Chocolate Buns

by Jennifer

This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, is one of my family’s favorite breakfast treats;  I make them every couple months, though honestly, they are so wonderful you may want to make them more often.  They need to rise in the refrigerator overnight, which makes the morning baking much easier.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast (two packages)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 TBS melted coconut oil
  • 1 large egg plus an egg for brushing
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips

In a large bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  In a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and water and heat on HI for 1 minute.

Stir warm liquids into the flour mixture, along with the coconut oil, until smooth.  Stir in one egg until smooth.

Add the bread flour and stir until a soft dough forms.  Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes;

place dough in a clean bowl coated with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and

divide into 16 (roughly) equal pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a ball with your hands, then roll out using a rolling pin into a roughly 5” circle.

Sprinkle 1/2 TBS mini-chocolate chips over the dough.

Roll the dough towards you, pressing down gently so the chips stay in place,

then tuck the ends under.  Place the bun on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper,

and continue with the rest of the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled.  (This is a good time to read some of the paper with a hot cup of coffee.)

If some of the buns have tilted on their side while rising, don’t worry, they’ll still be beautiful and delicious.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly beat one egg and gently brush the buns.

Bake for 17 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool as long as you can.

Chocolate Muffins

by Jennifer

Yes, chocolate muffins for a weekday breakfast seems decadent, but these are healthier than most, and great for rushed mornings.  They freeze well;  a quick reheat in the morning and some fruit and cold milk, and my kids have a delicious (and somewhat nutritious) start to their day.  A friend told me about preheating the oven to 25 degrees higher than what I planned to bake on, to get muffins to puff up more, and it works.  Muffins that would always be tasty but flat on top now have a beautiful dome;  I imagine since heat always escapes when you open the oven door to put the muffins inside, this trick keeps the oven temperature where you want it to be.  Makes 12 muffins.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Stevia
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, flours through salt (remember to stir the flour, lightly spoon it into the measuring cup, then level).

In a liquid measuring cup combine the buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla, then pour into the dry ingredients.  Stir just until dry and wet are combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.  Place tin in oven and re-set oven temperature to 350.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest muffin comes out dry.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

by Jennifer

This is an adaptation of Cook’s Illustrated pancake recipe, and has been a good way to get extra fiber and Omega 3 in my family’s diet.  While grown-ups seem to prefer it with maple syrup, my children favor chocolate chip pancakes, which yes, may make them less healthy, but still a delicious Saturday morning treat.  Makes about 12 pancakes, serving about 4, depending on hunger.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp each baking soda and salt
  • 3 TBS melted unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • vegetable oil for griddle

In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients.

In a larger bowl whisk together melted butter (I melt the butter in the bowl, in the microwave), buttermilk and egg.

Add dry ingredients to wet and whisk just until combined;  the batter should still be a bit lumpy.

Heat a griddle over medium heat, and brush with oil.  Use a 1/4 cup measure to drop batter onto griddle.  Cook pancakes until they look slightly dry on top, with little bubbles,  and are golden on the bottom,

then flip and cook for a minute or two more.  Serve with maple syrup.  (For chocolate chip pancakes, sprinkle mini-chocolate chips on the pancakes once they’re on the griddle.)

Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Cauliflower and Herbs

by Jennifer

This was a very child-friendly (or cauliflower-wary) dish;  my kids cleaned their plates.

Serves 4 adults.

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • 3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

On a large rimmed baking sheet toss together the cauliflower and 2 TBS oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the garlic, stir, and bake for another 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain, give a quick shake, then pour pasta back into the pot.

Stir in the remaining TBS of oil, the herbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and lemon juice, then stir in the cauliflower and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top.

Breakfast Bars

by Jennifer

This is my adaptation of a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Still Life with Menu.  These are a great thing to grab when you need breakfast on the go, and freeze well.  My husband prefers chocolate chips, but any kind of dried fruit works well, too (I’ve used  chopped dried apricots and almonds, dried tart cherries and toasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries and walnuts, all delicious).

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or dried fruit, chopped if needed…see above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (or your favorite nut)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 TBS maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375, and coat a 9×13” pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine oats through salt.

In a measuring cup or smaller bowl combine water, oil and syrup;  pour wet ingredients into dry and stir well to combine.

Transfer batter to the baking pan and use a spatula to even it out and smooth the top.  Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.

Bake for 30 minutes;  once you remove the pan from the oven, cut the bars into your desired size and then let cool completely before removing them from the pan.

Blueberry Muffins (with three variations)

by Jennifer

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Stevia
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Sparkling white sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar and Stevia.

Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, baking powder and salt.

Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Stir in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin tins and sprinkle with sparkling white sugar.  Place muffin tin in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375.  Bake for 25 – 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.  Muffins freeze well.

Three variations:

  • Cinnamon apple muffins – Substitute two peeled and diced apples, tossed with a little cinnamon sugar, for the blueberries, and sprinkle muffins with cinnamon sugar before baking.
  • Raspberry orange muffins – Add the zest of one orange to the dry ingredients.  Substitute 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries for the blueberries.  Sprinkle with sparkling white sugar before baking.
  • Cinnamon muffins – Substitute 1 cup cinnamon chips (you can find them, and the sparkling white sugar, and lots of other great stuff, at www.kingarthurflour.com) for the fruit, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking.

Whole Wheat French Bread

by Jennifer

This recipe comes from Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein, which is filled with fantastic recipes for all kinds of breads.  I feel incredibly fortunate to own a standing mixer, but I remember well back to the days when I had to knead dough by hand.  Not too bad, especially if I had someone to talk to or good music to listen to, but I’m loving not having to knead anymore!  Whether or not you own a standing mixer, this bread is not difficult to make and is wonderful to eat.  The ingredients are for a standing mixer, and make 3 loaves (freeze 1 or 2 for later), but in parentheses are the ingredient amounts for kneading by hand, which will make 2 loaves.  The method is the same either way.

Sponge

  • 3 cups warm water (2 cups)
  • 2 heaping TBS yeast (1 1/2 TBS)
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (3 cups)

Dough

  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups whole wheat flour (2 – 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 TBS salt (1 TBS)
  • Cornmeal for dusting baking sheet

To make the sponge:  In a large bowl, standing mixer bowl or otherwise, combine water and yeast and allow a few minutes for the mixture to become foamy.  Add the bread flour and stir until mixture is smooth.

Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free space (I turn my oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off and place the bowl in there) until doubled, about 45 – 60 minutes.

To make the dough:  Punch down the sponge either by stirring it or with the mixer blade on first speed.  Add the whole wheat flour, starting with 3 1/2 (2) cups, and the salt, and mix until the dough to is too stiff to mix, or until the dough starts climbing up the mixer blade.

For the latter, scrape off and change to the dough hook, and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary (better not to add more flour if it’s not too sticky);  alternatively, knead by hand for 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking too much to your hands.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough:  gently press down until the dough deflates, and gently knead once or twice inside the bowl.  Re-cover and allow to rise again, another 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 (2) portions.  Using your hands or a rolling pin, press each portion into a long flat rectangular.  Starting with the long side away from you, roll the dough towards you, like a jelly-roll, pressing down as you roll, so you have a long, tight, baguette shape.

Transfer to a cornmeal-dusted (or parchment paper covered) baking sheet;  repeat with remaining dough.  Cover and allow to rise one more time, about 30 – 45 minutes.  While the dough is in its last rise, preheat the oven to 475, with a metal brownie pan (or something similar) on the lowest rack.

Brush the loaves with water, and slash the loaves at regular intervals at about a 20 degree angle.  Drop 6 – 8 ice cubes into the metal pan (this tries to simulate the steam injection of professional bakers’ ovens), then place the loaves in the oven and bake for 25 – 35 minutes, until they are golden brown and the crust feels hard when you gently squeeze it.  Cool for as long as you can keep yourself from tearing into them!

Classic Cheese Souffle, Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers and Red Onion, Whole Wheat French Bread

Classic Cheese Souffle, Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers and Red Onion, Whole Wheat French Bread

by Jennifer

I had always thought of souffles as being pretty formidable, but it turns out they’re not that difficult to make, and they’re absolutely delicious.  A good way to splurge on eggs and cheese, and if they eggs are Omega 3-fortified, all the better for you.  You can definitely buy some good French bread, but if you have the urge, try making your own.  Baking bread is absolutely not difficult;  the process requires your attention for a few minutes at a time, with lots of down-time in between, and your house ends up smelling wonderful, and you can experience both satisfaction and amazement at watching flour and water turn into something so substantial and tasty.  This dinner serves 4, with leftover French bread to freeze, or make French toast, or sandwiches…..

Classic Cheese Souffle – adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4.

  • 2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3 TBS unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup, packed, coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 oz.)

With the oven rack in the lower third of the oven, preheat to 400.

Coat a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish with cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom and sides evenly with the Parmesan cheese (this gives the souffle something to “cling” to as it rises).

Heat the milk in a medium-sized pot over medium heat until it’s steaming.  While you’re waiting, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes.

Add the warm milk, whisking until smooth, and cook, whisking, until very thick, about 2 -3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the paprika, salt and nutmeg, whisking well.

