Toasted Wheat Germ and Rosemary Sourdough

Remember when you were in school and you did Secret Santa? I actually never did it when I was younger, but I got to do it several times in college. I was on House Council for my house in college several years in a row, and we liked to welcome the incoming freshman with secret santa type gifts. Each morning during their first week at college, they would open their doors to find a lovely gift from one of us on house council. It was a great way to get to know the girls (trying to secretly find out what they liked and trying to make their gifts as personal as possible). At the end of the week we had an Induction Ceremony, and we would formally welcome each girl into our house. Each girl would receive a special house pillow that had been made just for them, and we would reveal who had been leaving them gifts all week. We would then act as mentors for them during the year. It was a fun and special way for us to help our new girls feel welcomed, and help us to all get to know each other better.
Hello giant air bubble!

Well, I found something equally as fun! It's called The Secret Recipe Club, and it has the same premise as Secret Santa. Each month you are assigned a blog, and your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to cook one recipe (any recipe you want) from that blog! And the fun part is that someone else is secretly cooking something you have previously featured! Then everyone reveals who they had and what they cooked on the same day. How fun! Not only is it a great way to have more people exposed to your blog, but its a great way to find new blogs to follow, and new recipes to try. Also, how many more times can I say "blog" in this post?

This month I was assigned to the Bewitching Kitchen. It is a beautiful blog, and she features exquisite food. Most of it I would never have dreamed about cooking before, but she is does beautifully, and explains it in such a way that you think "Hey, I could probably do that!" Like the other day, she posted a recipe for scallops. Scallops, people! They are so finicky to cook, I would never dream of attempting it myself (Especially because I'm sure Gordon Ramsey would come out of now where and start screaming at me that I was doing it all wrong), but she makes it look so easy!
The loaf rose kind of crazy like - and whats with that line around the middle?

I was really excited to see that she has a bunch of recipes for Sourdough on her website, given the new-found love I have for this thick and bubbly mixture that is living in the back of my refrigerator right now. I followed her recipe exactly, except she used sage and I used rosemary. I lovelovelovelovelovelove how this bread turned out! I mean, look at it! It's BEAUTIFUL! It looks like something you could buy on the street during the renaissance time! And it is so soft inside and so crusty outside. It's delicious.

Besides eating it plain, and smeared with real butter, and this bread was wonderful toasted in the oven with butter and garlic, but it makes a KILLER grilled cheese sandwhich. I mean, killer.

Toasted Wheat-Germ and Rosemary Sourdough (Adapted from Bewitching Kitchen)

150 grams of sourdough starter
335 grams water
490 grams bread flour
20 grams toasted wheatgerm
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
9 grams salt

Mix all the ingredients except for the salt in a large bowl, until it forms a kind of shaggy, messy mass.
Let it sit on the counter, undisturbed for 40 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface, flatten it slightly, and then sprinkle the salt evenly over the top.
Knead a few times to distribute the salt.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let it sit, covered, for 1 hour.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead by stretching and folding the dough a few times, until it feels very smooth and is easy to fold.
Put the dough back into the oiled bowl and let it rise for 1 hour.

Repeat the stretch-and fold kneading, place the dough back into the bowl, cover, and let rise for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, form into a ball, and place in a floured bowl, cover, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter for 1.5 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. You will want to bake this loaf on a stoneware pan (or something similar, not a cookie sheet). Place the stoneware sheet on the middle rack of the oven and a metal dish (like your broiler pan or the lid to a roaster) on the bottom shelf of your oven to warm up with the oven.
Lightly flour a cutting board and turn the dough out onto it. With floured hands, gently shape the dough into a round smooth circle.
Run a sharp knife through some flour and cut a cross or cross hatch design into the top of the dough.
Boil some water, and pour the boiling water into a baking or casserole dish, and place this on the bottom rack of your oven. Place the bread on the top rack, above the water.
Bake for 20 minutes, and then reduce the temperature of the oven to 425 degrees.
Bake for 20-25 additional minutes.

