Friday, September 28, 2012

Holla For Challah!

My children just finished a unit on the Roman Occupation of Israel thru the fall of the Roman Empire.  I love our curricula because it has some "out of the box" thinking of how things can coincide with learning.  My favorite is the Cooking Lesson at the end of each unit.  Sometimes scary, usually fun, always educational.  And most certainly, when done correctly, they are DELICIOUS!!!!

I confess, baking bread fills me with terror.  There are so many things that can go wrong.  The wrong flour.  Dead yeast.  Wrong temperature or humidity outside.  Granted, I'm actually a fairly good baker, but I'm still afraid of bread.

With fear and trepidation, I approached the end of the unit and saw the Cooking Lesson looming in the distance.  I shopped for the ingredients I needed (the only thing I had to source elsewhere was the Sesame Seeds - although Aldi does sell them during the Chinese New Year season).  Our Aldi has recently added yeast to it's shelves.  Long awaited for me, I'm glad it's there, and it's so inexpensive!  It's only .79 for 3 packages!  WHOOOO HOOOO!!!!

With all three kids eager to make bread today, we dove in, head first.  Came out covered in flour, but it was fun (once we stopped arguing over who's turn it was to do what step!).  I admit that the 8 minute need for kneading made be very, very thankful for my Kitchen Aide Mixer with Dough Hook attachment!  We shaped it, waited again for the 2nd rise, and it just came out of the oven 20 minutes ago.  Of course, we could not WAIT for it to cool.  Half the loaf was gone before I could blink.

I think tomorrow we'll have french toast for breakfast.  I bet that'd be awesome with Challah!

Challah Bread

1 3/4 Cups Grandma's Best All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Sebree Salt
1/2 Cup Friendly Farms Butter, softened
4 Golden Hen Eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp cold water
3 Tbs Baker's Corner Granulate Sugar
1 package Baker's Corner Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water (follow temperature guidelines on package)
up to 5 cups more flour
1/2 tsp Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds* (need to buy somewhere other than Aldi)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.  Mix in the softened butter.  Slowly add the warm water to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly (I put the ingredients in the Kitchen Aide Bowl and used the paddle attachment for these steps).  Beat for two minutes with a mixer at medium speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl.  Take one egg and separate the yolk and white.  Set yolk aside for later use.  Place egg white and three whole eggs to batter.  Beat on high speed for 2 full minutes.  Scraping bowl as needed.  Slowly, cup by cup, add flour until a soft dough forms.  Lightly flour your kneading surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic (I put my dough hook on my machine at this point and let IT knead the dough for 8 minutes at low speed).  Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover and set in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Turn dough out on lighly floured surface.  Divide the dough into two equal portions.  Cut one portion into 2 parts - 1 part being about 1/3 the loaf, the other part being about 2/3rds of the loaf.  Using one of the larger portions, divide again into 3 parts and roll into 12" ropes.  Braid together being sure to seal the ends (braid tightly!!!  A baker friend of mine recommended starting in the center and braiding outward on either side).  Cut the smaller portion of dough into 3 equal parts and roll into 10" ropes.  Braid, seal.  Set on top of the other braid.  Place loaf on a greased baking sheet.  Repeat these steps with 2nd half of dough.  You will end up with two braided loaves.  Cover.  Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush risen loaves with reserved egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp cold water. Sprinkle on Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds.   Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Good luck waiting for it to cool to slice!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Koffee Korner Cafe Special Omelet

As I mentioned, my husband is on Medifast.  Once a week, we go out to breakfast at a local restaurant. A great place, called Koffee Korner Cafe.  A fabulous family place, where they know us so well, our drink order is being worked on the moment they see us walk through the door.  Coffee, Iced Tea, Milk, OJ and Water....they have us all down.

Every week, almost without fail, my husband orders the special, but has them make it with egg beaters instead of eggs.  And it's always some kind of pepper, onion, tomato type thing that smells divine the moment it hits the table.

Today, sitting here in my house, I was pining for one of those omlets.  Did you know that Aldi has an "Eggbeaters".  ????  Of course They call it Fit & Active Egg Substitute, and it costs about $2.00 less per pint than it's named brand alternative.  And it tastes REALLY good.

I made myself an omelet today.

