Artisan Bread

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I got this fantastic bread recipe at a food storage cooking class about using your stored wheat.  The teacher ground whole wheat and used it in the bread.  It was so delicious I couldn't pass up the offer to take some dough home with me and try to make the bread myself.  Since then I have made these delicious little loaves several times and have even given them away to neighbors and friends.  The bread is very easy to make, it just takes some pre-thought and preparation throughout the day. It goes well with soups or chili or just to snack on throughout the day with a little bread and jam.

Makes: 4 small loaves
Start-to-Finish: 3.5 hours (most of this is letting the dough rise or cook, not active prep time)
Recipe By: Cathy Turner


3 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 TBSP yeast
6 1/2 cups flour (some white, some whole wheat)
... later you will need: additional flour for kneading and dusting, cornmeal, 2 cups boiling water


1.  Mix all ingredients in Kitchen Aid mixer using your hook attachment.
2.  When combined place in a large bowl with a loose fitting lid or cover loosely with Saran wrap.
3.  Let sit on the counter for 2 hours (or, if you are not planning on making the bread today, put it in the fridge.)
4.  Cut out a grapefruit size piece of dough (1/4 of the dough) and place on a floured surface. (Use lots of flour, dough will be sticky.)
5. Knead a couple of times and let sit for 20 minutes in a warm place on a slide with cornmeal or 40 - 60 minutes if it has been in the fridge. (Mine took about double this time to rise because my house was cold.) (What is a slide? Anything you can slide the dough off from one surface to another without requiring you to pick it up and risk the rising dough to fall. The cornmeal will keep it the dough from sticking to the slide. Just give it some forward motion and watch it fly.)
6.  Heat oven to 400* with your bread stone already inside. (I don't have a bread stone so I used an upside down standard cookie sheet and it worked just fine for me.)
7.  Add 2 cups of boiling water to a pan on the lower shelf of the oven.
8.  Slide the dough onto the hot bread stone in the oven. (Here is where you use that forward motion.)
9.  Bake for 30 minutes.
10.  The dough will get a little more sour tasting each day you let it sit in the fridge. It is too sour by day ten.

Maple Pecan Cheesecake

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Combine a pumpkin pie, a pecan pie and a cheesecake. Three desserts in one bring a face lift to old classics.  This is one dessert with ALL the flavors of holidays in one delicious bite.

Serves: 20
Start-to-Finish: 6 hours 35 minutes ( 5 hours cool off and chill)
Recipe By: Anne Thornton


1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (approx 12 graham crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 (8-oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
3 eggs, at room temperature for 30 minutes
1/4 cup pure grade B maple syrup (Grade B comes from the color and flavor, not the quality of the syrup.  It simply means it was harvested later in the year so it has a deeper brown color and more earthy flavor.)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Maple Pecan Glaze:
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup pure grade B maple syrup
3/4 cup chopped pecans


1.  Preheat the oven to 325*.

For the cheesecake:
2.  Finely crush the graham crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or use a food processor.
3.  In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.
4.  Firmly press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of 9-inch springform pan. (You don't need to come up the sides.)
5.  In a mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.
5.  Gradually mix in the sweetened condensed milk until smooth.
6.  Add the pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, mix well.
7.  Pour into the springform pan.
8.  Bake until the center appears nearly set, but jiggles a little when shaken, 1 hour and 15 minutes.
9.  Cool for 1 hour.
10. When cooled, cover and chill overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

For the glaze:
11. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the whipping cream and pure maple syrup.
12. Boil until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
13. Stir in the chopped pecans.
14. Cover and chill until time to serve.
15.  To serve, spoon the glaze over the cheesecake. (I had a LOT of trouble removing the cheesecake from the spring-form pan. My crust was stuck fast to the side of the pan, so really make sure you run your plastic knife along the edges until the sides can break away cleanly or else it will tear the cheesecake.  Mine tore in half; I pushed it back together and covered the tear with the glaze and no one knew :)

