Friday, January 27, 2012

Foodie Friday - 1/27/12

Here's an end-of-the-week peek at what's been happening in my kitchen lately, and what's coming up!

1. Last week I made my first attempt at chicken gyros, and they very well may be making it into my rotation of regular dinners! I used Christy's recipe for the chicken and tzatziki sauce, and Annie's take on homemade pita bread (she also has a whole wheat version here.) The pitas turned out soft and lovely, the chicken was wonderfully tender and seasoned, and the creamy sauce was fantastic. I went grocery shopping this morning and am feeling a little bit sad that I don't have gyros on the menu again for this next week! Soon. Very soon...

2. Our small group meets every other week and we always begin by sharing a meal together. With twelve adults and 14 children in attendance, it's a little chaotic. But very fun. My friend Jen was in charge of food assignments for our meeting last weekend and when she requested "that homemade bread you make" and also asked if I'd bring the recipe along, I knew she was talking about the bread I brought them when they had their third baby girl last summer.

This is as close to a no-fail bread recipe as I've found. And I'm not an expert bread-baker. I love the combination of half white flour and half whole wheat. It makes for a rich, nutty flavor while still maintaining an ultra-soft texture. And the touch of honey adds just enough sweetness. This is my go-to recipe for when I know I want a guaranteed perfect loaf of bread to serve with dinner.

Honey Wheat Bread

1 cup very warm water
1 T. milk
2 T. oil
2 1/2 T. honey
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. fast active dry yeast

Combine water, milk, oil, honey, brown sugar, and salt and mix well. Add flours & yeast and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth. Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down, knead for a minute or so, and form into loaf. Place in greased loaf pan, cover (or don't cover...I usually just stick it in a slightly warm oven uncovered for the second rise), and let rise about 30 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack & serve warm.

3. Coming up this week: Dinners on my menu plan include homemade pizza (I use Ree's recipe for crust and let the kids pile on their toppings (pepperoni for both, with pineapple on Maya's and mushrooms heaped on Noah's; as well as a new recipe from Taste of Home for an easy Chicken Cordon Bleu wrapped in puff pastry. On Monday night when Maya has dance and dinner has to be something quick and easy, I'll shred up a pre-made pot roast and serve it on tortillas with cheese, tomato, avocado, sauteed onion, and rice on the side.

4. Last but CERTAINLY not least, I have two occasions this weekend for which snack-type desserts are in order. So I've baked up something baaaaaaad. Various forms of this recipe are floating around on food blogs, but I'm not a huge fan of box mixes, so I haven't been convinced. Browsing around Foodgawker, however, I noticed that Gaby has come to the rescue, with this recipe that uses her favorite from-scratch brownie recipe as the top layer. The name she's given them is also hilariously appropriate, because OH MY GOODNESS at the naughty!


Happy Weekend!

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vegetable image:

Michelle Meiklejohn /

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A seven-year-old and her current favorites.

I had planned that my next post would be devoted to my thoughts on Jen Hatmaker's incredible new book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. However, my Kindle was proving so distracting to me during this time of work on the manuscript edits of our book that I handed it to friends who were leaving for a twelve-day vacation.

My Kindle is now vacationing in Puerto Rico due to my lack of self-control.

So! I may not have a review of 7 (shortened version: READ THE BOOK. You will not be sorry.), but I will report on another dear-to-my-heart event centered on the same number. My daughter - my first baby - turned seven this week, and I can hardly comprehend it.

Maya requested calzones for her birthday dinner (recipe at the end of this post!), as well as Brussel sprouts - which sounds totally odd unless you've tried the recipe that Megan linked to back in November. It has changed the entire way we view this vegetable, and given me the opportunity to use the phrase, "And here are your birthday Brussel sprouts!", to smiles and cheers.

Miracles. They do happen.

In related news, I've now developed an obsession with taking random raw vegetables, tossing them in olive oil and kosher salt, and roasting them awhile to see what happens. It's WILD around here!

Another new love of Maya's which brings me joy is her recent discovery of Beverly Cleary books. We read Henry Huggins together at our librarian's suggestion, and she was completely tickled at the hijinks of a boy growing up in small-town Oregon in the 1950's. I was delighted as well to relive the memories of my own childhood attachment to the book series - enjoying Henry's attempts to bring his new dog Ribsy home on the bus in a cardboard box; his foray into raising guppies, resulting in his mother's canning jars lining his bedroom filled with multiplying fish; etc. - all through the eyes of my daughter. A quick eBay search scored me a great deal on all six books in the Henry Huggins series, which Maya opened on the morning of her birthday.

She curled up in my lap the other night and shyly murmured that she was a little sad about not being six-years-old anymore. I hugged her tight and we talked about what it means to be nostalgic and I told her that she was just like her mama. Then I hugged her a little bit tighter.

On Saturday there will be a party featuring a pink cake with pink icing and fairy decor. As sentimental as I am about saying goodbye to age six, I'm equally excited to see what seven brings.

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(adapted from Allrecipes)

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 T. olive oil
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (or mozzarella) cheese
1/2 cup diced pepperoni
3/4 cup veggies (mushrooms, green peppers, olives, etc.)
1 T. dried basil
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese
garlic powder
marinara sauce

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in sugar, salt, and olive oil. Stir in one cup flour and mix until smooth. Add rest of flour and knead for 5-10 minutes. Place in oiled bowl and let rise in warm place for 45 minutes.

While dough is rising, mix ricotta, shredded cheese, pepperoni, veggies, and basil.

Preheat oven to 375. Punch dough down and divide into two parts. Roll each into a thin circle. Spread half of filling mixture over one side of each dough circle and fold other side over. Seal dough by pressing edges with a fork. Place calzones on a baking sheet or baking stone and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.

Bake for 30 -35 minutes. Slice and serve with warmed marinara sauce.

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Note: Megan I do plan to continue our series of Spirit-Led Parenting discussion posts! The process of getting our manuscript ready has taken most of our focus and attention in recent weeks. Thank you for understanding!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amazon = generous with the cautions

Happy New Year! I hope all of your festivities and family gatherings were joyous!

One of my Christmas surprises from my husband was a Kindle Touch, which was extra amazing because it was the exact member of the Kindle family of products that I've been pining for but hadn't ever really mentioned to Mark. He's a keeper, I tell you. And I surprised him with Coldplay tickets, so you could say that I'm a bit of a keeper myself.

So I'm enjoying all things Kindle-related, and reading more than I should be with a final manuscript of our book due quite soon. (Side note: Last night I finished Jen Hatmaker's new book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and I cannot tell you how incredible it is. I'll devote a whole post to 7 very soon.)

Anyway, since Mark and I share an Amazon account, he can enjoy my Kindle purchases on his various gadgets as well. The other night, he was looking through the list of free classics I'd grabbed and noticed that there was a feature that will give you a synopsis of the book, but warns you with a pop-up box that opening the synopsis will expose you to possible spoilers.

Scouting out The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, he met up with the Foreboding Warning of Imminent Spoilage:

In a moment of bravery, he decided to take his chances and click on through...

Are you sure you want to see this?

Okay, here goes:

You can imagine our deep regret over not having heeded the spoiler warning. Guess I don't have to read the book now...