Spinach Pesto Strata

This strata was something that I whipped up because we had guests coming to the beach, a loaf of bread getting stale, and some egg whites leftover from the German Chocolate Cake.  This is a great recipe to make for company since you assemble it the night before and bake it off in the morning.  I didn’t have a recipe for this, so below are just estimates for amounts.  I was a little skeptical of whether this would turn out, but it actually turned out great and was a big crowd pleaser.  It’s also a great multi-meal option, so while I served it as a breakfast, it would definitely work for lunch or dinner too.

Spinach Pesto StrataSpinach Pesto Strata (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6-8

  • 1 loaf stale bread (I used half of a French baguette and half of a whole wheat boule)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (thawed, drained frozen spinach would also probably work)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup pesto

Grease a 10×13″ pan with cooking spray.  Cut the bread into large bite-sized chunks, and add 1/3 of the bread to the prepared pan.  Layer about half of the spinach over the bread, add another 1/3 of bread, the remaining spinach and then the remaining bread.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, eggs, milk, salt, pepper and pesto.  Carefully pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach.  Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning remove the strata from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until set, a knife inserted into the middle should be mostly dry.  If the strata starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil and continue baking until set.

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Amazing Bruschetta

This is AMAZING.  My new favorite summer dish.  I plan to eat this all summer long.  It’s fresh and easy and absolutely delicious!  Bruschetta is a fun, classy appetizer that’s perfect for your next get together.  I’ve always thought of bruschetta as something reserved for ordering at restaurants, but it’s actually very easy to make and keeps well for several days.  French bread is sliced and drizzled with olive oil and broiled for about 60-90 seconds.  You can’t get much faster than that.

 

Bruschetta

Bruschetta (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 30

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

 

  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 5 lbs grape tomatoes (red and yellow mix)
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chiffonade basil
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 baguettes, thinly sliced

In a small skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté garlic for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on it, until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden.

Quarter the tomatoes and toss in a large bowl with oil and garlic, balsamic, basil and salt (being careful not to oversalt).  Toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (more or less as time permits).

Line baguette slices on a large baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil.  Broil on high for about a minute or two.  Keep a careful eye on the bread and remove it from the oven once edges have begun to brown (or to desired toastedness).  Top with bruschetta and enjoy!

French Boule

This was another bread-making experiment, and I have to say I was very pleased with the results!  I was asked to make the communion bread for my church, and after a bit of searching I found a recipe that was exactly what I was looking for. I needed a bread that was easy, soft enough that it’s easy to pull off a piece while passing the bread in church, and has a nice texture that won’t cause a mess of crumbs everywhere.  My dad said this was the best communion bread he’s ever had…which probably has to do with the fact that this is based off a French bread recipe, and there’s no bread like French bread in my dad’s opinion.  The bread came out looking a little funny…the bottom stuck the the pan and then it puffed up so it has a bit of a mushroom shape, but (think of it as a one-up mushroom from Mario, says Dad) it had a great taste and texture.  I’d definitely make it again!

While I made this in a stand mixer, if you’re up for an arm workout I think you could make this by hand as well, just knead the dough instead of turning on the mixer.

French BouleFrench Boule

Makes one loaf

Adapted from Taste and Tell

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups flour (I used half all-purpose and half white whole wheat)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water.  Let sit for about 5 minutes, until bubbly.  Add salt, oil and half the flour.  Using the dough hook, mix the dough until it comes together, then add the remaining flour.  Mix until dough forms (should pull away from the bowl easily).

Remove dough from the hook and let sit for 10 minutes, then turn mixer on for a minute.  Repeat for a total of 5 times.  After the last time, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Using a sharp knife cut a slash in the top of the dough, and cover with a clean dish towel.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Brush boule with egg wash (egg mixed with a little water), then bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

No-Knead Country Bread

I made this bread last week for School of Christian Living.  It turned out so well I think I’ll be making it again for communion on Sunday.

While this did take a long time to rise, I think the biggest problem is that my house is pretty chilly in the winter and I don’t have a nice warm spot for the dough to sit.  Maybe I’ll make a fire for my dough to sit by next time.

This bread has an excellent crumb and makes great toast.  It was convenient that one recipe can make two loaves, or as I’ll try next time, you can make one loaf in a large pot.

