One Fabulous Thing

…because each day has at least one.

Recipe: Honey Wheat Bread in the Breadmaker April 4, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 9:26 pm

A few weeks ago, I was walking into my office when I saw a coworker carrying in a bread machine. I asked her if she was planning on making fresh bread for her sandwiches every day, and she replied that she was decluttering her kitchen (perhaps a fellow Apartment Therapy Spring Curer?) and figured that someone at our office would want it. She was right! I took it from her and stashed it in my car.

I have been wanting a breadmaker for a while, but the cost for buying even a used one was hard to justify, since we don’t eat that much bread and it seemed like it would take a while to break even on the expenditure. But a free breadmaker? Sold!

The recipes that came with it were sort of disappointing, containing a lot of sugar and shortening and butter – not really what I was looking for. I found Bread-Maker.net, and a recipe for Honey Wheat Bread that I modified slightly, and crossed my fingers as I pressed “Start.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/8 cups warm water at 110°F
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Pour the water, oil, and honey into the well of the breadmaker. Add the flour and the flax seed meal, making a volcano in the middle of the wet ingredients. Add the salt and the yeast in the crater. Snap the well into place, and select the light color setting.

The original recipe also called for the wheat bread setting, which adds 40 minutes to the total cooking time. By accident, I started it with the timer at 3 hours instead of 3 hours and 40 minutes. The booklet that came with the breadmaker warned that dire things would happen if I attempted to stop and re-start, so I didn’t. The whole house smelled of yeasty goodness for a few hours, and the bread was fantastic, with a nice crust and crumb.

 

Recipe: Slow Cooker Minestrone

Filed under: Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 9:02 pm

Like just about everything I make, this soup has a lot of variations, usually depending on what I have on hand. This is what it looked like today:

  • 1 pound of ground turkey, browned on the stovetop then dumped into the crockpot
  • 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth that I had leftover from making the risotto last week
  • 2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 5 good sized carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1/3 of a bag of frozen green beans
  • 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of black beans, drained
  • Two garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the broad edge of a knife
  • Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, marjoram)
  • Ground black pepper and salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Fresh Italian parsley (had a bunch I needed to use)

Combine all of the above ingredients except the parsley in a large crockpot, seasoning to taste as you cook. Add water if needed to ensure a loose broth. Cook on low for at least 4 and up to 8 hours, add fresh parsley at the end. If there is enough room, I add a cup of a small cut of pasta about an hour before we eat, like small elbows or orzo. If you don’t have any stock, adding a half of an onion chopped up adds a nice depth of flavor. Freezes beautifully.

 

Recipe: Steak February 17, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 10:29 pm

My method for cooking a steak at home is owed completely to Ruth Reichl, or probably more accurately, Ruth Reichl’s father. My husband claims I have ruined him for restaurant steaks with this method, and he may just be sweet-talking me, but they are tasty. The best results are with a good quality steak that has a lot of flavor. Since we only eat red meat a handful of times per year, I splurge on grass-finished beef, usually rib-eyes about 2″ thick with plenty of marbling.

Here is the method, as described in her book Garlic and Sapphires, The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise:

  • Make sure the meat has thrown off the chill from the refrigerator, I take mine out at least an hour before cooking.
  • Salt it generously when you take it out. I like to use sea salt, and I always salt it enough to think that I’ve salted it too much. That is never the case. I also like to use quite a bit of fresh ground black pepper.
  • Heat the pan on medium-high for about 15 minutes, until drops of water dance and sizzle on its surface. I like grill pans, this one is mine.
  • Cook the steaks for 8 minutes on each side, no messing with them except to flip them over once.
  • Transfer the steaks to plates, add a pat of butter to the top of each.
  • Let rest a few minutes before eating, and don’t ruin it with steak sauce.
 

02.08.2010 Reaping What You Sow February 10, 2010

Filed under: Food,Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 8:48 pm

You know all those neat tricks in lifestyle magazines that promise to make your life go more smoothly if you are able to put in a little bit of effort to get organized, plan ahead, et cetera? The tips like laying your clothes out for the week on a Sunday, or storing all of the cleaning supplies needed for a room in that room for quick touch-ups, or keeping all of your shoes in their boxes with a picture of the shoes inside affixed to the top so you don’t have to search through a jumble of shoes to find the ones you want. The tips that would be so great and helpful if only you didn’t have to do make sure that all of your laundry was done and put away by Sunday night, or if you don’t have any storage space to spare in the bathroom for yet another roll of paper towels and bottle of Windex, or if you can’t fathom getting so many pictures of shoes off the digital camera, uploaded onto your computer, and ordered through a website or printed out at home as a priority activity.

