Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today I baked two loaves of Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough.  A few weeks ago my mom's best friend told me about this recipe she'd seen on King Arthur Flour so I went to check it out! The first two times I made this bread, I did it exactly as the King Arthur recipe read, then the third time I made it, I decided to mess with true Elizabeth fashion.  I gave a loaf of my version to a friend of mine and she asked me to blog the recipe, so here I am!  I have made my version two more times, including today and it's SO delicious!  YUM!

Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough
makes two loaves

For the dough:

  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup FED sourdough starter 
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp honey (or you can use sugar)
  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 5 tsp. yeast
For the filling
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water, beaten 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1 tbsp butter to brush on the top after the loaves have baked
Place all the dough ingredients in your bread machine in the EXACT ORDER LISTED and set to dough cycle.  When the dough cycle is done, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Turn the dough out onto a VERY LIGHTLY floured surface and lightly coat your hands in flour.  

Punch down dough. Break dough in half and then form each half into a ball and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  While dough is resting, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small bowl and set aside.  Grease two loaf pans and set aside. Starting with one dough ball,  punch the dough out into a large rectangle with the short side facing you (about 16 X 20 inches).  Brush the egg wash onto the dough with a pastry brush or spread on with a spoon. Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture and top with raisins.  Carefully roll up the dough into a log.  Pinch the seam closed and fold the ends over and pinch closed. 

Place in loaf pan seam side down.  Repeat with second dough ball.  Cover loaves with a clean kitchen cloth and allow to proof until doubled in size, about 30 minutes (I like to let my loaves proof on top of the preheating oven).  Place in the oven and bake 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaf reaches 190 degrees (this is important because this will ensure your loaf is full cooked and will not be dense).   Remove the bread from the oven and brush the top with butter (I just use softened butter because it melts on contact with the bread and spread it on with my pastry brush- this gives it a nice soft crust which is good for this type of bread).  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes then carefully remove the loaves from the pans.  

Until next time, happy and HEALTHY cooking!

Fruit Sauce for Yogurt (and whatever else you want to put it on- and you will want to put it on EVERYTHING)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I read an article recently that a yogurt cup has more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut.  YUCK!  I DEFINITELY do not like Krispy Kremes, I've never been a donut person, but I really don't understand all the hype about Krispy Kremes...maybe it's all the sugar.  Anyway, when I found this out it made me sick.  And then I found out that a lot of brands, including the ALL NATURAL and ORGANIC brands add Carrageenan to their yogurt!  What is Carrageenan you ask?  It's an "all natural" ingredient that is added to certain products like yogurt, milk, and ice cream to provide a smoother texture and make "less fat" products seem fuller.  Here's the deal, it comes from red algae, so while it is all natural, it's not meant to be eaten!  It has been linked to gut irritation, digestive problems, and even certain types of digestive cancers!  It causes inflammation of the gut which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding.  This is scary to me because I suffer from a form of severe Irritable Bowel Disease, something that caused me to have a bowel obstruction and almost die 10 years ago.  Since then I have been SUPER vigilant about my diet and making sure I am eating things that don't irritate my gut, which is the main reason why we are such clean eaters in my house.  So, a few weeks ago I started having a flare up of my IBD and could not figure out why.  On my last trip to Costco I bought some Activia, which I don't usually buy because I don't like to support companies like Danone, but I bought it because it was on sale and David likes it.  My symptoms continued to get worse and could not figure out what it was!  And finally, I was reading about Carrageenan and BAM I checked the ingredients label of Activia and what's included?  CARRAGEENAN!  In a yogurt that is SUPPOSED TO PROMOTE GUT HEALTH!  What a crock!  SO...I started thinking about this, I love yogurt, my family loves yogurt, I don't want all that sugar, and I don't want the carrageenan.  Here's my solution.  Plain greek yogurt with this delicious fruit sauce poured over it.  You can use berries, you can use peaches, you can use fresh fruit, you can use frozen fruit...whatever you like!  Daniel likes it so much he calls it his "special sauce yogurt." I make my own yogurt cups by placing some berry sauce on the bottom of a small mason jar and topping it with yogurt.  I then pack these "cups" in David's and Daniel's lunch boxes.  YUM!  Give it a try!  You will want to eat it by itself it is so good!

Fruit Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen berries of your choice (or peaches)- I used a berry mix.
  • 1/4 cup honey (if you like it sweeter add a little more, if you don't like it very sweet add a little less)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
In a medium sauce pan, stir together the ingredients over medium high heat until hot and starting to bubble.  Turn down heat to low and allow to cook down for about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally breaking up the fruit.  You will know the mixture is ready when it is slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, CAREFULLY (it splatters and is very  hot) puree the mixture.  Place back on low heat and allow to bubble another 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. I store this sauce in mason jars in the fridge.  It will keep for about a week.  

