Tag Archives: Food

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hard Cider


Growing up, I didn’t eat a variety of vegetables. Most of my green vegetable consumption consisted of iceberg lettuce smothered in ranch dressing or green beans out of a can sprinkled with salt. Oh, and steamed broccoli was my side dish of choice going out. I just wasn’t exposed to much.



But then I went away for college and all that changed. I ate asparagus, zucchini, artichokes, spinach. So many new foods and so many new preparations! I’m pretty sure I grew up thinking that I disliked vegetables, but now I firmly believe that one much taste a food in a variety of different preparations before concluding you actually dislike the food itself. One vegetable I think many dislike is the Brussels sprout. I don’t blame people for disliking it. It’s bitter and smells a little like gym sock, especially when steamed. But I don’t steam my Brussels sprouts. No, the tiny cabbage has become one of my favorite cruciferous vegetables (steamed broccoli with melted butter and salt still wins), but I either roast or braise mine! And when you pair Brussels sprouts with the salty savoriness of bacon and sweet tang of hard cider, you’ve got a great fall side dish! And just in time for the weather to turn cold. Smile




Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hard Cider

Serves 2-4

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 large shallots, sliced
3 large rashers of bacon, chopped
1/2 bottle of hard cider
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and sliced shallots and allow the bacon fat to render out and the shallots to become soft and fragrant.

In the meantime, using a knife or a slicing blade on a food processor, slice the Brussels sprouts into shreds.

When the shallots are soft and bacon fat fairly well rendered out, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the shredded sprouts. Saute for several minutes at this higher heat. When the sprouts are bright green (after about 3-5 minutes), pour in the hard cider, stir, and allow to cook down until there isn’t any cider pooling in the pan (a few more minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.


Is there any food you disliked growing up but learned to love?

Flour Tortillas, Gluten Free

When I first had to go gluten free, I learned quickly that the easiest way to survive this change in diet was to choose corn tortillas over flour. I live in Texas. My town is predominately hispanic. If we go out to eat, about 75% of the time it is for Tex-Mex food. I have learned to love corn tortillas over the past nine months, but my first love is really for flour tortillas. Those chewy flatbreads seasoned with their time cooked on well-used cast iron. I knew my favorite restaurant flour tortillas, and I could always tell when a restaurant served store-bought. There is no comparison.


Since I’m a self-proclaimed snob about flour tortillas, I took it upon myself to start making them from scratch in my own kitchen. My college years left me with lots of trial and error. My webmaster, John, was living with my husband (then boyfriend) in their first apartment when I first (to my recollection) took a shot at them. It was late at night, as the majority of our culinary experimentation and frivolity was, and I was tossing flour all over the place and over-kneading dough while John was earnestly applying all his body weight on the rolling pin trying to press out the tortillas thinly. The pieces would always seize back up into a rubbery ball, and the resulting cooked bread was thick and impliable!



Thankfully, I learned the key to perfect flour tortillas when I first used HOT liquid in my recipe. Suddenly, my dough transformed into a play-dough texture and easily rolled out into thin sheets of dough. These were tortillas that you could fold fajitas into and they wouldn’t break! They were thin, flexible, and chewy, rather than the hardtack from my college experiments!

But going gluten free last year officially threw a wrench into things. Simply substituting my whole wheat pastry flour with some other whole grain gluten free flour did not work. At all. And adding xanthan gum did not help either. But after reading about the baking properties of sweet rice flour, I decided to do some experimentation with my original recipe made for wheat flour and finally found success!



But here’s the warning you’re all waiting for: these are STARCHY. Sweet rice flour really functions more as a starch than a regular flour in gluten free baking. But flour tortillas aren’t about being good for the body, anyway. They’re good for the spirit.


Gluten Free Flour Tortillas
Makes about 8 tortillas

1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour (I’ve successfully omitted the millet and doubled the sorghum before, but I think the millet adds a little more depth of flavor)
1 1/3 cup sweet rice flour (do not use regular white or brown rice flour!)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 – 3/4 cup HOT water


In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt together. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk quickly. Pour 1/2 cup of VERY HOT water into the bowl. My tap water gets very hot, so I used that, but the temperature you are shooting for is “too hot to touch, but lower than bowling.” Stir with a spoon to mix will. If the mix is too crumbly and is not easily coming together in a ball, add a little bit of water one tablespoon at a time until it does.



