The Bread

Sometimes life get rather complicated. Choices need to be made. Sometimes the decisions are hard and the results, messy. Sometimes it takes a while to untangle, to sort through what is absolutely crazy and what is absolutely necessary. During these times, my brain tends to feel overworked. I spend some much time sorting out the questions of the universe that when it comes to food, I crave simple and comforting foods.  Today’s recipe is my favorite bread recipe. It is simple, delicious, and uncomplicated.

I can not say enough good things about this bread. With some modifications (detailed below), you can use this recipes for many different types of breads. Without further ado, here is the recipe for the bread.

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Steps:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour and yeast. Mix for a few seconds or until yeast is distributed well. Add remaining ingredients and mix, adding more water if the dough is too dry. Turn up mixer to a medium speed and mix dough for 10 minutes.
  2. Spray all sides of the dough with cooking spray. Allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes or until dough has doubled.
  3. Once dough has doubled, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape bread into desired shape (more details on that below). Place bread on pizza stone (or a greased baked sheet) and cover and  let rise for 20 minutes.
  4. Brush water over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf (if making a french loaf). Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Recipe Notes:

  • The dough is great for making several different kinds of bread. The dough can be shaped into long, skinny baguettes, ciabatta, and more.
  • For baguettes, divide dough into two pieces and shape into two long rolls.
  • For ciabatta, shape dough into a rectangle and flatten slightly. Do not slash bread.
  • For sandwich bread, bake in a loaf pan.
  • The dough can also be used to make mini baguettes and rolls.

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Roasted Chicken

Today I am sharing one of my go to dinners- roasted chicken. This recipe produces a flavorful bird with crispy skin on the outside and juicy, perfectly cooked meat on the inside. In addition to being stunningly delicious, this chicken is also one of the easiest meals ever.

Ingredients:
Whole roaster chicken (4-6 lbs)
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, smashed (or more)
salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While oven heats, rinse and dry chicken.
  2. Place chicken legs up in roasting pan, season outside with a good  amount of salt and pepper, fill inside with garlic and rosemary.
  3. Place chicken in oven and cook for 17 minutes for every pound (a 5.68lbs chicken needs about 97 minutes). During this time, leave the door closed.
  4. Once the time is up, check the temp to make sure the chicken has reached 160 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove skin and set aside (for eating later). Proceed to carve chicken and enjoy.

Tips:

Use the leftovers to make the best chicken salad ever. Combine chopped celery, onion, and  chicken with mayo, and dill.

Use the carcass to make chicken broth. Throw carcass (with garlic, sans rosemary) in a stockpot  (or crock pot on high) with onions and carrots, salt and pepper and enough water to fully cover the carcass (about a quart). Let boil for a couple hours until the broth is desired depth of color.

Brown Sugar Spice Pancakes

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For most people, the mention of pancakes conjures up images of soggy and limp pancakes made with a boxed mix, only made appealing by copious amounts of maple syrup. This recipe for brown sugar spice pancakes produces pancakes that are slightly sweet, somewhat spicy and unbelievably fluffy. These pancakes don’t even need maple syrup (but, of course, a little never hurts).

The key to making enchantingly fluffy pancakes is patience. These pancakes cook low (no higher than medium) and slow and need time to puff up. The result is incredibly fluffy, almost cake-like pancakes.

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
5 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Steps:

  1. In a good sized mixing bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, stir to combine. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes.
  2. While batter is resting, heat a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, ladle batter into pan. Let pancakes cook on first side until the top of the pancake starts to bubble and then flip and let cook until other side is golden brown.

Note: It cannot be stressed enough, don’t cook these hotter than medium. Lower and slower is the way to go!