Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fabulous French Bread

Thanks to Brandy @ Gluesticks for this one!

Time Needed: 2 1/2 hours
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 4=5 cups flour, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon butterDirections: Combine water, yeast, and sugar and let the mixture get creamy. Depending on your yeast, it'll take between 2-10 minutes. Meanwhile, but the oil, salt and 2 cups of flour in your mixer and mix to combine. When it's done, add your yeast mixture and mix again. Then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have enough flour that when it is mixed together, the dough pulls away from the sides. The original recipe called for 4 cups of flour, but it took about 5 cups for my dough to get to that stage. Oh, bread dough! You're so picky! Put in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let ruse until doubled, about 1 hour. (I just let it rise in the mixing bowl because I didn't want to dirty another bowl). Punch down and shape into a loaf or, if you'd rather, small loaves or rolls. If you do a loaf, you'll get one large one. If you do rolls, you should get 16 cuties. Regardless, shape your dough as desired and place on a greased baking sheet. Don't put this anywhere else or you'll regret it later! Cover with the damp towel again and let rise 40 minutes, or until doubled again. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine egg and water and brush over the top of the dough - this will give it a crispy brown crust (yay for egg washes). Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove, and use the butter to brush the top of the bread. I used an entire tablespoon, and I'd highly recommend that because it was fabulous, but you can use less if you'd like. This gives the bread a great flavor in the crust and a pretty sheen as well. If you can stand it, let it cool and then dive in. But if you can't, slice away. Oooh baby, is it amazing or what! Seriously, I'm gonna be making this all the time now!

Just for laughs

This week, I decided to embark on some loaves of my half and half bread. However, I had to go to an appointmentment and couldn't finish the bread. Enter the husband. I called him and gave him strict instructions on how to finish the bread, including the fact that it should be done rising exactly when he got home from work. Well, when he got home, he came home to the dough all done rising for him...We both got a good laugh, and he made some great loaves after cleaning up this little mess.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Apartment Gardening

The hubs and I live in an apartment. This is great for a lot of things, but kind of hard in other ways. However, I'm finding ways around the hard parts and enjoying not having to worry about it if the dishwasher breaks or if the sink leaks.

Today is the first full day of spring (it officially turned spring yesterday at 7:21 pm, if you were wondering), so I had to celebrate. While getting a few things at Target, I ran past the gardening section. I mean, why not? So I don't have a yard? There are ways around that! I bought a few plants in small planters and I bought one big planter and went to work. A few weeks ago, I bought strawberries, green peppers, and tomatoes, and they've been plodding along in my apartment near the window. The time had come to move them outside, and this had me inspired. Why not plant more? I mean, it's cheap, easy to keep up, and so rewarding. Have you ever eaten something straight off the vine? Beyond amazingly delicious and so worth the wait. So here's what I added: green onions, white onions, chives, cilantro, parsley, red bell peppers, and just because, zinnias and a garden flower mix. I can't wait for my balcony to overflow with goodies for the eyes and for the tummy. Let me show you what it all looks like. However, you'll have to forgive the water spots on the ground. I may have tripped over the water pitcher and spilled a little. Go fig.Here's all the beauties, lined up in a cute row.
The large window planter has my pre-sprouted tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. This is also where my green and white onions will live.
This planter set used to house parsley, oregano, and cilantro. There are a few dead ones on top from last year, but this is where my flower garden will grow. Besides, a few dead leaves that I didn't have the energy to remove won't hurt anything.This year's cilantro plant is in of these cute little pots until it gets going. Same with the zinnias and red peppers. I'll put them in a planter like the big yellow one when they get themselves all sprouted.
As is indicated by the markings on the porcelain pots, this is my chive and parsley collection. How cute are these? And they're the perfect size to be brought in when it's time to utilize them.

As a young girl, my dad was insistent that we have a garden every year. I thought this was weird. What kind of hard working attorney with 5 obnoxious kids has time for a garden? Well, the older I got, the more I came to appreciate this. We grew and sold raspberries by the crate, we canned our own tomatoes, salsa, fruit, beans, corn, etc. We grew our own potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, peas, pumpkins, cucumbers, and about a zillion other things. It was a bit of a time investment to plant all of that business and to keep it watered in the not-so-cooperative Idaho climate, but to be able to rely on ourselves was pretty awesome. And to eat something that was totally 100% because of your efforts was amazing. I'm excited to get to do that in my own little way this year. Go, balcony garden, go!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I made this tonight for the hubs and his friend and they totally devoured it. Props to my mom for the delicious recipe!

