. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender. Add salt and garnish with the reserved herbs.

Oil Mister

One of my newer discoveries. I love this thing! Perfect for salads, roasting veggies, or making pita/tortilla chips. I still use regular spray cans for some jobs, but I like the idea of having a spray of oil on certain foods without the added propellants. I use my mister for olive oil, but wouldn't mind having another one designated for vegetable or canola oil. It does require cleaning every once in awhile to prevent clogging. There are several brands out there, and I couldn't tell you which is the best; this one is Farberware and has worked just fine for me.

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