Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great Granola Breakfast Bread




Click here for the recipe.


I have made some awesome yeast bread…without any kneading. I think that’s what makes it so wonderful. I actually forgot about the bread dough during the first rise and it still turned out very well. AWESOME. It was a freebie teaser recipe from Amazon.com, excerpted from the bread-making book, Kneadlessly Simple. So the concept of the book is to show one how to make a variety of yeast breads without any kneading whatsoever. It’s true. And the method is ridiculously easy and does not require any elbow grease. The key ingredient is time, a lot of it—15-18 hours at the least. No worries, most of that time the bread is sitting forgotten on the kitchen counter. In regular yeast bread recipes, kneading is the technique used to develop the gluten in the bread. The amount of yeast needed, about 1- 2 tsp (or about the size of a packet of yeast), is required to "assist" the kneading in order to develop the gluten content of the bread. In a knead-less bread, the amount of yeast use is drastically reduced, in this case only ¼ tsp. That is because gluten can also develop naturally, given enough time. And if you are familiar with sourdough breads and sourdough bread starters…well, that’s a similar idea. The first rise is done at room temperature over 12 hours.

The look of a knead-less bread dough is quite different from regular yeasted breads…it is a lot wetter. In fact, it looks more like a batter. This dough is stirred to mix it up…so no fancy equipment is required for the prep work either. Some would beg to differ that a regular yeasted bread requires no fancy equipment either…I use a food processor to mix and knead my regular bread doughs because a) I am a weakling and b) the food processor is just plain faster.

The second rise is much quicker…just 2-3 hours. Then preheat the oven and I had a very pretty and awesome-smelling loaf of bread about 1 ½ hours later. It tastes wonderful. I’ve been eating a plain slice for breakfast all week long and it’s filling. I bet it would also taste good with a bit of jam or butter, or both. I also think it would make great French toast.

Just about the only change I would make would be to use regular flour to dust the pan and NOT add the finely crushed granola to the top of the loaf. The granola on all sides of the loaf created a royal mess when I sliced the loaf…it was falling off with each cut. I am also wondering if I can get away with using regular rolled oats instead of the granola…and perhaps add a bit more sugar to compensate.

There’s actually another free recipe from the book, Easy Buttermilk Pot Bread, that I would’ve made but I don’t have a dutch oven. There are actually several free “kneadless” bread recipes available on the internet, but they all require an oven safe vessel and a lid that can withstand very hot temps (about 425 F). Unfortunately, I don’t own any oven safe lids. I am seriously considering picking one up at a yard sale/second hand store!

Here’s a list of the free knead-less bread recipes/videos I found:
New York Times: No Knead Bread
Breadtopia No Knead Breadmaking
Making No Knead Bread At Home
The Fresh Loaf

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sloppy Joes

Click here for the recipe.

There's no picture of this one, sorry,...forgot to snap one before I ate it all up.

Sloppy joes remind me of childhood cafeteria lunches…browned ground beef swimming in a sweet red sauce, the whole thing oozing out of a hamburger bun. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to put what is essentially a sweetened spaghetti meat sauce into an edible container with no sides, but there it was. I never liked those school sloppy joes…they were too sweet for my taste. In fact, I don’t like many sweet or sweet/sour main dishes. I have a big fancy for savory meals.

I came across this recipe in my email, looking for a way to use some ground turkey that was hanging out in the freezer. Seeing this recipe made me want to revisit the whole sloppy joe idea. Or actually, try them again to see if I would like them. It had the advantage of being a fairly simple recipe, since I went out of the town last weekend and I didn’t have time for making anything involved. I only had to buy a green bell pepper and brown sugar. On a side note, I’ve always found it curious when a recipe calls for a ¼ of a bell pepper or 2 tsp of fresh herbs…what do people do with the rest of the produce? I don’t have a green thumb, despite multiple attempts at growing herbs at home and even one disastrous attempt at growing bell peppers at home. Probably has to do with the fact that I only remember to water plants about once a week. This week since I only used ¼ cup of the chopped fresh green bell pepper, which by the way, is about 5% of the bell pepper that I bought, I roughly chopped the rest and froze it. There will be some stew or casserole that would benefit from it. I also tossed 98% of a leftover cilantro bunch into the food processor, kind of pureed it, and then froze it in an ice cube tray. Again, some stew or soup will be able to use that cilantro puree eventually.

