Meatless Monday: No-Knead Brioche Buns

It Sounds Crazy But I Made My Own Hamburger Buns!  If I’m going to eat bread, I want it to be worth it!  I want the bun to not just be a vehicle for itsIMG_0656 contents but part of the experience.  So, the other day, Chase asked for sliders and remembering that there aren’t very many good options for buns in this town, I decided to make my own.  I know its crazy but I did and they were delicious!  The recipe is a “no-knead” brioche bread.  It makes 10 large buns but you can make them smaller for sliders.  Just watch your baking time.  In addition, start this the day before you want to eat them.  The recipe requires that you allow the dough to rest for 16-24 hours.

Brioche is normally a long laborious process, thanks to Cook’s Illustrated, they have made Brioche an attainable outcome without a lot of guesswork.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, King Arthur Bread Flour works best with this recipe.  However, other high protein bread flours work as well.

No Knead Brioche Buns

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

7 large eggs (1 lightly beaten with a pinch of salt added)

1/2 cup water, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

16 Tbsp unsalted melted and cooled slightly

 

Directions:

  1.  Whisk flour, yeast , and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk 6 eggs, water, and sugar has dissolved.  Whisk in butter until smooth.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir with wood spoon until a uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute.  Cover blown with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Holding the edge of dough with your fingertips, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle.  Turn bowl 45 degrees; fold again.  Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times for a total of 8 folds.  Cover with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes.  Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times.  After the fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 16 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  Transfer the dough to well-floured counter and divide into 10 equal pieces.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, pat dough into a disk.  Working around circumference of the dough, fold edges of the dough toward the center until a ball forms.  Flip dough over and, without applying pressure, move your hands in small circular motions to form dough into a smooth, taut round.  Add flour if needed. Dough can be tacky.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Arrange buns on prepared sheets, 5 per sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until almost double in size. 1 to 1.5 hours.  Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the plastic and brush rolls gently with remaining egg beaten with salt.  Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers 190 degrees, 15-20 minutes, rotating and switching sheets halfway through baking.  Transfer sheets to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Transfer buns to wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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After School Tailgating…

The boys get out of school at 3pm.  But if you don’t get to the parking lot by 2:40, you have toimages park in Canada and walk through fire ant hills, uneven gravel and weeds to get to the front of the school (It’s best to keep hiking boots in your car for these instances).  Most parents sit in their cars heads bowed to their phones.  I propose: a daily tailgate for all caregivers while we wait for the kiddos to be dismissed!

It is pleasant to sit outside with the light breeze and beautiful flowering bushes and trees.  Why not do that with a beer, margarita or glass of rosé?  I’d be happy to make some guacamole and chips to share.  Why don’t you make a batch of brownies (without nuts though because our school is a nut-free zone!) and we can talk about something other than the beautiful weather here in Southern Arizona.  Who’s in?

It’s not going to get crazy or anything.  We’re not talking keg-stands and open flames!  I’m not going to show up with a smoker and throw on some ribs (we are a vegetarian school!).  Let’s just make this waiting game a little more fun.  It is Friday, let’s get this weekend started the right way!  And, as soon as my backyard is finished…we can just move the party to my house!

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Meatless Monday: Elote – Mexican Grilled Corn

Elote is something I dream about.  Elote is Mexican Grilled Corn.  Being from the Midwest, I am a lover of 20130621-mexican-street-corn-10-thumb-625xauto-334991sweet corn.  As a young kid, corn on the cob with a simple slathering of butter, salt and pepper was sufficient. When I lived in DC, Maryland Blue Crabs (because that’s what they do!) and corn with Old Bay seasoning was standard.

Now that I have lived in the Southwest and Arizona specifically, pungent lime and floral cilantro are the norm.  My favorite place to get Elote is at Reforma, a great restaurant nearby.  They also make perfect calabacitas, which to us Midwesterners is squash.  But, I’m not going out tonight and I feel like eating Elote!  When you mix the bright Mexican flavors of lime, cotija cheese chili powder and cilantro, a whole new world opens.

