Back to Basics: the old stand-bys and my, how far we’ve come

Sometimes, I think, I bite of more than I can chew. And I know exactly what that looks like, since my 2YO regularly has so much food shoved in her mouth that she can’t close it. Not only is it bad for digestion, it’s downright unattractive. Anyway, I digress.

“When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be….One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.”

So, I’ve done it again. This time though, it’s not at all food related. Well, not really. I’m just extra busy with my kids. It’s wonderful and I am so grateful we’ve made the choices we have, but it’s putting pressure on areas that previously had a little wiggle room. Throw in teething (two in three days – really?) and a traveling husband with funerals to attend to and soccer for my 5YO, and well, something had to give.

I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.

What had to give, sadly, has been my creativity and fancifulness in the kitchen. Dinner has become more of a 50-yard dash (and I use 50 because that’s totally a kid race and I’m totally falling back on kid food) than a loping 10K. (Marathons are pre-kid, let’s be fair.)

“My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”

                                                                                                                    ~”Of Things that Matter Most“, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

So we’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal at breakfast (my kids actually cheer when we do, so I don’t feel guilty), I’ve been baking this bread (I know it’s not vegan – can you still love me?) and making fresh vegetable sandwiches with garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and onions and carrot butter – YUM!, eating Chef AJs dressing on plain Costco greens day in and day out, putting a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker and calling it soup (and then throwing it out when it’s terrible), and shoving more and more green beans from the garden into the fridge with a prayer that I’ll eventually deal with them.

And then on a whim, I resurrected these flautas. But I made them better. And had fresh tomatillo salsa (I’m sure that post is to come…someday). And then we had them again three days later. Quite simply, they were happy, healthy, kid-friendly, and super-fast if you use canned beans. And if you cut things small, you can shove a lot of veggies into them without anybody caring. Mind you, the recipe is totally loose on how you put together your filling. I think the most important part is baking at 425 for 12-17 minutes.

Baked flautas:
Bean filling:

2-3 cans black or pinto beans, drained & rinsed OR 4-5 c. cooked beans

½ c. diced onion

½ c. water

A splash of whatever salsa you have on hand

Add to small saucepan and cook down until creamy and beans start breaking down (help them along with a bit of mashing – you’ll feel better as you do it too.

1-2 c. diced vegetables (peppers, onions, summer squash, carrots)

In another pan, quickly sauté your diced vegetables in a bit of oil or water, just so they’re tender. Then add vegetables to the bean mixture with ½ to 1 c. leftover cooked grains if you have them, and let it all cook until it’s nice and mashy.

Divvy the filling up between 8 tortillas and roll them up. Put them on a cookie sheet, brush lightly with oil, and bake at 425 for 12-17 minutes, depending on how big they are.

Enjoy with guacamole (the best!) and salsa.

And now, I’m going to bed.

Tasty Tuesday Series: Ragnar Recovery

So I’m back at home, rested and over the Cafe Rio fiasco. I’ve been drinking recovery green smoothies with maca like a fool and downing shots of wheat grass like it’s nobody’s business.

Erika and I at the finish line

Race Lowlights:

Using Honey Buckets for more than 30 hours straight

Getting the ‘runs’ during my 9 mile unsupported downhill mountain leg due to a questionable coconut water beverage I consumed at the first exchange. Let’s just say I was grateful for some bushes to offer cover and that what I used to ahem, clean myself, was NOT poison ivy

Having to have Steve take over for the last 3 miles of said above downhill leg because I couldn’t finish it

Telling Erika gleefully that we were having whole grain waffles for breakfast then remembering she is on a grain restricted diet for another week. Sorry!

Race Highlights:

Hanging out with some of my very best friends while running through some of the most beautiful terrain ever, what could be more fun than that?

Christina getting interviewed by local news while wearing her light up Medusa hairdo

The dude that kept flashing his nipple at us while running as Erika and I made catcalls out to him out of the back of the truck

Finishing with no black toenails and no vomiting

Eating Amanda’s giant homemade Larabar

Sleeping at Steve’s Cabin for a few hours and eating Sue’s spaghetti dinner she makes every year

Eating Oreo’s for the first time in months, because, hey they’re vegan and junk food at Ragnar once a year won’t kill me

Not being crazy sore or stiff after the race (thank’s plant-based diet!)

