April 22, 2014

Braided Bread



I know that there is an unwritten blog rule that you should post about food for the holidays waaaaay before the holiday actually arrives. Well, I'm breaking the rule. Don't worry, this bread is worth it. I can imagine it being served for a fun birthday brunch or baby shower celebration! I can even see it served at dinner to get some oohs and aaahs! It bakes up super flaky and soft with a nice hint of sweetness. And sprinkles! Hello! You could also sub these out for poppy seeds or sesame seeds with the same delicious result.


I saw the recipe over on Sprinkle Bakes and just could not get it out of my head! I was so pleased with how well it baked up (five round loaves!) and the main adjustment I made was braiding the dough instead of just twisting it. The hardest part (per usual.) was waiting for the dough to rise. Luckily, after some failed bread attempts from my past I know to distract myself with other things and let the dough do it's thing. (I usually end up with one and a half hours of rise time instead of just one hour).

Here's the recipe, adapted from Sprinkle Bakes:

1 1/4 cups milk or half and half
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Pinch of salt 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour (approximate)
for topping:
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
Rainbow nonpareils or poppy seeds
6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors

Put the milk and butter in a small pan and heat until the butter has melted. Take off the heat right away and let it cool back to luke warm. (Make sure you give it a chance to cool enough or it'll kill the yeast!})

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar together in the mixer. Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Mix with dough hook until combined. Slowly add more flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. You may not have to use all of the flour (I ended up using a little over four cups). Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or smooth and elastic.
Cover the dough with vegetable oil turn it over once to coat the top and sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour (my dough took longer, about 1 hour and a half).

Gently deflate the dough with a fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch thick rope about 14 inches in length. Take three lengths and braid them. You can leave them long and raided or twist them into a circle. Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix the 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small cup. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture. You can then sprinkle it with sprinkles (or poppy seeds!) The egg in the middle is also optional. I dyed mine raw and they baked up in the oven. (disclaimer: I thought I was going to be able to use these for deviled eggs, but they were way hard to peel. I probably won't put eggs in the middle for pure decoration anymore. BUT an awesome decoration they do make!) Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant. 

Serve by itself with butter or at the table with a meal. 




A really fun meal!

L

April 21, 2014

She's back! (And it's finally Spring!)

Well hello again!

It's been months since I said "see you later" to the blogging world for a bit. I left abruptly, and after some weeks of barely posting. The good news is that I missed it almost immediately. I feel like I've made friends through this crazy online world, and watching everyone continue to make and dress and create and cook made me long for documenting all the things. The other good news is that I've had time to breathe. And I'm ready to jump back in.



So some back story. My husband left for deployment late in January. It was hard. I didn't really feel like sharing for all the internets to see because it was also scary. Living alone. Taking care of things. Tucking myself in. I have always been one for pioneering and being adventurous and independent, but I was extremely nervous and scared. I didn't really want people outside of my friend and church circle to know that my husband's truck only left the driveway when I moved it around for looks and good measure. I guess that's what watching too many Law and Order: SVU will do to ya.

(hello tired eyes! Sheesh!)

I was also very very sad. I'm typically an extrovert, but in the winter it really takes all the effort I have to keep up with the life that I have planned. I have touched on this a little bit, and even wrote some tips for getting over winter blues. But, without T, it was extremely overwhelming to keep up internet appearances. I was having enough trouble just emptying the dishwasher. I don't share this for pity, but for understanding. I'm the kind of person that really has a hard time in the winter. Really really hard. And it's not something that can be fixed by other people, and so I really worked this year to fix it on my own. And it took so. much. energy. (And much free time in the gym) It was worth it in the end, but I knew that the blog would just barely limp along behind me if I attempted to keep it going. (p.s. thank you to my lovely friends and family who kept me company during the insane cold we had this year)

(our crazy weather, and some gym encouragement for good measure)

But now, it is spring. I feel like I'm waking up from a deep slumber. In fact, reading over that last paragraph it feels like something that happened ages ago. So now I'm ready to get started again! I've had fun really thinking about what "fills me up" lately. I'll be taking my time changing some things around here on the blog, hopefully all for the better. I'm looking forward to this new season so much. Hooray! Happy Spring!


