Sunday, January 22, 2012

Healthier Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels

Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels
I always feel guilty when I eat bagels, they are a pretty high calorie breakfast. Not that high calorie breakfasts are bad. I think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone for the rest of your day. Sometimes the bulk of my daily caloric intake occurs during that first meal of the day, but I always try to make sure that those calories are nutrient rich, ie. full of iron, potassium, omega 3's, calcium, and fiber. That usually means oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts, granola, or Greek yogurt. I eliminated bagels from my diet when I first started to become health conscious not just for the calories but the emptiness of those calories.

Why did I bake bagels then you ask? Well I've found that when you make your breads from scratch you can control the salt, fat and nutritional content of the flour. Add a little prodding from my cousin for a bagel recipe and I quickly became determined to give bagels another go and perhaps make them healthier along the way.

The first thing I looked for was a simple basic recipe. I really didn't want to go the whole sponge/water weigh-the-dough-three-days-later-and-you-have-bagels route. I wanted a recipe that basically takes the same amount of time as making homemade buns or bread.

The second thing that I looked for was a dough that was low fat and low sugar. This recipe uses only a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of brown sugar.

The third requirement was whole wheat organic flour. This recipe had to be full of complex carbs.

So after quite a bit of research plus some significant changes and substitutions, I have developed what I think is a great recipe for basic plain whole wheat bagels. They have the perfect bagel consistency: dense but not hard, crisp edges, soft tender warm crumb on the inside and they have that amazing bagel chewiness. The brown sugar also adds a nice caramelized flavour that complements the whole wheat. This recipe is great as is or as a blank canvas for some incredible additions like cheese, cinnamon and raisins, chopped onion, minced garlic, caraway, poppy or sesame seeds.


Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels
Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels
by Kaitlyn McFadden

*makes 8 regular sized bagels

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt *optional (I always omit)
  • 4 - 5 cups whole wheat flour. Bread is best but I used Bobs Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour with excellent results
  • Large pot of water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of baking soda

Directions:
  1. Add the warm water, 1 tbsp brown sugar and yeast to a large bowl or stand mixer. Let sit until the mixture is frothy.
  2. Add the oil and optional salt and mix. Add the flour cup by cup until the mixture forms a ball. Only add flour if needed; dough should be smooth, not sticky and elastic but not too soft. The dough should be firmer and harder to knead than say a traditional sandwich bread. My dough was so firm that I let it rest for 5 minute intervals while kneading to allow the gluten to relax a bit. Knead for approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled.
  4. Preheat oven to 450F.
  5. Punch down the dough and divide into eight pieces. Form the pieces into balls pulling the dough tightly around and pinching it at the bottom to seal. Let rest 2 minutes then form into bagels by poking your thumb through the middle and using your fingers to stretch out the hole in the middle to approximately 2 inches in diameter. They will puff up so the hole needs to be big enough to accommodate for that.
  6. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. While those are resting boil the pot of water and add the tbsp of brown sugar. When the bagels are puffed up a bit more after resting and ready to be boiled add the tsp of baking soda to the pot of boiling water. Add the bagels to the water in batches. Boil for 30 seconds then flip and boil for 30 seconds more. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Sprinkle with desired toppings.
  7. Place in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 425F. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Flipping them over for the last minute of baking.
  8. Enjoy fresh out of the oven. Freeze any bagels you don't eat that day to retain their freshness.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Salmon Pizza and Cilantro Sauce

Salmon Pizza with Cilantro Sauce
Things have changed in the McFadden household....

Have you noticed that I haven't posted since New Years!

Well that's because I have a new full time job that fills up my week and leaves me with a lot less free time to spend blogging. I do intend to continue blogging, it will just most likely be once a week instead of 3 or 4 times a week. I'm still getting a handle on my new Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm work schedule. We've had to adjust everything; from my workout schedule, the time we eat and go to bed, and who does the shopping (Shawn). It is really helpful having him home as he takes care of most of the household chores and can do the shopping so I don't have to do all that when I get home at 5:15. Yes, I have a 15 minute commute...on my bike (I'm really loving this snow-free winter we've been having so far).

Make ahead meals have been so helpful. One of our favourites has been homemade pizza. Normally pizza night is a 2 hour event in our household. That doesn't appeal to me so much anymore on busy weeknights so I've started making batches of dough on the weekend and freezing them. Then in the morning before work I take one out and leave it on the counter to defrost.

I've posted the recipe for perfect pizza crust but I haven't shared my incredibly colourful,  delicious and different recipe for salmon pizza. This recipe is perfect for leftover salmon. We received some fresh salmon from friends that I baked in the oven and we had leftovers but not enough for two full servings. So I decided to try it on pizza to make it go further and boy was it delicious!

