Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wheat Bagels with Poppy & Sesame Seeds


Who would've thought that making your own bagels would be a) pretty gosh darn easy and b) so way more delicious than any bagel ever. It's probably because you've invested time and love into these round breakfast-y breads, but I tell you, these bagels are amazing, out of this world, and so worth making yourself.

Thank you, Deb (Smitten Kitchen) and Sir Peter Reinhart himself (apparently I just knighted him because his bread-making skills are so honorable.)

Now, friends, don't be scared. Your family (and your tastebuds) will thank you. 


Peter Reinhart's Wheat Bagels
recipe from Peter Reinhart via Smitten Kitchen
Makes 8-10 bagels

Note: you will need to start the bagel sponge the day before you plan on baking the bagels. Plan accordingly please.

for the sponge
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour (see note below)
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

for the dough
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar (see note below)

for finishing
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions or chopped onions that have been tossed in oil (optional)

1. Day one: To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 71 degrees F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with one of the following shaping methods:

Method 1: Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter (half of this for a mini-bagel). The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible.
Method 2: Roll out the dough into an 8-inch long rope. (This may require rolling part of the way and resting if the pieces are too elastic and snap back, in which case, allow them to rest for 3 minutes and then extend them again to bring to full length. Wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger, overlapping the ends by several inches. Press the overlapping ends on the counter with the palm of your hand, rocking back and forth to seal.

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes flip them over rand boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side (Deb note: I used the 2 minute option). While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) If you want to top (see note below) the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water. You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination.

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.


Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: For cinnamon raisin bagels, increase the yeast in the final dough to 1 teaspoon, and add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the final dough. Rinse 2 cups of loosely packed raisins with warm water to wash off surface sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast. Add the raisins during the final 2 minutes of mixing. Proceed as directed, but do not top the bagels with any garnishes. When they come out of the oven and are still hot, you can brush the tops with melted butter and dip them in cinnamon sugar to create a cinnamon-sugar crust, if desired.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Low Cal Chewy Granola Bars


I know, I know, another granola bar recipe. But, friends, I was so excited to find not one but TWO recipes I really enjoyed. This version is completely different that the first recipe I shared, but even HIGHLY on the health scale. I made a few alterations to Sarah Fit's recipe, but I left her original recommendations in tact, because I would have liked to try those ingredients had I had them on hand. These are a chewier granola bar, and perfect for traveling nutrition. 

Low Cal Chewy Granola Bars
recipe adapted from
Makes 12 granola bars 

1/2 cup milk (Sarah recommends unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
2 Tbsp honey
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
1-1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour (Sarah recommends Almond meal)
3 Tbsp coconut
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp flaxseed, ground (Sarah recommends 2 servings Vanilla Protein Powder)
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped 
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine milk, honey, and mashed banana in a large mixing bowl. Add in oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon, and flaxseed and stir together. Stir in almonds and raisins to evenly distribute. 

Coat a 9x13 pan with cookie spray. Press batter evenly into the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until center is firm. Cut immediately upon removing pan from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. 

Wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container to preserve freshness.

130 calories if cut into 12 bars. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Homemade "Fit" Granola Bars Recipe


I have been hunting for a homemade granola bar recipe that wasn't chock full of sugar, sugar, sugar. This recipe using some sweet alternatives like light pancake syrup and Stevia, but besides those ingredients and of course a bit of peanut butter, these bars fit my bill. I love the mixture of healthy cereals and the options of healthy add-ins. These bars could be as nutrient-rich as you want! I like using Aldi's verion of Kashi Go Lean Cereal along with the Aldi version of Fiber One. High fiber, high protein, and low sugar cereals. 

Homemade "Fit" Granola Bars Recipe
recipe slightly adapted from
Makes 12 granola bars

1 cup rice cereal
1 cup bran/flake ("Go Lean") cereal
1 cup all bran ("Fiber One") cereal
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup baking stevia OR 6 packets Splenda or other sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt 
3/4 cup light pancake syrup (or 1/2 cup honey)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp chocolate chips
Optional Variations: white chocolate chips, dried fruit, sliced almonds, cocoa powder, raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Melt peanut butter in the microwave. 

In a zippered bag, combine rice cereal, bran/flake cereal, and all bran cereal and use a rolling pin to lightly crush the cereal. Transfer to a large mixing and add in oats, coconut, sweetener, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in syrup and peanut butter until evenly distributed. Stir in chocolate chips. 

Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and press the mixture evenly in to the pan. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut into 12 even granola bars. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes for chewy bars, or turn off the oven and return pan to the oven for 15-45 minutes for crunchy bars. 

Once cooled completed, wrap bars individually in plastic wrap for easy lunches or snacks. Keep in an airtight container.

130 calories if cut into 12 bars. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Frosted Ginger Cookies Recipe

us in pink
Britt & Mel circa 2006
Today is a guest post recipe from my in-real-life friend, Brittney. You will LOVE this recipe. I have eaten more than my share of these cookies. :)

Hi Mel's readers! My name is Brittney and I was blessed to be her roommate and her Canadian best friend through 4 years of college! We were each others maid of honours! This cookie recipe is something she and I enjoyed many times throughout the 4 years! They're a great treat at Christmas, but are just as good all year round too!

Frosted Ginger Cookies Recipe
recipe from Dave & Melaney Austin, Brittney's parents 
Makes 6 dozen cookies

Ginger Cookies (2)Ingredients
for the cookies:
1-1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
4-1/2 cup flour (or a little less)
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

for the frosting:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups confectioner sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in molasses and vanilla. Mix well. 

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Gradually stir them into the creamed mixture. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and baked 12-15 minutes--or until cookies spring back when touched (do not overbake!) Remove to wire rack to cool. 

for the frosting:
In a medium saucepan, bring sugars and butter to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, bring to a boil. Remove from heat (mixture will appear curdled). Cool for 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla and salt. 
Spread onto warm cookies. 

Ginger Cookies (3) (1)

mel and brittney
this was my 20th birthday party--7 years ago.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Pie Recipe


oh my goodness gracious, friends. This is the fastest, easiest, most delicious pie (assuming you love pb/chocolate) you will ever get your hands on mouth around. Making and baking a pie crust from scratch took the longest time and the pie was still completed and ready to eat in less than an hour. Perfect for last minute parties. The filling itself takes around 3 and a half minutes to finish, so if you're really pressed for time or if making a pie crust from scratch causes you to break out in hives then feel free to a) buy a pre-made pie crust, b) buy or make a graham cracker crust (I think that would make this delicious.) 

Peanut Butter Cup Pie Recipe
Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Serves 8-16 (it's rich, so a skinny slice goes a long way, even with a sweet tooth like mine.)


1 whole Frozen Pie Crust or Homemade Never-Fail Crust (1/4 of the recipe)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or combination of your favorite chocolate chips)
2-3 Tbsp roasted peanuts

Bake the pie crust according to directions (approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees for the homemade version.) 

In a large bowl, beat together powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, and water until smooth and creamy. After the pie crust has cooled completely, spread the peanut butter mixture evenly into the crust. 

In a glass measuring cup or other microwave safe bowl, pour the chocolate chips and microwave in 15 second intervals to melt the chocolate. Once melted, pour the chocolate over the peanut butter filling. Spread  to cover the filling as desired. 

Chocolate a few tablespoons of roasted peanuts and sprinkle around the edge of the melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the filling is set.