Saturday, March 31, 2012

English Muffin Bread

My mom called the other day and told me about a book that had just been profiled on NPR. The author had tried to make all kinds of things homemade. At the end of their adventure, they discovered that some things were best to make at home, and others just weren't worth it at all.

The book was called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Make From Scratch. Jennifer Rease looked at ease of preparation, cost and general quality to determine which foods she should make and which foods she should buy. She recommends making your own guacamole and yogurt and buying your hamburger buns and potato chips.

I think the homemade Lucky Charms that Stephanie at the Cupcake Project made are an excellent example of this. She warns that you'll end up spending days making the Lucky Charms and get blisters all over your fingers.

No thank you.

Instead, I've been trying to figure out what foods I'm only going to eat if I make them myself (or order them at a restaurant). Take ice cream, for instance. I have an ice cream maker. I have The Perfect Scoop. Homemade ice cream is incredible. I should really never buy store-bought ice cream.

Or pesto. What could be easier than blending up some fresh veggies with a bit of cheese and oil?

It's bread where I'm really stuck. I've got Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but I still can't keep a sourdough starter alive to save my life (I just forget to feed it). I make a lot of quick breads but not that many super healthy ones

I'm baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but I definitely think I need to diversify the breads I make if I'm going to officially take the only homemade plunge.

This bread is an attempt to do that. It's an English muffin bread, and it is remarkably similar to an English muffin, with quite a few less holes. It keeps at room temperature for a week; for any longer, it freezes beautifully. Toasted with a bit of butter and salt it's absolutely delicious.

Best of all, it comes together quickly. Definitely important if I want to make bread making part of my regular routine.

What are the foods you always make? What do you only eat if it's homemade? 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Carrot Cake Muffins

Easter has got to be one of my favorite holidays.

I mean, you wake up in the morning and get to hunt for a whole basket of chocolate and treats that's just for you to enjoy.

Dark chocolate bunnies. Cadbury mini eggs. Coconut nests. Jelly beans.

And the list goes on. Everyone has their preferences.

As a kid, I was in heaven. I could sneak off to my Easter basket whenever I wanted and dig in.

I just had to use a little moderation because I knew I had to have room for a sweet-filled Easter brunch.

That's where muffins like these come in. I love carrot cake with Easter brunch, but when you add in cream cheese danishes and chocolate croissants it gets to be a bit much for one day.

These muffins have almost everything I love in carrot cake (minus the cream cheese icing and some of the sweetness), but they're much healthier. They're loaded with carrots and walnuts. They're absolutely divine warm.

If you serve these for Easter brunch, your guests will still have room for dessert. If you make them just for yourself, you'll be extra delighted. These freeze incredibly well and are easy to reheat in the mornings for breakfast.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cannellini Bean and Red Cabbage Salad with a Pesto Dressing

Salad is a newer thing to me, something I've only really gotten to know as an adult.

Don't get me wrong. As a kid, I had vegetables every single night. It was just that when my parents had salad, my brother and I would stubbornly have bowls of chopped veggies. Yes, the same vegetables they had in their salads. Trust me, they tasted really different that way.

And when I would have a bowl of salad, it would always be dressing free. Healthy? Yes. Tasty? Not really.

I really started having salads again when I began going over for dinner for a home-cooked meal each week with two of my dearest friends, both of whom grew up having salad with dinner every night.

We'd have our entree, always fantastic. Then, just when I felt like I had reached my limit, the salad would come out.

Usually it was a BFS, a big fat salad. It would be loaded with greens, veggies and a sprinkling of some kind of cheese. Imagine a salad filled with avocado, hearts of palm, fresh tomatoes and sliced peppers. It was always lightly dressed, with a bit of lemon in the dressing, and always delicious.

Other times, the salad was much more simple. Arugula with a simple dressing and a bit of parmesan. Raw kale with radishes, lightly dressed.

The dinner tradition continues, but I've taken to making my own salads occasionally too. I figure having salad more than once a week might actually be a good thing.

While this isn't the most veggie-heavy salad I've ever had, it's quick and tasty. It came together in under five minutes, and it kept me well fed for lunch at work for most of a week.

Cannellini Bean and Red Cabbage Salad with a Pesto Dressing
recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times

2 19-ounce cans of cannellini beans, well rinsed
4 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons basil pesto
A generous sprinkling of salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir well. Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to come together. Serve at room temperature


Are you as obsessed with Pinterest as I am? If you aren't yet, prepare to be amazed. It's a visual bookmarking site. You create pages around topics you're interested in, and you start pinning items you're excited about to it. Other people can follow your boards, comment on your pins and repin them to their own boards.

So far, I've got pages for Delicious Desserts, Breakfast, Appetizers, Simple and Savory and Apartment.

A few days ago, I shared with you the new recipe index I created to make searching for the recipes you want easier for you.

