Strong Arms for Kids

 
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I made these rolls to use as hamburger buns for my Almond Lentil Burgers I made last weekend.  I definitely still need to work on my shaping and weighing of the dough but the flavor was there.  The recipe said it made 16 rolls.  I wanted the rolls bigger because they were going to be hamburger buns, so I made eight rolls from the recipe.  I think each bun weighed about 5 pounds (after baking), but my mom had a good idea to cut out the center, save that for breakfast and use the bottom and top for the buns.  It worked out great!

sponge
1 cup medium grain bulghur
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup unbleached white bread flour

dough
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
3 to 4 cups unbleached white bread flour

1 egg beaten

Place bulghur in a large heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water.  Add the butter, stir, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the batter or "sponge".  In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.  When the bulghur has cooled for about 15 minutes, add the yeast mixture, brown sugar, and the cup of flour.  Beat for 100 strokes (about 3 minutes).  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set it aside to rise in a warm place until the mixture bubbles, about 45 minutes.

Uncover the sponge and stir in the beaten eggs, salt, and 2 to 2 1/2 cups of the flour to make a dough stiff enough to knead.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Oil the bowl; then return the kneaded dough to it and turn it over to coat both sides with the oil.  Cover the bowl with the damp towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. 

Lightly oil a large baking sheet.

Punch down the dough and turn it onto a cutting board.  Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place the balls of dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise again for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the rolls have risen, brush the tops of the rolls with the 1 beaten eggs.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
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This granola has lots of little secrets that help make it some of the best granola I have ever eaten.  I like my granola on the "not so sweet" side, so feel free to add more agave nectar if you like your granola on the sweeter side of life :-)

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup flax seeds, ground
1/4 oat bran
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried mango, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together first 8 ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Spread out onto a baking sheet and place in oven, once the oven is hot.  Bake in oven for about 25 minutes, until the oats are nicely toasted brown.  Make sure to mix the granola mixture every five minutes while baking.  Once granola is baked to perfection, take out of oven, let cool and add the last three ingredients.  Enjoy!
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Sorry I really can't be arsed to post this whole recipe, just wanted to show off my accomplishment.  The recipe is from Paul Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread recipe book.  Its the Transitional Multigrain Hearth Bread.  The first time I made this recipe, I made it in the shape of a baguette.  The crust was so hard, it was pretty much inedible.  This time I made it in a boule shape.  I know the crust is supposed to be crunchy but its still a bit too crunchy, but this time it is definitely edible.  Please if anyone knows any reason why my crust might be coming out a little too hard, please write me and let me know.  I don't know what I am doing wrong.
 
 
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These muffins are super healthy for you to make your body happy ...delicious to make your tongue happy...and vegan to make the animals happy...what more could you ask for in a muffin.

Recipe
start the night before by putting 1 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup of almond milk in a container and leave it in the refrigerator.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
oatmeal from the refrigerator

1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup

2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  When its completely blended, add the strawberries.  Mix just until the strawberries are incorporated into the mix.  Put in muffin pan (should make 12 muffins).  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
 
 
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This recipe is for anyone who doesn't believe that vegetarian food can be as delicious and satisfying as non-vegetarian food.  Of course, all you vegetarians can make it and enjoy too!  I got the recipe for the tempeh and the onions from the Delicious TV Podcast that I love, and decided to make it into a spinach salad.  Its delicious, spicy and filling.

Spicy Caramelized Onions

Slice 2 medium onions. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan.  After a minute add the onions and lower the heat to medium-low.  You want the onions to cook slowly.  Sprinkle some salt over the onions.  Toss the onions frequently.  Once the onions start to brown (it should take at least 10-15 minutes), add 1/2 tsp tomato paste and 1/2 tsp hot sauce (you can add more if you like).  Heat for 1-2 minutes more and your onions are done.