L

p.s. I've noticed quite a few instagram and pins lately with quotes about "going for it!" and "spending time on what matters most". I'd love to know, what fills you up?! What things are you looking forward to for Spring??

Linking up with Molly for Funday Monday!


February 12, 2014

A pause. To think, to gather, to regroup.

Hi friends,

I have decided to take a major pause in blogging for awhile. Instead of doing something and thinking "Oh! This would be good to share" I'm starting to search my brain with what to do in order to share. Which is totally backwards. Lent is coming up, and I feel like this year is a good year for me to actually work on something meaningful. Something that will bring me closer to my God and my faith. And while thinking about all those things, the blog kept popping up in the back of my mind as something that I would have to tend to. Something I was not looking forward to doing. I thought about giving it up for lent, and realized that a) I didn't want to use lent to ease my life. b) the fact that I kept going back to it meant that it had lost the joy.

I don't think this is a goodbye. I'm hoping that during this time I will feel freed to work on some new projects without pressure, to cook without thinking of how well it will photograph, and to just be. I'll still be around on the twitter and the instagram of course. So feel free to keep up with me!

I hope to see y'all after Easter!

L

February 4, 2014

Black Beans from Scratch



Okay everyone, I know it's a stretch, but can we make cooking dry beans popular? I've posted about them a few times before. I've made kidney beans and black beans for tamales but these are by far the best beans I've made yet. They are sweet, a tad spicy, and delicious in so many different dishes! We made quesadillas, tacos, and bean dip with just the one batch.


Black Beans
2c dry black beans
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped small
1/4c mango, chopped small
2 dried chipotle peppers, whole (don't chop these!)
1tsp chili powder
juice of one lime
1/2tsp cumin
carton of chicken stock (at least 4 cups)
1/4c dark brown sugar or molasses

1. Heat olive oil at med/med-hi in large stockpot, and add chopped onions, mango, and whole dried chipotles
2. Once onions and mango have cooked down (about 5 minutes) add other spices
3. Rinse dry beans, to get rid of any dust or stones (I know, stones?! What the what? But I've actually never found any, myself) and add to the onion-spice mix
4. add chicken stock, making sure the beans are completely covered
5. Cover pot with lid, and simmer about 4-5 hours, making sure to check the liquid level every 30 minutes
6. As liquid gets low, add water to bring it back up to covering the beans
7. Check beans after 4 hours, if they are still kinda crunchy add more liquid
8. When beans seem mostly done, pull out the chipotle peppers (they should be floating at the top) and add the brown sugar or molasses
9. Enjoy! Or keep in the fridge or about a week or in the freezer for a month (can be reheated in the microwave)


I found that the beans were so flavorful that they were a delish addition to burritos and quesadillas! For the bean dip I added about 1/2 of sour cream to 11/2c of black beans and blended it with a stick blender. Success! And awesome with tortilla chips.


Hooray! I hope you try your hand at dry beans! They are cheap and can turn out wonderful!

L

January 31, 2014

InstaFriday!

Happy Friday everyone! This week has been crazy town! I've been home the last four days because my county cancelled all schools for, ready?, FOUR snow days in a row! I've been having a blast cooking and crafting and having fun. Hooray!


I got the fitbit recently, and last Friday T and I even went to the gym on a Friday! It's way more motivating that I thought it would be, which is good for me!


I think that Friday night pizza might become a new tradition. I can see it becoming a hit.