Today, though, I've got a visual recipe index to share with you: From My Kitchen (Making Michael Pollan Proud). It's my new Pinterest board specifically for the recipes on this blog.

You can see photos of all the recipes I've made so far. It's a visual way to find the foods you want to make.

I'd love for you to follow me on Pinterest! Feel free to share your Pinterest pages with me as well. I'd love to see all the recipes you're dreaming of!

My New Recipe Index

It's up!

My new recipe index.

It's organized by my favorite recipe groups. Some have a lot more links than others. Like chocolate. Cookies. Bread. Breakfast.

Others are still a little lacking. Somehow there are a lot less salads on the site than I originally intended.

Still, I hope you visit it. Find something delightful to cook. And enjoy.

And, if I ever learn how to create hyperlinks within a webpage, there's hope it will get even fancier.

I tried to make the recipe index user friendly, but I'd love any suggestions you have about how I can make it more useful and easier to navigate!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Bars with Samoas

I didn't like rice crispy treats much as a kid, probably because they were missing chocolate. And because most of the rice crispies I had were the pre-packaged, factory-made kind.

I probably hadn't had one in years, and I certainly hadn't missed them.

I should have just left it at that. I should have known better.

Because now that I've experienced these brown butter rice crispy treats, I'm addicted. I've had four rice crispy bars in the past two days alone.

I started with brown butter, which gave the bars a nice, nutty flavor. A pinch of sea salt creates that perfect contrast between sweet and salt.

I should have stopped there.

But, there were Girl Scout Samoa cookies sitting on my dresser, just calling my name. I opened the package and started chopping.

I lined the bottom of the pan with the rice crispy mixture, and then I topped it with a generous layer of chopped Samoa cookies. That received another layer of rice crispy mixture, followed by a final layer of Samoa cookies.

They're to die for. Each bite has a bit of sugar, a bit of salt, and some coconut and chocolate thrown in for good measure.

Be warned.

And, be sure to visit Deseret News to see their post about 30 different ways to bake with Girl Scout cookies, which includes this treat!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I imagine it's delightful to sit at home in the morning, drinking a cup of homemade coffee while snuggling into a cozy breakfast nook. I'd read the newspaper and listen to the birds sing. I'd watch the sunrise every morning.

After I finished my coffee, I'd cook myself breakfast. Some mornings it would be something decadent. Baked french toast with raspberries. Lemon ricotta pancakes with sauteed apples. A fresh-baked quiche.

Other mornings, it would be more simple. A bowl of granola, topped off with yogurt and fresh fruit. Eggs scrambled up into a quick breakfast burrito.

I'd even eat it on a real plate with real silverware.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Currently, I leave for work by 7:10 a.m. I've never fancied myself to be a morning person. I give myself very little time to get ready. That means breakfast now is nothing like my fantasy. It's quick. I've got to be able to grab it and go, maybe toast it a bit or warm it up if I'm feeling fancy.

That's where treats like these come in. These granola bars are a perfect addition to a quick breakfast. They keep well for at least a week, although mine seemed to disappear a bit quicker than that. They're on the crunchy side, which I quite prefer, and each bite contains a bit of chocolate.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quick Jam Tart

My roommate accused me of having first world problems.

It all started when I walked out into the living room while he was studying. I started pulling out bowls and ingredients. I'm sure I was noisy.

He asked me what I was making.

"Well, I've got this one leftover pie crust," I began, quite seriously. "And it's about to go bad because I've already had it in the fridge for a few days. I totally forgot to freeze it. I've got to use it today. So I'm baking a jam tart, just so I can use it up. And because I have this extra jar of jam that's just been sitting around waiting to be put to use."

It was at that moment that he told me I had first world problems. You know, those problems that really aren't problems. When it's hard to find a movie you want to watch on Watch Instant on Netflix. When you run out of flour and don't want to walk to the 24 hour grocery store one block away to get it. When the coffee shop you stop at only has regular iced coffee instead of cold-brewed iced coffee. When you don't want to put on your hat (even though it's winter and really cold) because you like the way your hair looks, so you walk around freezing.

Or when you have a leftover pie crust and just have to bake something to use it up.

Yeah, life is tough.

Luckily this tart isn't at all. You pat a pie dough into a tart pan. Yes, you pat it. With your hands. No rolling pin needed. Spread a jar of jam you love on top. Top with more pie crust. Sprinkle with heavy cream and sugar. Bake. Slice. Enjoy.

Best of all, you only dirty one pan, one spoon and a bit of counter. Perfect for those of us who don't have a dishwasher.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bread

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I made this recipe far less healthy than it originally was.

It was an accident, I promise. I was trying to bake with a recipe on my iPhone while simultaneously trying not to touch my iPhone and cover it with bread batter.

So, in the process, I added a half cup of butter to the mix instead of the quarter cup that was originally intended. That part was a complete accident.

The bittersweet chocolate chips were on purpose.

Still (or maybe because of the added unhealthiness), I found this bread really tasty. It was moist and flavorful.

