10 months & Rosemary Sea Salt Ciabatta

Image

My little man is 10 months old and so much fun. He has been growing and changing so rapidly this month; in the past week he has said his first word, stood for the first time, taken his first step, and used a fork to eat his food. (I realize the last one seems out of league with the others, but this mama is thrilled for the fork!) I usually don’t get emotional about these things, but with so many in so few days, I’ve had a difficult time processing the magnitude of his rapid growth. I feel like blinking will cause me to miss something! And, I don’t want to miss it. This morning, I nearly missed him clap for the first time. Another first this week! My goodness. And since he is nearly 11 months, it is time to start “officially” planning his first birthday party. One word: mustaches. Awesome, right?

Image

I have also spent a lot of this month baking. I threw my friend Heather a baby shower last weekend with my friend Stefanie and we made an assortment of treats that I will blog about soon. I have also been trying some new breads from my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. I took a different spin on the ciabatta bread which resulted in deliciousness that you won’t want to miss out on.

Rosemary & Sea Salt Ciabatta
RECIPE: (makes 2 loaves)

5 1/2 cups bread flour
3 cups warm water + 1 cup hot water reserved
1 1/2 T kosher sea salt + 1 t reserved
1 1/2 T active dry yeast
1 T dried rosemary

You will need a bread stone, metal baking dish, and 5 qt tupperware. A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment is what I use to mix together my dough, but you can also do it by hand in the tupperware.

Mix water, sea salt, and yeast together. Add bread flour and mix until incorporated. Transfer to tupperware and cover for 2 hours (it is important that tupperware is NOT airtight). Refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes before working with it. The best thing about this dough is that it will last in the refrigerator up to two weeks. So make one loaf this week, and make another when you run out!

When you are ready to bake your bread, put the bread stone on the middle rack of the oven. On the rack below it, but the metal dish to one side to use for a steam bath. Heat oven to 450 F.

Meanwhile, wet your hands and take half of your dough (about 2 lbs) and quickly shape it into a ball by pulling out from the center and tucking that section under the ball. Once you have a ball, start working the dough out into a flat oval, keeping it at least 3/4 of a inch thick. If you need to wet your hands again to keep the dough from sticking, do so. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes on a dough paddle or flat cookie sheet that has been generously dusted in white flour. Crack reserved sea salt on dough and sprinkle rosemary over the top surface.

After 20 minutes, slide dough onto bread stone, then pour the reserved hot water into the metal dish and quickly shut the oven. Cook for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove bread from oven with paddle and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing into it.

I recommend serving it with an olive oil dipping sauce. Crack sea salt and pepper into a small dish, add parmesan cheese and top with olive oil. Get creative with it! Add red peppers, olives, or other spices to add some flare to your bread!

Image

Advertisements

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Image

One might assume that having grown up in Arizona, I would love both Mexican food and spicy food. Both of those assumptions would have made an… well, you know the saying. Until recently, that is. Something in the last year or so (perhaps pregnancy?) has altered my taste buds and I am so happy about it!

For the longest time, I couldn’t eat spicy foods because it gave me terrible reflux and indigestion. Then, I realized that the spiciness wasn’t the issue; the fat content was. I can eat spicy food without any negative side effects as long as the dish is low in fat content. Score! One my go to dishes to accomplish this new love of low-fat, spicy food is chicken tortilla soup.

Not to toot my own horn, but this soup is seriously delicious. Seriously. And, it is pretty darn easy. Try it. Let me know what you think!

RECIPE:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch pieces and patted dry
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-4* jalapeños, diced and seeded
2 cans fire roasted tomatoes (or fresh!)
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1-2 cans black beans, rinsed
2 quarts chicken broth
6-8 white or yellow corn tortillas
2 T olive oil
1 t kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T oregano
1 T lime juice
1/2 cup greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1 t agave nectar or honey (to cut out a bit of the acidity)
optional: 1 lime, quartered or sliced thinly

In a large stockpot, over medium high heat, sauté onions, jalapeños, and garlic in 1 T olive oil until onion is clear and jalapeño is slightly caramelized. Add chicken and sear until slightly browned on all sides. Add fire roasted tomatoes, black beans, chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and oregano, bring to a boil, then simmer. Add zucchini and squash, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar. Simmer for 30 minutes. Taste test and adjust seasonings. (Allow soup to continue simmering while you make the tortillas.)

