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Thursday, April 29, 2010

chicken bierock


Today, I have a special treat for you. I've joined up with two blogger friends of mine (Kristen from From My Tiny Kitchen and Rhonda from Our Treasured Home) to bring you an awesome recipe exchange. Here's how it works...

I will be guest posting my amazing recipe on Our Treasured Home. Rhonda from Our Treasured Home will be guest posting on From My Tiny Kitchen. And Kristen from From My Tiny Kitchen is guest posting here! The featured recipe...bierocks (if you've never heard of them, don't worry...they are absolutely amazing). Please be sure to check out all three blogs to see the fun we have in store for you.


Kristen and I

Now I have to introduce Kristen. She and I have been friends and pen pals since we were in high school...she was my bridesmaid...and she was my inspiration for starting a blog in the first place. Her kitchen may be small, but her food is big in taste. In From My Tiny Kitchen, she highlights food, travels, and the adventures of her first-time pregnancy. It's my honor to have her posting here today.




My first bierock - I'm pretty sure - was given to me by a neighbor when I was a teenager. Pockets of fresh, yeasty bread filled with ground beef, cabbage and mustard - they were delicious! I wanted something a little different for my entry though - something still comforting and hearty, but with different texture. Here is my bierock creation!


Chicken Bierock


Bread:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 2 Tb margarine
In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
  1. Next add hot water and margarine. Now your water temperature is very important - if it is too hot it will actually kill the yeast. If your water is lukewarm, it will not properly activate the yeast (flat bread - no!). Water, that is hot to the touch, should be fine. I actually heated my water for 1 minute in the microwave. Once water and margarine are added, stir vigorously until well blended.

  2. See how it's already starting to bubble! This is a good sign!
Stir in wheat flour vigorously for 2 minutes;

then carefully add in remaining flour. Dough will get stiff.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 - 10 minutes. In culinary, I was taught a very specific 'kneading process': Push right side of dough with the heel of your right hand.

Fold left side to the right.

Push right side of dough down with the heel of your right hand. Repeat! Once you get a rhythm you can knead very quickly. 
Spray your large bowl lightly with non-stick spray and add your ball of smooth dough. Spray top of dough as well,

then cover bowl with a light towel. Place in a warm, dry place (I always put it on the back of the stove) and let rise for 20-30 minutes.

Check your dough, it should be twice it's original size. Punch - literally, make a fist and give it a punch - dough, then remove from bowl onto a lightly floured surface.

Cut dough into segments - slightly smaller than a baseball is a good estimation. Carefully flatten a segments with your hands; slightly pulling and stretching. Scoop 1/3 cup filling onto dough. Pull the sides around and pinch together, twist slightly to seal bottom and place on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray. Space your bierocks an inch or two apart.

Once baking sheet is full - lightly spray tops with non-stick spray and cover with a light towel. Let rise for 5-10 minutes.

Remove towel and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown on top and bottom.

Let cool slightly before eating!

Filling:
1 bag, frozen hash browns (5-6 cups)
1 large can chicken; or 2 med chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 Tb onion, diced
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Vegetable/ Canola oil
Mushrooms (optional)
3 Tb dry parsley

You can prepare the filling while your dough is rising for the first time.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup oil. Carefully add onions and stir for a moment.


Then add hash browns. Let hash browns cook for a minute before you stir - helps get them crisp! You do not have to fully cook the hash browns until crisp and crunchy.... unless you want to. Basically, we want them heated through.

Add shredded chicken, pepper and mushrooms. I wanted to add more mushrooms... but forgot I'd used some for another recipe :) Carefully stir - you may want to use a flat spatula. Salt and pepper to taste, then add parsley.

Remove from heat, stir in cheese.

This is a very basic recipe - the filling is simple as well... very 'calm' flavors which serves as a good base.

Here are some ideas to up the flavor -and nutritional value - of the filling:

Leftover veggies (peas!)
Steamed asparagus, diced
Green and yellow bell peppers
Caramelized onions
Garlic!
Shredded cabbage
Diced jalapeno
Crumbled sausage
Bacon

The concept of bierocks is very practical - you can use leftovers, some basics pantry staples, put them in an easy to pack, on-the-go roll!


