Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Ok so maybe shape-wise these don’t look so great, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere.  Before these, I didn’t even think homemade English muffins were an option.  Not really sure why, I have made tons of other bread products over the years, but when Thomas’ makes them as tasty as they do, why mess with it?  But you know me, I’ve gotta see for myself…

Well, other than a little time for this dough to rest, these were SO easy.  Like for real.  Mix up the dough, let it sit for an hour or two.  Scoop them into a pan to brown for a few minutes on each side, then transfer them to a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 more minutes.  Before you know it you have some really delicious muffins.  And I know exactly what ingredients I put in them – nothing fake or preserved about them.  Now that’s my kind of nooks and crannies.

The dinner version - topped with pesto and mozzarella.
And for breakfast - toasted with peanut butter.

Here are the ingredients and a link to play-by-play instructions:

2 ¼ tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
⅓ cup warm water (between 100º-110ºF)
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt, room temperature (I used nonfat)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ tsp honey (Optional)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthur Flour, of course!)
½ tsp baking soda
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling on the baking sheet

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crockpot Roast Chicken

I’ve been craving a good home-cooked, home-style meal.  These gray days just make me want to turn on Netflix, get under a blanket and eat something warm and comforting.  Enter the Crockpot – a little work with a bigger return.  This time, I put an entire chicken in it and wow, it was literally falling off the bone when it was done.  Now this isn’t your beautiful, golden, crispy skinned chicken – this one is all about tenderness and flavor, and it delivers on both.

While a big pile of mashed potatoes would have been amazing with this, I opted for a slightly healthier, lower-carb option – mashed cauliflower.  I cut up an entire head and steamed it.  Admittedly, I did include one Yukon Gold potato, just to help with the texture – I mean come on, try as I might, that cauliflower is not going to turn out like potatoes do.  At any rate, when it was all tender, I followed the same process that you do with potatoes – a little butter, a splash of milk, some salt & pepper, and in this case some garlic powder….quite tasty if I do say so myself!  Tasty enough to fool my stomach (this time at least).  It’s definitely worth a try, if you haven’t already done it.

But back to the chicken.  It’s pretty simple – you cook up some onions, garlic and tomato paste, add a few other flavor components, then pour it all into the Crockpot.  Place the chicken on top and let it go.  The recipe calls for cooking it for 4-6 hours.  I went with 5, and I think I easily could have cut off at least 30 minutes, but it will depend on the size of your chicken as well as your Crockpot.   Get ready to enjoy the amazing aroma that will soon fill your house.

Here’s the recipe:

By the way, this says to skim the fat from the cooking juices, then strain it and serve with the chicken.  I went ahead and cooked it down with a little flour to make it more of a gravy than juice.  I highly recommend that method.

And if what you’re looking for is that crispy-skinned version, look no further than this one – Oh. My. Yum:    The Bitten Word

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tortilla Time

Quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, sandwich wraps, fresh chips, soup toppers – so many uses for tortillas.  You can even sprinkle them with some cinnamon and sugar and bake them into a crispy treat.  But have you ever looked at the ingredient listing on those store-bought tortillas?  Even the 100% whole wheat ones, which are presumably better for you?  Well, I saw a few recipes for homemade tortillas online, and knowing I had some in my fridge already, I came home and checked the info on the back….sure enough, about 15 ingredients, more than half of which I was clueless about.  These have 5.  That’s it –the store-bought ones went into the trash immediately.

One afternoon when I had some free time, I decided to give them a go.  The recipe said they took about 45 minutes start to finish, but come on…that couldn’t be right.  I’m glad to say it was.  Just a few ingredients tossed together and kneaded a few times, divided and rolled out into rounds, then fried in a dry pan for about 30 seconds on each side and donezo!  Seriously - that simple.  This recipe makes a dozen.  If you like them a little thicker, you can always cut it down to 9 or 10, or if you’re going for tacos, make them smaller and get up to 15-16….another bonus to making your own. 

Anyway, here’s the process and what I did with mine.  It included some making some fun cuudles (my word…think zucchini noodles (zoodles), but with cucumber!) with my new kitchen gadget, and obviously talking like Ned Flanders while cranking them out… cuudly doodly!  Don’t be jealous.  ;)

Roll out to about 9"
Fry in a dry pan
Cuudles!  Just ignore that weird flaccid cucumber core....

3 cups All-Purpose or White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted (or canola/olive oil)
1 cup warm water

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan and set aside.
  2. Add the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix completely. 
  3. Pour the water and melted oil over the flour mixture and stir gently until everything comes together in a ball.
  4. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, then divide into even pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into a ball and cover to let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. After resting, roll each ball out to your desired thickness (these will only puff ever so slightly when you cook them).
  7. Cook each tortilla in a dry pan over medium-high heat for about 30-45 seconds on each side, just until some light brown bubbles start to form.
  8. Set aside on a plate, and stack them as each finishes cooking to keep them warm.
  9. Use immediately, or wrap them individually and store in the fridge for a few days, or the freezer for a few weeks.
Turkey Roll-Ups - I seasoned some cream cheese to use as the spread - yum!

Note – I have an alternative recipe that adds some chopped spinach to the flour mixture.  That version is mixed in the food processor for even distribution.  I’ll be trying those soon!

Recipe adapted from: Homemade Tortillas