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 F. Thinly coat both sides of corn tortillas in olive oil. (I lay one tortilla flat, pour a bit of olive oil on it, and swirl another tortilla on top of it to lightly coat them both all over and repeat until all sides are coated.) Season tortillas with kosher salt and bake in the oven 20 minutes (or until golden), flipping half way through. Remove from oven, cut into strips with a knife or crack them by hand. (I swear making your own chips is the difference between good and great tortilla soup.)

To garnish, ladle soup into bowls, add a dollop of greek yogurt, a handful of avocado, 1 lime wedge or slice, and a sprig of fresh cilantro. I’m telling you, this soup is so good, you don’t even need cheese! And when do you not need cheese? (In the picture above, I am missing the cilantro and lime, and I used what I had on hand, aka tortilla chips from a bag, thus the cheese.)

Ok, now go make it yourself and tell me what you think! For those of you who don’t like spice, just use one seeded jalapeño and see what you think. It should be easily palatable. For those of you who like extra spice, add some cayenne. Yum! And to boot, this soup can be frozen!!! In fact, we defrosted some earlier this week and it was delicious.

*note: the seeds are what make jalapeños so spicy, so I remove them and put them to the side, adding them slowly as I want more heat. also, wear gloves when chopping jalapeños, and wash your hands in white vinegar when you are done! the vinegar will remove the chemicals from your skin.

Homemade Bagels – no kneading necessary!

20111117-100442.jpg

I’ve been quiet the last few weeks, but not because life has been quiet. In fact, I’ve been baking up a storm: homemade bagels, soft pretzels, lemon curd pie, flourless chocolate torte, salted caramel marshmallows, vanilla bean marshmallows, and more! I will be blogging about a few of these adventures, but I thought I would share the bagel recipe first because it is so easy and so delicious! Let’s face it, good bagels come from bagel shops and are too expensive to regularly indulge in. This recipe makes 10-12 bagels (depending on how big you make them) and costs a mere fraction of what it would be to get a dozen bagels from your favorite shop. And they are delicious!!!

Recipe:

For Dough
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 1/2 T rapid yeast
3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups bread flour

For Baking:
8 cups water
3 T sugar
1 t baking soda
Flour for work surface
Whole wheat flour for bread peel
Toppings: sesame seeds, dried onion, poppy seeds, etc.
Pizza Peel, Bread Stone, and Metal Dish

Combine sugar, salt, yeast and water in 5 qt stand mixer with dough attachment. Add flour and mix until combined. Cover and allow to rise 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

When ready to make bagels, lightly dust surface of dough with flour and break off a 3 oz or small peach sized piece of dough. Quickly stretch and shape the dough into a ball. Repeat until all dough is used. Allow to rise covered with saran wrap for 20 minutes. Meanwhile boil 8 cups of water in a large stockpot. Preheat oven to 450 F (20 min) with baking stone on center rack, and a metal dish on bottom rack. Once the water is boiling, lower heat to simmer and add sugar and baking soda.

Take a dough ball and make a hole in the center. Slowly stretch out the center until the hole is 2x the diameter of the dough wall. Drop the dough in the simmering water and cook for 2 minutes, then flip it over and cook one more minute.

20111117-102526.jpg

Take bagel out and lay on a clean kitchen towel dusted in flour. Repeat until all bagels are boiled. (I did three at a time, but you need to be careful not to crowd them in the pot or they will become misshapen.)

Transfer 5-6 bagels to pizza wheel dusted in whole wheat flour. Add toppings to bagels and slide onto hot stone.

Pour 1 cup hot water into metal pan in oven and quickly shut the door to create a steam bath. Cook bagels 12-15 minutes until slightly golden or longer if you want crispier bagels. Remove and allow to cool on wire rack. Repeat until all bagels are cooked. Enjoy slightly warm with cream cheese or toppings of your choice!

Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon, Zucchini, and Peas

 

The other night we had one of those “clean out the fridge” meals. You know, the ones where you need to get rid of produce before it goes bad so you think of something that will use up all your random bits of produce and hope it tastes good. Maybe you call it “everything but the kitchen sink,” but either way, you get the point.

