Baking Day!

I have made myself a little resolution since my kids went back to school two weeks ago to try to bake on Wednesdays.  On their first day of school I made snickerdoodles and last week I made a loaf of banana bread and a loaf of pumpkin bread.  One for each of the girls because they, of course, don’t like the same kind.  Today I decided to do a little project with the kids.  I made my Mother’s Sweet Christmas Wreath Bread (minus the Christmas and wreath part) and instead we made a Turtle!  I got the turtle idea from a magazine.  This could be made with any kind of bread dough.  After you have kneaded the dough and it has risen once.  Punch it down and make the pieces for the turtle.  You will need the body, a head, 2 arms (do turtles have arms?), 2 legs and a little tail.  Assemble the pieces on a greased baking sheet.  You can make a criss cross pattern with a knife on the shell and use raisins for eyes.  Cover the dough and let it rise again (approx. 30 min.).  Prior to baking make an egg wash by whisking an egg white.  Brush the dough lightly with the wash and then bake according to your bread directions. 

One of the things I will do with this blog is be very honest about how things come out.  The turtle bread is first of all adorable.  Kaylee and I had a good laugh at how big his head is.  The bad news is I decided to try some new things with the bread recipe.  Sorry, Mom!  I decided to use unbleached white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.  The bread turned out, but it didn’t have the same texture and sweetness that it usually does.  You live and you learn.  Kaylee wanted me to promise never to make it without the all purpose flour.  The other problem I had with this might have been due to the flour or the shape of the turtle but I cooked the bread the same time I usually do and it looked done when I took it out of the oven.  Unfortunately, a short while later most of the turtle back caved in.  😦  He was not done cooking.  I probably could have made two smaller turtles and that would have helped with the cooking time also.  This was a really fun project and I will definately do it again.  Sometimes I need to remember to not mess with a good thing, like my mom’s recipe.

Sweet Christmas Wreath Bread (or as my Mom’s note says “Anytime wonderful bread”!) – Dora Olsen

1 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 pkgs yeast

9 cups flour (all purpose white)

2 cups milk

1 cup butter

3 eggs

Combine first 3 ingredients and 2 1/2 cups flour.  Beat.  Heat milk and butter to 120 degrees (I use a candy thermometer).  Mix together with sugar mixture and beat 2 minutes.  Reserve 1 egg white.  Beat in 2 eggs and 1 yolk plus 2 1/2 cups flour.  Beat 2 minutes.  Stir in 3 cups flour.  Knead 10 minutes.  Add remaining flour as needed.  Put in greased bowl.  Raise 1 hour or until double.  divide and shape for wreaths or mounds, etc. Makes 2.  Cover and raise 1 hour.  Beat egg white and brush on top.  Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 25-30 minutes.  Tip – Dark trays will brown bottoms too quick.

AHHHH, Pasta!

Growing up in a large Italian family, pasta was the center of many meals.  Of course the meals started with a meat dish, but one of the things I am learning is that with a little bit of ingenuity you can make a complete meal out of pasta.  Adding a few small touches to your pasta will make all the difference.  As you will quickly find out, my two lovely daughters could live on nothing but pasta so you will see many different variations on this theme.

My first attempt is a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine (August 2008).  Pasta with Peppers and Mozzarella  (See full recipe at link)

Ingredients include pasta, olive oil, red bell peppers, garlic, arugula and fresh mozzarella

This is a pretty basic pasta recipe.  My children both love red peppers and mozzarella so I assumed this would be a big hit.  Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.  My oldest, who is 10, asks after her first bite if there are any nuts in this dish (she thinks she is allergic to nuts).  I assured her that there are no nuts.  After a few minutes she tells me her mouth feels itchy.  I have her stop eating the dish and get something else to eat.  My only thought is that she must be having an allergic reaction to the arugula.  Knowing how my husband has many allergies to weeds, that is my only guess.  Well, I gave her some Benedryl and everything worked out for her.  I don’t feel this dish fared very well, especially with our little arugula problem.  Adding the cheese to the hot pasta and pot made it get really melted and it clumped together with the arugula.  I found that I had to make a huge effort to get pieces of pepper, mozzarella and arugula with the pasta.  If I didn’t have all the different pieces with the pasta it did not have much flavor.  I think in general this is a good combo of flavors but it didn’t quite come together as I had hoped it would.  On a side note, my daughter, made some delicious garlic bagel toast!

Hello, my Name is vegforlife!

Just kidding, my real name is Jill!  This blog is a laid back place for me to talk about my experience with becoming a vegetarian and to share recipes, insights and fun with you.

Hope you enjoy!