Monday, July 29, 2013

Homemade Brownies #2 - (Homemade Brownie Mix - Pantry Ingredients)



Last night after working on our daughter's house all weekend, I was hungry for real food.  We had eaten all sorts of fast food the past few days - ugh!  Also, I was really tired!  Really, really tired! 

For some reason the thought of something yummy in my tummy outweighed the tired last night.  I put a small ham in the oven to bake and when that was ready, whipped up a batch of instant mashed potatoes, dumped some canned green beans in a pot, seasoning them with onion, ham base, and a little bacon grease (which is one of our favorite things to eat),  and mixed up some Homemade Biscuits.  What a feast!  While I had the oven on, I mixed up Tin Can Banana Bread  (which I baked in my oven instead of in my crockpot) and some homemade brownies.  I had absolutely no snacks or breakfasts at my house!  Nada!  It was slim pickings!  But, usually if I think a little bit I can come up with something I can make from my pantry.

I used all of my baking powder in the biscuits.  I can make homemade baking powder but I was way too tired to do that.  I just wanted to mix something in a bowl and put it in a pan to bake.  The Tin Can Banana Bread was perfect and will be great for this week's breakfasts since it uses baking soda and not baking powder.  I usually make Brownies Without the Box and those are really delicious, but I didn't have chocolate chips which that recipes requires.  Hmm..  what to do?

I pulled out a recipe book that our Catholic School puts out and low and behold - more homemade brownies than you can shake a stick at!

These brownies turned out great!  You could mix the dry ingredients in baggies or jars and write the additional ingredients needed for making your own brownie mix.  I'll probably do that!  I love having something homemade and good that I can just throw together with regular items that I keep on hand like margarine, vanilla and eggs.

These brownies taste great!  They smell like rich cocoa and are nice and  moist!  They taste more cake like than the Brownies Without a Box but are delicious all the same!  Great for lunch boxes, treat days, and well..  DESSERT!   They make a nice, big pan of brownies.  I'm loving that!

Here's how I made Homemade Brownies #2 (Homemade Brownie Mix) AT HOME MY WAY:

Homemade Brownies
(Homemade Brownie Mix)

  • 1/2 cup cocoa (not NestlĂ©'s)
  • 1 cup butter/margarine, melted/softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips would be good also (optional)
Instructions

Thoroughly cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and cocoa.  Stir well, beat a little by hand.  Blend in the flour, vanilla, and the nuts, chocolate chips, if using those.  Stir well at least 25 times.

Spread in a 9 x 13 pan (sprayed) and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool and cut.  We like to sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool.



For Homemade Brownie Mix:

Combine all dry ingredients in each jar/sealable baggy: 

1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup nuts (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips would be good also

Instructions to be included with the mix:

Additional ingredients needed:

1 cup butter/margarine, melted/softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine soft butter/margarine with the eggs well.  Add in vanilla, mix again, and then dump in the mix from the jar/baggy.  Combine well and stir about 25 times.

Place in sprayed 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.


This mix would be great to use as gifts during the holidays, in jars or baggies!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Garden Update - July 27, 2013

We spent the day moving my older daughter.  She bought her first home last week.  Pretty exciting stuff but also lots of hard work!  The place is an adorable bungalow type house and it just needs a little paint and a good cleaning.  We moved her stuff into our box trailer until we can get the house move in ready.  Here she is with the new place:



Needless to say, I haven't done much cooking this weekend!

I did get a chance to go down to my garden and take a look-see.  It's SLOWLY coming to life.  I have lots of green tomatoes; definitely  I see lots of cherry tomatoes in my future!  I better get the Homemade Ranch Dressing ready!

I picked a few things.  Nothing grand and worthy of canning or a feast, but I'll take it, considering my harvests are usually small and they are prone to being gobbled by turtles, groundhogs, and deer!  Here is a few goodies that I picked tonight. 



I think I have enough for a small batch of green beans.  I think I'm baking a ham tomorrow so those garden fresh green beans with some new potatoes will be very tasty!  Probably I will also make a batch of Schoolhouse Rolls. For dessert, I'm craving pecan pie, so I might make that ... or a Homemade Oatmeal Pie (which is like pecan put but without the nuts) if I don't have any pecans.

