Well…..I find myself in sunny Aruba again. This is where ATBB first started 2 years ago. Football playoffs are on so we are hanging out at the old hacienda today.
I’m not as enthused with Football as my husband. The Baltimore Ravens made it; they are playing the Chargers today. So in support of our local team I am logging a little bit of time. Since the TV is in the kitchen / sitting area I decided to bake and watch.
I am a big fan of my Kitchen-Aide mixer when it comes to making dough. Unfortunately, there isn’t one here. So what’s a baker to do??? Make it by hand of course. Yes, old school, kneading from beginning to end. It was actually kind of fun. It yields 2 loaves so I will have one for our guests arrival.
It has basic ingredients. All purpose flour, yeast, salt, water, oil, and a sweetener. I love using honey in bread. It gives it a nice mellow sweetness. You could use sugar if you like. Just remember, yeast loves sugar. Sweet is essential for the rising process to occur. I used olive oil because that’s what I had. You could use vegetable or canola or any oil of your choice. They all work!
The first rise takes place in a greased bowl. The dough is then divided in half and shaped into a loaf. The second rise takes place in two greased loaf pans. I put it in the oven with the oven light on. Cover it with a lint free towel. Dough loves warm places, free of drafts.
Once the loaves have doubled in bulk it’s time to bake them. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 375 degree oven. When done they should sound hollow when tapped with your finger and golden in color.
That’s it! Go bake some bread. The biggest challenge will be waiting long enough to let it cool to eat. You’ll be tempted to never buy store-bought bread again.
BASIC WHITE BREAD
- 2 1/4 C warm water (110-115 degrees) if you aren’t sure use a thermometer
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 3 Tbsp honey, or sugar
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt, or sea salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, or oil of choice
- 6-7 C of all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. (if if is too hot it will kill the yeast. It can be cooler, it will just take longer for it to bloom.)
- With a wooden spoon add 3 C of flour the sugar, and the salt. Beat well until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour a cup at a time until if forms a soft dough.
- Flour a surface and knead until smooth and elastic. You may need to add more flour if it is sticky. Continue to knead until it is no longer sticky and when you poke the dough and make an indent it should spring back immediately. Form into a ball and place into a well-greased bowl, turning over once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place until it has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
- Once doubled, punch straight down into the center of the dough with your fist. Turn out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape each into a loaf and place each in a greased 9×5 loaf pan. Cover with a lint free towel and let rise until doubled again, about 40-50 minutes.
- Bake the loaves at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Remove the loaves from the pans to a wire rack to cool.
This also freezes well. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil. When ready to use just remove it from the freezer and let it thaw to room temperature in the wrapping.
Til next time
A new year is before us. There are endless opportunities and possibilities and a fresh start! I’m sure most of you have traditions for the day; I certainly do. For me it’s a time of reflection and the memories made. It’s being thankful for what I have. It’s about the people in my life that matter. I want to spend my time wisely and not worry about the things I can not change. I want to be worthy of the life I have been given.
We are once again going to Aruba in January. It’s our favorite place to be. This year we have some new travelers coming to stay with us. We truly will be spending the New Year with the people we love, the people who matter most. Family and good friends, I can’t think of a better way to start 2019. Before we go, there are other traditions that need attention.
Once the New Year rings in I turn off the lights on my Christmas trees. They are dismantled in the morning and put away until next Christmas. A daunting chore but necessary. I am reminded by each ornament of time gone by. Some remind me of happy times. Some remind me of people who are no longer here. They are like a picture album full of memories. I cherish each and every one.
I also make a pot of black-eyed pea soup and some homemade bread. Black-eyed peas are said to bring good luck when eaten New Years Day. Who am I to argue?? My Grandmothers and my Mother always made it. It’s a tradition I like to carry on. It’s also pretty tasty and healthy.
I like to make mine in the Crock-Pot. You can easily convert it to your Instant Pot or stove-top. If you use the Crock-Pot or IP you don’t have to soak the beans. Just rinse and sort them to make sure they are free of any stone or debris. The stove-top requires soaking them in water over-night.
I always have a fresh ham on Christmas. I save the bone and put that in the pot with the beans. It gives it a nice flavor. You could use bacon, a beef bone, chopped ham, or leave it out all together. I like to live by the “waste not, want not” theory. So in the pot the ham bone goes. You can also add chopped tomatoes and kale. It’s soup; make it yours!
[recipe title = “BLACK EYED PEA SOUP” serving = “6-8” time = “8 hours” difficulty = “easy”]
- 72.5 oz chicken broth
- 16 oz package of dry black-eyed peas
- 1 ham bone (optional) (can use diced ham or other meat of choice if desired)
- 4 medium carrots, 1 inch dice
- 2 stalks celery, 1 inch dice
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- OPTIONAL: chopped kale, canned tomatoes. (If using tomatoes, add them to the pot the last 15 minutes of cooking)
- Place all the ingredients in your Crock-Pot except for the tomatoes if using.