Time Needed: 30 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 1 C. chopped onion, ½ chopped green pepper, 2 T. butter, 2 C. shredded cooked chicken, 1 4oz can chopped green chilies, 1 ½ C. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 3 T. butter, ¼ C. flour,1 tsp. coriander pepper, salt to taste, 2 ½ C. chicken broth, 1 C. sour cream, 12-6” flour tortillas
Directions: In a large saucepan, cook onion and green pepper in 2 T. butter until tender. Combine with chicken and green chilies and set aside. For sauce, melt butter, stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Stir in broth and cook until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and ½ c. cheese. Stir ½ c. sauce into chicken mixture. Fill tortillas with meat and arrange in 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour sauce over tortillas and sprinkle remainder of cheese. Bake uncovered for 25” at 350°.

Homemade Lemonade (times two)

I've got two recipes for you.

Recipe #1: Homemade Lemonade (original recipe found here)
Time Needed: 10 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 2 cups sugar, 1 cup hot water, 2 cups fresh lemon juice, 1 gallon cold water

Directions: In a 1 gallon container, place sugar and hot water, and stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and cold water to render 1 gallon. Stir until well mixed. Pour lemonade over glasses of ice.

Recipe #2: Homemade Sparkling Lemonade (original found here)

Time Needed: 1 hour (or so)
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 10 large lemons, zested and squeezed, 1 1/2 c sugar, 1 1/2 c hot water, 4 c club soda, iceDirections: Juice your lemons and gather enough zest for 1 teaspoonful. Add this, the juice, hot water, and sugar into an airtight jar and shake the heck out of it until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When serving, fill a pitcher full of ice and pour the lemonade and club soda over the top.

Bonus idea: Shave some ice, form it into balls, and add that to your glass of lemonade. Yummy yummy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Adopt A Soldier project

At our Relief Society birthday party, we gathered items for an adopt-a-soldier project we've undertaken. This is the picture I took of the stuff we had before the event started:
And unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the after, but this table and three others were overflowing. My heart was touched at the sweet sisters and their willingness to serve those around them and those who need them. Want more information about how you can help? Leave me a comment with your contact info and I'll let you know!

Happy Birthday, Relief Society

We threw a fabulous Relief Society birthday party this week. And, of course, the crafting and baking came to fruition and I took some pictures to blog about.

The cake I made:
The cupcakes I made:The fruit, veggie, and cheese trays that the beautiful women put together:
The hummus and pita chips (droooooool):

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blueberry Buckle

Time Needed: 1 hour
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 1 t lemon juice, 1/3 c milk, 1/4 c butter, 3/4 c sugar, 1 egg, 1 t lemon extract, 1 1/2 c flour, 2 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 2 c blueberries, 2 T butter, 1/4 c sugar, 1 T lemon juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 450. Stir lemon juice and milk together and set aside. Stir together butter, sugar, egg, and lemon extract. Then add milk mixture, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just moist. Gently stir in blueberries. Transfer to a greased 8x8 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake tests done. Spread glaze (recipe below) over the top of the cake and bake another 5 minutes. Watch carefully to ensure it doesn't bubble over. For the glaze, combine the extra butter, sugar, and lemon juice and microwave just until melted and smooth.

Don't be scared by all the glaze still left in the corners of the pan in this picture. This was snapped right after I pulled it from the oven. In another 2 minutes, the glaze had been absorbed.

Thanks, Tiare, for this wonderful family favorite from your home. It'll be added as a favorite in ours as well. And thanks, Richard, for requesting it!

Baby A's gifts

I'm not going to "how to" this one unless someone leaves me comments wanting to know how I did what I did. Anyway... here's what I made Baby A.

All three of these have the same material: yellow on one side and pink on the other. All three are also quilted with batting in between each layer. What you will not see is the beanie I crocheted her. It was my first beanie and it was... well.. at least the thread stayed together! It was not pretty, but I sent it anyway... more as a joke, and to give the cat something to play with.

This cute bib will hopefully keep the drool and spit up in some kind of designated area.This little burp cloth also holds the same destiny, except it won't be tied to her while being used.I hope this quilt helps keep her nice and snuggly and, if I get my way, it'll become her favorite blankie.
Look at her, using the blanket. Aww! What a sweetie! You can tell from the look on her face how much she appreciates it... and loves being awake. :) I gave her the onesie as well, but I let someone else make that one. After all, a girl can only hand make so many goodies for her cute niece in one night to send in a surprise package!