I hope you have enjoyed our party! Be sure to visit Foodie Friday for many wonderful recipes!







Monday, April 26, 2010

bacon-veggie fried rice


Last week I ate an entire package of bacon...well, with the exception of one piece.  I decided to be nice and finally share with my husband.  But the rest of the package...all me.

Sounds disgusting, I know.  But let me tell you, bacon leads to some beautiful creations.  My taste buds were singing with happiness.

That's why I didn't share. :-)  Who would?

One of the biggest delights that came out of that package of bacon was bacon-veggie fried rice.  I didn't mean this to be a blog recipe (so I didn't take step-by-step pictures...sorry!).  I just threw stuff in a skillet and magic happened! 

First in the skillet - 2-3 pieces of bacon (diced up) with 1 cup of sliced mushrooms.  I stirred these around until the bacon was cooked and the mushrooms were tender.

Next in the skillet - 1 cup of baby carrots that I had already boiled for a few minutes to make crisp-tender.  I stirred those around, getting them nice and bacony.

Next in the skillet - 1 cup of cold rice.  Yes...precooked, cold rice...ah, the beauty of leftovers.  I stirred the rice around, letting it soak up all of that nice bacon flavor.  (If you want to have a heart attack, you could also add some butter here...let me know if it's worth it).

Final addition to skillet - soy sauce to taste.  Stir everything around and get the flavors blended and the ingredients hot.  Serve immediately!

This took me all of 10 minutes, and it was simply intended to be a side dish for the main star of my show - the pork chop.  In the end, it stole the show.  The pork chop was good, but this fried rice was incredibly delicious!  I ate the entire thing in one sitting!!!  Meanwhile, my husband was sitting next to me eating salad and green beans.

Yes, I feel guilty about that.  I really do.

Bacon-Veggie Fried Rice
2-3 slices of bacon, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup baby carrots, cooked until crisp-tender
1 cup cold cooked rice
2 T. soy sauce

In a nonstick pan, cook bacon and mushrooms until bacon is cooked through and mushrooms are tender.  Add carrots and stir.  Add rice and stir until mixed thoroughly.  Add soy sauce; cook and stir until mixed through and thoroughly heated.  Serves 3.

Variations:
IBS Diet - use turkey bacon instead of pork.  Thoroughly cook carrots before adding.
Gluten Free - use wheat-free soy sauce.

Nutrition: 139 cal, 3g fat, 1g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 9mg cholesterol, 888mg sodium, 20g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g sugars, 7g protein, 136% vit. A, 5% vit. C, 2% calcium, 7% iron.

This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photography Contests

Lots of people love to take pictures...why not get something for it?

Besides having amazing tutorials on photography, the Pioneer Woman also sponsors photography contests on a fairly regular basis.  No special cameras required...in fact, she often chooses photos that were shot with point-and-shoot cameras (really good photos, I might add).  Check out the winners of her most recent photo contest here...the winner just blows my mind.

There's also photo contests sponsored by the lovely Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum.  These are so much fun to enter, especially since they tend to be food based (perfect for those of us who have an unnatural fascination with taking pictures of our food!).  I've been honored to have my photos receive honorable mention in a few of them, but I realize that this is only because the contests are relatively new and still small.  Once these things take off, I'm a goner.

In fact, that's why I shouldn't even be telling you this...but I'm so excited I can't help it.  There's a new photo contest over at Designs by Gollum!  The photo doesn't have to be from a blog entry or even a Foodie Friday entry...it just has to be a mosaic. :-)

Right now there's only two people who have submitted entries...and I am one.  And, as much as I don't want to be a goner, I am really interested to see what others have to offer.  So get those entries in...show me what you've got...knock me out of my proud standing as an honorable mention!  Deadline for this contest - April 30.

Here's one of my entries (just to get you inspired)...

almost corn tortillas


I've had a dilemma for quite some time now...I love the taste of corn tortillas but the texture of flour tortillas.

