Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

I don't think I've ever bought dinner rolls before.  I've always made them at home from a number of different recipes. Normally I'd make the dough in the bread maker and then bake them in the oven. The dough cycle takes an hour and a half, plus the dough rises twice before baking for around 12-15 mins. So though the bread maker does a lot of the work, it's still takes quite a bit of time before you're chowing down on warm dinner rolls. Somewhere between two and a half to three hours. They're good, but that's a long time to wait for dinner rolls!

This recipe for pull apart dinner rolls doesn't take anywhere near that long to make, and they taste fantastic to boot.  The bread maker sits and watches while the whole thing is done by hand. I'd say it takes maybe around an hour and a half to make them. The recipe was found on Oh She Glows, a vegan recipe site that has many great ideas in addition to these easy to make rolls. So far I'd say it's my favorite go-to site for recipes that are very accessible, easy to make, and tasty.

Once the dough is made, and it doesn't take long, you let it rise in it's bowl in the oven with the light on. Then you shape the rolls, place them in a greased pie plate and let them rise one more time.  Easy peasy.

After they've risen for the second time they fill the pie plate. The longer you let them rise, the fluffier they will be. If you don't let them rise enough, say nearly double, then they will be a little on the doughy side. Well I thought so, Scott ate three the first time I made them, so maybe I'm just being picky.

Afterward you bake them until they are a golden brown and make your mouth water. It's best to eat them right away, once they've cooled enough of course. They're great on the side with a spread of Earth Balance, butter or margarine. They're also excellent for mopping up stews and dipping in soup!

Here is the recipe from the site and a direct link to it as well. Her photos are terrific and do more then any of the lame photos I post up. Enjoy!

Vegan Fluffy White Dinner Rolls (or Pull Apart Dinner Rolls which I call them. Because I have to be different)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or regular)
  • 2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Stick
  • 1 egg replacer (1 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp warm water)

1) Proof your yeast! In a small bowl mix 2 1/4 tsp of Active Dry Yeast with 1/4 cup of very warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F). Stir and let dissolve. Now add 1 tsp of sugar and stir. Let it sit for a good 5-10 minutes. You will know the yeast is active when it is slightly foamy and smells like bread.
2. In a stand mixer or by hand, add 1 and 1/4 cup of flour, remaining sugar (1 tbsp + 2 tsp), salt, and yeast mixture. Mix briefly for 10 seconds or so. Now, add the remaining very warm water (3/4 cup), slightly melted Earth balance, and egg replacer and mix until smooth. Slowly add in the rest of the flour (1 cup) and mix until smooth.
3. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. I put my bowl of dough in the oven with the light turned on (but not the oven itself!)
4. Grease a pie pan and set aside. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the oven and knead with hands for a few seconds. Divide the dough into 12 balls with hands and place the balls into the pie pan (see image below).
5. Cover pie pan with towel and place back into the oven with light on for another 30 minutes. The rolls will expand and fill the pie pan during this time.
6. After 25 minutes, remove from oven and preheat the oven to 400F. After 5 more minutes, it is time to bake the rolls for 15-18 minutes until golden and fluffy. Makes 12 pull apart rolls.
7. Serve with Earth Balance and enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Healthy Recipes that Don't Suck and I Didn't Screw Up.

Part of my "it's-not-really-a-New-Years-Resolution" resolution was to be more healthy. That meant being more active and eating healthfully. So far I think we've been doing pretty well. As such, I've compiled a few of the recipes that have worked out for me. (see the Recipe tab at the top) Or to put it another way, healthy things that tasted good and I didn't totally screw up. Strangely enough, I'm seeing an improvement in my cooking lately. Maybe it's because we are using fresh ingredients more or healthy just tastes better. Of course it could be that I'm actually following a recipe as opposed to making stuff up and not actually caring how it turned out. Hmmm. The more you put effort into something and the more you care, the better things turn out. I should remember that. The vast majority of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan. Frankly we just feel better after we've eaten them. In our old age *cough, wheeze* too much meat and dairy makes us feel kinda yucky lately. My days are too busy to stop for a nap after every meal. I've scoured the internets looking for tasty food and linked back to where I found them so you can explore further if you like. Any how, I hope you try some of them out I'm sure you'll like them.

