Monday, April 21, 2014

The Cake Slice Baker's April Cake: Coconut Strawberry Trifle

        

                  Here we are again...time to showcase our next cake we all voted on to bake. And who are we? Glad you asked..we're The Cake Slice Bakers and we're baking from Great Cakes by Carole Walter. Each month a selected cake has been picked and we all bake it..and then discuss.

I went out on my own with this one. It was supposed to be a layer cake but we're not a frosting family. I decided to bake it in a 13x9 pan and freeze it to use on Easter..which by the way, I hope you all had a wonderful one! Anyway, I turned it into a trifle and layered plump chopped up strawberries in between the layers along with whipping cream. It was delicious I must say.

Here's what I know about Carole Walter. The woman loves sugar and she enjoys giving you step after step with each and every recipe. Sometimes I'm ok with that but mostly I ignore it all and do myown thing..which I've done with all of her recipes. I cut the sugar back,added a small amount of coconut extract,and watched it bake up beautiful in the oven. The cake is moist with just a hint of coconut. Would I make this again? I totally would. I still have a small stash of cake in the freezer to be enjoyed once the kids head back to school tomorrow. I feel no guilt about this.

Check out what everyone else made!      







Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Tulip Time!

                    

             Everything is coming alive over here in, The Netherlands. When I first moved here I was in shock with the amount of tulips I spotted..and then was equally shocked by all of the colors I didn't even know existed and then even more shocked by how cheap they were to buy. Dirt cheap. Like so cheap you can get them for free once a year in Amsterdam and then buy bundles and bundles for next to nothing.
                 
 
                 I love Spring time here..We spend so much time dealing with long grey winters that the first shot of color makes your heart leap. You can drive around and see a sea of color from the tulips and other flowers they grow here and all the garden centers are flush with the latest color and design.
                 


               Tulips aren't even my favorite flower..the Hyacinth is. I fill my house with those the first chance I can and wished they would come out with a candle in that scent..or have they already?
                         


                     But even still..the tulip holds a special place in my heart now. It means Spring is here and everything is made new again. The trees are blooming, the farm animals are giving birth and proudly walking around with their new addition. The seeds I planted are all popping up and fighting to grow bigger and stronger each day.
                       

  
                  Yep..Spring has finally arrived!







Monday, April 14, 2014

Orange-Glazed Bunny Buns

                

                   Easter is almost here! Do you have plans? if so, what are they? Do you eat a large meal or something small? brunch or dinner? This year I have decided to take it easy. For one, I couldn't find a ham that was worth the price and for two, I decided that by keeping it simple it gave me time to enjoy everything as well. So we are doing a brunch type deal. I'm baking various rolls and breads this week, I'll be making my Sonoma Chicken Salad,deviled eggs and I put a package aside of peanut butter eggs that I picked up during my trip back home.

These bunny buns are also on the menu. They taste just like a baked donut and can't tell you how much that makes me happy. The dough is mixed with orange juice and zest but I've already decided a maple version is in order!
                     
              
                The dough is very easy to work with and they come out as cute as can be. You twist the dough and add a tail and it resembles the back of a bunny..sounds easy right? well mine kinda got big..like I had giant bunny booties..which is just fine in my book because big bum bunnies just means a better bun in my opinion. Then I discovered that if you don't firmly place the tails inside the bottom area, they will in fact pop off during baking and then look like big bunny droppings. If you don't want to take the time to shape the dough into bunnies, you can make twists if you like. The dough is really easy when it comes to switching out the shapes.

Orange Glazed Bunny Buns

2 pkgs Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup Warm Water
1 cup Warm Milk
1/2 cup Shortening..I used Butter
2 Eggs
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Orange Juice
2 TBS Orange Zest
1 tsp. Salt
5-5-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

Glaze:
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Orange Juice..plus more to achieve the consistency you want..You can make it thick to spread on or slightly thinner like I did to resemble a glazed donut.