We had at least 3 large zucchini, half an onion, a couple of decrepit tomatoes and a handful of frozen peas in our fridge as well as 4 pieces of week old bacon just waiting to go bad. So we threw it all together in a pasta and made a simple carbonara sauce to tie it all together. So easy! Seriously, I think the whole meal took 20 minutes.

RECIPE:

1 onion, diced
3 zucchini, halved and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen peas
4 slices bacon (or let’s face it, as much bacon as you want!)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (+ more for garnish)
2 eggs
1 lb pasta of your choice (we used spaghetti)
salt and pepper to taste
handful of freshly chopped basil for garnish

Cook bacon until crisp in large saute pan over medium high heat. Set bacon aside but retain pan. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan boil water and prepare pasta as instructed. Add onions and zucchini to bacon drippings in the saute pan and cook until onions are clear. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Lower heat to medium and add tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Check on pasta. About 1-2 minutes before pasta is done, add frozen peas. Retain 1 cup of pasta water in measuring cup and drain the rest of the pasta and peas and return to the pan.

For Sauce:

Gently beat 2 eggs together with parmesan until well blended. Slowly beat in 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water to mixture (stir quickly to avoid cooking the egg). Pour mixture over spaghetti and peas and toss with tongs for 2 minutes, add reserved water as needed for consistency. Add sauteed vegetables and crumbled bacon and toss. Check seasonings. Serve up pasta with grated parmesan and fresh basil!

 

 

blueberry sour cream pancakes

Today we are taking a family day – no church, no lunch with friends, no commitments or obligations, just family time (and a blog). To celebrate our morning, we made blueberry sour cream pancakes. These pancakes are some of the best I have ever had. We adapted the recipe from Ina Garten’s Banana Sour Cream Pancakes recipe. These pancakes are fluffy and delicious. For some, they may be too thick. We like to thin them out with more milk to our preferred consistency. Experiment!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 3/4 c milk (we usually use 1 c)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t grated lemon zest (or 1/8 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh, if fresh sauté until ready to burst)

Directions

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest (or juice). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined; fold blueberries into mixture.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with fresh blueberries, butter and maple syrup. And, enjoy!

Have a restful Sunday!

dark chocolate cookies

In my recent obsession with Pinterest, I have found some amazing recipes. These cookies are one of my fortuitous finds! The original recipe comes from the blog Divine Baking, which she adjusted from a recipe from Epicurious. I followed her steps, without adjusting for altitude, and found they were equally beautiful and delicious as the ones she described. What is profound about these cookies is that they are chewy, crunchy, and gooey at the same time! It is unbelievable, but true!

I have also made this recipe with melted semi-sweet chips and white chocolate chips for a delicious result. Try it with your favorite flavored chocolates, just don’t forget to adjust the sugar if you choose a milk chocolate, or it will be too sweet.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided (I used 2 cups)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will become very stiff).

Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes (8 minutes for high altitude). Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

Yield: Makes about 18

beets, beets, and more beets

Considering the diet I was put on gave me all of 5 veggie options, beets became one of my new go-to foods. My husband couldn’t have been more thrilled! He loves beets. I, on the other hand, grew up with beets one way: Grandma’s pickled beets. Let’s just say everyone was a fan, but me. I had avoided beets for years, until about a month before I gave birth. My dear husband came home with a bag full and big grin. What’s a girl to say? He was so excited and I didn’t want to crush him with my anti-beet propaganda. So, I let him make me beets. He sliced the beets and roasted them in the oven with olive oil, balsamic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Then he sauteed the beet greens with olive oil, salt and pepper. He plated the roasted beets over the greens and stared at me tentatively for approval…

They were… delicious! The greens offered a nice tart contrast to the sweetness of the beets. I was pleasantly surprised! When a few months later beets became one of my only sources of sustenance, I was confident that I wouldn’t starve. Though we had to nix the rosemary, pepper and balsamic, we made an iteration of the same beets I fell for months before and they were delicious.

We also put beets (and their greens) in stir fry with asparagus, chicken, and carrots over rice or rice noodles with a honey, white vinegar, olive oil sauce (my go to sauce for weeks considering those were the only three ingredients I could choose from). Other than dyeing the chicken and the rice/rice noodles pink, it was another excellent way to eat beets.

Another way we used beets was by roasting them with sweet potatoes. It offered a sweet and texture rich side to whatever protein we made (likely chicken, again, considering my options).

What are your favorite ways to eat beets? Do you have any recipes I should try?