Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whole Wheat Bagel Recipe - First Attempt

I decided that it was time to make my own bagels. I can get these yummy whipped cream cheeses at Aldi at a great price so I wanted some whole wheat bagels to go with them. I tried the bagels from Aldi and I did NOT like them. So off to the internet to find a recipe. I found this one from and decided to give it a whirl. In addition, I added 1/2 cup wheat bran. I thought that would make them all over healthier without making them them too "grainy."
Whole Wheat Bagels
       2 pk Dry yeast
2 c Warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 tb Honey
2 c Whole wheat flour
1 1/2 ts Salt
3 c All-purpose flour, divided
3 1/2 qt Water
1 ts Salt
Sesame seeds

Recipe by: Southern Living
Preparation Time: 0:45
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5
minutes. Add honey, stirring well. Stir in 2 cups whole
wheat flour and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; mix well. Gradually
stir in enough all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Turn
dough out onto a heavily floured surface (dough will be
sticky), and knead until smooth and elastic (8 to 10
minutes). Place dough in a well-greased bowl, turning to
grease top. Cover dough, and let rise in a warm place (85
degrees), free from drafts, 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in

Punch dough down, and divide dough into 12 equal pieces.
Roll each into a smooth ball. Cut with 1-inch cutter or
punch a hole in the center of each ball with a floured
finger. Gently pull dough away from center to make a 1- to
1-1/2-inch hole. Place shaped bagels on lightly greased
baking sheets. Cover and let rise 15 minutes. Broil
bagels 5 inches from heat 2 minutes on each side or until
lightly browned. Bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil
in a large Dutch oven. Reduce heat, and simmer bagels 3
minutes on each side. Place bagels on lightly greased
baking sheets. Sprinkle with sesame seeds; lightly press
seeds into bagels. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25
minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 1 dozen.

Here you can see them ready to be formed into the classic "bagel" shape. To do this gently poke a finger through the middle and then add another finger and gently widen the whole until it is about 1-2 inches across.

Then there is one extra step between bagels and a regular bread recipe and that is the boiling. I was totally stoked to have a reason to use one of the newest tools in my kitchen - the spider. The spider is a Chinese tool that is usually used when frying in a wok. But it works incredibly well for any kind of deep frying or in this case "boiling" because it strains as you take it out of the hot liquid. Because the main part of it is made from metal but the handel is made from wood (or in the case of mine, bamboo), then you don't need to worry about anything melting or any heat being transfered up the handel.

The bagels looked pretty cool boiling away. I did 2 minutes on one side, then flipped them and did another two on the other.

And here was the final result. I liked them. My husband said they were a little too heavy for his taste but aren't bagels supposed to be "heavy"? The inside was chewy and the outside had that hard bite to it. Something to sink your teeth into - what's the word I'm looking for?.... I will make these again but I do think that I will mess with the recipe a little, maybe omitting the wheat bran I added...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tasty Tip Tuesday 10/21

Hey, it's Tuesday. Time for a tip! Let's focus this week on that wonderful gift from the ice cream companies. The gallon ice cream pail! What do you do to repurpose yours?

Here in our house, we always keep one underneath the kitchen sink. We use it to house all the compostable elements we create each day. It is great because the lid keeps the flies out and we empty ours frequently enough that we've never had a problem with smell. How's that for green living? Let's here your uses. Please leave a comment with your idea or link to your post.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 10/20/08

It is another week and another menu plan. This week I get to bring a family with a brand new baby a meal. I've decided that I need to have a stand-by meal to make that most people will enjoy and is easy to make and is somewhat of a "treat" for people. I've found that in Monday's meal: mini-meatloaves, cheddar mashed potatoes, & mixed veggies. So if I know ahead of time that I am bringing someone a meal, that goes on the menu. However, I always ask the family if they eat red meat and if they have any allergies.

Monday: Mini-meatloaves, Cheddar mashed potatoes, Mixed veggies
Tuesday: Yogurt Chicken, Rice (make extra for Thurs. meal), Salad
Wednesday: Mexican Crock-pot Pork, Refried Beans, Homemade Corn Tortillas & Salsa
Thursday: Pork Stir-fry Rice, (use left-over pork) Salad
Friday: Parmesan Tilapia, Couscous, & Green Beans
Saturday: White Bean Ragu, Pasta, & Salad

As always, there are a plethora of ideas & menu plans over at - give it a look! And come back tomorrow for when I'm hosting Tasty Tip Tuesday. Tomorrow's theme is going to be ice cream gallon buckets!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Refried Beans - My way

As stated previously on this blog, I love Mexican food. So does the rest of my family. And a staple of any good Mexican meal is beans. Now, I like two types of beans in Mexican cuisine the best: the black and the pinto beans. I remember that month I spent in Mexico City in the kitchen of one of my friend's aunts and having "refried" black beans with my eggs for breakfast. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them! So if you haven't tried them, I suggest you do!

Black beans (photo from

I use the pressure cooker to make all of my beans now. This means I save cost by using dried beans as opposed to canned beans. Now, canned beans are very cost effective too. However, many times they have a lot of salt added and then there is that canning liquid that I almost always like to wash off. So all in all, I think dried beans are the way to go. Here's what I do for all the beans I cook.

Pinto beans (photo from

First, I wash them off in a colander. As stated on most packages of dried beans, they are from an agricultural process and bits of foreign matter are not unlikely so this is an important step. Then I throw in them in the pressure cooker and add water until they are covered by about an inch. I let them soak for about 4 hours. I've found this to be a decent amount of time. After they have soaked (not a neccessary step but it does improve the final texture I've found), I drain the beans and return them to the pressure cooker pot.