I have lots of little yellow blooms on my cucumbers!  I sure am hoping for enough for bread and butter pickles as they are my favorite!

I did get something out of my garden tonight that I'm awfully excited about this year.  I had a few onion plants that came back to life this spring after they got left in the garden last winter.  I'm saving the seeds from these beautiful blooms.  See the black specks in the green bowl?  Those are onion seeds.  It will be exciting to see if I can get onions to grow from my very own seed next year.



Definitely after a day of moving and cleaning, I am ready for a day of rest! 

Enjoy your Sunday! 

Gina

Friday, July 26, 2013

Homemade Chocolate Pudding - An update



The other night I whipped up a batch of Homemade Chocolate Pudding.  I decided to throw CAUTION to the WIND because I didn't have any cornstarch.  My recipe calls for cornstarch.  But I know that flour is also a great thickener so I used flour to see if that worked. 

Did it work?  It SURE DID!  I couldn't tell a single bit of difference!  In fact, I will probably use flour now instead of cornstarch.  I don't use much cornstarch in my kitchen and I always have flour so I was glad to discover that as a substitution. 

The pudding was thick, chocolatey, and warm.  What a combination, huh? If you haven't tried warm, chocolate pudding, then definitely put that on your list of things to try.

I posted this recipe a long time ago when I made my younger daughter's'"Last Supper" before she left to go to Kansas City to college.  But this recipe deserves a post of its own.  It's that good!

Pudding is a great thing to make for a treat.  It's super cheap, uses pantry ingredients, most people (and small children) like it, and I even put some in small jars for lunch packing.  It's a total win!  Homemade Snackpacks are the best!  I know exactly what is in mine and they are even yummier than the ones at the store. 



Homemade pudding is easy.  Just remember to stir the whole time so that it doesn't stick on the bottom.  I use a whisk because that works the best for me.  I just keep whisking back and forth and around and around.  Just don't cook it too fast and keep stirring.  It will turn into pudding just like magic.

Here's how I make Homemade Chocolate Pudding AT HOME MY WAY:

Homemade Chocolate Pudding
  • 3 cups milk (cold)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour (or cornstarch)
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder (do not use NestlĂ©'s - it's not good) 
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • Good dash salt (like 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 3 tablespoons margarine  (I used 1 Tablespoon because I was short of margarine; fine)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

With the burner off, in a two quart sauce pan combine the cornstarch (or flour), cocoa, sugar and salt. Mix it very well (I use a whisk.) until all is mixed well. Add the cold milk, whisking it in until the mixture is smooth as best as you can.   Now turn on the burner (medium) (do NOT walk away, stir the entire time this is cooking... it SCORCHES easily and you don't want that) - stir constantly.
Bring the pudding to a boil. Reduce heat at little bit, but maintaining the boil, and boil stirring the whole time, for one minute (set a timer). Remove from heat. Plop in the margarine, stir until the margarine melts and is blended throughout, then add the vanilla and stir again.
The pudding will thicken more as it cools.  Pour into a bowl to serve that can be refrigerated.  (You can pour the pudding into a pretty serving dish, or small individual cups. I pour it into small individual jelly jars with lids for our lunches.) Store it in the fridge either way. Makes 6 servings. This recipe is what pudding fantasies are made of.

Works fine with powdered milk: To make 3 cups of milk, combine 3 cups of tap water with 1 cup of instant nonfat dry milk powder. Stir to dissolve the milk powder, and then use as directed above.
This would be great also poured into a baked pie crust for baked graham cracker crust for an easy chocolate pie.
Also, remember that the true southern way to eat pudding is to eat it warm over a split, hot biscuit.  Once you try it, you will always want a biscuit with your chocolate pudding!  Think chocolate pie with a thick crust!  Mmmmm.


This recipe has been shared at:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Crockpot Round Steak with Mushroom Gravy



This meal is one of those crockpot meals that literally takes 30 seconds to put together.  Anyone who says they don't have time to put dinner in the crockpot needs to try this.

I do go ahead and get my crockpot and can of soup out on the counter the night before, and thaw the meat so that I have very little prep time in the morning. 

I never seem to have much time in the morning before I leave for work, no matter what time I get up, so quick to put together crockpot meals are lifesavers for me.

