quick bread

Meet Fred

My sourdough starter. I had named him Stinky but I thought that so disrespectful so I renamed him Fred. Here is Fred in all his glory. Isn’t he lovely?

Fred and I have had a most unusual relationship during the last week. He usually just sits around doing absolutely nothing while I hand feed him every night. Typical, wouldn’t you say? Ah, to be Fred in the Peterson household!

It is that time of the year for me to get Fred going again – all in time for winter baking, I hope.  Making sourdough rolls, bread, even English Muffins is not difficult.  It sounds daunting, I know, but it’s not.  My mother used to make the most heavenly sour dough rolls for family holidays. I try to recreate them and am almost there (look for a future Sour Dough Dinner Roll recipe).

To be sure you have sour dough starter to make your baked goods this winter, follow the instructions below.  I’ll be making some items using the starter throughout the coming months.  Just remember, if you aren’t using your starter, store it in the refrigerator.  Feed once a week with equal parts water and flour and let sit out the night before you use it in a recipe.

Day 1: Make the Initial Starter

4 ounces (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water

Weigh the flour and water, and combine them in the container. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with plastic wrap or the lid (left ajar).

Put the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 2: Feed the Starter

4 ounces (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water

Take down your starter and give it a look. You may see a few small bubbles here and there. This is good! The bubbles mean that wild yeast have started making themselves at home in your starter. They will eat the sugars in the flour and release carbon dioxide (the bubbles) and alcohol. They will also increase the acidity of the mixture, which helps fend off any bad bacteria’s. At this point, the starter should smell fresh, mildly sweet, and yeasty.

If you don’t see any bubbles yet, don’t panic — depending on the conditions in your kitchen, the average room temperature, and other factors, your starter might just be slow to get going.

Weigh the flour and water for today, and combine them in the container. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with plastic wrap or the lid (left ajar). Put the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 3: Feed the Starter

4 ounces (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water

Check your starter. By now, the surface of your starter should look dotted with bubbles and your starter should look visibly larger in volume. If you stir the starter, it will still feel thick and batter-like, but you’ll hear bubbles popping. It should also start smelling a little sour and musty.

Again, if your starter doesn’t look quite like mine in the photo, don’t worry. Give it a few more days. My starter happened to be particularly vigorous!

Weigh the flour and water for today, and combine them in the container. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with plastic wrap or the lid (left ajar). Put the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 4: Feed the Starter

4 ounces (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water

Check your starter. By now, the starter should be looking very bubbly with large and small bubbles, and it will have doubled in volume. If you stir the starter, it will feel looser than yesterday and honeycombed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent. You can taste a little too! It should taste sour and somewhat vinegary.

When I made my starter here, I didn’t notice much visual change from Day 3 to Day 4, but could tell things had progressed by the looseness of the starter and the sourness of the aroma.

Weigh the flour and water for today, and combine them in the container. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with plastic wrap or the lid (left ajar). Put the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F (like the top of the refrigerator) and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 5: Starter is Ready to Use

Check your starter. It should have doubled in bulk since yesterday. By now, the starter should also be looking very bubbly — even frothy. If you stir the starter, it will feel looser than yesterday and be completely webbed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent. You can taste a little too! It should taste even more sour and vinegary.

If everything is looking, smelling, and tasting good, you can consider your starter ripe and ready to use! If your starter is lagging behind a bit, continue on with the Day 5 and Beyond instructions.

Day 5 and Beyond: Maintaining Your Starter

4 ounces (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water

Once your starter is ripe (or even if it’s not quite ripe yet), you no longer need to bulk it up. To maintain the starter, discard (or use) about half of the starter and then “feed” it with new flour and water: weigh the flour and water, and combine them in the container with the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter.

If you’re using the starter within the next few days, leave it out on the counter and continue discarding half and “feeding” it daily. If it will be longer before you use your starter, cover it tightly and place it in the fridge. Remember to take it out and feed it at least once a week — I also usually let the starter sit out overnight to give the yeast time to recuperate before putting it back in the fridge.

How to Reduce the Amount of Starter:

Maybe you don’t need all the starter we’ve made here on an ongoing basis. That’s fine! Discard half the starter as usual, but feed it with half the amount of flour and water. Continue until you have whatever amount of starter works for your baking habits.

World’s Most Perfect Dessert!

Yes, the chocolate covered strawberry is the world’s most perfect dessert.  It encompasses chocolate (and who doesn’t love chocolate?) and strawberries (and who doesn’t love strawberries?) and it’s so fast and easy to accomplish.

In just a few minutes, you, too can whip up these special delights for your family, love of your life, or as is the case with me (sad to say), your co-workers!!  Ideally you will want to make these the day they are to be served.

I start with the biggest, freshest strawberries I can find.  Usually Sam’s Club has some beauties but lately I have found the best ones at my local grocery, Kroger.

