Archive for January, 2010

January 31, 2010


Next weekend I’m going to make some Babka bread it looks SUPER good! It has chocolate and cinnamon swirled! MMMM, but takes a few hours at home to make it.

(UPDATE: I made this bread and it didn’t turn out at all! My daughter keeps telling people about how it didn’t turn out…can’t live it down. I will try it again soon. I learned that Peter Reinhart, the author of the book the Babka recipe came from, is going to teach a class in Reno so I signed up! Maybe he’ll teach me how to make it while I’m there.)

On another note, I got my daughter this camera for Christmas and she takes it everywhere. Today I found her taking pictures of her dinner! I was laughing so hard. I was just talking to someone and said she’s probably going to start thinking that everyone takes pictures of their food before eating…LOL!

Have a good Monday!

January 31, 2010

Ciabatta Bread

The first of my “learning” to make bread posts…Thanks to my dad for an really awesome baking stone and two great bread books, I am well on my way to even better bread. Ciabatta bread is one of my favorites so I chose to start with that (actually I made brioche a month ago but it was a LONG process and I didn’t photo document it.) This first attempt at Ciabatta was very successful. I will be making this again…

I would highly recommend the two books I’m reading. Both detail the bread making process from the science of fermenting all the way through the baking process step by step. (Baking Artisan Bread by Ciril Hitz – this one has a DVD showing you how things should look and how to shape and mix; the other book is Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day).

After reading these two books I have learned that measuring ingredients by weight (with a digital or spring scale) is the best way so my measurements will include weight.

POOLISH – this is the beginning of the fermentation process which helps create flavor:

Bread Flour – 11.6 oz (2 1/2 cups)
Water – 11.6 oz (1 1/2 cups)
pinch of instant yeast (1/8 tsp)

Add water to the bowl then yeast and flour. Mix until smoth with no lumps. This is the “starter.” It is the equivelant of the sourdough starter, when you hear people talking about the friendship bread and they pass around “starters.” Same concept. 

The Poolish

This should sit on a container covered overnight at room temp – about 16 hours but no more than 24 hours!! After 24 hours it’s over fermented and no good!


Bread flour 1lb + 5.6oz (this is where the digital scale is so much better) (4 1/2 cups + 2T.)
Water 102 degrees F 14.3 oz (1 3/4 cups)
Instant yeast .09oz (3/4 tsp)
Salt .6 oz (3 1/2 tsp)
Poolish (all of it)

In a stand mixer, mix all ingredients at together for 6 minutes. Stop the mixer every 2 min to scrape down the dough in the bowl. Spray a proofing pan with cooking spray. Pour the final dough in the pan, cover with a lid or towel and allow to relax for 30 minutes.

Final Dough

Stretch and fold: This part was so amazing to me. The dough is so wet, and never having made this before I was really worried. I didn’t think I would even be able to handle it because it was so wet. But after the first “stretch and fold” it already started to come together. Weird and cool!

After the first 30 minutes pull one side of the bread toward you and fold over the other half of the dough. On the side opposite pull and stretch the dough away from you and fold over . Repeat for the sides and kinda tuck the last fold under to keep the surface of the bread tight. Repeat this until you have done 3-4 stretch and fold sequences.

Now with this wet dough you will need a good amount of flour on your shaping surface to avoid sticking plus it helps with the baking.  On a floured surface lay the dough out and gently shape into a rectangle. Try not to handle the dough too much or the gases will excape and your bread will fall and be flat. You want to keep the bubbles in the dough – you know how the ciabatta in the store is full of holes – that’s good. Cut the rectangle into 4 medium-sized loafs. Lay the loaves on a floured towel with the towel raised in between the loaves to separate the loaves and to help keep their shape. Allow to sit for 30 minutes and preheat the oven.

