Monday, April 25, 2011

Strawberry Pecan Spinach Salad

I made this salad for our Easter brunch and it is a definite keeper. This is definitely a more "girly" salad (my husband liked it but didn't love it) and would be great for a shower or ladies luncheon. The dressing is a real keeper, but play around with the type of greens, fruit, nuts and cheese! I think next time I'll add some cayenne and curry to the nuts for a little added punch.

Strawberry Pecan Spinach Salad
1 large bowl of baby spinach (about 6 cups)
Feta cheese
6 (or more or less) strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup plain or candied pecans (recipe below)

Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Serve with dressing.

1 cup oil (I used grapeseed)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Mix together and blend well. This makes a lot of dressing so be careful if you want to toss the dressing in the salad before serving.

Candied Pecans
3/4 cup pecans
2 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
(optional: curry, cayenne or ginger)

Toss pecans in the rest of the ingredients. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. After removing nuts from oven, stir immediately. Move apart and allow to cool. Break apart if needed when cool. Store in freezer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


We FINALLY were able to have photos taken by the very talented Michelle Geller. These pictures make me so happy. My entire family was in town for Spring Break and we were able to have extended family photos taken. What a tremendous blessing! These are just a peek -- I can't wait to see the rest!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Preparing for Summer

It snowed today. In Las Vegas. On April 9th. The kicker is that last Saturday it was 92 degrees! Apparently Mother Nature is not planning to stick to a normal schedule this year. But the 92 degree weather reminded me that, like it or not, hot weather is just around the corner.

Last Summer I realized that I needed to plan ahead and prepare for Summer by baking breads and freezing them. When it's 110 degrees outside and the AC is running full gear all day long, the last thing I want to do is heat up the oven to make bread. I found myself in a pickle last year because I didn't want to bake, but I didn't want to buy bread either. Not this year! We will be fully stocked (or at least close to it).

I'm planning to spend the next month or so of nice weather to bake a lot of extras. I actually started this week and my husband noticed a lot of extra bread floating around. I assured him there is a plan! And that plan is to bake and freeze:

1) Whole Wheat Bread
2) Artisan Bread
3) Tortillas
4) Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns (I'm tweaking whole wheat recipes)
5) Scones, Muffins, and Cinnamon Rolls

I've never made tortillas so that will be a new adventure for me. But the rest are old hat and it should be fairly easy to just bake in between cooking.  I was going to make pitas as well, but we can "bake" those on the grill over the Summer.

Hopefully all this preparing will make for less heat in the kitchen this Summer!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Slightly Whole Wheat Bread

Recently I've been trying to bake more with whole grains. I'm kind of a white bread lovin' gal, but the Mommy-guilt of feeding my little ones white bread that is void of anything nutritional at all has gotten to me. It's time for us all to adjust and start eating less refined grains.
I've been fiddling around with this recipe from Tammy's Kitchen for the past few weeks. I'm not sure I have my version down to a science yet, but I still wanted to share the recipe because it is stellar. It is definitely the best whole wheat bread I've made.  

That said, this bread calls for a few unusual ingredients -- citric acid and vital wheat gluten. These ingredients are "dough conditioners" and help get a softer whole wheat bread, but they are not absolutely necessary.
Because I bake with whole wheat, I keep vital wheat gluten in my pantry. If you are at all interested in baking with whole grains, just go get some. I've had mine for about 4 years (with only mediocre whole wheat baking on my part so I'm sure I'll go through it quicker now). 

Just FYI -- 6 Tablespoons is equal to 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons!

Slightly Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups water
3 Tablespoons milk
6 Tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil)
6 Tablespoons honey
6 Tablespoons sucanat
3 teaspoons salt
3 cups white whole wheat flour
5 (or so)cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
6 teaspoons yeast
pinch of citric acid
sprinkle of ginger

In a small pot on the stove, warm water, milk, oil, honey, sucanat, salt to 110-115 degrees (very warm to the touch). Put liquid ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Mix in (with dough hook or a wooden spoon) yeast, whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, citric acid and ginger. Add in 2 cups all purpose flour. Keeping adding flour and mixing/kkneading until a smooth, slightly tacky dough forms. Drizzle oil over both sides of dough. Cover and allow to double in size (about an hour). Punch dough down and form in to 2 large or 3 small loaves. Put loaves in lightly greased loaf pans. Brush tops with oil, cover, and allow to rise until just less than doubled, 20-30 minutes. Bake for 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on size of loaves.

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