Wednesday, May 22, 2013

English Muffin Recipe

I've always wanted to try to make English muffins but for some reason thought they'd be difficult.  I recently found this recipe (sorry I can't remember where) and tried it.  It could not have been easier!  I made a couple of batches, wrapped them individually and froze them (that is the ones we didn't eat warm from the pan).  They are more dense than store bought English muffins, but have such a delicious flavor and texture.

1 cup of milk
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP honey
1 cup of warm water (105-110 degrees)
1/4 oz of yeast (about 1 TBSP)
2 TBSP of cornmeal
5 cups + extra for sprinkling all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

(to make gluten free, use a mix of rice flour instead of the all purpose flour, and use soy milk in place of whole milk)

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, mix lightly and set aside for ten minutes to foam.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter and honey until the butter is melted.  Let cool slightly.

Combine the yeast mixture and milk mixtures gently.

In a large bowl, sift 3 cups of flour.  Pour in wet ingredients.  Stir until cohesive. Flour counter well and knead the dough for 3 minutes or until lightly elastic.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal.

Now roll dough out until it's a 1/2 inch thick.  Too thick is better than too thin.  Cut out circles (don't twirl your cutter, just cut).  Gently place on the cookie sheets, sprinkle the tops with cornmeal and cover with a dry, light cloth.  Let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet on medium low, don't grease it.  Gently place a muffin in your hand and shake lighly to remove some of the corn meal.  Gentleness is the key in all of the handling.  Place into the pan and repeat until the pan is full.  Don't let them touch each other.  Keep the heat on low.  Cook for 8 minutes on one side or until browned (mine didn't take that long), flip and cook on the opposite side.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Split, toast and top with butter!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mt Cheaha State Park, Alabama-Girl's Road Trip

This weekend the girls and I got away for a bit. We drove 5 hours north to visit family and then another hour (or so) east to see one of my Army buddies who is at Ft. McClellan for training. On the way home we decided to take the scenic route. We ended up driving through Mt Cheaha State Park and Talladega National Forest. It was so beautiful! We got out at the highest point in Alabama, Bald Rock and any other scenic overpass that we saw. We took our time and were able to just enjoy all of God's wonderful creations around us. I love these trips with my girls. We're making memories that will last forever.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I just gave a speech to my family the other day about how we have to get back to healthy eating. We've been out of town so much lately and honestly didn't always have access to 'good' food. I went shopping and stocked up on fruits and vegetables. We've all been juicing and trying to eat lots of raw foods.
In the midst of all of this, I get the urge to bake...cinnamon rolls! I guess I can justify them because I grind my own wheat and use all quality ingredients. :) Regardless, my girls were thrilled to smell them baking in the oven! My recipe makes 2 large pans of rolls-way too many for us. We decided to package some up and deliver them to extended family. I'm happy to say I only ate 1/2 of one. That's will power my friends!

Basic Cinnamon Rolls

2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 Tbsp SAF yeast
1/2 cup dry milk powder
1/2 cup oil, softened butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
O2 large eggs
1 Tbsp salt
6-8 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup gluten

Cinnamon Roll Mixture
1 cup Sucanat or brown sugar
1 Tbsp + 1tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine yeast,  dry milk powder, gluten and 3 cups flour in a large mixer bowl.  Add water, oil and honey.  Mix well for 1-2 minutes.  Turn off mixer, cover the bowl and let the dough sponge for 10-15 minutes.  Add eggs and salt.  Turn on the mixer; add additional flour, one cup at a time, until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl.  Knead for only 5 minutes and keep the dough very soft and manageable.  If the dough becomes stiff while kneading, drizzle additional water as you knead.  Melt the 1/4 cup butter for the cinnamon roll mixture and set aside.  Combine the Sucanat and cinnamon in a bowl, mixing well.

Grease two 9x13 pans.  Divide the bread dough into two equal portions.  Lightly oil countertop and roll dough into a 15x20 rectangle.  Spread 2 Tbsp of melted butter over the rectangle of dough.  Sprinkle with half the cinnamon mixture.  Roll up into a jelly roll, seal the seam, and cut into 1 inch thick pieces.  Place rolls in prepared pan.  Repeat this process with the remaining dough.  Let the rolls rise in a warm area until doubled (approx 30-60 minutes).  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until browned.

To make Glazed Cinnamon Rolls:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp milk, plus more
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

To prepare the glaze, melt the butter, sugar and milk together over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add more milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.  Beat well.  Allow the glaze to cool slightly, then pour over cooled rolls.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Strawberry Jelly

I love to can but haven't had the time the last few years to do as much as I'd like. There's something about all those pretty jars lined up in the pantry that makes me feel so good. I like being assured that I have plenty to feed my family. I recall reading the Little House on the Prairie books to the girls and wondering how they ever put up all that food! One word-necessity! I'm striving to be more like that to store up good, healthy food for my little family.
So I'm starting with homemade jelly. It was much easier this time because I now have a juicer. I juiced 2 flats in just a short amount of time. I washed up all my 1/2 pint jars which are my favorite size for jelly. They're the perfect size to give away too. As the girls worked on school at the kitchen table, I put on their great-grandmother's apron and made sweet strawberry jelly at the stove. My oldest can't wait to sample her favorite flavor of jelly on our homemade bread. Such a satisfying way to spend my morning.