Saturday, April 18, 2015

Easy French Bread Baguettes


And here they are, hot out of the oven! French Baguettes are light and crispy! 
Awhile back I went to a great cooking class and listened to a master cook and teacher named
"The Food Nanny". She was just delightful and fun to listen to. She had so many food stories I could have listened to for hours.   Here is her book. It is less than $20.00 on Amazon.
ck out her book, she has such a great meal plan to help families eat dinner together and stay close!

  I didn't have my purse with me so I didn't get an autographed copy of it! DARN! But I DID get her to take a picture with me, when I told her I had a food blog. Isn't she cute?

She's a mom and a grandma too! (and she loves being a grandma best!)
She made pizza dough and french baguettes both in under an hour....
Anyway, she gave us all this fantastic recipe for French Baguettes!  It takes literally 5 minutes to make. She showed us this cool baguette pan too. I ran right over after the lunch class and bought one at Spoons and Spice..... my fav cooking gadget store. They are having a huge moving sale, so if you are in the Salt Lake City area check it out at Spoons and Spice.

They had so many french bread pans to choose from and they were surprisingly CHEAP!
My finished french breads.....Don't they look great?  They are crunch on the
outside and soft in the inside...perfect to my taste.....
French Baguette recipe....totally easy and seriously yummy! 
Then I went to work. A half hour later here were my baguettes.  They taste just like a crusty french bread should. And no fat!  She gave us all kinds of tips about meal planning that I thought were fabulous! In a nutshell here is her plan....

Sunday is traditional day...roast beef, chicken, those kinds of things.
Monday is Comfort food...chili, mac and cheese, easy stuff like casseroles....
Tuesday is Italian night....she does all her pastas here...she has tons of varieties....
Wednesday is Meatless night....soups, salads, fish, or breakfast for dinner, waffles, french toast, pancakes, bacon, etc.
Thursday is Mexican Night. Tacos, Enchiladas, mexican casseroles, burritos etc.
Friday is Pizza night and all the kids invite their friends over for her out of this world pizza varieties.
Saturday is Grill night. They do a lot of hamburgers or chicken on the grill.

Doesn't that sound fabulous and fun?  I thought so too.   Gotta give that plan a try. The thing she stressed, that I really liked was how she said it kept her family together while her husband flew planes in the military and later for an airline. He was gone a lot. She was like a single parent. And dinner around the table every night added structure to her day and a bonding with her kids. They still all come back for Pizza night. She has many gourmet types of pizza as you can imagine. Her favorite is arugula, fresh mozzerella, cherry tomatoes and olive oil on thin crust. I'll do that on a later post.
Yeast mixed with warm water and sugar.....let it foam up a bit.....
Then add the flour and salt and mix up with warm water....a little at a time until it is a nice ball....Then knead
for a minute on the counter....
Here are mine kinda kneaded and waiting to be put into the pan....took 5 minutes to make and roll!  
I went over to Spoons and Spice to see if I could find a "Baguette Pan" 
 HERE is a page full of coupons to Spoons and Spice. It's a really fun place to browse around if you are a foodie like me.
Anyway it looks cool....it's 2 long u shaped pans for breads....
The food nanny makes this bread and gives it away for people's birthdays and special occasions. What a great gift idea and so quick. Who wouldn't love some hot french bread homemade by you?

Here's the Baguette pan.  It was only $5.99 at Spoons and Spice! Or check these out!
Recipe for French Baguettes... SO EASY!
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups flour add a cup at a time
Add up to one cup warm water to get perfect consistency

Mix up first 3 ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for 2 or 3 minutes. (sugar feeds yeast so let it set awhile) Then in a separate bowl add salt and flour and add it to wet mixture, and then add the (up to 1 cup) warm water. Mix and then knead for a minute. Roll out in 2 loaves and lay them on greased baguette pan and let rest for 15 minutes under a towel (it will rise a bit).  Then bake 450 for 15 minutes or until golden colored.   This whole french bread takes about 35 minutes total to make and bake.
So here they are before the 15 minutes rising time.....Both have their own tube to sit in....
And here they are after the 15 minutes rising time....I put a line down the middle of each with
a sharp knife just before popping in the oven....it will look just like french bread when it has been baked! 
Wha la!  Ready for a hot 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes....watch it the last  minute or so.....

