Thursday, June 20, 2013


Continuing with my foray into yeast breads, I made some fantastic burger buns last weekend!  I used this recipe for "Light Brioche Burger Buns" as my starting point, and well, I just have to say . . . brioche buns are where it's AT.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly as written, of course -- is anyone else, like me, incapable of doing that?  :)  I made the following changes:

1. subbed 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour for the white bread flour
2. melted the butter and added it to the liquid ingredients, instead of rubbing it into the flour
3. used buttermilk instead of milk

and I would make the following change in the future:

4. using 3 ounces of dough (instead of 4) per bun, yielding more, smaller buns

(I tend to find that, in general, more, smaller yields out of single-serving bread products works better for me.  Does anyone else find that most bagels, English muffins, rolls, buns, etc. are too large?)

Since we enjoy a lot of veggie burgers at our house, (they are an easy make-ahead meal, as I can make the base over the weekend and fry up a couple of patties for dinner on our busy weeknights, and because John loves them,) I see these buns becoming a mainstay in my freezer.


I've recently pulled back from blogging even more -- have you noticed?  I'm not exactly sure why, except that I don't feel like I have much new to say these days.  I still enjoy cooking as much as ever, and still take pictures of my meals, I just post them to Facebook lately.  Please "friend" me if you want to see what we've been eating!  (And growing!  Our garden is expansive this year -- so much fun!)  I'll still blog occasionally when I feel like I have something new and exciting to share, and I may return to blogging more frequently again in the future, but for now, I'm scaling back.  :)  See you!

Monday, June 10, 2013

the dough also rises

Ha, ha.  Pardon my ridiculous title -- let's just say I've been baking up awesome yeast breads lately!

Yesterday, I made Whole-Wheat English Muffins!  My second time with this recipe was a definite success -- like anything, the more you practice, the better/faster/more efficient you get.  While English muffins are slightly fussy, they are totally worth the extra time and effort in the kitchen.  Far more delicious than store-bought muffins and full of nutritious ingredients you select, at a fraction of the cost!

Step 1: Prepare dough

If you are familiar with how to make pizza crust or any other type of yeast bread, you can easily make English muffin dough.  It is a basic whole-wheat dough, using a blend of whole-wheat and all-purpose flours, enriched with milk, a little honey, and a little melted butter.  P.S. I don't have a big stand mixer, so I do my kneading by hand, which has always worked fine for me.

Step 2: Shape and allow to rise again

The biggest change I've made from the recipe as written has been shaping my English muffins using slightly smaller portions -- I have good success with 3 oz dough per muffin, (yes, I use my scale,) which makes 15 or 16 muffins from the linked recipe, instead of 12.

Step 3: Skillet-browning

The recipe mentions that the two characteristics of an English muffin that make them unique are the dusting of cornmeal, and the turn in the skillet.  Possibly the most time-consuming part of the process, (cooking 5 minutes per side,) this takes a bit if you don't have a large griddle to cook a whole baking sheet-full at once.  I will likely return to using my griddle next time, although I always love using my cast-iron frying pan.

Step 4: Bake!

This recipe suggests a final trip into a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes; my muffins seemed more done after 10 minutes.  They were a little crowded on the baking sheets, and I think my oven runs cool, so that definitely explains it.

Have you ever made English muffins?  What did you think?  I have a feeling these will become a standard piece of my baking repertoire, especially since they freeze beautifully, too.

Here are a few other things I've baked and cooked this weekend:

Buttermilk Scones

An incredibly simple, delicious recipe, using just enough butter for richness without becoming heavy, these scones seem infinitely adaptable, and will be a frequent repeat at our house.  I added some dried cranberries this time; chocolate chips and almonds for sure next time!

Irish Oatmeal Bread

My go-to sandwich bread, I decided to bake up a couple of loaves this weekend, while I had the flour and yeast out for the English muffins, and stock up my freezer with healthy, homemade, whole-grain carbs.

One of our favorite dinners - Quiche!

I rolled out a homemade pie crust and filled it with the above recipe, adding about 2 cups finely chopped fresh spinach.  John and I both love quiche, and it makes such a great, light meal -- perfect leftovers for work lunches, too!

And last but not least, tempeh reubens:

Storebought rye bread, thousand island dressing, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and "Seasoned Tempeh," from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  A mighty fine sandwich for a cool, rainy Sunday!

And, I better run . . . Monday morning always creeps up on ya, doesn't it?  Hope you had a good weekend, too!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

California Pita

Recently, I purchased a copy of New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant.  At the time of purchase, I solely wanted it for the recipe for "Tart Lemon Tart" (and let me tell you, that tart is worth the price of a paperback cookbook all by itself,) but I have been pleasantly surprised by the other recipes I've tried so far.

Like tonight's dinner, "California Pitas" --

Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, sliced cheese, alfalfa sprouts, and sliced black olives stuffed into a pita, drizzled with "Vinaigrette," also from the cookbook (and containing our first "harvest" of the season -- a few chives!)  I was quite pleased with the entire sandwich, and John commented that the vinaigrette was especially tasty.

I don't much care for sandwiches, I think in large part, because I never know what to put in them.  I'm so excited for this little pita sandwich section in this cookbook, however, as there are twelve other sandwiches for us to try!  Sandwiches do make a nice, light little meal on a busy weeknight (EVERY weeknight at our house these days,) or for a weekend lunch break during a day of much gardening.  I think these recipes will also come in handy if summer ever comes, as we will eventually tire of salads and buddha bowls when it's too hot to cook.  :)

What are some of your favorite sandwiches?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

happy birthday to me!

It was a short week, with little cooking, I guess!  Perhaps we have been eating out too much lately?  :)

(I suppose that's not entirely a bad thing?)

Homemade pizza and roasted asparagus:

The front pizza is topped with olive oil, mozzarella, feta, artichokes, kalamata olives, and dried tomatoes; the back pizza is topped with caramelized onions, asiago, mozzarella, and three different kinds of mushrooms!  The mushroom pizza was definitely the hit -- I give credit to the caramelized onions.  They add an amazingness to meals, don't they?

Pancake breakfast!

I made buttermilk pancakes with half whole-wheat pastry flour, half chickpea flour.  Delicious, albeit a little "beany," (they benefited from a little extra syrup, is all.)  I need to figure out my buttermilk to flour ratio a little more, as my buttermilk pancakes tend to spread too much and be a little too tender (i.e. nearly impossible to flip in one piece.)  Ah, pancakes just aren't my specialty, I guess!  I'll stick to waffles.

My "birthday dinner!"

Yes, we had veggie dogs, coleslaw, baked beans, and veggies for my birthday dinner!  We were supposed to go camping this weekend, (hence, the veggie dogs,) but then with the nearly constant threat of severe thunderstorms, we decided to postpone.  Veggie dogs don't taste quite as good at home, but were still pretty tasty.  I used Liz's coleslaw dressing recipe, adding pepper and poppyseeds, and tossing it with shredded cabbage, carrot, and sliced green onions.  John doesn't like coleslaw!  Oh well. More for me.  :)


I've enjoyed having the last two days off from work for "birthday fun" -- and we'll keep it up through the weekend!