Dijon Tempeh

Cut the block of tempeh into quarters.  Take each quarter and slice it down the middle to make each quarter thinner.  To make the sauce:  in a bowl add 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white wine, 2 heaping spoonfuls of Dijon mustard and 2 cloves of mashed garlic (I used a mortar and pestle but you can also use garlic paste).  Whisk all the ingredients together.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan.  Once the oil is super hot, add the tempeh.  When the tempeh is golden brown on one side, flip them over and let them brown on the other side.  When the tempeh is cooked on both sides, add the sauce to the pan.  Let the tempeh cook in the sauce, on medium heat, for 12-15 minutes. 

You can either eat this on top of spinach greens, or Toni (from Delicious TV) also suggests making a sandwich with the tempeh and onions which also sounds really good.  Enjoy!
 
 
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After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver made me so jealous of her fresh asparagus that I went out to a local farmstand and bought the freshest asparagus that they had available.  It still didn't taste the way she describes the taste of her asparagus but it was definitely less bitter than the stuff you buy in the supermarket.  The recipe for this soup was completely random, well there is a method to my madness, sort of, but I definitely didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started roasting the asparagus soup.  I started out wanting to make the Roasted Asparagus soup from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen until I realized I didn't have any cashews to make the soup creamy.  I thought about using walnuts but then decided that might make the soup gritty/ gross.  I was a bit stuck and almost desperate enough to use milk, until my mom thought about using tahini.  That didn't seem like such a bad idea, but I originally wanted to use thyme as my spicer-upper but I thought the thyme wouldn't go well with the tahini, so I decided to go with a hummus themed soup and it actually turned out pretty well.  BTW I had no idea how easy it is to make asparagus soup!!


RECIPE

2 lbs asparagus
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil

2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 heaping spoonful tahini
1 tsp cumin

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
grated peel of 1/2 lemon
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Place the asparagus spears on a baking sheet and drizzle some olive oil over the spears. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn asparagus and sprinkle the onion and garlic over it. Roast for about 10 more minutes, until asparagus is very tender. If anything looks like it’s browning too much, take it out. (Important Note: These directions are for thicker asparagus. Thin asparagus may take much less time so start with 6 minutes, turn and add onions and garlic, and check again in 5.)

While the asparagus is roasting, blend 1/2 cup of the broth with the tahini until smooth.

When the asparagus is done, select several of the best-looking spears, remove the tops, and set aside to use as garnish. Cut the remaining asparagus into pieces and put it and the onion and garlic into the blender, along with the remaining broth. Cover the blender and blend on high until perfectly smooth.

Pour the soup into a saucepan and heat until hot, stirring frequently. Once its hot, turn off heat and add the lemon juice and grated lemon peel.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and garnish each bowl with the reserved asparagus spears and serve hot.

Servings: 4
Yield: 4 cups
 
 
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This recipe was inspired yet again by my new favorite book that I blogged about recently, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Conveniently enough, after making this recipe and adding some of my own touches, I noticed that the next No Croutons Required contest is all about zucchini.  Well I just figured that I was meant to post this recipe and enter it in this months challenge.  So here goes...Its a delicious pasta salad where the zucchini and carrots practically melts into the pasta creating a delicate texture.  The tomatoes add some extra color and a bit of moisture to the dish.  The portabellos on top give this salad a whole extra dimension allowing it to stand on its own as a main dish instead of just an interesting side.

The photo above was taken the first time I made this recipe.  That time I only added zucchini, but lately I have been adding lots of other fun things which I have added to the recipe below.

 Recipe:

3⁄4 lb pkg orzo pasta
Bring 6 cups water or chicken stock to a boil and add pasta.  Cook 8 to 12
minutes
 
1 chopped onion, garlic to taste
3 large zucchini 
2 carrots
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
olive oil for sauté

Use a cheese grater to shred zucchini and carrots, sauté briefly with chopped
onion and garlic, add chopped tomatoes and sauté until zucchini is lightly golden.

slice portabello mushrooms, spread out evenly in baking dish.  Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over mushrooms and place under broiler on low for 8-10 minutes.  Take out baking dish, flip over mushrooms and broil on low again for another 8 minutes.


Add some thyme and oregano to zucchini mixture, stir thoroughly, and then remove mixture from heat.

Combine with 1⁄4 cup grated parmesan and cooked orzo, salt to taste, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve cool or at room
temperature.
 