These Carb-Load Rolls I make every year for Ragnar (sorry, we ate them, no photos)

Ragnar Carb-Load Fruited Nut Rolls

Ingredients: 2 C. white whole wheat flour, 2 C. unbleached organic flour, 2 C. rolled oats, 1/4 C. vital wheat gluten, 2.5 c. warm soymilk, 1 T. coconut oil, 1/2 C. dried blueberries, 1/2 C. dried cranberries, 1/2 C. dried zante currants, 1 C. chopped pecans, 1/4 C. agave, 1 t. cinnamon, 1.5 T. heaped active dry yeast and 1 T. salt. Method: Combine all ingredients in kneading apparatus (I use my bread-maker) and let knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Remove dough, divide into 24 pieces. Place side by side on a large cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place for about an hour. Rolls should be touching. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

More photos and details coming on Somer Saturday

Carb Loading – Somer Saturday

I’ts Somer Saturday and I have been either been intentionally or unintentionally carb loading for my Ragnar Relay Race Next weekend. Not really sure which one, but I am really, really loving carbs at the moment.

Pretzel Rolls: Adapted & veganized from this recipe here.  3 C. White whole wheat flour, 1 C. organic unbleached flour, 1 t. salt, 1 1/4 C. warm almond milk, 1/2 C. warm water, 2 t. active dry yeast, 2 T. vital wheat gluten, kosher salt for sprinkling. In a breadmaker or other kneading apparatus (possibly your hands) knead all the above for 10 minutes. Let rise for 30 minutes. Divide into 12 rolls or 8 hamburger buns (for the best vegan Scott Jurek burger ever). Let rise for 15 more minutes. In the meantime boil 2 quarts (8 cups) water with 1 T. kosher salt and 4 T. baking soda. Poach 3 rolls at a time for one minute, turning over halfway through until all are poached. Remove with a slotted spoon. Slash each roll 3 times across the top with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and some sesame seeds. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes for rolls or 25-30 minutes for hamburger buns. Please use parchment paper to bake on, otherwise you will need a chisel and a hammer and quite possibly ruin your favorite baking sheet. I also made a sourdough version later in the week by replacing 1 C. Sourdough starter for 1/2 c. of the liquid and 1/2 C. of the flour. INSANE.

Kristy’s Vegan M&M Cookies. I baked them for 2 minutes less than she recommended, because I like super soft cookies. There aren’t any left. BOO! I also used leftover dairy free chocolate beans I got for my kids for Easter from a Jewish Kosher online store because the one’s Kristy used are no longer available (I would provide you with a link, but can’t find it). These would also be crazy good with Vegan Chocolate Chips!

And finally….. Vegan Sourdough Pancakes: I did an “In the in the pan shot” because look! I had to show you that they behave like normal (non-vegan) pancakes do! Getting dry at the edges and bubbles bursting when ready to flip. It nearly made me cry! Plus they were the fluffiest vegan pancakes I have made to date!

Ingredients: 1.5 C. sourdough starter, 3/4 C. White whole wheat flour, 3/4 C. Soymilk, 1 t. baking soda, 1 t. baking powder.

Method: Whisk until just combined. Cook over medium heat in lightly oiled skillet. Makes 4 giant pancakes or 8-12 smaller pancakes. Top with fruit of choice and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

p.s. if you want to start your own sourdough starter, google it. I’m not an expert. Carolyn gave me mine and I think I nearly killed it. I did recently however convert it to a 100% whole wheat starter and it is currently a normal color and doing well in my fridge at the moment since I have stopped neglecting it.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the most recent nomination for Good Clean Food! Thanks Kristy at Keepin it Kind, for your cookie recipe and the nomination!!! I’m pretty sure she is a fellow runner and carboholic. 😉 Love her!

Are you carb loading for any races at the moment too?

Vegan Hot & Sour Soup & The Breadmaker “Aha” Moment

It’s Somer Saturday and I figured 6 days in the raw was plenty. I admit I did end up sneaking a slice a toast, but I will tell you more about that in a minute. Part of my motivation for going raw was that my kids and I got pink eye, a vomiting bug and colds all in one week (maybe it was some insanely mean super virus?)….And my husband was out of town for most of it (lucky him). I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t eaten raw I would have laid in bed most of the week, but instead I was able to function fairly well. Then the icing on the cake, Friday afternoon while playing on the play-set swings in my backyard with my 3 year old, we had a collision of sorts and I ended up nearly putting my tooth through my bottom lip. I shall spare you the gory details, but let you know that I typically handle other people’s injuries amazingly well, I’m like a superhero and always know what to do with a calm and collected manner. However, when it comes to my own blood, especially copious amounts of it, not so much… it’s like kryptonite. I get woozy, and I nearly faint. Anywho….It was this “kick in the head” that motivated me to break the raw fast and eat something warm, comforting and easily slurpable past a fat lip.

Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

4 C. Vegetable Stock

2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

1 T. miso (I used yellow, pretty sure most varieties will do)

dash or two of cayenne pepper

1 C. shitake mushrooms, slivered

2 T. Cornstarch

1/2 package Mori Nu silken tofu (extra firm) cut into 1/2 inch dice

2 T. finely grated ginger

3 scallions, sliced on the diagonal

3 T. rice vinegar

1 small can bamboo shoots, drained

1 small can water chestnuts, drained

1 t. sesame oil

pinch raw sugar

2 T. wood ear mushrooms (Chinese fungi, if you can’t find them, just omit them)

Method: Add all ingredients to soup pot. Bring to a low boil then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes over low heat. Great for a swift kick to the head, colds or whatever else ails you.

Now for the Breadmaker “Aha” moment. My friend Emmy at emmycooks.com posted a breadmaker recipe this week. In her post she asked if anyone had a 100% whole wheat breadmaker loaf, and if they would like to share the recipe. Well, as you know I had posted a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe earlier this week. I decided to scale it down and test it out start to finish in my breadmaker to see how it would fare, on the express function. That’s right folks, 100% whole wheat vegan sandwich loaf in less than an hour flat (58 minutes to be precise). It would take more time, money, stress and gas $$ to drive to the store,  select the loaf, pay for it, and drive home. FOR REALS. Now you know why I had to cheat on my raw food week and have a slice of toast. AMAZING! Here is the scaled down version in case you don’t want to do the math 😉

Breadmaker Express 100% Whole Wheat Vegan Sandwich Loaf

1.5 C. warm water

2 C. whole wheat flour (from hard red winter wheat)

1 C. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

2 T. agave or pure maple syrup

1.5  heaping t. yeast (each measured and heaped individually)

2 T. vital wheat gluten (great for higher rise, less dense bread)

1.5  t. kosher salt

1.5 t. lecithin (make sure yours is soy based, makes bread soft without the addition of oil)

Method: Dump all ingredients into a bread-maker. Press express function. Walk away. Return in 58 minutes for delicious hot bread. Huzzah!

Banana Bread Larabar DIY Recipe & Artisan Bread Pandemonium

It’s Tasty Tuesday where I bring you some of the awesome things we have freaked out over enjoyed in the last week. While I am typing this, I can’t stop thinking about Amanda and that she is very likely to have her baby today even though she would prefer he didn’t come til Wednesday. Sending her good vibes! Funny how in addition to your real sisters, you find soul sisters that you love the guts out of. I’m getting weepy or it’s raining outside or something (Flight of the Conchords silliness) and I’m digressing….

Three ingredients, that’s what I love about larabars! I buy them when they are on sale like hotcakes, they are so simple and pure: Dates, Bananas and Almonds! When they aren’t on sale or I’m feeling particularly crafty…. I make these. If you know anything about Mormons, you may or may not know that we really don’t have horns, but we do stockpile food storage like its going out of style, and that sometimes we end up with items we aren’t quite sure what to do with, enter – freeze-dried bananas, they have a 25 year shelf life and have been getting all lonely and dusty in my storage area, and strangely, they are considered a raw food.  If you don’t live in Utah and don’t have access to affordable freeze-dried bananas in ridiculous quantities, you can always buy them online  or use this recipe here instead. Although my banana ratio is higher and therefore, superior super tasty.

DIY Banana Bread Larabar

1 1/3 C. pitted dates, chopped (measure whole dates into measuring cups, then chop)

1 1/2 C. freeze-dried bananas

1 C. raw almonds

(ok, so there is really 4 ingredients in my recipe)

water

Method: Process dates and freeze-dried bananas in food processor until mixture is fairly fine and crumbly. Add almonds and process until all pieces are pea sized or smaller. Add water, a teaspoon at a time (no more than 6 teaspoons total) and pulse after each addition. The freeze-dried bananas need some re-hydration because they basically turn to powder when processed. How much water you need will also depend on how moist your dates are. Mixture is ready (may still seem a bit dry) when you can pull some of the mixture out and it will stick together when pressed into a ball.

I formed the recipe into balls instead of bars because it’s simpler, cuter and enables me to control my portions a little better so I don’t eat the whole batch. The recipe made 25 balls. Each has 46 calories, 2 grams healthy fats, 6 grams carbs and 1 grams protein. Store them in the fridge and they should stay fresh for up to two weeks. Pack them in your lunches, have them for an afternoon snack, take them for running fuel, love them.

