Julia Child’s French Bread

February 29, 2008 at 7:21 am | Posted in Daring Bakers | 26 Comments
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Julia Child’s French Bread is way outside of my comfort zone. And it’s exactly why I joined the Daring Bakers…to try recipes I would have never attempted on my own, to challenge myself, and to learn.

I decided to make my bread on a Sunday. It was raining. My daughter had a fever so I knew I would be home bound.


I started at 8am by mixing the yeast and water, then flour, salt and more water. My dough was pretty wet, so I added a few handfuls of flour.


I kneaded with my dough hook, finished by hand and started the first rise at 8:40am.


An hour and a half into my first rise I knew there was trouble. My dough looked really wet. I was worried about the rise.


Not wanting to waist the day, I decided to start a second batch. By 10:40am it was rising next to my first batch.


Sure enough, after a three hour rise, my second batch had tripled in size while my first batch seemed to have stalled. I took the second batch, deflated it and started it’s second rise. After two more hours it looked good.


I cut, rested it, formed the loaves and allowed it to double in size for it’s third and final rise.


On to the oven.


The bigger one on my pizza stone and then the other two on a large baking sheet.


And finished…about 8pm…12 hours later. (A solutions note: Despite this being freshly baked french bread, it was after 7pm and I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t slice into it until the next morning)


Now, for that first stalled batch. I sprinkled in more flour. And then more. And more still. I allowed it to rise and rise and rise. It never got that nice dough look, but it seemed like a waist to throw it out so I cut it in half, let it rest, and shaped the dough. I did one round and one braided. (I had already completed the challenge to it’s strict specifications). I allowed these two a final rise then baked them. To the braided one rather than brushing with water I used an egg wash and sprinkled it with poppy seeds.


And the close up.


I must say, this French Bread is beautiful! I wouldn’t say it’s the best bread I’ve ever eaten (I’m more of a sourdough girl), but it’s really good. I would make it again for a special event or dinner party.


Right now, I am dying to pick up a wedge of brie cheese, sit down and enjoy!


This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Breadchick Mary of The Sour Dough and Sara of I like to Cook. Thanks for the fun challenge ladies! Be sure to check out the hundreds of other Daring Baker French Breads!



A photography note…of the 14 pictures on this post, 9 were taken on manual mode. #6-9 photos were on auto…partly because I was getting tired, partly because it was getting darker in my kitchen. Angela, you inspire me to do better!

Cravin’ Oatmeal

February 28, 2008 at 8:17 am | Posted in breakfast, flaxseed meal | 5 Comments
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Oatmeal is not one of those foods I ever thought I would love, let alone crave. And I never thought it would be worthy of a post. But it has become a necessary part of my day. And this mix was is good, so good in fact that I wanted it for dinner last night. Inspired by Kath, here is my favorite way to enjoy my morning meal.


Cravin’ Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 T walnuts, chopped
  • 1 T golden raisins
  • 1 T mini chocolate chips

Cook the oats in water for 5 minutes. While they are cooking, whip banana with handheld mixer. Stir in ground flaxseed. Then the cooked oats. Top with walnuts, raisins and chocolate chips.

This breakfast has 404 calories and 12.5 grams of fiber.

She’s having a baby Meringues!

February 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Dessert, essay | 10 Comments
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My little sister is expecting her first baby in the fall! I am so excited to meet my little niece or nephew. So excited in fact that I’ve been searching Gymboree and Janie and Jack for cute newborn outfits. I’ve browsed Pottery Barn Kids‘ selection of nursery items. And baby shower food keeps running through my brain.

I think these Meringue Kisses are the quintessential baby shower food. They are light, airy and crispy. Slightly sweet with a hint of flavoring…they are so cute stacked on the dessert table. Add the strawberry extract and lots of pink food coloring if expecting a girl!


Meringue Kisses

  • 3 egg whites at room temp
  • 1/4 t cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract (or strawberry extract)
  • 1-3 drops of red food coloring (depending on how pink you want these)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Increase speed to high and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar beating until stiff peaks form. Mix in extract and food coloring.

Spoon meringue into pastry bag. Bake for 3 hours or until dry and crisp. Cool on baking sheets. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Can be made the day ahead.

From Semi-Homemade Desserts by Sandra Lee

I’m having so much fun in manual mode that I had to share these photos as well.

The single meringue


And the triple shot


Edamame Salad

February 25, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Posted in veggie side | 6 Comments

When I am in the mood for some asian inspired flavors, this is my go-to salad. It is easy and has all of the flavors that my mouth is wanting.

Edamame Salad

  • 16 oz shelled edamame (can be fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 t salt (optional)
  • 1 T evoo
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Toss the edamame, vinegar, evoo, salt, pepper, red onion and cilantro in a bowl. Cover and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

Adapted from The South Beach Diet

solutions week 14

February 24, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Posted in solutions | 11 Comments


Saturday– After treasure hunting around the flea market and then Whole Foods (that was super fun, thanks Mary!), I stopped by Starbucks, picked up a tall soy latte…and ran 4 miles in 43 minutes.