 
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Continuing a bit with the strawberry theme, I made this rich chilled strawberry dessert.  I have seriously waited almost a year to make this recipe.  I found this recipe off of one of my favorite food blogs Diet, Dessert, and Dogs right after strawberry season ended last year in Japan.  And, unlike in the United States, once a season ends in Japan, there is no finding that fruit again until the following year.  So finally, strawberry season is upon us again and I was able to make this dessert.  It was worth the wait!

( I didn't make the crisps but I thought I would add it in the recipe because they sound really good)
 
 1. 2 pounds strawberries, hulled, 1.5 pounds coarsely chopped, 1/2 pound chopped

       2. 1/2 cup sugar

       3. 1 Cinnamon Stick

       4. 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

       5. Black Pepper (more or less to taste, I had mine kind of spicy)

       6. 1 Teaspoon Orange zest

       7. 1/2 Teaspoon grated Fresh Ginger

       8. 1/2 Cup Orange Juice

       9. 1 Cup Water

      10. 4 Tablespoons chopped Fresh Mint Leaves.

 
    For the Cream:

       1. 1 Cup Greek Yogurt (If you are not using Greek Yogurt, Strain & Drain Regular Plain Yogurt, to get rid of all the liquid & make it thick)[ You are free to use Whipped Cream/Regular Cream or Sour Cream, this is a healthier version & really it was good too]

       2. 3 Tablespoons of Sugar

       3. 20 -25 Very Finely Chopped Fresh Mint Leaves

    For the Crisp:

       1. 1/2 Cup Almonds, Toasted & Roughly Crushed

       2. 1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips


    Preparation:

 
    Set aside the 1/2 lb chopped strawberries till ready to assemble.

 
    Combine 1.5 lbs of Strawberries, with orange juice, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, sugar, orange zest, ginger & the mint leaves in a pan.

 
    Put the pan on the stove & simmer the berry mixture for about 25 minutes, till the strawberry releases all the juice. The mix will get slightly thick, the strawberries will be limp. The liquid should not get thick & syrupy.


    Prepare an ice bath. Pour the above mixture in a container & quickly put the container in the ice bath. Stir it for about 10 minutes till the mixture is chilled.


    Remove the Cinnamon Stick. Puree the Berry Mix & Strain.  The texture & consistency of the soup should be like a regular tomato soup, not gooey thick. Chill the Soup.

 
    Preparing the Cream:

 
    Process the Sugar & the Mint Leaves to  form something like a thick, coarse paste. I used a rolling pin & crushed everything together.. It was easy & took only a couple of minutes.


    Add this to the Yogurt, & whisk till it combines well & the yogurt is creamy & smooth. Chill.

 
    Preparing the Crisps:

    In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (or on a water bath if you prefer).  Stir in all the roughly crushed Almonds, but  about 1.5 Tablespoons.


    Put a sheet of parchment paper on a plate. Spread out thinly the Chocolate & the Nut mix. I spread it out in a rough uneven circle, like a very thin cookie.  Sprinkle the rest of the crushed Almonds on this & lightly press with the back of the spoon. Put it in the refrigerator till the chocolate hardens.


 
 
I literally just finished reading the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and am thoroughly impressed.  I truly enjoyed reading this book.  I was jealous of her exploding cherry trees, inspired by her homemade cheese-making and left motivated to try and eat more locally and seasonally.  There are tons of delicious recipes in the book shared by Barbara's daughter Camille.  Luckily, since I borrowed this book from the library, you can find all her delicious recipes and download from the internet at www.animalvegetablemiracle.com.  The first recipe I borrowed from her book, was her incredibly easy pizza dough recipe.  This, hands down, was the easiest pizza dough recipe I have ever tried, and didn't taste so bad either.  I thought it was so cute how Barbara and her family have pizza and movie night every Friday night. 

Even though the pizza dough recipe was simple enough, the idea for the toppings took me a while.  The first pizza was simple enough, I had an extra eggplant in the fridge, so I just worked around the eggplant.  The second pizza wasn't as simple.  I wanted to work around the seasonal theme and since strawberries are the thing at the moment, I tried to somehow make a pizza using strawberries a culinary success story.  I don't know how it happened, but it worked. 