When fresh, corn tortillas have that wonderful corn flavor that gives such dimension to dishes like enchiladas.  On the other hand, they also have a difficult texture to work with (they are always splitting on me!).

When fresh, flour tortillas are one of the best things to sink your teeth into.  They, too, have a wonderful flavor, but it's that thick and pliable texture that really puts a feather in my cap.

Notice that in both of these statements, I said "when fresh."  That brings me to my other dilemma...I can't stand store bought tortillas.  They have dull flavor, a plastic-like texture, and just make me grumpy.

What's a girl to do with all of these dilemmas?

I decided to make my own, fresh tortillas.  And I decided to combine the best of both worlds in the process.  May I introduce you to my new best friend...almost corn tortillas.

Why almost?  Well, you'll see...

The cast of characters for these tortillas include 1/2 cup masa, 3/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon oil, 2/3 cup water, and a dash of salt.


I combined all of these ingredients in a bowl until I got a soft dough.


Then I divided the dough into balls.  This recipe makes about eight 6-8 inch tortillas, but I've also made it into four thick rounds of flatbread as well (so good!).


If I were a cool person, I would have a tortilla press.  That would make life amazing.  But, I'm just me...so I flattened these out the hard way.

I flattened each ball with my hand and stuck each between two pieces of parchment paper.  Then I used a rolling pin to roll these into a circle...or amoeba shape, depending on how careful I was.


To cook, preheat a nonstick skillet on medium heat.  Throw the tortilla on the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds on each side (this leads to a nice and flexible tortilla).  Cook for a little longer if making flatbread rounds or if you want them a little more crispy.


These tortillas have a hint of that nice corn flavor but the flexible texture of a flour tortilla.  They are oh so good by themselves...


 ...and even better as chimichangas!


Almost Corn Tortillas

1/2 cup masa
3/4 cup flour
1 T. oil
2/3 cup water
dash salt

Mix ingredients until a soft dough forms.  Divide into 8 balls.  Flatten each ball of dough between two pieces of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll out (should be very thin and approximately 6-8 inches in diameter).  Cook on preheated nonstick skillet about 30 seconds on each side.

Nutrition: 84 cal, 2g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 14g carbs, 0g fibers, 0g sugars, 2g protein,0% vit. A, 1% calcium, 0% vit. C, 6% iron.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

adventures of an elimination diet

While in Mexico, I saw a lot of places called taquerias.  These places looked wonderful, especially the larger ones with the cute little Coca Cola umbrellas (yes, I choose restaurants based on their cuteness factor...don't judge).


Because the particular taqueria in the picture above had Coca Cola umbrellas, my carload of friends stopped there.  And it wasn't even my idea!  Apparently, I'm not the only one who likes the cute umbrellas...or the Coca Cola.


This meal looked absolutely heavenly.  One person got quesadillas...


...the rest got tacos...


...and then there was my meal.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was on an elimination diet.  A gross, no-fun, no fruits, no veggies, no wheat elimination diet (thank you, doctor!).  What you see above...cold rice and lunch meat.  :-)

I was on this diet the whole time I was in Mexico.  Ironically, as a result, I never ate any Mexican food.  It was a sad, sad existence...

Okay, okay, it wasn't that bad.  I'm really okay with it - no hard feelings.  But by the time I got back, after eating a full week of cold rice and lunch meat, I was really ready for something better!  But what is there to eat when you are on an elimination diet?

Well, first I tried putting my rice cooker to good use.  I threw in some rice, water, tuna, salt, pepper, and margarine.  The verdict...gross.


 The one good thing I learned from the experience is that if you forget to put the lid on your rice cooker, it still makes rice.  Who knew?

My next venture was a "smoked" pork loin.


I sprinkled a pork loin liberally with salt, fresh ground black pepper, and cumin.  Then I added a splash of lime juice and a couple of tablespoons of liquid smoke.  I topped it off with a few slices of onion and a clove of garlic (which I removed before eating).



I wrapped it all up in foil and cooked on low in my slow cooker for 6 hours.   