Add the egg yolks and whisk well to combine.  Set aside to cool slightly (you can do this up to 2 hours ahead of time;  leave, covered, at room temperature).

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture.

Continue to fold in the remaining whites, 1/4 at a time, while also slowly adding the Gruyere cheese.

Gently scoop the batter into the souffle dish.  Place the souffle in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the souffle is puffed, golden-brown, and the center moves only slightly when gently shaken.  Serve immediately.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers and Red Onion – adapted from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville

Serves 4.

  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 2 handfuls frisee or chicory
  • 3 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

Broil the red/yellow pepper, turning occasionally, until all sides are blackened. Immediately transfer pepper to a ziplock bag and seal, allowing the steam to loosen the skin.

When cool enough to handle, peel skin off pepper and cut pepper into strips.

While the pepper is cooling, toss the red onion with 1 TBS olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil, stirring occasionally, until tender and charred in spots.

Set aside.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a serving bowl toss together the spinach, frisee, peppers, onions and vinegar mixture.  Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until very hot, but not smoking.

Pour the hot oil over the greens and toss well, allowing the greens to wilt.  Serve immediately.

Whole Wheat French Bread – from Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein

I feel incredibly fortunate to own a standing mixer, but I remember well back to the days when I had to knead dough by hand.  Not too bad, especially if I had someone to talk to or good music to listen to, but I’m loving not having to knead anymore!  Whether or not you own a standing mixer, this bread is not difficult to make and is wonderful to eat.  The ingredients are for a standing mixer, and make 3 loaves (freeze 1 or 2 for later), but in parentheses are the ingredient amounts for kneading by hand, which will make 2 loaves.  The method is the same either way.

Sponge

  • 3 cups warm water (2 cups)
  • 2 heaping TBS yeast (1 1/2 TBS)
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (3 cups)

Dough

  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups whole wheat flour (2 – 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 TBS salt (1 TBS)

Cornmeal for dusting baking sheet

To make the sponge:  In a large bowl, standing mixer bowl or otherwise, combine water and yeast and allow a few minutes for the mixture to become foamy.  Add the bread flour and stir until mixture is smooth.

Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free space (I turn my oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off and place the bowl in there) until doubled, about 45 – 60 minutes.

To make the dough:  Punch down the sponge either by stirring it or with the mixer blade on first speed.  Add the whole wheat flour, starting with 3 1/2 (2) cups, and the salt, and mix until the dough to is too stiff to mix, or until the dough starts climbing up the mixer blade.  For the latter, scrape off and change to the dough hook, and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary (better not to add more flour if it’s not too sticky);  alternatively, knead by hand for 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking too much to your hands.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough:  gently press down until the dough deflates, and gently knead once or twice inside the bowl.  Re-cover and allow to rise again, another 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 (2) portions.  Using your hands or a rolling pin, press each portion into a long flat rectangular.  Starting with the long side away from you, roll the dough towards you, like a jelly-roll, pressing down as you roll, so you have a long, tight, baguette shape.

Transfer to a cornmeal-dusted (or parchment paper covered) baking sheet;  repeat with remaining dough.  Cover and allow to rise one more time, about 30 – 45 minutes.While the dough is in its last rise, preheat the oven to 475, with a metal brownie pan (or something similar) on the lowest rack.

Brush the loaves with water, and slash the loaves at regular intervals at about a 20 degree angle.  Drop 6 – 8 ice cubes into the metal pan (this tries to simulate the steam injection of professional bakers’ ovens), then place the loaves in the oven and bake for 25 – 35 minutes, until they are golden brown and the crust feels hard when you gently squeeze it.

Cool for as long as you can keep yourself from tearing into them!

Home-made Pizza Dough

By Jennifer

Rolled pizza dough on the pizza peel

This recipe comes from Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe with Dianne Jacob, and not only is it delicious, but you can make it up to 3 days before you want to make your pizza.  This makes two 12 – 16” pizzas, an interesting one for my husband and myself, and a cheese pizza for my less adventurous kids.

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 TBS cornmeal, plus extra for the pizza peel
  • 4 TBS olive oil, plus extra for the bowl

Makes two 12 – 16” pizzas.

Yeast is foamy

In a large bowl combine the warm water and yeast;  wait a few minutes for the yeast to activate (it will get bubbly/foamy).

Adding rest of pizza dough ingredients

Add the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine, then knead on a floured surface for 8 – 10 minutes (or, if you have a standing mixer, change to the dough hook and let it knead for you).

Dough has been kneaded and is ready to rise

Oil a clean bowl, turn the dough into it and roll the dough around to coat it with the oil, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about an hour.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to three days.

Pizza dough has risen and is ready for the fridge