Have you heard about the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day revolution? Seriously out of control. This bread practically makes itself: you don’t knead it, you don’t double-rise it, you don’t even add any sugar or oil! you make one big batch of dough, put it in your fridge and can use it for 2 weeks for seriously less hands on time then 5 minutes a day!?! I feel like a fake french bakery chef in my kitchen whipping out amazing loaves of bread that are crazy delicious with a lovely crispy crust and amazing large holed crumb interiors. I learned about it from Amanda and Jen’s earlier posts on this blog. Why haven’t I known about this until now?

Here is the master recipe (white) with video demo (must watch to get technique)

Here is the wheat version recipe with video demo

I ended up buying both the books because I have never made such incredible bread in my whole life (and I really make a lot of bread).

The only thing I do different from the recipes above is use this dutch oven method here to bake instead of their traditional stone and steam method. It gave my bread a much better rise then their recommended method and made it even more amazing than before. For troubleshooting visit their FAQ’s page. And buy the dang books! You won’t be sorry! So in love with this bread!

The former South Beacher gone Vegan (maybe)

I have been eating vegan for 10 days now and I am FREAKING out over the carbs. I jumped on the south beach diet wagon10 years ago and have more or less eaten that way since. I don’t want to gain weight, I also want  to be healthy. I started South Beach to lose weight, but stuck to it for the health benefits. There are so many “right ways” to eat, how do you know which one is right? ie Gluten is bad, meat is bad, carbs are bad, fat is bad AHHHHHH!

I am sticking to the vegan way for now, but, as I said, FREAKING out.  I made the Spicy-Smokey-black Bean soup for dinner yesterday. It was DELICIOUS. I also enjoyed some Black bean, Quinoa Bread. Love this bread, very easy to make, just dump everything in my Bosch, rise and then into the oven.

Quinoa Black Bean Bread

Image

(this is the last 1/8 of the loaf—I told you I love this bread)

Ingredients

¼ c fresh ground black bean flour

1 C hot water

½ c sour dough starter (mine is from my mother–supposedly came across “the plains” but you can order on Amazon and sour dough has lots of health benefits not to mention tasty!)

½ c cooked quinoa

4 T olive oil

2 t salt

4 T maple syrup

1 T yeast

2-3 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour

Place all ingredients in mixer, add ½ the flour and sprinkle yeast over top. Start mixer and add flour until dough pulls away from edges. Knead for 6 mins, remove from mixer, form free standing loaf (big ball) let rise on baking pan until doubled. Bake at 350  degrees 20-25 mins

Farmer’s Market – A few more (and a tease)

Rustic Italian Bread

Hi – Jen here again.  My family has a favorite bread recipe – super easy and simple. It’s got short rising times,  and uses really basic ingredients (just flour, water, yeast and salt). You don’t have to have any fancy machines to make it – just be willing to knead for a bit (although I use my Kitchen Aid . . . we like our machines around here).

This recipe doubles well. I can fit two loaves on one big cookie sheet. Another favorite rendition, often requested by my daughter, is to roll the dough out flat, sprinkle with cheese (usually mozzarella), roll it up, seal the edges (so you don’t get a cheesy explosion) and put it in a lightly greased 9×5 bread pan and bake according to the same time.

The dough can also be used for rolls, pizza dough and breadsticks. Adjust baking time accordingly (pizza is usually cooked hot and fast, and breadsticks are a bit slower, but shorter time than bread or rolls).

When Amanda visited last month, we tried making this with 100% whole wheat flour, and, that time it didn’t rise to it’s full potential . . . so, experiment to find what flour blends work for you.

We once taught this recipe to a sister missionary from Taiwan who started making bread for herself everyday. Later sisters reported that she would try adding different things to the bread, like fruits and vegetables, including lettuce. So, I would say there’s lots of room to experiment. This is alchemy in it’s purest form.

Enjoy!

Rustic Italian Bread

Serving Size : 8

1 cup warm water (105F – 115F)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 ½ – 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal (I often just use my Silpat  – maybe that’s why it stuck last time)

Place ¼-cup warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand 5 minutes or until yeast is dissolved. Add remaining water, 1 cup flour and salt. Mix well until blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. [Alternatively, dissolve yeast in KitchenAid then proceed to mix in the flour and knead for about 3-4 minutes on 2, skipping the following hand kneading.]

Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease top. Cover; let rise until almost double in size, 30-45 minutes.

