Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bloomfield Farms Bread

Once again, I've been busy for a week or so, and I've neglected my blogging duties. Sorry about that. Just to warn you, it's not going to get better for a few days.

For my birthday, my mom gave me several cake and bread mixes to try. As you can tell from this blog, I do a lot from scratch, so I usually don't buy much in the way of boxed mixes. Tonight I thought I would try the bread mix since I'm out of bread and I need to use up these mixes. The bread mix is a pretty healthy-sized box of stuff: 25.6 ounces. And you are supposed to get one loaf of bread out of it. It looked like a lot, so I made two 1 1/2 pound loaves. As you can see below, they didn't raise as well as they might have, but they still are decent-sized.

Unfortunately, these loaves turned out a little dry. I haven't quite decided what to do with it to see if I can make it less dry next time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Quicklunch" (Tuna Casserole)

I have had this recipe since I started graduate school in 1994. It was in a packet of recipes I received from her when I moved out on my own and really had to start cooking for myself. I have modified it a bit, but everyone in the family likes it, and you can make it even healthier if you use brown rice. I like mixing brown and white rice  because the brown rice provides a nutty flavor.


  • 3 cups cooked rice (brown, white, or some combination thereof.)
  • 2 6 1/2 ounce cans tuna fish
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can black olives, drained and chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoning salt
Mix all the ingredients together. You probably should let the rice cool off a little, because it melts the cheese and then doesn't mix very well. Put 2/3-3/4 of your mixture in a 3-4 quart baking dish. Arrange 4-6 slices of American cheese on top of the mixture. I usually use Velveeta, which I know probably isn't really cheese, but it works well.

Top with the rest of your rice/tuna mixture.

Cover this and bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees. I like it with salad. It's really good as leftovers (warmed up, of course) with salad that has french dressing on it. For some reason I personally like that flavor combination. This will make quite a bit and it fills you up, so don't eat too fast!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

English Muffins

This post will be fairly brief, because I am shifting from one debate tournament to another. I've been making this recipe from Alton Brown for Dona for several years now. If you use Wheat Montana's Prairie Gold flour, you get some whole-wheat benefits with less of the grittiness of what we normally find in whole wheat flour. Any white wheat will be fine, though. Of course, if you like regular whole wheat flour, by all means, use that!

English Muffins

  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1-2 drops of agave syrup
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast)
Stir these together in a small bowl (I use a regular cereal bowl) and allow to sit until the yeast starts foaming. In the meantime, start working on the next stuff:
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (I've substituted soy milk powder sometimes and the recipe works fine.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter or shortening (melted)
  • 1 cup warm water
Melt the butter in a medium or larger mixing bowl. Add the water, salt, and dry milk and mix these together.

  • 2 cups flour
Add the flour to the milk/butter mixture. Stir a bit and add the yeast. Then stir until mixed together.

I use tuna cans for this recipe. Grease a tuna can and put 2-3 ounces of dough in each can. You should get 8-10 muffins. I've never measured these before, but I would guess 2 ounces is around 1/4 cup by volume and 3 ounces probably is 1/3 cup.

Place these in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. These are both pictures of baked muffins. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

I say, "Hummus," you say, "Hummos"

When Dona and I married, she raved about a Middle Eastern restaurant in Portland, Oregon. One of the things she talked about was hummus. The first time I tried it, I just bought a box at the health food store that you could add water to. That didn't go over very well. Not because we are against store-bought things, but because I put too much lemon juice in it and it was too sour.

At one point in our life, we also were poor enough that we couldn't afford to buy boxed food at all. I have enough time and some cooking expertise, so I started making hummus from scratch. I don't claim to have Middle-Eastern-quality hummus, but I think it is pretty good. We've Americanized how we eat it in a postmodern kind of way.

  • One can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or one cup dry beans cooked to tenderness--hold back some of the liquid from the beans, you might need it.
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seeds) or peanut butter in a pinch
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tablespoon garlic grains)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Put all of these ingredients in a good blender, or even an average blender and, starting at a low speed, start blending. Increase the speed and add some of the bean liquid until the hummus is smooth. Depending on your preference, you could add a bit more lemon juice or oil, I suppose.

We eat this with chicken breasts cut into strips and fried with onions and bell peppers cut into strips, and corn tortillas.

I know, I know, tortillas are totally NOT Middle Eastern. Samantha can't have corn tortillas, so she eats them with the crepes I made for Valentine's Day. Crepes are at least French, and France is a little closer to the Middle East, but it's not there, either. I have made pita bread in the past, but since Dona would be the only person who might be able to eat the pita bread, we just use tortillas. Like I said, it's postmodern. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chicken fried steak

I was recently inspired by this Tyler Florence recipe in the Parade Magazine. I thought I would try making chicken-fried steak, since it's something I've never eaten before. Additionally, Samantha complained that the chicken-fried steak at school wasn't very good, so I wanted to see if I could make something that she would like. Although, if mine was worse than than cafeteria food, I would stop cooking!

I started with my recipe for deep-fry batter, which I use for chicken nuggets, but I've included it below in case you missed it. The original recipe calls for going back and forth between water and flour coating. I don't know why, but the results I get when trying to alternate between wet and dry for the purpose of coating something is that I end up with a bunch of flour in the milk or water or whatever I'm supposed to use to get flour to stick to the meat. Perhaps that's something you learn in culinary school. Anyway, here you go.

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour (I usually use rice flour, but Dona and Sam can't have it right now)
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 Tablespoons potato starch (You also can use corn starch if you want)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (you might leave this out for chicken fried steak)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup water
Combine dry ingredients, add water, and beat until smooth.

If you didn't start in a wide, flat-bottomed container of some sort, pour your batter into one and place your pieces of chicken in it. Use a fork to turn them over until they are well-coated. Batter will expand a little, so if they aren't totally covered with batter, it's okay.

I tried following Tyler's recipe with a couple of inches of oil in a frying pan. That didn't work so well. As you can see from the pictures at the top, my steaks are a little burned.

I think I would put 1/4- to 1/2 inch of oil in a pan and then fry it. If that doesn't work, I'll put it in 4-6 inches of oil and really deep fry it. I'm afraid deep frying the steak would burn it as well, because the red meat might need to cook longer than chicken might need to.

I liked Bobby Flay's recipe for white gravy. You could probably make your own sausage gravy, too. Go with what you like.