My Mom’s Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread

20 Aug

My mother makes the best bread hands down! Growing up that was always the highlight of the week. Coming in from playing outside with friends to her bread just coming out of the oven was like we had died and gone to heaven! She would slice us each a nice thick  piece of steamy hot bread, lather it with butter and then we would proceed to enjoy every bite of it. She definitely made us kids into avid bread eaters!

I loved the bread so much that she taught me how to make it. That is the really awesome thing about my mom. She didn’t always do things for us she made sure to teach us important life skills too. She took the time to patiently teach us. I appreciate that because I know how hard it is to teach little ones things when it would be so much easier to just do the project yourself.

That being said, I have carried the torch on. I make my mom’s bread for my house now. My mom used to make it with half white flour and half wheat flour. Since finding out that white flour is not good for you I make it with all whole wheat. (so does my mom now) If you are used to store-bought white bread than you might think this bread is a little heavy. Otherwise I have had multiple people tell me it is the best bread they have ever had! It is very light for it being whole wheat. I think it is because I use Prairie Gold Whole Wheat flour which is a lighter colored wheat and milder in flavor than hard red wheat.  So when you decide you can’t live life without trying this, make sure to pay attention to what type of wheat flour you buy. It will make all the difference!

I try to make this bread on a fairly regular basis but sometimes life gets in the way and we run out of bread. The family I live with goes to the farmer’s market 2 days a week and packs sandwiches for lunch so we go through a good amount of bread.

I hear all the time from people who don’t make bread that it is so hard to make. Let me tell you a secret…. Shhhh…. bread is not hard to make at all. I will say it takes time though I wouldn’t even call it time-consuming. There is plenty of time where the bread does not need your help (no pun intended) and you are free to do other things around the house.

I use a Kitchen Aid because I am blessed to own one but if you do not have one this can be made my hand. I have done it plenty of times, normally when I am too lazy to pull out the Kitchen Aid.

I really love this bread and hope you try it because I can assure you, you will not be disappointed!

My Mom’s Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread:

4 cups of tepid water

4 Tablespoons active dry yeast

4 whole eggs

4 teaspoons of salt

2/3 cup of honey

2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 cup of instant milk powder

12 cups of  Prairie Gold flour plus more for working with

In the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl measure out the yeast. Add the tepid water and let sit and foam. Below is what it will look like when down.

Next add the rest of the ingredients except the flour. I always put the salt in last so that it doesn’t have a chance of killing the yeast. Then add in 4 cups of flour. Turn your Kitchen Aid on the lowest setting and set timer for 10 minutes. During this time you are incorporating all the ingredients. I am not sure what this 10 min mixing step actually does scientifically but it is what my mom always did so it is what I do.

While mixer is still on, slowly add in more of the flour till your mixer doesn’t look like it can handle anymore. I get about 11 cups of flour in my Kitchen Aid before I have to take it out.

Generously sprinkle counter top with half of the remaining flour. Pour the gloppy, sticky dough on counter and cover the top with the other half of the flour. Make sure your hands are fully floured and start to knead dough. You may need more flour than the 12 cups. It is totally fine and normal.

Adding flour is by how the dough feels. If it is too sticky add more. You will get the hang of it the more you make bread. Don’t be afraid to over knead the dough either. In my lifetime I have never seen over kneaded dough. Don’t be too rough on the dough. The idea is to take a small portion and press it into the rest of the dough with your palms. Keep rotating the dough and keep folding. I had my friend video me kneading the dough on my Iphone. The quality is not very good and I realized afterwards that there was a fan on in the background and I probably should have done some explaining. Anyways, it is my first attempt and I hope it helps. Here is the link to it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNrDfKBrZTM&feature=g-up Once you think you are done kneading, knead some more. From what I have seen when people first start making bread they never knead it long enough. So, go ahead and knead it some more. :) Here are a couple good rules to go by for telling if the dough is done being kneaded.The poke test. Push your thumb into the center if the dough. If it rises quickly back up then it is done. If the indention stays, keep kneading. I have heard that 10 minutes of constant kneading is good.  After making bread a couple of times you will get the feel. You will feel it alive under your hands and know when there are plenty of little air bubbles.