There's nothing like coming home after a long day to a house smelling like supper's already on the table.  I usually cook some flat wide egg noodles to go with ours but mashed potatoes or rice would also be great.  Also, don't throw away the leftovers because those can be added to a container in your freezer where you might keep leftover vegetables for soup.  I use any leftover gravy, beef, etc. to add into my vegetable soup, which I call "Free Soup", but I will save that post for another day.

You can use round steak, cube steak, or any tough beef that might be fairly inexpensive (if there is such a thing, right?).  The crockpot cooks all day and leaves the meat fork tender.  The gravy makes it all just over the top.

Here is how I make Crockpot Round Steak with Mushroom Gravy AT HOME MY WAY:

Crockpot Round Steak with Mushroom Gravy
 
  • Round steak, cube steak, roast, or any "tougher" beef that might be less expensive (enough pieces for your family)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can COLD water (using the soup can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (optional, but I like it)
  • pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • Crockpot with a lid
Instructions:
 
Cut the meat into single sized portion sizes and place in the crockpot.  Dump on the soup.  Fill the can almost to the top with cold water.  Add the Kitchen Bouquet (which is a browning ingredient), some pepper, and the flour.  Stir til smooth and dump over the meat.  Stir a little to dissolve the soup & water together. Cover with the crockpot lid and cook all DAY on LOW (8-10 hours).
 
** You could add drained canned or even fresh mushrooms to this.  My hubby just would croak if he saw a whole mushroom in there so I don't add anything like that.
 
Give it a little stir before serving and serve over noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hoecake - An Oven Free Biscuit



My mom always made lots and lots of biscuits when I was growing up.  Given my age...dot, dot, dot, (LOL), some of the homes I grew up in didn't always have air conditioning, eek... hot, hot, hot.  That was also before eating out became quite so "acceptable" nor were we able to find so many prepackaged items for meals - so my mom ALWAYS cooked supper - from scratch - with real food.  No matter how long her workday was or how hot it was, she always cooked supper (and we weren't overweight... go figure).  Usually we had meat, a starch, a vegetable, and either biscuits or cornbread.  If we had spaghetti or tuna casserole, we still had some sort of bread.  Sometimes the bread was my favorite part of supper, since we also wouldn't EVER consider telling my mom "I don't like that."  We just ate it and that was that.

When our kitchen was blazing hot, it was a real NO-NO to turn on the oven for obvious reasons.  Mom used to make a hoecake biscuit instead of baking biscuits in the oven.  Well... correct that, she still does make hoecake biscuits.  My husband really LOVES these hoecakes and it took me a little practice to get them just right, but I finally figured it out.  (There's something about being young and trying to cook everything on high... LOL.  I finally figured out that some things have cook slowly, like this hoecake biscuit.)

The recipe is really a lot like my biscuit recipe but only half as much.  My mom cooks hers in a Teflon, non-stick skillet, but I don't use non-stick products so I used my iron skillet.  The edges turn out crispy and the whole thing is just delicious!

Here is how I make a Hoecake AT HOME MY WAY:

Hoecake - Biscuit
 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening/butter or margarine
  • 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon oil (keep separate from above ingred.)
 
Instructions:
 
Combine flour, baking powder, salt.  Cut in shortening/ butter/margarine.  I use a pastry blender but you can use a fork or two knives.  Stir in the milk and stir well to blend.
 
It should look like this:
 
 
 
 
Place oil in skillet (non-stick or iron skillet).  Spread well to cover the entire surface.  Start heating the skillet on low.
 
 
 
Before the skillet gets too hot, dump the dough in.  Sprinkle with a little flour and using  your hands press the dough into a disc shape that is about 1 inch thick.  (Be careful not to press down too far where the skillet is heating.)
 
 
 

The skillet should be on medium low.  Cover with a lid and cook.
 
 
 
Not a great picture, I know, but I like to see in there so I use an extra big glass lid that I got from a thrift store.  It works great.
 
Cook with the lid until the hoecake swells up and the underneath starts to brown.  See how it has swelled up and is sizzling?
 
 
When the bottom is brown. Use a big pancake turner and flip it over carefully (Make sure that it has cooked with a lid, slowly, to allow time for the middle to cook and firm up.)
 
I just about let mine get to browned.  But it tasted great!
 
 
Cover with the lid again and continue to cook until the underneath is cooked as well.
 
