Flaxseed, Millet, and Black Pepper Crackers

How does time go so fast?  I can’t believe it is almost November already.  When I was a young child I remember things taking so long to occur.  All I wanted was for the day to be over so that I could put my halloween costume on and go fill my pillow case up with candy.  Hours passed slowly.  Days passed slower.  Weeks felt like years… especially when Christmas was involved.  Couldn’t we just make it so that everyday in December gave birth to baby Jesus?  And therefore presents… my little brain didn’t quite understand.

Now time seems to flash by, each year leaving me feeling a little bit farther behind in the things I’d like to do, make, see, and read.  There is balance that I’m slowly learning year by year.  Each season offers different adventures, and of course, we want to do them all.  But sometimes that gets overwhelming.  Sometimes that take the joy out of the experience because the doing becomes more important than the being.

All week long I’ve been thinking that I need to make doughnuts for this post.  That was my plan!  I had to get it done.  (And I really wanted a doughnut.. duh).  But as life was happening I began to slowly come to the reality that my time table was not going to work out.  There were old friends to be around and new friends to make.  There was work and workouts.  There was sleeping in a little bit later because its too dark in the morning to actually want to get out of bed.  Doing was not going to happen.  Being was a better idea.  Engaged in the life that was actually swirling around me as opposed to planning for the things that I need to get done.

 Can I real talk you for a second?  I actually made these crackers several months ago and have yet to share them with you all.  Thats real life.  I sort of got excited about other things and these took to the back burner.  Does that mean that weren’t that good?  Absolutely not!  They are full of flavor and texture, perfect on there own or accompanied with a creamy, salty cheese.

These crackers are relatively easy.  Butter gets cut into the dry ingredients which includes two types of flour, flaxseed meal, salt, pepper, baking soda, and millet seeds for an added crunch.

Buttermilk gives this flour/butter mixture a big drink and hydrates them all up!

After a few turns on the table and rest in the fridge, the dough is all set to be rolled out and cut into perfect circles.

A prick of the fork ends the process before the oven takes over, browning these crackers to oblivion.

As far as crackers go, I suppose these could be considered “healthy.”  Whole grains and millet seeds provide lots of fiber and flaxseed have the benefit of omega 3s.

I would mostly just consider them tasty.  The black pepper adds a great savory quality that I think would be offset perfectly with a creamy cows milk cheese and blackberry jam.

Thats just my imagination talking though.

Flaxseed and Black Pepper Crackers

Recipe slightly adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup millet seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.  Set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flaxseed, flaxseed meal, flours, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Add the butter and work the butter into the flour using your fingers.
  3. Make a well in the center of the butter flour mixture.  Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a fork to bring the ingredients together.  All the dry ingredients should be moistened by the buttermilk.  The dough will be shaggy
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead together about 10 times to bring dough together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. When chilled, cut dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Use a 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out crackers.  Prick each cracker with a fork and place on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake crackers for about 15-18 minutes, until slightly browned on the edges.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.  Crackers will last for about 4 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Squash, Pancetta, and Kale Stuffed Rolls

Notes to self:

1.  When you have hard a day eat grilled cheese and hang out with your bf and an old friend.  Laughter and full tummies are inevitable.

2.  Annie’s bunnies are dangerous.  Just because the box says “made with organic wheat” does not mean that they are calorie free.  Drop that second handful and let those bunnies live another day.

3.  Your Iphone is not essential for living.  You don’t have to check it every five minutes and its okay to just to sit (sometimes awkwardly) at a table by yourself without reaching for your phone.  No one posted a new picture on instagram.

4.  Remember this… “Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself … true gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation with myself.  In fact, I stop thinking about myself.  The freedom of self-forgetfulness. … The truly gospel-humble person is a self-forgetful person whose ego is just like his or her toes.  It just works.  It does not draw attention to itself.”  (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller)

5.  When you are questioning what you are doing in life, job, relationships, etc. keep asking questions and keep seeking answers.

6. Stuffing delicious things inside of another delicious thing is always a good idea.

 Lets begin with something that makes everything better… carbs.

The roll part of this recipe is super simple.  Flour and salt make a small “well” in which the water, yeast, and sugar to mingle in.   Oil is added just before the ingredients are combined together.

  This is the dough after about 7 minutes of kneading.  It comes together nicely, although it will be a bit sticky.. thats normal though!  The dough gets placed in a well oiled bowl and covered with plastic wrap.  It sits for about an hour so that it can double in size.
 Acorn squash was cut in half, de-seeded, and roasted with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  After is comes out of the oven use a spoon to scoop out the filling.

Let if cool first.  Or if your impatient you can burn your fingers like I did.
Other filling ingredients are onion, garlic, pancetta, kale, and ricotta cheese.

Its a good balance of good for your guts and good for your (taste) buds.    This all started with the pancetta.  Pancetta is basically the Italian form of bacon.  Its not as smoky as bacon so if you like that smoky get your bacon on.

The rest of the ingredients are sauteed in the pancetta grease.  Recycling at it finest.

 Here is the dough post.

I hadn’t made bread in a while so I forgot the dreamy, silky texture of risen dough… so fantastic

I bet this is what Jesus’ skin felt like after he came out of the tomb… you know, bread of life and all.
  This is the semi-tricky part.  A dollop of filling goes onto eat square of dough.  Then you take opposite corners of the dough and pinch them together, making sure there are no holes in the dough.

Pro-tip:  To get the rolls round, make a C around the ball of dough while its sitting on the counter.  Make a circular motion with your hand, while spinning the roll within that C shape part of your hand.  This should help make the roll round and seal seams in the bottom.
Each roll takes its place in line all bunched up next to the other.  Egg wash is a must if you want that deep golden brown color after the rolls are baked.

Just whisk an egg with a fork and use a pastry brush, or even your fingers, to paint the top of the rolls with a coat of egg wash.

Next, these beauties are baked and eaten.  An unsuspecting dinner roll surprises the unknowing when they bite into bread and find nutty acorn squash, salty pancetta, savory onion, flecks of green kale.

My boyfriend intended to eat 1 then had 3 and finished with 5… I’ll take that as a good sign.

Squash, Pancetta, and Kale Stuffed Rolls

Inspired by Baker and Spice Bakery; dough recipe from Girl versus Dough

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (~115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Filling

  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half and deseeded
  • 4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 11/2 cups dino kale, chopped or torn into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Dash of thyme and rosemary

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silpat silicone liner.
  2. Brush both halves of the acorn squash with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes, until squash is tender when poked with a fork.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Use a spoon to remove the meat of the squash from the skin.  Cut squash meat into small cubes and set aside.
  3. Dough:  In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Pour water, yeast, and sugar into the flour well.  Let stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.  Add olive oil and mix until just combined.
  4. On a lightly floured surface knead dough, adding flour when necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Alternatively, place dough into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and coat with a bit of olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm room for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  6. Meanwhile make the filling:  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add pancetta and cook until just starting to brown.  Add onion and continue to cook until onion is translucent.  Add kale and garlic and cook until kale has wilted down.  Add cubed squash and stir to combine ingredients.  Using the back of a fork, smash some of the squash while leaving other pieces whole.  Stir in the ricotta until combined.  Add thyme and rosemary.  Salt and pepper filling to taste.
  7. Prepare a baking 9×13 in baking dish by lightly greasing it.  When dough has doubled in size, punch down, remove from bowl and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12×15 inches.
  8. Cut the rectangle of dough into 15 squares.  Spoon filling onto the center of each square.  Make sure to use up all the filling.  Lift up the four corners of the dough and pinch to seal.  Seal any remaining openings.  Place roll seam side down in prepared baking dish.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  9. Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake rolls until they are a deep golden brown about 15-20 minutes.  Remove rolls from oven and let cool slightly.  Serve warm.

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

 

Oh man.  I am ready for the weekend.  This week and last have been one of those I-just-want-to-crawl-in-a-hole-as-fast-as-possible weeks.  I’ve messed up what seems like a million times at work this past week or so and it is so frustrating.  I just want to punch myself in the face.  Not really though.

Okay, maybe a little bit.

As a slight perfectionist, I find it quite difficult to make mistake after mistake, especially when you aren’t the only one having to bear the consequences of those mess ups.  My boss is completely nice about it but I hate that feeling of “letting them down.”  And I have a ridiculous time letting it go.  All last weekend my mind would wander toward what I did wrong at work, how I could’ve fixed it, what my co-workers were thinking/saying about me, how I could make it right… My mind would not stop going there.  I was worrying about a situation that I had no current control over, and fretting about mishaps that I couldn’t take back.

It’s true that we have to live with the decisions that we make, or the things we do wrong, no matter how big or insignificant they may be, but there is a point when living with it can cross over to being consumed by it, and I have been consumed.  I find myself being swallowed up by my own thoughts, concerns, future projections, and other’s opinions quite a lot.  I take myself out of the current moment to instead be in a negative space that leads me nowhere.

There is a point where I must remind myself that I am human, I will make mistakes, I will learn as best I can to avoid doing them again and I will let. it. go.

Then I will reward myself with a high five and a slice of chocolate coconut  peanut butter banana bread… whew thats a mouth full.

Let take a quick second to talk about this peanut butter.  Its…  just really delicious.

What could go wrong with chocolate and coconut swirled into creamy peanut butter?  Nothing, thats what.  Absolutely nothing.

Well, except maybe my waning self control once I hold this jar of pb in one hand and a spoon in the other.   I’ll just consider that a tasty mishap.

Okay, here’s the deal.  Quick breads are fantastic for many reasons.  They are very versatile, quick to put together, hard to screw up, and freeze well.  Plus they are delicious.

All you really need are two bowls.  Whisk together your dry ingredients first.  Whisking them before adding them to the wet ingredients ensures that everything is equally distributed.

Next, things start to get wet and wild.  Sugar and eggs are whisked into a lovely mixture.  Add bananas, yogurt, melted coconut oil, and peanut butter.  Things start to get really crazy when the sugar, banana, peanut butter situation invites the dry ingredients into the party.  They mingle and turn into a silky batter ready to be baked.

But first generous dollop of peanut butter gets swirled into the batter.  You can always leave this step out and the bread will still be delicious… but, really, why would you?

Here it is.  A version of banana bread that you will come back to again and again.  The flavors are well balanced, playing nicely and sharing the spotlight.

The peanut butter and banana combo is an obvious win.  The addition of chocolate and coconut are like the moment you get the win, rip your shirt off, and fall on the grass in just your sports bra.

Thats a bad comparison…  does anyone even remember that?

Oh well, make this bread and your tummy will be happy… high five!

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate coconut peanut butter, or any other nut butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon slat
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter one 9×5 in loaf pan or 3 6×3.5 loaf pans (this is what I did).  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until well incorporated. Add yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, and coconut oil.  Whisk to combine.
  4. Pour flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir until just combined.  Don’t over mix!
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan(s), about 3/4 of the way of the pan.
  6. Optional: Put three dollops of softened peanut butter on top of the batter.  Swirl into the batter with a toothpick, skewer, or knife.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes (if you are just using one large loaf pan it will be more on the 60 minute range.. opposite for the smaller pans!).  Test to see if the bread is down by placing a toothpick in the center and having it come out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for for about 20 minutes.  Run a butter knife along the edges to invert from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Bread will last well wrapped for up to 4 days at room temperature.  Alternately it can be stored in the freezer for a rainy day or just a crappy work week.

Caramelized Sweet Potato Foccacia

I get on these kicks where I’ll just eat the same thing every day for weeks on end.

And it doesn’t bother me one bit.  I like routine.  I like knowing what to expect.  I like finding something and sticking to it.

I’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately.  Like a lot.  Every single night, before I go to bed I eat popcorn.  I can’t stop!  I love it.  It’s all crunchy and salty, and virtually no calories.

Who thought of this?  Genius!

Before popcorn it was black beans, salsa, and avocado.  Yum.

I ate oatmeal with peanut butter and honey for like a year straight.  I’m not even joking.  I was obsessed.

In high school I got into cottage cheese with wheat thins.  Then, my freshman year of college I ate Seeduction Bread from Whole Foods practically every night.  (Disclaimer: that is the best bread ever. Ever.)

When I moved to Portland I lived downtown and across from my apartment building was a little coffee shop.  I went there to get a coffee every afternoon and munched on a Kashi bar while I sipped my drink.

There have been Fiber One, diet coke, and hot tea kicks too.  Another recent one is scrambles or frittatas for breakfast.  The list goes on and on.

But I wonder, what does this say about me?

Possibly that I’m loyal?  At least to the food I eat.

How about that I enjoy structure.  Or control.  Hmm, both.

Maybe just that I’m weird.  Thats probably it.  But, I enjoy it all the same.  I’ll get on my kicks and I’ll stay on them as long as I want.

What food kicks do you get on?

I bet if you tried making this focaccia bread you wouldn’t want to stop eating it.  You know why?  Cause it is uh-ma-zing!

It takes a while to make.  Its a process, but its totally worth the time.  Even if you just stop at the caramelized sweet potatoes, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  But I completely recommend making the whole thing.  Here’s why:

Sweet potatoes, cheese, salted pecans, and rosemary.  I don’t think I need to say more, but I will.

The flavors meld together nicely.  The sweetness of the potatoes, the tangy, salty bite of the cheese and pecans, with the aroma of pine-like rosemary lingering in each bite makes for one happy mouth.  Since I used whole wheat flour, the crust is dense and adds a nice texture to the whole dish.

For me, this is a treat.  Not a “food kick”, but a special occasion.  I’ll enjoy it, and I’ll also be looking forward to my popcorn tomorrow night.  Thats just how I am…

Caramelized Sweet Potato Focaccia

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast, from 2 envelopes
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, about 110 degrees
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl, pan, plastic wrap, and drizzling
  • 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (you can certainly use all purpose)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated (about 4 ounces) Dubliner Cheese (The original recipe calls for aged Gouda)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (mine were also salted)
  • 1/4 cup packed small fresh rosemary sprigs and leaves
  • Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (See recipe below)

Directions

  1. Stir the yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let stand until mixture is foamy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add oil, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt to yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low until dough comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Raise speed to medium, and knead until dough is very smooth, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to an oiled medium bowl. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously oil a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Spread dough into sheet. Flip dough to coat both sides with oil, and stretch dough into corners of sheet. Lightly cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until dough comes to just above rim of sheet (3/4 inch) and is very billowy, about 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover dough; sprinkle lightly with salt. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, walnuts, and rosemary. Top with caramelized potatoes, overlapping and pushing them into dough in places. Bake 5 minutes. Rotate sheet; bake 15 minutes. Rotate sheet again; bake until edges of crust are golden, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with oil. Let cool slightly before serving.
Caramelized Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes; cook, turning occasionally, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and stock; simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar and salt; cook, carefully turning potatoes to brown both sides, about 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer caramelized sweet potatoes to a plate. Let cool slightly.