Welcome! This Cook is Cooking!

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.

In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."

~ Julia Child


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Orzo

Still counting those points. They have become my way of life.  I can look at a food and come to a pretty close guess how many points are in it.  It makes for a frustrating life at times.  I get tired of logging everything I eat.  I know given time I will reach my goal weight.  But I want it now! :)  For now I will focus on eating healthy and moving more!

So, It was time for dinner again. (I actually thought about it the evening before)  I cut up all the veggies and put them in the fridge so I could throw it all in the Crock-Pot before work.  This is a super simple soup that is only 3 points per serving.  Okay now let's take this discussion to the kitchen!

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Orzo
Serves 6-8

1 Box low fat/low sodium chicken broth
water (how much depends on how much broth you want in your soup)
2 carrots cut up into pennys
1 large zucchini cut into bite sized chunks
1 Shallot cut up
2-3 cups broccoli cut up (heads only)
4 cloves garlic chopped up
8 oz chicken breast cut up
1 Tablespoon  boquet garni
1/2 tablespoon northwoods seasoning
1 cup orzo pasta
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Cut everything up. Put it all into the crock pot. Cover with chicken broth. (not the orzo) 
Set the crock pot on low for 6 hours.
Add the orzo about 1/2 hour before ready to eat.

Serve about 1 cup with your favorite slice of bread for a hearty meal!

Get your yum on!

PS: I get most all of my spices at Penzeys Spices.  I have a store here in Phoenix.  I hope you do as well.  If not you can order online.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Green Food, Espresso Mocha Muffins & My New Weight Loss Adventure

So I started out on a new healthy eating adventure, Weight Loss by that poplar points counting program!  I am quite excited with my decision but I will admit that the first 2 weeks were simple the 3rd week is giving me some issues.  I want to eat and not necessarily food that is good for me.  I made some chocolate muffins that are only 4points today I hope this will help with my sweet tooth. 
I love food!  I love to eat.  This can be problematic to my closet and waistline.  You all know how much I love to bake so I have set out to find better for you baking options to satisfy my baking addiction and my sweet tooth! I will keep you updated on my new adventure, for now enjoy these better for you recipes, eat well, move more and stay healthy!

Green Smoothie 
1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cups white grape juice or pear juice (or green tea to shave a few points)
1/4 avocado
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon hemp protein powder
peel core and dice your apple and put into your blender
add spinach and juice or tea and blend
add hemp powder and ice and blend
pour into your favorite glass and enjoy this healthy, tasty green smoothie that is packed with vitamins!
A great way to start your day!

Now onto the Chocolate!
Espresso Mocha Muffins

 1 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour  
  1 1/2 tsp baking powder  
  1 tsp baking soda    
1/8 tsp table salt 
1 tablespoon espresso powder
   9 Tbsp sugar, granulated     
 2 large egg(s), beaten  
  1 tsp vanilla extract   
2 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate   
 3 Tbsp unsalted butter   
 1 cup(s) hot water, almost boiling   
1 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar  
 Weigh and chop your chocolate

Sunday, April 29, 2012

THE DARING BAKERS’ APRIL 2012 CHALLENGE: ARMENIAN NAZOOK


So I joined the Daring Kitchen this last month and I was excited to do this months challenge.  It is a traditional Armenian pastry call Nazook.  What an amazing little wonder these lovely pastries are!  After they were in the oven my home was filled with the sweet smell of vanilla!  So wonderful.
These pastries are not overwhelmingly sweet and have a light flaky texture,  I am excited to try them again with different fillings!  
For my first challenge I think I did pretty well.  I am in love with these little pastries and the women at my ladies night out liked them as well.

Nazook
From Jason @ DailyCandor.com

Yields 40 pieces
Ingredients
Pastry dough
3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
Filling
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
Wash
1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

Directions:
Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.
3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
5. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for
about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.
Make the filling
7. Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract.
9. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.
 
Make the Nazook
10. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
12. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.
14. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.
15. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.
16. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
17. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
18. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
19. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
20. Allow to cool and enjoy!


Now it's time to get your Yum on!  
I suggest a good cup of Jo to go with your lovely Nazook.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pancakes

I am obsessed with sourdough!  Part of taking care of a starter is feeding it every two weeks. Unless you have a huge container, you have to throw some away at each feeding.  I cannot bring myself to do it. So, it's time for some pancakes.  I take my starter out of the fridge and feed it the night before.  This recipe calls for 2cups starter and that's a lot so you may want to take it out the morning before, feed it and then feed it again that night.  These are the most fluffy and tasty pancakes I have ever had.  

