Monday, September 29, 2014

Monster Cookie Bars

                  I am such a huge fan of cookie bars!! Like crazy in love with bars of all kinds. I actually prefer them to cookies but mostly that's because I love how thick you can make the bars. Plus all it requires is one large pan and you are done.

              I've made these bars twice now and this is what I learned: You can use 2 eggs instead of 3. You can use whatever kind of oats you want. I've used both old fashioned as well as the quick cooking and found there to be no difference. These take about an hour to bake..not the 35 minutes that's stated in the recipe. If you pull them out at the 35 minute mark there is a huge chance the middle is still in the liquid state. These totally over browned..even when I dropped the oven temp down. To solve this, simply tent the top with tin foil around the 30 minute mark or whenever you see it browning to quickly. They rise like crazy in the oven and then settle down once they come out. You can add anything you want into these bars and they will taste awesome no matter what. You may not have any of these issues and sometimes using ingredients from another country can alter the final product but wanted to put those tips out there to be on the safe side.

Monster Cookie Bars

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter,softened
3 Large Eggs
1-1/2 cups Peanut Butter..smooth or crunchy
1 TBS Vanilla
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
4-1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup of whatever else you want..I used mini reese's pieces I had been hoarding but M&M's would also work!

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil and make sure to leave a 2 inch overhang on the shorter end side so that you can lift the bars out once they are cooled. Spray the foil with nonstick spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugars and butter until light and fluffy,about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs,once a time,beating between each addition. Add in the peanut butter, vanilla,baking soda, and salt and mix until well combined. Add in the oats and mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and your other one cup addition with a wooden spoon until combined.

Transfer dough to prepared pan,pressing into an even layer.

Bake..well that all depends on how well you want them done. Start checking at the 30 minute mark and if they aren't done but are very brown,cover with foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until the toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool completely on wire rack. Remove bars with foil and cut into ginormous sized bars!

Yield: 24 bars if you are feeling generous..less if you aren't
Source: Just A Taste

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Spiders!

                    It's that time of year again! The time where you must be on a constant look out for the ginormous sized webs that take over..I've seen them span an entire hedge. The spiders are kinda cool looking too..
         I know most people find spiders to be hideous but not me. I find them rather beautiful. I don't want to hold one (although I did hold a tarantula once and I wasn't expecting them to have a sticky feeling on the bottom of their feet), I do find them all to be rather interesting in the looks department. I also have a house spider!

               Here he/she is! I first spotted him in my pantry a few months ago and decided that since he wasn't bothering me I was going to leave him alone. He then disappeared and then reappeared right above our wood burning stove. I may or may not have fed him 5 or 6 flies since he's been here. I probably need more human contact at this point..

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Various Ways To Kill Time

                    Lately my life has been taken over by various time suck moments. As I adjust to my husbands crazy work hours schedule ( hello 3:45 am wake up call!) I am left with a few more hours in the day. I am learning to love copious amounts of coffee to keep me going. I've watched the sun rise a ton of times over the last few weeks and I've gone to bed before 9pm on several occasions. I'm also spending a ton on time on pinterest..and missing home because of that. Farm life is screaming my name at this point and I am having a harder time ignoring it. Sometimes I just want to go home. I've started pinning things for Christmas!! haha..I am sooo not ashamed!

                Another time suck moment is this cutie pie. My shadow,Bailey. 

                    And my other side kick,Pixel. They will be hanging out with me for the next 6 weeks or so. I've been watching them twice a year for the past four years and they are seriously a part of the family at this point. These are the best kinds of time suck moments though..hanging out on the couch and catching a quick (3 hour)nap.

What's your favorite way to pass the time?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pizza Bread

                        As I zoom along my bread journey it has become very apparent that I am no longer posting anything but baked recipes..baked bread or some kind of dessert. I always saw myself as someone who enjoyed both cooking and baking but it's simply not true. If I could get out of cooking dinner and do nothing but bake various breads all day..well I'd be one happy woman. I'm going to be taking some time to re adjust my blog. I was losing interest in it because I felt like I needed to balance my love for all things yeast with some kind of dinner menu. We still eat very well..healthy from scratch meals but I have zero interest in photographing it and posting about it.

                    I decided to stick with what I love and start posting those recipes instead. This is a baking all forms..breads,cookies,bars,muffins,bread,bread, and more bread. I can deny this no longer! that we have that over with..lets talk about this wonderful pizza stuffed bread. First of all,it's easy to make. Second of all,it's good both warm or cold. And third of needs one hour of rising time on the counter and then one more hour in the fridge! You can use your families favorite toppings or like me, make it a ton of different ways depending on what you have in the fridge.

The most important thing regarding this bread is to make sure everything is sealed up tight. You do not want the mozzarella cheese oozing out and landing on the bottom of your oven ( that did not happen to me..but only because I caught the ooze quick enough). You should also allow the bread to cool down slightly before eating. It will give the mozzarella time to slightly firm up and allow the bread to settle. If you cut into it to quickly your dough will appear gummy. So give it a resting period and you'll be glad for it!

Pizza Bread

2 tsp. Instant Yeast
1-1/2 cups Warm Water
3-1/3 cups All-purpose Flour
2 tsp. Salt
1 TBS Sugar
2-1/2 cups Favorite Pizza Toppings;diced peppers,olives,pepperoni, etc
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 jar of Pizza Sauce,for dipping..optional

In a large bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Let sit for 3 minutes. Add in the flour,salt, and sugar and mix using the dough hook ( this can all be made by hand by the way..grab yourself a large bowl and mix it up with a wooden spoon),mix until combined. Add in the toppings and parmesan cheese and mix well. The dough is going to be tacky, but if it feels to tacky,add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it feels only slight tacky and comes together in a ball. This took about 4 minutes in my stand mixer and I did need to add additional flour to bring it all together.