Herb-Garlic Beef Roast

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When I first saw this recipe I thought the picture made the dish look mouthwatering but the refrigerated, cooked beef scared me. So I tucked the recipe away in my files and subsequently forgot about it.  Then the holiday season snuck up on me and suddenly I had more things to do than was physically possible in a 24-hour day so I pulled out my recipe files and only looked for the meals that could be made in less than 30 minutes with lots of shortcuts and cheats. This recipe popped back up and I was much more willing to give it a chance. I am really glad I did because it was delicious and I learned some things about  pre-cooked, refrigerated meats. First off, the brand you buy strongly dictates whether the meat will be appetizing or not. Secondly, you get what you pay for as far as cuts and quality of meat.  And lastly, if you have done your homework right, you can buy some very clean and delicious pre-cooked and packaged meat right from your grocery store which are perfect for cutting time off your dinner preparation.

Serves: 4
Start-to-Finish: 30 minutes
Recipe By: Better Homes and Gardens Magazine


1 (17-oz) pkg refrigerated cooked beef roast au jus (I bought HEB brand and was happy with the clean cut and freshness of the meat)
2 medium red potatoes
2 medium carrots
1 medium sweet potatoes (add more veggies if you want to stretch this meal)
1 TBSP cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 TBSP chopped fresh Italian parsley (flat-leaf not curly leaf)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP finely shredded lemon peel


1. In large skillet cook beef roast, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes.
2.  Uncover and simmer for 5 minutes more, until juices are slightly reduced.
3.  Meanwhile, peel and cut your vegetables into 3/4 inch pieces. (The more uniform the size of the pieces the more uniform the cooking).
4.  Place vegetables in microwave-safe dish.
5.  Drizzle with cooking oil and sprinkle with pepper; toss to coat.
6.  Tightly cover with lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until tender. (I have also made this dish where I roasted the vegetables on a foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven for 20 minutes at 400; but it adds 10 minutes to the total time of the recipe so it depends on your time constraints.)
7.  For herb-garlic mixture, in a small bowl combine parsley, garlic, and lemon peel.
8.  To serve, stir vegetables into skillet with beef and juices and sprinkle with herb-garlic mixture.

Triple Mango Chicken

Friday, December 3, 2010

The flavors from the mango add a delicious tropical sweetness that is tempured by the eathy flavors from the zucchini. It is wonderful and savory but best of all it really only takes 20 minutes start to finish to get this meal on the table.  I was so happy and impressed with the results we licked the pan clean the first time I made it and put it for the menu for the following week to serve double. At only 274 calories per serving this is a delicious dinner option you can feel good about, the only problem is ... it's hard to stop at just one serving.

Serves: 4 servings
Start-to-Finish: 20 minutes
Recipe By: Better Homes and Gardens Magazine


1 TBSP olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 mango, seeded, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup mango-blend fruit drink or mango nectar
1/4 cup mango chutney
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise


1.  In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat.
2.  Add chicken to the pan and cook 6 minutes until one side gets golden edges; turn.
3.  Add mango cubes, mango drink, and mango chutney.
4.  Cook 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
5.  Meanwhile, slice zucchini and place in microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup of water.
6.  Cover with vented plastic wrap.
7.  Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 3 minutes, stirring once; drain.
8.  To serve, place chicken on top zucchini. Season with salt and crushed red pepper.

Frozen Frog Eggs

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kiwi is a fruit that normally scares my kids. It is brown, fuzzy, sour, and green with LOTS of seeds. I couldn't get them to even consider eating kiwi. So I was steeling myself for the very really possibility that I would be making all these swampy treats for no one but myself to eat. However, I was pleasantly surprised when Van insisted on trying the "froggie ice creams" as soon as I start making the batch, and cried when he learned they had to freeze for 4 hours before he could eat them. (4 hours is forever in little boy terms.) Not only did he try one, but both my boys finished all these pops within TWO days of making the batch and couldn't wait to lick their frogs out of the icy confines.