My other problem is that its not corn season yet so frozen sautéed corn will have to do but I’m using this recipe that I found below as my inspiration.  We often eat grilled corn with just a salad.  But, tonight we have left over pork ribs that I will turn into tacos.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ancho or guajillo chili powder, plus more for serving
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 ears shucked corn
1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
  2. While coals heat, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic, and cilantro in a large bowl. Stir until homogenous and set aside.
  3. When grill is hot, place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total.
  4. Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat corn on all sides with mixture. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.

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Meatless Monday: Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

I get into salad ruts so when I saw this recipe I jumped for joy!  I’ve made it several times and let me tell you, the citrus possibilities are endless!  The recipe calls for red grapefruit, which I cannot eat because it interferes with my birth control pill.  Check your labels friends!  Did you know that grapefruit and pomegranate can interfere with certain drugs?  So, I used blood oranges and naval oranges and upped the amount to 6 total.  You could also use Valencia or Cara Cara oranges.

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.  You know how I feel about Cook’s.  It’s pretty darn wonderful.

Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

2 red grapefruit
3 navel oranges
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarse
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard

4ounces (4 cups) arugula
½ cup golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Cut away peel and pith from grapefruits and oranges. Cut each fruit in half from pole to pole, then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Transfer fruit to bowl and toss with sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2.  Melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer walnuts to paper towel–lined plate.
  3. Drain fruit in colander, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Transfer fruit to platter, arrange in even layer, and drizzle with oil. Whisk reserved juice, shallot, and mustard in medium bowl. Add arugula, ¼ cup raisins, and ¼ cup reserved walnuts and toss to coat. Arrange arugula mixture over fruit, leaving 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup raisins and remaining 1/4 cup reserved walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Gratin

I had a beautiful butternut squash sitting on my counter…all alone.  Every time I passed by it, I couldimg_0225 feel it say to me: “What’s wrong?”

And then Culture Club popped into my head…”Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?”  No.  I don’t want to hurt you beautiful butternut squash!  I want to do right by you and use the right recipe to make you shine!  I’m not sure where that one came from but it could have to do with the fact that Boy George has made an appearance this season on the Housewives of Beverly Hills.

We had dinner at my in-laws’ house and short ribs were on the menu courtesy of my father in law img_0226(FIL).  He is the meat master.  Our meal could have been a vegetarian meal though as far as I was concerned.  We had corn, green beans, the gratin and salad.  I ate all of that first so that I could attempt to suck the marrow out of the bones.  Enjoy!  I was looking for just the right recipe and the rest of the website looks promising too.  Cook’s note: I didn’t have any fresh thyme so I used dried thyme, just halve the amount.  There were a few things that I did differently from the original recipe.  I have made those changes below.  However, if you want to see the original recipe, click here.

Butternut Squash Gratin

INGREDIENTS:

3-4 pound (1 large) butternut squash, peeled
½ cup 2% reduced fat milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (1/2 Tbsp dried thyme)
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup whole wheat or gluten-free panko

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Slice butternut squash into 1/4-inch thick slices. You can do this with a knife, or a mandolin slicer.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, garlic, shallot, thyme, ½ of the parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add the squash and toss to coat. Spray a medium oven-safe casserole dish with cooking spray. Place squash mixture overlapping layers in a 9×13 dish and set aside.
  3. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Add breadcrumbs, remaining parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Evenly spread breadcrumb mixture over squash, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover for 5 minutes to brown the top.

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No Sugar…

I’m on a quest to reset.  So, I will not ingest added sugar, alcohol, or guzzle soda while standing in front Unknownof the refrigerator.  Wait, I don’t do that anyway.  Starting January 2nd, I am forsaking all forms of sugar through the evening of January 28th when we arrive in Sun Valley, Idaho to ski.  It helps that I’m also doing Barre 3 All In, which is a 4 week reset that started on Monday, January 9th.  Check it out!  There is still time!