I cut mine into wedges and serve with butter, jelly, honey, or molasses.  We had ours with this yummy supper - Crockpot Round Steak & Mushroom Gravy over egg noodles (recipe coming tomorrow), and peas.  What a feast - and for a Monday!  Woo hoo!
 
 
Hoecakes would be great for breakfast instead of biscuits - especially when it's too hot for the oven, or for camping.  I hope you like them as much as we do!  This guy?  He LOVES hoecakes as much as he loves the drinks in his new cooler! 
 
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Garden Update and Recipe for Easy Seasoned Potatoes



A few posts ago I posted about having a dilemma when I wanted to bake potatoes for a barbecue but all of my potatoes were super huge.  The solution was that I cubed and seasoned the potatoes and baked them in a casserole dish.  They worked perfectly and tasted as good as any baked potato.  

Last night we had an easy supper, bacon sandwiches.  My husband wanted some sort of potatoes (he's a midwest boy through and through) so we cubed some potatoes and made those seasoned potatoes again.  These potatoes work great because you can season them with whatever you have on hand.  Last night we used onion powder, seasoning salt, and parmesan.  I ate mine with a little sour cream.  I think Doug ate his with a little ketchup.

Doug is extremely picky.  He mashes his regular baked potato out completely and removes the skin from his plate.  But for these potatoes, he was content to cube them with the peelings on.  You can peel your potatoes or not, whatever is  your preference. (I would think that sweet potatoes would work just as good in this recipe but I haven't tried that... YET).

Before the recipe, here is a little gardening update.

I was excited to find a little critter in my yard on Thursday evening.  Isn't he cute?  At the time I thought he WAS cute. but actually he is a thorn in my side!



I sent my girls both a cute little text telling them that I had found "Franklin" in our yard (both girls loved to read books when they were little about Franklin the Turtle).  I would soon discover that this little Franklin wasn't as sweet as the Franklin in the books.

Later in the weekend ...I found some damage to my garden. Something has been munching on lots of stuff in my garden!




As of July 21, I have only picked a few cucumbers and less than 10 cherry tomatoes from my garden but we expected a slow year. Bigger problems than a slow start have surfaced!  I discovered lots of eaten squash plants like the one above, eaten cucumber vines, and munched zucchini to my dismay.  I had three nice zucchini squash that I was anxious to pick (since I haven't harvest one single squash in two years) but when I went down to my garden this weekend, they were munched clean to the vine, with just little nubs of squash where whole squash had been.  Ugh!

My dad has a friend he calls, "Hillbilly."  (my dad LOVES nicknames and I don't even know this man's real name so we all call him "Hillbilly" LOL).  Hillbilly knows a little bit about EVERYTHING!  He can fix a central air unit.  He bottle fed triplet calves this winter and saved them from certain death.  He cans his own garden produce.  Pretty much, if you mention anything to him, he has fascinating details about it.  So, my dad talked to Hillbilly about my garden.  Hillbilly's diagnosis?  "Sounds like a turtle!"  

A TURTLE, I squealed,... when my dad told me that.  Why, I just found a sweet little turtle in my yard the other night!  I was afraid he would fall in the pool so I picked him up and put him in a nice, shady spot, right by my GARDEN!  Ugh!!  

The woes of ignorance!  I never knew a turtle would eat my garden plants.  Yep, remember Franklin?



He's now a wanted man at my house!

It seems that Doug also saw a groundhog sneaking his fat self out of the back corner of my garden!  And since some of the sunflowers have been munched from the tops, and neither a turtle nor a groundhog could reach that far up, it sounds like deer might also be a problem.  Now.. we are talking about a garden that is about 20' x 30'.  It's a wonder all of this wildlife isn't stepping on each other in there!  Sounds like some sort of wild animal garden party!  

WHAT TO DO?  I don't know what to do exactly.  I put some mesh fenching around the bottom of the garden to help with Franklin.  I turned the radio on blasting loud to try to scare off the deer, and my dad put out a live trap (with sweet soybeans inside at the recommendation of Hillbilly) to catch Mr. Groundhog.

Time will tell.  Let's hope I get a few vegetables out of my beautiful garden this summer.  Surely these beasts will share with me?