The texture will be like play dough. Or a thick cookie dough. You should be able to roll pieces into a ball without leaving a bunch of residue on your hands. But it shouldn’t crumble apart either. This is probably the trickiest part about making tortillas. Failure happens easily when the dough is either too dry or too wet. But if you have to lean one way or another… go a little wet.



I invested in a tortilla press last year after I realized that using a rolling pin was a time consuming pain with the great frequency that I make tortillas, but a rolling pin does work well. This cast iron model I picked up from the local hispanic grocery store was only about $10.

Line a tortilla press with plastic wrap and place a ball of dough in the middle of the plate and press down. Or omit the tortilla press and using a rolling pin. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round!


Now gently lift one side of the plastic wrap off the dough. Then flip the exposed side down on your hand and with the other hand lift the other side of plastic wrap gently off the tortilla.

Quickly turn the tortilla onto a dry, seasoned cast iron pan that has been heated to the point of sizzling if you spritz water onto it (medium to medium-high). I use a nifty comal I picked up from a local antique store for $12!


Now here’s another important trick. Tortillas dry out VERY quickly and lose their elasticity, gluten or not. The very MOMENT that you can nudge the tortilla around the pan, FLIP IT.


Leave the tortilla on for only about 20-30 seconds on the second side. Then move the tortilla onto a plate covered with a damp towel. What I do is dampen one towel with warm water, lay it out and place a dry towel on top. I then fold the layers in half and rest the tortillas inside.



Soft, pillowy, chewy tortillas perfect for breakfast tacos, fajitas, or slathering with honey and snacking on!




Here are seven things I’m liking right now!


1. Not having TV

About a week and a half ago Edgar and I decided to cancel our cable television service. There was never anything good on anyway, and we figured the extra $20 a month could be better spent elsewhere. I already knew that most the time I had the TV on, it was for white noise, so I reasoned with myself, knowing that if I wanted white noise, I could turn on Pandora or a TV show on Netflix. It’s been a week and a half since we have watched traditional television, and we don’t miss it at all! It’s so nice not having to see or hear television commercials all the time! And as a bonus, we’re spending our time better now since we don’t have the TV as a time suck.

And just for an FYI, I am currently listening to some bluesy, classic rock and roll, and I love it!

2. Baby Johnson

After months of being told that they were having a GIRL, Justin and Aubrey were surprised with an 8 lb, 11 oz, 20” long baby BOY! Little Joshua William Johnson made his public debut a week ago today! I’m so happy for my dear friends!

I got him this onesie!!


3. Bread baking

I’ve been going crazy over here with bread baking. In the past week I have baked two different loaves of gluten free bread, and I have a gluten free sourdough starter in the process of growing, feasting, and fermenting on my counter right now.


I’ve already decided it going into two different loaves—a gluten free sourdough from Get Off Gluten, and a soaked spelt sourdough recipe I’m adapting from this page. I have not been tested for Celiac disease yet, but to do so I need to be eating gluten to some extent. I don’t plan on getting testing until at earliest this summer so in the meantime I think I’m going to utilize soaked spelt and kamut recipes for my yeasted breads and remain gluten-free for everything else. I already know that I tolerate spelt and kamut better than regular wheat. Perhaps soaking (to reduce gut-irritating phytic acid) will help even further? We’ll see.

In addition to this, I’ve been stalking The Fresh Loaf a great deal. I love that place. It’s a big forum for amateur (or not???) bakers. They toss around terms like “autolyse” and “dough hydration” and I have to refer to a glossary when I read just about any post, but the learning experience excites me!


4. Birth Without Fear



I was introduced to this blog through a fellow homeschool graduate over facebook. With half the people around me having babies and my unabashed interest in obstetrics and gynecology (a seed planted during my uterine didelphys diagnosis at age 12, no doubt), the concept of birth has been on the brain. It is fascinating to see how starkly different modern American obstetrical protocol is from traditional practices of childbirth worldwide. The average American hospital these days only knows two births—a medicated and “controlled” vaginal birth or a cesarean section, which is quickly becoming more the norm than not. Whatever happened to uncomplicated births? How did people handle breech births before c-sections became protocol? How did people manage labor before the epidural? I’m not against hospitals or medical intervention when necessary, but these questions intrigue me.