Let the bread cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

I am submitting this delicious and beautiful bread to Yeastspotting, a collecting of this week's best breads!

Here are some other things that were made via The Secret Recipe Club this month!

Pork Loin with Pears and Parsnips

You probably think that this dish is going to be really snooty and fancy, what with a name like "Pork Loin with Pears and Parnsips". If you say it with your nose stuck in the air and your little finger out, it sounds really fancy, like it has a ton of exotic and expensive ingredients and takes all day to make, and probably bad for you to boot.

 But I will let you in on a little secret - this dish is super simple, both in ingredients, technique, and time. Ok, that's three things and not two. But the fact is, this recipe is a fall goldmine - simple, cheap (Better Homes and Gardens claims it costs $2.37 per serving!) and with just under 400 calories per serving, healthy! It is also very flavorful, and I loved the combination of parsnips and pears! Have you ever had a parsnip before? This was my first time, though I have been wanting to try it for a while now. It looks like an albino carrot, and it smells like a carrot, too. It tastes kind of like a carrot-potato cross, and we all agreed it was good.

Pork Loin with Pears and Parsnips (Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, November 2010, page 190)
 Yield: 4 Servings
Time: 25 minutes

1 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 small parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 pears, cored, sliced and chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
fresh parsley, chopped

Slice pork into 1/2' thick slices.
Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and brush lightly with 1 tbsp of the Worcestershire sauce.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat - add pork and brown on each side.
Remove to a platter and keep warm.
In the same skillet, cook parsnips and pears, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the parsnips are crisp-tender. (NOTE: If your pears are very ripe (ie, soft), wait a few minutes before adding them to the skillet, otherwise they will just cook to mush).
Stir in the remaining Worcestershire sauce and the apple juice.
Return the pork to the skillet and cook 5 minutes more, or until the pork is done and just a trace of pink remains inside.
Remove the pork and vegetables to a serving platter.
Continue to bil the sauce, uncovered, until slightly thickened (just a a few seconds to a minute more)
Pour sauce over the pork/pear mixture and sprinkle with parsley.

The Daring Bakers Make Povitica!

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

I am soo soo excited to be this month's Daring Bakers's Host, and I hope that you really like what I have chosen! I was first introduced to Povitica from a friend of mine (Hi Brianne!!). We happened to be at the Farmer’s Market and when we passed a particular booth selling specialty breads, and she just went ecstatic. She and her family have been buying these loaves of bread every holiday season, and she was very excited to see them in the middle of the summer. I didn’t know what the excitement was about, but the loaves of bread were beautiful, and when sliced, had delicate circular designs on each slice.  Each loaf is filled with a sweet filling and rolled, and weighs an amazing 2.5 pounds! It was amazing, delicious, and I promptly bought one.

Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is traditionally served during the holiday season.  It is also known as Nutroll, Potica, Kalachi, Strudia, just to name a few. Family recipes and the secrets on how to roll the bread so thin was passed down through generations of families.  However, the tradition of baking this type of bread has become somewhat of a dying art form, and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to learn to make this wonderful sweet bread.

After tasting the wonderful bread we had bought at the Farmer’s Market, I knew I needed to learn how to make this myself. Especially since that one single loaf cost an arm and a leg ($25! Really! For one loaf!) I spent days and days trying to find recipes online, but I didn’t have any luck (however I just did a search the other day and it seems that a few recipes have sprung up in the meantime). After much research, I created my own recipe for povitica that I think is a very close match to the delicious loaf of bread I splurged on at the Farmer’s Market. And I am soo excited that I got to share this with the Daring Bakers, and now you! 

The traditional filling for this bread is an English walnut filling, but other typical fillings also include poppy seed, apple/cinnamon, apricot preserves, and a sweet cheese (like cream cheese).