Until next time, happy and HEALTHY cooking.  

Coffee Creamer

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I have been working really hard to eliminate all the processed foods from our home.  To be fair, we don't eat a lot of processed foods, but there are certain things I DO buy, like ketchup, mustard,  and coffee creamer.  Lately I've been working really hard to learn to make these things because not only does it save money, it is cleaner and healthier.  After a bit of trial and error, I have come up with this delicious coffee creamer and the best part about it is that I KNOW WHAT'S IN IT!  It also cost me about half the amount to make a 16 oz bottle as it does to buy it at the grocery store.  And it also tastes way better than that other gunk too, if I do say so myself!  

Coffee Creamer

  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp sweetener of your choice (for example- sometimes I use maple syrup, sometimes I use honey, sometimes I use raw sugar.  If you like it a little sweeter, add a little more, if you like it less sweet, add a little less).
To these ingredients add the following depending on which kind of creamer you want to make.  My favorite is salted caramel vanilla.  

Salted Caramel Vanilla 
(note, for this recipe I take out the sweetener because the caramel sauce has sugar in it)
Classic Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Maple Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (you can add more if you like a strong cinnamon flavor)
  • 1 tsp pure maple extract
Almond Mocha
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
Pumpkin Spice
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree 
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Peppermint Mocha
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
In a small saucepan combine all ingredients.  Whisk over low heat until steaming (do not allow to boil) and continue to whisk for 2 minutes after it starts steaming.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Store in the fridge in a glass container with a tight lid.  Will keep for 10 days.  YUM!

Until next time, happy and HEALTHY cooking.

Perfect and Simple Sourdough Bread

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I have been working really hard at perfecting bread making.  One of my favorite types of bread to make is sourdough.  Sourdough might be totally daunting but YouTube has some EXCELLENT videos on how to make it and I've tried a ton of different methods and techniques to make mine PERFECT! The best part is that I can cheat and make the dough in the bread machine, shape by hand, and bake on my stone in the oven.  I've got this bread so delicious that my friends have even started asking me if I will sell it!  The tricky part is the starter.  My starter isn't traditional by any means, but it works really well and makes the bread taste AMAZING.  I was thinking about making a video tutorial but since we've moved I can't find my video camera.  As soon as I can find it, I will make one cause it really helps to see it done.  
One thing to note, when making bread, ESPECIALLY sourdough, the type of flour you use REALLY DOES MATTER!  I use either King Arthur flour or Bob's Red Mill.  You really need to use bread flour and that bread flour needs to be UNBLEACHED and UNBROMATED.  The reason for this is because you need to have flour that has a high gluten content and it needs to be more nutrient rich.  All purpose flour isn't going to cut it, even if it's unbleached, you need a high quality flour.  So, my advice to you is, spend the extra money to get a good quality flour.  In addition to good flour, I add  4 tsp. per loaf of vital wheat gluten.  Vital wheat gluten isn't essential, but it helps give the dough a nice rise as well as an amazing texture.  It also gives a little longer life to your loaf of bread.  You can find the Vital Wheat Gluten right next to the yeast in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
Also remember, the older your sourdough starter, the more sourdough flavor you will have.  So if you use this recipe for a sourdough starter, it will probably take a few months before you start to really notice that delicious sourdough flavor.  Don't despair if your bread doesn't have that distinct flavor to start, give it time, like a fine wine, sourdough gets better with age :).  If properly maintained, your starter can be kept alive indefinitely! 

Basic Sourdough Starter

  • 1 cup high quality flour (I use Bob's Red Mill or King Arthur- you can also use whole wheat flour that has a high gluten content)
  • 1 cup cool, filtered water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp. yeast (Note- Sourdough purists would probably have a fit about me adding yeast to my starter, however I find that it gets the starter going quicker, and keeps it really active.   I have tried it both ways and find that I prefer adding yeast to my starter)
To Make your Starter:
In a large, non reactive (non metallic) container (I use a large, glass mason jar), mix all the ingredients together with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon.  If you have lumps, don't worry about it, lumps are OK! Cover loosely with plastic wrap (not too tight, you don't want air to make it explode), or I use a piece of cheese cloth held in place by a rubber band.  Store in a warm, dry place like a pantry or kitchen cabinet.  
For the next 8 days you are going to start fermenting your starter.  Your starter is a living thing and needs to be fed to keep it alive.  While you are fermenting your starter- feed your it morning and night.  Here's how you feed your starter:
At each feeding - 
  • Remove 1/4 cup of starter and discard it.
  • To your remaining starter, add 1/4 flour, 1/4 cup water, and a pinch of sugar.
  • Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, cover, and place back in your storage spot.  
As the starter ferments it will get bubbly and have a sweet smell.  If a brown liquid forms on the top that's A GOOD THING!  It's called the Hooch and it's alcohol caused by fermentation.  Simply stir it back into the starter when you feed it.  After 8 days you can cook with your starter or you can place it in the refrigerator.  If you keep it in the fridge, it needs to be fed once a week.  To feed once a week, remove 1/2 cup of starter and either discard or bake with it, feed with equal parts flour, water, and a pinch of sugar, stir, cover, and place back in the fridge.  If you choose to keep it out of the fridge, it needs to be fed once a day.