Here's the recipe for the Easy Seasoned Potatoes.  They are delicious and help a girl get over her garden woes.






Easy Seasoned Potatoes


  • Potatoes, cubed (peeled or not)
  • Seasonings (onion powder or real onions, seasoning salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, lemon pepper, paprika)
  • Margarine or Butter for cubing on potatoes
  • Casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray with lid or foil to cover
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray casserole dish. Place cubed potatoes in casserole dish.  Sprinkle with seasonings and parmesan cheese (optional).  Place small cubes of butter/margarine around on potatoes (like... less than two/three Tablespoons.)



Cover and bake for one hour or until potatoes are soft.

Serve with toppings of your choice or nothing at all.

Enjoy!

Gina







Thursday, July 18, 2013

Canning Raspberry "B" Jelly



Years ago, a good friend of mine used to tell me that she made beet jelly.  Beet jelly??  Ugh... I couldn't imagine why anyone would eat jelly made out of beets!  Years later, before I  had even tasted a real beet, another friend and I traded some of our favorite recipes.  It was something we decided to do while both of us were venting about having to cook the same old thing all of the time.  We were looking for fresh, new ideas for supper.  This friend was also the queen pickler!  She made all sorts of pickles, bread & butter pickles, garlic dill pickles, even CINNAMON pickles!  In addition to some recipes for supper ideas, Suzanne gave me this recipe for raspberry beet jelly. 

Well... this recipe is one of my favorite ever, greatest of all time, best of the best - recipes.  I know many people will scoff at the thought of jelly made with beets.  I tell you, it is delicious!  It tastes like the inside of a jelly donut.  In fact, when I make homemade yeast donuts, I fill donuts with this very jelly.  It combines the juice from cooking beets with raspberry jello, sugar, and pectin.  And it's just really, really good.

After Suzanne gave me this recipe and some beets from her garden, I made this recipe.  I also tried fresh beets for the first time in my life and fell in love with them!  They are such a beautiful vegetable.  Pickled and sweet, they are even better, and the best part about this recipe is that you only use the juice.  You can still eat and pickle the beets so nothing goes to waste.

I can honestly tell you that there are a few recipes in my soul that are the best!  I would say that my homemade Chicken & Dumplings (the recipe for which I got from the very same friend who first mentioned "beet jelly"), my recipe for Schoolhouse Rolls, a recipe for salsa that I will post when my tomatoes get ready, my Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake recipe, and this Raspberry (Beet) Jelly are among the top of my list of my best recipes ever.

When I first started making this jelly, I wrote "Raspberry B Jelly" on the jars.  My kids never knew this jelly was made with beet juice and let me tell you, I have some picky kids!

I have made this jelly with strawberry jello.  It's great, but not as great as the raspberry.  I have also made it with grape jello because my husband loves grape jelly.  But it wasn't good.  The grape jello just didn't make good jelly.  You should know that going in LOL!

If you have beets in your garden or can get your hands on some beets, MAKE THIS JELLY!  You will love it!  And if you make donuts?  Fill some with this jelly, sugar the outside of the donuts, and you will think you are in paradise!

Here's how I make Rasberry (Beet) Jelly AT HOME MY WAY:
 
Raspberry (Beet) Jelly
  • 6 cups beet juice
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 (6 ounce) package raspberry jello (or two 3-oz packages)
  • 2 packages (1 3/4 oz) pectin (not Ball Brand, only use Surejell)

Instructions:

To make the juice, boil 1/2 gallon of raw, washed beets.  Do not cut off the root or slice them in any way.  Trim beet greens (leaves) to about 1 inch.  Cover the beets in a pot of water (at least 6 cups of water).  Cover and boil 30 minutes or until skins slip off.  The pot of beets/water may swell up (double) so allow room in the pot for expansion.  Let the pot of beets/water cool.  I let mine cool overnight to really let the beets "steep" in the water and let any dredges settle on the bottom.  After they cool, or after an overnight steep, remove the beets (I use tongs), strain through a tea-towel or cheese cloth (I put my cheese cloth or the tea towel in my colander and put my colander over a big bowl for the juice).  Leave the last bit of juice in the pot because it will have the dredges/residue from the beets.  (They are grown in dirt, right?)

Measure your juice.  If you don't have enough, add water to make 6 cups and proceed.

