Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Soaked Whole Wheat English Muffins

English Muffins are one of those things I've been wanting to attempt for years now. I've probably got a dozen or so recipes pinned on Pinterest alone. But you know what it took to get me to make these? My oven breaking. Yeah. My oven was broken for 10 days. See, we live in a rental house out here in NC, and instead of having a handy dandy maintenance crew on-site 24/7 like we've had in the past, we get to go through the manager for everything. We've had a few things break in the 3 1/2 months we've been here, but this by far took the longest to be fixed. It's actually kind of a cool God thing, and I for sure want to share that with you another time. But for now, we're talking bread. 

The night before my oven broke, I had chicken broth simmering,
muffin batter, pizza dough, and bread dough all soaking. 
Back to the story... The night before my oven broke, I was channeling my inner Susie Homemaker. I had chicken broth simmering on the stove, whole wheat oatmeal muffin batter soaking on the counter, whole wheat bread soaking on the counter, and whole wheat pizza dough soaking on the counter. My husband had been gone for about a week, and I wanted to have fresh bread for the weekend, as well as muffins for breakfast and pizza for dinner the night he got home. That was all fine and dandy until what sounded like firecrackers went off in my oven, and the bottom element caught on fire about half way through baking my muffins. Shoot. I was able to finish baking the muffins with the residual heat in the oven, and we had grilled pizza for the first time ever, and oh my gosh it was amazing! But my poor, poor bread dough... I had to toss it. Which was super annoying, but whatever. So for 10 days, I've been plotting what kinds of things I would bake when my oven made it's triumphant return. Bread of course, because that's something I really enjoy not buying. Mostly because we can't get Dave's Killer Bread out here, and no other organic bread compares. It's a travesty, please believe me. Anyway, one day I stumbled across this soaked whole wheat English muffin recipe, and I just knew it was meant to happen. 

The process could not be more simple for making these. You mix the flour, water, and acid (I used apple cider vinegar) together and let it sit, covered, overnight. Then in the morning, you mix in yeast, salt and baking powder. Let it sit for 2 hours. Dump it onto a very well-floured baking sheet and form 8-11 english muffins. Then you heat up a pan (I used cast iron) and brown each little bun until it's toasty on both sides. Transfer back to the baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes. That's it. The most time consuming part is waiting for the next steps. But beyond that, it'll take you MAYBE 15-20 minutes of hands on time total.

These are hands down the best English muffins I've ever had, that includes the non-whole wheat counterparts. SO SO SO SO SO good. I used a fork to cut mine open so they have that signature craggy texture, and I'm gonna freeze them and just pop them into the toaster as needed. Today, as soon as they came out of the oven I made a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. It was Applegate Farms bacon, Kerrygold cheese, and an organic egg. I was feeling really fancy for a minute. That is until my toddler son knocked his cup and the floor and told me he needed more, "grapies". He's cute. I shall keep him. Anyway, promise me you'll try these! You won't be sorry. Check out the original post on the Elliot Homestead for more pictures.

You will need: 
 – 3 cups of whole wheat flour (organic, freshly milled is best)
 – 1 3/4 cup of raw milk (I used 1c water, 3/4c whole milk)
 – 2 tablespoons of vinegar or acid medium of choice (I prefer vinegar since it doesn’t impart any taste but lemon juice is great, too)
 – 2 tablespoons rapadura or natural cane sugar

Step One: Combine the flour, milk, vinegar, and rapadura. It will be the consistency of a thick batter. Cover and let sit for 12-24 hours.

Step Two: After the soaking period, add in the following: 
 – 3 teaspoons yeast
 – 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
 – 2 teaspoons sea salt

Mix, recover, and allow the batter to sit for another 2 hours.

Step Three: Generously flour a baking sheet.  Generously, people. These muffins can get sticky.  

Then, generously flour your hands.

Then, punch down the dough and knead it slightly, adding a teensy bit more flour if you need to keep it from being too gooey.

Gently divide the dough into 8-11 ‘muffins’. I find it best to simply work each muffin a bit in my hands with a wee bit of flour to get it to the correct shape. Don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth or perfectly shaped. It’s not going to matter in the end.

Let them sit for 20 minutes and recover from the massage you just gave them.

Step Four: Heat up a cast iron skillet (or skillet of choice) on medium-low heat. Gently transfer a few muffins at a time to the pan. It can be hard to move them, they’re sort of gooey. But just be gentle, work with your floured fingertips, and you’ll do fine. If it’s super funky by the time it gets into the pan, just reshape it a bit with your fingertips. And be careful to not overcrowd them in the pan. They will puff up and expand as they cook. 