And here they are, hot out of the oven! French Baguettes are light and crispy! 

Well, they are just plain DEEE-LISH!  That's what they are!  I sent one down to my friend Lauri down the street. Spread the lovin!   
Then Spread some REAL butter and dig in!  mmmm....Yummy! 


Monday, April 6, 2015

Fresh Veggie Platter for Spring


I was feeling my creativity too on Easter Sunday.  I made this cool veggie and dip platter shaped like a spring scene. It was great with a ranch dip.
I 2 fresh broccoli spears, a bag of carrot chips, a bunch of radishes, grape tomatoes and cucumbers. I had a half of a bell pepper I used up too. It was easy to lay it all out. 
Just slice up all the above veggies and use celery as the "stalks" of the plant scene. The radishes are the little red and white flower petals.
I had Mango salsa and tortilla and pretzel chips for all of the dips and dipsters!

 It was a guilt free and easy fresh veggie platter for our last day of Spring Break.




Use half greek yogurt for some of the sour cream in your ranch dip to save some calories too. Yummy and guilt free snack I'm going to enjoy all week. 
I cut a few sprigs off of my apple tree today and put them in vases around the house. Aren't they pretty? They smell wonderful too. Now I have tulips sprouting AND flowering trees to remind me it is now Spring! 


Easter Bunny Cupcakes

We  had a lot of fun yesterday having our family over for dinner and egg hunting and making Easter Egg Cupcakes.
With these Easter Bunny Cupcakes, the ears are a large marshmallow cut on the diagonal and dipped in colored sugars.  
My youngest granddaughter decorating her Easter cupcake. You GO GIRL! 
Easter Cupcakes using colored coconut and jelly beans. The chicky beak is made from a fruit roll up. 
Cute little Bunny and Chick cupcakes. We also made little "nests" using coconut and jelly beans. 
I had 5 of my 6 grandkiddos there for Pin the tail on the bunny, and some bubble blowing too.
We just had them close their eyes and they were pretty good about keeping them closed while they tried to find the bunny's behind.
Here we are adding the "tails" to the Pin the tail on the bunny. Megan was the winner! Yay.  I found a freebie HERE at partydelights.
I loved watching the daddies help their youngest kiddos hunt for the eggs. It made me tear up a little. sniff...
My oldest son and his youngest daughter. It is neat to see him being a daddy. 
And my son in law is also a great dad. Here he is with his youngest and my only grandson. 
 And I got a GREAT picture of all my grandkiddos after collecting all the eggs.
 Here are my two youngest grandkids hunting together. Aren't they sweet?
"Hey I think I've got more than you do. You better get busy dude!" 
And I loved seeing the kids hunting for eggs, playing games, creating and loving it. We are all artists. The kids love to be artistic and create beautiful things. It gives them a sense of pride to create, no matter how old they are.
Coloring eggs is a yearly tradition in our family. We have always done it. And it is now the next generation carrying on the tradition for the 3rd generation. Traditions are great things to develop in your family. 
These were my oldest granddaughter's eggs. 
And her sister's eggs too. 

I'm enjoying the last days of my Spring break. I think I'll go eat a cupcake now. :D 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Farfalle with Lemon Garlic Alfredo Sauce

I love to eat pasta. I'm a pasta nut. I love the many different kinds of sauces I can make to go on it. And best of all; everybody in my family likes it too. It is sometimes hard to get little kids to like a new recipe. But if you feed them bowtie pasta, with this cheesy sauce, they will love it, I promise! I had my grandkids living with me for 2 months while their new house was being built, and they all loved it! And they were ages 7, 6 and 2. Pasta with Lemon Garlic Alfredo Sauce  Farfalle Pasta with Lemon Garlic Alfredo Sauce

This dish has a light alfredo sauce with a hint of lemon. I usually put either spinach or broccoli florets in it with tomato and top it with Parmesan cheese. It is pretty easy and takes about 15 minutes total.I add carrots, chicken and spinach to my Farfalle Pasta with Lemon G
I add carrots, chicken, tomatoes and spinach to my Farfalle Pasta with Lemon Garlic Alfredo Sauce.

