Thursday, September 27, 2012

Name Bubbles

School is in full swing and we already lost an article of clothing.  The third day of school Brandon's little jacket went missing.  I searched the classroom, asked the teachers, and even checked the lost and found.  Well, it's lost and not yet found. 

Even if it is found, I forgot to label it with his name.  I'm normally really good about labeling the clothing, but we were in a rush that morning and I forgot.  So, that night I started marking everything with permanent marker.  The only problem was, some items weren't able to be marked.  Either the color was too dark, care label was too small, or it was plastic and the marker wouldn't adhere.

I started researching labels.  I actually had found this website last year, but never bothered investing in them.  Well, this year with two boys in school, I made the investment in Name Bubbles.  After browsing the selection, I chose the preschool pack.  It had a variety of sizes, along with labels that were dishwasher safe and laundry safe.  Then I simply chose the color scheme, style, and what I wanted it to say.  I chose just our last name, this way I can use them for both boys.

When they came in the mail, I was so excited.  I labeled lunchboxes, coats, hats, water bottles, etc.  I even have ones for shoes and boots.  The water bottles have been washed numerous times and are still intact.  This little ditty is worth the price :)  Check out the website above!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bread Bowls

So yesterday I made chili served in bread bowls.  Let's just take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of soup/stew served in a bread bowl.  *SIGH*  OK, we can proceed now.

The recipe is really quite simple and the dough can be prepared in a bread machine, stand mixer, or by hand.  Now before you disregard this recipe because you don't have a bread machine or stand mixer, preparing bread my hand can be quite therapeutic.  I know this for certain, because last month while at my parents I made bread this way. 

My mom has a very basic kitchen.  Probably because I stole a lot of her kitchen items over the years, and partly because she doesn't cook the way she used to.  She is starting to replenish her basics, but I was S.O.O.L. when it came to any sort of fancy appliance, i.e. bread machine or mixer ;)

This recipe will make four medium bread bowls.  They are big enough to hold two full ladles of soup.  The bread also freezes well.  When ready to use, simply defrost at room temperature.  You can always warm up the bread in a low oven too, about 275 degrees.


1 c. plus 3 tbsp. warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
3 c. bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast

All methods will start the same.  In a measuring cup, combine water, yeast, and sugar.  Set aside for about 10 minutes, the yeast will proof and the mixture will foam up.

For bread machine: 

Add the yeast mixture to the pan of the bread machine along with the olive oil.  Then carefully add the flour, cheese, and salt.  Set for the dough cycle.  Check after about five minutes to make the sure the dough has come together.  If the mixture appears too sticky add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.  If it is too crumbly, add water 1 teaspoon at a time.  The dough should hold the shape of a ball, and be slightly tacky.

For stand mixer:

Pour yeast mixture along with olive oil into the mixing bowl of the mixer.  Using the dough hook attachment, slowly add the flour and cheese while the mixer is on speed 2 or 3.  Then add the salt.  Allow to knead for about 10 minutes.  Check for consistency, the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky.  Add flour or water accordingly.  See note above.  Once the dough is done kneading, place into a greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.

By hand:

In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients to the yeast mixture along with the olive oil.  With your hands or a large wooden spoon, stir until the dough forms into a ball.  Then on a lightly floured board, knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes.  (this is where you will tone those upper arms)  See note above.  Once the dough is done kneading, place into a greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, gently turn in out onto a floured board.  Cut the dough in four equal pieces.

The next part takes some practice.  Hold one piece of dough in your hand, and gently tuck the ends into the bottom of the dough, creating a ball.  Pinch the bottom of the dough ball together and continue to form into a smooth ball.

underside of the dough ball, pinch and smooth it

Set dough balls on a greased baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise another 30 minutes. ( you can also sprinkle the baking sheet with a little cornmeal to give the bottom a bit of texture)  Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  The bread will be golden brown and will sound hollow when the bottom is tapped lightly.  Allow to cool on a rack.  Slice the top off and remove the inside of the bread to create a bowl.  Serve your favorite soup or stew inside your fresh bread bowl!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spicy Turkey Chili with Bread Bowls

Fall is in the air.  It's only a few days away, but I am already in gear for warm comfort foods.  I love love love comfort foods like mac n' cheese, chicken pot pie, soups, and stews.  What I don't love is all the calories associated with it.