The goal in this step is NOT to cook the muffins completely, but rather to brown the outsides. So give them about two-three minutes per side and then transfer them back onto the floured baking sheet.

Don’t worry about the dough in the middle. We’ll bake that out.

Repeat the browning stage with all the muffins. This should take just ten or fifteen minutes.

Step Five: Bake the muffins in a preheated 325 degree oven until they are cooked thoroughly (about another ten to fifteen minutes is all). You’ll know when they’re ready because your kitchen will begin to smell like heaven.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Homemade "Spaghettios"

Spaghettios. Yep, I'm talking Chef Boyarde processed stuff in a can. Raise your hand if you had this growing up. Raise your hand if you've eaten this as an adult. I see you out there. I actually didn't like the regular Spaghettios when I was a kid, but I did like the Spaghettios with Meatballs. I think it helped mask the sweet tomato sauce taste. Anyway, last Spring I was looking for some new lunchtime recipes for my kids. I found this one on Pinterest. Shocking, I know! The ingredient list was very simple, with ingredients that I usually have on hand anyway. Another bonus? It freezes beautifully! 

These Spaghettios actually don't taste like Spaghettios, they taste SO MUCH BETTER!!! The sauce is tomato-ey but buttery and cheesy and alltogether amazing. I eat my fair share of these when I make them for the kids. I recommend doubling the recipe so you can freeze some for another time. I like to use these little 4oz mason jars, so they are individual portions all ready to go. When I make these now, I use small whole wheat elbow pasta and it works out great. So if you're a closet Spaghettio eater, or if you're like me and could use a new kid friendly meal idea, definitely give these a try!

DIY Homemade Spaghettio’s from Seeded at the Table
Yield: 4-6 adult servings, 6-8 child servings

8 oz ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, to al dente (about 10 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saute' pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar and butter. Heat, while stirring, until the butter is melted. Slowly stir in the milk, then turn the heat to low. Simmer at low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir the shredded cheese into the soup until melted. Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour as much of the tomato sauce into the pasta as desired; stir to combine. (I don't like mine extremely soupy, so usually have about 1/3 cup of the sauce leftover.)


Looking for the convenience factor? Double the batch and freeze the rest for later. Heat on the stove top or in the microwave when you're ready for that quick lunch or dinner!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Brand New Meal Plan! October 20-26th

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and I very much hope you've been looking forward to this meal plan! This is actually the same meal plan my family and I are eating this week too, although I'm a few days ahead of you. I've tried almost every one of these recipes, aside from the Carrot Zucchini Spiced Muffins, and the Ham and Cheddar Chowder. And now, onto a few explanations of the meal plan.

This meal plan typically feeds a family of four, so adjust the recipes to fit accordingly. We like leftovers for lunch, so some weeks there won't be any lunchtime recipes, just leftovers with a sandwich or something. That's just how we roll. If I've made any changes to a recipe, I'll explain in the following paragraph. I'll also let you know which recipes freeze well! Since it's just the four of us, I like to take a casserole that normally bakes in a 9X13 dish, and split it into two 8X8 dishes and freeze one for a later time. The breakfasts will usually feed our family twice, that's why I only put four recipes up.

Notes for This Week's Recipes:
  • Both oatmeal recipes for this week will reheat wonderfully with a little extra milk or water added.
  • The Vanilla Coconut Granola will leave you with plenty of leftovers, so use some for next week. It also makes a great snack all on it's own or as a hearty bowl of cereal. My kids like it with raisins added in. 
  • I used 8-10 bone in chicken thighs for the Mustard Roasted Chicken. Worked out great! Use whatever bone-in chicken you like, or whatever is on sale this week. I also forgot to pick up lemons for the lemon zest so I left it out. And I used fresh rosemary instead of thyme. Turned out amazing!
  • The Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake is so yummy! However, when I made it once before it was pretty watery - closer to a stew than a casserole. So you may want to consider using less enchilada sauce. It wasn't bad with a soupy consistency, I just wanted to let you know so you can adjust the recipe if you'd like.
  • Ok, so Tater Tot Casserole... I love comfort food! I just do, and this is my favorite. I make my own cream of whatever soup instead of store bought, and it has an entire pound of vegetables in it, so I actually feel really good about serving this to my family. Plus, both of my kids (almost 2 and almost 4) gobble it up!
  • I'm going to cut the recipe for Ham and Cheddar Chowder in half because it makes 8 servings, and I didn't need that much. Although she says that it freezes wonderfully!
  • The Meatballs and Spaghetti are the best I've ever had. My daughter LOVES these. Although the sauce seems really simple, it's out of this world amazing. I didn't use a Chianti in the sauce, I used a Cabernet Sauvignon because it's also a red and I already had some on hand. We ate this one night, my husband took some to work for lunch, then I froze the rest. So now we'll have another night of spaghetti and meatballs, or we can do meatball sandwiches. YUM.
  • These Chicken Nuggets aren't just for kids! You won't believe how good these are!! Double the amount of chicken (you'll have enough coatings) and freeze some for later. 
  • The recipe for Whole Wheat Pizza dough makes enough for two pizzas. You can make one for that night, and freeze the other! She gives instructions on how and when in the process to freeze. You can also make one pizza, then make pizza pockets out of the other dough and freeze them. Just cut the dough into pieces, roll into a circle, add your sauce, cheese and toppings. The fold it over to make a crescent and pinch the seams down with a fork. Bake with your pizza, then freeze for another time. 