Shaped Dough

Meanwhile heat the oven to 480°, with the baking stone and a steam pan in the oven. When adding the bread to the oven, pour 1cup water in the steam pan (PROTECT your arms and hands!!). You only want steam for the first 10 minutes of cooking, after that the steam does benefit the baking process. Steam helps the crust to stay moist longer to let the inside of the bread cook through. Lay bread on baking stone allow to cook 35-40 minutes. If the bread begins to get too dark before the cook time is up, cover with foil. In the last 3 minutes of cooking prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow steam to release.

Final Loaves

Final Product

January 30, 2010

White Lasagna

After making this lasagna, I have decided I like white sauce much better than red. After I made this I said “I don’t think I’ll ever make lasagna again with red sauce.” However lasagna is just plain good red or white sauce, really! But this was TERRIFIC! Sausage, mushrooms, and spinach with alfredo rocks! I’m proud to say this is all my own recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I did not do a good job at photo documenting this one so I’ll update it soon with more photos. Until then you’ll have to settle for the finished product…

White Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles
1lb sausage
White wine (just enough to steam the spinach about 1/4 cup)
8oz crimini mushrooms (baby bellas), sliced
3 cups uncooked spinach
1 container of low fat ricotta cheese
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 egg
3 cups alfredo sauce (recipe follows or you can use jar)
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
16 oz mozzerella cheese

PREHEAT oven to 375°.

COOK noodles according to the package directions. Lay out wax paper, spray with cooking spray and lay noodles on wax paper while you are preparing the rest.

COMBINE ricotta, 1/2 c. mozzerella, 1/2 the parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. The rest of the mozzerella is for the top of the lasagna.

BROWN the sausage in a pan until cooked through, then drain. In the same pan sautee mushrooms until golden and almost cooked through. Add wine and spinach cover and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove cover, add salt and pepper and allow liquid to cook off without allowing spinach to burn. Drain any liquid remaining.

MIX mushroom mixture and sausage to the ricotta mixture.

Spray the lasagna pan with cooking spray. Place one layer of noodles on the bottom of the pan, overlapping slightly. Spread half the filling evenly over the layer of noodles. Then spread 1/3 of the alfredo sauce over the filling. Repeat once more and end with a layer of noodles. Pour remaining alfredo sauce on top and then top with remaining mozzerella and paremesan.

COVER with alumimum foil and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to 500° and cook 5-8 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown. This is a good time to add your garlic bread too! (1/2 stick butter, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 tsp salt, 1T grated parmesan, and boule or your favorite loaf of bread. Mix butter, garlic, cheese, and salt, spread over bread, cook until browned)


2 cloves garlic
3 T butter
2 T flour
2 c. half ‘n half
1 cup 2% milk
½ c grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
1/8 t. nutmeg
Salt and pepper

MELT butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Whisk in salt, pepper and flour cook 1 minute.

WHISK in half ‘n half and milk, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until it begins to thicken. Add parmesan. Allow to cook 3 minutes.

ADD egg yolk to a bowl and whisk in a little of the white sauce to temper the yolk. Then add mixture to rest of sauce. Add nutmeg and allow sauce to thicken to desired consistency. (should be a somewhat thin).

January 28, 2010

Turkey Patty Melt

I saw this recipe in the Food Network magazine Jan/Feb issue. Melty cheese and mushrooms and onions sounded so good – and it was! This recipe is comfort food, but a little healthier than a patty melt you would get at a restraunt.

3T olive oil (I used butter because I used my cast iron skillet)
1 red onion (yellow onion would be good too)
8oz crimini mushrooms (baby bellas), sliced
salt and ground pepper
2tsp balsamic vinegar
2T plus 2t Worcestershire sauce
10oz ground turkey
6oz ground beef sirloin
8 slices rye bread
8 slices swiss cheese

MELT butter in pan. Slice onions and mushrooms.

Sautee onions and mushrooms. Start by sauteeing the onions, then push onion to the edges of the pan then add mushrooms and a little more butter. Cook until mushrooms start to brown. Then mix mushrooms and onions together and add vinegar and 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce.

 Cook a bit longer until any liquid is absorbed. Add salt and pepper.