In a large bowl,dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk,shortening (or butter),eggs,sugar,orange juice,orange zest,salt, and 3 cups of flour; beat until smooth with a wooden spoon. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic,about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl,turning once to coat the top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size,about one hour.

Punch dough down,turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 13 pieces. Shape 12 pieces into 12 inch ropes. Fold each in half;twist top half of the open end twice to form ears. Place 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or greased with nonstick spray. Shape remaining dough into 12 balls. Place one on the loop end of each roll to form a tail;slightly open the loop part if you can and firmly place the ball inside the loop ( it will help to keep it in place and not fall off during the baking process).
         


              You can tell in this photo that I needed to place the balls more inside the loop area firmly..most of these fell off during baking. The buns are ginormous once they come out and they were close to touching after they were done baking..give them plenty of room!

Cover the buns and allow to rise until doubled,about 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 375 or 190. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. 

In a small bowl,combine glaze ingredients and mix until smooth..adding in more juice if needed. Spread or drizzle onto the bunnies.

Yield: 12 Bunnies
Source: Taste of Home







Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Chicken Lessons

                    

                  Time for a much needed update on the ladies! I've gotten some questions recently about the status of the bare bums and if I was able to stop the one who decided all bums were fair game. The short answer is yes.
                   
   
                  The truth of the matter is, I failed basic chicken keeping 101. I failed the most basic step of properly checking them over. I was one day away from giving two of them up because I thought I wasn't going to be able to stop the constant plucking of the feathers.
                          


                  The most important thing I can tell you about owning chickens is..give those ladies a total body scan. Pick each and every single one of them up and look them over from head to toe. Had I done this eons ago they wouldn't be where they are at right now. What they had was poultry lice and I should have caught this ages ago. It never ever should have gotten to the point of them being so uncomfortable that they were going at each other constantly. My husband picked one of them up as we were deciding what to do when it happened. A teenie weenie bug fell onto my husbands shirt. We leaned in,looked at it,put the hen down, and did the creepy get it off me dance. We looked the image up and knew what it was right away.
                          
    
                 We bought a simple spray and started treatment right away. The bickering stopped and the feathers are rapidly growing back. I felt so guilty about missing the basic step of checking them over and being a new owner is no excuse. Check your hens over..and check again if the problem doesn't stop. No more bum pecking,no more bickering,and no more laziness when it comes to their upkeep. They are doing just fine in every sense of the word. They never stopped laying or eating or anything else. They were just grouchy and I don't blame them. They are getting extra protein,tons of looking over, and they are getting so used to me now that they all run up to me like dogs..in fact one of them literally leaps up and down like one.
                  


                      The only thing that's been different with their egg laying is,one morning I collected this teeeeeenie weenie egg. The 20 cent euro coin is similar to the American 5 cent coin. It was so adorable and contained nothing more than an egg white. Then about a week or so later someone was feeling extra ambitious and laid two eggs that day..a total of 8 eggs in one day :) The ladies are fine and happier now and I'm happier because of it.







Monday, April 7, 2014

Banana-Chocolate Chip Drop Biscuits

                 

                Hello Monday! I don't know about you, but I totally wasn't ready for it. We did the time change over here a week ago and I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep. I constantly feel like I'm trying to catch up and the alarm clock goes off way to early and the hens are asking for food way to soon. There is no time for sleep these days.
                               
                       
                      Thank goodness there is always time for drop biscuit baking! This is a super quick and simple recipe that you can pull together at the last minute. You simply mix,drop,wait,and enjoy these delightful morsels of happiness with a cup of coffee and warm sunshine.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Drop Biscuits

2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 TBS Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Cold Butter,diced
2/3-1 cup Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Chopped Ripe Banana
1 cup Buttermilk
2 tsp. Turbinado Sugar (Raw Sugar)

Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl,combine the flour,sugar,baking powder,baking soda,and salt with a whisk. Cut in butter,using your fingers,fork,or pastry cutter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips ( I went with 2/3 cup and felt like for us,that was enough) and the banana. Stir in buttermilk and mix until dough leaves the side of bowl.