Serves: 8
Start-to-Finish: 20 minutes + 4 hours freezing
Recipe By: Family Fun Magazine


3 kiwi fruit
1 1/4 cup of limeade
1 tablespoon of honey
8 (3-oz) paper cups
Popsicle sticks
plastic frogs


1. Place plastic frogs upside-down in the bottom of the cups.
2. Fill the cups in with a small amount of water, just to cover the body of the frog (it doesn't need to completely cover the frogs, when it freezes you really only need to see the top of the frog to get the effect we are trying to achieve)
3. Place cups into a Pyrex baking dish and freeze for 10 minutes, or until water has frozen
4. Meanwhile, peel and cut 2 kiwi fruits into chunks.
5. Blend the fruit chunks with limeade and honey until the mixture is somewhat smooth.
6. Remove the frozen frogs from the freezer.
7. Slice the last kiwi fruit into eight thin pieces and place them over the bottom of the frozen frogs in the cups (when you flip the Popsicle over it should look like the frogs are resting on kiwi lily pads).
8. Pour the blended mixture into the cups.
9. Place the cups back in the Pyrex baking dish and cover them with foil.
10. Insert a popsicle stick through the foil and into each cup (the foil will hold the sticks in place).
11. Freeze the pops until solid, about 4 hours.
12. When you're ready to remove the pops from their molds, you can loosen them by briefly dipping the bottoms of the cups in warm water.

Fruit Salad Jack-o'-Lanterns

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just like an orange bell pepper can look like a carved pumpkin so can an orange.  I am beginning to wonder if everything orange can be carved with a jack-o'-lantern face a pass for a pumkin. Watch out orange tomatos, you're next.  This smiling orange bowl can be used to hold almost anything from veggie salad, to jello, to icecream but today I am making them into fruit cups for a healthy snack.

Serves: 4
Start-to-Finish: 30 minutes
Recipe By: Amber Brunson


4 oranges
2 bananas
8 strawberries
1/2 cup grapes


1. Cut off top of orange, Do not discard top
2. Using a spoon, hollow out the inside of the oranges (do not discard orange pulp)
3. Cut a jack-o'-lantern face into the side of the orange
4. Cut up fruit into bite size pieces
5. Cut up orange pulp and add to the fruit
6. Mix together fruit
7. Spoon cut up fruit into the orange bowls

Spider Snacks

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spider snacks are fun and simple. They require almost no time at all to put together and you can subsitute many of the ingredients for things you already have on hand and still get a fun treat.  The Ritz crackers can be any round cracker, the peanut butter can be cream cheese or frosting, the spider legs can be chow mein noodles (they make the legs really wiggle which I like, but my kids wont eat them yet), and the eyes can be raisins for a healthier treat.  With all these options there is no reason you can't whip these little spooky cuties up this very afternoon.

Serves: 4 (2 spider snacks each)
Start-to-Finish: 15 minutes
Recipe By: Taste of Home Magazine


16 Ritz crackers
64 stick pretzels
1/2 cup peanut butter
decoration for eyes (marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, M&Ms, chocolate morsels, raisins, etc...)


1.  Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on all the Ritz crackers.
2.  Set pretzels in 8 of the Ritz cracker to look like spider legs.
3.  Top the pretzel crackers with the non-pretzel crackers to make a sandwich.
4.  Decorate with marshmallows and mini chocolate chips to make eyes (You can use peanut butter to hold them in place)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

This recipe looked so simple and obvious, but don't be fooled like I was. It took me three bags of white chocolate to finally get a working ghost. What was the problem?  I was burning the chocolate. White chocolate is MUCH more fickle than milk or dark chocolate. It can get overheated fast and seize up on you. Also, if your bananas start to de-thaw before you get the chocolate on them the chocolate will just slide around instead of sticking. Some recipes are really easy and recommend them to all levels of cooks out there. This is not one.  If you are not confident with your white chocolate skills be warned, this recipe will probably drive you crazy.