#7SuperShots: Photos that I love, that mean something to me

A friend of mine, Karen, asked if I would participate in #7SuperShots. You basically post seven photos that are important to you and why. It's apparently a new meme that's been going around and she thought it would be fun for everyone to participate in. Did you see how I used the word meme like I had some idea what that was? Yeah, I'm pretty hip in the ol' blogsphere. Did you catch that one too? No? Hey, we can't all be rock stars. It's ok.

A Photo That...Takes My Breath Away

This was the first time I saw the little girl that was going to turn my life upside down and make me somebody's mother. Up until that point it was still hard to believe that it would actually happen. If someone had told me "sorry lady, we made a mistake, you're not actually pregnant" that would have made more sense to me. That day it really dawned on me, "we're actually doing this!"

A Photo That...Makes Me Dream

This was a photo taken with said little girl during a walk. She's no longer a baby but a little girl looking out to face her future. I wonder what the world holds in store for her and what sort of person she'll be? I dream of a confident young woman bolding going...wherever she wants.

A Photo That...Makes Me Laugh

I get this expression all the time. She's dead serious and frustrated with me, but I find her expression hilarious! I can't help but laugh and it just makes her so mad! Body language says so much, doesn't it?

A Photo That...Makes My Mouth Water

I'm not super good in the kitchen, but I am getting better. These were one of my first successes and were delish! I can't recall, but I really hope I didn't eat them all.

A Photo That...Tells A Story

This is a photo of my first daughter giving me a hug while waiting to meet her sister for the first time. I believe I was in the tenth hour of contractions at that point. Only fifteen more to go! She knew something was up and she would get to meet her soon.

A Photo That...I'm Most Proud Of

This is a photo I took of my husband and daughter number two while on a hike. I'm not a skilled photographer by any means. I have a whole album of photos I took of my thumb. This turned out really nice even if it was pure luck.

A Photo That...Makes Me Think

This is a photo of my daughter on her first day of school. She was so excited to go! I can't help but think if she'll always be this confident and outgoing? She's a very social, kind, and enthusiastic person. Always willing to reach out to those who are more shy or having trouble fitting in. I don't think she'll have trouble "fitting in" as she gets older. I think she'll create her own path and invite everyone to follow her.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

This as an absolutely fantastic soup! It has a wonderful sweet taste to it and a warmth that is perfect for grey rainy days or crisp fall ones. Normally when I've made butternut squash soup I've blended everything. In this soup the only thing pureed is the squash. The rest of the vegetables are diced which makes it seem all the more hardy. It is probably the best butternut squash soup I've made thus far.

I thought cutting and peeling the squash would be hard. That's a pretty tough skin! Once I peeled a portion off with a knife, I was able to use a regular peeler to finish the job. Of course I didn't figure that out until I tried to peel nearly half of it with the knife first. That took for ever! I'm a slow learner.

After I cut it up into small chunks I boiled it for about 30 mins. Which is good because I've been trying to avoid using the oven. Over ten cents a kwh during peek times, which of course includes dinner time, I don't think so.

Of course I don't have two big pots. No that would be too easy. After putting aside the boiled squash, including the liquid, I cleaned out the pot and cooked the rest of the veggies. Here's a top tip, have two big pots on hand!

After the squash was pureed and added to the rest of the veggies everything smelled great! The combination of fresh vegetables and spices was very inviting when you walk into the room. The recipe I used was from The Green Door Restaurant. Vegetarian Cookbook. It is a local restaurant in Ottawa that has a great reputation for making tasty food. I guess then I shouldn't have been surprised that this soup turned out so well. Other than the obvious point of me being the cook in this case. If you would like to try it, and I recommend you do, here is the recipe. Better yet, why don't you head down to the restaurant and save yourself the dirty dishes?


  • 5 cups butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 large diced celery stalk
  • 1 large diced carrot
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger root. (I used half a tsp powder and it still tasted great)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of cayenne (optional but I used it)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 bay leaves.
Cook squash in water until tender, approximately 30 mins. Do not drain.
Heat olive oil in soup pot on medium high heat. Add onions and cook until transparent Add celery, carrot, leek, ginger, and cayenne. Add 1-2 cups of liquid from cooked squash. Cook on low heat until vegetables are soft: 20-30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

In a blender, blend the cooked squash with remaining liquid and combine with soup in pot. Add bay leaves. Adjust seasoning. Bring to a boil again on low hear. Serve.