Drop 2 tablespoons worth of dough onto prepared pan about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.

Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes before removing to wire rack. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 Drop Biscuits
Source: Betty Crocker The Big Book of Bread






Monday, March 31, 2014

Triple-Seed Wheat Bread

                    

               Bread baking has been a lifesaver for me. It's been a month since I returned home from the U.S. and I'm still not feeling like myself. I am struggling with how I am here versus how I am/was in the U.S. How I am..how I really am doesn't work over here. I've always known this and it's been my biggest struggle since I arrived almost 8 years ago. The seconded I landed in the U.S. it all came back. My husband could hear it when I spoke to him on the phone and I know it made him sad when I came back and instantly lost that main part of me in an instant. It's hard to explain to people who don't live an expat life and more often then not you just keep it all inside because what's the point in talking about it anyway. It is what it is. So I'm dealing with that. I'm dealing with trying to get my groove back with cooking and baking and gardening and taking care of the hens..and to be honest my heart just isn't in it..and it kills me.

So I'm baking bread. Tons of bread. I'm mixing and kneading and forgetting about everything else. I'm concentrating on the dough rising and the shaping and the baking..and then I start all over again with a new loaf. I love hearing the excitement and seeing the smiles on the faces of my husband and sons when they know there is a new bread to try. 

Instead of meditation, I've got breaditation to get me through life's ups and downs. Thank goodness for yeast,flour, and salt!

Triple-Seed Wheat Bread

1-1/2 - 2 cups All-purpose Flour
2 TBS Sugar
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 tsp. Poppy Seed
1-1/2 tsp. Sesame Seed
1 tsp. Fennel Seed ( I used Nigella Seeds)
2-1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1 cup Water
2 TBS Butter
1-1/2 - 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

Topping:
Egg Wash; 1 Egg,beaten with 1 TBS Water
1 tsp. Poppy Seed
1 tsp. Sesame Seed
1 tsp. Fennel or Nigella Seeds

In a large mixing bowl or in a bowl of a stand mixer, mix 1-1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour,salt, and seeds.

In a small saucepan,heat the water and butter,over medium heat,stirring frequently,until very warm ( 120 F). Stir into flour mixture and mix until combined ( if using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix until combined). Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and enough of the whole wheat flour until a nice smooth dough has been formed. Knead the dough either by hand or with a mixer until the dough is smooth and springy.. about 8 minutes and adding in additional flour as needed ( I used a stand mixer with the dough attachment and only needed 1 cup of the whole wheat flour to bring it all together).

Grease a bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl turning once to coat. Cover and allow dough to rise in a warm spot for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Gently deflate dough and turn out onto a counter top. You can sprinkle it lightly with flour but I found it easier to roll the dough out without using any. Roll the dough into a 20-inch rope. Place it onto the prepared pan. Curl each end of the rope in the opposite direction to form a coiled S shape. Cover and let rise in a warm place 30 to 40 minutes or until almost double.

Preheat oven to 375 or 190 celsius. In a small bow,combine the egg and water and mix until combined. In another small bowl,combine the seeds.

Brush the egg mixture all over the dough and then sprinkle with the seed mixture. 

Bake 20-25 minutes or until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: Betty Crocker The Big Book of Bread 












Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Container Garden 2014

                 

             It's that time of the year,my friends...The time when I sit down and get my container garden all mapped out and ready to go. I wait impatiently for this. I start get super antsy the closer we get to Spring. I make various lists of what I want to grow and then go over it again and again. I narrow it down when I realize I either can't grow it based on our climate ( not warm enough) or it simply doesn't do well in a container. I am taking a chance on a few of them but I am hoping for a very warm summer this year! Everything in the photo above can be planted in a large container. I've got Blue Corn,Mouse Melons ( grape sized cucumbers that look like tiny watermelons but have a lime taste to them),Patio Snacker Cucumbers,Stringless Celery, Tiny Tim Tomatoes,Baby Corn, Rainbow Carrots,Giant Sunflowers ( those will be planted directly into the soil, Chocolate Bell Peppers,Banana Shallots,Golden Zucchini,Bingo Watermelons,Potatoes,Rhubarb (already planted into the ground),Strawberries, and Parisienne Carrots! 
       

