Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honey Mustard Bread

Not too long ago, I told you all about my red beans and rice adventures, and how after a few days, I craved replacing the rice with something a little more interesting and dynamic.  I (unsurprisingly) decided on bread (I'm so predictable sometimes) and wanted something a little sweet and savory!  Honey sounded like just the thing to add sweetness, and dijon mustard is the perfect compliment!

Round up your ingredients!
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry Colman's mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp active dry yeast

This 1.5 pound loaf does it's thing on the white bread cycle, and is delicious when fresh!

I would like to briefly talk about honey.  I admit to being a little bit of a food snob, but I would like to recommend buying the best quality honey that you can.  There has been more and more information coming to light that a surprising amount of grocery store honey is not actually honey, and due to the lack of laws and regulation around it, can be labeled "honey" when it's little more than sugar water.  The flavor difference between "honey" and real honey is remarkable, and will add something special to your honeyed treats!  Support local beekeepers and honey makers when you can, and they'll reward you with a delicious product.  For a little extra fun, get varieties like orange blossom or clover, which imparts the flavor of the plant the pollen was collected from!  So very cool.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Can't Be Good at Everything, I Guess

What a fail night.

It started out promising.  I came home, turned the heat on, and was excited about trying a new recipe.  Blueberry lemon cake, what's not to be excited about!?  It even looked so pretty as I poured it in to my Bundt pan which is hilariously shaped like the tops of pineapples!

Ooh, pretty!
And that concludes the fun, upbeat part of this post.  It's allllll downhill from here.

I checked my cake after the recommend 35 minutes on the box.  Still soaking wet.  I was alarmed.  My friend Amber reminded me that bundts take longer, so I thought, "oh!  Another 10-15 minutes should do it!"

I checked after 10 minutes.  After another 20.  Another 15.  ANOTHER 15.  After an HOUR AND A HALF, and still pulling the knife out very wet, I thought "well crap, I need to cook dinner".  Fish!  I went to grab my piece of salmon, and remembered that "nooo, I wanted to mix it up, and bought seabass steak!"  Which means...I had to use the oven.  Checked the cake AGAIN, nope, still not ready.  Fine, I'm putting this piece of fish IN the oven WITH the cake, otherwise I'm not eating until tomorrow.  Stupid cake.

I removed my piece of fish from the wrapping paper, and managed to get fish juice on my sleeve.  Great.  I put my seabass in to the oven under the cake.  After a short period, it started to fall apart beautifully, so I took it from the oven.  First bite - GIANT fish bone.  Second bite - MORE GIANT GROSS fish bone.  It didn't even taste good.  It was just on the verge of still slimy.  Normally fish does a bit well right at the edge, but not this fish.  I ate about half my piece.  My husband ate only about half of his.  Stupid fish.

I checked my cake again.  It was starting to turn very dark on the top, and the knife still wasn't coming out clean.  I told myself that I was taking it out of the oven as soon as I finished opening my bottle of wine, and a full 2 hours later, I removed my very dark, yet still sadly undercooked, bundt cake.  I tempted fate, and dumped it on to a cooling rack.

At least the wine is good.  Stupid cake.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crockpot Red Beans and Awesome

I am seriously loving my crockpot.  More and more, I love the smell when I come in the house after 8 hours, I love the ease of putting all my ingredients in and walking away, and I just love the feeling of knowing dinner is cooking itself while I toil away at work.  I also love how quickly my go-to recipes are expanding, and these red beans are another one that I'll be making again and again!

Shown here over Honey Dijon Bread - you'll get the recipe soon!
I will note, this recipe made a TON of beans.  I would probably scale this back a bit the next time around because there are only 2 of us, and we had about 8 full servings - and these are big servings since we eat a lot.  Also, my husband doesn't like to eat leftovers more than once, so if you do the math, he ate 2 of those servings, and I got the other 6.  Yay for bringing my own lunch!  I switched away from eating it with rice after about 4 meals out of the desire for something different, hence the bread.  Plus, making bread gives me something else to blog about.  :D

Collect your ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups red beans
12 oz package of bacon, cut in to 1/4 inch pieces (sausage would also be great in this) 
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
salt and pepper

You'll also eventually need: Rice.

Rather than starting this right before you go to work, you'll actually want to start it the night before by giving the beans a soak.  I simply threw them in to the crock (no heat overnight) with enough water to cover and then a bit extra, and let them sit.  The next morning, drain any remaining water, add the rest of your ingredients (except the rice), stir it all together, set to low and ignore it for the next 8-9 hours.  When you approach the end of your cooking time, make your rice and serve the beans over it.

As you may know, beans and rice are a complete protein when consumed together, and are incredibly filling.  I very often make a piece of meat to be the centerpiece of my meals, but it was not at all required here.  And sure there was meat in this recipe, but I could also see making this without (but substituting lots of spices to ensure lots of flavor).  Makes my belly happy.  :)