KKC Special Omelet

1/2 Cup Fit & Active Egg Substitute (equivelant of two eggs)
2 Tbs diced green pepper
2 Tbs diced onion
5 or 6 grape tomatoes, quartered
Sprinkle of Spice Classics Garlic Powder
1 Tbs Friendly Farms Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Carlini Cooking Spray

In an 8"skillet, set on medium heat, spray with Carlini Cooking Spray.  Saute pepper and onion, for about 5 or so minutes until translucent and soft.  Add tomatoes and sprinkle with garlic powders.  Mix together until the tomatoes break down some.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and return to LOW heat - you will also need a cover (okay, I CHEAT when I make an omelet b/c I stink at getting it perfect!!!).  Spray the skillet again and add the egg subtitute.  Cover.  When the bottom has cooked enough - get your spatula under it and run it around the sides, and flip it over.  Sprinkle the cheese, and add the pepper/onion/tomato mixture on top in a "line".  Cover and cook 1 more minute.  Fold over and place on your plate.  And enjoy.  :)

So good.  And very healthy, too.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Product Review - Fit & Active Cinna-Swirl Drizzled Mini Crisps

Hey there, folks...

Every now and then, I like to throw in an Aldi Product Review, just to keep you all on your toes!

I believe I mentioned a while back that my amazing husband was doing Medifast, and to date as lost over 75 lbs!  He's done so well.  Gone from being an insulin dependent diabetic and on all sorts of high-blood pressure meds, cholesterol lowering meds, be no longer classified as a diabetic and off almost all of his meds (soon to be completely all, he's on the lowest dose possible of one med).  This post is dedicated to him because I'm so unbelievably proud of him!!!

We've been talking about me doing the diet, but, it's cost prohibitive for two people to be on it at one time.  Not to mention, he's attempting the re-entry into more real world foods.

I've decided to attempt a facsimile of the diet, and hope to use some Aldi products in the process, of course!

Well, I went in my store recently, and scouted out a lot of their protien meal bars, 100 Calorie pack snacks, and other Fit & Active products which tout themselves to be low in fat, but high in flavor!

Rice cakes are a diet staple when you're trying to lose weight.  In fact, I've had some bad experience with rice cakes.  I picked up these mini crisps just to try them out.  I confess, I was not expecting to like them at all.  I was expecting them to taste like frosted cardboard.  I was pleasantly surprised and they were unbelievably delicious.  They are 90 Calories, only 3 grams of fat, only 80 grams sodium and 6 grams sugars.  They also have 3 grams of protein!!!  :)  And they are DELICIOUS!!!!  They also come in a S'mores flavor, which is also quite good!

$1.99 for a package of 6, perfect snack.  Easy for the grab and go!  Hope you give them a try!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Well, we just returned from our semi-annual trip to the beach.  I do many things to prep for the beach, and one of them is making ahead meals so that my time there is NOT spent in a kitchen...and also, so that we don't spend an arm and a leg eating almost every day eating out.

Weeks before we leave, I make ahead some of our family's favorites and freeze them;  this year included Spaghetti Pie, Pork & Peppers, Tacos (meat), Meatballs, and hamburgers.  Another thing I like to do is prep all my "batter" type things like pancakes and waffles, so that it's "add an ingredient or two" and viola, you're ready.

A few days into preparation, a friend of mine pins this recipe to her Facebook: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes .  I mean, really....I know you just drooled on your keyboard.  Well, clean it up, then continue reading.

Well, this friend is a "make everything from scratch" super woman!!!  Me? Let's just say I'm a little more Sandra Lee and take the help I can get from premade ingredients.  Yes.  I realize that it's lazy.  But...three (about to be two! EEEK) in a competitive's this or eat cereal EVERY DAY.  :)

So...I picked up a package of Aldi's Baker's Corner All-Purpose Baking Mix.  A can of Baker's Corner Vanilla Frosting.  A bag of brown sugar, a pound of butter, and here we are.


Aldi's Cinnamon Roll Pancake recipe looks like this....

1.  Prepare the desired amount of pancake batter from the recipe on the box of Baker's Corner All-Purpose Baking Mix.

2.  Mix together 1 cup softened butter (I didn't friend attempted the recipe and said the melted was too soft), 1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, 2 Tbs. Spice Classics Ground Cinnamon.  Place in a freezer zippie bag.

3.  Start to cook the pancakes on the griddle....cut a small hole in the tip of the cinnamon/butter/sugar bag, squeeze out "cinnamon roll style" as the pancakes cook on the first side.  As you see bubbles and are ready to so and let pancakes cook on the other side.

4.  Flip pancakes "cinnamon stripe" up.

5.  Spoon some frosting into a microwave safe bowl and melt for a few seconds.  Drizzle over pancakes and enjoy.

These are positively decadent and YUMMY....and EASY!!!! :)