It’s hard to believe another year is drawing to a close. And of course, this is the time of year we are most sentimental with memories of holidays past, like when turkeys fly.
Here’s a guilty admission of mine. I know – “thou shall not covet,” but covet I did!! I always wanted a KitchenAid mixer, as I love to bake. Every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would dream about getting this high-speed equipment. So, I took the plunge, ordered it and viola! My long-awaited, much-anticipated mixer arrived yesterday! I spent the evening reading the manual (okay, you know I am excited when I read tech manuals!), washed it, and checked the bowl settings so I could use it today. A combo birthday/business investment, as I am wanting to write more about foods and baking, and compile a recipe book.
The performance expectation level I had was pretty high – especially for baking bread.
As long as I have wanted this mixer, I was a little hesitant to use it. I mean, I don’t want to get it all dirty. Haha! The performance expectation level was pretty high – especially for baking bread. Would it live up to all I imagined? Everyone I know who has this mixer loves it. I just had to try it out today! I wondered, “What should I make?” We still have way too many Christmas cookies to justify baking another batch. Plus, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that dough hook!
So, I decided on baking bread.
A wise choice. I wish someone would develop a plug-in app, allowing the aroma of fresh-baked bread to drift through cyberspace, coming through every PC, laptop and device…That would drive my readership up! But I digress.
Well, the KitchenAid Mixer worked like a dream! It was by far the easiest bread baking day I have ever had. I Googled a very simple bread recipe, “Basic Homemade Bread,” found on TasteofHome.com (recipe in the link and pasted below). Everything went into the big bowl, and clean-up was a breeze. I wanted to start out with something fairly easy until I got used to the mixer, but honestly, the learning curve time was not a concern.
So, with this under my belt, I can try other new and great things! Stay tuned! In the mean time, I have a photo-show of the bread-making process. If you have never tried it before, seriously, you must. Yeast breads sound very intimidating, but they aren’t. Just make sure you follow the directions and measure carefully. Whether you have a big, high-speed mixer or not, give it a shot, and tell me about your experience in the comment section!
Photo steps – recipe below!
Mix water and yeast. Add sugar, salt, oil, and about half the flour. Blend well with dough hook. Shut off mixer to scrape sides of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour – about a cup at a time. Mix well.
Turn dough onto floured surface. Kneed until smooth. If using the dough hook, you will only do this about a minute or two. If by hand, kneed longer (8-10 minutes).
The dough should look smooth like this.
Place into a greased bowl. Turn (so top is greased); cover and let rise until double.
My trick: Place dough in oven (do not turn oven on!!!), turn on oven light and place a bowl of hot water in to help the dough rise.
It should double – like this!
Dump dough out of bowl; “punch” down and let rest a minute.
Divide dough; and place in greased baking pans. Let rise until double.
Like this! Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees) for 30-40 minutes.
Remove from pans. Cool. Slice and enjoy!
Basic Homemade Bread Recipe
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 30 min. + cooling
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 2-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 6-1/4 to 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
- Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
- Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).
Originally published as Homemade Bread in The Taste of Home Cookbook 2006, p452
Bacon Tomato Tart – a match made in heaven!
A few summers ago, our garden was blessed with a beautiful bounty of tomatoes. In the spring, I had purchased a Goliath tomato plant at our local Farmer’s Market, and we couldn’t believe how enormously huge this plant grew. It was about a foot tall when we planted it, and it grew and grew – like a “tomato tree,” and was over 13 feet in height and probably four or five feet wide. We had way more than six dozen tomatoes from this plant!
So, what on earth did I do with all those tomatoes, especially when I don’t know how to can? (Gee, I wish I had learned from my grandmother!!) Well, first, we gave some away. And we had a lot of fresh slices in salads, on burgers and such. I made marina sauce as well as salsa – which was delicious! (That will be a subject for another post).
But I wanted to get really creative – and so I did. I made a Bacon Tomato Tart – and it was just wonderful. Fresh tomatoes along with freshly picked basil and oregano – yes, we grew herbs, too – made for a perfect showcase from our garden. Plus who doesn’t love bacon? There were no leftovers – even my teenagers loved it!
Pork chops were on the menu, and they would be wood-fired on the grill to perfection by the BBQ King – who, by the way, was recently overseas and “wowed” his fellow service members with his now world-famous ribs! Hail to the International BBQ King!
What will round out this delicious fall meal? Warm, homemade applesauce, simmered with cinnamon, plus freshly steamed broccoli.
The applesauce is beyond simple to make. In fact, it is so easy, you may never buy a jar of it again.
Homemade Applesauce with Cinnamon
Peel and slice 10-12 apples (I usually use macs, and these were from our local Farmer’s Market).
Give a generous sprinkle of cinnamon (don’t go overboard, as too much cinnamon can taste bitter) and add two or three generous tablespoons of brown sugar.
Bring to a gentle boil, stir, then turn heat to low and cook until thickened. (Just add water or a little apple juice if you prefer a thinner sauce.) This step will take 30-45 minutes, depending on your preference for a thick or thin sauce. At this time, take a taste so you can adjust the cinnamon and brown sugar in your applesauce.
Serve warm or cold.
That’s it – simply perfect for a simple autumn meal.
© 2012 – Lynne Cobb
Here’s the scoop. Last summer, I made my very first batch of the toasted-oat, yummy goodness. You may wonder why would I go through all that trouble when I could just walk to the store and buy a box? Well, I couldn’t justify the amount of money to pay for the commercial stuff, because, frankly, it isn’t all that good. And if you grab a box with raisins, yuck! I am not disrespecting the raisin, but let’s face it: the raisins found in a box of granola are so hard to chew, it feels like they are pulling the fillings right out of my teeth.