For the week I am just shy (.5 mile) of my goal of running 15 miles.  I think starting the week with this goal kept me focused and motivated to meet the goal.  And blogging about it kept me accountable.

Friday– I spent 30 minutes in the weight room this morning; tricepts, shoulders, abs, squats, push-ups…and I ran 2 miles in 20 minutes…tonight I am so sore. My feet hurt. My legs hurt. Even my forearms hurt. No walk tonight. Finished eating at 6:15pm.

Thursday– I got up early this morning and did a 2.5 mile run. Finished eating dinner at 6pm. It was so nice out this evening that I ended up playing tag with my kids and the neighbor boys for 20 minutes. I was out of breath and sweating by the time my kids crashed and were crying on the ground. After bedtime stories I went on my 28 minute walk.

My Girl Scout Cookies came. A box of thin mints, Trefoils (my favorite) and All Abouts. They contain Hydrogenated fats. And I’ve enjoyed every single on of them.

Wednesday– I met Crystal at the gym this morning and ran 2.25 miles in 24 minutes. I hate getting super hot, red, sweaty at the gym (I know, isn’t that what I’m suppossed to do there) so I will get in another .75 mile run when I walk tonight. I felt sluggish all morning, but then came home and had my bowl of oatmeal and now I feel much better!

Totally forgot to mention that in the weight room this morning we worked our bicepts, shoulders and butts! Tonight’s dinner and eating was finished at 6:20pm and then I went on my walk. I started with my .75 mile run (wanted to get in the 3 miles today).

Tuesday– I met Crystal at the gym. There was not a treadmill to be had so we went on the ellipticals for 35 minutes. I think it’s much harder to get a good workout on the elliptical. After that we hit the weight room for back, tricepts, and a great set of abs.

We finished eating at 6:30pm and I went on a late 45 minute walk.

Monday– Today I ran 3 miles in 30 minutes. Yes, that is 3 ten minute miles, continuously. And it is with out a doubt my best run yet. It may have helped that I had a tall soy latte (thanks for the tip Allison) before my run. Dinner was finished at 6:20pm and I’m about to go on a 30 minute walk.

I woke up Sunday morning and felt good. I was excited to get on the scale thinking that I had lost another 2 pounds. So, naturally I was a bit deflated when it read 148 pounds, same as last week. The thing is, I feel smaller.

Thinking about the Dr. Oz goal of loosing 1 pound a month by cutting just 100 calories a day and Bob Greene’s goal of loosing 1-2 pounds a week, I am right in there…9 pounds in 13 weeks.

I know I am making positive choices and am on the right path. Here are my solutions for this week:

Run 15 miles
Gym’s Weight Room 3 times
Walk after Dinner
No eating after 7pm
Drink water (easy, I’m down to just 2 cups of coffee per week)
Avoid Hydrogenated Fats
Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup





    I tried to make a new friend in the kitchen yesterday…Hemp Milk. What a disappointment! I was planning on pouring it over my oatmeal in the morning like so many others have done…now I’m not sure if I should keep it or pour the $5 down the drain. I probably should have tried Vanilla Hemp Milk first.




    As for Run Swim Bike Cook, I have completed my option, the running challenge! I have logged 32 miles since Monday, February 4th.



    Chez Panisse

    February 23, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Extras | 4 Comments
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    Today we went to Chez Panisse for lunch! World famous Chez Panisse! Executive Chef and Owner Alice Waters‘ Chez Panisse! In a word, wow! Fresh from the garden, fresh from the sea, locally grown, organic, environmental harmony and optimal flavor all combined to make a fabulous lunch!


    I enjoyed a fresh (and I mean straight from the garden fresh) green salad and then fish over polenta with a side of spinach. For dessert my dear hubby and I split (and by split I mean I had a bite of) the chocolate (brownie? I don’t know what to call it, but brownie is the closest thing I can think to call it) with cognac and white truffle oil ice cream. I also tried a bite of Crystal’s apple tart and.it.was.so.good.


    This is a photo of me (on the left) and Crystal. She organized our fabulous lunch!


    And this is a photo of all the girls (the hubbies ran to the cars, it started raining). I love my friends…fun, faithful and fabulous!

    Cinnamon Babka

    February 21, 2008 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Dessert | 19 Comments

    “Cinnamon takes a back seat to no Bobka. People love cinnamon. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, “Oh This is so good. What’s in it?” The answer invariably comes back, Cinnamon. Cinnamon. Again and again. Lesser Bobka – I think not.”

    I had never heard of a Babka until that Seinfeld aired- The Dinner Party. This is one of my all time favorite episodes…George in his Gore-Tex coat shopping for wine with Kramer, Elaine and Jerry in The Royal Bakery wanting a Chocolate Babka but someone else gets the last one so they get the Cinnamon Babka. Jerry eating the infamous Black and White cookie…so many memorable scenes.

    I found a recipe on Epicurious and after a couple of tries, here’s my Cinnamon Babka. I think Jerry and Elaine would be happy.


