Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the memories and nostalgic feelings that food provokes in us. I think that aspect of food and breaking bread with friends and family is the root reason why I actually started this blog. I love nothing more than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls on a spring Saturday morning because it takes me to my mom’s kitchen when I was a kid.
The smell of flour and egg being mixed together for homemade noodles makes me feel like I’m in my grandmother’s house. One bite into an oatmeal crème pie and my child-like innocence takes me back to grade school, sack lunches, tetherball at recess, and riding my bike to see my friends.
I miss simpler days but the notion that one bite of a homemade oatmeal crème pie can take me back there is exciting. And it does – takes me right back to my childhood.
Now, this specific oatmeal crème pie has grown up a bit. With a little added Frangelico, the oatmeal cookie turns into a chewy, nutty-flavored shell for the creamy, buttery, white chocolate filling, which also has a little hazelnut tone from extra Frangelico. I had to practice so much self-control while making – and photographing – these babies.
I was so excited about the white chocolate-Frangelico filling – it is a match made in heaven! Most people will automatically think to pair milk chocolate or dark chocolate with hazelnut but I went straight to white chocolate (as I normally do) and I am so glad I did! And you all know about my love for oatmeal cookies – the oatmeal was a great pair for the hazelnut liqueur.
I promise you, these will take you right back to your childhood!
Monday, April 29, 2013
Do you observe “Meatless Monday”? For as many meatless meals I have around here, I don’t think we have discussed this very important day of the week! Not that we observe it every week. I mean, is it even a real thing? Anyway, for various reasons, we choose to eat meat/poultry only a couple of times per week.
Now, let me tell you – Paul and I were both born and raised in the Midwest so I don’t that that either of us could completely give up red meat. Let’s just establish that right now. However, we do feel passionately about buying high quality meat when we do consume it and that just means that we consume it less often.
Friday, April 26, 2013
I am headed off to sunny California this morning. The Big Travelling Potluck is this weekend and I’m off to meet up with Ali, Jackie, Carrian and lots of other blogging friends for what I’m sure will be an amazing weekend. I’ll be sharing all about the trip next week but follow along on Instagram over the weekend.
I have noticed a trend lately. That is, I see it, I crave it. And you know what I have been seeing a lot of lately? Classic white sandwich bread.
I’m not going to deny that this could have something to do with my crazy sandwich addiction because I’m convinced that it does. But the more I saw people creating these amazing loaves of beautiful sandwich bread, the more I wanted one myself.
And my goodness, if I could take the time each week to make a loaf of this stuff, I would make some killer sandwiches…and probably gain a few extra pounds. I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour that, based on the reviews, was a sure-fire winner. I made only a couple of small changes and it was just that – a winner. It’s so soft and fluffy and flavorful! I don’t remember the last time I had a loaf of white sandwich bread with so much flavor. I’m sold on milk powder in the dough – that has to be the secret because there was just this little hint of sweetness that you don’t find in store-bought loaves. And you better believe that I tested – and approved – it’s grilled cheese making ability!
Can you tell I really loved this bread? You will, too, I promise!
Classic White Sandwich Bread
A fail-proof recipe for homemade white sandwich bread - fluffy, flavorful and perfect for your favorite sandwich.
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbs. honey
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast – I use Red Star Yeast Platinum
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tbs. soft butter
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup milk powder
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, honey, and yeast and let it proof for 5 minutes, until the yeast is bubbly. Add the salt, butter, flour and milk powder and mix until the dough is smooth – it won’t be too sticky but won’t be completely smooth either; this should take about 4 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Form into a ball.
Spread about two teaspoons of oil in a large glass bowl. Place the dough into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 60-90 minutes in the warmest place in your house . The dough will be puffy and almost doubled in size.
Gently punch down the dough ball and shape it into a 9-inch loaf. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and place the loaf into the pan. Cover with the tea towel and let it rise again, for 60-90 minutes, until the top is crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 20 minutes and then lightly cover the top with foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Store the cooled bread wrapped in plastic wrap.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
There are a lot of things that I just prefer to make at home versus buy at the grocery store – seasoning mixes, salad dressings, dips, and granola.
Now, don’t get me wrong – sometimes grabbing a couple of those things from the store to save time is just what I need. However, granola is a completely different story. I love making homemade granola for many reasons – I can control the ingredients, the flavors, the amount of sugar and fat, oh, and it just tastes better!
Have you ever started making something at home, only to go back to your previous store-bought favorite and realize that it’s not so much your favorite anymore? That happened to me recently with granola. I bought an over-priced bag of granola, got it home, grabbed a handful, only to be disappointed in the flavor. It was just too sweet and they didn’t put any pepitas in!! They are my favorite granola ingredient but they don’t show up in any store-bought varieties.
At that point, I resolved to just continue making it at home, with the flavors and ingredients I prefer, and at a much lower price, too! And then STAR Fine Foods asked me to create a recipe using their California Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I use olive oil every single day but I wanted to come up with something a little different than an everyday dish so I created a simple, classic granola that really allows the smooth flavor of the California Extra Virgin Olive Oil to shine through. And you better believe I added pepitas!
Find the recipe for this Olive Oil Granola and many other recipes at Star Fine Foods’ website!
And enter to win one of five sets of their Balsamic Glazes. I have tried them all and you will love them – they are so versatile!