Tuesday, August 30, 2011

summer prose

this isn't good enough to be called "prose," but i feel like a poem, tonight...

sultry evening
hotter still
burns the daylight
come, it will
until sunshine
sears the skin
give me darkness
cool and thin
sleeping husband
snuggled pet
lucky, happy
i don't sweat.

thank GOD for a/c.
102 degrees.
yet, i am cool.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

RecipeShare: Yum-Yum Veggie Muffins

I am continually craving muffins and various breakfast breads, just feels like breakfast needs to have some complex carbs involved in order to be satisfying. I'm not sure if I should attribute this to the fact I have serious farmer-genes on both sides or because I love to bake. Or maybe because Dad always had cereal, bowls and small glasses of milk (to top the cereal, of course, not to drink- that's what the glass of OJ was for) set out for us every school day while I was growing up, thereby creating a ritual of starting each day with grains. At any rate, I'm stuck with it. I want bread for breakfast.

Thus, my dieter's delight when I stumbled upon a Zucchini Muffin recipe on Weelicious, a site apparently devoted to Moms looking for wholesome recipes and ideas. I'm not a Mom, but this site popped up when searching for a zucchini recipe, and boy am I glad it did! I, of course, have tweaked and prodded the recipe. I wanted to make it fat-free, fully whole-grain and use more spices and more veggies (there's even a vegan variation!). I can proudly say, these muffins are coworker-approved, even by the vegan guy. Ha!


(Decadence = A muffin topped with cream cheese and apple butter. Less guilt if you use fat free cream cheese and all natural, apple juice-sweetened apple butter... Wowza.)

Yum-Yum Veggie Muffins
Makes 12 muffins with nicely-domed tops

Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 c. white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon (spicier, fuller flavor)
Dash of ground cloves
Several gratings of fresh nutmeg (microplane zester, every cook's friend)
(OR 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

In a separate, small bowl, whisk:
1/2 c. egg substitute*
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
2/3 c. agave nectar
1 c. finely grated zucchini (skin and all)
1/2 c. grated carrots

Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stir until just combined.
Scoop into papered muffin cups, filling to the brim.
Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle raw sugar on top the last few minutes of baking for a sweet crunch.

*Substitute 1 tbsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 1/4 c. warm water for vegan muffins.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Changes... and Pizza!

Hm, a new blog post every 6 months? Seems about my speed... Ha.

Well, I'll just cut to the chase.
I'm changing the way I blog about recipes. I've decided my RecipeShare method is a bit tedious and hard to follow. Today's recipe will be formatted in typical recipe fashion, with ingredients and proportions all grouped together for easier reading and (hopefully) executing.

The inspiration behind this nutty, whole-grain pizza crust is the fact that my husband has lost over 110 pounds since January 2011. And now I'm trying to lighten up, myself, in attempts to keep up with the love of my life who now has more energy and more willpower than I imagined possible!
I started my own weight-loss endeavour this week and was, of course, suffering from a serious pizza craving right off the bat. Determined to keep my calories in check, I whipped up a first attempt that was, um, okay.

This recipe is my second try! Texture and flavor much better than the first crust, and this one actually rose while sitting outside in our 100-degree (evening) heat, giving it bit more complexity, flavor-wise, as well as some lightness, which is sometimes hard to come by in hardcore whole-grain doughs like this.
*I rolled it very, very thin to create more surface area (and, thus, the impression that I was getting more). I'd be interested to hear if anyone tries a thicker crust.

Hannah's Hardcore Whole-Grain Dough

2 tsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. olive oil
1 c. warm-hot water (my Grandma Hanson always said to dip your pinky in the water to test if it was hot enough, just hot enough to be uncomfortable should be perfect)

Mix above ingredients in a large bowl just until yeast "blooms" a bit and makes the water cloudy- 20 seconds or less if your yeast is active.

1 1/2c. whole wheat flour
1 c. unprocessed wheat bran
1/2c. buckwheat flour
generous sprinkle of italian seasoning

Mix well with a wooden spoon, may need to add a bit more warm water if it's too dry- add just enough to help it bind together. Then, ditch the spoon, dump out the dough and start kneading, the dough will be very stiff. You don't have to knead forever... just several turns of the dough until it seems like you've squeezed and prodded the yeast into every corner. Form the dough into a ball.
Spray the inside of the dirty mixing bowl with non-stick spray and place the dough inside. Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm place for an hour.
(I only let it go for an hour- might have risen more if I'd let it go for longer....)

I cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, used one and bagged up the other 3 to put in the freezer.

With the reserved piece of dough, roll very, very thin on a silpat- I put a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray over the top and rolled it with a french rolling pin. I mean, as thin as you can get it without making a hole!

Transfer carefully to a piece of parchment paper (won't stick when it bakes) and bake on a pizza stone (or whatever you've got) that's been preheated to a 400-degree broil (Low broil, if you only have 2 settings).
Bake for 3-4 minutes, till the crust has firmed up and starts to curl up on the edges- almost like a huge cracker.
Remove from the oven (with parchment paper), top with desired toppings (precook veggies/mushrooms, meat) and place back in to melt the cheese and make it all yummy- about another 3-4 minutes.

