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 !

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love This Site!

I was surfing last night and stumbled across this fascinating site:  The Knead For Bread  I love the variety of breads... Every thing from Triple Onion and Bacon Buns to Carmelized Black Walnut Bread or Potato Sour Cream and Chive Bread plus some fun new ideas for forming dough.  The only sad thing is that the last entry was November of 2009 so its not an ongoing project.  Anyway, I had a grand time rummaging thru all the posts.. quite a few of their recipes went on my 'gotta try!' list.  Sigh.  So many recipes, so little time!

I'm still waiting for that avocado to ripen.. Oh, wait.  I just checked it again.  Its perfect!  I'm off to mix up some Avacodo-Guacamole Bread.. (doesn't that sound good??)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rosemary Grissini

Ok, so this Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil dough only lasts for 7 days in the fridge.  Today was day 7. I knew I had enough for another Foccacia and, since I still had some sauce and goat cheese left- that was a no brainer. Hubby LOVED that Southwest Foccacia!

But, I still had 1/2 pound left.  What to do, what to do... I know..  Make some Grissini!  (Isn't that a lovely name for skinny bread sticks?).  Actually, some Rosemary Grissini with fresh rosemary right out of my back yard. The directions say to roll the dough into a rectangle, 1/8" thick, then cut strips 1/8" wide, brush w/ olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and Kosher salt. I decided to brush with oil and sprinkle with rosemary before cutting..Just seemed to make more sense to me.  And, it worked fine.  The tricky part was transferring the dough to the parchment.. it was thin to start with, but it s-t-r-e-c-h-e-d as you moved it over.  Talk about a challenge getting those little critters moved before they stretched too far and broke!  You quickly get the idea that you have to move fast. (obviously, I should have rolled out the dough on the parchment in the first place.) My mom always said if there was a hard way to do it I would find it. LOL  Anyway, I finally got them situated on the parchment, sprinkled the salt on, and, into the oven they went.  Ohhh, the aroma!  My whole house smells divine! I think I may not have cooked them quite long enough though.  The recipe said they would crisp as they cooled and mine are still a little bendy in places.  But, they taste good (according to Hubby) so that's the important thing.  I will be really glad when this diet is over and I can taste these wonderful things coming out of my oven!  (I have a little cache of slices from the last 2 recipes frozen and waiting for me)  In the meantime, I will just enjoy the experience of making all these fun things and feast on the sights and smells.  YUM

I can hardly wait to try the Avocado Guacamole Bread that's coming up next!  In fact, I have an avocado ripening on my counter right now...

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Mixed Bag

I have an electric wheat grinder/bread mixer that I love. Its called a Mill and Mix and, sadly, they don't make them anymore.  For many years I made bread weekly with this handy friend.  However, when we moved overseas it didn't make the cut of things to take.. just too heavy.  So, it has been in storage for 10 years.  Now that we are back home it is good to have it cleaned up and functioning again. ( Have I mentioned before I LOVE wheat bread?  LOL)  Anyway, I find I'm having kind of a struggle figuring out how home-ground wheat flour works with HBin5.  Last week I made Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread and weighed the ingredients instead of measuring them.  The dough was WAY too wet.  (sorry, bad blogger- I forgot to take a picture)  The bread didn't raise very well and was kind of crumbly.  Soo....  this week our assignment was Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil.  I decided I would just measure the ingredients and see what happened.  Well, this time the dough was way too dry.  I got no raise at all during the initial 2 hours.  Okay.  I added water.  A cup and a half of water... maybe a bit more. A little improvement after another 2 hours. So, I put it in the fridge overnight.  Next morning, I decided I would try a loaf to see what would  happen.  Well, the results were disappointing, to say the least.  The heavy, 2" high brick I pulled out of the oven went straight into the garbage!! ERG!   I then decided to add some all purpose flour and about a teaspoon of yeast in a 1/2 cup of water with some agave mixed in. Finally, I got a decent raise!  Back in the fridge it went for another night's rest.  The dough looked and felt so much better, I began to think I just might pull this off.  Not willing to try a loaf again, I pulled out an old favorite recipe for pocket bread.
Broccoli Spinach Turnovers. 
10 oz frozen spinach
10 oz frozen broccoli
1 cup fresh mushrooms
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup Swiss cheese- grated
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack with jalapenos- grated
1 or two cups cooked chicken
2 loaves Rhodes Frozen Bread

-Cook the spinach and broccoli.  (I just throw them into the microwave for abt 3 minutes.) Drain well.
-Chop, then saute the mushrooms in 1 Tbsp butter. Cool.
- Combine all ingredients except bread dough.
-Thaw bread.  Cut each loaf into 6 portions.  Roll each piece into a circle about 1/8" thick.. Spoon 2 Tblsp of filling onto 1/2 of circle.  Pull the other half of dough over the filling to make a half moon shape.  Pinch edges to seal.  Cut 2 slashes in each piece.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake 10-20 minutes at 350.