Vanilla Coconut Granola with Yogurt and fruit

Sandwiches with Applegate Farms Ham

Crispy Mustard Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli
Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake (using leftover Mustard Chicken)
Whole Wheat Pizza, carrots, celery, cucumbers with dip

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Greetings from North Carolina

It's amazing how much life can change in a relatively short amount of time, isn't it? The last blog post I wrote was a month before my son was born. He's going to turn two in five months. I had fully intended on keeping up with the blog after he was born, and even had a few drafts written to prepare. I had fully intended on being super mom, and not skipping a beat after having my second child. But you know that quote, "We make plans and God laughs"? Yeah. Well God has taught me a lot in the time that I've been absent here on the blog. I'm learning to become a better wife, mom and friend. I'm learning about this crazy thing called balance, and how good necessary it is. God has opened my eyes to some wrong thoughts I was holding onto, and showed me some areas of my life I needed to change. I'm still working on things, and perhaps I will share more about that another day.

Needless to say, a lot has happened! My kids are almost two and almost four. We've dealt with some heartbreaking family issues. My Mom passed away, and a month later my family and I moved across the country. Washington to North Carolina. And we drove. With two small kids. It wasn't that bad, actually.

I feel like I've grown a lot after having gone through one of the toughest years of my life. But one thing I know about going through rough times, is that we can help others by sharing our testimony. So, I may share some personal things from time to time on the blog. Along with yummy recipes and some cool crafty things of course! I just want to be real with you guys. I don't think we have enough of that going on in the age of social media. I don't have it all together, and don't want to act like I do. I'd rather be transparent, and honest, and be able to encourage someone else in some way. Because I bet you can relate to a someone who is not the perfect parent, has laundry piled up, made PB&J for lunch AGAIN, has missed a few days of her Bible reading, let the kids watch TV all day, and maybe spent too much time on Pinterest that morning. Well, that's me :) I'm not content to stay where I am, but I also don't always hit the mark. And you know what? That's ok.

So I'm back. Glad to be back. Hopefully you'll see posts 1-3 times per week to start. If there's any recipes or crafts you'd like to see, comment below and let me know! I missed you guys.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Freezable Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

I found this recipe on Pinterest a couple of months ago. It was love at first sight. Enchiladas packed with chicken, onion, peppers and cheese covered in a creamy avocado sauce... Who wouldn't swoon? I did, and I made this within a few days of finding the recipe.

I'll tell you this, these are some of the most unique and delicious enchiladas I've ever had. They are packed full of flavor, and don't take very long to prepare. We enjoyed these with homemade re-fried beans and Spanish rice.

The recipe made 12 enchiladas, so I split them into two 8X8 dishes and froze one. You'll definitely want to give these a try, and don't be afraid to double the recipe so you can freeze some yourself.

Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

Enchilada Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled diced
2 poblano peppers, stemmed and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
12 taco sized flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie works best) (I used leftover pulled pork)
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
optional garnish: fresh cilantro, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese

Avocado Cream Sauce Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of one lime

First make the avocado cream sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the flour, whisking until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the broth into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, cumin, salt, garlic powder and pepper, whisking if necessary to remove any lumps. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender or food processor. Add avocados, cilantro and lime juice, and pulse until smooth and well-blended. (Be very careful blending hot liquids — the heat will expand! So be sure to remove the lid occasionally so that the heat can escape.) Season with additional salt or pepper if needed.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, poblano and jalapeno, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions are cooked and translucent. Remove from heat.

