~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Easy Breakfast Potatoes

Easy breakfast potatoes... We love having potatoes for breakfast. On Saturday we like to have a real breakfast...eggs, potatoes, bacon/ham, fresh garden salsa, coffee, orange juice and maybe something sweet(not always). I like making these potatoes first as it takes about 4o-45 minutes in the oven to bake(this all depends on your oven and size of cut potatoes). It gives me plenty of time to set up the table while they are baking as well as make the rest of the menu. I like to use these potatoes as well in egg burritos. These potatoes are versatile .... they do very well as a side dish for lunch or dinner. Hope you enjoy...

Update: I just had to update the photo:)... This time around I just tossed the cubed potatoes in some olive oil(until well coated) and sprinkled some salt over them... baked the potatoes as usual

Tip: Use parchment paper for non-stick potatoes...
You can make them spicy if you like by adding a few chile flakes or adding different herbs such as rosemary.

  • 2 large russet potatoes, diced
  • 2-3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried dill or parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425 deg F.
2. Peel and wash potatoes. Dice potatoes in small cubes (about 1/2 inch thick or so).
Place in a medium bowl.
3. Add olive oil and toss to coat all potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to mix.

4. Place potatoes in a single layer in a 13x9 pan.
I used a roasting pan that comes with my oven...while it released the potatoes( with a bit of help from a wide stainless steel spatula) I find it best to just line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper...it will release beautifully and you won't need to scrape the pan:)

5. Bake for 40 -45 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Time depends on how small you cut the potatoes. Enjoy!

Almost No Knead Bread

Almost No Knead Bread(Crusty Bread). I love crusty bread! And to be able to make it at home...who would have thought!
I was introduced originally to the NY Times "No Knead Bread" by my sister. She had tried it at home and had awesome results and was thrilled to share it with me. Well, Cooks Illustrated came up with their own "Almost No Knead Bread Recipe" that I had to try! It is a bit more easier than the New York Times and yet different...The crust still has a nice crunch, it is easier to chew, has a softer and finer crumb texture which I like.
Both are great ....the NY Times version is just a bit more rustic than the Cook's Illustrated method.
Well, today I had to start on it as I was curious to see the final product. Boy, was I ever pleased!!! I really, really like it! I hope you will try it as well.There is a really neat video you can see at breadtopia that shows you how to accomplish this wonderful bread step by step. Just click on their link and enjoy! Breadtopia...
I really like the fact that you can add all sorts of ingredients to vary the breads. I did 2 breads at one time. One I left simple the other one I experimented a bit with... I added sesame seeds, dried onion flakes,poppy seeds and Parmesan cheese (things I had around the house).
This recipe makes you look like a professional bread baker!!
I hope you will try it as well...you will be pleased with the final product. I listed a White flour recipe as well as the Whole Wheat recipe in case you prefer to try both. I did both of my breads (for this post)using the White Flour recipe...I have also seen other folks using all spelt flour
haven't tried that version yet, but would love to try it...

Note: I have also made an olive and rosemary version you can see HERE

White Flour Recipe:
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 TBS. (7 ounces) water at room temp
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager (or any beer)
  • 1 TBS white vinegar
Whole Wheat Recipe:
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBS. honey (I used 2 Tbs. raw sugar)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 TBS. (7 ounces) water at room temp
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager(or any beer)
  • 1 TBS. white vinegar
Note: The beer can be non-alcoholic.

1. In a large bowl add flour, yeast, and salt. Mix well.

2. Add water:

3. And then add the beer and vinegar.
4. Mix well to incorporate all the dry ingredients with the wet.

5. Form into a ball and cover with a plastic wrap.
6. Let rise for 8-18 hrs in a 70 deg warm place. (I placed mine in the oven... turned off).

7. Flour your working place(countertop) and place the risen dough bread onto it. It is at this point you may want to add seeds, cheese etc. as you knead the dough 10-15 times being careful not to deflate all the bubbles in the dough. It is a soft dough...don't put all your strength into it.

