Saturday, March 31, 2012

Light Rye Bread

When I was growing up, I remember spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Many mornings, I would wake to the sound of Grandma humming in the kitchen. She was usually baking or cooking. She was the best cook. She made 'simple' foods, but they were awesome. One of my favorites was her homemade German Rye Bread. It was dark and crusty, with a chewy texture. It was dense and wonderful (and seedless!). It made a great buttered bread and also was a great vehicle for ham salad and liverwurst. It wasn't 'wimpy' and didn't crumble as you put your toppings on.

She stopped making it regularly when getting the bulk rye flour stopped making sense. I can remember buying her bread at a bakery near Cleveland that I would stop at when I visited my boyfriend's family called Michael's. They made Grandma's bread. Unfortunately, I don't have Grandma's recipe, so now I am on a quest. I haven't been able to find anything - most have the caraway seeds -yet, but as I enjoy bread, am willing to experiment.

I even found this little shop run by Mennonites, that in addition to having great prices on deli meat and cheese, also sells small packs of 'bulk' products for a good price. I stopped by on Friday and picked up a bag of Rye flour so that I could make a Light Rye recipe that I found on

I probably knew as soon as I saw the recipe name that it wouldn't be quite the same, but I wanted to give it a try. Even if it was light in color, if it fully delivered on flavor and texture, the color was of lesser worry to me. The bread has a great flavor, but the crumb is not quite dense enough or the crust quite chewy enough. Although, it did seem to be denser when it was cooled, versus eating it nearly hot from the oven. My daughter did say, 'no matter how you make this bread, it is always the best is really good' and my son said, 'the secret to good bread is to eat it warm'.

Light Rye Bread

2 packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2/3 cup molasses
5 cups bread flour
2 cups rye flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water with the molasses. Put mixture into large metal bowl.
2. Add salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, rye flour and 2 c of the bread flour, mixing after each addition with a wooden spoon.
3. Add more bread flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is not sticky and is hard to stir. Spread your surface with 1/2 c flour and put the dough on the surface.
4. Knead the dough, adding additional bread flour into the dough until it reaches the right consistency. Need for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
5. Pour some vegetable oil into a large bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover witha damp cloth and let rise at room temperature until it has about doubled in size. Around 1 1/2 hours.
6. Gently press down dough to release some air. Knead the dough a few turns and then divide it into two with a sharp knife.
7. Shape each half into a loaf.
8. Place onto flat baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal and cover with damp cloth.
9. Let rise again, until it has risen by about 1/2 above its original volume, about 40 minutes.
10. Place in a preheated 350 oven. Mist the dough with a little water for the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until done. Bread will sound hollow when tapped.

(still warm)


Friday, March 30, 2012

Creamy Chicken Florentine

Recipes are sometimes found in unusual places. This particular recipe is what that my husband got from the Catalina machine at Giant Eagle. He thought it sounded good, so I decided that I would pick up the ingredients to give it a try. We have had it a few times and there are just a few tweaks that I made to the recipe - we felt that the original proportions didn't give a 'saucy' enough dish. For the most part though, this follows the original Kraft Recipe for Creamy Chicken Florentine.

1/2 # boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in bite size pieces
1 red pepper, cut into strips and then in half
1 pkg (6 oz) baby spinach leaves
1 tub Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Creme (we get the 1/3 less fat variety)
1 tbsp milk
12 oz penne pasta, cooked
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Cook chicken and peppers in a large skillet on medium heat until chicken is cooked through.
Add spinach and cook until wilted.
Add cooking cream and milk. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Add pasta and stir. Serve, topped with toasted pine nuts.

I had never used pine nuts before. The ones at my store are raw and must be cooked before eating.
The first time I made them, I added 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan, but quickly learned that was not necessary. You can simply dry toast them by putting them in a small skillet over low heat and stirring them up every few minutes. They have a really nice flavor - providing a bit of a bite, but at the same time providing a creamy taste.


No compensation was received for this post. We simply got this recipe, tried it and enjoyed it - so I wanted to share.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Pudding Cookies (aka Clean Out the Pantry Cookies)

I really wanted to call these cookies Clean Out the Pantry Cookies, but I'll admit that is not a great name for a cookie. Thing is that is how I made them and since the recipe can be so many flavors, I really struggled with how to define this cookie.