I then melt almond bark, purchased from the same grocery, Kroger, and located on the isle where baking supplies can be found.

Depending on how many strawberries I have will depend on how much of the bark I melt.  I usually use the microwave to melt it and do it in 1-2 minute increments, stirring in between, to be sure it doesn’t burn.

I use white almond bark and chocolate almond bark and dip strawberries in either.  Immediately after dipping, decorate with crushed peanuts, candy sprinkles or flaked coconut or drizzle with the opposing color almond bark.  Let dry on parchment paper.  Store in a cool, dry location.

It’s truly so easy and so decadent that the recipient of the fruits of your labor will honestly think you spent all night in the kitchen when, in fact, it was only minutes.

Bon appétit!

Breakfast in a Hurry!

 Baked EggsIn a hurry but still want a filling and hot breakfast? Then this is the recipe for you. You just make your grits, as normal, add a bit of cheese and spinach, fill individual custard cups, add your egg and bacon bits and bake until the egg is set.

This can also be served to guests because, as you can see, it’s quite pleasing to the eye.  Add some fruit on the side and perhaps some link sausage, and you’ve satisfied everyone in your home.  Surely this recipe will bring a smile to your family – anytime of the week.

Bon appétit!

Baked Eggs and Grits
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Beginnings
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup instant grits
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup grated cheddar, divided
  • 4 teaspoons bacon bits
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray four 8-ounce ramekins with PAM. Prepare grits according to package directions. Stir in spinach and 2 tablespoons cheddar. Cook until cheddar melts, about 30 seconds.
  2. Divide grits among dishes. Make a well in each, then crack an egg into each well. Top with bacon bits.
  3. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.
  4. To serve, top with remaining 2 tablespoons cheddar and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 180 Fat: 11g Saturated fat: 4g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 4g Carbohydrates: 7g Sugar: 1g Sodium: 323mg Fiber: 0g Protein: 12g Cholesterol: 261mg

It’s Everything!

Okay, so apparently I have no life. No life in that I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning watching Food Network (my favorite) and Trisha Yearwood’s show is on. It’s a repeat which I had seen before. She is preparing to go to an award show so is eating lightly during the day (which includes a light Waldorf chicken salad and these wonderful crackers) so she can fit into her dress.  After the awards show is over, all bets are off, and she transforms the chicken salad into a delightful panini. She finishes the day with a gorgeous single serving chocolate lava cake microwaved in a mug!

But it’s the crackers that caught my eye. I’ve wanted to make homemade crackers for some time so that was all the inspiration I needed. I hopped up and ran into the kitchen and started working on my own rendition.

They are to die for, seriously, really good and worthy of a remake. That’s how I classify my recipes – if its good enough to make again OR not!  And I’ll definitely be making these crackers again. Next time, I will use my pasta roller to get the dough as thin as possible.

Today, I ate some of mine with, yes, you guess it, some leftover chicken salad from the weekend and some fresh strawberries. It was a perfect light lunch!

Bon appétit!

Everything Crackers
 
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Adapted from Trisha Yearwood's Homemade Herbed Crackers recipe. I would definitely use my pasta roller next time to get the dough thinner than I could just rolling it. It should be as thin as you can get it!
Author:
Recipe type: Breads
Serves: 30 crackers
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried grated onion
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons dried chives
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 2 tablespoon King Arthur Flour Artisan Bread Topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.seeds
  2. Combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, butter and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the onion, herbs and milk; mix until just combined--do not overwork the dough.
  3. Roll out the dough into a ⅛-inch-thick rectangle (or less thick) on lightly floured parchment paper. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle with the Artisan Bread Topping.
  4. Transfer the dough and parchment to a baking sheet and cut into 2-by-3-inch rectangles.
  5. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 crackers Calories: 97 Fat: 4g Saturated fat: 2g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 14g Sugar: 1g Sodium: 97mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 3g Cholesterol: 7mg

 

What to do?

Banana Nut Bread

What to do with bananas that have seen better days?  Well, make banana bread, of course!  I honestly don’t know what else to do with them.  I suppose they could be used in a smoothie, but I had so many that needed to be used immediately or get tossed immediately, so I chose the banana bread route.  It was a great choice!

If you don’t have any ripened bananas, its worth your while to let some get really ripened so you’ll have an excuse to make this delicious Banana Nut Bread!  It freezes quite well and baked into smaller loaves, would make great housewarming or hostess gifts!

Bon appétit!

What to do?
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breads
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups bananas mashed
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350º. Grease bottom only of 1 loaf pan, 9 × 5 × 3 inches. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda just until flour is moistened. Stir in pecans. Pour into pan.
  2. Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing. Store tightly wrapped in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 177 Fat: 8g Saturated fat: 3g Trans fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 25g Sugar: 13g Sodium: 141mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 3g Cholesterol: 31mg

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