The secret ingredient that brings this whole dish together is my cilantro sauce inspired by the cilantro sauce at The Cheesecake Factory. God that stuff is good! I put it on everything so why not pizza!?
Cilantro Pizza

Salmon Pizza with Cilantro Sauce
by Kaitlyn McFadden

* I'm not including measurements for the pizza toppings as the amount will vary according to the size of the pizza and your personal preference.

Pizza Toppings:
  • One batch of perfect pizza crust dough
  • leftover cooked salmon
  • diced onion
  • diced red bell pepper
  • grated red cabbage
  • diced scallions
  • grated cheese (preferably a low moisture blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and provolone)
Directions:
  1. Roll out and shape dough. Top generously with spoonfuls of cilantro sauce (see recipe below). 
  2. Sprinkle with onion and pepper and top with grated cheese. Top the cheese with salmon and red cabbage and bake at 500 for 10 minutes using your preferred pizza cooking method ie. pizza stone,  baking sheet etc. 
  3. Just after you remove the pizza from the oven top immediately with the scallions and wait 2-3 minutes for it to cool before slicing. 
  4. Serve with fresh sliced tomatoes.

Cilantro Sauce
by Kaitlyn McFadden

Ingredients:
  • 2 bunches of fresh cilantro
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • Juice from 2 small limes
  • Zest from 1 small lime
  • 3 tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp of Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • Enough canola oil to blend to desired consistency. Approx: 1/4 cup
Directions: 
  1. Blend all ingredients together, except the oil, in a food processor. While blending, drizzle in the oil in the opening at the top of the food processor. 
  2. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Freeze any extra sauce.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fueling up Skiers with Chocolate for a Great Cause

Actually the title of this post should read, Fueling up my Husband with Chocolate for a Night Out on the Town.

Baking 100 Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
When I wrote my proposal for Decembers 24x24 on Foodbuzz, I had great intentions. I was going to participate in Meissner Nordic's Tour de Chocolate on New Years Eve. Meissner Nordic is a community nordic ski trail system run by volunteers and fueled by community donations in beautiful Bend, Oregon. The Tour de Chocolate is a fundraising event for Meissner Nordic where Bend residents are invited to come to Meissner and partake in a ski tour along the trails that involves chocolate tastings along the way. The chocolate tastings are donated by local bakeries and this year Kaitlyn Cooks planned on joining them. This event is for nordic skiers both local and visiting who want to support this community run and organized ski trail system. Over 100 people were expected to be at the event. Admission was set at $10 per person or $40 per vehicle. All donations go towards maintaining and grooming the trails for underprivileged children and families, local high school student and college teams to use. These groups cannot afford the expensive passes required to ski at privately owned ski resorts. Meissner Nordic wonderfully allows low income groups to access and be involved in snow sports.

This really was a great idea. I would get to bake hundreds of chocolately items to donate to a great cause and generate a little bit of publicity for both my blog and Foodbuzz. I wrote my proposal the day the Foodbuzz asked for submissions and I was ecstatic when my proposal was accepted.

Then the hurdles started popping up.

Midnight Baking Session - Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

The First Hurdle on December December 15th: Going away for Christmas. This was just a tiny little bump. I decided that the recipes I would make needed to be able to be made ahead of time and could be safely stored in the freezer. That way I could bake for the event days ahead of time and not try and bake 400 items the night before. I loved this idea! Make ahead desserts for the busy entertainer. Great blog post theme right?

The Second Hurdle on December 20th: I got a job and they wanted me to start full time the next day! This was great news. I'd been applying for jobs since late October and this was a great entry level position at a well respected firm. I started to panic a bit at this hurdle but after a long work-out I more calmly decided to start the baking NOW and work on a different recipe every evening until the 23rd.

The Third Hurdle on December 21st: The peanut butter cups I planned on making were a complete disaster. They stuck to the foil liners and fell apart; all of this after spending 2 hours Wednesday evening after work prepping them!!

The Fourth and Insurmountable Hurdle on December 30th!: NO SNOW!!!!! For as long as Bendites can remember we've had snow on the ski trails for Christmas/New Years. Not this year. A week of warm weather and uncommon rain meant that the Meissner Nordic Board postponed the event until a later date the day before it was set to take place! I was already committed. I had made 100 double chocolate cookies with blue and white chocolate mints and 100 dark chocolate (variously coated) truffles. I had also purchased the ingredients for the pounds upon pounds of peppermint fudge that I was going to make the night before and I had purchased all of the various little items I would need to cutely display my chocolates on my booth.