- Cover and cook for 8 hours on low.
NOTE: if using canned tomatoes, (I like fire roasted), add them to the pot 15 minutes before the cooking time is up. Give it a good stir.
Whatever your traditions are I wish you Happy New Year. Thanks for reading my thoughts and leaving comments. It’s nice to know someone is out there. Have a wonderful 2019.
Til next time
Well, another Christmas has come and gone. It is my favorite time of year. I’m always a little sad when it ends. I truly love everything about it.
We had a lot of events to attend this year. My birthday is in December and I got treated to a Transiberian Concert in Hershey, PA.; it was amazing. We always have an annual Christmas party at our house. There is a dirty Santa ornament exchange that can get pretty intense, but lots of fun. There are multiple parties to go to as well. It all happens and ends too fast for me!
We attended our last party on the 23rd at a friend’s house. Lots of great food, including oysters, smoked duck, and all kinds of goodies. My contribution was potato, sausage, and kale soup. I also made some homemade bread. EGG BREAD or CHALLAH
This recipe came about because of a soup my husband had at Olive Garden, Zuppa Toscana. He asked me to come up with a recipe for it; so I did. I have to admit, it went over very well at the party. I was asked to give out the recipe and I’m happy to oblige.
Give this one a try. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re a Weight Watcher this soup comes in at 4 PP per 1 cup serving.
POTATO, SAUSAGE, AND KALE SOUP
- 8 oz lean Italian turkey sausage, removed from the casing
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1 medium onion, fine dice
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 slice bacon, diced
- 4 C fat-free milk, reserve 1 C to the side
- 2 C water
- 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
- 8 oz red skin potato, sliced thin (I use a mandolin)
- 2 C kale, cleaned, medium chop
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- Splash of Sherry
- salt and pepper to taste
- nutmeg, freshly grated
- In a 5-6 quart soup pot brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up as it cooks with a spoon or spatula. Drain and remove it from the pan, and place it on paper towels to remove any excess grease. Wipe the pan with a paper towel.
- Add the canola oil to the same pan. Saute the onions and bacon. Cook until the onion is softened and the bacon is cooked.
- Add the grated garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Pour 3 cups of the milk and 2 cups of water into the pan. Add the chicken bouillon granules and bring to a simmer. (DO NOT BOIL) Add the potatoes and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- With the remaining cup of flour, add the flour and whisk, set aside.
- Add the sausage back to the pot and the kale and continue to simmer another 10 minutes.
- Add the milk and flour mixture and continue to cook until it is slightly thickened.
- Add the splash of Sherry
- Taste and season with salt and pepper
- Grate a small amount of fresh nutmeg, be careful not to add too much it can over power your soup. It will enhance the flavor of the kale.
- Serve immediately. Very good with some grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Til next time
When exploring healthy options and lower carbohydrate recipes I discovered radishes. Yes, that’s correct, radishes. I only used to use them for color in my fresh salads and a little heated bite. I’ve made radish roses for decoration on a crudite’ plate. I never thought of cooking them and using them as a potato substitute.
The French use them as a nibble with sweet butter and salt and a nice baguette. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, has a recipe you can find on the web. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/radishes-with-butter-and-salt-recipe2-1945613. While I like them this way, cooking them has been a revelation.
My dear friend at http://thecoastalcrushstyle.com/ sent me an article about weight gain. It got me thinking about carbs and how I could eliminate them. The article was actually very good. You should give it a read! Check it out on Instagram. (see references below)
I love hash browns. Who am I kidding; I love potatoes. One of my favorite breakfast meals is a frittata. I use Ore Ida’s Potatoes O’Brien for that dish and it’s amazing. That is actually where I got this idea from. I must admit, it made me very happy this morning.
I took a large bag of radishes and peeled them. Then I boiled them until they were just easily pierced with a knife. I strained them and returned to the hot pan, off the burner so it would help absorb the moisture. Once they were cooled I diced them into a small dice. I added some banana peppers from our garden and a bit of diced onion. So this morning Radish Browns were born.
You will want to make sure your diced radishes are dry. The drier they are the less time it will take to brown them. Keep an eye on them and turn them several times to prevent burning and sticking. The end result is wonderful.
I topped mine with some cracked eggs and stuck the pan under the broiler. I broiled it until the egg whites were set and the yolks were still slightly runny. Watch it carefully, it only takes a few seconds. Of course if you don’t like runny eggs, leave it under the broiler until they suit you.
When radishes are cooked they take on a potato flavor. You can also roast or bake them. It’s one of those vegies that has a surprising flavor when they are prepared differently. Don’t take my word for it; give this one a try!
RADISH BROWNS AND OVEN BAKED EGGS
- 16 oz whole radishes, peeled
- 4-5 banana peppers, seeded and sliced (can use any type pepper you like)
- 1/4 medium onion, large dice
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 4 eggs
- Boil the peeled radishes for about 5-8 minutes or until a knife inserted pierces the flesh easily.