The Daring Bakers community did a fantastic, awesome, wonderful job making povitica! They came up with some fantastic fillings, and all their loaves look truly great! I highly recommend you check out what they made at The Daring Bakers Blogroll

·      The recipe calls for using a sheet on top of your workspace. This is not necessary, but I did find that it was easier to roll out my dough with one. The dough is very sticky, and using the lightly floured sheet helps to keep the dough from sticking too badly. It also helps that you can move the sheet around as you work, and you can also move to a clean area of the sheet for each loaf that you roll out. I also found that I was able to roll my dough out thinner with the use of a sheet.The sheet is also used for rolling the povitica up, but again, it is not necessary. And all my dough and filling goo washed out perfectly, so no problems there! If you decide not to use a sheet, a pastry scrapper will come in very handy when you roll up your dough.
·      There are two ways that you can roll the dough up. If you watch the video under “Additional Information” you can see that the sheet is lifted and used as momentum for rolling the dough up. This technique takes a bit of finesse, but I encourage you to try it out. However, the dough can be rolled up by hand, like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls.

During the second rising time, after the dough has been filled or rolled, you have a decision to make. If you want a more dense loaf, allow the bread to rise for 15 minutes before baking it (as the recipe states). If you want your bread to be less dense and lighter, allow it to rise for a full hour before baking it. 

Preparation time: 
To make Dough: 40 minutes
Rising: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Rolling and Assembly: 20 minutes per loaf, a generous total of 1 hour
Baking: 1 hour
Cooling: 30 minutes
To Make the Filling: 15 minutes, including the grinding of the nuts

Povitica (makes 4 loaves)

To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon All-Purpose Flour
½ Cup Warm Water
2 Tablespoons Dry Yeast

2 Cups Whole Milk
¾ Cup Sugar
3 Teaspoons Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups Sifted All-Purpose Flour, approximately, divided

½ Cup Cold STRONG Coffee
2 Tablespoons  Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter


To Activate Yeast:
1 1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:
3.     In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180 F or 82 C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110 degrees.
4.     In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup sugar, and the salt until combined.
5.     Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour.
6.     Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough just starts to clean the bowl. Don't add too much flour at this point, you still want it to be fairly wet and sticky.
7.     Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour

8.     Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds)
9.     Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
10.  Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
11.  Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
12.  Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches in diameter.
13.  Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of melted butter on top.
14.  Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling in, if you prefer.

15.  As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
16.  When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so think that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern o the sheet underneath.

17.  Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.

18.  Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.

19.  Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.

220.  Repeat with remaining three loaves.
221.  Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.

22.  Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
223.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
24.  Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated 350-degree oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
25.  Turn down the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
26.  Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
27.  Check the bread every 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
28.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.
29.  It is recommended that the best way to cut povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

Walnut Filling
7 Cups (Metric and Imperial conversions) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (Metric and Imperial conversions) Whole Milk
1 Cup (Metric and Imperial conversions) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (Metric and Imperial conversions) Pure Vanilla  Extract
2 Cups (Metric and Imperial Conversions) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (Metric and Imperial Conversions) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoons (Metric and Imperial Conversions) Cinnamon


1.     In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
2.     Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
3.     Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
4.     Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
5.     Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
6.     If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

      Here is a recipe for a traditional poppy seed filling, as donated by Daring Baker Bojana of Kitchen Love. This is her family's recipe.

     600 g ground poppy seeds
250 g sugar
200 ml hot milk
150 g raisins (optional)
1 vanilla sugar or vanilla pod scraped. 
     Grind poppy seeds fine, they will go from gray to indigo or black in colour. Mix dry ingredients and then add boiling hot milk to it. If it seems too thin, cook for few minutes.

Additional Information:  Include links to videos or information that can be of assistance to members.

There are several options for storing (and eating) your four loaves of povitica:

·      The povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature.
·      The povitica will keep fresh for 2 weeks if refrigerated.
·      The povitica can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil. It is recommended to not freeze povitica with cream cheese fillings as it doesn’t hold up to being thawed really well – it crumbles.

