Oatmeal Bread

I was planning to post a St. Patty’s Day recipe (green falafel!) but it didn’t turn out very well, so I decided to go with something I haven’t made in a while: bread. I’m heading down to Missouri to visit a good friend of mine next week (so excited!!) and will probably bring a loaf of this with me to snack on along the way.

Note: This bread is pretty sweet (especially the crust) so keep that in mind before you start the recipe.

Oatmeal Bread

Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal flour (I ground 1 cup oatmeal up in my coffee grinder)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • egg replacer, equal to one egg (I used flax eggs)
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. In another smaller bowl mix together the egg replacer, soy milk, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  3. My dough was quite sticky at this point. You may have to put some oil on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them as you transfer it to a greased loaf pan. You can sprinkle some oats on top if you’d like. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean you’re good to go. If the edges are done but the middle is not, line the edges with tin foil and continue to bake until the knife comes out clean.
  4. When the loaf is done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Eat while warm or move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from How It All Vegan

French Onion Soup

My first experience eating French onion soup was memorable, and not in a good way. I was on a field trip with my French class, and French onion soup was one of those things we just HAD to try. I don’t remember if we got to pick our food option or not, but I don’t know that it would have mattered much as I had never had it before. It looked gross, all brown with a hunk of congealed-looking cheese on top; and it tasted gross, which may have had something to do with the fact that the cheese on top was probably Gruyere, which is definitely not my favorite. I’ve seen French onion soup on many a menu since then, but haven’t been gutsy enough to try it after the experience I had as a youngster.

After eating a bowl of this soup (with a thick slice of lentil bread and some melted mozzarella cheese on top), I’m convinced that I can like French onion soup. In fact, I would probably eat this for every meal forever if it didn’t take so much time to make and if it was a bit more nutritionally sound.

French Onion Soup

FOS 2

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds yellow onions
  • 3 tbsp non-dairy spread (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 thick slice of bread, cut in half
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Cut the onions in half top to bottom and peel off the outer layer(s) of skin. Thinly slice each half and then cut the slices in half. Transfer cut onions to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the non-dairy spread with the oil in a large saute pan or soup pot over low heat. When it starts to sizzle add the onions and stir to coat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Uncover the onions and stir in the salt, black pepper, and sugar. Cook, uncovered, over low to medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently and lowering the heat if they start to scorch. You can add a bit of liquid or oil to the pan if they seem to be sticking or scorching a lot.
  4. When the onions are golden brown heat the vegetable stock in a separate pan. Stir the flour into the onions and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Add the hot vegetable stock, bay leaves, and thyme to the onion mixture. Cook the soup over low heat, partially covered, for an hour or until it’s as thick as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. If you’re going to add bread and cheese to the soup, now’s the time to do it. If you have oven-safe bowls you can place the bread and cheese right on top of the soup, otherwise place the bread on a baking sheet and top with the sliced cheese. Broil on high until the cheese gets bubbly and starts to brown.

You can make this vegan by not using the mozzarella cheese, or by using a non-dairy cheese alternative.

Source: Adapted from the kitchn.

Tasty Thanksgiving Recipes

Uffda… it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here. The job hunt and activist causes have kept me quite busy, and I’ve been suffering from a severe lack of inspiration and motivation. Thanksgiving dinner served as the perfect excuse to look up some recipes and write a blog post.

I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of the canned cranberry sauce that’s everywhere in the grocery stores this time of year. I grew up eating the stuff, and I still love it. This year I wanted to try something a little more… sophisticated (and less corn syrup-y) so I decided to make my own cranberry sauce.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce 3

*This tastes even better the next day, so keep that in mind when deciding when to start cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the cranberries, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and 3/4 cup water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes. The cranberries will start to pop during this time and the mixture will thicken a bit.
  2. Add the orange zest, chopped candied ginger, and orange juice and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for an 1 to 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon stick. Add additional sweetener as desired.

Source: Adapted from the kitchn

Sticking with the theme of “less processed foods are tastier,” I decided to make homemade rolls as well.