No-Knead Country Bread

Makes 1 large, or 2 smaller loaves

Adapted from  Apple A Day

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ (or flax meal)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together stirring until all the flour has been incorporated.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, dry place overnight or for about 8 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf.  Place in a large greased Dutch oven, or shape into two loaves and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise for about an hour.

With a sharp pairing knife cut an ‘X’ or three diagonal slashes across the dough just before baking.

If baking in a covered Dutch oven then place in a cold oven and set for 450°F and bake 40-50 minutes.  Remove lid and bake an additional 5-15 minutes until golden brown.

For two loaves, preheat the oven to 400°F and bake for 25-30 minutes, until bread is golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.

 

Frightfully Good Stuffed Pumpkin

Happy Halloween!  To celebrate… more pumpkin!!!

A year ago my aunt, Sharon, told Mom and me about this amazing recipe she made.  It sounded delightful, but stuffing a pumpkin sounds kind of hard, so we didn’t ever get around to making it until now.  And as I text Sharon, I kind of hate myself for waiting a whole year.  This is amazing.  Like holy YUM amazing.  I HIGHLY recommend you celebrate Halloween with one of these stuffed pumpkins.  Or if you don’t have a strict menu of timeless family favorites that you absolutely must make at Thanksgiving (like us), this would be a wonderfully lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table.  It’s vegetarian, so you can carve it instead of a turkey if you swing that way.  Just don’t wait a year.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait a week before making this again.

I picked up the cheese for this at Whole Foods, they have a bin of oddly shaped bits of cheese, so I was able to pick up Gruyere and Blue Cheese in just the right amount.  Then again having “leftover” cheese is never a problem in my mind.

Cheesy Stuffed Pumpkin

Serves 4

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

  • 1 pumpkin, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • 4 oz stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2″ cubes (however much fits)
  • 4 oz cheese, such as Gruyere, Swiss, Blue, Cheddar or a blend–cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a Dutch oven that’s the same diameter as your pumpkin (although your pumpkin will stick and you’ll have to scoop it out instead of cut into it).

Using a sturdy knife, carefully cut a cap off the top of the pumpkin.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits (just like carving a pumpkin).  Season the inside with salt and pepper and place on baking sheet or Dutch oven.

Stuff the pumpkin in layers, starting with the bread cubes, then garlic, then cheese.  Repeat until the pumpkin is filled.  Mix together cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Pour mixture into the pumpkin.  Adjust ingredients as needed, you want the pumpkin to be filled and just moistened by the cream mixture.  Put the cap back in place and bake for about 2 hours, check after the first 90 minutes, everything inside is bubbly and the outside is tender enough to be pierced with a sharp knife.  Remove the cap for the last 20 minutes so the top can brown.

Cut the pumpkin into slices and serve.

Apple Walnut Bread

I made this bread for church on Sunday.  I loved it.  Can’t wait to make it again.  It conveniently makes 2 loaves, so you have one to share or one to freeze if you can’t eat two loaves of bread in timely manner (although this bread might set new standards).

Apple Walnut Bread

Makes two loaves

Adapted from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

  • 4 cups shredded apple (I used 4 large Corland, peeled, cored and shredded)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups walnuts, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (could use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease  two 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pans with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Mix shredded apples and sugar in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes until sugar dissolves and there’s lots of liquid.  Add oil, eggs, vanilla and walnuts, mix well.

Sift together the dry ingredients and stir into the apple mixture until just combined.  Divide batter into the two loaf pans.  Bake 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Whole Wheat Rosemary Garlic Bread

I’m apparently on a bread kick, so here’s another loaf for you!

I had actually intended to make this bread for a catering event I was doing, but my yeast didn’t proof and I was too tired to get more at the time.  So I bought bread and new yeast the day of the catering event and served Whole Foods’ bread and made this when I got home.

This is a great bread.  It’s good for sandwiches or dip, good with butter or with hummus, flavorful enough on its own but not so overpowering that it can’t be paired with other things.

Whole Wheat Rosemary Garlic Bread

Makes 2 loaves (about 20-24 slices)

Adapted from Good Life Eats

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 tsp salt
  • sprinkle of flour to dust the loaves
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal for the pans

In a small bowl, add warm water, yeast, and sugar, whisk to combine and allow to sit while you assemble the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine both flours, garlic, rosemary, and salt; mix well.  Whisk the olive oil into the yeast mixture, then pour the liquids into the dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been moistened.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough for about 8 minutes, adding more flour as necessary until the dough forms a smooth ball.