This is a promotional video from a company that makes it, Strawberry Hill, but it shows them rolling the povitica.

I am submitting this recipe/ post to Yeastspotting, a weekly collection of all things bread! 

Creamy One Pot Pasta

A few months back, while we were still preparing to move, I ended up finding a huge pile of magazines, printed out recipes, and scraps of paper with recipes written down on them.  The pile was so big that Joel was actually quite flustered that we had to move it across the country!
This is only a small fraction of what the pile was!

And so I've been slowly going through them all - ripping out the recipes I want from magazines, and organizing everything. I decided to organize by season, seeing as how that might help me as I'm trying to make our menu for the week. Someday I will make this fancier, but for now, this is doing the trick really well! How do you organize your recipes?
Ugly, but functional!

This is one such recipe that I've hung on to for a while now. The recipe comes from a little booklet of recipes I won as a door-prize at a Pampered Chef party I went to a while back.  It's a great one-pot recipe, perfect for any season really. It turned out really creamy, suprisingly light, and had really great flavor. We used mini farfalle for the pasta, because Ladybug actually gets quite ticked if she sees me cutting her food into bite-size pieces (she IS a big girl now, you know!) and I like this size because its the perfect size for her. However, it is also the perfect size to suck up tons of sauce, so I would suggest using something a little bit bigger. Also, next time I make this I think I will throw some peas and corn in there, too!

Creamy One Pot Pasta (Pampered Chef)
Yield: 6 servings

4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jar (7oz) sun-dried tomatoes
3 cans (or 5 1/4 cups) chicken broth
1 lb pasta
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 head broccoli (2 cups small florets)
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), cubed.
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
parmesan cheese
fresh basil

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.
Sautee the garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
Add the broth to the pan and increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil.
Stir in the pasta, cover and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the pasta is almost cooked but still firm.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into florets and the carrots into coins.
Drain sun-dried tomatoes and slice into thin strips.
When the pasta is almost done, add the carrots, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, salt and pepper to the pan, stirring until the cream cheese is melted.
Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook an additional 2-4 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Serve immediately, topping with parmesan cheese, and additional salt and pepper if desired.

Sourdough Chocolate Mocha Cake

Hey Kids, its time for Sourdough Sunday! Yay!

Joel keeps laughing at me that I've had this sourdough starter for over a month now, and I have yet to actually bake any bread with it. Haha, I just can't help myself, there are so many other cool things to do with it! Like this, for instance:

That's right - CHOCOLATE CAKE!

When I took this cake out of the oven, I was a little worried. It didn’t rise very much at all. In fact, it was fairly wimpy looking. So I went back online to try and figure out what I did wrong. All the recipes I found online were completely different from what I did.  I almost, almost just chucked this thing right in the trash.

I double checked the recipe I wrote down, and yup, wouldn’t you know it…I totally forgot to put the baking powder and the baking soda in! Dang it!! But I know when you make this, you won’t forget, and your cake will rise beautifully for you! And even in its little stunted self, this cake was very moist and delicious. The tanginess of the sourdough, the coffee, the hint of chocolate, this cake was awesome. I hope you make it soon! 

Ok, one last note. I have completely lost where this recipe came from. I had it open on my phone, and then it wasn't there. I think Ladybug must have closed it. She has become obsessed with the coolest iPhone app of all time, Peekaboo Farm, and sometimes she accidentally closes out of it and then goes exploring other places. Like sending strange texts to friends (LOL Abby!). So, in short, I did not come up with this recipe, but I cannot for the life of me find where it came from. But good job to whoever did!

