Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I have a Pampered Chef person for you!

Click to look at the latest from Pampered Chef
This is my friend in San Diego....now you can get your own amazing garlic press! I also love my egg slicer thingy from Pampered Chef. Tyler uses it to slice olives for me :)

My Kitchen Full Of Treasures

It's been awhile! This week I am happy to be doing lots of cooking. I unpacked most of the rest of my kitchen things that have been stored in the garage. It's time to really get settled in here and this is the way for me to do that. I am loving having that favorite pan and those particular baking dishes and most of all my food processor! I made salsa to celebrate!

One of the first things from my kitchen boxes that I unpacked when I came here in December was my mandolin slicer. The first one I bought came from the Del Mar Fair, (now, I believe it is called the San Diego Fair), and I was 18 years old! I had to replace it a few years ago after it got melted by the house/pet sitter...I don't even want to know what happened! I was in a panic trying to find the same one and bought an imitation. I used it once and threw it away...it was dangerous! Mine is a Borner V-slicer and it is an amazing gadget that I use often. The Internet is a wonderful thing but I ended up getting a proper replacement by getting a friend to go to the San Diego Fair to pick one up and mail it to me in Colorado. :)

I lost so much when I went through the divorce and move. I mean, in terms of THINGS. I had to think long and hard about what was so important to me that I could not sell it, give it away or leave it behind. I had no jewelry left or precious things of that nature. I had already had to sell the piano or I would've found a way to keep that. My children kept special toys and toys that didn't seem so special and toys that all of them could enjoy, such as the healthy collection of Legos. What mattered to me were from 2 areas of my life. I kept some of the more treasured items that had been Julia's, my daughter that passed away. The other are was my kitchen. That is where I serve my family, my God, my community and myself. Those are my life tools and I chose carefully, keeping about 1/3 of what I had. Each item that I chose to keep was chosen with purpose. No item was just thrown in. Every spoon, dish, pan, utensil, gadget or appliance was carefully considered before it got packed into a box. I did not  know then that those thoughts would come back to me as I used each ordinary item now and attached to them are precious memories. I used the mandolin the prepare veggies for my friend, Betty Lynn's family. I got to know her mother, Betty Jane who I helped care for.  She passed away and you know I think of her every time I use my slicer. I made a huge batch of salsa when I got my new food processor in Colorado. Sarah ate so much she ended up with an intestinal problem from all those chips and we spent HOURS in the ER while they sorted out what was wrong with her. What a memorable event that was! LOL! My Pampered Chef Garlic Press I bought at a friends party is often found in the play dough bin and I think of that friend every time I use it! I also think of my garden and the wonderful success I had with growing garlic! My favorite sharp knife is a sushi knife I bought at the Colorado State Fair.  The waffle iron I got from a move-out clean I did. Best waffle iron ever....got rid of my big fancy one for this one! My silverware was given to me by an elderly cleaning client who just happened to be getting rid of their beautiful heavy flatware that was over 40 yrs old for something lighter the same week my ex-husband came in and took all the silverware and dishes from the kitchen. That one reminds me how God takes care of our needs. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Look around your home. What are really your treasures?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Off to A Slow Start

Well, yesterday I attempted to impress my 9 year old with a cartwheel but it didn't go so well. My brain remembered how but my body said, "No Way!". Fortunately, mostly just my ego was bruised.

Today, as well as some sore muscles, I have a stomach bug. The 9 year old also has it....we are close like that! LOL! I really do not like this staying in bed stuff. I am feeling much better this evening but am staying in my room, hoping not to spread the joy. Poor Tyler just couldn't stand it and kept coming in my room to tell me one thing or ask another....he missed me. :) After school he came running in to say hello to me. I asked him to bring me the papers from his backpack  but I didn't need them. He said, "I know all the details. I will just tell you." He proceeded to explain to be about the Book Fair and sure enough, he had all the details!

Hopefully tomorrow I am going to try out a crock-pot orange chicken recipe I recently saw on some one's blog. I'll let you know how it goes and share the recipe tomorrow.  In the meantime, I would love for you all to share a favorite, simple chicken recipe as well!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bread Machine Dough!!

Here are some ideas to get that bread machine making you something delicious instead of just gathering dust! You can freeze the dough in half or whole batches, so plan to make several batches ahead. Half batches are great if you only want to make a few rolls or small loaf or if you want to make a couple different kinds of rolls/loaves for a meal.  You may want to print this and stick it in your bread machine book.