The peanut butter taste in this bread was less overpowering than eating peanut butter on toast, but the peanut butter taste still lingered in my mouth long after each slice was finished.

If you're a jelly person, I'm sure some slathered on this bread would be just delicious. I've never been a fan of jully, but I adored this bread as is.

I'm linking up with BYOB--Bake Your Own Bread, hosted by Heather at girlichef. Visit to see all kinds of homemade breads that were baked in March!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I'm reading Julie Diamond's book Kindergarten: A Teacher, Her Students, and a Year of Learning. It's a beautiful account of Diamond's career as an early childhood teacher. It's the kind of work I hope to one day create. The book follows the structure of the typical school year, from the setup of the classroom and building of routines in September to the growth teachers celebrate in students as the year continues.

While reading the book, I'm particularly struck by the depth with which she knows her students, by her ability to recognize their small successes as evidence of deeper growth and understanding. She celebrates children who begin the year drawing house after house in writing, and who slowly start to see that they can use their pictures to tell stories.

Recently, Julie's class hit mid-winter, and while the doldrums set in, the students also began to take more initiative and sustain inquiries in ways they were not yet capable of in early fall. They worked for days on single block projects. They found the materials they needed and started composing their own books. They worked with purpose and enthusiasm.

When I started this blog, most of my recipes read adapted (slightly) or taken from. I felt most at home following recipes, enjoyed the process of replicating something and having it turn out just the way I intended.

Somewhere along the process, though, I started taking more chances. They were small at first. I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown to create my own version of Joy the Baker's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I added berbere to these Robert Linxe truffles so they better fit the theme of my meal. I realized I loved the taste of browned butter (where had it been all my life?), and I started working it into everything I did, like this strawberry-rhubarb crisp.

I'm enjoying the exploration, the time to play freely in my kitchen without the stress about whether what I create will turn out, but with a wealth of prior experiences with ingredients to draw on. Like Diamond's kindergartners, I can't wait to see where this journey takes me.

Today I'm linking up with Di's Kitchen Notebook for a special Citrus event! Visit Di's blog to view all the different citrus recipes being blogged about today!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pizza with Cherries, Honey and Gorgonzola

I didn't wake up this morning planning to extract DNA from strawberries. Believe it or not. 

Apparently strawberries have extra large DNA, so that inside each cell there are 8 copies of each chromosome instead of just one. 

So, when you crush up the strawberries, mix them with a DNA extractor (can be purchased or made simply with soap and salt), and then strain them through a filter, you're left with this strawberry goo. The DNA in strawberries is insoluble in ethanol, particularly in really cold ethanol. 

We poured that cold ethanol in slowly. The white DNA threads formed into these cotton-like fibers, and they clung together. We lifted them out and got these long, globby strands of DNA. 

Don't worry. This pizza has nothing to do with strawberry DNA. 

But it has everything to do with trying something new. 

Our Super Bowl party a few weeks back was really an eating party. We made pizzas, salsas, potato chip cookies, mulled wine, and raw kale salad. We agreed to talk only during the game and to stay quiet during the commercials. We had our priorities. 

We made pizzas inspired by Paulie Gee's, a pizza restaurant I've never visited. Our first was pretty standard. Mozzarella cheese sprinkled over a pizza crust rubbed with olive oil. We cooked it until the cheese was blistery, and then we topped it with a light salad of arugula and olive oil. It's one of my favorites. Simple. Fresh. 

But then, we tried their Cherry Jones. Two cheeses--mozarella and gorganzola. Topped with dried cherries and drizzled with local honey when it came out of the oven. 

This one was divine. The complex flavor of the gorganzola cheese contrasted perfectly with the sweetness of the cherries. The drizzle of honey finished it off perfectly. 

It's better as a second pizza if you're making two. It might be hard to eat several slices of. But it's fantastic. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Brussels Sprouts and Apple-Cabbage Slaw Sandwich

As a kid, I didn't like brussels sprouts. I thought they were too bitter and boring. I quickly pushed them aside whenever they were served.

Today, I can't get enough of them (though I haven't ever blogged about them before). Chuko serves caramelized crispy brussels sprouts as one of its nightly appetizers, and they alone are worth the trip. I love them roasted in the oven, sauteed with butter and shallots and even raw when they're thinly sliced as salad.

Then, I found out that Endless Simmer rated the No. 7's Brussels Sprouts Sandwich as number two in its Top Ten Sandwiches of 2011. The sandwich featured brussels sprouts, apple slaw and peanuts atop a sandwich roll. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

This sandwich is a vegan paradise. It starts with a hearty base of sauteed brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and garlic. It's topped with a delicious apple-cabbage slaw that's got just a hint of cumin in it. A thick spread of roasted red pepper hummus finishes the sandwich off.


The components were addictive on their own, and after a day of brussels sprouts sandwiches, we eagerly enjoyed the leftovers.