Now, Lorna Sass has great charts in her book Pressure Perfect
that contain information on the ratio of liquid to bean and cooking times. Cooking time will vary from bean to bean. (Lima beans only take 7 minutes!) To the drained beans I add, 2 cloves garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 Tablespoon chicken base, the called for water and 1 Tablespoon oil. The oil is very important as it inhibits foaming. Then, I fit the top to the pressure cooker onto the pot. Bring to pressure under high heat. All cookers have different signals of when pressure is reached and when to begin timing. Mine has an indicator rod that comes up that lets me know high pressure has been reached, and I begin timing when steam comes out of the release valve. When this happens I turn the heat down to just maintain this steam and begin the timer. So for black beans it takes 18 minutes under high pressure and pintos take a bit longer at 21 minutes. Then, I let the pressure naturally release, meaning - just let it sit there until the pressure indicator rod is no longer up. This can take just as long as the cooking time but it really depends on how much you made. More equals a longer pressure release time is how it goes.

I like to take some of the liquid out as I do not like my beans to be too soupy and I also remove the bay leaves. Then I take another gadget which I LOVE, the immersion blender, and make quick work. You can leave the beans at any stage of puree that you want. For the black beans, I sometimes add the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of cumin and a dash of cayenne to kick it up a notch as one famous chef would say. Serve and enjoy!

Always make extras, they can be frozen for several months in the freezer. You don't even have to blend all of the beans. The beans can be frozen in whole form and thrown in chilis and soups and quesadillas and so on....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tasty Mounds Candy

Cheaper By The (Half) Dozen has requested Tasty Recipes this Tuesday so I thought I'd share this one. My wonderful husband claims I could sell these for two dollars a piece. Lucrative business opportunity? Maybe?


2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 lb. butter
1 can Eagle Brand milk
14 oz. coconut

Mix together and make into small balls; set in freezer.

2 (12 oz.) and 1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips (I used chocolate almond bark)

Dip coconut balls into melted chocolate. This recipe makes a lot but they are delicious.

I quartered the recipe and got twenty-five. They were good sized too. Sorry I don't have a photo!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tasty Tip Tuesdays

Anyone want to join in? I'm always up for learning new cooking tips, be them either cost saving, time saving or flavor enhancing!

Simply leave a comment with your blog post url that includes your tip or just go ahead and write out your tip in the comment section. Please include the above picture in your post.

Here is my tip today:

Make your own croutons! Don't settle for those stale, expensive croutons anymore. Here is what you can do to make your own.

Use your past prime bread, heels or whatever. Cut into cubes, I like to have about 2 cups cubes. In a skillet, heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil on medium high, throw in 1-2 tsps Italian seasoning. Go ahead and get crazy and add garlic powder if you want. Add 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Heat the seasonings until you can start to smell them. Add the bread crumbs and stir. Stir until they are golden brown and toasty. Enjoy on salad or enjoy on your favorite soup. To store, place them in a airtight plastic bag in your pantry. Or freeze them if you will not use with in a few days.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 10/13/08

Last week was a wonderful week where my dh and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. I did menu planning for the first couple of days and then planned and partitially prepared meals for the wonderful couple that watched our three little ones. It went pretty well! One night, we indulged in a full seven course meal. It was wonderful! We are truly "foodies" :) One of the dishes contained black truffles and I was super excited to try that risotto. However, although it did taste good, I didn't think the "hype" about truffles really panned out. It is my belief that a good porcini mushroom will give a similar depth of flavor but perhaps I'm off my rocker.

Here is this coming week's menu:

Monday: Broiled Salmon, Mushroom Risotto, and Green Beans
Tuesday: Chicken Fajitas, Refried Beans and Chips and Pico De Gallo
Wednesday: Hearty Beef Stew and Whole Wheat Biscuits
Octoberfest Thursday: Chicken Schnitzel, Braised Red Cabbage & Apples, Spaetzel
Friday: Vegetable Cheese Chowder and Salad
Saturday: Homemade Pizza & Salad

Thursday is an ode to my family's heritage. Time to celebrate Octoberfest!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apple Pie Jam

You know that line in one of the Batman movies where Batman says "I am Batman"? Well, I spent the day on Tuesday peeling apples and the thought that kept going through my mind was "I am Apple Peeler." Obviously, mundane tasks allow your mind to wander into weird places.

So what did I accomplish? I made 6 half-pints of a delicious recipe called "Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam" that I found on the Harvest forum on It had received rave reviews so I decided to give it a try. So thank you, Linda Lou, for posting the recipe! I also made 3 quarts of frozen apple pie filling, so in the future all I'll need to do is defrost and put in a pie shell and call it a day (well, after it bakes anyway).

Here is Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam recipe:


4 cups tart apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 box pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter

Add water to chopped apples to measure 4 cups.(This is NOT 4 cups each, but water placed on top of the diced apples to come up to the 4 cup mark.) Place apples and water into large, heavy saucepan. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice.

Measure sugars. Stir pectin into fruit. Add butter. Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in both sugars. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle quickly into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands on finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Now, I would make one change, simply for appearance's sake. Allow the jam to sit for a few minutes and then stir to distribute the apple pieces throughout the jam. The apple pieces are less dense and float to the top otherwise (which is what happened to me). Not really a problem since once you open the jar, you can stir but it would just look prettier on the shelf being more "even."