Sunday, November 8, 2020

Our Favorite Quinoa and Ground Beef Sloppy Joes


This is our family's favorite sloppy joe recipe.  Full disclosure: I don't have an actual recipe.  I make it to taste every time.  But, I can never remember exactly what I add and I always end up googling "Sloppy Joe Recipe" so I can see a general idea of what to add.  So, this time I paid attention to what I added so that I can put the recipe on here and find it for next time!

Our Favorite Quinoa Sloppy Joe Recipe                                                                         
by: Carolyn

1/2 or 1 pound ground beef
1/2 c. quinoa
ketchup (if I were to guess, I would say close to a cup of ketchup)
about 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (or regular)
onion powder
garlic powder
1 tsp. liquid smoke
about 1 c. water

Cook your quinoa according to package directions (I cook mine in double the water in my rice cooker).  In a large frying pan, brown your ground beef over medium heat.  Drain the grease and add your cooked quinoa to the pan.  Add the ketchup, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and liquid smoke and stir it well.  Taste it!!  If it doesn't have enough flavor, add more garlic, onion or salt.  Taste it again!! Add more of what you feel like it might need.  Repeat as needed!  Stir it again.  Add the water and stir it well.  Simmer it over medium low heat until you are ready to eat it.  (And maybe taste it one more time to see if needs anything else!).  Serve on a hamburger bun (or hotdog bun, as you see in my picture) with sliced cheddar cheese. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Homemade Bagels (for a fraction of the cost of store bought)

During quarantine, back in April, we practiced our pioneer skills of making everything homemade, and this was one of the recipes we tried at that time.  And it was one of my favorites!  To me, these bagels tasted almost exactly like Einstein Bagels, and when we figured out the cost, homemade bagels cost around .08 cents per bagel, and a fresh, store bought bagel costs $1.80!

Homemade Bagels

1 1/2 c. warm water
2 3/4 tsp. instant or active dry yeast
4 c. bread flour
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 egg white, mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
2 quarts water
1/4 c. honey

In your kitchenaid mixer (or by hand), mix together the warm water and yeast, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Add the flour, brown sugar and salt and beat it on low speed for 2 minutes.  The dough will be stiff and a little dry.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it (by hand) for 4-5 minutes.  Place the dough into a large bowl, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cover it, and allow it to rise until it is double in size, for about 60-90 minutes.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  When the dough is ready, punch it down and divide it into eight equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball.  Press your finger through the middle of the ball to make a hole and shape it into a bagel shape.  
Cover the bagels with a light towel and let them rest for a few minutes while you prepare the hot water bath.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water and the honey.  Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-high.  Drop the bagels in the water and cook them for 1 minute on each side, then remove them and place them on your lined cookie sheets.
Using a pastry brush, brush the egg white mixture on the top and sides of each bagel.  If you want to sprinkle some (or all) of them with cinnamon sugar, or some other delicious topping, now is the time to do it.  Otherwise, they will be plain bagels, which were also delicious.  Bake them for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  The bagels will be golden brown.  

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Honey Chipotle Lime Chicken Bowl with Cilantro Lime Rice

I found this recipe the other day and it sounded so fresh and summer-y!  We are loving grilled chicken right now (maybe because we don't have a kitchen...) and all the flavors in this bowl worked so well together.  It was delicious!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Marinade

2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. chopped adobe peppers in chipotle sauce (get as much sauce as you can)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
pinch of black pepper
2 lbs thin cut chicken breasts

In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients and then add the chicken.  Marinate it for 2-24 hours.  I did mine for most of the day, and it was so tender!  Cook your chicken on the grill or in the oven, or however you prefer.  Slice it in strips.

Cilantro Lime Rice
adapted from:

1 Tbsp. butter
1 1/4 c. rice
2 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. ground cumin

I make my rice in a rice cooker, so I just added all these ingredients to my rice cooker, stirred them, and then cooked them as usual.  

add to your bowl any of the following:

marinated chicken breast strips
cilantro lime rice
sliced avocados
chopped tomatoes
lime wedges

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Chicken Bacon Ranch Alfredo Bake

The name of this recipe leaves no guessing as to what it is!  Ha ha!  But, it is easy and delicious and my whole family likes it, so it is definitely worth putting on here!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Alfredo Bake
adapted from:

1 lb. cooked pasta
2 c. cooked shredded chicken
1 jar alfredo sauce
3/4 c. ranch dressing
6 slices cooked chopped bacon (I actually just used some of my real bacon bits)
2 c. shredded cheese (I used a pizza blend)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, stir together the cooked pasta, chicken, alfredo sauce, ranch dressing and bacon.  Pour it into a 9X13 pan and sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Bake it for 15-20 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Easy 100% Whole Wheat Bread (Small Batch-2 Loaves)

I have never been super successful on homemade bread.  Which is shameful because I come from a long line of amazing bread makers.  I've tried a few times, and if my mom was standing right next to me through the process, it seemed to work out pretty good, but as soon as I was by myself, I ended up with bread that looks like this:
Why?  I have no idea.  But, now that we are in a Corona Virus Quarantine, I am taking this opportunity (and this necessity) to learn to make yummy, normal looking homemade bread!  Someone recently brought me a delicious, beautiful loaf of bread, so as soon as the Quarantine started, I called her and asked her for her recipe.  It turns out I was making it much harder than I needed to.  This recipe kneads it using my Kitchenaid mixer and only rises once.  It kind of makes me feel guilty because it is so easy, but it looks like I worked really hard!

