Monday, May 17, 2010

My Sun Oven Rocks!

We are getting to that time of year here in Arizona.  HOT is the only way to describe it.  Ugly, nasty, over the top, ridiculously HOT. (Can you tell I'm not a fan of summers in Arizona?  LOL)  Thank goodness for my lovely AC!  However, that blessedly cool air does not come cheap, so heating up the kitchen by baking is not something I like to do. Enter my wonderful Global Sun Oven.  I have had it for a couple of years now and have used it for everything from roast  to rice but have never tried it for bread.  Since it only gets up to 300- 325 degrees I was afraid bread was off the list.  However, I did some online research and talked to a few people who assured me it could be done.  So, yesterday I decided to give it a shot and it worked.. beautifully! I'm so excited.  I used the master recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day which is our assignment this month in our bread group.  One site I found particularly encouraging was Chef Tess Bakeresse- She also lives in Arizona and has the same issues that I do when it comes to turning on the oven during these months.  Anyway, I pretty much followed her advice including doing the final raise in the sun oven as it heats up.

Raising in the sun oven

I'm still in the learning stages- as you can see, I left the bread in the oven a little too long.  I should have pulled it out at 170 degrees.  But, we couldn't tell any adverse effects- the bread was moist and delicious.  It didn't taste dried out or over baked. 

Here is my loaf of bread.. completely cooked by solar power.  Hubby pronounced it the best bread I've made so far using the HBin5 method.  So, it was a success all around.  (Love it when that happens!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Milk and Honey Craisin Bread

     I am really late in posting this last assignment in our HBin5 group. (Sorry, Michelle!)  But, oh, my!  This is one delicious bread.  I decided to change it up a bit by putting a cinnamon sugar filling in it.  I mean, after all, doesn't that name just seem to beg for cinnamon and sugar??  YUM. I also used Craisins (double the amount) because I happen to LOVE cranberries and jump at any excuse to use them.  I had some white wheat flour in my freezer so I used that instead of the regular whole wheat called for in the recipe  (page 270) in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  The bread turned out moist and tender with a nice hint of sweet raw sugar crunch on the crust.  I was able to get a nice 2 lb loaf as well as a mini loaf- perfect for a quick gift for a neighbor.  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taste of Home Oatmeal Dinner Rolls

Ok, this isn't exactly the type of recipe I would normally use in this blog, but, hey, oatmeal counts as a healthy 'good for you' ingredient, right?  I decided to skip this month's HBin 5 assignment to make a gluten free recipe- Thank goodness, that is not a dietary challenge we have in our family.  However, I wanted to share something with the group.  So, when I was asked to make some rolls to take to a funeral luncheon today, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share one of my all time favorite recipes- Here is the online Taste of Home recipe for  Oatmeal Dinner Rolls
     Hubby and I first tasted these at a potluck dinner party while we were living in Germany a few years ago.  It was love at first bite!  I had been making another roll recipe for years- in fact, had even become fairly well known for my rolls.  But, these oatmeal rolls just blew both of us away.  They are SOOO good!  I begged the recipe from my good friend Liz and these rolls are now my personal choice over my old standby 'Cloud Light Crescent Rolls'.  (I will post that recipe next time I make them.) Of course, the family still insists I make the crescent rolls  for holiday dinners- they are emphatic about them being TRADITION! {Can you hear the fiddle and Tevye singing??)  :)
       Anyway, here is the recipe Liz gave me- the proportions are a little larger than the online recipe:

Oatmeal Dinner Rolls


  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cup quick-cooking oats [do not substitute 'Old Fashioned Oats', it doesn't work. Bet you can guess how come I know that!  LOL]
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour


  • In a saucepan, bring water to a boil; add oats, sugar, salt and butter. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; cool to lukewarm.(110 degrees)
  • In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add the oat mixture and 2 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Continue adding enough of remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down; allow to rest for 10 minutes. Shape into 20 balls. Place in two greased 9-in. round baking pans. [I usually put them in a 9x13 baking pan] Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  • Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire racks. 
  •  Yield: 20 rolls