So the ingredient list, or rather, my grocery shopping list, was short and the directions are good and straight to the point. Winner on both counts. The prep time is fairly short…maybe 15 minutes to chop the pepper and onions. I actually diced the veggies instead of the “chop” as indicated in the directions. This would help the veggies blend into the ground meat. As it turns out, I didn’t have enough ketchup…only ½ cup. It was enough. I didn’t use the brown sugar at all…I forgot to add it to the sauce but I think it would have made the sauce too sweet if I did put it in there. My final change was to use superfine dried ground yellow mustard powder instead of the prepared yellow mustard. I used a bit less, maybe ¼-1/2 tsp, as I wasn’t sure what the conversion was for dried yellow mustard vs. prepared. I probably could have used the full teaspoon as I couldn’t detect any mustard when I tasted the sauce. Cook time is also blessedly short. And the meat sauce turned out well; it’s actually better the next day.

While this is a good recipe that I do recommend, I don’t think I’ll make it again. It’s my distaste for sweet-tasting meals. I love, LOVE desserts and sweets but just not in my main meals.

Next week I'm writing about a yeast bread that requires no kneading...it's very easy and I hope that it tastes as good as it looks. I'll tell you all about it in a week.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spinach and Egg-White Breakfast Roll up




Does that win the prize for longest title…somewhere? I originally thought to call it a breakfast burrito, but given its simplicity, I thought that a burrito didn’t really fit. “Roll-up” sounded just right.

I got the idea from the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook. They have some great recipes in there for all three meals of the day, snacks, and even desserts. Most of the breakfast recipes rely on egg whites…this particular one calls for three egg whites per serving. The first time I made this roll-up, I separated a dozen eggs and saving the uncooked yolks for later use but that created a whole stash of egg yolks that were just hanging out in the fridge for…something. Most recipes that call for just egg yolks are none too healthy. I was craving a savory breakfast this week, saw this one and WANTED it. So I just bought a large carton of Egg Beaters. (Wal-mart unfortunately does not carry a store-brand on this…bummer.) The egg beaters were expensive…as I knew they would be. I did find some interesting recipes for egg substitutes, most of them use tofu that are chopped to resemble scrambled eggs. One recipe from Fat Free Vegan kitchen has you throw silken tofu into a blender to “liquefy” it. I’m curious enough to try it someday. The only problem with that vegan recipe is that it calls for stuff I don’t already have in my pantry…nutritional yeast, for one. I’ve heard of it but good gracious, I’m not sure where to get that in my small town. It doesn’t sound like regular yeast would be a good substitution, either. Also, tahini…I think it’s a perishable product and unfortunately, I’ve only ever seen it sold in pint-sized cans. I’ll have to do some research to see if it freezes well. The only other use for tahini that I know of is hummus…and I don’t make that very often. I actually make mine from a mix…I think it tastes better…my “scratch-made” hummus never comes out as smoothly as the restaurant-style.

The first time I made this, I cooked the spinach leaves together with the eggs and a bit of left over blue cheese in the interest of time. I also made my own home-made whole wheat flour tortillas, which was a fun experiment. Click here to see a picture of the tortillas. I made a huge batch of the scrambled egg mixture and attempted to eat it for breakfast the rest of the week. I think I made it two or three days…the rest of the week, I essentially skipped breakfast. The combination of the cooked spinach with the egg just wasn’t that good…I would take two bites and then just leave the rest. Of course, I was starving and cranky by the time lunch came around. This time, I left all of the ingredients separate and combined them as I was constructing the roll-up. MUCH BETTER. The crunch of the spinach contrasted nicely with the soft texture of the eggs. And the dash of the Parmesan cheese added a nice salty-savory counterpoint. And it was all packaged very neatly in the tortilla wrap. In all, it’s a nice, low cal, low fat, low cholesterol breakfast. There’s so much fiber and protein in the wrap that it was pretty filling. Even though it’s less than 200 calories as written in the cookbook, I was able to make it to lunchtime every day this past week without feeling like my stomach was going to leave my body and go foraging for food.

