June 25, 2011

Loaf Re-Done and Better

Last week I tried this bread called Anadama Bread, a recipe from the grand cookbook How to Cook Everything. As you can see, it didn’t work out so well. It turned out to be a very dense loaf. Lately thats how most of my breads have been coming out like. In desperation to figure out what I was doing wrong, and how to make a better loaf, I turned to google.

That is where I found a wonderful website, The Fresh Loaf. What a resource! From there I learned to let your flour soak for at least an hour. That sticky dough is best, and that one of the reasons my dough wasn’t rising is because I was killing my yeast with water that was way to hot.

the above photo show’s that I am using bleached flour instead of unbleached. Thats because it was cheaper at Costco. Next time I buy flour from Costco, I am going to make sure I saved up for the better quality flour. But honestly, it hasn’t given me any problems. When the budget is tight, I’d get it again.

(nothing like a little mess to clean up)

Another thing that I learned was that during the “bulk rising” time, you should fold the dough 2 to 3 times. Which I never knew that. I also put the bowl in my oven with just the light on. The warmth helped with the rising. A few hours later, a few folds later, I put the dough in a bread pan and let rise for another 90 minutes or so. The difference was amazing!

As you can see, the first attempt (the one on the right) is way more dense. The one baked last night (to the left) looks much lighter and fluffier. And believe me, it tastes a heck of a lot better! I must say, I am kind of proud of myself. I think I am on the road to very fine homemade bread for my family. No more store bought!

June 24, 2011

WANTED: Tomato Thief


Being that I am new to blogging and have tried it before in the past and failed, I started thinking about what in the world I was going to write about first thing morning. In fact, I was thinking why blog at all. What in the world would I have to say?

Well someone took care of that for me.  Todays topic came to me at 7:45 am. That is when I went to water the small tomato plants on the front porch of our condo.

This is not the greatest photo I have ever taken, but I think it gets the point across. I do not have many tomato plants, just two. To the right of the photo what you should be seeing is one nicely reddish-orange tomato and a second one almost ripe.  They were there at 6:30 this morning when my husband went outside. At 7:45 am I went to water them, but they were GONE! Taken! Who steals a tomato from someone’s front porch? It’s not just that they took the tomatoes from us, it also that those two were the firsts of the season. We were so looking forward to eating them.

To top it all off, I ended up listening to all the crazy rants of what my husband wanted to do the person that took them. Like beat them down with some kind of stick or fists. Write a sign saying that what he will do to the person who took them and put it with the plants. Write a letter to the condo office letting them know we have a tomato thief (I think, I kind of stopped listening to him) and so on. I am not quite sure what was worse for me, the tomato being stolen or listening to my husbands rants of a tomato.

Fear not, there are more growing, heres hoping that they don’t get stolen as well. Tomatoes are so expensive, thats why I am growing my own. Maybe I should be a bag full of tomato seeds with a sign asking them to take the seeds and grow their own. Leave ours alone!

June 23, 2011

Getting Rid of Jiffy

So I am attempting to and determined to transition the food in our house to “whole” and “clean” products. Meaning I want to get rid of all processed food from our house.

So while I was cleaning out my pantry, I came across 5 boxes of Jiffy Corn Mix. I decided to get rid of it by cooking it, and from now on I will be making our cornbread from scratch. I made a spinach casserole with the mix. It was pretty yummy. My husband and I had seconds. I plan on making it again but a non-box healthier version. If you want something easy, heres the recipe.  I’ll update this post when I update this recipe.

Spinach Casserole (6-8 servings)                                                

 1pkg Jiffy corn muffin mix
1pkg (10 0z) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups chopped onion
2Tbsp margarine or butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream soup (celery, mushroom or chicken) whatever you have on hand
1tsp herb seasoning (i didn’t use)
1/2tsp garlic salt
1/4tsp pepper
swiss cheese (optional) (I used whatever I had on hand)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
Cook & drain spinach. Set aside. Saute onion in margarine or butter. Mix spinach with onion & set aside. Combine eggs, sour cream, soup, seasonings & muffin mix. Blend well & add spinach mixture. Pour into prepared casserole dish & bake 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top (optional). Return to oven until cheese is melted.