To make jelly:

Bring beet juice and lemon juice to a hard boil with the pectin.  Stir well.  After a hard boil, stir in sugar and jello all at once (have the sugar premeasured so it is ready to go).  Bring to a good rolling boil.  Boil and stir for 6 minutes (IT WILL SWELL UP SO ALLOW ROOM).  Put in sterilized jars.  Apply sterilized rings & lids.  Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. 

It may take a few days to completely set up.  Just make sure to use SUREJELL (not the low sugar kind or anything) and not Ball brand pectin.  It never works worth a flip!




 I am sharing this recipe at Carole's Chatter
Enjoy!
 
Gina


Wednesday, July 17, 2013



I love to make homemade sandwich bread.  I like that it has a little more "bite" to it than store bought bread.  Now,.. we still buy sandwich bread.  But that's only because my husband prefers his sandwiches on super soft, super white bread.  Me?  Not so much!  I like homemade white bread, especially the original recipe found HERE that this recipe for Molasses Light Wheat Bread comes from.  But, I also LOVE wheat bread!  To make wheat bread, I vary the amounts of wheat to white flour in the bread, depending on what I'm in the mood for.  Typically in the winter I want dark, almost bitter wheat bread and I up the wheat to white flour ratio in that type of bread.

I made this loaf Sunday, on a hot day in July!  I wanted it for sandwiches (specifically, peanut butter) and for toast!  One time I suggested to my mother-in-law that I love toast made with homemade bread.  She told me that she was afraid to make toast with homemade bread because it seemed like a waste of a good, homemade loaf UNTIL SHE TRIED IT!  I don't know what it is about homemade bread that makes the best toast.  But it does!  And, it extends the life of your bread because toast doesn't care if it's made with soft bread of slightly stale bread.

I used a ratio of 1/3 wheat flour to 2/3 unbleached all purpose white flour for this loaf.  The molasses creates a deep sweetness that I just love.  This loaf was moist and if you really look at these pictures, you can see the fine crumb that is most unusual for a homemade loaf of bread.  I'm not sure why all of this happens but it does and I love it!

I make my dough in the bread machine and then plop the loaf into a sprayed bread pan, mush it around to fill the pan and let it rise. But, you can make this loaf by hand the regular way. Just try not to add too much flour if you are hand kneading because adding the flour definitely increases the likelihood that it will be more dense than light.

Here's how I make Molasses Light Wheat Bread  AT HOME MY WAY:


Molasses Light Wheat Sandwich Bread


  • 1 cup warm water (hot but no hurt - should feel like hot bath water)
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour  (unbleached is best)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions using a bread machine:

• In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure the very warm water (1 cup), gently stir in yeast and molasses. Set a timer for 10 minutes. It will start bubbling and at the end of 10 minutes, will look like a big glass of root beer with a tall soft, frothy foam on top. Add the oil, and then dump in the pan of the bread machine. 

• Next add the flours to the bread machine pan and top with the salt. (I realize your bread machine may say to do this in a different order, but do it this way and you will have a perfect loaf.)

• Set your bread machine to the dough setting.

• And the end of this cycle (when it is "ready"), then dump the dough into a sprayed loaf pan.  Gently press the loaf to spread into the loaf pan a little bit.  Spray the dough in the pan with cooking spray or cover with a damp cloth. Let rise 1 hour or until it rises up out of the loaf pan by an inch or so.  It should not be big like a baked loaf.  It will get bigger in the oven! 

• Preheat your oven completely before putting the loaf in -to 350 degrees. 

• Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. (check at 20 minutes).

• Let it sit in the pan about 5 minutes. Then, carefully (because the loaf is so soft) take it out of the pan and let it cool on a cooling rack. Let it cool completely and then slice using an electric knife or large serrated knife.  An electric knife makes the best slices!


To make this loaf by hand.

Use the same instructions above, but combine the flours & salt in a bowl.  Pour the liquid (water/yeast/molasses/oil) over the flour salt mixture stirring as much as you can, and knead for 5-7 minutes (set a timer).  Add as little flour as possible when kneading.  It shouldn't be too sticky to do that.  Place in an oiled bowl to rise in a warm place and let rise for an hour.  Then, proceed with the instructions for placing in the loaf pan, etc.