Easy Whole Wheat Bread
adapted from:

5-6+ c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. active yeast
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
2 3/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. honey
1/2-3/4 Tbsp. salt

In the bowl of your stand alone mixer (mine is a Kitchenaid), stir together your yeast, 3/4 cup of the warm water and a pinch of sugar.  Cover it with a towel and let it sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.  After 5 minutes your yeast should look nice and foamy.  Add 3 cups of flour, gluten and 2 more cups of warm water to your yeast mixture and stir it using a wooden spoon.  Cover it with the towel again and let it rest for 10-12 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, oil, honey and salt and mix it on low speed, using your dough hook.  

With the mixture running on low speed, continue adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and it isn't too sticky.  I have found that I need a little more than 6 cups total flour to get mine to the right consistency.  I also have to occasionally use my wooden spoon to scrape the flour off the bottom of the bowl.  From Mel's recipe, she says "A little stickiness is ok, as long as the dough forms a ball and doesn't leave a lot of residue on your fingers."  And that is pretty much exactly how mine turns out.  Let the mixer knead the dough for 5-6 minutes on low speed.  (Once mine is done kneading, I find that it is a little stickier than it was when I started kneading, but the bread is coming out nice and soft, so I think that is ok).   

Turn the dough onto your greased counter (I spray mine with cooking spray) and divide it in half.  Shape each half into a smooth loaf and place it in a lightly greased loaf pan.  The pan size that I have found to be the most successful is the one that is 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 X 2 1/2.  Cover your pans lightly with a towel and let them rise for about an hour, or until they are 1-2 inches above the pans.  Here is another tip that I have had to figure out: my kitchen is never super warm, and my bread wasn't rising very well.  Now, I heat my oven to 200 degrees, and then turn it off and open the oven door.  My bread is rising on top of my oven and this little added heat seems to make all the difference for how well it rises.  Yay!  When your bread has risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the bread for 28-32 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and baked through.  When you take it out, turn it onto a wire rack and brush the top with butter.  And, please eat a slice warm, with butter and honey, and think of me!  

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Homemade Soft Pretzels

 My kids and Dustin are lovers of soft pretzels, and I am not.  Something about the salty bread, dipped in hot cheese just grosses me out.  However, after Grant begging me to make these for a really long time, and in light of the fact that we have a lot more time to bake right now (Corona Quarantine), we decided to give it a try.  This was a great recipe--easy and delicious and actually really fun for everyone to participate in.  I even enjoyed my soft pretzel (of course, I sprinkled mine with cinnamon sugar and dipped it in frosting, so it was more of a dessert, but there had to be a compromise!) 

Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 3/4 to 4 c. flour
coarse salt for sprinkling (I used kosher salt)
9 c. water
1/2 c. baking soda

Mix the yeast, a pinch of sugar and the warm water in your mixing bowl, cover it and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.  Add the salt, brown sugar and melted butter and stir it together.  Slowly add 3 cups of the flour, 1 cup at a time.  Mix it with a wooden spoon, or the dough hook on your Kitchenaid until the dough is thick.  Continue slowly adding the last cup of flour as needed, until your dough is no longer sticky.  If you poke it with your finger and it bounces back, it is ready to knead.  Plop the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 3 minutes and then roll it into a ball.  Cover it lightly and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.  This is a good time to get your water and baking soda solution ready.  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Divide your dough in half, then each of those halves in half again and then do that again (to make 12 equal dough balls-did that make sense?).  Roll each dough ball into a 20-22 inch rope, and then shape them into a pretzel shape by "taking the ends and drawing them together so the dough forms a circle.  Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape."  We just kind of made ours into a knot shape and some were better than others, but that is what gave them their charm.  

Bring the baking soda and water solution to a boil.  I periodically stirred this with a wire whisk throughout the process.  Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water at a time, for 20-30 seconds.  Any more time than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste, which a couple of ours did.  I would lean more toward 20 seconds.  Using a slotted spatula, take the pretzels out of the water and let the water drip off before placing them onto your baking sheet.  Sprinkle the pretzels with the salt (or cinnamon sugar, if you are like me).  Bake them for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees or until they are golden brown.  When they are done, you can serve them warm with nacho cheese, or frosting!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Golden Sweet Cornbread

I have made this cornbread recipe a couple of different times, and it is always so delicious!  It is sweet, moist and my family loves it!

Golden Sweet Cornbread

1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk (I used 1 Tbsp. lemon juice mixed with milk to make 1 cup)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.  When it is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar.  Add the eggs and quickly beat the mixture until it is well blended.  Combine the baking soda with the buttermilk and stir it into the mixture.  Add the cornmeal, flour and salt and stir it until it is smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake it at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.