Let's start from the begining....all the way back to the flour.
** Leanne's Bread Flour. Buy some bread flour (all purpose works too but this is better) and some whole wheat flour. Sprout/Henry's and Sunflower Market have it on sale pretty often either by the bag or in bulk. Pick up a cup or so of wheat germ while you are there.
In a big bowl, mix together 4 parts bread flour, 2 parts whole wheat flour and 1 part wheat germ. You can store it in gallon ziploc bags. Whenever you see "flour" in any bread recipe, use this!

Here is a  list of the basic ingredients and some guidelines for what and how to use them:
*Bread Flour, (All purpose is also fine but you will notice a difference in the texture of the bread).
*Whole Wheat Flour (It can be expensive so watch for a sale)
*Wheat Germ, (The least expensive and least wasteful way to buy is in bulk).
*Jar of Bread Machine Yeast. (If you are going to be making lots of bread buy the big brick of the stuff at Costco or Sam's. Even if you only you 1/2 of it before the exp. date, it is cheaper. Keep it in the fridge).
*Olive Oil, extra light, (I use it instead of margarine or butter. You can use margarine, butter, olive oil or any combination to equal what the recipe calls for)
*Sea Salt (plain ol' salt works too)
*Agave nectar, Honey or just Sugar, (whatever you have or prefer or any combo of these. I have just recently started using part stevia.) You may find that you need to increase the flour by a tbsp or so.
*Egg, (Some recipes call for eggs and some don't but I almost always use an egg. If the recipe doesn't call for an egg you have to adjust the liquid. I do this by cracking the egg into the measuring cup I measure the liquid into (milk or water), then add the liquid to to the amount specified so the total liquid is still that amount.
*Liquid. Some recipes call for milk and some for water. I never just use water but will use 1/2 and 1/2. For a nutrient boost, I add a TBSP or so of powdered milk with the liquid.
*Spices and herbs. If I am adding cinnamon or herbs to the bread dough I usually use a total of 2 tsps or so For instance, I might use 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp onion powder.
*Gallon Size Freezer Ziploc bags, (other brand, sizes and types are likely to explode when the bread raises as it thaws. I resembles something out of a B horror movie when this happens...you open the fridge and discover that the dough has escaped and has taken the fridge!!)

Now here is the basic bread machine recipe that I use. I adjust it if I add different ingredients and there is probably a great scientific way of doing this but I just do it. If it works fine, I make a note of what worked. If you add a wet ingredient such as pumpkin or other fruit or veggie, decrease the liquid. I have used one book in particular for bread machine recipes, "Bread Machine Magic", but have discovered that for most kinds of bread only a small adjustment is needed for different additions. Special breads, such as rye or pumpernickel or something like banana oatmeal bread.

I use a 1 1/2 lb machine and recipe. Put the ingredients into the bin in the order given. Use the "dough" setting on your machine menu.
Basic Wheat Dough
1  cup liquid  (milk, water or some of each)
1 egg
3 cups of  Leanne's Bread Flour**
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1//2 tbsp olive oil (fat)
1 1/2 tbsp honey (sugar)
1 1/2 tsps active dry bread machine yeast

When the dough is finished, flour your hands then pull the dough out. Now is when you want to divide the dough in 1/2 if you are going to. Place the dough in a ziploc that has been labeled and greased, (about a tsp of oil in the bag then press it around to generally cover inside of bag).
To use frozen dough, place in the fridge overnight or on the counter a couple hours before you plan to use it. When it is thawed, turn onto floured board. If you are making rolls, form a "log" then use a sharp knife to cut slices. Form the slices into balls and place on a greased pan or use muffin tins. I snip an "X" in the top of each one with kitchen shears. Often I also mix some olive oil and garlic powder and drizzle or paint with a pastry brush over each roll. Cover with a dishcloth and let rise at least 30 minutes and as long as an hour. *Hint: Turn on oven to warm for about 2 min. Turn off and set the pan with the dough , covered with a towel, in the oven to rise. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.


*Cheese Dough: With the flour add 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp onion powder
*Sweet Cinnamon: With the flour add 1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon. Increase sugar to 1/3 cup.
*Taco Dough: With the flour add 2 to 3 tsp taco seasoning mix
*Potato Dough: Add 1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes with flour. Increase water by about 1/8 cup. (I also add herbs/garlic/onion to this bread sometimes)
*Egg bread dough (nice for sandwich or slider rolls): Increase eggs to 2 eggs. Decrease water to 1/4 cup. Use sugar and increase to 1/4 cup.

This should get you started! Let me know how it goes. If you don't happen to have a bread machine, check your local thrift stores. I often see them for around $10 in thrift stores!

Let's Get Started!!

I am, by popular demand, putting together a new blog! Tell me what you want to see here. Feel free to comment on my posts and share your ideas with us all.

I will be posting a long post about making and freezing bread dough in you bread machine a little later tonight so check back later!