Mix turkey, sirloin, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp worcestershire sauce.

Shape into equal sized oval-shaped patties. Cook until browned about 4 minutes, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Assemble the sandwiches, one slice of cheese per side.

Add patty to one side and divide onion and mushroom mixture among the sandwiches. Grill the sandwiches in batches, on each side until the bread is brown and cheese is melty.


January 25, 2010

Wine Country….Ahhh the serenity

I seriously L-O-V-E this place, fell in love…. FINALLY I made it to Wine Country (Sonoma to be exact, well the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek, Alexandar Valley, Santa Rosa Healdsburg to be even more exact) . Wine tasting all weekend some fabulous wines and great food. Can’t ask for a better trip. I bought a few bottles of really good wine – quality is so much different than the cheap bottle in the store. This trip taught me a lot about what I like in wine and it was nice and relaxing. I had such a great trip and was so thankful I got to go. I hope that I get to go again real soon! I was in heaven, food, wine, beautiful setting…ahhhhh it’s my happy place…ha ha ha okay enough of dorking out!

This area was just awesome even though the entire weekend was overcast and rainy I was still in awe! I cannot wait to go see it in the Spring/Summer when everything is growing. Maybe I need to reassess my retirement plan to include buying a vineyard…ha ha ha, when I win the lotto maybe! Anyway, it was an awesome trip and it was everything I always imagined it would be…

Some of the reasons I love Sonoma…

January 22, 2010


I’ve decided that my favorite oatmeal is steel cut made with half water and half vanilla soy milk. Comes out creamy with added protein, but without all the fat of milk.


Here are a few more oatmeal ideas! My daughter and niece LOVE the s’mores oatmeal. I make one pot of oatmeal and just add different toppings for everyone who’s eating it. I didn’t use measurements on the toppings I just add a little of it all but not so much that it takes away from the healthiness of oatmeal.

Adding yogurt or a mashed banana to oatmeal is a healthier way to add some sweetness. I also use Agave sweetener or honey.

1c. oats
1/2c. 10-grain hot cereal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1c. vanilla soy milk
1c. water
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c. coconut

MIX water, soy milk and vanilla, bring to a boil. Add oats, cereal, coconut and cook on low, simmer for 10-20 minutes until cooked to the consistency you like (unless you’re using quick cook oats it will only take a few minutes to cook).

Add the topping of your choice:

Topping – Date and Nut – MY NEW FAVORITE
1T brown sugar
1T dried dates
small pat of butter
1T toasted pecans

Topping – S’mores
Chocolate chips
Crushed graham crackers

S'mores Toppings

And the finished product….(mixed up a bit)…

1/2c greek style yogurt
1T. honey or other favorite sweetener
Toasted almonds or walnuts

Yogurt Honey-Nut Oatmeal

January 10, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

I love pumpkin and oatmeal so of course this was something I HAD to try! The pancakes were really good they don’t taste at all like pumpkin pie (unless you want them to and add pumpkin pie spice). I made the pancakes with soy milk to make it a little more healthy – although buttermilk is pretty healthy alternative too. To make it more healthy use some whole wheat flour and add some flax seed.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe on Food Network (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) Roasted Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes Dottie’s True Blue Cafe – San Francisco

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups vanilla soy milk
¼ c. heavy cream
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Butter and maple syrup, for serving

IN a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add all of the wet ingredients and mix gently with a rubber spatula just until the mixture is incorporated. There may still be a few small lumps. Do not over mix or the pancakes will be tough. Cook on a lightly buttered griddle or electric skillet at 375 degrees F until the pancakes form bubbles and the edges look dry. Flip the pancakes and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with warm syrup and butter.

January 10, 2010

Spicy Shrimp

Still on my healthy food kick I saw this recipe made on Food Network last weekend so it landed on my dinner list last week. It’s both fast and healthy.  I will make it again but with a more mild chilie – no way Eyden would eat this too spicy. But it is very good! I have a new found favorite rice to go along with – basmati rice. It has more flavor than regular white rice and it’s grain is thinner.