To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a tablespoon or two of the avocado sauce down the middle of the tortilla. Then layer on some of the vegetable mixture, shredded chicken and cheese. Carefully roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Drizzle the top with about half of the remaining avocado cream sauce, then cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tortillas are heated through and begin to harden.

Remove from the oven, then serve individual enchiladas drizzled with the remainder of the avocado cream sauce. You can also garnish with additional cilantro, cheese, and/or sour cream.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Homemade Wonton Cups

Don't you love wontons? I do! You can make egg rolls, pot stickers, gyoza, raviolis, the list goes on! This recipe turns them into crisp little cups that become a vessel for any filling of your choice! In the picture you see, I stuffed mine with a baby lettuce salad tossed in a mango vinaigrette. But really, there are countless ways you can fill these little guys up. Caesar salad, chicken salad, crab salad, tuna salad, cream cheese and chutney, salsa and guacamole, bean dip, taco fillings, whipped cream and berries, smoked salmon with cream cheese and cucumbers, spinach and artichoke dip, so on and so forth...  

You can make these a day or so ahead of time, just make sure you keep them stored in an air tight container away from moisture. I like to salt my wonton cups, but if you want to stuff them with something sweet you may want to nix the salt. These are great for a party, especially for a football game! Imagine the possibilities for fillings! These are super fun to serve, and everyone loves them. You're sure to be the hostess with the mostess when you make them! 

Wonton Cups

12 wonton wrappers
Cooking spray
Filling of your choice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Spray the wonton wrappers with oil, and place each wrapper into a section of a muffin tin. Gently press each wrapper into the tin and arrange so that it forms a cup shape. The wrapper will overlap itself and stick up out of the cup. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove from the tin and allow wrappers to cool.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vanilla Coconut Granola

I've been making this granola since Summer time and it's now my husband's favorite breakfast cereal. I found this recipe on 100 Days of Real Food a few months ago, and the combination of ingredients sounded delicious! She uses cashews, sliced almonds, raw sunflower seeds and raw pumpkin seeds, oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, butter and honey (I've used agave and real maple syrup instead of honey). There's a lot of things I love about this recipe, but one great thing is that a relatively small serving is more than satisfying! Also, there isn't an overload of sugar in it. Do you know how much sugar is in normal store-bought cereal? I'd say 90% of the time it's one of the first three ingredients, and since ingredients are listed in order of greatest amount to least, that means there's more sugar than you probably realized in your morning bowl. This next factoid might not surprise you, but this is also cheaper to make than it would be to buy. Especially if you buy your nuts, seeds and spices in the bulk section of your grocery store. I encourage you to find a grocery store that has a bulk section, especially for recipes like this where you only need 1/2-1c of nuts, or a small amount of a spice you may not normally use. You'll pay pennies for spices, and maybe a dollar or so for the nuts.

One thing I started doing to stretch the granola, was adding flax flakes or puffed brown rice (like rice crispies). There's some things you can do to customize this (according to 100 Days of Real Food). You can use all cashews or almonds, or an entirely different nut altogether. Same with the seeds. If you want to make granola bars, she suggests making it with steel cut oats instead of rolled oats. Also, adding dried fruit bits before baking granola bars is quite nice. For the cereal, she adds dried fruit after it's baked and completely cooled.

This one batch of granola (with our flakes or puffed rice added) usually lasts us at least two weeks. It has taken us longer to eat a batch, and we've not seen any ill effects from it. I would imagine that you'd want to be close to eating a whole batch within two weeks. If you're not sure you could eat a batch that quickly, just cut the recipe in half. I definitely recommend trying this out, especially if your family consists of cereal or granola eaters like mine!

Granola Bars/Cereal from 100 Days of Real Food

3 1/2 cups rolled oats (if you want bars use steel cut oats so it will stick together better)
1 cup raw sliced almonds (or walnuts or pecans)
1 cup raw cashew pieces (use bits and pieces if you can find them, they're cheaper!)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I had sweetened on hand, so I used that)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I've used coconut oil instead)
1/2 cup honey (I've used agave and real maple syrup instead)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Also need – parchment paper (I usually just grease my baking sheet)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the dry oats, almonds, cashews, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large mixing bowl.

Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts stir in the vanilla.

Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.

Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes.

The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces (if making bars) or break it up into small chunks by pounding it in a zip lock bag (if making cereal). Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.