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... :)