Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homemade (mostly) white bread!

Well, readers, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I had never made white bread, ever — before today, that is.

Consulting my Betty Crocker cookbook this morning, I came across a generic version of this White Bread Recipe and decided to try my hand at making it. I used up about 3/4 of a cup of whole wheat bread flour, which is why I'm stating that these are mostly white bread loaves.

The result is fantastic. I had no idea that fresh-baked white bread tasted so different from the commercial kind. The texture is completely different too. While I find commercial white bread overly sweet and dense, homemade produces a lighter crumb with a slightly more yeasty, less sugary flavour. Also, I used (trans-fat free) shortening to brush the loaves with, rather than margarine, and that made the crust delicately crispy — it's surprisingly my favourite part of the loaf!

Now, if only there were some way to get access to some buffalo mozzarella, I'd be in grilled cheese Heaven.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet, sweet success

I modified this recipe to create some dairy-free cinnamon buns! I substituted vegan margarine in place of butter in all instances. Instead of using milk, I heated Natura unsweetened soy milk to the required temperature and followed user ANDYTAMI's directions for making these rolls without using a bread machine:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Then pick up with rolling out the dough.
I also followed user JENNIFER WOODARD's suggestion to flip the buns over once they've been baked, to allow the cinnamon filling to drip back into the folds.

Finally, my last modification to the recipe was to use Betty Crocker Whipped Cream Cheese icing (which, bizarrely, "May contain milk ingredients" — a surefire sign that the recipe doesn't actually contain dairy). I would have made my own with my favourite soy cream cheese, but I'm finding that the fetus has a strong aversion to soy products. The small amount of soy milk I used in place of milk shouldn't be enough to cause a bad reaction.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meatloaf and smashed potatoes

I had developed a collection of odds and ends in the fridge which needed to be used up, and lent themselves to a meatloaf. The recipe follows, and — due to the fact that it's made up of odds and ends — almost all quantities are approximate:
  • 2 pounds regular ground beef
    which I bought so I could use everything else up

  • 1/3 cup of salsa
    the rest of the jar went into my stuffed bell peppers

  • 1 tbsp. of ketchup
    this was the last of the bottle

  • 1/2 jar of shitake mushroom tapenade
    which I opened for use as a sandwich spread

  • 1 cup kamut bread crumbs
    the majority of these went into the potato stuffing I made for the Christmas turkey

  • 2 eggs

  • 7 cloves of fresh, organic minced garlic
    I'm going to have to use the rest of the jar of cloves up by mid-February

  • 1 tbsp. of granulated, roasted garlic seasoning

  • sea salt

The smashed potatoes are made with baby yellow potatoes, vegan margarine and sea salt.

I've also made up a batch of brownies, tweaking the recipe this time by using twice as much vanilla, adding about 1-1/2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal and replacing the confectioner's sugar with Coco Natura's coconut sweetener.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stuffed bell peppers

Made with green bell peppers, organic brown basmati rice, organic ground beef, organic garlic, sea salt, Herbamare Provencale seasoning, organic mushrooms, tomato, and salsa. Cooked in a oven-safe glass loaf pan in the toaster oven that mom and dad gave Matt and me for Christmas.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Yesterday's brunch

A homemade frittata with organic eggs, prosciutto, sautéed onion, sautéed mushrooms and oven-roasted asparagus. I also had two potato pancakes and a navel orange.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Homemade pizza!

Today I decided to undertake what I believe to be my first-ever pizza dough recipe. Yes, really. I usually use pre-made crusts or interesting breads as the base for my pizza toppings, only once making a focaccia from scratch and being displeased with the final result (too tough). This time, I adapted the recipe from Wolfgang Puck which Chef John posted on his website. Instead of using a full 3 cups of all-purpose flour, I substituted in 1/2 cup of organic whole wheat bread flour, then made up the remaining 2-1/2 cups of flour in organic, unbleached all-purpose flour. I also used sea salt, not kosher salt.

Once the dough was ready (with 3 portions left in the fridge for future pizza-making endeavours!), I followed with my standard pizza bread toppings: fresh mushrooms, tomatoes and crumbled bacon.

For the record, Chef John's assessment of the dough is correct. It's got a nice chewy tenderness. I'm definitely looking forward to using up the rest of it!


Saturday, January 02, 2010

A year in review

Happy New Year!

2009 was turbulent to say the least, but not bad overall. I managed to hold down "steady" employment for 11 months, took a week off for a trip to Cuba, moved into a new home and got knocked up.

The job situation for 2010 is looking pretty quiet, but I'm only going to be active in the freelance community for a maximum of four months before I start maternity leave any way.

The townhouse is definitely still in "in progress" condition, but things are coming along. I can't wait until the closets are finally organized.

Of course, the biggest expectation for 2010 has to do with the expected addition to the family. I can hardly wait to meet the li'l squirt in April!

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