And, there is a new cycling studio that opened here in Tucson.  The studio is called (r)evolve.  The classes are being described as a nightclub on a bike.  It is loud, dark, and sweaty.  I’m sure there are similar studios around the country so, do a little research if you want to get your sweat on.

One week in, I’m clearheaded, the bloat is gone and I’m sleeping better than ever.  I hate to admit that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day, I had been drinking almost every night.  Yikes!  It had become a habit, a ritual.  With social engagements and the general revelry that comes with the season, I was taking full advantage of the excuse to imbibe.  Now that the kiddos are back in school, I have a good block of time to focus on working out, going to the grocery store, meal prep, and of course read!   More on that in another post.

I know that when the day comes, I’ll be all in about having a cocktail, but there is plenty of evidence that suggests that a month off from alcohol can do wonders for your liver and your general well being.  Check out this article from Outside Magazine.

I’m also very well aware that I could benefit from forsaking sugar on a regular basis.  I am not normally a sugar fiend, although I enjoy desserts immensely.  I am going to limit my desserts for the most part so that I can truly enjoy them.

What are you giving up for January?  Or, more importantly, what are you doing to make yourself better in this new year?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Meatless Monday: Classic Minestrone

For the ultimate reset, make this soup and feel healthy and satisfied.  My meat loving boys loved this soup!  I made it one afternoon prior to a date night and it was a hit.  I forgot to take a picture of it but trust me, it is delish!  It is a Cook’s Illustrated classic recipe.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 small leeks or one large, white and light green parts sliced thin crosswise (about 3/4 cup) and washed thoroughly

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into a small dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 small onions, peeled and cut into a small dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 medium celery ribs, tried and cut into a small dice (about 3/4 cup)

1 medium russet potato, washed and cut into a medium dice (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into a medium dice (about 1 1/4 cups)

3 cups stemmed spinach leaf, cut into thin strips

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, packed in juice (open the can and use your kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes into small pieces

8 cups water

1 parmesan cheese rind, about 5×2

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

1 15 oz can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup basil pesto or 1/4 cup mixture of EVOO three garlic cloves and herb mixture (fresh or dried) of rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil.

Directions:

  1. Bring vegetables, (except for spinach) tomatoes, water, cheese rind and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in a soup kettle or pot.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender but still hold their shape, about 1 hour. (soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.  Defrost if necessary and reheat before proceeding with recipe).
  2. Add beans and spinach and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Remove pot from heat.  Remove and discard cheese rind.  Stir in pesto (or herb mixture).  Adjust seasonings, adding pepper and more salt if necessary.  Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately.

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Water? OR Pee?

In case you walk into a bathroom used by boys and come upon a puddle, a splash, or drop of liquid, ALWAYS ASSUME IT IS PEE.

I walked into the boys’ bathroom and found what Andrew described as water from his water bottle.  He imageswasn’t fooling me, the boy has no control over that thing he was given.  I immediately assumed it was pee and began cleaning up accordingly.  I didn’t see a water bottle anywhere near his room.

There is nothing more disgusting than a bathroom used by little boys.  The Lambda Chi house at The University of New Mexico would have given the boys’ bathroom a run for its money, but these boys have no control over their bodily excretions. I clean their bathroom from top to bottom EVERY OTHER DAY!  It is amazing how much urine can collect on the walls, floor, cabinets and toilet in that short time.

The mirrors constantly look like someone has smeared mayonnaise all over them.

The sink has clumps of toothpaste hardened to the sides.

I am doing my best to keep up with all of it but I do not have enough time in the day to keep watch ba-supplies1over that bathroom.  Maybe I should set up an attendant station in there and charge them a fee like certain bars did I went to in college.  There was always this smartly dressed over made up woman sitting on a stool in the bathrooms with a collection of toiletries available for a nominal fee.  It was always a very uncomfortable situation for me to encounter, and I never used anything that I recall but I always handed that gal a buck because…who wants to sit in a bathroom at a bar working on tips from drunk chicks?

