Thursday, November 4, 2010

A breakfast of Champions!

This morning I woke up to my cute little daughters' faces, excitedly telling me there was a party downstairs waiting for me.  Well once I finally rolled out of bed I went down to see a lovely breakfast spread.

I'll explain, in case the picture is unclear.  A tall glass of milk, perfect for an empty stomach.  A bowl of candy, because they know I have a sweet tooth.  One whole bagel with cream cheese, one half blueberry bagel with garden vegetable hummus, and a few neatly sliced banana bits.  Mmm, mmm, yum!

They are so sweet, and offered to make breakfast for me every morning!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sweet White Bread

I love this bread!  It reminds me of something an old-fashioned grandma might make.  Sweet, warm, soft and perfect with jam and butter.  It is my husband's favorite choice for bread, and my kids prefer it to whole wheat.  It's like a treat for us.

I found the original recipe several years ago, and since then I've made it my own.

Sweet White Bread

2 c. warm water (really warm!)
2/3 cup white sugar or honey
5 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil (olive oil works great)
6 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve sugar or honey in water.

Add yeast, give it a quick stir with a whisk to get all the yeast wet.  Let that sit for 5-7 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Add salt and vegetable oil.  Stir just enough to mix.

Gradually add flour.  I start with three cups.  Mix that with a spatula, and then add my dough hook and stir on low speed adding one more cup at a time.

Knead dough about 5-7 minutes, or until it is smooth, elastic and cleans the sides of the bowl.

Remove dough hook, and gently form dough into a ball.  Add 1 tsp. oil to the bowl and roll the dough ball in it to very lightly coat it all around.

Allow dough to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a warm kitchen towel until doubled in size.

Once the dough is risen, remove it onto a floured surface.  Cut the dough in half for two loaves (I did one full sized loaf and two half sized loaves baked in an 8x8 cassarole dish.)  It is important to cut the dough rather than to tear it.  Tearing it can make the finished dough tough.

Shape your loaves by gently kneading into a tube shape, or rolling flat and then rolling it up like you would a jelly roll.  Place seam side down into a greased bread pan.  (I always use parchment paper to prevent the middle from sticking.)

Let the dough rise again until doubled.  Covering once more with plastic wrap or a cloth.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Let the top get to a medium brown, and tap on the top crust to make sure it sounds hollow before taking it out.

I sometimes like to spread honey butter over the top as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Immediately remove from pans to a cooling rack.  Let sit at least five minutes before serving, as it's best to let some of the moisture evaporate before cutting. 


Monday, November 1, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

Sick kids and a cold day made this the obvious choice for dinner on Friday.

Chicken noodle soup is pretty basic.

2 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
10 baby carrots (or three whole) cut into large chunks (we like a LOT of carrots.)
2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
2 servings (whatever it says on the box) noodles.  I prefer egg noodles, but this time I used spaghetti.
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. Poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

I boiled the chicken in 6 cups chicken broth (made from water and bullion, but you could use a can.) for 15 minutes.  I find that for soup, boiling is easiest and keeps the chicken moist and easy to shred.

Remove chicken from pot, remove fat and cut into small chunks or shred.  Return to pot.  Add the other ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 9-10 minutes or just until noodles are cooked.

Taste the broth and adjust ingredients to your liking.  I added 1 more cup of water because my broth was a little too salty.

With dinner rolls this would have been perfect.  For us it was just the soup and off to bed.