    Cinnamon Babka (makes 2 loaves)

    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1 package dry yeast
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 cup non-fat milk
    • 4 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1/2 cup chopped golden raisins


    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 egg
    • 2 Tbsp milk
    • 1 cup flour
    • egg wash
    1. Cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth
    2. In a seperate bowl, beat the egg yolks. Mix the yeast in warm water with 1/2 tsp of sugar. After this thickens, add it to the egg yolks along with the vanilla and salt.
    3. Combine the milk with the egg yolks and the creamed butter and sugar.
    4. Begin adding the flour until a soft dough is formed. Mix in nuts and raisins. Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky.
    5. Cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm place, about 2-5 hours.
    6. Spray a bowl with non-stick spray, place the dough in it and allow to rise another 2-3 hours.
    7. For the filling, cream the cinnamon, sugar and butter, then mix in the egg, milk and flour.
    8. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12×20 inch rectange. Spread the filling over the dough within 1 inch of the edges. Holding the long side, roll up, cut in half and put each bread in a buttered and floured loaf bread pan. Brush the top with an egg/water wash.
    9. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

    I am submitting this Cinnamon Babka to MasterBaker’s first event: Cinnamon


    Classic Downing Dinner

    February 20, 2008 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Family Meals | 7 Comments

    “What’s everyone doing for dinner tonight”? Someone always asks when my girlfriends and I get together for our weekly park play dates. This is my classic go-to meal…chicken, rice and a veggie. Simple. Satisfying. The kids like it. The adults like it. And I can make it with very little effort.


    The chicken breasts we get from Costco, individually flash frozen. I bake them according to the bag’s directions…375 degree oven, sprinkled with Mrs. Dash, tented with aluminum, and baked for about 35-40 minutes. Always moist and flavorful. Two breasts is plenty for us.

    The broccoli was frozen and heated in the microwave.

    I tried the white rice with quinoa tonight and it was a success. Rinse* 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 cup of rice. Then pour it in a rice cooker with 2 cups of water.


    And for dessert? My dear daughter and I had nectarines while my son got to play Lego Star Wars on the Wii with my hubby.

    *Many thanks to Gretchen for explaining to my the importance of rinsing Quinoa.

    butter(nut) noodles

    February 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Posted in butternut squash puree, Family Meals | 7 Comments

    My kids love buttered rigatoni noodles. And in an effort to get more veggies into their meal, tonight I made a butternut squash sauce to go over their noodles. My son (the white eater) was at first a bit resistant, but when I told explained it was a “butter” sauce, he ate and enjoyed!


    Butter(nut) Noodles- Combine 1/2 cup of butternut squash puree with a heaping spoonful of ricotta, 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, a splash of milk, Mrs. Dash to taste.


    I’ve been TasteSpotted! My humble Cherry Chip Cupcakes are my first feature! Looking for some inspiration?  Check out TasteSpotting. This photo and food collection is amazing!

    angel food cupcakes

    February 18, 2008 at 7:02 am | Posted in Cupcakes, Dessert | 17 Comments

    Growing up my grandmother always served the same cake for birthdays…angel food cake. Year after year, birthday after birthday it was an angel food cake with lemon pudding in the middle and cool whip covering the sides and top.


    When my kids were celebrated their first birthday, I carried on with tradition and made angel food cake and topped it with cool whip. Back then, they didn’t even know what chocolate was…but they do now!


    One of our favorite frostings is Chocolate Syrup Frosting from the Cake Doctor. It is creamy, chocolate-y and still light and luscious. To make it take 1 stick of butter at room temperature and mix it with 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/2 cup chocolate syrup. Then slowly add 3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted. Then 1 Tbsp of milk and a tsp of vanilla.


    Of course, in my family it’s not a birthday cake if it’s not Angel Food Cake.

    Angel Food Cake (from Epicurious)

    1 1/2 cups egg whites (11 to 12 large eggs)
    1 1/2 cups (150 g) sifted confectioners sugar (sift before measuring)
    1 cup (100 g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
    1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    1. Let egg whites stand in bowl of a standing electric mixer at room temperature about 1 hour before making cake.
    2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    3. Sift together confectioners sugar, flour, and salt onto a sheet of wax paper using a triple sifter or fine sieve.
    4. Beat whites in mixer until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating, and continue beating just until whites are thickened and form soft, droopy peaks. Beat in vanilla.
    5. Sprinkle one fourth of sifted dry ingredients over whites and fold in with a rubber spatula gently but thoroughly. Fold in remaining dry ingredients, one third at a time.
    6. With a cupcake scoop, gently fill ungreased cupcake pan with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the cake springs back when touched lightly.
    7. Invert the pan by setting the edge of the pan on something (I used a couple of juice cups) and allow to cool completely. Use a narrow knife to run around the edge of the cake and pan to remove the cakes. Makes 36 cupcakes.

    I am submitting these Angel Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Syrup Frosting to Cupcake Hero: Project Baby in honor of her little one turning one!

    …imagine my pictures had I given my kids this chocolate syrup frosting…and look at my dear daughter, hardly has a speck of food on her face.

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