Shape into a ball and place into a greased bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and allow to rise for one hour, THEN put it in the fridge for one more hour.

Dust your counter top with flour. Take the dough out of the fridge,gently deflate and turn out onto the floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle,about 11x7.

Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Then,fold along the long side,like an envelope ( to make sure you did it right,fold the long side up half way towards the middle,then fold it over one more time. The seam should now be on the bottom or close to it. You want to make sure it's sealed up.So give it a good pinch.) Tuck the ends all the way under and make sure they are closed up good! Place your dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet or if you have one, bake it on a pizza stone! Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest while the oven heats up.

Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celsius. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes,until golden brown. About half way through tent the bread with foil if it appears to be browning to quickly. 3 minutes before the bread is done,brush the top with olive oil...but only if you want. I usually skip this step.

Gently take the bread out of the oven and allow it cool slightly on a wire rack. Leftovers need to be stored in the fridge.

Yield: One big fat yummy pizza loaf
Source: Inspired by Charm

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Bee Love!




                     My wildflowers are giving one last bloom before they die off for the season and I along with the humble yet mighty bee are grateful for it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Buttermilk Honey Oat Bread

                   A large part of my summer was spent trying out as many bread recipes as I possibly could. I had so much fun trying out new techniques and ingredients and knowing I had a freezer full with homemade bread made me smile.
                 The bread has quickly become a staple around our house. It's so soft and has a wonderful honey flavor. It holds up well to anything you want to put on it peanut butter or stacked high with sliced meats and cheeses.

Buttermilk Honey Oat Bread

3 cups ( 381g) All-purpose Flour
3/4 cups Oats-regular or old fashioned
2-1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Buttermilk..regular milk is also fine
1/4 cup Water
2 TBS Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Honey

2 TBS Honey,warmed
2 TBS Oats

In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour,oats,yeast and salt.

In a small saucepan,heat the buttermilk,water,and butter over medium heat just until the butter starts to melt. Take off the heat. Add in the honey and stir until dissolved.

Pour milk mixture over the flour mixture and knead with the dough hook on speed 4, for 5 minutes. Add in more flour as needed if the dough is to sticky. Shape into a ball and place into a greased bowl,turning once to coat. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly flour counter top and plop the dough out onto the floured surface. Gently deflate,knead a few times and then roll up into a log. Place into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until doubled,about 30 minutes-1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celsius. Brush the top of the loaf with the warmed honey and then sprinkle the top with the oats.

Bake 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: Bakingdom

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Container Garden Lessons

                My container garden is finished for the year and as I look back I can see where I went wrong and what I got right. First up..wildflowers. I am so glad I purchased a wildflower mix that was made especially for bees and butterflies. It helped in more ways than I could imagine. My little garden was a daily hang out for those wonderful pollinators and I was forever grateful. I will continue to plant as many flowers as possible to attract even more next year.
                        I learned that when growing carrots that you must,must,must thin them out! I didn't do it and because of that,my rainbows came out in various shapes and sizes. They tasted amazing and will grow those again for sure. I blanched them and put them in freezer to enjoy this winter! A shot of color during the darker days will be very much welcomed.

             I learned that although it's fun to grow a new should only grow a few the first year to see if you even like it..and then grow more. The mouse melons were not a success for us taste wise. They grew like the amazon rain forest and attached themselves to every living thing they could get their sticky little climbing hands on. I was not impressed.
           I also learned that this will be my last year growing tomatoes. I had tomatoes coming out my ears and only the chickens and I were eating them on a daily basis..No more of growing what we might eat but more of what I know we will eat.
              I learned that harvesting potatoes is crazy fun. My husband and I dumped our containers out and laughed as we dug through the dirt to find our prized nuggets. Those were hands down, the best potatoes I have ever eaten. I will be growing those again but ditching the container method and moving on to something larger. I want way way way more potatoes next year.

I've learned a lot. I could have done a better job with some of my veggies and next year I'm planting 3 times as many zucchini..since we seem to eat a TON of that. Carrots and potato production will be kicked up a notch, and so will cucumbers. I plan on growing more strawberries since those were a huge hit. My banana shallots didn't make it, my rhubarb was a huge success..but I didn't harvest a single one since they say not to touch it the first year. The leaves are elephant ears big! I can't wait until next summer..It's going to be bigger and better!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sweet Potato Bran Muffins

                Whew...I'm back! Did everyone enjoy their summer? My teenaged sons have been back in school for two weeks now and I have been enjoying the last few free moments with my husband. He's had several months off as he waited for a new job to start and it's honestly been amazing to have him home. We were able to get a ton of things done around the house and worked on several projects together. All good things must come to an end though and he was heading out the door once again. I baked a ton of bread and buns today because I didn't know what else to do with myself!

I have so many bread recipes to share..tons of sourdough breads as well. For now..I give you a wonderful muffin recipe to welcome in Fall...Because it's coming you know..Are you ready?

If you don't want to use sweet potatoes then sub pumpkin puree for it. The original recipe called for it but I can get my hands on sweet potatoes all year long and pumpkin is always a challenge. I have never once noticed a difference in taste or texture when using one or the other so I stick with what is readily available to me.

Sweet Potato Bran Muffins

1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Sweet Potato Puree
1-1/2 cups Crushed Bran Flakes
2 Eggs,Beaten
2 TBS Molasses
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celcius. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk,puree,and crushed cereal.Let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir in eggs,molasses,brown sugar,and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in remaining ingredients and gently mix to combine.

Fill each muffin tin evenly with batter. 

Bake 14-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from tin and allow to cool on wire rack.

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: 365 Days of Slow Cooking