Thursday, May 30, 2013

Easy French Bread

My friend Christin was nice enough to teach bread making classes and I learned how to make french bread and it turned out amazing!  So some people have asked for the recipe.  So here goes! This picture is of the loaf I actually made at the class!  I give this recipe 5 stars!

This recipe yields 2 loaves


1 1/2 Tbsp yeast (any yeast)
2 1/2 cups very warm water
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/3 cup oil
6 to 6 1/2 cups flour

1 egg (whisked)


In a large bowl or mixer, combine yeast, water, sugar, salt, and oil.  Mix in half of the flour.  Mix (or knead) the remaining flour in gradually, until it is smooth, and still sticky when you squeeze it but not when you tap it.  (about 6-8 min. on med speed in your mixer)

Allow the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Turn raised dough onto a floured surface.  Lightly dust with flour.  Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into 9x12 rectangle.  Start at the long edge, roll and tuck in, as for a jelly roll.  Seal edge.  Place both rolls seam side down on a large greased baking sheet (or use parchment paper, it's easier!).  Slash top of each loaf diagonally 3 times (or more) with a sharp knife.  Brush with beaten egg, (the more you can brush on, the better).

Let rise 15-30 minutes, or when it looks nice and ready to bake.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, (or until it has been reddish or golden brown all over for around 10 minutes, but remove if it is bordering on burning.)

Let cool for 10 min. before serving (so you don't flatten it!).

Monday, March 04, 2013

Chicken and Biscuits Pot Pie

I found this recipe while surfing through one of my favorite blogs eighteen25.  She was referencing the recipe from another blog that I had never been to before.  You can find the recipe here.  Anyway, as soon as I saw this picture for it, I knew I wanted to eat it!  Which meant I had to make it.  Good thing I'm supposed to cook every night.  So tonight I made it (I cheated a little on things which I'll explain later) but it was so good! The kids ate most of it (it has vegetables in it) and they actually liked it but didn't like the peas (not many kids do).  I give this recipe a 5!

The first part of the recipe is making the biscuits.  This is where I cheated.  I just used a can of buttermilk biscuits and it was great and saved me A LOT of time!  I also added a little shredded cheese to the top of each biscuit before I baked them.

So here's the recipe, give it a try!

Chicken and Biscuits Pot Pie
source: adapted from The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated
You can make this pot pie in either a 13×9-inch baking dish or individual oven-safe bowls (which I find cute but a nuisance) – just bake the bowls for 20-25 minutes.  The filling and biscuits can both be made in advance.  Keep them separate, reheat the filling before adding it to the baking dish(es) then proceed with the baking process as instructed in the recipe.
Ingredients:For the buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter chilled, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk
For the chicken pot pie filling:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 small ribs celery, cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 to 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
  • 3 to 4 cups (about 1 1/4 lbs) shredded chicken
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  1. To make the biscuits: In a large bowl, stir the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together.  With a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter resembles course meal with some larger butter lumps remaining.  Stir in 3/4 cup of the buttermilk with a fork until the mixture forms a soft, slightly sticky ball.  If the dough is too dry, add a little extra buttermilk – 1 tablespoon at a time up to 2 tablespoons.
  2. Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and pull it together into a ball with your floured hands.  Pat the dough out to 3/4″ thickness and cut out 12 rounds with a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter.  Transfer the biscuits to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill until you’re ready to use them.  The biscuits can be made and kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days in advance.
  3. To make the filling:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Once the oil is hot, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer cooked vegetables to a bowl with the chicken; set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the same pot.  When melted, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk, chicken broth, and thyme.  Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and let it simmer for 1 minute to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the sherry (if using).  Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetables and chicken to the pot, stirring until the filling is well-combined.  Mix in the peas and parsley.  If the filling is too thick (you’ll know), stir in the extra chicken broth, about 1/4 cup at a time up to 3/4 cup until the filling loosens up a little.
  5. Pour the filling into a 13×9-inch baking dish and bake for 18 minutes.  Remove the dish from the oven (keeping the oven on and door closed) and top the filling with the biscuits.  Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potato and White bean soup

Last night I kind of made up my own recipe altered from another recipe found here:

I had sweet potatoes I wanted to use up and it turned out really good with great flavor!