Place dough in a lighly oiled bowl, turning over so the top is oiled.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

After the dough has doubled, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press to deflate it.  Cut the dough in half and shape one half at a time.  Press the dough into a square, then roll it up tightly.  Turn the cylinder 90 degrees and roll up again from the short end.  Place seam side down and cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit 5 minutes.  Repeat with the other half.

Dust large 11″x13″ jelly roll pan with cornmeal.  Gently roll the dough to elongate the cylinder, working from the center out.  Place the loaves seam side down on the pan and dust lightly with flour.  Cover with plastic wrap again and allow to rise again until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

After about 1 hour if your bread has made progress, preheat your oven to 450°F and position the shelf in the center of the oven.

Once the dough has finished rising, use a sharp knife to cut 3 or 4 slashes across the top of the loaf.  Immediately place the loaves in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove the bread to a wire rack and allow to cool.

Whole Wheat Flatbread

To go with the hummus I made a few days ago, I decided to try out this whole wheat flat bread.  It has the same cooking process as the naan I made a while ago, but tastes more like pita.  I like not having to turn the oven on but still getting tasty bread, so this process is better for the summer.  I ended up taking some flat bread to work and making wraps with ham and cheese, delicious!  The salt and pepper gives this flat bread a good flavor all on its own, but since it’s on the dry side I recommend serving it with a dip or something sauce-y.

Whole Wheat Flat Bread

Makes 12 small flat breads

Adapted from Joy the Baker

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking spray

In a small bowl or your measuring cup, whisk together 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar.  Let sit while you combine the the dry ingredients, mixture should fizz and foam showing that the yeast is active.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, salt, and pepper.  Add the yeast mixture and the other 1/2 cup warm water.  Mix together with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been moistened and you have a shaggy dough beginning to form.  Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until a smooth ball forms.

Clean out and dry your bowl, lightly coat with cooking spray and place your dough ball in the center.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When the dough has doubled, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few more times.  Cut the dough in half, form each half into a log and cut into 6 pieces each.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Roll out each dough piece into about 4 or 5 inch circles.  Place one circle at a time in the hot (ungreased) pan.  Cook on one side for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles begin to form.  Flip and cook for another minute or two to brown the other side.  Remove from pan.  If the bread begins to get too crisp as it cools, cover loosely with a towel and the steam will keep them nice and soft.  Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Honey Raisin Bread

I was asked to make the communion bread for church last Sunday.  A big responsibility!  I needed to make sure that it was at least part whole wheat, but other than that I had free-reign.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make, so after some internet browsing I decided on this no knead honey raisin bread.  While there were some humorous comments about the theology behind raisins in communion bread, I thought the mildly sweet bread was a great way to think about the sweetness of life!  At least that’s my cover story for the raisins!

This bread was really tasty.  It reminded me of cinnamon raisin bagels and would be delicious with a cream cheese spread, or toasted with butter, or just plain.  I used a combination of flours because I had them on hand, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Honey Raisin Bread

Makes 1 smallish loaf

Adapted from The Professional Palate

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup warm water

Combine flours, raisins, cinnamon, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.

Mix honey and water, add to dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place an enameled Dutch oven in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.  Carefully place dough into the hot Dutch oven, cover with lid and bake for about 22-25 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Carefully remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Multigrain Bread

I really liked this bread.  It has a nutty, hearty flavor.  It’s full of good for you things like oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and whole wheat flour.  Next time I’d do an egg wash on top so the sprinkle of oats and seeds sticks better.  This was delicious with freshly made blackberry jam!  The bread is hearty enough that you can cut pretty thin slices, so it’d be great for sandwiches as well!  Will definitely be making this again and again.

Multigrain Bread

Makes 1 loaf (about 12 slices)

Adapted from The Pastry Affair

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (12oz) warm water
  • 1 egg white for on top
  • sprinkle of oats, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds for on top

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until combined.  Slowly add the water stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and set in a warm place for about 2-3 hours, or until doubled in size.  Once doubled, punch down, shape into a log and place in a lightly greased 9″x5″ loaf pan.  Lightly brush the top with the egg white and then sprinkle some oats, and seeds over the top.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cover again and let rise for about an hour until doubled in size.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until just beginning to brown and sounds hollow when tapped.