Friday, January 30, 2009

Hearty Lentil Soup

May your tastebuds be satisfied. Serves about 8
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 potatos, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dashes soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup red wine

  1. Prepare all veggies and mix them in a bowl, leaving green onions separate. Heat some of the oil in a large saucepan and saute' batches of the veggies, dumping them into a large soup pot as they brown. Make sure not to saute too many at once or you'll crowd the pan.
  2. Place lentils, tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, soy and Worcestershire sauces and wine in the pot. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.
  3. Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Stir in the green onions and serve. Top with grated Parmesan and fresh cracked pepper, and a side of hearty bread.

Parmesan Focaccia

After several requests, here it is!
From The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Makes one 12 by 18 inch flatbread
prep time: 10 minutes
total time: 3 hours plus cooling time

For the best flavor, use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 russet potato (8 oz), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 t table salt
1 C water, warm
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the baking sheet
3/4 C parmesan cheese

1. Cover the potato with water in a small saucepan and simmer until completely cooked and easily pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and, when the potato is cool enough to handle, grate it on the large holes of a box grater. Reserve 1 1/3 C lightly packed potato.

2. Mix 3 1/4 C of flour, yeast, and table salt together in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the grated potato, water, and 2 T of the oil until the dough comes together, about 1 min. (Alternatively, stir together with a rubber spatula until the dough looks shaggy)

3. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 min. (If, after 5 min, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 C, 1 T at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.) (alternatively, knead by hand 10-15 minutes.)

4. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 1 min. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Press the dough into a well-oiled 12x18" rimmed baking sheet. Wrap loosely in lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it has nearly doubled in size and springs back slowly when indented with a finger, 45 to 60 min.

6. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Press the dough with your fingertips to dimple it evenly throughout. Drizzle with remaining 2 T olive oil and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan. Bake until the focaccia bottom is golden and crisp, 20-25 min.

7. Slide the fococcia onto a wire rack and let cool slightly before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bread Baking 101

I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but how fun it is to make bread! Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to make some focaccia. I haven't made a lot of yeast breads in my time- a half dozen batches of cinnamon rolls, french bread once in college I think... and that's about it. So I had the ingredients in my kitchen for a Parmesan focaccia and I gave it a whirl! This is all that's left- it turned out pretty good! The bottom was a little more crispy that I'd like, and it could have used some more interesting flavors, but not bad for a first try. Tonight I'm making lentil soup for dinner so I thought a hearty, rustic white bread would be fantastic. I didn't have any bread flour, but my cookbook said I could just use all purpose flour and the crumb would not have the same chew but it would work. So, again, I gave it a whirl. Of course, as everything was in the works, I ran out of flour entirely. Not being much of a baker, there's only so much that fits in my little canister and I used it all up between yesterday and today! If only I remembered that i had whole wheat flour in the fridge- I *just* remembered that right now. What an idiot!! I decided to go ahead and finish the loaf as best I could with it being a little sticky. (see here, the dough is supposed to be tight and smooth.) I figured it would be okay. The finished product: kinda flat and way too brown. Disappointed novice baker:
'Til next time!


Flyin' Bebe!

Hedgehog: Destroyed

That is one proud pooch.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rowen Rolls Over!

Here it is: the first time Rowen rolled over! Enjoy

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What has Rowen Been Up To?

For those of you following this blog just dying for new Rowen news- here's a post just for you!

He's learning lots of new tricks- here he is chewing on a link! Ooooh, what fun! Double handing it, no less.

He loves his little friend Eilee. :o) He watches her and talks to her and reaches out to touch her- (She'd rather look in the mirror- sorry Ro!)

Oooh- a thumb AND a link! Now THAT's talent.

He's getting so good at his tummy time! He can lift his chest off the floor for little bits at a time, and will rest on his elbows for a second or two. What a little super star :o)

Tomorrow he'll be three months old- unbelievable!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Credit Unions Rock

Okay, so this is a bit of advertising, but I wish I'd known about it years ago, so here's a tip for all our friends and family.
Last month, we finally made the switch from Washington Mutual over to Rivermark Community Credit Union. We checked out all the local credit unions, and this one seemed to be the best for what we were looking for. Anyone can join, there's no fees, you can use almost any credit union or 7-11 ATMs for transactions, thanks to the "shared branching network" - It's just like the bank, except get this:
we just got paid nearly $40.00 in dividends for banking with them. That's for December, not for the year.
So why do you still use a big Bank?

Kyle & Haley's wedding

Rowen attended his first wedding last Sunday- Congrats Kyle and Haley! Matt was an usher so baby and I just sat in the back, hoping to be content enough to not make a peep for a couple hours. He fell asleep just before it started and slept peacefully through the entire ceremony- phew!
Aren't weddings fun? Always makes me think of my own- which was four and a half years ago by the way- my how time flies! We were both friends with Kyle in college, we lead worship together at Campus Crusade for Christ, and he was one of Matt's groomsmen in our wedding. It's great to have watched him grow over the years and we're so happy he found his perfect bride!
Happy Marriage!!

Thanks, Auntie Sarah!

I got new fruit in the mail! Auntie Sarah sent me a set of Under the Nile fruits to match my veggies. I love them! hehehe

My Horn can Pierce the Sky!

Too bad the pic didn't quite get the whole box- click on it to zoom in and see her beautiful horn! hahahahaha.
my dad must have been very good this year, he got a "princess unicorn" for Christmas! It was from Dwight.

(aka- my sister & brother in law who felt a little cooped up in all the snow and ice and got crafty with a barbie, a screw, and a little photo shop!) The box was complete with the phrase "my horn can pierce the sky!" Oh man, my sides STILL hurt from laughing. hahahaha

(If you don't watch The Office, this will be totally lost on you. Sorry.)

Christmas Eve with the Happels

Rowen's first Christmas with Gramps & Grams! Check out my Christmas PJ's

I got lots of nice new clothes!
and a bow on my head- which is the most fun of all, of course.