I collect ideas like this, and magazines containing these promises of domestic simplicity, and will happily pass them on to people that ask for suggestions along those lines, but do them? Usually, no. As I mentioned the other day, I do meal plan and do some prep ahead of time. I have bought into that system, and it works. The biggest factor there though is that I have a partner who cleans up my messes. I only have to invest time in the planning, shopping, and prep – he scrubs the pots and cleans the counters. Pretty sweet deal.

There is one other tip I have adopted that earned a place as the One Fabulous Thing of today: making a batch of cookie dough and freezing the majority of it in cookie-sized portions for later baking. Freaking genius.

In honor of the SuperBowl yesterday, I made beef stew in the crockpot and mixed up a batch of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough in the mixer. I cooked six of them (hey, it was the SuperBowl! Three each is appropriate, I think), and dropped spoonfuls of the rest of the dough on plates that I carefully placed in the freezer overnight then transferred into a large freezer bag.

Tonight, I realized the beauty of this plan as I pulled four portions of dough from the freezer, preheated the oven to 375°, and in about 15 minutes sat down with my husband to enjoy the fruits of my earlier labor.

These warm cookies gave me hope that, with the right sort of payoff, I can continue to shift some more of my habits to put in extra effort ahead of time to make things go more smoothly later. Maybe with all of that extra time I can make some more cookie dough…

So, Fabulous Thing #39: Happiness is a warm cookie.

 

Recipe: Seafood Stew February 7, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 1:22 pm

This is something I came up with when I was trying to figure out what to make with a bag of mixed frozen seafood from Trader Joe’s that seemed like such a great deal until it sat in my freezer for a few weeks because I wasn’t sure how to use it. I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Ingredients:

About 2 lbs frozen seafood (shrimp, scallops, calamari – mixed or any one of the above)

Half an onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

3-4 tablespoons butter

1 cup white wine

2 28oz cans of diced or whole peeled tomatoes

8oz clam juice

2 cups frozen corn

½ Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat 2-3 tablespoons butter on medium-low in a sturdy pot or dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic, heat until they become soft. Add the frozen seafood and turn heat up to medium-high for 3 minutes. Add white wine to deglaze the pot, reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, clam juice, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper. Heat through and add frozen corn. Add remaining butter for a richer broth. Can be served immediately, but it’s better to let it simmer for a bit first (lid off if you want to thicken up the broth). Avoid boiling since this will make the seafood rubbery. Enjoy with some crusty bread. Great leftover, but I wouldn’t freeze it.

 

02.01.2010 Soup Season February 2, 2010

Filed under: Food,Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 9:53 pm

In the past week, we’ve eaten a lot of things in bowls. The weather has made our tastes turn to things that can help ease the chill that has taken up residence in our bones. The other night I made a seafood stew that we haven’t had in a while, and with some crusty bread from the bakery around the corner it was the perfect Sunday night meal. Tonight, I made this soup from small tastes.

The title doesn’t lie – it is the easiest soup in the world. So easy, I made it twice  in the same night – one batch with 1/4 the spices for the kid. I did puree that batch, because he’s still a little funny about foods that are both liquidy and lumpy at the same time. I kept the batch for the adults as is, and the lentils and sweet potatoes were easily scooped up with the naan that I made to go with the soup.

The combination of the spices and the coconut milk made for a broth that was tasty on first try, and downright addictive by the last bit that we swiped out of our bowls. Everything about this soup from the color to the scent is warm. It’s just exotic enough for a Monday night, midwinter. The baby also loves his version, so a success all around.

I love trying a new recipe, especially one that is somewhat outside of my normal range of Mexican/Italian flavor profiles, or the typical protein with a starch and veggie that make up most of our meals. I also appreciate that this is a satisfying recipe that doesn’t include meat. For budget, health, and environmental reasons I try to cook at least 2-3 dinners per week that are vegetarian. I dig the Michael Pollan philosophy of “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” It’s a neat trick to go from a handful of dried lentils, a few rough-looking sweet potatoes, and some garlic and onion and dried spices to a delicious meal, and a trick that I plan to pull out of my pantry for many cold nights to come.

So, Fabulous Thing #32: This soup, people! Weren’t you paying attention?

 

Recipe: Carrot Cake February 1, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — onefabulousthing @ 8:23 pm

I made carrot cake for the little guy’s birthday, with a cupcake just for him. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting has always been my first choice for birthday cake, and so I thought the baby might like it too.

There’s more to it though. I’m not a baker, certainly not a from-scratch baker. Precise amounts and ingredients usually aggravate me. There was something about it being my kid’s first birthday that made me feel like I needed to dig deep and find my inner Martha. Like baking the cake made me even more of a legit mom. Crazy, right? Crazy delicious, actually.

The recipe was basically one from allrecipes.com, with a few tweaks due to tastes and wanting to use my KitchenAid Mixer.

Ingredients:

6 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
In the bowl of the mixer, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces (1pkg) cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (1 stick) of butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cream together the cream cheese and butter, add vanilla extract. Add confectioner’s sugar in batches, blending evenly.