Once you are done kneading the dough spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Put the smooth down in the bowl then flip right side up like in the picture below where the seems are on the bottom. This is so that the top does not create a hard dry crust. Cover with a light towel or Saran wrap and let rise till double in size, about 45 minutes.

As you can see in this picture I let it rise a little too long.

Next, punch down.

Transfer it onto a floured surface and Knead it a few times. Then divide it into 5 equal portions

Spray 5 bread pans with non-stick spray. Setting the rest aside, take one ball and knead it some more. I knead it till it looks like all the little air bubbles are out then shape into a loaf and put in pan. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Set the bread in a warm draft-free area and let rise for a good 30 minutes or until it looks ready to bake. the time really will vary depending on the temperature of your house. It will rise slightly more in the oven.

Once the bread is ready and the oven is heated carefully transfer 3 loaves to the oven. Place in the middle of the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake for 15 minutes. Place the aluminum foil over the bread making sure to cover all sides. Bake 15 minutes longer. Bake the other two loaves the same way.

Pull out of oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes and take out of the pans. Then cut a big slice and slather with butter and eat to your heart’s content. I actually got so busy eating mine that I forgot to take a picture of it. Terrible I know!

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

18 Jul

It has been so hot lately that I don’t feel like cooking or eating anything hot. The exception to that is grilling. I love grilling and getting a tan at the same time. :) I pretty much love grilling in any weather, rain included. It just makes me happy to grill. Now there is a completely different taste when food is grilled on a charcoal grill. Once I was introduced to charcoal I decided then and there I would never go back. I love the smokey flavor!

Now I have been told that raw eggplant is poisonous. I am not sure how true that is but I don’t like the flavor anyways. So, make sure your eggplant is cooked thoroughly just in case.

Here is my Grilled Eggplant sandwich recipe that I promised.

1 medium-sized eggplant can serve 6 easily.

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant

salt & pepper

olive oil

garlic powder

sliced sharp cheddar

sliced tomatoes

basil leaves

pesto

Cut eggplant  into 1/2 inch slices. Lay out on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder on both sides and let rest while you are heating up the grill and preparing the rest of dinner. Slice cheese and tomatoes.

I used fresh bread that I had made so I cut that up too. I cut one piece per person to make an open-faced sandwich.

Grill the eggplant about 5 min on one side or until you have nice grill marks and it looks cooked about halfway. The time will vary depending on how hot your grill is or if you are using gas.

Flip eggplant and place the cheese on top while still on the grill to get it nice and melty. Cook about 5 minutes longer. You want to make sure it is all the way cooked or else it will be too crunchy and the flavor will be off.

After you take the eggplant off the grill place the bread slices on the grill just till toasty.

To assemble the sandwich I spread the pesto on the bread added the eggplant, the tomatoes, sprinkled some salt on the tomato and then topped with a couple basil leaves. It was delicious. This is something you can add all sorts of things to. You could grill some peppers and onions and make an awesome veggie sandwich.

 

What Do I Do With All This Eggplant?

13 Jul Took this picture with my new Iphone 4s!

Does eggplant seem to stump you? Do you look at it and wonder what to do with this weird spongy vegetable besides eggplant parmesan? It definitely stumped me. Until last year, I didn’t think anyone really uses eggplant for much of anything. Boy was I wrong.

If I didn’t live on a farm where there is so much eggplant and you get so tired of eating the same ol’ same ol'; but there is so much of it you have to come up with some new recipes or else you might just die I might not have discovered the wonder of eggplant. Although at the end of last summer I was so sick of eggplant that I didn’t want to see it again for a year. Well, guess what? Eggplant has made its debut again this year! It is back! Now I am excited! I am a little more prepared for it.  Below I will give you a few ideas on what I like to do with it. If one of them sounds good to you and want a recipe for it please leave a comment and let me know what recipe you would like to have and I would love to do a post on that.

Eggplant hash.