The verdict...excellent flavor but not as moist as I would like.


I'll probably make it again...add a little water...cook it a little longer.  After a few kinks are worked out, I think it could be an excellent dish (great taco filling!).

I thoroughly enjoyed my "smoked" pork loin until about the 5th straight meal of it...then I turned to my facebook fans for more ideas.  What do you eat when you can't eat anything?  They had some excellent suggestions!

Lisa suggested chicken and rice, chicken and potatoes, and omelets, to name a few.  Chau offered a tagine and French Daube (two meals I will admit that I've never heard of, but they sound absolutely wonderful based on her descriptions).  Connie's wine-smothered chicken dish made my mouth water to just think about.  In the end, though, it all came down to what I had in the pantry.  So, I made a combination of Kristen's, Jennifer's, and Linda's suggestions - a breakfast quiche potato pie thingy.

I really should think of another name.

I mixed up 2 eggs (all I had left), about 1/2 cup rice flour, a tablespoon margarine, salt, pepper, 2 shredded potatoes, my leftover "smoked" pork loin (about 1/2 cup), about 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and about 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  I threw it all in a pie dish, topped it off with some crumbled bacon, and baked at 350 degrees until it was done.   


 The verdict...it may be an odd combination of ingredients but it was absolute heaven to my taste buds!  I was worried that I may be slightly biased after being deprived of taste for so long, so I let my husband try it...he got seconds. :-)


I think we found a winner!  Now all we need is that new name...

For my final adventure of the week, I experimented with cocoa powder and rice flour and came up with chocolate rice muffins.  I mixed 1 egg, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 2 T. sugar, 2 T. canola oil, 1 cup Bob's Red Mill white rice flour, 2 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. vanilla, and 2 T. cocoa powder.  I then baked in a greased muffin tin at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.


The verdict...these aren't incredibly sweet (my diet wouldn't allow me to up the sugar content), but they did hit the spot, especially with a little melted butter on them.  If you want them sweet, add another tablespoon of sugar and some mini chocolate chips...yum!

Thanks for joining me on this weeks episode of What to Eat When You Can't Eat Anything.  I hope you never have to become a contestant, but if you do, at least now you know not to stick tuna in your rice cooker.  It's going to take a while to erase that experience from my memory...



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

4-ingredient peanut butter cookies

 

I'm one of those people who loves mail (e-mail, snail mail, blog comments, etc.) and who really loves surprises.  As a result, when I returned from my week in Mexico, I was ecstatic to find a surprise package from one of my favorite companies in the world...Gooseberry Patch!

For those who have never heard of it, Gooseberry Patch is a company founded by two best friends in Ohio who loved all things country.  They began a mail order catalog and have since transformed their company into a cookbook collector's delight.  Every cookbook they publish is filled with tried-and-true recipes, kitchen tips, and artsy illustrations that I find addicting - I tend to read their cookbooks straight through whenever I get one!

Gooseberry Patch also has a blog, where they post fun recipes, stories, and profiles of other food bloggers.  Recently their blog had a contest - submit a recipe for consideration in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook, and you could win their new "bookazine."  I submitted my chocolate cranberry cheesecake recipe, and my name was drawn!

Because I was in Mexico and not keeping up with their blog updates, I had no idea that I was a winner until I got home to find this...

 

How incredibly cool is it that they would take the time to write a personalized note?!?  I love them!  And this "bookazine" is delightful.  It's 112 pages of fabulous recipes and great photos.  Here are a few examples of what's hidden inside (please excuse my horrible photography...it doesn't do justice to the book)... 



I highly encourage you to visit your local magazine stand and take a look at this fantastic cookbook.  Until then, let me share with you what's on page 33 - Soft Peanut Butter Cookies!

These cookies only take 4 ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  I love this recipe...I didn't have to go buy a thing.

 

First, lightly beat the egg in a mixing bowl.



Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.



Shape into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet (if you can resist eating the dough first).




Use a fork to make a criss-crossed pattern on top of the cookies.  I found it best to dip the fork in water between cookies so that it wouldn't stick.



Pop in the oven and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. 