Last weekend, one of the many projects that I tackled was cleaning out the pantry. In the process, I found several partial bags and containers of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and chocolate chunks. I wanted to find a good recipe that could stand up to that amount of 'chippage'. I started doing some searches for Chocolate Butterscotch cookies, but it seemed that so many required oatmeal - of which I had none. I started to stumble across some cookies that took pudding and since I had also unearthed a couple boxes of instant pudding, it seemed like a great idea to me. I took a little bit of a couple of recipes and merged them. Then, I found myself short on brown sugar and substituted some turbinado sugar - which added an awesome little crunch to the cookies.

4 1/2 c flour
2 pkgs instant pudding (the smaller box)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c turbinado sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
4 c chips/candy bits

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream together the butter, shortening and sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Add the dry mixture a portion at a time, mixing to incorporate. Stir in the chips/candy.
Drop rounded spoonfuls on your baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 - 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes and then move to a cooling rack.
These cookies were a hit! I allowed my son to have a piece that had broken when I removed it from the pan. I told him it might still be warm. He took a bite and said to me, "know what makes a cookie good?", I said "no" and he said "still warm from the oven".
I actually used 1 package of french vanilla and one package of chocolate pudding. The moisture that the pudding brings and the crunch that the turbinado brings, accompanied by a mix of chocolate and butterscotch was simply wonderful! I will definitely make this recipe often. I think that it might be a great way to use up extra holiday chocolate too - just chop up all those mini-bars for a candy bar cookie. Swapping out the flavors of pudding can completely change the delivery on these cookies too!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Twix Brownies

When I came across a Pin for Twix Brownies, I thought, how could you go wrong, so I decided to make them. We attend a Sunday evening Bible Study and I thought this would be the perfect sweet treat to bring along to share.
I followed the recipe shared on Jasey's Crazy Daisy exactly. Unfortunately, while the brownies were delicious and ooey-gooey, they just didn't deliver on the cookie crunch that is absolutely necessary for a 'Twix' and I think (can it be), there was a bit too much chocolate. I will admit her brownies appeared to have a thicker cookie base than mine, not sure why, and with more cookie crunch, perhaps they would have better lived up to the promise.

I think that I will tweak a few things next time...

I will bake a shortbread cookie for the base. My thought is that this will deliver better on the cookie crunch than crumbled cookies. I might even be crazy and use the Chocolate Espresso Shortbread cookies I made at Christmas (minus the chocolate chips).
I will add less hot fudge to my brownies.

I'm hopeful, and on a bit of quest, to figure out this brownie dessert, so that it delivers on the name Twix Brownies.

You can find the original recipe here. I will share my version, once I have found a version that I like.


Friday, March 9, 2012

S'mores Cookie Bars

You have to love it when your 8 year old tells you at 6 am that he needs to bring cookies to school today. You have to love it even more when you discover that you have no eggs in the house. I had to quickly improvise and come up with some sort of a cookie that he could take to school. It couldn't take too much prep time and it had to include zero eggs. After some thought, I decided on S'more Cookie Bars. Now I have a fancy recipe that I love to make that includes eggs and marshmallow creme, but I knew that wasn't an option. I only had 'big' marshmallows, so I cut them down with kitchen shears to be mini marshmallows - I had to toss them with some powdered sugar so that they remained pieces. I had to use a small pack of Hershey Dropps, some mini candy bars and some mini chocolate chips to come up with enough chocolate. Fortunately, once they are cooked, you can't as easily see the hodge-podge.

S'mores Cookie Bars
1/2 c butter
1/2 c firmly packed, brown sugar
3/4 c flour
1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
7 oz Milk Chocolate
2 c miniature marshmallows

Beat together the butter and sugar, add in the flour and graham cracker crumbs. Mix to combine. Press into the bottom of a sprayed 8x8 square pan. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.

Top with the chocolate and then sprinkle with the marshmallows.
Put back into the oven for 5 minutes. Then, turn on broiler and 'toast' the marshmallows for about 2 minutes, until a nice golden brown.

Cool and cut into squares.