Friday, February 26, 2010

Oatmeal Buttermilk Wheat Bread

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

1½ cups rolled oats, divided
1 cup boiling water
¼ cup room temperature water
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. agave nectar (or honey), divided
2 tsp. instant yeast
1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature*
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2½ cups whole wheat flour
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt

*a substitute for buttermilk can be made by adding 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice for every 1 Cup of milk. Let the mixture sit (and curdle) for at least 5 minutes.

Set aside ¼ cup of the rolled oats. Place the remaining oats in a medium bowl. Cover with the boiling water, mix well, and let sit uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the soaked oats, room temperature water, 2 tablespoons of agave, yeast, buttermilk, olive oil, 2 cups of each flour, and salt. Mix briefly on low speed until ingredients are combined. Mix in the remaining ½ cup of each flour.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 10 minutes. The dough will be wet, cling to the hook, and have a satiny finish. (My mixer started getting a bit overheated, so when it was nearing completion of the kneading process I removed the dough onto a lightly floured surface, floured my hands and kneaded manually until no longer overly sticky.)

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flattening it with your hands to release the excess air bubbles. (I found that the dough could be divided in half to form two regular sized loaves. They may be a bit smaller than the original, but they're just wonderful!) Form the dough into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle and position it so the long side is facing you. Fold the two shorter ends onto the top so that they meet in the middle. Starting with the closest end, roll the dough away from you tightly into a log. Pinch the seam closed. Transfer the loaf to an oiled loaf pan, pressing it so that it reaches all the corners. Mix the remaining agave nectar with ½ a teaspoon of very hot water. Brush over the top of the loaf, and sprinkle with the reserved oats. Let rise for about 30 minutes, just until the loaf rises over the top of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Bake the loaf for 1 hour (or, if baking two loaves, bake for 25-30 minutes.) Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

[Mel's Original] Buttermilk Banana Bread


note added February 10, 2011. Here it is almost a year later, and I've finally added a photo. You're welcome. :)

I apologize. There are no pictures to accompany this recipe. Yet. We may or may not have devoured both loaves before pictures were even considered. That said, this recipe is my favorite ever. And I actually created it. Yay!

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk*
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2-1/4 cup flour

* buttermilk can be mimicked by adding 1/2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice to milk to equal 1/2 cup. Let set at room temperature at least 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar and oil until combined. In separate bowl, mash bananas. Add bananas, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla to sugar/oil mixture and stir thoroughly.

In separate bowl wisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Grease the sides and bottom of two (2) 9x5" loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas has always been on Kevin's "top 10 favorite meals of all time" list. I've tried this Mexican dish only one other time and it was tasty--but quite a bit of work and I wasn't perfectly pleased with the results. When I saw Annie post an all new chicken enchilada recipe and I had all of the ingredients on hand, I knew this was a must for this week's menu. Kevin was, of course, excited. However, I don't think either of us anticipated how delicious these would be. It was a little bit of work, but nothing too challenging--just a few extra dishes to wash. Which is why I went ahead and made the entire recipe, though it could easily feed four adults. The other half of the enchiladas are in the freezer--hopefully they'll be perfect for a last minute reheated meal.

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion/tomato/pepper mixture. Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro. Stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with cilantro, green onions, sour cream, etc.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

Valentine's Day is coming up. But we've been spreading out our celebration (mostly because our weekend is jam packed already). Yesterday we went out for our annual "hunt for the next great pizza place." And today I decided to bake up the chocolately goodness I had been planning. I couldn't decide what to make--truffles, brownies, cake, fudge. I asked Kevin his favorite form of chocolate. He said fudgy brownies in chocolate ice cream.


For the greatest brownie recipe ever I knew just where to check--Annie's Eats & Brown Eyed Baker. They are two of my most trusted foodie bloggers and when I discovered their top brownie recipe overlapped, I knew I had found what I was searching for. This recipe was easy to execute, but different than the other brownie recipes I had worked with. I think I'll save this for special occasions as it is truly rich and thick and delicious and divine.

Maybe this is something you should share with your loved ones this Valentine's.

5 oz. (~2/3 cup) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. (~1/4 cup) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1¼ cups (8¾ oz.) sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated. Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. (Annie notes: "It took me a while to get the flour evenly incorporated and I was worried it would affect the texture of the brownies, but they turned out fabulously – no need to worry.") Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares as desired. Store in an air-tight container.

Serve with chocolate ice cream.

And...if you're my husband...
Iced Java Mocha syrup.
And peanut butter.
And chocolate chips.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Italian Vegetable Stoup

I had a thick, hot, soul warming soup in mind as the snow fell to the ground. I pictured a cross between a chili (minus the meat), minestrone, and vegetable soup. I believe this was exactly what I was looking for. Kevin and I agreed it needs to be more spicy, more depth of flavor, more a bite next time around--but the spice ratios is all we would change about this recipe. Enjoy this "everything but the kitchen sink" sToup.*

*the Rachael Ray term for a cross between a soup and a stew.

3 large Russet potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2-1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced (based your decision on the level of heat you like)
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 large tomato, chopped (or one can diced tomatoes)
1 can kidney beans
1/2-1 whole jar pasta sauce of your choice (I'm a Prego or Meijer brand fan)
3 cups chicken broth (or made from bouillon)
1-2 tsp garlic powder (though I would put in 2-3 fresh cloves next time)
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano

Use cooking spray around the edges of a large slow cooker. Pour in all vegetables and stir together. Mix in pasta sauce, broth and spices (feel free to add additional spices of your choosing). Cook on high 4 hours, or low 7-8 hours. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream, along with a slice of your favorite crusty bread.


As Kevin and I were out shopping Monday and he saw a box of Jambalaya. He goes through these craving moments that pass quickly, but I thought he was on to something. I wasn't about to pay for some sodium laden box of Jambalaya mix so I decided to make my own.

I came up with this based on my memory of the limited experiences I've had with the Creole mainstay meal. We were both thrilled with the outcome and hope you will be too!

2-5" sausages, sliced to 1/4"
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 can diced tomatoes (with green chilis, if desired)
1/2 can tomato sauce
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
3 cups long grain rice, cooked

Cook rice.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet to medium high heat. Pan is hot enough when a sprinkle of water sizzles. Place sliced sausage into the pan and let them develop their color. Do not turn for at least 4 minutes. Meanwhile, add in garlic, onions and peppers. Flip sausages once they have a deep brown color developed. Repeat the browning process. Once veggies are softened and sausage is fully browned stir in diced tomatoes (do NOT drain) and tomato sauce (up to a full can depending on desired consistency). Sprinkle with desired amount of cumin and jerk seasoning.

Stir in cooked rice and serve.