            We hit a small stretch of what we consider to be warm weather and my husband and I headed to the garden section and got to work! Everything that wasn't producing food or attracting the pollinators was going. So that meant everything but the butterfly bush and a hydrangea plant. The small area in the front with all the planters will be used to grow wildflowers for the bees,and there will be strawberries growing in there.
       

               Here it is after we were done. It took a lot longer than we had expected. The smaller the bush or tree, the harder it was to dig up the roots. The hens were super happy with the huge worms we dug up and decided to share with them that day :)
    

           Today we were able to set up the raised beds. Each one will hold 9 huge containers of veggies that will go out once the weather is warmer. The ladies say,Hello!
           
            I planted my first set of seeds and they are growing happily!
      
         The blue corn kernels about to be planted!
               
      
              Here they are now..and they've grown almost twice that size since I took the photo a few days ago.
                 
      
          My golden zucchini is coming along nicely as well. I have one baby corn that sprouted up and I am waiting on my tiny tim tomatoes and banana shallots..the end of the month I will be planting the rest. 

It's been a busy time around here but a happy and productive one. I've been busy with hens and I wish it was in a more positive way but I'm still dealing with some bare bums and working towards fixing that. We have another stretch of decent weather coming our way and hopefully that means pulling the gas grill out for the first time this year!

Is anyone else growing something this year?                                     
                            
       




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Espresso Cake with Hot Kahlua Syrup

     

                It's March 20th already! February was a total blur for me and this month is looking very much like the same way! I had plans to take a better photo. Really I did..but the temp hit 68 degrees here in, The Netherlands and that might as well be 80 for us. My husband and I started digging up bushes and small trees from the previous owners in order to make room for our container garden. My muscles are sore but I'm happy to say we have a nicely cleared spot for my ginormous amounts of veggies I plan on growing. So getting back to the pic. I was in the middle of everything and remembered I needed to take a pic of the cake before everyone ate it. So I dropped what I was doing and ran in to grab a slice!

I can honestly say that I was over the moon happy with the result of this months cake from The Cake Slice Bakers. As you know, we are baking from Great Cakes by Carole Walter. As you also know, I haven't been much of a fan of the cakes thus far. I loved this one! We all loved this one. My 13 year old coffee hating kid even loved it. Like a lot. The cake is moist from the syrup. I did use Bailey's in place of it but only because that's what I have on hand..you know, for the days when you need a little bit extra in your morning,afternoon, and possibly evening coffee..No judging! I will also say that I tried in vain to find instant espresso but neither The Netherlands nor Germany had it. So I went with a double amount of coffee and maybe that's why I personally liked it. I'm not a fan of coffee flavored foods but this somehow just worked. It was moist and we topped the cake with slightly sweetened whipped cream and smiled.

Check out the rest of the cakes from the other fabulous cake slice bakers and I can't wait to bake up next months cake!             










Monday, March 17, 2014

Cheese Bread

                  

                 Before I left for the U.S. I went on a massive bread baking spree to make sure my three guys were taken care of while I was away. I was a tad envious of what they would be enjoying while I was away and looked forward to their reviews. This bread was one that I made before I left and wasn't able to try it myself. I was told that it tasted fantastic and could I make it again. I sure could! I was curious about it too so I baked some up the other day to finally try it out myself. I was not disappointed. 
                                   
       
                   If you love grilled cheese sandwiches then you must make this bread! I'm not trying to tell you what to do but I can personally say that we loved it with shredded mozzarella cheese and sun dried tomato pesto! It also makes an excellent BLT sandwich and should you have any left over,it makes fantastic croutons! An all purpose bread for you. You're welcome. Go bake it!