To bake with your starter:
24 hours before you are ready to bake, remove 1/2 cup of starter from the refrigerator and feed it with 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of sugar.  Place in your warm, dry storage spot (I keep mine in a kitchen cabinet).  Before placing the remaining starter back in the fridge, feed it with 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of sugar.  Stir to mix, cover, and place back in the refrigerator.  
Feed the starter you are going to use to bake WITHOUT REMOVING ANY STARTER twice on the first day 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of sugar.  Feed it again on the second day right when you are ready to add it to your recipe.  You should always bake with starter that has been just fed.  Add the amount of starter you need to your recipe and add the remaining starter to your starter in the fridge.

*Note- when you feed your starter, it should get bubbly and after a few hours look frothy.  If it does not bubble up, you can add a pinch of yeast to revive it (again, I am not a traditionalist here).  If it looks pink or orange and has a foul odor then it's dead and you need to discard it, but most of the time, it can be very easily revived.  If it is BROWN that is GOOD!  BROWN IS GOOD!

Perfect and Simple Sourdough Bread

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp. honey 
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 8 tsp. vital wheat gluten
  • 2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
  • 10 ice cub
Place ingredients in the bread machine in the EXACT ORDER LISTED and set to the dough cycle.  When the dough cycle is done, coat a medium sized non-metal bowl with oil, or a banneton lightly with flour and set aside. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.  Take one mound of dough and form it into a tight ball.  The easiest way to do this is to place the dough on the counter and pull it towards you, turn it one quarter turn, then pull it toward you, and repeat until you have done four turns.  Then, using the side and heel of your hand, shift the dough in small circles so that it tightens into a tight ball.  Turn the dough upside down into the banneton or oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.  Repeat with the second mound of dough.  While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  If you are using a baking stone- which is recommended- preheat the stone in the oven.  Coat a pizza peel lightly with semolina flour or cornmeal, or line with parchment.  Turn the risen dough CAREFULLY out onto the pizza peel.  Carefully slash the top of your dough with a VERY SHARP knife, taking care not to deflate it.  Open your oven and toss the ice into the bottom of your oven (NO THIS WON'T HURT IT!! This will create steam in your oven and give your bread a crispy crust and chewy inside).   Carefully slide your dough balls out onto the baking stone using a pizza peel.  Bake 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of your bread reaches between 190 and 210 degrees when measured with a meat thermometer (this is REALLY important for good texture).  Allow to cool slightly before cutting into it...although I know it will be hard to wait!  

Until next time, happy and HEALTHY cooking!

Chicken and Broccoli Rolls

There is SO much you can do with crescent dough.  Unfortunately the stuff you buy in the tubes has undesirable ingredients.  Homemade crescent dough is SO easy to make, especially if you have a bread machine.  I love to make my chicken pockets with this dough, but I also came up with these chicken and broccoli rolls and they were a HUGE hit! I love easy recipes like this!  Make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken!  Change it up, by using pizza toppings, mushrooms, whatever you fancy!

Chicken and Broccoli Rolls

  • 1 recipe homemade crescent dough (note, when using this dough for a savory dish, I decrease the amount of sugar to 1/4 cup...I also use honey most of the time instead of sugar)
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli, chopped
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or parmesan, or whatever kind of cheese you like), grated
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13X9 inch baking dish (or I use my 13X9 casserole stone, which you don't need to grease if you are using stoneware). In a small bowl mix the cream cheese, garlic, and chives.   Roll out crescent dough into a large rectangle, roughly 12X16, with the long sides horizontal and the short sides vertical. 