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I am so excited!  I actually got a loaf of bread, made with freshly milled flour, to raise well. (Doing the happy dance here!)  It turns out my problem may have been the wheat I have been using.  Although, wheat can be stored successfully for many years, older wheat may require kneading to develop its gluten.  At least that's my hypothesis at this point.  This loaf was made with white wheat that I just purchased this week.  (I plan to test this theory later by using my tried and true wheat bread recipe to see how it turns out with my stored wheat)
     Anyway, I am thrilled to finally have success with this method.  This carrot bread is a big hit around here.  It smelled so delicious as it was baking Hubby could hardly wait for it to cool enough to cut. The aroma just filled the house.  I used dried pineapple and Craisins for the dried fruit and pecans instead of walnuts. It is kind of a fun surprise- with the cinnamon and fruit you almost expect it to be a sweet bread, instead it is more like a flavorful raisin bread.  Although, I think it would make scrumptious cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese icing.  Think I will try that next time.  And, there will be a next time!  YUM

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pesto Sunflower Seed Bread

This bread is our favorite so far.  I did change it up a bit by substituting roasted sunflower seeds for the pine nuts simply because we happen to really like sunflower seeds and pine nuts are outrageously expensive right now.  Since I didn't have my own pesto, I used some that I found in a local farmer's market- It was an import from Italy and it looked and smelled divine.  (I did, however, plant 2 basil plants this weekend so I have big pesto making plans for later on this year.  And, I am on the hunt for a red basil plant too..  Yep, BIG plans!)
      Sadly, I am still fighting with this method trying to get it to raise properly.  My first loaf was an artisan type.  It did double in size but instead of rising vertically it simply spread out.  And, I didn't get the big 'oven spring' that I keep reading about. But the aroma was 'to die for' and hubby didn't seemed inclined to complain that it was flat.. his mouth was too full chewing!  LOL  This is one I know we will make often.
      Figuring if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I made the next two loaves in bread tins.  These came out so much better looking.  Someone suggested adding an extra cup of white flour.. think I may try that next time.  In the meantime, I will continue making these breads trying different things.. I love a good challenge!  Besides that they taste so good!!
      If you would like to see what others have done with this bread, I know Michelle would be delighted to have you visit our bread braid at Big Black Dog  Take some time to surf around her blog too- she has a site full of mouth-watering recipes!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Avocado/Guacamole Bread

This was the next recipe in our Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes bread group.  I would love to share the recipe, but can't, due to copyright issues.  Guess you'll just have to buy the book!  (Its a gem, I promise)  First of all, I have to say that this is really good tasting bread.  At least that's what Hubby tells me.  I made a few rolls with about 1/2 lb of this dough that he quickly devoured.  They had a great crumb and a nice chewy crust.  (You'll have to take my word for it, because they disappeared before I got a picture).  So.. that's the good news.
     The bad news is that I am still not getting a decent raise or oven spring.  I added a mashed potato to see if that would help and put in a little extra gluten.  My poor loaves still came out so flat they could pass for foccacia.  Rats!
     I've about decided it must be my oven because I gave some freshly milled flour to my daughter to try and she ended up with a beautiful loaf of Master Recipe bread.. So.. I will be testing my oven before I try the next recipe.
I refuse to get discouraged..I am going to figure this out if it kills me!  LOL
Anyway. since I have much better luck with my filled breads, I used up the last of my dough this morning to make a rolled bread (think cinnamon rolls) that I cut and baked in muffin tins.  The filling is something I just winged- pretty much just putting together things that sounded like they would go with avocados and tomatoes.
Mix together and spread over dough rolled out to a rectangle.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Pace Picante Sauce
Layer on top of sauce:
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1/2 onion, thinly sliced, and sauted in olive oil.
2/3 cup jalapeno Monterrey Jack cheese (reserve a little to put on top of rolls)
Roll tightly starting with the long side.  Cut roll in 12 pieces, place in thoroughly greased muffin tins. Sprinkle some more cheese on top of each roll. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.

These were a total hit for lunch.  Hubby loved them!
(By the way, please excuse the muffin tin.. it is a well used one I inherited from my mom.  Even though it looks dreadful, I have found the older, darkened tins cook more evenly.)  Looks aren't everything-!  :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I won!!

Michelle at Big Black Dogs sponsored a giveaway on her site this month for a five tray Nesco dehydrator.  She put all 350 names in a big bowl and pulled out.. MINE!

How cool is that??  Having never won anything before in my life, I'm so tickled to win something, but, especially, something this fun!  Many thanks to Michelle and Nesco.. Can hardly wait !