8. Form into a ball and place on a lightly greased parchment paper lightly grease the top.
9. Add any toppings (or omit if doing plain) and cover with plastic.
10 Let rise for 2 hours.
11. Score with a sharp blade 1/2 inch deep and sprinkle with some flour.

12. After 1 1/2 hour has passed preheat the oven to 500 deg F for 35 minutes with the Corningware(or dutch oven) in it.

13. Place bread with parchment in hot corning ware. Reduce temperature to 425 deg F when the bread dough goes in and bake covered for 30 minutes.
14. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes....or until the internal bread temperature reaches about 200 degrees. Cool and Enjoy a slice or two!

Fried Rice

Fried Rice...an easy way to do it at home and still get the restaurant quality or even better! I finally found a way to get the rice from not sticking and clumping together which makes for a better fried rice recipe. The trick is to start with cold rice....or day old rice. This way the rice has less moisture and can be fluffier in the final product when combined with the other ingredients. I like to use basmati rice as it is not as starchy as the other rice. You may use any long grain rice though.
You can add really any leftover meat you prefer (or omit)... like diced shrimp, diced pork or diced ham. Vegetables you can use to your liking. Some examples can be...diced carrot, diced celery, diced shitake mushrooms and a handful of peas. Or, you can stick to a classic fried rice recipe that includes peas, carrots, green onion and egg. Well, I will show you how I did mine. Hope you enjoy ...

Ingredients for rice:
  • 2 cups long grain*
  • 3 3/4 cup water*
  • salt to taste
  • * rice cooker cup measurement

Fried rice ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp finely grated/chopped ginger
  • 1/3-1/2 cup diced ham/shrimp/beef
  • 2-3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/2 stalk of celery, optional
  • about 4 cups cold rice
  • 2 green onions sliced thinly
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup peas
  • 3-4 TBS Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil, or to taste
  • salt to taste

1. In a rice cooker cook 2 cups (rice cooker measurement cup) with 3 3/4 cups water (or basically a 1:2 ratio rice to water.... and season with a bit of salt. Cool overnight in refrigerator or do my quick version.
2. Spread rice on a cookie sheet thinly and put in freezer till cold.It may get frozen a bit but as you let it out on the counter it will defrost quickly. Break up any clumps. I usually freeze it as I am working on sauteing the rest of the ingredients.

3. In a skillet scramble 2 eggs. Let set and roll up and slice thinly. Set aside
4. In skillet, heat oil (on medium heat) and add garlic, ginger and ham. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add diced vegetables and saute for another 2-3 minutes or till soft.

6. Add cold rice and soy sauce, sesame oil, and stir to combine .

7. Stir in peas, egg and green onions. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!

Peach Pie

Peach Pie.... I had a few ripe peaches and what better way to use them than in a Peach Pie!
This recipe actually came about with ingredients I had on hand. I had a frozen pie crust dough that I had made previously. I thought I would use a crumb topping to top the pie off with instead of adding another pie crust on top. We like more filling than dough in this case.
It actually came out great. So here is how I made mine. Hope you enjoy...

  • single or double pie crust*
  • 5 large peaches
  • 2-3 TBS lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 TBS cornstarch( depends how juicy your peaches are)
  • 1-2 tsps vanilla
  • pinch of cinnamon/nutmeg, optional
  • *I used 1 pie crust to cover a 9 inch pie plate.... and a crumb topping, but you can use a second pie crust.


Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
1. Roll out dough to cover the pie plate and still have an overhang of about an inch or so.

2. Tuck in the excess dough and pinch to give it a crimped look. Place in fridge until needed.

Next make the Filling:

1. Peel and slice peaches thickly.
2. Sprinkle some lemon juice over the peaches(2-3 TBS or to taste). Toss gently
3. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar ,1/4 brown sugar,4 TBS cornstarch, a splash of vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon/nutmeg (or omit if you like).
4. Toss the peaches with the sugar mixture until combined.
5 Remove pie crust plate from fridge and place peaches in the pie plate.

5. Sprinkle with a crumb topping or another pie crust. I used a simple crumb topping. ( 1/2 c flour 1/2 sugar 1/4 cup butter...Mix in butter with a fork just until the topping is crumbly. ... you can make any streusel and add nuts as well if you are a nut lover or some oats).

6. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 45-60 minutes(or so)... or until filling is bubbly-thick and not watery. I baked mine for about 65 minutes as I kept opening the oven door to check and see if it was done:).
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy Granola Bars:I think I finally found a recipe that I like for the chewiest granola bars ever! You don't have to bake these granola bars. I can easily have a healthier alternative to the store bought ones that are packed with high fructose corn syrup....so, I prefer making my own. Granted these are not sugar-free, but they are great because you can use honey and really any ingredients you like. You can omit the nuts if you have a nut allergy. You can add only dried fruits ... The fun part of about this recipe is that you can experiment with what you like. Hope you enjoy...

Ingredients: You can probably decrease the amount of sugar a bit, as they are quite sweet
  • 2 1/2-3 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ/rice crispies or omit if you like (I omitted since I didn't have on hand)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds/almonds/walnuts/cashews/ or a mixture
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened if possible)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (I also added almond flavoring...you can omit and add cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (I omit this)
  • approximately 8 oz. dried fruit cranberries/raisins/apricots/cherries/or a mixture
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. Mix nuts and oats. Toast them in the oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.... better if they are lightly toasted than biting into a granola that has burned nuts!
2. Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 9 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray. I used plastic wrap and it works very well. You can use a smaller pan as well if you like them a bit thicker.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

4. Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until you see it getting thick and carmel color. The sugar should have dissolved at this point. It should be about 3 minutes after it has come to a rolling boil.

5. Add the carmel mixture (which should be quite sticky at this point) to the dry ingredients. Mix everything REALLY WELL because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything.
6. Dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish. Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula. You may need to oil you hands a bit if you want to spread it evenly without sticking.

7. Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top(or plastic wrap as in my case), and press hard all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.
8. Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled. (I don't have patience and I put it in the fridge for a bit so I can speed up the process and wrap/store them). Remove top waxed paper/plastic wrap and carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper.
9. Firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like. I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so you can grab one for a snack on the go.

Pretzel buns (Laugenbroetchen) and Pretzels

Pretzel Buns and Pretzels... I love this recipe!!!... you can actually do 2 bread products from 1 recipe. Just the way I like it! This recipe comes from my sister-in-law who lived in Germany for quite some time. I adapted it by making a slight change. It is an awesome recipe that is quite similar to the bagel recipe. The rolls actually get boiled just like the bagels and then sliced on the top for a criss cross look which puffs up a bit to give it that unique look. I like to split the original recipe in two and do some soft pretzels as well. So here is the recipe for both the buns and the pretzels. Hope you enjoy...

Dough Ingredients:
  • 7 cups unbleached all purpose flour( sometimes I like to use bread flour)
  • 3 1/2 TBS softened butter/oil
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp instant yeast

1. In a mixing bowl add flour and yeast. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl mix salt, sugar and softened butter(or oil). Add the warm water.
3. Pour liquid over the flour... all at once.
4. Mix well and knead for 6-7 minutes using a mixer( kneading dough hook attachment).
5. Form 16 rolls and let them rise on floured table for 20-25 minutes. Cover them with plastic wrap so that you will protect them from cold air... and that it won't form a crust. Do not allow the dough to rise too much as it will collapse and get soggy in the boiling process.

Preheat oven to 375 Deg F:
6. In a large pot, boil 6 cups of water(or so) with 5 tsps baking soda....you can use up to 1/4 cup of baking soda which gives you a darker color and that "pretzel-y" taste.
7. Carefully transfer 2 buns at a time with a spatula into the boiling water. Boil rolls for about 1 minute... turning constantly. Remove and drain well.(I like to gently place the strained bagel with the bottom of the strainer on a paper towel to fully catch and excess water.)
8. Place on an oiled baking sheet and cut an X in the middle...about 1/2 inch deep... or make 2 parallel slashes.
9. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 20 minutes...or until nicely golden brown.

If you want to make pretzels split the dough in 2 and make only 8 or 9 rolls and 8 or 9 pretzels.

