Sunday, May 24, 2015

Easy Sourdough Rolls

I've had my sourdough starter going for quite some time now. I really enjoy working with sourdough, and I love the sour flavor it gives to the breads I make with it. The whole idea of sourdough intrigues me. Being able to cultivate wild yeast in my fridge and then bake bread with it is so amazing! Since sourdough does take little a bit of care I'm always on the lookout for a new recipe to use some of my starter. When I saw these easy rolls I knew they would be the perfect way to use some starter and have a stash of rolls/buns on hand in the freezer to pull out when in a pinch for an easy lunch or dinner. 

This recipe is really a winner. Simple, basic, easy and fairly quick to throw together. They turned out light and fluffy and a perfect roll to top with some cold cuts, a large scoop of chicken salad, or your own personal favorite topping. Also great for a bread basket on the side, all you need is a little butter, with some honey or jam if you like a little extra sweetness. A great all purpose recipe to tweak for many different occasions. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Banana Poppy Seed Cake

Simple cakes such as this banana poppy seed cake are good recipes to have in your back pocket just in case you need to whip together a quick dessert sometime. What I like about this cake is that it is a little different than the typical everyday cake. Bananas and poppy seeds are not ingredients I often use in my desserts. Although I do bake with bananas a lot, I usually don't use them in my cakes such as this one which is what initially intrigued me about this recipe. The combination of tender banana scented cake paired with the slightly bitter crunch from the poppy seeds came together in a perfect pairing making this cake a winner. Although this time I opted to pass on the cream cheese frosting that the original recipe called for, I'm sure it would be wonderful atop this cake, making it just that much more special. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homemade Ricotta

I don't know if I've made it clear before, but if not, let's set the record straight, I absolutely love cheese. All kinds of cheese, it doesn't matter, I have never met a cheese I didn't like. So of course I've been interested in making my own. Now I know that making any aged cheese takes a lot more work, and is a bigger investment then I want to make right now, so currently I'm sticking to fresh cheeses that are quick and easy to make, and are ready right away.

Homemade ricotta is about as easy as it gets. You don't need any fancy ingredients or tools and it can be ready to eat in less than an hour. All you need to start is some milk and an acid such as vinegar or citrus juice. A thermometer of some kind and a small amount of cheesecloth are the only other tools that you really do need (and you can get by without the cheesecloth if you have too, that's what happened to me the first time!). After you have this all set, all it takes are some heat and a little time and you'll have a bowl of fresh, homemade ricotta, ready for anything you might imagine!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Brown Sugar Cranberry Oat Muffins

These brown sugar cranberry oat muffins have been on the breakfast menu this past week, and it's been a wonderful week. If you haven't already noticed, I eat a lot of muffins, and this recipe was a winner. The muffins are chewy, buttery and sweet, and the flavor of the brown sugar really shines through as a perfect foil for the tart cranberries. The oats make them hearty and delicious. It is a wonderful combination. The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is that the muffins baked up quite flat. I love muffins with beautifully domed muffin tops, and these definitely did not deliver on that front, but I can forgive them because they are so tasty. With so many yummy oats in the recipe, it's probably difficult to add a lot of lift to the batter. But regardless of what they look like, these muffins are a wonderful hearty breakfast, and a great way to start the day. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Simple Spaghetti Sauce

A week ago I ran my first race of the year, the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon. It's an all female half marathon run in Grand Rapids, MI. This is the third year for the race and I've run it all three years now. It's fun race and I've really enjoyed being a part of it over the past few years. This year the race turned out the best yet both due to the weather and some course changes they've made. The first year of the race the weather was just awful, it was super cold (in the low 30s) with rain/sleet/snow the whole race along with a nice strong wind. Last year the temperature was okay, but I was scared it was going to rain the whole time. This year however, the sun was out the whole race and the temps were in the mid 40s or so. There was a little wind, but it was mainly a cross wind and not too bad, definitely could have been worse! The race organizers have also tweaked the course every year and this year it was by far the best yet. All in all a really nice spring run that I hope to be a part of for years to come. 

Although I'm not a big believer in the need to truly "carbo load" the night before a half marathon, I like to just pretend that it's necessary so I can whip together a big bowl of pasta and feel like it's a requirement that I eat it all! For this race a simple meat sauce was calling my name. This is the type of spaghetti sauce that my mom would make all the time when I was growing up, so for me this is true comfort food. It is so quick and easy to throw together and it always turns out simply delicious. Honestly, this is one of my favorite meals of all time, it will never get old, something I will return to over and over again. The perfect pre-race dinner for my first race of the year. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Banana Oat Breakfast Bars

Currently these breakfast bars are hanging out near the top of my long list of favorites. I'm really loving them. I discovered the recipe a few months back when I was looking for some kind of breakfast bar that was easy to whip together using ingredients I usually have on hand, and was on the healthier side as baked goods like this go. Oh, and of course, they had to taste good too! This recipe easily meets all of these requirements. I love that they are full of hearty oats, sweetened with banana and just a hint of honey. I added pumpkin for extra moisture, which also adds a nice golden color without adding any additional flavor, I promise you won't even notice it's there. Plus, I love that I can add a vegetable into my breakfast treat and don't even notice it. My favorite way to eat these is by cutting them in half lengthwise and spreading both pieces with peanut butter, it's a perfect combination and a perfect breakfast.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Broccoli Kale Pesto

I know there are a lot of broccoli stem haters out there. Honestly, I'm not one of them, I've found that as long as the tough outside layer is cut off at least a little bit that they roast up quite well. However, I've come up with a new use for them, and if you are in the broccoli stem hater camp this one is for you. 

For this broccoli kale pesto I took all the stems from one bunch of broccoli, boiled them up until nice and soft, and processed them with some kale and garlic to make a vibrant, healthy, and delicious spread or sauce. I thought the broccoli flavor was quite mild so if that worries you, have no fear. The combination of the broccoli with the kale was a perfect match. The kale brightened up the color of the pesto, and the combo of the two veggies helped mellow the flavors of both resulting in a nicely balanced sauce. With the punch of the raw garlic added in as well, this sauce turned into a beautiful, healthy and delicious way to amp up a sandwich, a batch of eggs, or a bowl of pasta. It is super versatile and really can be used in just about anything you might possibly imagine.