In the process of raising these boys, I truly hope that I can teach them to appreciate a somewhat clean bathroom.  I don’t think they’ll truly understand the merits of a clean bathroom until they have to impress a future partner.  Most of the guys I came across in my single days did not.  I don’t expect it to be perfect just not disgusting.

Do you have any tips, thoughts or stories about teaching your boys the finer details of bathroom cleanliness?  Post in the comments section below!

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Cold Weather Food! Easy Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce

Now that the weather is a bit cooler in Southern Arizona, there are a few things I like to do: wear more clothing than just a tank top and shorts, drink red wine, and make casseroles!  The highs have only been in the upper 50’s so, this is perfect weather for lasagna!  The recipe below is from Cook’s Illustrated, one of my trusted sources for recipes.  This one will NOT disappoint.  I served this with sautéed broccolini and my All Kale Caesar!

Easy Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce

Ingredients:

Meat Sauce

1 Tbsp EVOO

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)

6 medium cloves garlic, minced, (about 2 Tbsp)

1lb mix of the following meats: ground beef, veal, and pork sausage

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ up heavy cream

1 28oz can tomato puree

1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained

 

Ricotta, Mozzarella, Pasta Layer

15 oz ricotta cheese or cottage cheese (1 ¾ cups)

2 ½ oz grated Parmesan cheese (1 ¼ cups)

½ cup chopped fresh basil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

12 no boil lasagna noodles (from and 8 or 9 oz package)

16 oz whole milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)

 

Instructions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt and pepper; cook breaking meat into small pieces with a wooden sppon until meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes.  Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes.  Add pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside.  (Sauce can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.
  3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup parmesan, basil, egg, salt and pepper in medium bowl with fork until well-combined and creamy; set aside.
  4. In a 9×13 baking dish, smear ¼ cup meat sauce over the bottom of the dish. Place 3 noodles on top of sauce.  Drop 3 Tbsp ricotta mixture down the center of each noodle.  Level by pressing flat with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.  Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce evenly over cheese.  REPEAT layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and sauce two more times.  Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup mozzarella, then with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.  Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover lasagna.  Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil.  Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes  Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

 

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Kid Friendly Meal: Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

Do you want an easy, kid friendly meal?  Good.  Here it is.  I found the original recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, which painstakingly tests recipes to improve them.  The first time I made it I only had ground turkey, so I skipped a couple of the steps and augmented one of them to fit my tastes.  They are outstanding.  I served the lettuce wraps with coconut rice, black beans and steamed green beans.

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (about 1lb) trimmed of silver skin and fat, cut into 1″ chunks

2 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp white rice

1/4 cup low-sodium broth

2 medium shallots peeled and sliced into rings to use raw or minced to cook

3 Tbsp juice from two limes

2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp red peper flakes (optional for kiddos)

3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole

Directions:

  1. Place pork chunks on a large plate in single layer.  Freeze meat until firming starting to harden around the edges but still pliable, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Place half of the meat in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, 5 to 6 1-second pulses. Transfer ground meat to a medium bowl and repeat with remaining chunks.  (Alternately, place 1 lb ground turkey into the bowl)  Stir in 1 Tbsp fish sauce into ground meat and marinate, refrigerated, 15 minutes.
  3. Heat rice in small skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Grind rice with spice grinder or mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal.  You’ll have about 1 Tbsp rice powder
  4. Bring broth to simmer in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pork and cook, stirring frequently until about half of pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 tsp rice powder over pork; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until remaining pork is no longer pink, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer.  Transfer pork to large bowl, let cool.  10 minutes.
  5. Add remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce, remaining 2 tsp rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to pork; toss to combine. Serve with lettuce leaves.

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