I give this recipe a 5!  Although the kids would rather there weren't sweet potatoes in it so maybe next time we'll do regular potatoes.  The nice thing about this soup is you could use any combination of meats and vegetables and I think it would taste great!  Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it!


cooking spray (or 1Tbsp oil)
1/2 onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
6 or more fully cooked chicken sausage links (or other meat of your choice)
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
3 (14.5 oz)cans chicken broth
2 cups water (I just filled one of the chicken broth cans up one time)
2 cans white beans (you could also substitute black)
1 cup half and half


(If using a different type of meat that needs to be cooked, brown the meat first, drain it and then add onions, garlic, etc.)

Spray your pot with cooking spray (or use 1 Tbsp oil).  Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute.

Add chicken sausage to the pan, cook for 2 minutes to warm it.

Add the potatoes, water and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, beans and half and half; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Follow Up Food Storage Taste Test

So I received my 2nd sample from Daily Bread.  They were very nice about it and had no problem sending me another sample.  This time they sent me Chicken a la King.

I followed the instructions exactly as it said on the bag again, adding 1 cup boiling water to the package and resealing it and then I let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Here's what it looked like this time when I opened it:

To me this looked much better than the watery lasagna from my last post.  Now onto how it tasted since that's what really matters!

Here's how it looked in a bowl out of the package (keep in my you can eat it straight from the package for convenience).

As you can see there are red and green things in it (vegetables) but to a kid (namely my kids) that's a deal breaker!  The kids liked the noodles but said they didn't like it overall because it had red and green things in it :)

My husband and I on the other hand really liked it!  I didn't feel like I needed to add salt to it like the lasagna and the chicken tasted great after it reconstituted.  I liked the noodles, the sauce and the vegetables in it.  So after this 2nd round of taste test I would definitely buy more from Daily Bread but maybe just not the lasagna.

Have you tried any of the food from these companies or any others?  Let me know what you like!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Food Storage Taste Test

UPDATE:  Daily Bread called today and said they would send me a different sample to try.  That they were aware of the wateriness of the lasagna and have since revised it to only add 3/4 cup of water instead of a full cup and then to let it sit 10-15 minutes instead of 8-9.

This will be a different kind of post from the normal ones.  Our church has asked us to prepare ourselves in the event of disasters, hardships, inclement weather circumstances, etc.  Part of that preparation is making sure we have a one year food supply for all members of our family.

In the past couple of years new companies have come out with products that are supposed to be ready made meals all you do is add boiling water and you have a meal.  The nice thing that they claim, is that these meals unopened will last on your shelf for 25 years!  Now to me, that's the easiest way to do food storage.  Buy it once (instead of rotating through it as the expiration dates on food come up) and forget about it for 25 years.  But if you need it, it's there and you just add water.

Now I'm skeptical about anything that is that easy.  Wouldn't you be?  This is what your family would have to live on if need be.  Will it taste good?  Will my kids eat it (that's the real question)?  Will it really last 25 years?

Two of the companies that I'm talking about are Daily Bread and The Wise Company.  I'm sure there are more companies that offer this service but these are the two I received samples from.  Both websites will gladly send you a free sample of a meal to try it out for yourself.

Here are the two samples I received.  Just as a side note, I didn't doctor up these pictures like I normally would in photoshop because I wanted you to see what they really look like to decide for yourself.

Each sample was a pasta of some sort.  Daily Bread was a Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Wise Company was Pasta Alfredo.  Both samples were around 300 calories and 11 grams of fat per serving.

Let's see how they did:

Daily Bread (Lasagna with Meat Sauce) Servings per bag: 1

This sample can be made in the bag for convenience.  All you do is add one cup of boiling water to the bag and then ziplock it closed and let it sit for 8-9 minutes, that is after you remove the oxygen absorber from the bag (hopefully you wouldn't forget to do that like I almost did).  I followed the instructions to the T (not very hard) and it may have actually sat in the bag a little longer than 9 minutes as I was waiting for the other sample.

Here's how it looked when I opened the bag.  

I'm not sure if you can see it or not but the sauce was very watery, you can see noodles and some meat and the tomatoes.

Here's how it looked on the plate (keep in mind I strained out the excess water and the white around it is from the other sample)

So it actually looks like it will taste good once it's out of the bag.  On the bag it says for convenience you can eat it straight from the bag.  So that's nice as well.
Upon tasting it though, it seemed really bland like it needed salt added to it.  The kids wouldn't eat more than one bite of it.  But then they don't like tomatoes or red sauce very well.  I wasn't a big fan of it but maybe I just needed to stir it more.  When my husband came home and tasted it, he said it was a little bland but that it was fine (keep in mind his sense of smell has always been partially blocked and therefore his tasting abilities are limited).  His serving had sat a little longer and was maybe mixed a little better than the serving we ate.

Wise Company (Pasta Alfredo) Servings per bag: 4

This sample needed a pot of boiling water (could not be cooked in the bag).  It required 4 cups of boiling water and then you added the contents of the bag, stirred it, covered it and let it sit for 12-15 minutes.    My husband was really skeptical that there was actually 4 servings worth of food in that small bag.  We were pleasantly surprised and even had leftovers!  It made a lot of pasta!

Here's what it looked like in the pot after 15 minutes:

Here's how it looked on the plate:

Upon tasting it, the sauce was really thick and my kids thought it was a cheese sauce (even though it was just alfredo).  Some of the kids had seconds.  They actually really liked this one.  I liked this one better myself.  The flavor was good, the noodles were soft and the sauce was thick.  Again my husband thought this was a little bland too but he liked it fine too (again take that for what you will).

My only complaint with this sample is that it was just noodles and sauce.  No meat, no vegetables.  But since I also have those options in my food storage already, I could easily add meat and/or vegetables to it.

So what's the verdict?  Before my husband tried the samples, I would definitely go with Wise Company.  It tasted better had a thicker sauce and the most important reason I would go with it, my kids liked it.  But after he tasted it, maybe Daily Bread just didn't get a fair shake...maybe...I'll have to do a follow up post.

After pricing both options, the Wise Company is actually quite a bit cheaper on the their packages than Daily Bread.  The difference is that the Wise Company only has so many options which is how they keep their costs low.  You don't get to make up your own packages, you get what is in them and that's it. On the other hand, Daily Bread has quite a lot of variety in their meals and you can mix and match the packages to your tastes.  So maybe we just don't order the Lasagna.

Now to be fair to Daily Bread, I emailed and asked for a sample of something different.  We received the lasagna sample about 2 years ago (which shouldn't matter since the food is supposed to last unopened for 25 years) and we got our Wise Company sample a week ago (I ordered it after I saw a commercial for it during General Conference).  But like I said that shouldn't matter since it has a shelf life of 25 years.  So after we get the 2nd sample, assuming they'll give us another one, maybe we'll like it better.

So what do you think?  Try it out for yourself and let me know if you receive different meals to try and what you think of them.  Here are the websites:

Daily Bread:

Wise Company:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Zuppa Toscana (like Olive Garden)

I needed to use up some spinach and potatoes and I found this recipe on  It's Tim's favorite when we go to Olive Garden so I hope he likes it!  I think it tastes pretty similar!  I would give this a 5 for the sheer fact that my kids ate it!  My changes or notes are in red.


1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage

1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes  (I used less but it still had a kick to it)

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used refrigerated bacon bits)

1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth

6 potato, thinly sliced

1 cup heavy cream (I used half and half and just added a little extra)

1/4 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed (I used baby spinach)


Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. (I don't have a dutch oven, I just used a large pot)

Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. (Since I wasn't cooking any bacon I just left the sausage in the pot and cooked the bacon bits, onions and garlic all together)

Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage; heat through. Mix the spinach into the soup just before serving.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twice baked Sweet Potato Casserole with Bacon

Here's what to do with all those sweet potatoes you've got lying around :)  I LOVE sweet potatoes, but not everyone does.  I'm the only one in our family who does.  Tim will tolerate them but that's it.  Well I found this recipe in the Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2010 cookbook and I just had to try it!  I mean come on it has bacon in it!  It was awesome!  It made me love sweet potatoes even more!  The kids ate it ok but Tim actually liked it!  I give this recipe a 5!  As always my variations will be in red.


6 lb dark-orange sweet potatoes (9 large or 12 medium)
8 oz bacon (8 to 10 slices)  (I used real bacon bits)
1/4 cup Progresso® panko crispy bread crumbs or Progresso® plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 medium green onions, chopped (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil; spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Pierce sweet potatoes several times with fork. Place in pan. Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes or until tender. Cool 10 minutes. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and cut out any eyes or dark spots.

Meanwhile, cook bacon as desired until crisp; chop. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon butter; set aside.

In large bowl, mash potatoes with potato masher. Stir in chopped bacon, sour cream, 1/4 cup butter, the onions, salt and pepper until well blended. Spread mixture in baking dish, or form individual servings in dish with 1/2-cup ice cream scoop or measuring cup. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over top.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bread crumbs just begin to brown.