Hannah's Notes:

If you divide the dough into 4 pieces, cook one piece and serve 2 people with it- crust is 130 calories per serving (you're on your own with the toppings!).

I love using tomato paste instead of sauce.

I love using my oven's broiler because it doesn't heat up the house like the oven, and I can control the heat better than I can on my outdoor grill.

I think feta cheese tastes awesome on pizza- the oven's heat dries it out just a bit (it doesn't melt) and makes it more tangy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

again, my post begins with an apology for those who are "listening:"
sorry for waiting several months between posts.
my priorities are obviously askew.

ok, so i don't really believe that my priorities are askew, but i will admit that my blog has not only been at the bottom of the list, but perhaps somewhere also in that group of "stuff i forget about."

as of my last post, i am newly:
1. A wife
2. A puppy-owner
3. A new job-starter
4. An old job-quitter
5. A maker of less money
6. A happier employee
7. A composer (on a very small scale)

maintaining the above priorities keeps me busy, even #4, since my old job connections are still quite tangible (and even desirable, my dear friends). and i have recently had a revelation, which will perhaps (and hopefully) absorb even more of my free time...
i shall explain.
my new job is a bit tedious, a bit stressful, very fast-paced, and i don't really like what i'm doing. however, i LOVE the people i work with AND the atmosphere in which i work, which keeps a smile on my face most of the time. this is a new experience for me, because the position i held for the last 3+ years was just the opposite and did not keep a smile on my face. anyway, back to my revelation...
i find myself thinking about my life, what i'm doing with it, if i have a job my future children could be proud of (for the record, i am very proud of both of my parents' jobs), if i'm doing something that makes sense for my education and talents and blah, blah, blah. the ponderings generally result in a quasi-depression/pity party, "How could I possibly find the energy and motivation to make more of myself, and even if I could, what profession would I pursue??" and other similar thoughts.

and then, a twinge of guilt: i already have an outlet (and the means) with which to "make more of myself," and i've just been squeaking along, doing just what i need to get by. in short, i have been a choir director for almost 2 years (my second job) and a musician for, um, umpteen years, and the possessor of a BA in Music for almost 4 years. in college, i dreamed of having my own ensemble to "experiment with" by writing music for them, and now i DO!
my husband, perhaps knowing me better than i know myself, purchased the latest and greatest composition program as a Christmas gift for me, and i hadn't even touched it until last week.

i suddenly feel like i've been living like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations...
okay, so maybe that's a bit dramatic. but the point i'm getting at is that i've been in some weird haze, ignoring or maybe forgetting the gifts that are getting rusty and dusty all around me, when i could be putting them to good use, not only for my own growth and enjoyment, but maybe even to uplift those around me.
i have set a small, starting goal for myself- to write a bit of music for my choir to sing once a month. nothing long or complicated, just something.
this is something i can already do, no classes or money needed. just me.

i think i'll finish my Saturday ramblings with that.
i've got something i need to work on... :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

my theory... tonight, at least

i've just awakened from the strangest dream about scandinavians experiencing mid-life crises and blogging about them.
now, UFFDA!
i am indeed scandinavian, but i do not consider myself a mid-lifer at age 29 but perhaps am enduring some sort of a crisis... but definitely am not living on a windy fjord, retired and fiery and ready to share my deepest musings with world, even to the shock of my own relatives...?!
so very strange.
perhaps a future film script...

i haven't decided if waking up at this hour creates a fresh lucidity for both creative and spiritual reflection or if i am simplyhannah... and by the by, i must make a confession:
it has been so long since i blogged i had to search for "simply hannah" to find my own site and stumbled upon this which was highly interesting to my foggy, just-awakened brain. i ended up going to my Facebook page and clicking on my blog's URL. embarrassing.

in attempts to squeeze out my last drops of "lucidity" (or whatever we shall call this stream-of-consciousness rambling), i must also mention that once awake, i could not fall back to sleep due to the river of words, ideas, dialogue, poems flowing through my mind. i have not experienced this in quite some time, probably because of:
job #1
job #2
wedding planning
and the above events have clogged my brain to the point it apparently could not bear being forced to do the bidding of my Conscious any longer and simply exploded at 11:19pm on Tuesday night, waking me up without remorse.
that is my theory.

and my theory is not based on tonight, only, for this has happened before, MANY times, and used to happen more frequently. therefore i must conclude that i am either more OR less mentally stable than in past years... at this time, i choose to not draw a conclusion.

i have been musing also upon the subject of Contentment.
the stress i've been under is ridiculous but perhaps typical for a gal of my age and position in life. maybe i don't want it to be that way.
i wonder if those Passions and Loves that bring me such joy and make me want to drop everything in pursuit of Them exist for one purpose or maybe another...

One purpose being: to bring release, to ease pressure, like the pricking of plastic taut with steam, gently wafting through the openings to halt the cooking process.

