Thursday, June 30, 2011

French Baguettes

Another break from the recipe below - but man I slept so poorly last night! I tossed and turned and had bad dreams about our lining check tomorrow. I've never gone this long on estrace without a lining check and am so anxious to hear how things look and whether or not we're going to get to transfer next month... I am worried we've waited too long and that things won't look ok and then I have to give myself a mental smack upside the head and remember it's out of my hands - whatever will be will be and NOTHING I worry about is going to change anything. I need to be positive and hopeful and I am ALWAYS hopeful but I worry too!! Ack!! Only 24 more hours 'til at least I get some idea of how things are looking and what will happen next! FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED for good news tomorrow AM!!

So, back to French Bread!! I love, love, love a loaf of homemade bread. Probably my favorite thing to bake and they sure don't last long around here - so it's probably a good thing I only bake bread once or twice a month! This is a simple and delicious French Baguette recipe I've used a couple times now. French bread smells SO heavenly when it's baking... mmm... not to mention it is delicious to eat just about any way you can imagine it - by itself, with some butter, nutella, some jam, baked with butter, cheese and garlic... just to name a few!

 Start with hot water, bread flour, bread machine yeast, salt and sugar.
 Since I used bread machine yeast I skipped the proofing stage and mixed water, flour, yeast and salt together.
 Next came the sugar!
 That was put on a low speed setting with the dough hook and I used a spatula to help most of the flour combine.
 Once most of the flour was combined I set a timer for about 8 minutes and let it run.
 Dough ball! Ready to rise!
 I pulled the dough out and oiled the bowl and then replaced the dough.
 Rolled the dough ball to coat and covered.
 I put it in a cool oven with a bowl of hot water underneath it and allowed it to rise for a half hour.
 30 minutes later the first rise was complete!
 Punched down.
 The dough was placed on a floured surface.
 Then rolled out into a large rectangle.
 I used a pizza cutter to split the dough in half.

 Lightly greased a large baking sheet.
 And then rolled each smaller rectangle up.
 One down!

 Carefully tried to blend and pinch the seams shut as best I could.
 Two loaves, ready for their second rise!
 Added the diagonal slits.
 After the dough rose again, I separated an egg and decided to use the white for the wash.
2nd rise was complete!
Brushed with the egg white.
25 minutes later two beautifully browned loaves emerge!
Tender and chewy!
I really like this recipe - this one came out a little denser than I would like it to have been, but the taste is wonderful and I'm sure I probably either didn't kneed it enough or let it rise long enough - as much as I enjoy baking bread I know I have a lot to learn still! :)

French Baguettes Recipe by Judy Taubert from AllRecipes.com

Yield: 2 small loaves

Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (or Stevia)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 egg yolk (or egg white)
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar and allow to proof for about 10 minutes (or until creamy/slightly bubbly) in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer. Then add the salt, then flour and use a dough hook and mix until no longer sticky, adding additional flour as needed to obtain an elastic dough.
  2. Remove dough and lightly oil the Kitchen Aid bowl (wipe out/clean first if necessary). Place dough in bowl and turn once to coat. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.               
  3. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.               
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix egg yolk (or white) with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.               
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mama Moe's Scalloped Potatoes

We were looking for a side dish for our grilled pork chops the other night and I came across this recipe. Scalloped potatoes sounded good - and we'd recently gotten a new "toy" that had a mandolin slicer attachment I've been wanting to try out! Being that I have a propensity to hurt myself on sharp objects in the kitchen, hubby took over potato slicing duty, though the slicer may even be Beka-proof; I think I'll be safe to use it next time something needs some slicing!

 We started by slicing up about 6 medium sized red potatoes.

 Sliced potatoes, a can of cream of mushroom, an onion and some cheddar cheese are all you'll need for this one!
 We tried the grating function on the new "toy" next - worked well except the cheese was previously frozen so fairly crumbly which made it a little difficult!
 The shredded cheddar and soup went into a bowl.
 Followed by some diced onion!
 That was all mixed together.
 Then about half the potatoes were layered into a 9x13 dish and half the cheese mixture was spread over them.
 The rest of the potatoes were evenly distributed.
 Followed by the last of the cheesy mixture!
 This baked for about an hour and came out creamy and cheesy!
This was simple, tasty, cheesy and easy comfort food!