Eggplant pizza

sautéed eggplant for a salad topper

Grilled eggplant sandwhich

Eggplant canollis

Oven roasted eggplant

and of course you can’t leave out the  Eggplant Parmesan

Here are some pictures of the garden taken with my Iphone 4s.

So go get eggplant happy!

Pesto

3 Jul

If you know me you know that I am in love with basil pesto. Why I haven’t posted a pesto recipe yet is beyond me. If you have never had pesto you are in for a treat! I use pesto like some people use ketchup. I put in in my eggs, I put it on my pasta, I put it on my pizza, I put it on my sandwiches, I put it on my chicken, I put it on my croutons, I put it on my baked potatoes, and I put it on my hotdogs. Ok, not really on my hotdogs, though it might be great!

Anyway, homemade pesto is a staple in my kitchen. I love it! This time of year basil is abundant! If you are not growing it you should be able to find loads at your local farmers market.

Most people use pine nuts in their pesto but walnuts work just as well. I use whatever I have on hand.

Remember, I like garlic. If you are not a garlic freak start out with 3 cloves. You can always add more.

Basil Pesto

2 packed cups of basil leaves

1/3 cup of pine nuts or walnuts

4-5 cloves of garlic

1/2-3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup of parmesan cheese

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Add basil, nuts, and garlic to food processor and pulse till coarsely chopped. (If using whole walnuts pulse in food processor a few times before adding the basil.) Next while food processor is running, slowly pour olive oil in a steady stream into the basil mixture. Add as much oil till you get desired consistency. I like mine thick for some things and thinner for other things. Add the cheese and pulse a few more times. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Note: pesto freezes great! Just omit the cheese and add before serving. When I worked for Felicia Suzanne’s restaurant we used to freeze the pesto in little 2 cup containers. I still do that to this day. I know some people use ice trays but I think that takes a lot of extra work.

I will post a pictures soon!

Week 5: Seasonal Egg Rolls

24 Jun IMG_1479

How come when we think of making egg rolls we automatically think “Oh, that is way to  complicated! I don’t know that I could pull that off tonight or ever for that matter.” At least I think that. Well, I did the unthinkable and I bought egg roll wrappers… Then they sat in the fridge for a couple of weeks. So the other day I decided it was high time to try my hand at making egg rolls.

This is not your typical Asian egg roll. They are my zucchini squash version. I hope this recipe inspires you to put all those vegetables you don’t know what to do with that are just sitting in your fridge into one yummy egg roll!

Here are a couple of tips that I learned when making egg rolls:

1: A food processor is your best friend in this recipe! A food processor will totally either make this recipe a keeper for you, or if you don’t, you might have to go to the doctor for carpal tunnel. I am pretty serious about this food processor thing! You will need one to have a positive experience with egg rolls.

2:  I tried making the filling two different ways. I didn’t know if it would be better to saute the mixture before filling the wrappers or to leave the filling raw. I really think I liked the cooked version better because the egg rolls are not fried very long and the texture of the sautéed veggies just seemed more like the typical egg rolls you get at restaurants. But do whatever suits your fancy.

3: I also didn’t have any fresh garlic or fresh ginger but if I did I would definitely always go with fresh!

4: I didn’t do this tip but thinking back on what I would do differently next time this is definitely the thing I would do….I would make sure to squeeze the juices from the vegetable mixture very well after being sautéed. This is to eliminate the mixture from becoming watery and making the wrappers become all sticky. If you decide to skip this step you will know what I mean afterwards. :)

When I cook I don’t use measurements. I do in baking. But there is something freeing about cooking you just do whatever you feel like. It is a lot harder to mess something up when cooking then when baking. So my apologizes for not having specific measurements for you on all the ingredients. Don’t be scared though. Have confidence. You can do it! And tomorrow is always a new day if you happen to dump the whole bottle of soy sauce in, not big deal!

Alaina’s Egg Rolls:

1 Package of egg roll wrappers – If I remember correctly I think it has 24 wrappers

2 Medium onions

1 Medium cabbage

4 Carrots

2 Zucchini

2 Squash

Soy sauce

Garlic powder

Ginger powder

Oil for frying

Assemble your food processor with the grate blade. Cut all vegetables into pieces that will fit in the processor. Grate vegetables and transfer to large bowl. Next add a very generous amount of garlic, a good amount of ginger and about 4 tablespoons of soy sauce. Mix together.