November 4, 2010

#1 Go To

I was asked about month back if I have a “go to” meal that I cook.  You know, that dish you pull out when you’ve had a long day and don’t have time or the energy to think about what to cook for dinner.  At that time I was barely coming out of my first trimester blues, and my response was that I didn’t think so.  Well, I was wrong.  I do, and last night I pulled out my “go to” dinner.  Do to the simple fact that I got my new camera yesterday and spent all my time playing, leaving no time to cook my planned dinner.

I thought I’d go ahead and share my “go to”

Honey Mustard Chicken with Broccoli

The Recipe is as follows:

Boneless Chicken Breast
1 Can Campbell’s  Cream of Chicken
1 Cup Mayo
2 Tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
1 or 2 Tbsp Honey
Jasmine White Rice

I typically cut up the chicken while I have about a tablespoon of olive oil warming in a pan on the stove.  The reason why I cut it up is so it cooks quicker.  While the chicken is cooking, in a sauce pan I put together the Honey Mustard. Add the soup, mayo, mustard, and honey.  Stir together, adjust flavor to your liking.  Sometime I add some dijon mustard to give it a different kick.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.  Serve over rice, with some fresh broccoli.

When I first started cooking this, about 10 years ago, I use to pour the sauce over the chicken and let it cook that way, but the sauce is kind of high calorie. So I started cooking it separate so that my husband and I can be more in control about how much we put on.

Its a yummy meal, that you can fancy up if you like.  Takes about 15 minutes, which is how long the rice cooks for, and done.  This is a favorite in my home, good old stand by meal.

I have other “go to’s” I am sure.  I will post them as I go.

November 3, 2010

who am i

Here is my first post for this blog. Blogging is new for me.  The most I have is a photography blog that I set up a year ago and am just now getting back to it. The concept of this blog is a learning experiment for me. A place where I can post my experiences and to see where it takes me.

A little about me:

I have been married for a year to a wonderful man.  I live in Northern Virginia. In a a two bedroom condo that needed and needs a lot of work.  Thank goodness my husband is a lovely little handy man.  So that means a lot of home spun projects.

I am a former “daycare” teacher.  I quit after the summer program this year.  The reason you ask? I am prego. Currently in my 22nd week. Now I know you’re thinking “been married only a year and already half way through a pregnancy?”. Well, we’ve only been married a year, but known each other for 4 years. We took our time and started off as friends. The best way to go in my opinion. Since we started off as friends there was no “best impression” stage to get over. I was who I was, and he was who he was.

Anyhow….. my first trimester was beyond belief.  I thought I was going to die.  I have never thrown up so much in my 32 years on this plant, like I did during the first 4 months of this pregnancy.  I heard so many lines that people consider encouraging. Which really isn’t. My favorite was “the worse your morning sickness is, the healthier the baby”.  Its the one I remember the most, probably cus of how sick I was it was the one I heard a lot. I hate lines that are fed to me just to “make me feel better”. Lip service! Give me info that is not useless.  I also heard so many “remedies” for the horrid morning sickness. Which by the way was all day long. None of them worked. One person gave me advice that I held on to.  I am going to share it with you.  “being pregnant isn’t easy. and sometime its miserable because you’re body is changing drastically. Just suck it up.  Its worth every moment when you see your baby.”  I know its not the nicest and kindest of words. You would think that there was no comfort in those words. But there was, the comfort was knowing that I’m not the only women that was miserable during what was suppose to be joyous. The other comfort was knowing that it would be worth it.  See I was so miserable that people would actually ask me if was happy that I was pregnant. I would always respond “ask me after I have the baby”.  Well, I am happy to report that my second trimester is much much better! I was so worried that the misery would last the whole nine months. One of the exciting parts of the second trimester is seeing the gender.  We’re having a boy!  Thats another thing I am grateful for. I am not sure if I am ready to handle the drama of a girl.  I barely can stand my mood swings, what if I had girly girl? We’re not going down that road, because we’re not having a girl so I don’t have to worry about it.

I believe that I have written quite enough today.  I am sure more will be learned about me as this blog continues.