DIRECTIONS FOR PASTA WITH LEMON-GARLIC ALFREDO SAUCE

Boil your favorite kind of pasta in salted water. I usually throw the 2 chicken breasts in first and boil them if I don't have any grilled or rotisserie chicken. Boil the chicken for 6 minutes or so and cut them in fourths halfway through boiling, to be sure they cook through.  Then add the pasta. I added a cup of baby carrots to mine at the same time. But I steam my broccoli in another pot.  Cook until tender.
A good Alfredo Cream sauce has butter, cream and Parmesan Cheese basically.
A good Alfredo Cream sauce has butter, cream and Parmesan Cheese basically.

While that is cooking, mix 1/4 to 1/2 cube of butter with 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup creme. Add a few shakes of Garlic Salt (My favorite is Johnny's from Costco). Then add 1/4 cup of sour creme. If you like lots of sauce double this. It is kind of evenly 3 parts butter and cream and I usually put in a dollop of sour cream just to make it creamier. Then shake on 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and about then the pasta should be done.Add some French Bread and a side salad if you have a crowd. Add some French Bread and a side salad if you have a crowd.

 Cut the chicken pieces into bite sized pieces, and then just spoon out the pasta with a large slotted spoon into the bowl with all the cream and cheese. The carrots go in too and then the spinach chopped up. I use just a handfull of spinach, like 1/2 cup. Toss lightly. Add the juice from about 1/3 a lemon. It is about 1 1/4 tablespoons.

Add seasoning salt (Again, I like Johnnys). Add pepper and parsley flakes.  Add the steamed broccoli or fresh, chopped spinach last while tossing. It is also good with some additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled over each serving.

INGREDIENTS FOR FARFALLE WITH LEMON GARLIC ALFREDO SAUCE

  • A package of your favorite pasta (farfalle, fettucine, etc.) boiled and drained
  • 1/3 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup cream 
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (a dollop or two) 
  • 1 1/4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (plus extra per serving if desired) 
  • 1 cup baby carrots 
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach  OR 3/4 cup steamed broccoli florets 
  • 2 chicken breasts diced up into bite sized pieces 
  • 1/3 cup of grape tomatoes (put in just before serving) 
  • 1/2 to 3/4  teaspoon Johnny's garlic seasoning (shake some on and then taste) 
  • A few shakes of parsley flakes for color Pepper to taste 
 It is a full meal and if you want less calories just skimp on the sauce or water it down with milk instead of sour cream. It is yummy and filling. I serve it with french bread and fruit. It is one of our family's favorites. Pasta with Lemon Garlic Alfredo Sauce is a great weeknight meal.
Pasta with Lemon Garlic Alfredo Sauce is a great weeknight meal.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Soft Homemade Pretzels

I love those to get one of those soft pretzels from the Pretzel Shack in the mall. Their soft pretzel bites and pretzel dogs (mini pigs in a blanket) are soooooo yummy I had to try to make some at home!
Here's my yummy soft pretzels! 
They took some time but were easy to make, and VERY light and soft. 
 I found a Homemade Pretzels recipe that would be great for a March Madness treat for the men who are glued to the bigscreen T.V. It is from Smitten Kitchen HERE.  She adapted her recipe from Martha Stewart's. 