 

In a large skillet on Medium heat, add a little olive oil and heat. When oil is hot, add the vegetables and saute for about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, squeeze out juices and transfer to a different bowl.

 

Next, working with one wrapper at a time place the square on the counter with a point facing you, making it look more like a diamond. Next, take 1 heaping tablespoon in the middle of wrapper. Take the corner closest to you and pull up over the filling.

 

Then pull in each side. Make sure it is pretty snug.

 

 

Take the remaining top corner and brush a tad bit of water on it, then pull down to complete your roll. Continue until all the wrappers are used.

In a skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil til nice and hot. I like to take a drop of water and flick into the oil. If it sputters it is ready and hot.!(Caution: you DO NOT want to use any more than a drop or you could get severely burnt.) Fry the rolls till golden brown. Turning them as needed with tongs. Once they are done, place on a pan covered with a paper towel to soak up some of the extra oil.

 

Serve with your choice of side. Enjoy! (I am glad to say I took all the photos!)

 

Week 3 & 4: Meatless chock full of vegetables tomato sauce

15 Jun IMG_1435

Last week I started a tomato sauce and was going to make it into a pizza sauce but then I got so busy that I didn’t finish it. This week I was craving vegetables and decided to go a whole new route with it. That is one thing I love about this sauce is it can be a canvas for so many things. I guess the pizza sauce will just have to wait. Last night I finally made time to do finish it. Sometimes I get so busy that I put aside proper eating for something quick to grab. My experience with good wholesome food is that it always takes time but is well worth the effort. I do believe this sauce was well worth the effort! After tasting it last night I don’t think I will be going back to any other tomato sauce. I am calling it tomato sauce for lack of a better name but it is much more than that!  For having no meat this is one amazing sauce! You could use it for just about anything. I don’t have the pictures available yet but I will post them soon.

Now for the sauce:

TO DO: the night or week before you need it

10 large tomatoes cut tops off and cut in half

1 bulb garlic peeled- yes the whole thing!

salt

olive oil

Heat oven to 400F. On a large sheet pan lay the tomatoes cut side down and scatter the peeled garlic all over. Generously pour some olive oil over and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 1 hour.

Now it is time to mop your floor. :) This is what I do.

After an hour remove from oven. (I didn’t even let it cool because I started it so late that when it was done I was ready for bed.) Pour tomatoes, garlic and juice into the blender or food processor and blend just until chunks are gone.

Pour through a pasta strainer, you will have to swish it around (The point in this step is to get out most of the seeds and skin) into a crock-pot and let simmer on low overnight. I really think you could skip this step if you don’t have a really watery base. It already has a nice roasted flavor this step is merely to cook it down a little.

Now you have a very good tomato sauce base.

Next I took

2 large onions

7 stalks of  kale

7 stalks of rainbow swiss chard

2 small yellow squash

and a large handful basil

sugar

cinnamon

In a large cast iron skillet on high and poured a generous amount of olive oil into it and let it heat up. Meanwhile, dice the onions. Once the pan is hot throw the onions in and turn down heat to medium. While that is cooking, finely cut kale and swiss chard, stirring the onions every once in a while. Add the chard and kale and continue to cook. Dice up the squash and add to the mixture. Once the vegetable are soft and bright in color add the finely sliced basil and pour the sauce into the vegetable mixture. Taste.

Taste. I added some sugar to make it a little less acidic and a pinch of cinnamon for fun. Cook till warm and serve over whatever you desire.  You could really put whatever kind of vegetables you want in this. This is just what I had on hand.

I served mine over freshly, finely grated zucchini and red quinoa.

If you are skeptical about this sauce you just need to give it a try. It will win you over. I am a lover of GOOD TASTING FOOD! I don’t want it just to be healthy. It has to meet my taste buds test also. This one surely does! Hope you enjoy!

Week 2: I Am An Artist!

30 May Summer Vegetable Tart

Garden vegetable Pie
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