Pretzels: makes 8-9 pretzels

  • Use half of the above dough

1. Divide dough into 8-9 balls. Form 8 or 9 long ropes and shape into pretzel forms.

2. Let rise 20- 25 minutes.
It is at this point that I use my rice cooker with the steaming plate to hold the pretzels and steam them instead of boiling them. (I have found out that it can help the pretzels keep its shape and make the pretzels shiny and chewy). Place some water in your rice cooker and put the steaming plate in place....you might need to oil the plate a bit. When it starts steaming, add a pretzel and steam 2-3 minutes. Do each one separately....
Tip:You can also use a steam rack(the collapsible type) in a pot as well for steaming the pretzels.

OR: probably the normal way to do this:)

The steamer method may take quite a while...so you can likewise use a skillet filled with water/baking soda(as for the buns above) and use a big slotted spatula to remove the pretzels.

3. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 Deg F for 10 or so minutes. Do not over bake as they will become hard. You can brush with melted butter or dip in melted cheese or marinara sauce or whatever you fancy!

Best Ever Bagels

Best Ever Bagels... Who would have that you could make your bakery bagels at home!! Plump and flavorful.... right in your own kitchen. They freeze very well ( I actually recommend freezing them) and are great toasted as well as plain. Eat it anyway you like it...they are delicious either way.
I have done this recipe over and over....they always come out great! I like making my own bagels since you know exactly what goes in them. I love the fact that you can make a whole variety of them by varying the toppings. You can also implement some of the topping ingredients right into the dough as you shape them for the last rise. I love to knead in the dough some grated Swiss cheese or any kind of cheese I have on hand. Hope you enjoy...

Tips for toppings: Dried onion flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, grated Parmesan, Swiss, cheddar cheese, diced pickled jalapenos, even dried dill...maybe even sun dried tomatoes and basil...you get the idea:) Have fun and enjoy!

Dough Ingredients:
  • 6 2/3 -7 cups white bread flour (I like to use King Arthur)
  • 1 TBS table salt
  • 1 TBS instant yeast
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS oil
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water(110˚-115˚)

  • 1 beaten egg + toppings

1. Combine flour, salt and yeast in a mixer bowl( I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer here to do the heavy work of kneading).
2. Add sugar and oil to the water and pour over the dry ingredients.
3. Knead well for about 7-8 minutes using the kneading attachment on your mixer. You should use the med/low speed(2/3 on the Kitchenaid mixer). The dough should barely cling only to the bottom of the mixer bowl and definitely not the sides.
4. Form into a ball and put into an oiled bowl turning once to coat dough.
5. Cover with plastic and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours... or until at least doubled. In the winter, I usually preheat my oven for a minute(or so) until it is nice and cozy..not hot. Turn off the oven and let the dough rise in the oven free from drafts. In the summer I usually don't warm up the oven for proofing.
6. Take a lemon size chunk of dough and form into a ball. Do not punch dough down and deflate. I noticed that it won't rise as much if you do this.
7. Poke hole in the middle and stretch out a bit (in the form of a bagel). Make sure the hole is at least the size of a 25 cent coin piece ...this way you can still see the hole after it has risen. Make about 15 pieces. 8. Let rise 20-25 minutes in a warm environment. The bagels will not rise if it is too cold of an environment. You should see that they have puffed up a bit. You don't want them to over-rise either, as they will absorb too much water when boiled.
9. In a large pot, boil about 6-8 cups of water and add 5 tsp baking soda along with 2 TBS sugar.
10. Bring water to a boil.
11. Reduce heat to low and boil 2- 3 bagels at a time for about a minute on the top side of the bagel . I usually do not turn the bagel to boil on the underside as I noticed that it can get too soggy. 12. Lift each bagel with a slotted spatula and drain all the water.
13. Place on an oiled cookie sheet (bottom side down) or on a parchment lined cookie sheet. ( I prefer the parchment as it makes the cleaning easier)
14. Brush the bagels with a beaten egg and sprinkle your favorite toppings.
15. Preheat oven to 375 deg F, place in middle rack, and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.