Serves 8-10

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mac N' Cheese, Hold the Cheese.

Lies, all LIES!

 I've been trying lately to get our meals on a healthy footing. This has meant researching different recipes and making weekly meal plans. Oh so much fun! I've had a few successes and a few failures. We don't need to talk about the gluten free skillet cornbread. It's best if we all forget that ever happened. I think it made Scott feel sick and I actually refused to eat it. That was probably the only sound judgement made during the whole affair. Oh well. Nothing ventured nothing gained, right? Scott would have disagreed with that I think.

Ideally I would LOVE if the kids ate what we ate. Especially seeing as we've decided to improve our diet. So far they've ate every new thing I've feed them! What? No, you read that right. Miss. A, the worlds pickiest eater, has eaten everything I've presented her with so far. Baby K? Well if it is even technically classed as food she'll eat it. Thank goodness for that! Now don't get me wrong. We've never eaten poorly. As a whole I'd say we are pretty healthy eaters to begin with. Most things have been whole foods as opposed to processed, and a lot of things have been homemade. Where we've fallen short is in the variety department. There is always room for improvement. The goal is now to add more variety to our diet. There is a whole world of healthy foods out there to benefit from.

A kid friendly staple is of course Kraft Dinner. With that in mind today I made Mac n' Cheese for the family. It contains no actual cheese though. Which is the sneaky part. Just lots of healthy things I wouldn't normally be able to get the kids to eat.  Potatoes, onions, cashews, carrots and a few other things all mixed together. As soon as I put it on the table in front of them I held my breath. Would they eat it? OMG! THEY'RE EATING IT! I tried to look all nonchalant about it like why wouldn't they eat it? They had NO IDEA! It was awesome. Any who, I found this recipe on a food blog in case you are interested. It's called The Brazen Kitchen, and there are definitely a few other recipes I'm going to check out.

Here is the recipe that I used. Enjoy!

Mackin’ Cheese

(Ersatz and Enjoyable all at the same time)
Serves 6 but I ALWAYS double this. Because, well, why not?
Based on VegNews’ Macaroni and Cheese
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni or penne pasta
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup water
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I use Earth Balance soy-free)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
- drizzle with truffle oil right before serving
- Add some finely chopped spinach or kale when you toss the sauce and noodles together
- Add chopped garlic and some garlic powder to the breadcrumb mixture to make a garlicky topping
- Top with minced chives and/or parsley
- If you want a smoky flavor, add ¼ tsp of smoked Spanish paprika to the sauce mixture
- Saute leeks AND leek greens and fold into the sauce and noodle mixture

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener. Except on our lawn.

This fantastic topic is brought to you by my darling husband Scott! I imagine it is inspired by the realization today that our lawn crap. Honestly it looks dreadful! You know the grass you walk on after a concert or on a school playground? Well ours looks only slightly worse than that. I think the only way to save it is to rip it up and re-sod the whole thing. It's a pity really, we have a nice corner lot and lots of space, but the grass is just not showing it off like it could. So we went to Canadian Tire today and bought grass seed; like we do every year. It won't grow; like it doesn't every year. I asked why do we bother doing the same thing if we know it won't work? "It works a little, we just have to do it every year." It doesn't work. The grass looks like a balding man trying to grow a few straggly hairs on his head. Or better yet, Scott trying to grow facial hair. Patchy and thin. Bazzinga!

However, it's not just the lawn. Scott has proclaimed this year The Year Of Home Improvement! (Best read in a monster truck announcer voice.) The hedge will be reclaimed from the wild. The lawn made thick and lush. The garage painted. The gardens landscaped and less weedy. The counter tops will lose their pink complexion and take on something in keeping with this century. Curtains would be nice; very nice. At the very least it would be nice to lose the forest green blinds. Yuck! The deck needs tending to, but it will have to wait until next year. Hopefully no one will fall through between now and then.

I admire his can-do attitude! It would be nice to see a few positive changes around the house.