Shrimp and Marinade

Adapted from Food Network recipe from Ask Aida for Shrimp Piri Piri

1lb large shrimp
¼ of a Turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced
2 serrano chilies (I will try 1 jalepeno next time)
4 cloves garlic
1 T paprika
¼ c. lime juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c chopped cilantro
lime wedges
cotija cheese
Basmati Rice (cooked)

ROAST serrano chilies at 500° degrees 10-15 minutes until skin is blackened. Remove skin (allow to steam 5 minutes in a plastic bag then remove skin), seeds, and steams.  Combine chilies, garlic, paprika, lime juice, vinegar in a blender about 1 minute. Add olive oil slowly in a stream until marinade thoroughly incorporated.

COMBINE peeled and cleaned shrimp and kielbasa and marinade in bowl for 20 minutes.

HEAT cast iron skillet, add shrimp (in batches if necessary) until shrimp is white with a few brown spots and curled and sausage is cooked.

PLACE atop rice, top with cilantro, lime wedge, and cotija cheese.

January 6, 2010

Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps

This recipe is SO good. You can make it with chopped cooked chicken or without any meat. This dish is filled with with flavor and texture from the crunch of the bread crumbs to the flavor packed onions and peppers. You could convert this recipe into an appetizer by using baby bellas or your favorite smaller mushroom. YUM YUM YUM!!!


Stuffed Mushrooms

2 Portabellas, rubbed clean
1 c. bread crumbs (italian seasoned)
½ red onion
½ red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 c. shredded parmesan
3T olive oil
½ c. alfredo sauce
5 medium sized shrimp (Either pre-cooked or cooked in butter, wine, garlic then dice finely)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

PREHEAT oven to 425°.

CUT off any stems from mushroom caps and finely dice and set aside. Finely dice onions, garlic, and red peppers. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place mushrooms gill side up and drizzle with 2T olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.

TOAST bread crumbs in a dry pan, remove to a mixing bowl. Add 1 T olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, red peppers, and diced stems. Remove from pan to mixing bowl and add diced cooked shrimp, half the parmesan and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Shrimp Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

REMOVE mushrooms from oven, top with stuffing, drizzle of alfredo sauce and the remaining parmesan. Cook until cheese is melted and stuffing is hot. 10-15minutes.

January 4, 2010

Spicy Marinated Ahi Tuna

I am in the mood to eat healthier fresh food after all the sugary rich holiday foods. I made this Ahi last summer on the grill and it was FABULOUS! It also gives me that summer-time feeling, a nice healthy and light dish to help me dream of warm summery days! By this time of the winter (what officially two weeks into winter) and I’m over it! I’m ready for spring temps and sunny days! NO MORE SNOW! I don’t fare well with the skiers in my life! Sorry guys! 🙂

4 Ahi Tuna steaks (you can use another meaty fish such as Halibut as well)
1 jalapeno, finely diced
½ lemon, zested
2 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
3T olive oil
½ bunch of cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

PLACE fish in a shallow dish. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Finely dice the jalapeno (you can add more or less for spiciness but keep the seeds and veins in) add to a mixing bowl. Zest half of one of the lemons into the jalapeno, then juice both lemons into the marinade. Whisk the ingredients together. While whisking add the olive oil. Finely chop up the cilantro and mix into marinade.

Ahi Marinade (Or any fish or chicken)

POUR marinade over the tuna. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 30 minutes to an hour. If the tuna is not completely covered with the marinade, flip it halfway through marinating.

PLACE tuna on grill (or a grill pan inside) and cook with cover closed 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish and continue to grill for 3-4 minutes for medium doneness. This night I couldn’t get to my barbeque so I decided to try steaming the Ahi in foil.  Next time I will heat a sheet pan with oil in the oven for 5 minutes, add the Ahi and then essentially sear the Ahi in a 500° oven for 5-8 minutes for medium. Steaming this fish just made it tough, it needs to be seared (pan or oven).

Steamed Ahi