I store my bread in a zip type plastic bag for about 5 days, then I put it in the freezer and just use it as toast.



Here is a picture of some delicious toasted Molasses Light Wheat Bread slathered thickly with some of my Homemade Beet-Raspberry Jelly (recipe coming tomorrow) (You don't taste the beet juice.  It tastes like the inside of a jelly donut and I LOVE IT!  The best way to use leftover juice from garden beets!):



(I always have to have one piece with jelly and one without!)


Enjoy!

Gina

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chicago Style Pizza



This morning I planned to make homemade pizza for supper.  Well... let me back up.  Last night my husband wanted to order out pizza for supper.  We had some errands to do and just ended up eating leftovers when we got home so I decide this morning to quickly make some pizza crust so that I could make homemade pizza for tonight's supper and avoid that whole $12 pizza thing.

I made a half batch of 5 Minute A Day Dough in about 30 seconds flat this morning, stuck it in the fridge, and called her GOOD!  It's that easy and makes two pizzas for this half batch of dough.

Quicky instructions for that would be:

Measure and stir together gently:

1 1/2 cups hottish (hot but no hurt) water and added:
1 teaspoon yeast (about half a packet)

While that was dissolving, I measured  and stirred in a mixing bowl:

3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 Tablespoons salt

I dumped the yeast/water mixture over and stirred as well as I could to get it all incorporated.  Covered it with a plastic grocery sack and stuck it in the fridge.

When I got home, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, took out an iron skillet for my Chicago Style Pizza and a cookie sheet for Doug's regular pizza.

Chicago Style Pizza
 
I don't have any real experience with "Chicago Style Pizza".  I just saw it featured on The Food Network and gave it a try.  Chicago Style Pizza seems to be pizza that is inside out.  The crust goes first, then the cheese, then the toppings, the sauce, and finally some parmesan, and/or sometimes, more mozzarella.
 
Here's how I make Chicago Style Pizza AT HOME MY WAY.

dough for the crust (5 Minute a Day recipe HERE)
pizza sauce (jarred or just use tomato sauce + seasonings)
toppings:  mushrooms & pepperoni
mozzarella (I grated half a 16 oz block = about 8 ounces)
parmesan (I use the canned stuff.)
oil/cooking spray for the pans

To make the Chicago Style Pizza:

Remove the dough from the fridge and sprinkle with flour. 

Remove a little less than half of the dough from the bowl (a half batch of 5 Minute a Day Dough) and place it in a lightly greased iron skillet.  A pie pan works great as well.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Press out the dough into the sprayed/lightly greased/oiled skillet/pie pan.  If it keeps springing back, walk away and let it rest 5 minutes or so.  It will work better after a little rest.



Sprinkle the crust with grated mozzarella.




Next, add some toppings.  I used pepperoni and mushrooms.



Drizzle with sauce and carefully spread it over the toppings.



Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (I use the canned stuff.)



Bake in preheated oven (400 degrees) for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browning.  You may need to peak underneath the crust to see if it is browning.


Here's Doug's pizza, before and after. One half batch of dough made both of these pizzas.

Before baking:



and after:



We had a great supper and spent a lot less than $12!  I made both of these pizzas with a half block of 16 oz of cheese, a half jar of pizza sauce, a can of mushrooms, a small amount of a package of pepperoni, and a few sprinkles of parmesan.  Both of us agreed that this was just a DELICIOUS SUPPER and we have leftovers for lunches tomorrow (since there are only two of us). 


Enjoy!
 
Gina

Monday, July 15, 2013

Southern Summer Fare - Stewed Squash



I grew up in central Florida.  My parents moved my brother and I to Missouri in about 1979. Oh how I miss it!  In fact, lately I miss it so much that each night when I go to bed I can picture waking there and what my day would be like.  I can almost feel the warm breeze on my face and the sand beneath my bare feet.  I thought surely by this age in my life, I would be able to be there more often than I am.  But, life happens and air fare is terribly expensive lately so I wait...and I wait.. on the day that I can return and feel the lush grass in my Aunt Donna's yard, see the moss swaying in the trees, smell the sweet orange blossoms, and eat some of that wonderful, fresh food that I grew up with.  But, until I can do those things, I can cook the tastes of Florida that take me back...