I am taking a chili recipe, changing up the beef for turkey and kicking up the spice level a bit.  I will be eating sans bread bowl, but I will treat Jay to this little delight :)

turkey chili recipe

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 1/2 c. tomato sauce, I used leftover pizza sauce
1- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. chopped jarred jalapeno peppers
1/2 tsp. grill seasoning
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ancho chili pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 can kidney beans, optional

In a skillet, brown turkey and onions.  Add to slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients, and cook for 8 hours on low.  I made this the day before I want to serve it, so all the flavors can marry together.  Also freezes well for up to 3 months.

I will post the bread bowl recipe tomorrow :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Been A While

Hello all my fellow blog readers!!!  It's been a long while since I had a post.  This was not entirely my fault.  My life was side tracked for a bit with some family emergencies back home.  Now I am back in Oneonta, the kids are in school, and we're all back in the swing of things.

First, yes the boys are in school.  This includes our youngest, Brandon, who started kindergarten last week.  The first two days were great, then the realization of a long day set in.  We shed a lot of tears this week, but I think we are on an upswing.  Fingers crossed ;)

I am also back on track with my work out routine.  This makes me so happy.  I have more patience, I am sleeping better, and making smarter food choices.  Yay for me, and Jay, he's on this journey with me.

Oh, did I forget to mention we took a weekend trip to New York City with Jay's parents??  It was full of excitement and adventure.  The adventure part being threatening tornadoes.  It all worked out in the end, although I think his parents may need a vacation from our "vacation".  We did a lot of walking and climbing through subway terminals.

So how about a new recipe?? I mentioned about a family emergency.  My dad wasn't behaving himself and as Jay puts it, "He has a potpourri of things wrong".  The one major change he needs to do is, be on a low fat, low sodium diet.   While I was visiting them, I helped to make a few healthy dinners.

Healthy diet and my dad do not co-exist in harmony.  He is a real meat and potatoes guy, with a ton of salt added in.  So, one night we had heart healthy steaks (certified my the American Heart Association) and low fat twice baked potatoes.  The potato recipe is what I will share with you today.


4 medium to large baking potatoes
1/3 c. low fat plain yogurt
1 scallion, chopped fine
2 slices low sodium low fat bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash herb blend, no sodium version
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Scrub and wash the potatoes.  Pat dry and prick with a fork.  Lay on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  A knife inserted into the potato, should go in with ease.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit, so you can safely handle the potato.

Slice the potato in half lengthwise.  With a spoon, carefully remove the potato, being careful not to tear the skin.  Set aside the skins and put the "meat" of the potato in a large bowl with all the remaining ingredients; combine.

Evenly scoop the mixture back into the skins.  Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Almost Successful Mini Cherry Pie

We are in month two of Project Pie.  I wasn't going to post my mini cherry pies this month.  Why you ask???  Well, the filling was tasty enough, but I wasn't happy with the crust portion.

Then I started thinking, the whole point of this is trial and error.  This month was definitely an error, but could be remedied if you use pie dough instead of my idea of won ton wrappers.

I had left over won ton wrappers, and was trying to come up with a lower fat version of cherry pie.  The filling was delicious, the edges of the pie was good, but the bottom lacked the texture I was hoping for.  So lesson learned:  Don't use won ton wrappers for a pie crust if you want a true pie crust texture.

I did decide to give the recipe for the filling.  You can make it and use pie crust, pushed into muffin tins and it will be delicious.  I did mini apple tarts a few years ago and the process will be the same.  Here's the link for the technique.

cherry pie filling (enough for 8 tarts)

1 can of pitted cherries, not pie filling (found in the canned fruit aisle)
1/3 c. sugar
1 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
zest of one lemon

Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid, set cherries aside.  In a small sauce pan, add the cherry juice (about 1/3 c.), sugar, lemon zest.  In a small bowl, whisk the corn starch with 3 tbsp. cold water.  Add to juice mixture.  Over a medium-low heat, dissolve the sugar and allow mixture to thicken.  This will only take a 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, add cherries, and almond extract.  Fill prepared crusts. 

This alone also makes a great topping for pancakes, waffles, or ice cream.

Topped with whipped cream, powder sugar, and ice cream