- Drain and return to the hot pan off the burner to absorb some of the moisture.
- Let cool and dice into cubes, as for hash browns.
- In a medium skillet that is oven-proof, add the olive oil and heat over med-high heat.
- Add the radishes, peppers, and onions and cook until the radishes begin to brown. Turn occasionally so they don’t burn and brown throughout.
- Once browned, season with salt and pepper.
- Spread the mixture flat and crack 4 eggs in different areas over the top.
- Place under the broiler until the eggs are set to the desired doneness.
Note: you can also, whip the eggs and add a bit of milk, and cheese and pour over the top instead of the cracked eggs.
A bit of fresh chopped basil would be good on top with any style egg.
Til next time,
Well, here is the crock pot mystery soup I promised earlier. I got up this morning before work and made this. It took all of 20 minutes to put together. I walked in the door after work to a wonderful aroma and dinner.
This is a dry bean soup. No pre-soaking or cooking the beans. The crock pot does it all for you. It’s healthy, filling, and I promise very tasty. This is a Weight Watcher friendly recipe too.
You can find packages of 15 bean soup in most groceries. Mine came from Walmart. They are sometimes labeled as 13 bean; it doesn’t matter, it will come out fine. They usually come with a flavor packet. I never use it but feel free if you want a different flavor. The ingredients listed are all you need. You could add a meat to it. Sausage, shrimp, ham, or chicken would work well. In my world, the beans stand on their own.
As always, I prep everything and then just throw it all together, mix well, and turn on the crock pot. The only thing left is the can of tomatoes. They get thrown in last just to heat through. That’s it; your soup is done.
I like to dice the veg smaller, close to the size of the beans. The addition of Italian seasoning may seem odd, but it works well.
This recipe makes a lot. Be glad, it’s always just as good (maybe better) the next day. This is the final product. Serve with a salad or some nice rolls and enjoy.
Well, I’m off to my grandson’s last soccer game of the season. I hope you enjoy the recipe. My family loves it!
Thanks for reading and following along. I love seeing your comments and photos. Keep them coming!!!
15 BEAN SOUP (CROCK-POT)
- 2 (32 oz) boxes of chicken broth ( or equal amount of canned broth)
- 1 C water
- 1 package of 13 or 15 bean soup mix (dried beans)
- 4 medium carrots, small chop
- 3 medium stalks of celery, small chop
- 1 large onion, small chop
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning (dry)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 (14.5 oz) can, fire roasted tomatoes
- Mix everything together except the can of tomatoes
- Cover and cook for 10 hours on low
- Stir in the tomatoes and cook an additional 15 minutes to heat the tomatoes through.
Til next time,
Ahhhh……Fall. It’s a great time to cook and eat meals with a little more substance. Still, this one is a Weight Watchers recipe coming in at 4 Smart Points. It has a total of 12 servings. I turned it into 8 servings. I have no problem with 6 points for a larger serving. Well worth it in my opinion.
I wanted to use items that I already had. I always keep a good stash of Italian spices. My pantry is always stocked with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. What self-respecting Italian wife would I be?? I mean c’mon….haha!!
I use ground turkey all the time in place of ground beef. Not that there is a thing wrong with ground beef. You could totally use ground beef in this recipe. I don’t think you will be disappointed with either choice here.
It has a great flavor from the baby bella mushrooms and fresh basil. I would definitely serve this to guests with a salad and some crusty bread. It is good comfort food that is packed with flavor.
I made a few small changes to the ingredients. I recently discovered roasted piquillo peppers. They are a sweet pepper grown in Spain. I also love cavatappi because it has a cool shape and really holds sauces well. The increased amount of basil, really pushed it to flavor town. I always manage to have fresh basil on hand too. I still have some from my last summer planting.
So, without further adieu here are all the details.
BAKED GROUND TURKEY PASTA CASSEROLE
- 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, pre-sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz package of roasted piquillo peppers, drain and chop
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 (15 oz) cans of tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 C fresh basil, packed tightly (about 20 nice sized leaves) rough chopped
- 12 oz cavatappi, cooked for 8 minutes
- 1 C part skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divide in half
- 1/4 C grated fresh Parmigiano/Reggiano cheese, remove 2 Tbsp and set aside
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 9×14 casserole dish with non-stick spray (I use Pam with olive oil)
- In a large skillet, brown the turkey, onion, and mushrooms on med high heat. Continue to cook until all of the liquid has evaporated.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil. Add salt to the water and drop the pasta in and bring back to the boil. Boil for 8 minutes. Remove, drain, and set aside.
- To the meat mixture, add the salt, garlic, piquillo peppers, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and basil. Stir well to combine.
- Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes so flavors can combine.
- Stir in the drained pasta, 1/2 C of mozzarella, and the 2 Tbsp of Parm/Reg cheese. Stir until is all combined.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the dish is heated through and bubbly hot.
**For 12 servings = 4 SP per serving For 8 servings = 6 SP per serving
Til next time,