Chocolate Mocha Sourdough Cake

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
3 Tbsp baker’s cocoa
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups active sourdough starter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Measure the sugar and butter together into a large bowl.
Using a fork, mix them together until they are thoroughly combined.
Add the eggs and the vanilla, one at a time.
Add in the cocoa, vegetable oil, baking powder, baking soda, and sourdough starter.
Mix thoroughly.
If the mixture seems too thick for cake batter, add ¼ cup of milk, slowly, until it becomes the correct consistency. DO NOT add too much milk, or all will be lost!
Pour into a greased bundt pan.
Bake for at least 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a cooking rack.
You can add a bit of powdered sugar to the top of this, serve it plain, or whip up a little bit of coffee-powdered sugar glaze like I did. 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I've seen these beauties all over the internet lately. They are supposed to be a knock-off from that one awesome coffee chain that I no longer have access to. And I wanted one. But, as you might have guessed, someone around here doesn't like pumpkin (and it isn't Ladybug!) But I finally caved -  I had to have these, they looked too good for me to not be eating one. So I made a half batch - and I am so glad that I did!

I made a few changes as I baked these. I'm really bad at not reading a recipe before I start making it, and so of course I had no idea what I was in for when I decided to make these at 8:30 at night. Apparently you are supposed to put the cream cheese mixture into the freezer for two hours so you can slice off beautiful little discs to place in the muffins. *snort* Riiiiiight. I totally skipped that step, and the muffins turned out perfect. I also changed the amounts of spices a bit. I felt like over 2 tablespoons of spice was a little excessive, so I cut down the pumpkin pie spice a bit (because it's really just a repeat of the spices you already put in there + a tiny bit of ginger). I like to be able to taste my pumpkin, and not just cloves and cinnamon, thank you.

These are beautiful muffins. And actually, I kind of think they should be cupcakes. They are moist, sweet and spicy, and a cream cheese surprise hidden in the middle is almost frosting like.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins ( Adapted from Annie's Eats)
Yield: 24 Muffins

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces and chilled

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees and prepare your muffin pans.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk. together the flour, spices, salt, baking soda.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, and oil.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.
Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter (I did less than one spoon-ful).
Place a small amount of the cream cheese mixture directly in the center of each muffin well, on top of the batter (evenly divide the cream cheese mixture between each well).
Top each muffin with another spoon-ful of batter, evenly distributing the remaining batter and covering the cream cheese mixture,
In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon together.
Add in the butter pieces and cut it into the sugar mixture with your fingers (or two forks) until it is course and crumbly.
Sprinkle the topping evenly on the top of each muffin.
Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Honey Baked Chicken


I love new friendships. I love it that even when two couples are so distinctly different they can have so much in common as well. Our new friends Rachel and Matt are lovely people, super nice, and just a few doors down from us. We often end up walking our dogs together, and no matter what we end up doing, we always have a wonderful time with them.

Joel and Matt have been having a fantastic time preparing their "Go Bags" (you know, in case zombies attack), and Rachel and I have fun hanging out, too. She likes to cook and bake, too, but so far we haven't actually made anything together. We usually end up making a cup of tea and just sitting and talking (which is wonderful for a stay-at-home mom like myself!). We have plans to do some sugar cookies together, soon, though! The other week they brought dinner over to our house (it's more baby-eating friendly here) and she made a fantastic dish that she said I could share with you.

This chicken is super moist, and super tasty. I've actually made it twice (once with drumsticks and once with thighs) since she made it for us, so that means we've eaten it three times in the last three weeks. It's easy to prepare, and it looks as fantastic as it tastes. I hope you make it soon!

Honey Baked Chicken (Recipe given to me by my friend Rachel)

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
3 lb chicken (legs, thighs, or any combo of chicken with skin and bone still attached)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, honey, mustard, salt and curry.
Arrange chicken pieces into a baking dish.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and place the pan in the oven.
Bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, basting the chicken with the sauce every 15 minutes.

Recipe Index

Hello lovelies!

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that I have updated the Recipe Index tab! It's been sitting forlorn and empty for a while, and I finally figured out what to do with it.

Instead of listing every recipe by ingredient, I have decided to categorize things. On this tab you can now find recipes by season, as well as things that are perfect for potlucks, special occasions, or our favorite recipes!