Then I looked at 3 more recipes and read comments for about an hour. Then I looked up recipes on the Food Network and All Recipes.com.  I chose this recipe because of all the positive comments. It is from the FOOD NETWORK. It is Alton Brown's recipe and there was also a video. The link is HERE.
Then I watched a few you tubes on pretzel making and Martha Stewart had a video too. Those are THE BEST ways to learn how to cook something! You tube videos!! I adapted this one after making it.  My recipe has a little more sugar and less salt. And I did not bake mine as long. I like them lighter and soft, not hard on the outside so I added DOUGH ENHANCER POWDER.
My dough mixed up and ready to cover.....
DIRECTIONS FOR SOFT PRETZELS
Start by Mixing the warm water and sugar and then sprinkle on the yeast packet. Let it sit until it is foamy. They call that "proofing" the yeast, it will take 5 minutes. Then add the salt and melted butter and put your dough hook on your mixmaster. Add a cup of flour to start. 
Add the rest of the flour and some dough enhancer.  Knead for a few minutes.  
The Dough Enhancer makes bread softer and doughier. You can get it from Bosch bread making supply store.  They were easy and yummy and kinda fun! 
Soft Pretzels (my recipe adapted from Alton Brown)
1 package instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons melted BUTTER
1 teaspoon dough enhancer (optional for softer pretzels)
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Mix, knead, let rise for an hour, then roll out and make your pretzels. Place on parchment paper on cookie sheets and bake for 6 to 7 minutes at 425 degrees.
Now we are ready to roll the pretzel dough out.....it has puffed up quite a bit....
 Always use less flour to start on any bread recipe. Then slowly add in by cupfuls.  This dough was smooth, not really very sticky at all. 

Then place dough ball in an oiled pan and cover for an hour to let it rise. Then I rolled it out on my surface.  Make a big rectangle shape. My dough was about 1/2 inch thick, maybe a little less. 
I rolled pretzel dough  into a rectangle.....
Get your pizza cutter and cut the dough down the middle, then 2 more times to make 4 sections. Then cut each section into 3 or 5 strips, depending upon how large or small you want your pretzels. 
Cut Soft Pretzel Dough into 4 sections with a pizza cutter, and then cut each section into 5  skinny strips....to make 20 pretzels.
If it is for a party I recommend the 5 strips. This will give you 20 good, 3 inch bite sized pretzels. If you do the larger (palm sized thick pretzels) 3 strips will make 12 big and soft 5 inch pretzels. 
                            Here were my ingredients....and my cute new RACHEL RAY PAN! It is oval, and orange, with a soft, rubber handle and with a pour spout. SO CUTE right? I love her stuff! I got it on sale at J. C. Pennys! Only $15 bucks and I had a 20% off coupon if I opened a charge (yes I'm a sucker for a coupon!). 


(Mix a bath of 5 cups hot water to 1/3 cup baking soda in a deep fry pan. Set on warm on stove for after pretzels are made and formed.) 
I mixed up the baking soda and water hot bath....left it on low on the stove and then formed my pretzels....
They take less than a minute each in the hot water bath...just like a bagel!
I played with my dough making all kinds of shapes....it would be so fun for kids to do too! 
Roll it, flip it twice around, then turn each end up and pinch...
To roll them I made a long snake, 12 to 16 inches long, and then make make a loop, then twist it once again and take the tails and flip them up to the round loop and press them down. Then I turned each one over. 
Soft Pretzels.   That's it!  
Then drop them in the baking soda and hot water bath....just for like 45 seconds each...

Pick pretzels up with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it..
More playing with soft pretzel dough....lol.....
Oh boy is this fun! I got about 3 cookie sheets full...About 20 pretzels....


Top each pretzel with a sprinkle of kosher salt before baking. (not much, or too salty!)
Sprinkled on the salt....
Then ready to bake! 
Bake in 425 oven for 5 1/2  to 71/2  minutes. Watch them as each oven is a little different. My top shelf cooked them faster than my bottom shelf too, so I had an extra minute on the lower shelf of pretzels.
Here they are just hot out of the oven....soft and yummy....If you like them hard on the outside just do an egg wash and cook them a bit longer in the oven...they will have a stiffer, smooth and chewy outside.....
Add the melted butter on with a silicone brush....
When they come out of the oven brush them with melted butter and a silicone brush. EAT! They are lightly crisp on the outside and buttery chewy inside. Yummy! The hubs loved them! He loves anything salty. 
Oh yeah....that's what I'm talkin about!  I brought them to my classroom the next day
for our little cast party....we are doing 4 little fairy tale plays....I brought O.J. to go with them...yum! 
Dip them in chili, mustard,light cream cheese with raspberry homemade jam, or cinnamon and sugar or just plain. Next time I'll try putting a 1/4 slice of hot dog inside each one and make pretzel dogs! That would go great with mustard.... mmmm.........



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