Cheese Bread

2-1/4 tsp. Instant Yeast
1/4 cup ( 2 ounces) Warm Water
1 cup (8 ounces) Warm Milk
1-1/4 tsp. Salt
1 TBS Sugar
3-1/2 cups ( 14-3/4 ounces) All-purpose Flour
1 cup ( 4 ounces) Finely Grated Cheddar Cheese..I suggest Sharp!
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Finely Grated Parmesan
2 TBS Softened Butter or Vegetable Oil
2 tsp. Tomato Powder or Tomato Paste..optional for color

Combine all the ingredients and mix and knead them together,either by hand or in a mixer,until you've made a soft,smooth dough. Adjust the dough's consistency either with more water or flour as needed- the dough should be soft but not sticky. ** I used my Kitchen aid for this and didn't need to add anything extra to my dough**.

Shape into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise for one hour, or until it's puffy ( though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

Grease a 8x4 inch loaf pan and set aside. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured or greased surface and roll the dough into an 8 inch log. Place into prepared pan,cover with a tea towel and allow the bread to rise until the outer edge has just barely risen over the rim of the pan,about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes,tenting it lightly during the last 10 to 15 minutes if it looks like it's browning to quickly. Remove the bread from the oven,take it out of the pan and tap the bottom to check for that hollow done sound. If it doesn't sound hollow place it back in the oven for a few more minutes. When done, take it out of the pan and allow it cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: One Loaf
Source: King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To the U.S. and Back!

                

                   I've been back from the U.S. for almost a week now and I'm still trying to catch my breath. Most of what I saw was from the backseat of a car due to all of the traveling we needed to do.

For those that didn't read my last entry..my brother was killed in a head on collision in Oregon on February 13. I flew home two weeks later for the funeral. We scrambled to get everything together in order for me to leave and my husband took time off to keep things together at home while I was gone. It took me around 11 hours to fly into LAX where I met my Dad and step mom. We then went straight to the store in order to get things for the drive to Oregon. I can not begin to tell you the levels of confusion I had upon arriving in the U.S.. It was almost to much to take in after being away for almost 7 years. I went to Wal-mart and stood in the aisles with my mouth wide open from all of the choices. I couldn't even pick out a simple shampoo because of how many different varities there were. I became agitated until I could find the one I used to use before I came here.I noticed that I went straight back to the products I had used before in order to find some sort of comfort in the sea of brightly colored packages that claimed one thing or another.

I arrived Wednesday morning and we left for Oregon the following morning at 7 am. There was a total of 7 of us family members who climbed into a van to make the trip. It took us 17 hours the first day to make it to Washington. I honestly don't know how I made it. I was crazy tired,jet lagged, and stressed beyond belief. I stayed up the whole time and by the time we all went to bed at my Grandfather's house,all I could hear was the ringing in my ears and the constant rocking motion of being in a car. I think I slept a total of 5 hours. The next morning was getting ready and heading to Corvallis,Oregon to meet my Mom,sister in law, and nephews for lunch. I ached from head to tow from the flight and then the long car ride. I was nervous to see everyone and hoped everything went ok. 

I spotted my Mom and doubled over with tears. She didn't recognize me at first from all of the weight I had lost. It's one thing to see a picture of someone but sometimes you don't make the connection when you see them up close. We cried and hugged and we all sat down for lunch. 
          
        It was weird to see everyone and talk about my brother and everyone looking at me because of how much I had changed. The drive back to Washington was a quiet one. All I could do was look outside and take it all in. I have missed the trees,and the water,and the mountains, and all the wildlife. I have missed the wide open spaces, big roads, and the happy smiles of Americans. In every single store I went into I made sure to chat with everyone that I could. I loved it.