I grew up eating lots of fresh vegetables, like conch peas, yellow squash, sweet corn, and I think we had sliced tomatoes with just about every meal.  I can't get conch peas here in Missouri unless we grow some and the seeds have to be shipped in.  It's not quite time yet for sweet corn here and my tomatoes are still green on the vine. Folks around here grow more zucchini  than yellow squash but as you know from reading my recent gardening posts, I have lots of yellow summer squash growing around in my garden and yard.  My mom and my sister-in-law also plant summer squash so we end up eating lots of it throughout the summer.  My mom already has a bunch!

The two ways we eat it are stewed and fried.  Today I am posting my method for making Stewed Squash.  I can't really call it a recipe, but I can tell you how I do it.  The squash turns out sweet and peppery.  I just love it!

Here's how I make Stewed Squash AT HOME MY WAY:


Stewed Squash (Yellow Summer Squash)

  • 2-3 yellow squash (crookneck or straight) (do not peel)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced & chopped in thin slices
  • water
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon bacon grease (or butter/margarine if you don't have any)

Instructions:

Wash the squash.  Do not peel or worry about the seeds.  Slice in thin slices the bulb and small section of the neck of the squash.  Once it gets too dense in the neck, throw that section away.

Place the bacon grease/margarine/butter in a skillet or small pot (that has a lid),  and cook until melted. Add the squash & onion, stir through.  Add a little water (like 1/4 to 1/2 cup), just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Salt & pepper.

Bring to a simmer, add a lid and cook, stirring occasionally.

I made a small batch of squash for supper.  Here is what mine looked like when I got started.



Cook, simmering along for 10 minutes or so.  The squash and onion will start to break down.  Keep cooking with the lid until the squash gets completely soft.


Once the squash is soft, remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, and breaking the squash into smaller pieces with your spoon, until the water cooks mostly all out.  The squash will turn to mush and become shiny as the water cooks out. 

My granny used to cook hers until it started to brown on the bottom.  That's when she knew it was done. 

At this point it doesn't look very pretty but tastes WONDERFUL.  It will be sweet and ... well... squashy!  YUM!

You should be cooking this dish 20-30 minutes at least.  It will be worth the wait, I promise!


Enjoy!
 
Gina

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Cooking and Weekend Gardening

We had a beautiful weekend here in mid Missouri!  Our pool water is a little cool from nights in the 60's and days only up in the 80's but that does make some beautiful weather for porch sitting, visiting with friends, working in the garden, and getting a little cooking done for the week.

My garden is looking great.  I have noticed a little munching damage.  I'm not sure exactly what to do.  I know I need some sort of fence but since I'm not sure if the problem is deer or rabbits, for now I just stuck my husband's radio, blasting country music out there.  We'll see if that takes care of it.

My squash are looking nice!  Hopefully this year we will get at least one precious squash from my garden.  Definitely I think some of the new things I tried are working.  I was out in my garden early Friday morning and saw some honeybees hard at work pollinating the squash!  Hurray for the girls!

This year I tried burying either gallon milk or vinegar jugs with holes poked in the bottoms/sides, or gallon sized plastic flower pots with my plants.  I fill them up with water which gives the roots of my plants a good drink instead of just running off.  It seems to be working.  Here is a picture of one of the flower pots submerged between two tomato plants (and some green tomatoes)  :) 



Here is a picture of a baby yellow zucchini!  My mom started seeds for these yellow zucchini plants.  She had too many for her own garden so she shared a couple with me.  So far so good!  Zucchini bread, here I come!


In addition to working in my garden, today I did a little baking.  We have a favorite bbq side dish that is Baked Potatoes & Onions.  Today we had them with barbecued pork steaks.  Since I had the oven on, I went ahead and baked these Easy Sugar Cookies.



And I baked a loaf of molasses/light wheat bread.  I like to have something homemade for breakfasts and lunches and this bread will make great toast and terrific peanut butter sandwiches!



I also made some stewed squash to go with my dinner.  That's one of my all time favorite summer dishes.  It's the dish that keeps me growing the ever elusive yellow summer squash.  I got this squash from my husband's uncle, who has a much greener thumb than I do.   I grew up eating LOTS and LOTS of stewed squash, and I can make a meal out of it alone.  I'll post my version of this great southern side dish this week.



Have a great week!

Gina

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