Grease baking sheet; sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch down dough. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Roll dough into a 12-inch round. Roll up dough jelly-roll style. Pinch seam to seal. [This is the step where you can sprinkle the dough with shredded mozzarella before rolling up. I cooked it in a bread pan instead of on a baking sheet when I did this.]

Taper ends to form oval loaf. Cover; let rise until almost double in size, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle a little flour over loaf. Make 3 or 4 slashes in top of loaf with a sharp knife. Bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; let cool slightly before serving.

Source: “Easy to Bake Easy to Make Breads Card 8”

Copyright: “2002 International Masters Publishers, Inc.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

NOTES : Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water before adding yeast; water that is too hot will kill the yeast.

For dinner rolls, separate dough into 8 pieces. Shape dough into rolls with floured hands. Proceed as recipe directs.

P.S.  Sorry I don’t have any pictures.  I haven’t made this since Amanda came to visit last month, and my scanner isn’t working to get pictures from the original recipe card.  We’re having chicken and rice for dinner tonight, and instead of making bread, I’ve been typing up this recipe to share.

Rainy day baking

Sometimes, rainy days just call for a baking day, and this one especially since my legs still ache from Saturday’s half marathon and I didn’t really want to go anywhere. Since I knew it would be dreary all day, I prepped last night and got the dry ingredients ready for muffins while making a batch of yogurt. I know my little one is often slow in the morning to be hungry, so I got lucky as I made Matt’s Grandmother’s blueberry muffin recipe without hunger demands from him and deliberated what else could fill the dreary day with delicious smells.

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Blueberry Muffins from Grandma Aggie (with my alterations)
Yield 12 muffins
2 c. flour (I used 1 c white whole wheat (King Arthur) and 1 c whole wheat pastry)
½ t. salt
1 T. baking powder (2 t. to 2 ½ t. is good at high elevations)
½ c. sugar
1 t. orange or lemon extract (or 1 t. orange zest)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c. milk
½ c. melted butter
1 c. blueberries (frozen worked out beautifully)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prep muffin tin.
In medium bowl, blend dry ingredients.
Combine egg, milk, and melted butter in 2 c. measuring cup, and add liquid all at once to dry ingredients. Mix quickly with a wooden spoon until all liquid is absorbed but batter is still lumpy.
Fold in berries, and spoon into muffin tin.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan immediately to cool.

So when the little one went down for a nap, I pulled out a new bread recipe that had only one rise and was full of yummy stuff. And since I had to wait for the rise, I figured with the molasses out, I may as well make some gingersnaps my sister Jennifer recommended on her blog from another blog. I thought they were pretty good, and Matt even ate one while sick, but they might be a little heavy on the molasses. I only had blackstrap (which was likely the problem), so maybe I’ll try something a little more mild next time. I only used just a pinch of cayenne, but it added a nice kick to it. I think that much more would have been too overbearing. See the link above for the recipe.

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The bread turned out beautifully (for a novice bread baker) and the whole house smells delicious. It’s a nice whole wheat recipe, but I’m not sure how it will do for sandwiches yet. I added about an extra cup of flour to the original recipe, because it seemed really sticky. Even with the extra flour it was still quite sticky, but it worked out okay I think. I let it rise for about an hour and fifteen minutes, waiting for the cookies to finish baking and it was a nice consistency. I might let it got another 15 minutes next time, and bake it an extra five, but it was a really nice, soft, brown bread and wasn’t dense like most wheat breads. It was delicious warm with butter and strawberry jam, because isn’t that the best way to eat warm bread?

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Pioneer Bread
Yield 2 loaves

2 ¼ t. yeast
2 T sugar
½ c warm water

1 c. hot milk, but not boiling
2 t. salt
½ c. dark molasses
½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter melted

1 c cold milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 ½ c whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep two loaf pans by oiling/greasing and flouring if desired.
In a small bowl, mix together yeast, sugar and warm water. Let sit until foamy (until it’s time to add it).
In a separate, large bowl (my stand mixer bowl), combine hot milk, salt, molasses and butter until dissolved. Add cold milk, beaten egg, and yeast mixture. Stir until combined. Add flour and stir until blended. (This is where I was a bit confused, but I used the dough hook and kneaded it until it slightly pulled away from the bowl sides. It was really sticky dough, but I figured I’d try it on faith at least once.)
Divide dough into two equal portions, shape into loaves, and place in loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour 15 minutes). Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until hollow sounding. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Bread will not be as chewy as a double risen loaf, but it is moist and soft, especially for whole wheat bread. Best when served warm with butter and jam.