Ingredients
  • 5 medium to large potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir together the cream of mushroom soup, cheese and onion in a bowl. Heat in the microwave until hot, about 3 minutes. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and layer half of the potatoes in the dish. Cover with half of the soup mixture and then repeat until ingredients are used up.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until potatoes are fork tender and cheese is browned on top.               

You may want to cover with foil for the first 30 minutes or so and then remove cover so it can brown; I didn't try it this way and I found some of the potatoes were still a little firm even after an hour of baking uncovered and think if I make these again I'll try foil for the first 30 minutes to see if that helps cook them any faster so they'll all be tender after the 1 hour mark.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

Completely unrelated to today's recipe post - I have to put it down somewhere about how stinking ANXIOUS I am for this Friday's lining check! It CANNOT get here soon enough! I am so ready to hear if we're going to get to transfer or not, and what my lining is doing. I'll have been on estrogen for 24 days by the time we have our lining check - that is WAY longer than I've ever been on it before prior to a lining check. I have no idea why other than my guess is they scheduled us that way to fit us into the books... but maybe there was an actual decision to put me on estrace for that long - either way I am trying not to go too crazy wondering what is going on!! I haven't had any major estrogen symptoms lately, tired more so than usual and a little emotional/grumpy occasionally but nothing extreme. Haven't had any major crampiness or anything else I sometimes get on estrogen... so what is happening!!!! ACCCKKKK!!!

We're supposed to get Kenneth's written offer letter today as well from Alion and I keep watching my e-mail to see if that's showed up yet to distract myself with, and we have Kenneth's 6-week post op appointment coming up on Thursday along with a Silent Auction at work that day which will help keep me busy and I have another physical therapy appointment to look forward to on Thursday evening. I am so glad I finally decided to go to PT instead of just the chiropractor. I still have a lot of muscle tension in my neck and shoulders but the pain level is a LOT lower than it has been for a long time. I'd just gotten so used to everything hurting a little bit I didn't realize that I really have been in pain pretty much every day for a long time now. My therapist has worked a LOT on my shoulders and now the majority of the pain I feel is in my neck, though my shoulders still have some tightness in them, but they are TONS better than they were when I started. Progress is exciting! Just wish I'd decided to do this a long time ago and maybe it wouldn't be such a slow process. Oh well, live and learn moment I suppose! :)

These are one of my favorite "go-to" buttermilk biscuit recipes. They always come out very tender and flaky; the folding process really gives them some great texture! Just a couple ingredients and these will be piping hot from the oven and ready to eat in no time!

I have a hard copy of this one from Southern Living magazine (link to online recipe below).
Start with self-rising flour, butter and buttermilk!
Cut the butter into slices and toss with the flour.
Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Add in the buttermilk.
Stir together until mostly combined, don't over mix. Place dough onto floured surface and kneed until flour is incorporated and dough is no longer sticky.
Next pat by hand into a rectangle.
Tri-fold the dough onto itself.
Then pat out into another rectangle (repeat 2 more times).
Use floured juice glass or biscuit cutter to cut your biscuits out (about 12 - depending on size of cutter).
Gently press scraps together and use to form 1 or 2 more biscuits.
Place with edges barely touching on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake about 13 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top and bottom.

These work great for sausage and cheese sandwiches (like my boys enjoy them).
Or with a serving of Smucker's Blackberry Jam - my favorite!
However you like your, I'm sure will enjoy these flaky, tender and delicious buttermilk biscuits!

Slightly modified - original recipe from SouthernLiving, on MyRecipes.com

YIELD: Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients
1/2 cup cold butter
2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Self-rising flour

Preparation

1. Cut butter with a sharp knife or pastry blender into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle butter slices over flour in a large bowl. Toss butter with flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper.) Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).

3. Press or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 3-inch round cutter (or flour dipped juice glass), and place, side by side, on an ungreased or lightly greased (with cooking spray) baking sheet. (Dough rounds should touch.)

4. Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.