Category Archives: FOODIE

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

I spend the first part of my school day looking forward to lunch. It isn’t so much that I need a break from my students (though there are days) but more so that I know that within that little lunch bag lies a yummy sandwich made from the best homemade bread out there. We have been making this bread for about 3 years now. Every so often we have had to buy bread from the store due to a lack of time, and each time it has confirmed for us that there is no going back; this bread is a game changer.

When we first started, we were buying flour from the grocery store. We quickly realized, however, that going bulk would be a better option for us. We purchase our flour in 50-pound sacks from Azure Standard. If you have never heard of them, I would recommend a look. We have done some tweaking of the recipe over the years and have settled on a half/half mix of whole wheat flour and white flour. It gives all of the good nutrients without being too “whole wheat” in the taste.

We make our dough in a bread maker. We make our dough only, we don’t  bake the bread in it. We have found that baking the bread in the oven makes much better loaves – and let’s be honest – the smell of baking bread is one of the best parts of the process! If you don’t  have a bread maker, you can make the dough by hand, just use the same ingredients and look up the process for the kneading and rest times.

So without further ado… the recipe for honey wheat sandwich bread:

This recipe makes 2 loaves at a time. If you only want 1 loaf, be sure to half the recipe.

Ingredients

2 cups of warm water

4 dollops of honey (we buy ours by the gallon from Azure Standard)

2 teaspoons instant yeast

6 cups flour (3 whole wheat/3 white)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons salt

Place water and honey, and yeast in the bread maker. Let the yeast dissolve for a few minutes to react with the honey. Next, add the oil, flour, and salt. We premix the 2 types of flour and the salt to get a good consistency through the loaves. Start the dough cycle on the machine, ours takes 1 hour and 50 minutes including a pre-heat time.

 

When the machine is finished, separate the dough into 2 greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

We usually let the dough rise until it just crests the pan. The bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. We actually bake ours for 32 minutes because the extra time gives it that beautiful golden brown finish. You will need to play with your timing on your own oven. When the loaves are done, turn them out immediately onto a cooling rack. Resist the urge to cut into them right away! Remember, once you open this Pandora’s “bread” Box, there is no going back! Enjoy!

Back to Basics

I recall a conversation that we had with our priest a few years ago about why so many people have gotten away from self-sufficiency. His opinion is that modern society has taught us that we CAN’T do things for ourselves. I have pondered this for a while, and it makes sense. We have grocery stores with pre-packaged meat and we have no connection to where it came from. We have mechanics and Jiffy Lube places that change the oil in our cars, and landscape companies that cut the lawn so we don’t have to worry about it.  Today we have grocery stores and fast food restaurants; not only do we not have to grow our food, but we can get anything we want within minutes. It would seem that we have evolved as a society and that things are just easier now- but what have we lost in the process?

When we bought our house 3 years ago, we decided that we were going to make use of our 1 acre and live from it as much as possible. We also  wanted to learn how do to as many things for ourselves as we could; it is important to us to show our boys that we can grow our own food and bake our own bread, among other things. The idea of being good stewards of what we have been given goes right along with our Orthodox faith, and we want them steeped in that as much as possible. We have a long way to go as far as self-sufficiency is concerned, but we have been working on some routines which are putting us on the right track.

One of the simple routines that we implemented about 2 years ago is baking our own bread every week. This was the slippery slope that made us want to do everything ourselves! There is absolutely nothing like taking a loaf of bread out of the oven and buttering a slice to devour while it is still warm- delicious! The fact that we know exactly what goes into the bread and that there isn’t a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients is also a great comfort to us. We regularly make 2 different types of bread- honey wheat sandwich loaves and french crusty bread; the sandwich bread is our go to for weekly lunches, and we love the crusty bread for just about everything else! We have passed the recipe to many friends who now make their own bread and vow to never go back. I will give them each their own post with recipes and pictures, so you can see how easy it is! The honey wheat loaf will be up first!

What are some things that your family does to get back to basics? I would love to hear from you!

Best Green Bean Casserole Ever!!

This year, we had the best Thanksgiving meal yet! My hubby’s dad and step-mom were here for a visit so I decided to do almost everything from scratch! I’m beginning to get a *little* more confident in my cooking, so why not do a huge meal from scratch with all completely new recipes… right??! Luckily, I had help from hubby’s step-mom and a whole day of prep while the guys were hunting.

The recipe I am most excited about is the green bean casserole. I have obviously had the casserole in the past, but it has never been my favorite. I don’t love canned green beans, and it seemed to always be more of a mushy mess by the time it was done. This recipe (from Pinterest) calls for NO cans whatsoever, and even includes home-made fried onion topping!! There are many steps, and it takes a bit of prep… but I will never go back to the canned casserole. The flavors of this recipe are so rich and fresh!

The original recipe comes from Creative Culinary
(http://www.creative-culinary.com/homemade-green-bean-and-mushroom-casserole-with-fried-onion-strings/), but I have re-posted it here for you with my own pictures. Give it a try and you won’t regret it!!

Homemade Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole with Fried Onion Strings
For the Onion Strings:
  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon (scant) Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons (to 1/2 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 quart (to 2 Quarts) Peanut or Canola Oil
  • Black Pepper To Taste
  • For the Green Beans:
  • 2 pounds green beans, ends removed and beans snapped in half
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned and diced
  • 1 & 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar 

      To make the Onions:

  1. Slice onion in half; place the flat half down on your cutting board and slice each half into thin rounds.
  2. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in small fryer or large dutch oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and PLUNGE into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown.
  6. Repeat until onions are gone.
  7. Ree advises to eat them before your family sees them and then repeat the whole process with another onion, because they’ll be really mad they didn’t get any. She is so right…it was hard to not just ‘snack’ them gone before we even made the casserole!

    To make the casserole: 
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook until deep green and tender, about 10 minutes (we like ours a bit crisp tender; cook longer if you prefer softer beans. (The beans do not continue to cook more in the casserole.) Drain and rinse with cool water.
  9. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start sweating liquid, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 3 minutes. Remove the mushroom mixture to a separate bowl.
  10. Combine the milk, cream, and chicken stock in a large glass bowl and microwave until hot, about 2-3 minutes (or bring to a simmer in a saucepan).
  11. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in the Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until creamy; about 2 minutes.
  12. Add the hot milk mixture and continue cooking, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  13. Stir the mushroom mixture into the cream sauce and simmer, whisking frequently, for about 5 minutes for the flavors to marry. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. (You want this to be on the salty side, because it will mellow once you add the green beans.)
  14. Stir the green beans into the mushroom sauce and toss to combine. Pour the green bean mixture into a large, buttered casserole dish (about 2 quarts). 

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    14. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Add the grated cheddar and crispy onion strings and  
          bake uncovered until cheese is melted, about 15 more minutes. Let stand for 10  
          minutes before serving.
   15. Dig in!
 Notes
We made this for Thanksgiving and it makes a lot; I would cut this in half if serving for a regular meal. Except the onion strings; make them all. You won’t regret it.