So what's a girl to do?

I've already spent the money and prepped the desserts and so I was committed to writing a post to be published on January 2nd for a 'party' that is supposed to take place the very next day; not at some later date yet to be determined!

I didn't have the time or the space to plan or hold a party at our place in less than 24 hours. Plus everyone already had plans that they booked weeks or months in advance! So what I'm showing/writing about today are the recipes for the desserts I planned to bring to the event and pictures of the finished product. The uneaten chocolate desserts I will  bring to work and/or save in the freezer for the next Tour de Chocolate. Which will  hopefully be soon as my husband (me too!) can't keep his hands off those truffles! :-)

All of these recipes are easy to make, use simple ingredients, can be made ahead, can be easily doubled or tripled, can be frozen until use, and look like they took a lot of time and effort to create.


Gorgeous Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are always a holiday favourite. They can come in a variety of flavours and styles. I went for a basic semi sweet chocolate truffle and for ease I split the batch into quarters and rolled each group in a different topping, making one batch of truffles look like four different recipes! For the toppings I opted for classic cocoa powder, powdered sugar, sweetened coconut and graham cracker crumbs. My favourite was the coconut and Shawn preferred the cocoa powder. The truffles were his favourite dessert...he called them 'little balls of super rich chocolatelyness'.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of your favourite kind of chocolate chips/chopped chocolate. I use Ambrosia semi-sweet.
  • 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp of your favourite extract; vanilla, peppermint, orange, almond
  • toppings to coat your truffles; cocoa powder, powdered sugar, shredded coconut, sprinkles

Directions:
  1. Place chocolate chips and condensed milk to either a microwave safe bowl or saucepan. If using a saucepan heat on low, stirring often until melted. If using the microwave, heat on high for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted.
  2. Stir in extract and chill for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture is firm enough to roll but soft enough to allow toppings to adhere. 
  3. These can be frozen and thawed either in the fridge or at room temperature. They are best served at room temperature. 

Peppermint Fudge
Peppermint Fudge

I already featured this on my blog and as it was such a hit with those who tried it I made it again. But only one batch as by the time I got around to making the fudge I already new the event was cancelled. Like I said before, I don't like fudge because it tends to get chalky. Not this recipe though! It's very creamy and melt in your mouth delicious. This is the recipe I'm most disappointed about not being able to share with the skiers. I think this fudge would have been a hit!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz tub of chocolate frosting (go for the dark chocolate kind)
  • 16 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips (I use Ambrosia All Natural)
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  • 6 candy canes crushed or a large handful of peppermint candies crushed

Directions:
  1. Grease an 8x8 square glass pan and sprinkle the crushed candy canes all over the bottom evenly.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 30 second intervals mixing in between until smooth and glossy. Mix in the peppermint extract.
  3. Place the frosting in the microwave (foil removed) and heat for 30 second intervals until pourable. Approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes. 
  4. Pour the frosting into the melted chocolate and whisk together until well blended and smooth. It should resemble a thick brownie batter.
  5. Pour into the greased pan over top of the crushed candy canes. Use a spatula to spread it to an even thickness. Pick up the pan and shake it gently to get the fudge mixture to fill in gaps around the crushed candy at the bottom of the pan. Place in refrigerator to set. This takes about an hour.
  6. Once solid remove the pan from the fridge and using a blunt knife, like a butter knife, scrape down one of the edges of the pan, separating the fudge from the side of the pan. Once you do one side, air gets in and should loosen all the other sides. Invert onto a cutting board and slice the fudge into squares
  7. I store mine in the fridge but they do very well at room temperature. They don't get too soft/melty or messy.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Kaitlyn McFadden

I've been using this recipe for quite a few years now. It's dependable, delicious, and always gets rave reviews. When I bring these cookies to a party they are always the ones that are finished off first. During the holidays I add 2-3 tsp of peppermint extract to the dough for a festive flavour. The cookies pictured are topped with blue and white chocolate mints to match the blue and white theme of this blog.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tsp vanilla/peppermint extract 
  • 1/4 tsp of instant coffee granules
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus an extra tbsp or two for high elevations)
  • 1 cup cocoa 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt *optional
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks 

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (375F for higher altitudes). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs, extract and instant coffee. Gradually add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and beat until well blended. The dough is on the stiff side when I make it. If your dough is really soft then add a little extra flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. 1 inch balls should allow for approximately 24 cookies.
  3. Bake cookies until edges begin to firm but center still appears soft, about 9-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.