The Easiest Pizza Dough EVER!!! by Barbara Kingsolver and family

FRIDAY NIGHT PIZZA  (Makes two 12-inch pizzas)
 
3 tsp. yeast             11⁄2 cups WARM water           3 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt                21⁄2 cups white flour               2 cups whole wheat flour
To make crust, dissolve the yeast into the warm water and add oil and salt to that
mixture.  Mix the flours and knead them into the liquid mixture.  Let dough rise for
30 to 40 minutes.

  Once the dough has risen, divide it in half and roll out two round 12 inch
pizza crusts on a clean, floured countertop, using your fingers to roll the
perimeter into on outer crust as thick as you like. Using spatulas, slide the crusts onto well floured pans or baking stones and spread toppings.
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Pizza #1
     This pizza lacked a little flavor but with a few minor adjustments I am sure I could make it really tasty. I think next time I will use a little more cheese, a little more garlic and some salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  First slice up an eggplant in about 1/4 inch slices.  Brush some olive oil on both sides and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides, as well.  Put in the oven for 10 minutes.  When the ten minutes is up, flip them over and put them in for another 10 minutes. 

In the meantime, slice four tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic (in thin slices), 1/2 green pepper (in thin slices), slice mozzarella (in thin slices) and finally chop some parsley. 

Once the eggplant is ready, spread out your pizza dough and start by spreading out the tomatoes.  Next spread the eggplants over the tomatoes.  Add the peppers, then the cheese and finally the garlic.  Once all that is on, drip some olive oil over everything, and add some extra salt and pepper.  Put in the oven for 25 minutes on 450 degrees.  After about 15 minutes in the over, sprinkle the parsley over the pizza and put back in the oven until the full 25 minutes is up.  And presto...delicious pizza.
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Pizza #2

Start by thinly slicing strawberries and some peaches.  Next chop up some fresh basil.  After the prepping is done, spread out the pizza dough and start by spreading out the strawberries.  Next add the peaches to the mix.  Sprinkle feta cheese all over the pizza.  Spread out the basil and then drizzle balsamic vinegar all over the pizza.  Place in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes and you will have a surprisingly delicious pizza, that is delicious hot and just as good the next day straight out of the refrigerator. 
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That's right!  Crepes!  Not just any crepes, but whole wheat crepes with fresh tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and a secret ingredient.  This is one of the best breakfasts I have had in a long long time.  Not that I could ever get sick of having smoothies for breakfast but when I need to take a short break from them, this is a fabulous substitute.  This can also make an excellent dinner, that's easy but tastes like you spent hours working on.  I adapted this recipe from a random website I found called Vegetarian and Vegan France

Recipe:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup white flour

pinch of salt

1 large egg

1 cup soymilk

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch spinach leaves (washed and trimmed)

2 garlic cloves

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (this is the secret ingredient)


1 large tomato, chopped


1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms


3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

fresh chopped dill

Put the flour and salt into a bowl and add the egg. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons of the sunflower oil.

Heat a little oil in a  frying pan, pour off the excess and then quickly pour in about 3 tablespoons of the batter. Tilt the pan so the base is evenly coated with batter, then cook for a couple of minutes until the underside is browned.

Loosen the crepe, then over with a long palette knife and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes until browned.

Slide the crepe out of the pan onto a plate and keep hot. Don’t worry if the first one isn’t perfect, the other ones will be better!

Repeat with the remaining oil and batter mixture to make 8 crepes in all.

To make the filling, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the spinach, garlic, nutmeg, tomatoes, mushrooms and salt and fry for 2-3 minutes, tossing the spinach until it just begins to wilt and the mushrooms are soft. Stir in the feta cheese and warm through.


Divide the filling between the crepes – spoon it on to one half of each crepe and fold over loosely. I added a fried egg on top and sprinkled it with fresh dill.  They are good both with and without the egg on top, all depends how hungry you are.

 

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