Our first snow day we went to the gym first thing in the morning. It was full of teachers! Ha, probably the first time any of us had been able to go in the morning in all of 2014. How could I tell it was teachers? Well, conversation for one (the dreaded talk about the pay scale), and then lot's of people were wearing their coaching Ts or shirts with school logos. I met one guy who busted both his knees while teaching wood shop! (he must have recognized my own knee physical therapy stuff, ha)


This past Tuesday I dubbed Taco Tuesday. I made some scrumptious black beans (from plain ole dry beans, recipe coming on Monday!) and added mexican rice and some yummy cheese. I think they were the best beans I've made, yet! We even had some in quesadillas, and I saved more in the freezer for bean dip on Sunday! 


The whole rest of the week has been this. Lots and lots of sewing. I'm trying to bust through some scrap piles I've had hanging around, I can't wait to share the finished project! 

I hope everyone had a safe and warm week! I know that I've been drinking chai tea like no ones business. In fact, today might be the first day since Tuesday that I venture out of the house for something besides the gym! I can't complain though, I've loved having some unscheduled relaxation time. 

Happy Friday!

L

linking up with LaurenElizabeth and LifeRearranged


care to follow me in real time? I'm on insta and twitter, with my new and improved handle! @thelaurenhuber

January 30, 2014

Homemade Calzone


I am so proud of this, you guys. You see, when we get to the end of the month, making meals out of what we have left, is my favorite. Ok, not really my favorite favorite. That would be homemade margaritas with delicious ribs that have been outside on the grill slowly cooking for hours. But when it comes to freezing temps and end of the budget and not having to leave the house for any ingredients? This is it.


And it was super easy. Half of my favorite pizza dough. Splash of sauce. Dollops of ricotta. Shake of parm. And then a brush with butter at the end. It couldn't be easier.


It was so easy, in fact, that the hardest part was just waiting for it to cook and then cook. Torturous.


I'm not even sure if listing the "ingredients is necessary... but here you go

Calzone (those are the ones with sauce, right? Stromboli's have no sauce... I think)
1/2 pizza dough recipe
1/3c pizza/spaghetti/red sauce
1/2c ricotta
Tbs parmesan
1Tbs butter

1. Start your dough and set it aside to rise (1 hour)
2. Once dough is risen, preheat oven to 375F
3. Take dough out of bowl, and gently stretch it on your pan. Don't worry about it being perfectly round or anything, it should be pretty flexible.
4. Add your "toppings" to half of the dough, leaving about an inch along the edge clear for crimping later. (We only used ricotta and sauce. But mozzarella would be relish. Or pepperoni! Anything that doesn't have a ton of water in it would be good. Pineapple or whole fresh tomatoes might make the dough a little soggy, for example)
5. Fold the empty half over the top of the topping-ed half. Stretch, carefully, to fit. Crimp at edges.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing melted butter over the top in the last five minus of cooking, until golden. If needed, raise heat to 400F to brown the outside nicely at the end (about 5 mins)



Dig in!

L

January 28, 2014

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie



Okay, I know what you're thinking. Smoothie? In the winter?! Yes. Did I drink coffee and then jump in a hot shower right afterwards? Also yes. And I don't regret a thing. I made this as a post workout smoothie (It's a snow day out here in NC, which means gym in the morning and casual breakfast delights, what a treat!) but you could easily sub in your favorite spirits, too. Don't dig milk? It would probably be even better with dairy free coconut milk - genius!

Pineapple coconut smoothie
(recipe is for one. I used the magic bullet to blend it. You could easily double, triple, etc. )
1/2c frozen pineapple
1Tbs shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
1/4 scoop vanilla protein powder (super optional. This was a post-workout breakfast for me)
1/4c milk (have a little extra on hand in case you need  to thin it out)

1. Throw everything in the bullet and blend!


I like my smoothies super thick, like eat them with a spoon thick. But the best part about smoothies is you can change them up on the fly! Want to add more milk? Go for it! Want it sweeter? Add some honey. Feeling frisky? Add some rum! The options are totally in your control here. And control feels great when the weather is being crazy, so show weather who's boss and scream "I don't care about snow! I want a smoothie!". Then close your eyes and pretend you're at the beach.


L
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