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (plus more for sprinkling on top of rolls, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • egg
  • 2 1/2-3 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until it gets foamy. If it doesn’t get foamy you’ll need to try again with another packet of yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to the point just before it boils (this is called scalding the milk, but that’s not a super helpful term). It should be foamy around the edges and have wisps of steam coming off of it. Remove the milk from the heat and add it to the cubed butter in a mixing bowl. Stir to melt the butter, then add the brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Mix well and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add the egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour, then add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need for the dough to lose its sheen. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough into a greased bowl. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.
  5. Knead the chilled dough slightly. You can do this in the bowl or on a floured surface. Break the dough up into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat-ish rectangle, then roll it up and tuck the ends under. Place the rolls seam-side down in a greased 9-inch pan. I used a square pan and it worked fine. Brush all over with melted butter and sprinkle with some rolled oats. Let the rolls rise in a warm place until they’re about double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the rolls are brown and sound hollow when you tap them. The internal temperature should be right around 190 degrees. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.

Source: Adapted from Food 52.

And finally, Thanksgiving just isn’t complete (in my mind) without pie. This one’s a dairy-free pumpkin pie, and it’s pretty darn good.

Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie 1

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1 /4 cups almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425° F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the oil and almond milk into the well. Mix until a dough forms, then press the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges if desired.
  3. Mix the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl; set aside. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond milk. Add the pumpkin mixture to the sugar mixture mix well. Pour into the prepared crust and place on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven. You may have some filling left, I used mine to make muffins.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for 75 to 85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. I checked for doneness every ten minutes or so after the 60 minute mark. The center may be a bit soft but will firm up later, especially if you refrigerate the pie.

The crust was a little too thick and a bit dry, but the filling was absolutely delicious.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall is my favorite season. Cooler weather, crisp smell in the air, bonfires, apple orchard trips, fall colors… and the FOOD. Apples, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts – so many tasty, healthy foods are in season in the fall. And there are so many great ways to prepare fall produce, too.

One of my favorite fall foods is squash, and I love the traditional ‘roast in the oven with butter and brown sugar’ technique. But some days I’m looking for something a little more filling (no pun intended!) than just the squash itself. If you search for “stuffed acorn squash” online you’ll find a ton of different recipes, many featuring some sort of grain/vegetable/protein mix. I tried brown rice, kale, and raisins a few days ago, but felt like the brown rice lacked the flavor and texture I was looking for. So, I decided to try farro, an ancient grain that I’ve used in a previous recipe, because I thought its nuttier, chewier texture would complement the other ingredients well.

Though I used the specified ingredients below, it’s really easy to change out the grains/greens/fruit that I used for other ingredients, as long as you account for any changes in prep time (if you’re going to use meat, for example). Personalize your recipe with whatever combination of ingredients appeals to you.

Farro-Stuffed Acorn Squash with Kale and Dried Cranberries

Stuffed squash

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kale, torn into small pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups prepared farro (I used the microwaveable kind because it’s quicker)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 tsp brown sugar, divided use

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place squash halves, skin side up, in baking dish or pie tins. Fill dish/tins with enough water so that it’s 1″ deep. Cook squash for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Poke with a fork to check for doneness.
  2. When 12-15 minutes of cook time remain for the squash, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook the kale until it’s nice and wilted, about 2 minutes (this will depend on the size of your kale pieces). Remove from heat and let cool briefly.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the farro, kale, and cranberries, drizzling with a little bit of olive oil as you mix.
  4. When the squash is done, dump the water out of  the dish/tins and let cool for a minute or two. Place 2 tsp brown sugar in each half. Fill with the farro/kale/cranberry mix, packing it in with the back of a spoon as desired. You might have some left over filling – save it for another batch or just to eat later.
  5. Place the squash halves carefully back into the dish/tins (skin side down this time), and bake for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: Inspired by the kitchn, but recipe is my own culinary genius. ; )

Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

With all of the extra time I have while job hunting you’d think I’d be able to stay on top of things here, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve had Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook checked out from the library for a few weeks now and was all set to make this recipe when I realized I didn’t have any yeast. And then I got busy (or just lazy) and didn’t make it to the grocery store for a while.

The first time I had challah was at a sex positive Shabbat that I attended while I was an undergraduate student. Everything I ate was delicious but I remember really liking the challah. It’s been a few years since I’ve had it; when I lived in Minneapolis during grad school I would occasionally pick up a loaf from the local Kowalski’s market. This is a sweeter, somewhat healthier version (thanks to whole wheat flour) of traditional challah.

Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

Challah

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus some for the bowl
  • 2 large eggs, plus another for the egg wash
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top (if desired)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/8 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and honey together with 2/3 cup warm water. Let sit until the mixture gets foamy. Add the remaining honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and eggs. Whisk until everything is combined.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the wet ingredients and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and somewhat stretchy. Place in an olive oil-coated bowl and let rise for about an hour.
  4. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise make the fig paste. In a small saucepan combine the figs, orange zest, water, orange juice, salt, and the black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the figs are tender and everything looks a bit gooier, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Pour the fix mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until it forms a paste. Set aside.
  6. After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (again). Cut the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into a rectangular shape, getting it as thin as you can. Spread half of the fig paste on the dough, keeping about an inch between the paste and the edge of the dough. Roll it into a thin log and cut it in half. Seal the ends as best you can so you don’t have fig paste oozing out. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  7. Twist your dough into a challah shape. I know that’s really vague, but completing this step depends on how elastic your dough is and how thin/long your strands are… here’s a YouTube video demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPfhQJ_D338 and here’s an eHow guide: http://www.ehow.com/how_8666007_twist-challah-bread.html. My dough was not super elastic so I just twisted it a few times and tucked in the ends.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough on it. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and brush the dough with egg wash.
  9. Let the dough rise for another 40 to 45 minutes and then preheat the oven to 375° F. Brush the dough with egg wash again, and sprinkle on that extra sea salt if you want. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack, and bake the challah for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s nice and golden brown.
  10. Let the challah rest on a wire cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and eating.

As seen in the picture above, my challah strands were pretty thick (and not super elastic) so it doesn’t look as pretty as it could. Still tastes wonderful, though, which is much more important.

Source: Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Rice, Lentils, and Greens – Oh My!

Going on week three of the job hunt, and trying to do more cooking, even if it’s just throwing some stuff together for a quick dinner. That’s pretty much what I did last night, using some basic pantry staples and a few other ingredients to whip up a quick and delicious meal. You can sub other grains, protein, and/or greens in this recipe, adjusting cooking times as needed.

Quick Meal: Rice, Lentils, and Greens

Rice, Lentils, Greens

Yield: Approximately two servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice (I used the instant kind)
  • 1/2 cup pink lentils
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided use
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp garlic scapes, minced
  • one large handful of baby spinach ( or other leafy greens)

Instructions

  1. Prepare rice as directed on box/bag, using vegetable broth in place of water. Set aside.
  2. Rinse and sort lentils, removing any rocks or debris. Pour lentils into a medium saucepan and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth. Simmer for 15-20 minutes,or until lentils have reached desired consistency.
  3. When lentils have about 5 minutes of cook time left, pour olive oil into small skillet. Add garlic scapes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  4. Combine rice, lentils, and spinach, and enjoy.

Source: My own culinary genius ; )

My Attempt at Making Spaetzle

It’s been a busy couple of weeks…took come vacation days and spent some time in Winona visiting a friend from college, finished up my VISTA term, and am now full time job hunting. I thought that having all this extra “free” time would mean more cooking, but it’s really just made me kind of lazy. And when I think lazy I think spaetzle… don’t you?

Spaetzle (pronounced SHPET-sluh, not spetzel, as I and others unfamiliar with the German dumplings have called it) is pretty easy to make. The hardest part is figuring out the best way to drop the dumplings into the pan of boiling water without creating a mess and/or burning yourself with the steam/boiling water. The method used in this recipe SEEMED easy, but ended up being a lot trickier and messier than I anticipated. This recipe from smitten kitchen using the colander and spatula method seems like it might be a better way to go for those of us who haven’t made spaetzle before.

Spaetzle

Spaetzle

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • unsalted butter (for browning the spaetzle)

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt.
  2. Place the flour in a large bowl and add the egg mixture, whisking until the batter is smooth.
  3. Transfer the batter to a large, heavy-duty plastic bag and seal. This is a bit difficult to do by oneself (or maybe just for me), so you may need a helper. Cut a bit out of one corner of the bag.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Hold the plastic bag over the pot and squeeze out a few bits of batter into the water. Let them cook until they rise to the top, then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate or platter lined with a few paper towels. Continue with this method until all of the batter is cooked.
  5. Drain the spaetzle well before cooking/storing it. If you want to eat the spaetzle right away you can melt some of the butter in a skillet and cook however many dumplings you’re planning to consume for 2-3 minutes until they’re lightly browned. Season with salt, pepper, and whatever else seems appealing. If you aren’t planning to eat the spaetzle right away toss it in some olive oil and store it in the fridge.

Source: Slightly adapted from It’s All American Food, with some tidbits of wisdom from smitten kitchen.