I hope that you enjoy this, and that you get a lot of use out of it! I'll keep updating it as we go along,

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

Welcome to Sourdough Sunday Sunday Sunday (Apparently I'm not good at scheduling posts, so today is Sourdough Monday instead) !! LOL Sorry, I couldn't help myself!

I never would have guessed that you could make muffins from a sourdough starter, but I am so glad that I did!! These muffins are not as "cakey" as muffins tend to be. They had a bit of a bite to them, and the tanginess from the sourdough starter was wonderful! I also really enjoyed the fantastic streusel crumb layer on top of these. All in all, I was really impressed with these muffins and will be making them a lot!

I made these really early in the morning, before Ladybug was up. I was trying to get them in and out of the oven before she woke up, so I was kinda rushing it. I used frozen blueberries (since fresh blueberries are now $4 for 1/2 a pint!) and I did not wait for them to thaw. Hence, purple swirled muffins! But I kind of liked it, and I think Ladybug did, too. She kept pointing at the swirls and gabbering about them.

The only thing that I did not like about these muffins was the giant mess that the crumb topping made. Oh, it was delicious, and totally worth it, but I had to excavate the muffins from the pan. And I won't even tell you how long I had the pan soaking in the sink before I could get it clean. So maybe don't use all of the topping mixture. Or do, because its good.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins (A Good and Simple Life)

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
1 cup active sourdough starter
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup butter, very soft
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees.
Grease muffin cups, or line with muffin liners.
In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients, and then add the blueberries.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon into muffin cups
In a small bowl mix together the sour, flour, butter and cinnamon with a fork until well combined.
Sprinkle on top of the muffins.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Yield: 12 muffins

Orange Pecan Acorn Squash

Squash comes in so many fun shapes, sizes, and colors. I love seeing bins of winter squash in the fall, especially when my local market is having them on sale for $1 each! I definitely grabbed a bunch, even though I don't really have a good place to store them. I stuck them in the cabinet under my sink for right now, and Ladybug is having a blast pulling them all out and playing with them. Good thing they are hearty (except I totally noticed a tooth mark in one when I was preparing this. Haha!).  I really enjoyed this recipe - it was perfect for fall, a bit sweet, a bit savory, a bit zesty. The orange, cinnamon, brown sugar and pecans paired perfectly with the squash. Ladybug and I loved it!

I do have to be honest here and tell you that Joel did not like this. It's not the recipe's fault, though, its only that we have to add yet one more thing to the list of things that Joel doesn't like (along with pancakes, sigh). I keep trying to find a recipe for winter squash that he likes, though, because I love them so. But pretty much he doesn't like anything fall - acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins or sweet potatoes. I'm going to keep trying, though. At least he likes apples and apple cider! :) 

Orange Pecan Acorn Squash (Recipe Girl)

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes

2 medium acorn squash, half lengthwise and seeded
3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375.
Place squash, cut side down, in a large shallow baking dish and fill the dish hallway with water.
Bake the squash about 40 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash is tender when pierced with a knife.
Remove the squash from the pan, drain the water, and place the squash back into the pan, but this time cut side up.
In a small bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice and orange zest.
Mix in the nuts.
Divide the butter mixture evenly among the squash cavities.
Continue baking, uncovered, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!

The Daring Cooks Make Moo Shu Pork!

The Daring Cooks took the total back-burner the month, (you will see why at the end of the month!) and it actually wasn't until a few days ago that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking "OH CRAP! I I totally forgot about the Daring Cooks!" Luckily, it wasn't a huge nightmare afterall. 

The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cookand her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

I have never made or ordered Moo Shu before (I'm an empress chicken/beef and broccoli type of girl), so I didn't really have a clue as to what I was getting into. If you, like me, have never had Moo Shu before, you are in for a real treat! Not only was this simple and straightforward to prepare, but it was simply delicious and fun to eat! They are kind of like an asian taco - the thin pancakes are kind of like  flour tortillas, then the delicious and nutritious filling, and the homemade hoison sauce is really awesome sauce! If you make nothing else, make the hoisin sauce! We really enjoyed this meal, and there were no leftovers at all!  