The following day was the funeral and let me tell you how odd it is to have to re-introduce yourself to people because they longer recognize you from the weight loss. I could hear people whispering that they had no idea who I was..and that was coming from an Uncle. A funeral is an odd thing. You see people you only remember being around as a kid or a teenager..and they haven't allowed you to age in that amount of time. I had people talking to me as if I were super young, or a 14 year old who wore all black. I am 39 with two teenaged sons but for some that was to much to take in. So I let them keep me where they wanted in order to bring them some comfort. After the funeral it was back in the car for a quick meal and then on to the road again to California. We made it in a lot less time due to not stopping for every single meal. We arrived Sunday morning and I was to leave again for home on Thursday. 

I had zero time to go and see everything that I wanted to and I didn't eat at all of my favorite things..simply because I wasn't hungry,spent the entire time being bloated from what I did eat and just didn't care. I was able to ship two boxes of goodies home for everyone and of course for myself :). It was an odd trip that barely left me anytime with my Dad. 
                                   
            

            Oh! one of the perks from a massive weight loss is alllllllll the crazy amounts of space I had when it came to the airline seat and seat belt! The last time I flew I was around 300 pounds. Not this time! It felt great to not have to worry about if I was going to fit or not. I had a slight hiccup when entering the U.S. The woman at the customs line wouldn't accept my passport because of the weight loss. She couldn't recognize me in the photo so I started tossing all kinds of picture ID's at her and breaking out into hives as I explained my weight loss to her. Thankfully she let me through.

I'm tired,stressed,depressed, and just trying to move forward. The shock of my brother's death is still with me,dealing with seeing everyone after so long and the reasons behind the actual leaving of the U.S. has all come rushing back. I'll be back up and running next week and I can't wait to show you some of the breads I baked before I left and the ones I plan on getting to over the next few days. It feels good to be baking again and giving myself a break from having to think about things to much.

The U.S. was as beautiful as it ever was and I miss it terribly.






Monday, February 24, 2014

An Unfinished Life

             

                  February 13,2014 my older brother was killed instantly in a head on collision. I am heading to Oregon this week to bury him and I am going alone. I always knew I would go home again, I just didn't think it would be to bury my only sibling. I've been gone almost 7 years and stepping back into that old life,even if for a short amount of time, is a jarring thought. 

Be back soon....



               








Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

                 

               I apologize up front for the photo..it's incredibly hard to get a decent photo of a pure white mixture. I am in the process of getting a better set up for my photo taking and can't wait for it to happen!

With that aside..I finally found a decent no fail recipe for condensed chicken soup! they don't have that here,nor do they have condensed mushroom soup. I know there are those who are anti condensed soups and for the most part,I am too..only because I've had to be and where I can, I make do with certain products here that can take the part of a condensed soup when needed. I was kinda skeptical about this but wow does it work without any problems what so ever. It firms up as it cools and totally turns into that jiggly condensed soup deal..only this stuff is less creepy,cheap to make and tastes loads better.

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

2-1/2 cups Chicken Broth
1-1/2 cups Evaporated Milk ** see below
3/4 cups Flour
1 TBS Seasoning Mix; 1/2 tsp onion powder,1/2 tsp garlic powder,1/2 tsp. black pepper,1 tsp salt,parsley,poultry seasoning..you can change the seasonings to whatever you like!

Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.

While bringing to a low boil,mix the remaining 1 cup of milk with the flour and seasonings...whisk the poo out of it to make sure the flour has no lumps in it and it forms a nice thick smooth mixture. Pour the flour and milk mixture into the saucepan with the chicken broth mixture and whisk like a bad woman/man. Keep the temp at low and continuously whisk while it simmers away and becomes thick and smooth. This will take anywhere between 5-10 minutes. You need to just keep whisking it until that magical moment happens.

Take it off the heat and allow to cool down. It will thicken a lot more as it cools and will turn into condensed chicken soup right before your eyes.

** The original recipe says to use milk, and you can but I also know that evaporated milk doesn't curdle and when frozen won't separate**

This makes enough for two cans so use one and store the other in the fridge or freezer until you need it!