Success!  They turned out great.  Hubby, who is not a big fan of whole wheat bread, ate 3!  I think next time I will weigh the flour and then just keep adding a little flour till it is of the right consistency.  Hopefully, I am slowly getting the 'feel' of what this dough should be like.
The next bread for this time was a Southwestern Focaccia.  With many people in our group finding great success making this dough into flat bread, I decided to make this recipe exactly as it is written. Hubby is a big fan of Mexican food and with the topping ingredients of tomato, onion, poblano pepper, cumin, chili powder and goat cheese, this one seemed right down his alley.  And, sure enough, he loved it!
Right before I put it in the oven..
Ready to eat.
So, all in all, this assignment was a mixed bag for me.  Some bad, some good.  But, always learning!  Who knows?  I just may end up a HBin5 bread baker after all..  (I'm sure having a grand time trying!)  Check out what all the others are doing with this recipe at Big Black Dog 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

BEET Bread.. Really?

Yep, Red Beet Buns to be exact.
These were our assignment for Feb 15.  I loved making these!  First off, it was a great excuse to use my brand new Cuisanart food processor to grate the fresh beets (worked like a charm!) and second, the dough  was so pretty.  The beet juice dyed it this lovely pink color- perfect for Valentines Day!   Beets are one of my favorite vegetables so I wasn't as leery of this recipe as a lot of my fellow bakers were.  As it turned out, beets were not the dominant flavor at all.  Instead they had a slightly  onion-ey taste. Delicious!  The day I made them, my newlywed daughter and her husband came over for dinner.  I had the table all set with my red dishes and pink crocheted tablecloth.. it was nearly Valentine's Day, after all.  :)
My son-in-law is not a real adventuresome eater, so I was a little nervous about what he would think of red bread.  But, he bravely took one then kind of hung back to see what everyone else's reaction would be.  Hubby and daughter had no such reservations.  They took one bite and both declared them a winner.  They loved them!  THEN I told her what was in them.  She started laughing and said it was a  good thing I didn't tell her beforehand because she HATES beets. hmmm.. didn't remember that.  By this time sil gave them a try and decided he liked them too. Hooray!  HBin 5 pulls through again. This one will definitely be on my 'make again' list!  Would love to share this recipe but can't due to copyright issues.  But, I heartily recommend the book- Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  The recipe is on page 180.  If you'd like to see what the other great cooks did with this dough you can check it out  here.  A big thanks to our noble leader, Michelle, for picking this fun recipe!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nothing Daunted...

The next recipe we were assigned was Whole Grain Challah With Cranberries and Orange Zest.  Can I just say YUM???  What is not to like about the combination of cranberries and orange?  This one is definitely going on my 'make again' list!  One of the funnest things about this bread was getting to learn how to braid a Challah loaf.  Who knew you started in the middle?? Youtube has several excellent videos but, for some reason, I can't seem to open any of them today.  Anyway, I had such fun learning to braid that I simply made 2 Challah loaves and didn't do anything else with this dough.  I served it one night when we had company for dinner and it was a hit all around.  We gave the other loaf to our newlywed daughter & hubby.  They sliced it and made French Toast.. which "was to die for".  I think we can definitely give this one 5 stars.

Not An Auspicious Beginning

First off, I should say I LOVE whole wheat bread.  So I was really excited back in November when I heard about a new book coming out with a revolutionary way to make it.  (I Read about it at Kalyn's Kitchen) Of course, I immediately began surfing the web for more information and came upon a bread group that was just being organized based on the book.  It is sponsored by Michelle at Big Black Dog.  I've never done anything like this so I was, and am, very excited about it.  This is the way Michelle described the group:
   "The mission of HBinFive is to bake our way though Jeff and Zoe's new book, "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" which will be available for sale October 27, 2009. "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" is basically the same technique as in their first book but takes the method one step further and incorporates whole grains and healthy ingredients and of course there's all new exciting recipes as well. I know baking every recipe in a book sounds like a daunting task, but as a group, one recipe at a time and the support of other HB5ers, it will be fun!" 
I immediately ordered the book!  In the meantime, Jeff and Zoe kindly gave Michelle a preview recipe for "Pumpkin Pie Brioche" (how yummy does that sound??)to get us started.  I could hardly wait!
     It turned out, our kids were coming into town for the week before Thanksgiving and that seemed like the perfect time to begin this adventure.  So, I eagerly mixed up my first batch of this new bread the 1st evening they were here. Unfortunately, I must have gotten a little distracted by my adorable grandchildren as they prepared for bed (goodnight kisses are never discouraged by this grandma!) because I left out a little minor ingredient..  Totally unaware, I let it raise for the 2 hours and tucked it into the fridge.  The next morning I pulled it out and began to form my dough.  First I made 2 small loaves.

Then, I did a version of the ever popular 'monkey bread' by rolling small balls of dough, dipping them in melted butter and then a cinnamon sugar mix.  I put them in my mini bundt pans. 

They both baked up so pretty. I was feeling pretty good about this new bread.

Well, these looked so good that I decided to use the last of my dough to make a filled bread for dinner.  I put together a sausage/apple/onion filling and  rolled out a rectangle of dough.  The filling went into the middle.  Then I cut the sides every inch and braided them over the filling.  It ended up looking like this:

I baked it up and proudly served it to hubby.  T'was then we discovered which little ingredient I had forgotten the night before. The ...saltOops.  He gamely struggled thru his piece by opening it up and generously salting the filling.  But, needless to say, the rest of my beautiful bread went into the garbage.  Lesson learned?  Never, ever, EVER forget the salt!