 Spread the cream cheese mixture over the rolled out dough leaving a boarder of about 1/4 inch at the top and bottom.  Spread the broccoli and chicken evenly over the cream cheese mixture, then sprinkle evenly with cheese.  Roll up horizontally from the bottom to the top to form a log.  Slice log into 12 rounds and place in rows of 3 in the baking dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until  slightly browned and dough is cooked through.  I like to serve these with a nice tossed salad!  YUM!

Until next time, happy and healthy cooking!

Clean Ketchup and a RANT about ANNIE'S HOMEGROWN!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I am highly upset today over Annie's Homegrown selling out to General Mills.  We buy almost nothing processed but Annie's was one of those companies I still supported.  My boys LOVE the Annie's Bunnies and I felt ok about letting them have them every once in awhile.  But....IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE?  I mean REALLY!  It really irks me that all these large corporations buying up the small organic brands to make themselves look good when we all know what they're REALLY up to.  I mean, it saddens me, but I can no longer support Annie's Homegrown and buy their products anymore.  Annie's representatives swear up and down that they will stay true to their mission and true to their ingredients, however, how can we really trust that when they are now owned by a company that is in bed with Monsanto? A company that paid millions of dollars AGAINST GMO labeling.  The fact of the matter is, now when we buy Annie's our money is going to General Mills.  And let's face it, General Mills will eventually win over Annie's mission because the almighty dollar will speak.  They will find a way to make Annie's products cheaper and essentially that will mean adding unsavory ingredients to their products.  It's only a matter of time.  And even if they manage to stay true to their mission, the principal of the sell out is what speaks here.  Even if they stay true to their mission, the money we spend on Annie's will go to supporting the exact OPPOSITE of what Annie's stands for.  Plus, I felt better about supporting the little guy...So...I am going to speak with my wallet.  I will no longer buy Annie's Homegrown, and it saddens me because they were actually a company I felt good about supporting.  Another note along those lines- I just found an App for my phone called Buycott, which has information on all sorts of products and the companies that own them.  You can select all sorts of "conflicts" you have (such as use of GMOs, supporting campaigns against same sex marriage, use of HFCS, etc) and it will tell you if the company that owns the product supports anything you are against in great detail!  I LOVE this app!  

Now, onto ketchup.  You will notice on many of my posts, if a recipe calls for Ketchup, I usually mention that I use Annie's.  Annie's Ketchup is what I buy.  We go through a lot of ketchup in this house and so when I found out this week that Annie's was bought out by General Mills, I thought I'd better learn to make ketchup!  And learn to make ketchup I DID!  I tried several different recipes, took the best from all of them, added a little bit of Elizabeth flair, and THIS was the result:

Clean Ketchup

  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar - (note- I tried making it with honey instead and my husband thought it tasted like a "dirty sweat sock."  I didn't mind the taste with the honey but since David didn't like it I tried the sugar instead and it WAS better.  This is one case where I will use sugar instead of honey).
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil.  Turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring very often, for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  If you want a very smooth and shiny ketchup, you can press it through a mesh strainer, otherwise it is excellent as is.  I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge.  YUM!

Simple White Sandwich Bread

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

I have said this before, but I have totally given up buying store bought bread.  I have learned to make bread so easily at home and it's so much better in so many ways!  Not only does it taste better, but it's healthier and I know EXACTLY what is in the bread.   I use my bread machine to make the dough, then I shape by hand and bake in the oven.  That makes it so much easier for me! I have started adding Vital Wheat Gluten to my bread and it gives it a really nice texture.  The Vital Wheat Gluten isn't essential, but if you add it, I think you will be very happy with the results!  Vital Wheat Gluten can be found right next to the yeast in the baking aisle of your grocery store!

Here's my simple white sandwich bread recipe and it is soooooooooo good.  

Simple White Sandwich Bread 
makes 2 loaves

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp honey (or you can use sugar but if you use sugar add it after the flour)
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 5 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 8 tsp. vital wheat gluten (You can leave this out if you can't find it or if you don't want to put it in, but it really makes a beautiful loaf of bread)
  • 3 tsp. yeast
Add ingredients in your bread machine in the EXACT ORDER LISTED (if you use sugar instead of honey, add it after you add the flour) and set to dough cycle.  Once dough cycle is finished, preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously grease two loaf pans with either cooking spray or butter.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and roll into a ball.  Cut ball in half.  With one half, form into a ball, then do a little karate chop action down the bread to form into a rectangle.  Roll up the bread pinch the seam together, pinch the ends together, and place seam side down in loaf pan.  Do the same with the
second ball.  Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size about 30 minutes.  Bake 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread is between 190 and 210 degrees (I take the temp with a meat thermometer).  Yum, yum, YUMMMY, YUM, YUM!

Until next time, happy and healthy cooking!

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