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pancakes
(Adapted from Bredtopia)

3 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups Sourdough Starter
  1 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter melted
Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk and sourdough starter and butter
 Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar;
add to the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in melted butter.
Lightly grease a hot griddle. 
Drop the batter by 1/4 cup onto
the griddle and cook until light brown, turning once.

These Pancakes freeze well.  I make them on the weekend and then pop them in the freezer and nuke them in the morning.  (you could pop them in the toaster as well)


Time to get your YUM on!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Secret to Amazing 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I love bread baking!  It is such a sense of accomplishment when the bread rises to a perfect loaf. I have been trying to get a good 100% whole wheat for a while.  I kept going back to the one in the King Aurthur All-purpose baking book.  One day I decided to try the molasses version instead of honey or sugar. The result was an amazing loaf that was rich and wonderful for sandwiches.
The Molasses must be the answer!  This is now my favorite 100% loaf and I make it almost every week.

100% Whole Wheat
(adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion)

1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons molasses
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional, but helpful)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

  In the bowl of your mixer combine all the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This lets all the liquid absorb into the flour.
then knead it for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple. It may seem wet at first but it will come together nicely. (it is a bit of a sticky dough)
It is best to use a bread machine or your stand mixer to kneed this dough.  Otherwise you will have a dense loaf.
Let the dough rise in a greased covered bowl for at least one hour.  Shape it into a log and place it in a lightly 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about another hour until it has crowned about 2 inches over the pan.
Preheat oven to 350 and bake the bread for 45 minutes.  Tent it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking so the top does not get too brown. Remove it from the oven and turn it out on a cooling rack to cool. (do not attempt to cut the bread until it is completely cool!)

Now it's time to get your Yum on!!!

This is the perfect loaf for sandwiches especially PB&J
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Braided Lemon Bread and Making Your Own Lemon Curd

Ahhhhh Lemon Curd.  I find it amazing that it costs as much as it does when it is so simple to make.  I have found it online and in gourmet sores for up to 10 bucks for a half pint!  Let me show you just how easy it is to make! 

Gather up your citrus reamer and your zester it's time to make lemon curd!
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 Cup lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
3 Table spoons firm butter or margarine cut up
3 large eggs lightly beaten
In a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan mix sugar lemon peel and lemon juice. Stir in butter and eggs. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly (if you don't you will have lemon flavored scrambled eggs!) until mixture thickens and goats the back of a spoon.   Do not boil pour it into a pint jar or 2 half pint jars.

(Little not from Becky Sue, Okay so I used a fine mesh strainer to strain the curd.  I found that no matter how much I stirred the curd I still had little pieces of cooked egg and I wanted a nice smooth curd. Strain it and you are good to go.)

Now let's move onto the bread Mmmmm Lemony yumminess that is truly worthy of your Sunday brunch

Braided Lemon Bread
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Sponge

3/4 cup warm water.
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast 
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

In a small bowl, combine ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Dough 
all of the sponge
3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
egg wash (one egg and t tablespoons water)

Combine everything, including the sponge, in the bowl of your stand mixer reserving 1/2 cup of your flour
mix until you have a shaggy mass. switch to your dough hook and knead for 5 to 6 minutes adding more flour as needed to create a soft  smooth dough
place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. 
let rise for 60 to 90 min until almost doubled.

meanwhile make your cheese filling
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup prepared lemon curd

in a bowl combine everything but the lemon curd and mix until smooth
reserve the lemon curd until ready to assemble the bread
Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10" x 15" rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier.
 
Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1" free on all sides of the filling.
Cut strips down either side of the filling so you can make your mock braid.
(I am not good at this part either, you may want to look this next part up on youtube to get a better idea)
fold the up the ends of the dough and crisscross the dough over the filling like this  (or I am sure you can do much better than i did) repeat the process with the other dough ball

Preheat the oven to 375
place the loaves onto a cookie sheet
bake 25 to 30 min. or until the bread is a nice golden brown.
allow to cool for 15 to 20 min before serving
 Now it's time to get your yum on!