Kim's Spinach Egg White Breakfast Roll-up

Makes 5 roll-ups

3 3/4 cups egg whites (about 15 eggs)
salt and pepper to taste
5 whole wheat flour tortillas, about 95% fat free, and at least 7-8 inches across.
1 1/4 cups spinach leaves, stems removed. Washed and dried.
5-8 tsp of grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Spray with olive oil to coat. Pour in the egg whites and season to taste with salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs. Cook to desired done-ness.

2. Place one tortilla on a plate. Put about 1/4 cup of the spinach leaves in a line down the center of the tortilla. Place about 3/4 cup of scrambled egg white on top of the spinach. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of grated Parmesan cheese as the final layer. Fold the tortilla burrito style and enjoy!

Note: Refrigerate the leftovers, except for the tortilla wraps. You can assemble the whole thing and microwave it for about 30 seconds to warm it up a bit. I found that microwaving for a full minute cooked and wilted the spinach too much for my taste..the wilted spinach detracted from the overall taste and yumminess of the roll-up.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 219.5
Total Fat 4.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Cholesterol 1.3 mg
Sodium 435.9 mg
Potassium 269.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 28.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 20.2 g

Note: The above nutrition facts were calculated without the "salt and pepper to taste."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Garlic Salmon

Click here to see the recipe at Allrecipes.com.

I was craving savory meals this week after a disastrous attempt to cook rice pilaf in the slow cooker earlier this week. It was a mushy, bland mess. I am happy to report that the Garlic Salmon was a success! It smells fantastic and tastes great. It was easy and I used canned salmon to make it more affordable.

Canned whole salmon is surprisingly tasty. I was first introduced to it last summer by a friend, when we were making a Vietnamese salmon soup for 8 people. It’s fairly low in sodium (about 11% total daily value per serving) and it is pre-cooked. You can even save the bones and eat them “raw” for some extra calcium. I like to remove the spine at least and as many of the little bones as I can…I never get all of them but that’s okay, since the bones are softened from the canning process anyway…there’s no painful crunch when I’ve accidentally bitten into a bone! The canned version worked very well in this dish, although it’s not as pretty as salmon fillets….but I think my version of the dish is still presentable for guests. Using the pre-cooked salmon also shortens the cook and prep time considerably. I’d say this dish took less than an hour to prepare from start to finish. A good asset for a weekday meal!

Changes that I made: 1) Canned salmon for the fresh salmon fillets, I removed the bones as above and kind of separated the salmon into large chunks so that they would cover the bottom of an 8x8 baking pan. I like eating fish skin so I kept that, some people like to remove it because it can look…unusual. 2) dried dill weed, about ¼-1/2 tsp, I just sprinkled the dried herb over the salmon until it looked like there was enough! And 3) I used an ungreased 8x8 baking pan and covered it with foil. I cooked it in the over for 15 minutes, just long enough for the herbs and lemon to heat through and release their aromatics.

I am still looking for my camera…hopefully it will turn up when I clean my house!

Grocery receipt for this week:

1) Egg whites, $3.50
2) Pink Salmon (canned salmon), $2 x 2
3) Store brand vanilla soymilk, $2.56
4) Cilantro, $0.58/bunch
5) Yellow onion, $0.48, ($0.88/lb)
6) Bagged Dole Spinach, $2.38
7) Bulk garlic, $0.28, ($2/lb)
8) Bagged green onion, $1.18
9) Bagged celery, $1.46
10) Cauliflower, $2.66
11) Broccoli crowns, $0.89, ($1.68/lb)
12) Limes, $0.25/each
13) Tortillas, whole wheat, 96% fat free, $2.52
14) DumDum lollipops, 1 lb bag, $2.50

Total: $26.20. Yes, I went a bit over this week because of the DumDums, but I used some extra money to pay for them...they're actually for work, so they don't really count towards the grocery bill.