Dip in milk for maximum enjoyment. :-)




These cookies are so good, and they're also gluten free and perfect for the no-fun wheat-free elimination diet I'm on right now.  Thanks Gooseberry Patch!!!

Nutrition: (I don't think I want to know...equal parts peanut butter and sugar?  yikes!)

This recipe was proudly linked to Foodie Friday!

Monday, April 12, 2010

tijuana dump breakfast


I just got back from a week of chaperoning a high school youth mission trip to La Mision, Mexico.  I'm exhausted...I feel like I need another Spring Break just to recuperate from the one I just took!  We ended the week with two trips to the emergency room, at least 7 feverish colds, two dog bites, numerous smashed fingers, and countless bruises.  It was quite the adventure!

La Mision is a village south of Tijuana along the coast.  We had some great ocean views on the drive from Tijuana to La Mision...


The village of La Mision is quite small.  It was apparently the site of one of the many Spanish missions after the Spanish conquest.  The area gets a lot of American tourists (I'm assuming because of its proximity to the ocean), but the town itself seems very quiet.


The focus of our trip was the Door of Faith orphanage.  It's one of the largest orphanages in the area, with over 100 children.  The place was incredible in the amount of attention and opportunities they provide to each child.  We spent a lot of time playing with the kids (who loved to laugh at my lack of Spanish-speaking skills) and working on projects around the orphanage.  We also worked on construction for two homes in the village, distributed food to several worthy families, and celebrated Easter on the top of a mountain at sunrise.

 
My team of students was fortunate enough to also get the opportunity to serve children in Tijuana.  We went to a large dump that has been transformed into a housing district.  Unfortunately, there really wasn't any clean-up involved in that transformation.  Instead, about 2 feet of dirt was dumped on top of the trash to prepare it for homes.  As a result, the place is unsanitary, quite smelly (especially when it's hot outside), and not really suitable for living.  Despite this, numerous families live here.




We went to support a church that was built on the dump in order to minister to the needs of these families.  This church graciously provides the children of the dump a free breakfast every morning, and we were fortunate to be able to help them.

Being the person that I am, I immediately volunteered to cook along with Matt, one of the high school students on the trip.  Please ignore the fact that I am a walking Big 12 contradiction with my hat and sweatshirt combo.  Please also pay no attention to the fact that I hadn't showered in three days.  This was not a glamorous trip by any means...


I was at the stove...with a camera...cooking...  You know what that means.  I took pictures!  So, ladies and gentlemen, here is what I have affectionately termed Tijuana dump breakfast (partly because we were at the dump and partly because you simply dump the ingredients in the skillet, no measuring required).

First, we cut fresh corn tortillas into small wedges.  These are not my hands...


Then, dump a large amount of oil into a hot skillet (gotta give those growing kids some calories)...


...and then dump in the corn tortillas!


The goal here is to brown the tortillas without burning them, so they are just the right amount of crispy.  You don't want to stir them around too much, though, or they will turn mushy.  I found it best to let them sit in the oil for a minute and then flip them over.  I did this several times until they looked nice and cooked.

Then, we poured in some salt and several beaten eggs and let these cook up, stirring occasionally.


Here's what it looked like when the eggs were done cooking...


Am I crazy for thinking this looks good?  Because it looked fantastic to me.  Maybe that's because I had been up since 4:45am that morning...or maybe because my breakfasts had consisted of rice...I don't know.  But I was drooling over this meal.

We fixed up plates of this egg and tortilla mixture along with beans for the kids' breakfast.  I don't think they would think I was crazy...they all kept coming back for seconds and thirds.


When we ran out of the tortillas, we made another amazing variation - eggs and hot dogs!  I could hardly contain myself...


So here's what I'm thinking.  I wasn't crazy.  This meal looks fantabulous.  I am planning on making it at home with the following changes: 1) less oil (unlike those children, I am not in need of extra calories), 2) added papas (potatoes), 3) more seasonings (like ground pepper), and 4) tortillas and hot dogs in the same dish.

It's amazing what you can discover at a dump.

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