Thin Pancakes:
Makes 24-30 pancakes, 
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes' standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
·       4 cups  all purpose flour
·       1½ cup boiling water

·       1 teaspoon vegetable oil

·       Dry flour for dusting
1.             Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.
2.             Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.
3.             Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.
4.             Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
Alternate method for preparing the pancakes:
Once the dough has rested and been kneaded again, divide it into an even number of small pieces, rolling each into a ball. Working with two balls of dough at a time, dip the bottom of one ball lightly into sesame oil and press it onto the top of the second ball. Press the double layer flat, then roll the doubled pancake layers into 6 to 8 inch circles. In a dry pan, cook on each side until dry and lightly blistered (but without browning). Separate pancakes after cooking.
                Be sure to use very hot-to-boiling water, as it helps relax the gluten, which will aid in rolling the pancakes super thin.
                Adjust the heat of your pan as needed to cook the pancakes without burning them. I had to keep my burner on medium (rather than low) heat in order for my pancakes to cook properly (low was drying them out too much without cooking them fully), so watch your pancakes carefully.
                If the pancakes are not to be used as soon as they are cooked, they can be warmed up, either in a steamer for 5-6 minutes, or in a microwave oven for 20-30 seconds, depending on the power.

Moo Shu Pork:

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes, 
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes
·       2/3 cup Dried black fungus ('wood ears')

·       ½ lb  pork loin or butt

·       ¾ cup bamboo shoots, thinly cut

·       3 cups Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut

·       3 large eggs
·       1 teaspoon salt

·       4 tablespoons vegetable oil

·       2 scallions

·       1 tablespoon light soy sauce

·       2 teaspoons rice wine
·       A few drops sesame oil

·       12 thin pancakes to serve

1.             Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
2.             Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
3.             Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
4.             Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.
5.             Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.
6.             Eat like taco

Hoisin Sauce:
·       4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce

·       2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter
·       1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey OR molasses

·       2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar

·       1/8 teaspoon ( ml) garlic powder

·       2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame seed oil

·       20 drops (¼ teaspoon) Chinese style hot sauce
·       1/8 teaspoon ( ml) black pepper
Simply mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a sturdy spoon.
At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together.

Final Preparation and Serving:

Each of the three components that comprise the complete Moo Shu dish are served separately, and the diner prepares each serving on his or her own plate. Most restaurants provide four pancakes, a serving of Moo-Shu and a small dish of hoisin sauce as a single serving. To prepare each pancake for eating, the following is the most common process: a small amount of hoisin sauce is spread onto the pancake, on top of which a spoonful of the stir-fry is placed. In order to prevent (or, realistically, minimize) the filling from spilling out while eating, the bottom of the pancake is folded up, then the pancake is rolled, similarly to a soft taco. Once rolled, the prepared pancake is eaten immediately.

Other Recipes and Information:
In a shallow skillet, add ¼ cup (60 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) of sesame seeds to 1 cup (240 ml) of vegetable or canola oil (any neutral oil will work) and cook the mixture, over medium heat, for about two minutes, until the seeds begin to brown. If any of the seeds begin to burn, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool, then blend it in the blender. Allow the blended mixture to sit for two hours, then strain and bottle the resulting oil.
Storage and Freezing Instructions: 
The thin pancakes, once cooked, do not store fabulously well – storing them in the refrigerator dries them out. We recommend making approximately as many as you think you will need at the time you prepare the meal. The uncooked dough, however, stores in the refrigerator wrapped well in plastic wrap. We both found that a half batch was sufficient for our families (two adults and one child).
The Moo Shu can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for several days, and reheats very nicely. Leftovers can be served traditionally, or even over rice for a different feel to the dish.
The hoisin sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, as sitting does not alter the flavor in any way. Just be sure to shake or mix your stored sauce before serving, as it does separate a bit upon sitting.
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