I glanced at a recipe that was on joyofbaking.com, which looked really simple, and I modified it to my liking.
It is so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before…
Super Awesome Granola
3 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of coconut
1 cup of sliced almonds
¼ cup of wheat germ
½ tablespoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (melted)
¼ cup of maple syrup
¼ cup of honey
1 cup of dried fruit (I usually use cherries or cranberries)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut, almonds, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt.
In a small bowl, mix together oil, syrup and honey.
Pour the liquid over dry ingredients, and mix to coat. Spread into prepared pan, and bake 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. Stir every 10-15 minutes. The more it browns, the crunchier it will be. Cool on a wire rack. It will crisp up as it dries, so break up any large clumps while mixture is warm. Add dried fruit and mix well. Place in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator.
Have you attempted to make granola before? If so, how did it turn out?
© 2012 – Lynne Cobb
“Marge, it’s 3 a.m. Shouldn’t you be baking?” – Homer Simpson
I have a huge announcement to make that will come as no big surprise…some days I just can’t get it into gear.
Like today. I have a few writing projects I was working on, which seemed to be going nowhere – and fast. And when re-reading my work, both pieces sounded flat and boring and I was getting a wee bit agitated. Staring into space, with no direction, or organization and wondering what to do next, I witnessed the laundry pile growing higher – right before my very eyes. Lugging the ever-expanding basket down the steps, I threw a load in the machine. Turning around, I glanced at the pantry shelf.
Big mistake. I turned my head. I looked away. It didn’t work. Game over. The can of sweetened condensed milk won.
I had bought it a few weeks ago to try out a recipe I clipped at out of a magazine eleven months ago. (On a sorting binge, I found it again last week!) Thinking I have adult ADHD, I raced up the steps, can in hand, and stopped everything I was doing to make granola bars. Nevermind the cleanser drying to a hard finish in the tub, or the mounds of laundry sitting, in damp eagerness, waiting for my return to the basement. Forget the sticky notes and voicemails and 17 windows open all at once on the laptop. I stopped it all and baked. I was energized and motivated and multi-tasking and modifying and measuring and making an enormous mess.
Whew! Although it looked like a tornado blew through the kitchen, apparently, I needed a creative break to re-engage my brain. It all hit me as the cinnamony-aroma of the sweet smell of success enveloped the kitchen and wafted towards me. My a-ha moment revealed that I wasn’t multi-tasking at all! I was tackling a project that I knew I could finish. It took my mind off of all my other incomplete projects, giving me the chance to feel creatively complete. While the granola bars baked, I mixed up a batch of granola, switched laundry and finished a few other mundane chores. Talk about a win-win: I benefitted from freeing my mind so that I could get back to writing; my family benefitted from a yummy snack, and you, you very lucky readers, you get to benefit from my modified recipe that turned out super scrumptious.
Let me know if you give these a try. I found the original recipe in the USA Weekend magazine. Eleven months ago.
Ooey, Gooey, Chewy Granola Bars
2 cups of rolled oats
1/4 cup of wheat germ
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
3/4 cup of dried cranberries (or dried fruit of your choice)
1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
(Note: 1 cup of almonds were part of the original recipe)
Adjust oven rack to a lower-middle position and pre-heat oven to 325. Grease a 9″ square pan (I used an 8″ pan and baked a little longer.) I then lined the pan with greased foil (so I could use foil to lift bars from pan) and set pan aside.
Mix all ingredients (except cinnamon sugar) and pat down into prepared, foil-lined pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake about 30 minutes (35-40 if using 8″ pan). Cool to room temperature, then place pan into freezer until firm.
To cut easier, I placed a piece of parchment paper on my wooden cutting board, removed foil and using a sharp knife, carefully cut into 8 bars. You can make them smaller, but I have teenagers and they don’t care much for “fun size” goodies 🙂
I wrapped them individually, but you can store them in an air-tight container. They should last a week without refrigeration or freezing, but I am betting my stash will be gone in three days.
© 2012 – Lynne Cobb
This past Monday, June 25, 2012 would have been my dad’s 77th birthday. For the most part, I had a pretty good day. Of course, I had my moments of sadness. But the weather here was picture-perfect – “his” kind of weather. It is hard to be gloomy inside when it is so pretty outside. Plus, it was cool enough to comfortably make comfort food at the end of June 🙂
And that’s what I did. I made fried chicken for dinner. But I had no dessert in the house. So I made some awesome cookies. The sweet aroma filled the house. To brag on them, I posted a picture on Facebook. Requests for the recipe began. You now know the story behind my creation.
Let me know if you make these. They were a huge hit in my house!
“Jazzed-up” Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from cooks.com)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups of firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup of milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
3 cups of oats – uncooked
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of dried cranberries
Melted chocolate for drizzle (optional – recipe below)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper OR lightly grease the baking sheets.
Combine butter, brown sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed. Slowly blend in oats.
Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared sheets, about 2″ apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and let stand for three or four minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Drizzle with chocolate if desired.
Makes between 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them.
Chocolate drizzle can be made by melting chocolate chips or my making this super-easy chocolate sauce. Use this sauce over desserts, ice cream, in iced-coffee, etc. I found it on a blog that has great recipes. Check it out: httpsss://modernchristianwoman.com/
Homemade Chocolate Sauce
1 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of water
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Stir constantly! Let cool. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Store for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator – if it lasts that long!
© 2012 – Lynne Cobb