Sunday, October 25, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread

Several months ago, I mentioned to my aunt that I was thinking about buying a bread machine. It was something I thought I might like to try, but wasn't sure if I truly wanted to part with my hard-earned dough (har har har) and purchase one.

Lucky for me, my aunt had a bread machine she was willing to let me use... An older(ish) model, but one I could try out and see if I really liked it. So last April, I got the bread machine and stashed it in the corner until I had some time to read the instructions and get baking.

Fast forward six months (and counting), and I finally noticed that bread machine still sitting there, still unused. Today, with equal parts guilt and curiosity, I lugged it out and settled in to give it a whirl.


















And the verdict? Let's just say I'm mad I didn't use it sooner. About 3 1/2 hours total of reading instructions, measuring the ingredients, and "bake time," we now have the perfect loaf of whole wheat bread (better than any store) and an apartment that smells heavenly. The only question that remains: What kind of bread should I make next?!


p.s. Thanks Aunt Deby! :)

Ingredients
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. bread flour
1 Tbs. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. nonfat dry milk
1 Tbs. margarine (room temp)
3/4 c. + 1 Tbs. water (75 to 80 degrees F)

Directions
Add ingredients to the bread pan in the order listed above. Choose the appropriate settings on the bread machine and press start. About 3 hours later... Voila! Fresh whole wheat bread just for you!





Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chicken Cheddar Chowder

This weekend, I found myself on the hunt for a thick, hearty soup recipe. The days are getting shorter and cooler, and the trees have passed peak and are slowly losing their brilliance... Now is the best time of year for soup.




















I wanted to try something new, so I spent much of Saturday afternoon scouring the Internet (I had all the time in the world, seeing as I was killing time in the WSU library while Gabe scoured SAE articles for his thesis - oh how I don't miss those days!). I finally came across a great find at Inspired 2 Cook that was posted just days ago. I knew it was the one. With a few tweaks to suit our tastes, this one turned out to be a true winner. We'll be enjoying this again and again throughout the upcoming cold winter nights.



















Ingredients

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 c. onions, chopped
3 medium potatoes, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 c. uncooked rice
6 c. chicken broth, divided
2 c. evaporated milk*
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbs. dried parsley
4 bay leaves
1 c. (8 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
4 c. cooked chicken, shredded
salt and pepper to taste


Directions
In a large pot over high hear, melt butter and olive oil together. Add vegetables, garlic powder, celery seed, dried thyme, salt and pepper and saute until tender (3 minutes). Add bay leaves, rice, and 4 c. chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer until vegetables and rice are very soft (20 minutes). Discard bay leaves.

Transfer in batches to a food processor or blender, blending the soup until smooth. Return to pot. Stir in remaining chicken broth, evaporated milk, and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Add chicken and stir until fully incorporated. Continue simmering an additional 10 minutes to let flavors meld. Serve with chunky bread or - even better - serve in a bread bowl.

* In many recipes, I substitute evaporated milk for ingredients like heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk (because I usually don't have those items on hand).


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Homemade Apple Pie

Fall is truly here. A cool, viscous wind blew ominous clouds in from the west. It didn't stop raining all day. Perhaps not the best weather for a weekend day, but it did give me a good excuse to don sweats and curl up with my newest library book.

Another (somewhat more appealing) sign of fall is the abundance of apples. We always have numerous bushels each season since my grandpa has several apple trees in his backyard. And what better way to celebrate this tasty fruit than to make pie! So a few weekends ago, I headed up north so my sister and I could preserve some apples to freeze for the winter, and make a few pies in the process.
















Apple has always been my favorite kind of pie. Nothing says comfort food to me like apples coated in cinnamon and sugar, wrapped in a warm, flaky crust. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and I've officially made it to heaven.
















Ingredients

6 to 8 c. apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
2 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbs. butter, cut into small pieces
2 (9-in) unbaked pie crusts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a 9-in pie plate with pie crust on a rimmed cookie sheet. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together apples, both sugars, cinnamon, flour, and nutmeg until incorporated. Drain excess fluid. Pour into unbaked pie shell, being careful not to overfill. Place pieces of butter evenly across the top of the apples. Top with remaining pie shell and press to seal. Cut slits in top pie shell to allow steam to release.

Bake for about 60 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!