Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Light Wheat Bread

A born-and-raised Arizona girl, I could never truly enjoy living in a cold climate; it's just not in my blood. But during our years in Utah and Indiana, the one thing that would make me sad to see winter go was the fact that I could no longer bake as an excuse to heat up the house. I mean, who doesn't love leaving the oven door open after you pull something warm and satisfying out? Clearly, baking in the summer does not have quite the same effect!

What can beat the smell of freshly baked bread? (Well okay, you could probably persuade me about pie or cookies or something, but you get the idea.)

I have an all-time favorite white bread recipe that I plan on sharing before the winter is over, but for today, it's all about the wheat flour. Since I didn't grow up eating homemade wheat bread, I'm taking it slow--hence the title, "Light Wheat Bread." I also used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour, which is deceptively white in taste and color but still has all the fiber. (Don't ask me how they do it.)

Well, without further adieu, here's the recipe:

Light Wheat Bread
From the lovely Smitten Kitchen
2 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (In my case, King Arthur's White Whole Wheat)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

  1. Stir together the bread flour, wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast. Add the shortening/butter, honey (if using), and water. Mix until it comes together. If some flour remains in the bottom, add a bit more water.
  2. Knead for 10 minutes by hand or about 6 minutes by machine. Lightly oil a large bowl, toss the dough to coat, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  3. After it has risen, remove the dough and press it into a rectangle on a floured surface. The rectangle will be about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long. Working from the short side, roll up the length of the dough, pinching the crease with each roll you make. Pinch together the edges on the last roll, and place that face down in an oiled bread pan. Mist with spray oil.
  4. Let rise for about 60 minutes (maybe even less), or until the dough crests the top of the pan.
  5. Preheat to 350, and place bread pan on a sheet pan on the middle rack. Bake for 30 minutes; then rotate the bread 180 degrees for even baking. Bake for another 15-30 minutes. According to Smitten Kitchen, "The finished loaf should register 190 degrees F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom."
  6. When finished baking, remove the bread from the pan and let cool on a rack for 1-2 hours...if you can wait that long!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Lately, I love breakfast. I make oatmeal almost every day because it's warm and filling and full of fiber. (By the way, if you want to bump the fiber up even more, add ground flax. You barely even taste it, and it's fabulous for you.) I usually have a banana on my way to the gym, and then when I get home, I make my boys oatmeal.

We recently discovered the wonder of oatmeal topped with blueberries—Mmmm, mmm, mmm!! I'm unreasonably happy about this discovery because I always want to eat blueberries because they're packed with antioxidants, but I don't love them plain...or even in yogurt. But I do LOVE them in oatmeal, where they give that pop of flavor and sweetness that you need in oatmeal.

If I don't have blueberries on hand, I add some pumpkin pie spice (or just cinnamon) to the oatmeal while it cooks. The best thing about that is that it fills the kitchen up with the warm scent of cinnamon.

Once or twice a week, I switch things up by eating a fried egg and slice of whole wheat toast for breakfast. Has anyone else noticed that the egg is all the rage in nutrition lately? (I find that so interesting because it was practically the opposite a few years ago, wasn't it?) Anyway, this is another great breakfast that fills you important thing for breakfast to do. :)

So let's hear it—what's your breakfast of choice??

Monday, February 16, 2009


My first attempt at homemade granola was wildly successful, thanks to a great recipe.

Click on over HERE for the recipe, from a seriously fabulous food blog called Homesick Texan. I didn't even start out looking for a granola recipe, but after reading her description of how addicting it is, I had to try it. Well, let's just say she was right—we finished our half-batch in two days. It's salty and just a little bit sweet, and it's great paired with yogurt, eaten plain, or gulped down with milk and a spoon. Plus, it's super easy to make!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice with Chicken or Salmon

It seems like every recipe I post is my latest fave. I guess that means I only post favorites, which isn't a bad thing, right? Well, this recipe is no exception. We owe our South Bend friends, Jeff and Larissa, for it. They invited us over one Sunday and served some fantastic grilled salmon with mango salsa and coconut rice.

After eating it, we had two options: (1) we could invite ourselves over to their house every Sunday so we could keep eating it, or (2) I could figure out how to make it. For Jeff and Larissa's sake, we decided on option 2. (Thanks, guys!)

Mango Salsa
Too simple for measurements... It's just diced mango, pineapple (I often used canned), red onion, and cilantro. Dress it with fresh lime juice and some salt and pepper.

Coconut Rice
1 cup coconut milk (you can get this in a can in the Asian food aisle)
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup long grain white rice

In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the rice, stir well, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy, about 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit without stirring for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve hot.

When I made this yesterday I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and a touch of cayenne pepper. Then I marinated in a little canola oil, a bunch of lime juice, and some cilantro. We grilled ours, but of course you could always bake it.

This is such a versatile recipe, as it's great with either chicken or salmon. And if you slice up the chicken, you can serve the chicken in corn tortillas topped with the mango salsa. It's fresh spin on a taco, and it is definitely worth trying.

PS. The coconut rice isn't pictured here because we're currently on a little health kick, so I'm steering clear of white rice (not religiously, but generally)...But I promise it's beautiful and yummy! The coconut rice recipe I posted here is from the Food Network, which pretty much means you can count on it to be good.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

California Grillin'

Can I tell you how much I love California? Having lived in Arizona, Utah, and Indiana, I can assuredly say that this is my favorite place by far. Tonight we created a celebratory meal, celebrating Ryan's emancipation from his current client. :) He's getting ready to move on to a new client, and I'm hopeful that the new one will actually let me see him now and again! But the point is, grilling in February?! It was gorgeous out!

This was my first time making hamburger patties from scratch, throwing in some Lowry's, garlic salt, salt and pepper, and chopped jalepeno and onion. We ate the burgers with grilled asparagus, grilled mushrooms, and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Ah, it felt like summer.

Don't you just love that little guy peeking at us from behind the mustard bottle? I sure do. Well, happy Sunday, everyone!