Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy Rustic Bread

This bread has been all over pinterest, so if you are all fans, then you've probably seen it before!  Truly, this bread is amazing and it's the easiest bread I've ever made!  You have to try it at least once and leave a comment to let me know how it works out!

Easy Rustic Bread
(original recipe: Simply So Good blog)

3 cups unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast or bread machine yeast (same thing)
1 1/2 cups warm water

Find a very large mixing bowl and whisk together the flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix gently until the mixture starts to come together.  It will still be quite wet.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 12-15 hours (you can leave it up to 24 hours, but don't put it in the refrigerator).  After the allotted time, heat the oven to 450 degrees and place the pot with lid on inside the oven for 30 minutes.  A cast iron pot works really well for this, but you can use any pot that can go inside your oven safely.  I used a stainless steel pan and lid last time and it turned our fantastic!  So, while the oven is pre-heating, pour the dough onto a heavily floured surface and attempt to shape it into a ball.  It will still be soft.  Cover the dough with the plastic wrap while you wait for the pot to pre-heat.  After 30 minutes, remove lid and drop dough into the middle of the pot and return the lid.  Cook for 30 minutes.  When the timer goes off, take lid off of the pot and return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes.  Finally, remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.  It will be hard to wait to dig into this bread and I'll be honest, I usually don't wait more than 10 minutes.  Just be careful because it is very hot!

The original recipe has a ton of FAQ's and they cover any question you could possibly imagine!  Check it out if you need some guidance.  You'll also find a great selection of mix-in options on the original site.  I have not yet experimented with mix-ins because the basic bread is just SO amazing!

Hope you enjoy!


Fudge Brownies

I know I have a few brownie recipes on this blog, but can you really have too many brownie recipes?  These are my go-to brownies right now because they are easy!  You an give or take the instant coffee powder, but I always prefer to use it if I have it on hand.

Fudge Brownies (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Special Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder (Starbucks VIA are yummy)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or White Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.  Crack the 4 eggs into a large bowl, and beat them together.  Next, add cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla and mix untill the batter is velvety smooth.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter by slicing it into tablespoons and placing it in the bowl.  It should take about 1 minute to melt.  Next, add the sugar and stir to combine. Continue to  microwave briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. King Arthur Flour claims that heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.  Add the hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture pouring slowly into the bowl, stirring until smooth.  Add the flour and chips.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.  Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 68: Birthday Boy Turns 4!

How is it that I have a 9-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old?  Really, life is just flying by and I know that if I close my eyes for just a minute they'll all be graduating High School and having their own kids!  So, my youngest, Zachary, turned 4 last Wednesday and we celebrated his birthday 2 weekends ago with family and a few friends!  His birthday is so close to Halloween that we had a costume party and did a Spider theme and bought leftover Halloween decorations for the party! It was fun to have spider webs all over the house.  Zach loved to throw things into the webs to see what stuck and what fell down!  Sadly, I still have some spider webs hanging around my house. . .

Cinnamon rolls for Zach's 'real' birthday at home!

Time is slipping by, so along with the speed of my children growing, starting Cross Fit is kicking my butt (quite literally)!  I am so exhausted every night, but it's oddly addictive.  My husband has been going to Cross Fit for over a year and I have picked on him about the incredible pain he's in after every workout!  However, I am now able to see this pain from a 'personal' perspective and I'm finding that the pain is intense, but the fact that I completed the "mac-daddy' workout really makes me feel amazing!  So, I'm hooked, but my blogging is totally suffering (as is my menu-planning), so we've had some interesting meals lately that include chicken nuggets for the kids and eggs for Mommy and Daddy!  It's all good.  ;)

Week 68 Menu

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken, broccoli, potatoes
Monday - Roasted chicken legs with cauliflower, couscous
Tuesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, zucchini noodles
Wednesday - Chicken tacos, black beans, rice, seared zucchini
Thursday - Thai basil shrimp, cabbage, red peppers, white rice
Friday - Out to dinner
Saturday - Out to dinner

I am not certain that I'll make any of these meals this week.  It's just been that crazy around here with homework and all of the neighbors begging to play outside in the afternoons.  We don't even do sports yet, and it's just busy all of the time.  I hope that some of you will share your attempts at menu planning too!  Just post your menus (or what you think you might cook) in the comments below, so that we can all get ideas from one another!

Happy cooking, everyone!