Another purpose being: to awaken the soul (please advise on synonyms for "awaken," i have used it an embarrassing number of times already this post), to redirect, like the nod from a teacher when it's your turn to talk.

thus, to speak? or simply to rest?

in either case, certainly to be thankful for what may be enjoyed in that moment.

my policy is to never make any decisions at this hour, but rambling is allowed and even encouraged.

and may the rambling continue until the light of day sheds truth on what is to be.
be well,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

She's Back!... with RecipeShare #3

I have been the worst of blogger-offenders these past several months... how on earth do I expect anyone to read this when my posts are intermittent and unpredictable... AND when I don't keep my promises (see October post)?!

I apologize, my faithful few.

I am busy, indeed, but so are my mommy-blogger friends (and how!), and writing is one of my favorite self-therapies. Let those who desire to write, WRITE! And I shall now combine two of my favorite self-therapies (cooking and writing) by sharing my Award-Winning Spicy Black Bean Chili recipe. What was the award, you ask? Church-wide fame and a $10 giftcard to Wal-Mart. Yes, I am well on my way to an Iron Chef competition (one of my favorite shows).
And yes, I realize chili isn't exactly seasonal right now because NO, I will not be stewing and stewing on my stovetop in 110+ weather, but I must deliver as promised.

*Note: As all of you soup afficionados know well, soup-making is an art, not a science, which makes it fun to add this and that while simmering and tasting. I have listed the measurements that I used for the sake of exact replication in your own kitchen. Certain measurements may be modified to the extent you are comfortable with your own level of cooking prowess (Warning: modification may render this chili "Non-Award-Winning.")

Award-Winning Spicy Black Bean Chili

Foods you need:
Dry black beans


Raw hamburger

Large yellow onion

Olive oil

Garlic cloves

Coarse sea salt

Chili powder

Hot chili beans

Canned diced tomatoes

Tomato juice
Frank's RedHot

Cayenne pepper

Fresh jalapeno

Roma tomatoes

Tools you need:

Medium-sized saucepan (cooking the beans)

Large stockpot (making the chili)

Cutting board

Sharp knife

Measuring spoons

Liquid measuring cup
Garlic press
Big wooden spoon
Can opener
Colander/Sieve (draining the black beans and hamburger)

Paper towels

What you do:

In the medium-sized saucepan, combine:

1 1/2c. dry black beans

3 3/4 c. water

Bring to a boil and let 'er go for 2 minutes. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. This will give you about 3c. of cooked black beans.

Set aside.

While the beans are "cooking" for that hour...

In the large stockpot, cook:

2 lb hamburger

Drain in the colander.
Let it hang out there until you're ready for it.
Wipe out the stockpot with a paper towel or two.

While the hamburger and beans are cooking, you'll have time to do some prep work on a large cutting board (veteran cooks know this boring part is the key to making magic in the kitchen- get the veggies ready!):

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced (or pressed)

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (skins and all)

The beans are probably still "cooking," but not for much longer...

In the aforementioned, wiped-out stockpot, heat (until a chunk or two of onion sizzles in it):
1 T. olive oil


1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T. coarse sea salt

1 T. chili powder

Saute all together over medium/medium-low heat (not too hot, or the garlic will get brown) until onions are soft and translucent (aka: cooked). Make sure you really incorporate the salt and chili powder, so it's all mixed up real good.

Crank up the heat under the onion mixture (medium-high) and add:

Cooked, drained hamburger

Cooked, drained black beans

15 oz. can hot chili beans (don't drain them!)

28 oz. can diced tomatoes (don't drain them!)

46 oz. can tomato juice

3 T. Frank's RedHot (i love this stuff)

1 t. cayenne pepper (aka: ground red pepper, same thing)

1 T. fresh jalapeno, chopped as finely as you can

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Since you had all those veggies ready to go, it didn't take too long to throw everything together, huh? (you can lie...)

Bring everything to a rolling boil (get that tomato juice foaming), then bump the heat back down to medium-low or whatever will maintain a steady simmer (tiny bubbles all over) for 30 minutes.

Stir occasionally and take deep whiffs (and little tastes) to stimulate your appetite.

Serve in big soup bowls with big soup spoons.
It'll hit the spot (in cooler weather... well, maybe even in July).

Be well,


Monday, October 26, 2009

Coming Soon: RecipeShare #3

Well, well, well.... I said last time my blogs would come few and far between, and boy did I hit that nail on the head, or what?? I guess I'm just getting to know myself...
So, maybe I'm just as busy as I was, but I had to steal a moment to announce my latest and greatest: Award-Winning Spicy Black Bean Chili.
I won an award last night for this delicious stuff!
Albeit, the award consists entirely of a Wal-Mart giftcard of an undisclosed denomination (don't be offended, they didn't tell me the amount, either), but it was quite a thrill hearing that I had tied for first place at the church chili cook-off.

This week's schedule looks more horrendous than usual (okay, so maybe horrendous is a little overly dramatic), so I definitely won't be getting to it in the next few days, but I PROMISE!! I won't keep you chili-lovers waiting for long...

Most sincerely,