Serves: 4 (1/2 banana each)
Start-to-Finish:15 minutes + 3 hours freeze time
Recipe By: Family Fun Magazine


2 bananas
1 1/4 cup white chocolate morsels
4 Popsicle sticks
milk chocolate morsels and mini milk chocolate morsels for decorating the eyes and mouth


1.  Cut the bananas in half (don't not peel yet)
2.  Insert Popsicle sticks half-way into the bananas.
3.  Peel skins off the bananas.
4.  Freeze for at least 3 hours.
5.  Meanwhile, put white chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl.
6.  Microwave on medium heat for 1 minute, stirring every 15 to 30 seconds.
7.  When white chocolate morsels are melted, take bananas out of freezer and spread on the white chocolate using a knife or spoon (the white chocolate will begin to harden as soon as it touches the frozen banana so work quickly and smooth your lines as you go).
8.  Add milk chocolate morsels for eyes and mouth.
9.  Keep frozen until ready to eat

This is what your chocolate will look like if it has overheated and seized.  It is lumpy, gritty, and in general a total nuisance. I found it helpful to microwave on a lower power, stir every 15-30 seconds, and take the bowl out of the microwave when stirring so the bowl had a chance to cool off before continuing to melt the chocolate. Also, avoid using a wooden spoon to keep any moisture out of the chocolate; water will cause chocolate to seize.

Pretzel Skeleton

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A fun activity and an after school snack. This skeleton is made with assorted pretzel shapes that you little ones can build over a skeleton picture. This activity is simple enough for even very young children to understand and older children can learn the names of different bones in the body. Serve this fun activity alongside a bowl of peanut butter or nacho cheese for dipping and let your kids create a spooky Halloween friend. If your grocery store isn't carrying the pretzel shapes you are looking for, this activity can also be done with assorted cracker shapes or noodles, so don't be discouraged.

Serves: 1
Start-to-Finish: 5 minutes
Recipe By: Amber Brunson


1 bag of assorted pretzel shapes (round, sticks, twist, rods, pieces, snaps, etc..)
skeleton bones picture (either print one free from the internet here and here or draw your own)
optional: peanut butter, melted chocolate, nacho cheese, or ranch dressing for dipping


1. Print out a skeleton bones picture. (One for each child)
2. Using the shaped pretzel create a pretzel skeleton over the picture of the skeleton bones.
3. Eat the pretzels either plain or dipped in your favorite sauce.

The Skeleton Dance: this is an adorable video from YouTube. Appropriate for children of all ages. Very cute song about the bones of the body.

Creepers Peepers

Friday, October 8, 2010

Even as a kid, I was fascinated by Jello Jigglers. They are just so much fun and I LOVE that they hold a shape. Van is the perfect age for these treats (3 years) he calls them "jig-lies" and he will play with them forever. He will make the shapes dance and wiggle. He will toss them up and watch them jiggle in the air. He is enthralled by their playfulness. He does make a complete mess of himself though and I will often have to wash him in the sink when he is done eating. If you don't like the consistancy of Jello Jigglers or don't have the extra gelatin packets on hand, this Halloween creation can be made with the classic Jello preparation as well. This dish was made with sugar-free Jello so it was a snack I could feel good about feeding my boys.

Serves: 4 (1 cup servings)
Start-to-Finish: 15 minutes + refrigeration
Recipe By:


12 oz jello gelatin (4 small packages or 2 large packages)
2 1/2 cups boiling water
whipping cream
8 blueberries


1.  In a small saucepan, boil water.
2.  Add boiling water to gelatin powder.
3.  Stir for 3 minutes, or until powder is completely dissloved.
4.  Pour into a 9 x 13 glass pan.
5.  Refrigerate for 3 hours.
6.  To unmold, dip bottom of glass pan in warm water for 15 seconds to release.
7.  Cut jello into shapes or squares.
8.  Serve in a bowl with whipping cream and blueberries for eyes.