Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gingerbread! Tastes just like Christmas!

Living in Florida has really messed up my sense of season, so a recent cool snap made me think longingly of Christmas and baking and that awesome rediscovered Gingerbread recipe from KAF's Whole Grain Baking.  I made it a few years ago and then promptly forgot where I got the recipe.

an assembly of likely suspects
This is a very simple, no-mixer-required recipe so I gathered up the ingredients, greased and floured my 8x8 pan (calls for 9x9, but hey, you go with what you have), and heated the oven to 350F.

whisk this - I use pastry flour as it gives a nice moist crumb
Whisk dry ingredients:
2 1/2 cups traditional whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

mix this - in place of brown sugar corn syrup, I used brown rice syrup.  Oh, and I almost never have unsalted butter but as my salt is kosher salt, I've never had saltiness issues with my baked goods

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar corn syrup
1 lg egg
3/4 cup  molasses
1 cup buttermilk

Pour wet into dry and gently stir until incorporated.  Ok, wait, that's what I do.  The recipe actually says "Stir in teh flour mixture until the batter is evenly moistened."  If anyone can tell me why adding dry to wet vs wet to dry matters, by all means, comment!

stir in extras
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 cup diced dried apricots

The crystallized ginger, purchased at Whole Foods markets in a resealable bag, is not optional.  The apricots can be omitted.  I have made the recipe both ways and love it either way, so personal preference abounds here.

Pour into the pan, bake until center is set for 45 to 50 minutes.  In my case, because of the deeper batter in the pan with less real estate, I go for the longer time.  Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before you dive in with a fork and spoon serve warm.  Leftovers go great with breakfast coffee!
best served with whipped cream...alas, I had none

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Asian-inspired Kitchen Sink Cold Noodle Salad

What to make for dinner when you don't home until 530pm?  This! If I was really on the ball, I'd have made it earlier in the day.  Because you can!

All you really need for this "anything goes" recipe is whole wheat thin spaghetti and a sauce you like.  I go with what I can get at BJ's Warehouse because that's what there is where I live right now. The sauce is an amazing Chili Teriyaki Sauce made by S & F from my old stomping grounds in Portland Maine.  Outstanding products, although this one might be made only for BJs as I do not see it on their website.  I suspect, and will have to find out in a few months when we move and I no longer have a BJs in the state, that you can get a similar taste using a sweet chili sauce and a teriyaki sauce (more chili than teriyaki, based on the color).

At any rate, pasta and sauce are the base and from there, the sky's the limit.  For tonight's dinner, I dug around in the refrigerator and came up with this:  carrots, red pepper, frozen peas, sliced almonds, green onions, and roasted chicken

not pictured, sliced almonds.  I need a crunch and that adds exactly the right amount without overwhelming the flavor
In other incarnations, I have added most of a bag of preshredded cole slaw mix and green pea  pods.  Don't like one of the vegetables?  Leave it out.  Have some zucchini cluttering up your counter top?  Shred it and toss it in!  Going vegetarian only tonight?  Skip the chicken and add more vegetables...or grill up some tofu.  Or...whatever.

Step 2:  enlist the services of a reluctant pasta-eating teenager.
Here it is, all chopped.  
Don't worry about the amounts.  Eyeball it.  If you are seeing too much pasta when you stir it together, add more of whatever you feel is missing.  For reference, I use about a third of a bottle of sauce.  Don't drown the noodles, just give them a reason to not stick together.

Be sure to rinse the pasta in cold water and shake all the water out before dumping it into a very very large bowl...for stirring purposes, you know
stir it all together and serve!