Yield: Makes the equivalent of about 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
Source: Pinch of Yum







Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Around The House

                       

               It's been a busy Wednesday over here in tulip central. The weather has been mild..despite a brief storm and rain here and there,we can't complain to much. The hens are able to stay outside until 5:30 on most days and that does them wonders. They always head inside right around dusk or just before and thankfully it's been happening later and later. It does wonders for the egg laying aswell..extra sunlight means more eggs. 

Yesterday was a baking day for me..breads and buns respectfully. 
          
        
           Look at that beautiful bowl full of free range eggs..It makes me so happy every time I walk into the kitchen and see it. I'm so thankful for those eating and pooing machines outback.
                   
 
         Speaking of those machines..Hello from Daisy,Mabel,Belle,Astrid,Annie,Lily,and Eliza! Are you as tired of winter as I am? I just snapped this photo a few minutes ago and it made me wish for the lush summer days. I can't wait for everything to come into bloom! 
  







Monday, February 10, 2014

Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

                        

                 When I tell people that I bake on average,20 plus buns a week,3 loaves of bread, and various other bread based items they look at me like I have two heads. Well I sometimes image that's how they look at me since most of my conversations take place online. The usual response is something like, I can't imagine baking like that all the time,or how do you do it?, or I suck at bread baking. The truth of the matter is, it hardly takes any time at all to bake your own breads,buns, and rolls. If I'm at home then there is some kind of yeast product rising in my oven at any given time. I realize I don't have a normal 9-5 job, but even if I did you better believe I would be doing it all on my days off. You can get the dough rising while you do other things around the house or even run a few errands. You come back,shape it,do a second rise, and then bake. It doesn't matter if your bread comes out wonky looking or has cracks or some of your buns didn't come out perfectly round. Do you think anyone cares about that? What people care about is the taste and you know homemade bread tastes so much better than anything else you can buy in the store. You control what goes in and what stays out..like hair. I know that sounds funny, but did you know they use certain products in bread that contains hair from a salon in china? yum,yum. I like fluffy bread, but not that kind of fluff thank you very much!

So bake some bread. Bake this bread! it has both all-purpose and whole wheat flour. It has yummy things like oats and honey, and even nuts if you want to put them in there. There are no funky ingredients like hair or feathers (yep they add those too), and you will just love how soft this bread is and how delicious it tastes when toasted and slathered in peanut butter.

Bread baking isn't hard and doesn't need to be a scary thing. It just takes practice. So get to practicing!!!!

Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Boiling Water
1 cup (3-1/2 ounces) Old-fashioned rolled oats
2 TBS (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter,cut into 3 pieces
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup (3 ounces) Honey
1 cup (4 ounces) Whole Wheat Flour
1-2/3 cups ( 7 ounces) All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) Nonfat Dry Milk
1/2 cup (1-7/8 ounces) finely chopped Pecans or Walnuts;optional
2 tsp. Instant Yeast

In a medium bowl,place the boiling water,oats,butter,salt, and honey,stir, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Mix the remaining dough ingredients with the oat mixture, and knead,by hand, or mixer until you've made a soft,smooth dough. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl,turning once to coat,cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and set aside. Gently deflate the dough, and because it will be slightly sticky,make sure you oil your hands a bit. Place the dough out onto a counter top and shape into a 9 inch log. Place into prepared loaf pan. Cover it gently with either a tea towel,lightly greased plastic wrap or shower cap, and allow to rise until it's crowned 1-1/2 inches over the rim of the pan,about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time preheat your oven.

Preheat to 350 or 180 celsius. Uncover the bread and bake for around 45 minutes,tenting with foil after 20 minutes to prevent the top from over-browning. Bake until golden brown,sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom or when a thermometer inserted in the center registers 190F. Allow the bread to sit in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Gently remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. If you want an extra soft crust,brush the top with melted butter. I didn't do this step and found the crust to be very soft on its own.

Yield: 1 Loaf about 12-16 slices
Source: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking