Bread and Butter

By Michelle Plummer

You can smell it now, the yeast, the flour and then the aroma of BREAD.

I have been making bread for what seems forever, up until a couple of years ago, all the bread we ate was from me, bread in a bag-never. The bread making process is simple and fool proof. Actually I think the bread talks your through the process.

Basic Italian Bread: ( in food processor)

3 cups King Arthur Bread flour                                   3 swirls of olive oil

2 tablespoons fast acting yeast                                  1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. kosher salt                                                         about 1 ¼ cups warm water

Place flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil in food processor and mix for 10 seconds.

With machine running, slowly add warm water, as the dough is being mixed the sound will from sand to flop, flop, flop and pulls away from the side of the bowl; stop adding water, continue to ‘knead’ bread for a count of 30.  Stop.  In a resealable bag place the bread and remove the air and seal.  Allow to rest in a microwave (do not turn on) until doubled in size.  Open bag, punch down; knead 5 times and form into a loaf; place on baking sheet, cover with kitchen towel and allow to rise until double in size.  Place in preheated 400 degree oven and bake until golden brown and when thumped, the loaf sounds hallow.  Remove from oven, cool for 20 minutes and serve warm with cheese or butter or even plain!

Jazzed up Italian bread- (focaccia)

Use the same ingredients above and add any combination of the following: 3 tbsp. Italian herb blend, ½ cup Parmesan cheese (shredded if you have it), sun-dried tomatoes, olives, onions, roasted garlic—use your imagination.

Add all of the ingredients about to the dry mixture and then begin adding the warm water.  It may take a bit more water.  Follow the same directions as above, but with this dough you can make a round focaccia or small rolls, or 2 loaves…have some fun, but this is delicious.  When it comes from the oven be sure to have a small plate of olive oil with herbs for dipping!

This is a staple in my house, the other is King Arthur’s Oatmeal Toasting Bread. This is simple loaf bread and the recipe is attached.  I make a few changes for my family of using the butter only, using brown sugar and adding dried cranberries.   This toast with a glass of milk is perfect for breakfast on the go!

Several years ago I took a baking class at King Arthur and found that the flour, the recipes and the help are fool proof.  When you have a question, they are right there, yes at 6 am on Thanksgiving morning to answer questions.

Breakfast Benefits

By Diane Ruyack

You and your children will feel full longer and may get less hungry throughout the day if your first meal has protein-rich foods, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, low-fat dairy products or lean meat, and fiber-filled fare, such whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, fruit and vegetables. These foods appear to have more staying power than highly processed foods such as bagels, muffins, doughnuts and sugary cereals unless you add cheese, yogurt cheese spread and/or milk to them.

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Chocolate Shake Day- September 12th

By Michelle Plummer

Returning from the Indiana State Fair and working at the Dairy Bar, this topic was perfect for me!  After selling more milkshakes than I can count and most of them chocolate, I feel that I have quite a bit to say about this great day!  Real or not, I don’t need much to talk about shakes and with chocolate being a food group (right? someone will agree with me) it makes the perfect marriage! Everyone has an opinion on the perfect shake from the type of ice cream, the flavor of ice cream, the chocolate- hot fudge or syrup, milk or cream, ice cream first, milk first and then to toppings; whipped cream, nuts, cherry or other berry, oh my!  And, then there are the endless additives of fruit, nuts and flavorings!  Let me provide you a variety of shake recipes and you tell me what is your favorite!

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Using Up Garden Veggies and Herbs

By Michelle Plummer

Using up Garden Veggies and Herbs (mostly Herbs)! It is not too late, with the past rain and sun there is going to be a final bounty from our gardens before the first frost!

Looking out my kitchen window I have bunches of sage, rosemary and basil just crying for attention and a good ‘hair cut’! The tomatoes are in all shades from green to bright red and the peppers are doing well.

I hate to say I lost the fight on cucumbers and lettuces (I know they are a spring time product, but I was sure I would have time to pick each evening after I came home from the fair… never mind, best made plans you know!

Back to what I can work with and how I can make what is bountiful last over the winter. Pesto comes to mind right off, this vibrant green sauce is wonderful over pasta or just dipping parmesan cheese bread into with a glass of wine. The fresh taste of the pesto reminds you of your garden, the cheese has many benefits and the wine just makes you warm like the summer day picking the herbs. Pesto is easy and there is a recipe below, but I really like making Colt’s Pesto Chicken Casserole, it feeds a crowd which is great when the game is on and it is simple enough no one is in the kitchen all day!

Colts Pesto Chicken Casserole

8 ounces of cooked pasta (any shape)

8 ounces of homemade pesto (more if desired)

1 cup grated Parmesan

½ cup sautéed onions (in butter of course)

½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes

6 chicken breasts- sautéed in the onion butter from above, cut into pieces

Place cooked paste in baking dish, place chicken over pasta. Combine onion, tomatoes, and half of the Parmesan and place over the chicken and pasta Pour pesto over the dish and top with remaining pesto! Bake 40 minutes until warm and bubbly at 350 degrees. Serve hot with buttered bread and Enjoy! Serves 6-8 This is a delicious way to get your dairy, antioxidants and all those other great ‘healthy’ foods in one dish and no one will know if you don’t tell them! You will just know that you had one more great way of showing off your green thumb from the bounty of your garden that now is just a few twigs and weeds! Start planning for spring; it will be here very soon.

OH by the way here is my best Pesto recipe: 1 ½ cups tightly packed basil along with ½ cup assorted (what is left) herbs from your garden, 6 cloves garlic, ½ cup walnuts, ½ cup pinenuts, salt and pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper all packed into a food processor. With the blade running add about ¾ cup olive oil until you have a thick gravy consistency. Place into a freezer container and add olive oil over the top to keep the great green color. Freeze for 1 year, but I am sure you will use before then. Thaw and use with one of the suggestions above.

Panini Anyone?

By DeDe Hausmann

August is National Panini Month and if you haven’t tried a PANINI, you are missing out! Get out of the sandwich rut and try a PANINI.  It can be very healthy if you make it with whole grain bread or rolls, a lean protein such as cooked beef, pork, poultry or fish, veggies and fruits (yes I said fruits), low-fat cheese, and whatever other goodies you choose to add.  Do note that nutrient-rich cheese in a Panini is very important for as the cheese melts, the flavors of the other ingredients come alive!!!

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Anti-Boredom Month

By Mary Nicholson 

When the topic of this blog came up, I found out very quickly the cure for boredom.  Write a blog about it and you can spend hours upon hours of checking out sources of anti-boredom ideas!  My goodness, with places like Pinterest, or just googling an idea, a person could spend their entire free time sitting at the computer, learning all there is to know in the cyber world.  It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re going from one website to another then another, following this link or that.

But sitting for long periods really isn’t a good idea.  It’s important to get up and move frequently.  There are plenty of other ways to keep from being bored.  When I was growing up, it was a time and place where, during the summers, we really could be outside, unsupervised, most of the day.  My sister and I spent much of our time exploring the fields around our house or pretending the propane tank was a horse, riding it like we were Dale Evans.  There was a reservoir near the house, and my brother Jim was quite the angler.  He was very patient in teaching me how to bait a hook with a worm and how to put the bobber on the line.  Even when all I managed to “catch” were sticks, he was patient in getting me untangled and back in business. Continue reading

A Festive and Nutritious Cinco de Mayo

By Kimmi Devaney

Cinco de Mayo is upon us! Are you planning to get together with friends and family? Possibly over margaritas and some delicious food? We have some great recipes that are sure to be a hit with your guests.

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