5. Honey

But not to eat!

For the past almost-year I have been washing my face with it! Honey is a natural antiseptic, and ayurvedic medicine suggests it is good for oily skin, so I decided to give it a whirl. And it works! My skin started clearing up when I quit washing my face with products containing salicylic acid, and when I made the switch to honey instead of commercial face wash, my skin got even better! If only I knew this as a preteen, then maybe I wouldn’t have spent so much money on junky creams and washes!

6. Pinterest

I have been on Pinterest since last summer, and since then my boards have become a mess of random pins. I have done quite a bit of re-organization in the past few weeks, though, and now I have some boards dedicated exclusively to baking, gluten free foods, and vegetarian recipes! Check them out! (Feel free to check out the rest of my boards as well! Winking smile )


7. Fertility Friend


While many use this program to help them get pregnant (or avoid pregnancy, using Fertility Awareness Method), I use it to track the progress of my PCOS management. Since I’m not taking pharmaceuticals to manage my hormone levels, I have to pay attention to my body’s signals and how they respond to lifestyle choices. I take my temps every morning at 7AM. I have a special alarm on my phone, a thermometer by my bed, and an app on my phone I use to log my temps before rolling over and going back to sleep. I later plug in my temps and any other symptoms I’m feeling (headache, cramps, irritability, climate of the netherworld, etc.) as well as things like what medication I took and if I exercised. Then, when it believes it has enough information, it calculates which day I probably ovulated (if I ovulated all!) and seeing the chart patterns over time helps indicate a specific hormonal imbalance that may need tending to.


An abormally…normal…ish chart. This was last month—the shortest cycle I have EVER had, and the earliest day of ovulation I have ever observed (it’s normally observed around day 19 for me). Exercise (the 02 spot at the bottom) obviously managed my hormones levels to the point where my cortisol rose, my DHEA lowered, and my cycle didn’t last so frickin long. Of course, my scary low follicular phase temps might be a cause for thyroid concern despite my “normal” TSH blood test results. Another typical part of PCOS treatment I need to consider.

And in case you are wondering, no, we are not planning for children in the near future. We have some career and possible relocation decisions to make before then. Winking smile

Vegan Baking Adventures

Next week my office is hosting a going-away brunch for a fellow coworker who is leaving to go work in the Metroplex, and we’ve all been asked to bring a dish to share. I love baking quick-breads, and I recently found out that another coworker is vegan. I love vegan baking! I consider it some sort of challenge and an art form in itself. It defies conventional logic and pushes my thinking out of the box.

I decided to test out a muffin to share.

I started out with the idea of almond butter muffins. Then I found a recipe that included bananas. What a great idea! I have overripe bananas, and they contribute a good amount of moisture and natural sweetness while cutting down on excessive fat! Plus that gives it an upscale Elvis feel, y’know. Almond butter and bananas?

Anyway. I knew that I was entirely out of sucanat and had no desire to run to the store, so I figured a liquid sweetener would suffice. I got half-way through decrystallizing my honey when I realized—duh—honey isn’t vegan. I’m all out of agave (figures), so the next best option was grade B maple syrup. Yes, I knew almond butter and maple syrup go together beautifully. I’m sure most foodies have discovered Justin’s maple almond butter packets in the grocery store, but grade B maple doesn’t normally have a very subtle flavor! But it totally worked in these and did not overpower at all.


Here’s what you need!


Whole wheat pastry flour is the secret to successful 100% whole wheat muffins that everyone will love. The texture is very, very close to that of regular white flour. I use it in practically everything. In fact, I’ve only found two recipes where it didn’t really work out as well as white flour. But that’s another post.



Conventional baking recipes use milk/yogurt and eggs. I used soy milk (but I plan on using rice milk next week) and a “flax egg.” I love using flax eggs because it’s cheaper than actual eggs, plus it keeps me from using my expensive local, pastured eggs in recipes I can’t even taste them in.



The beauty of quickbread recipes is that the instructions are simple. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl, all the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then combine the contents of both bowls until gently combined (but don’t over-stir!). Sometimes you can get away with using just one bowl—combining all your dry, then adding your wet ingredients individually and then mixing, but since this recipe involves some chunky and sticky wet ingredients in all different textures and viscosities, I don’t recommend the one-bowl route.




And if you’re feelin’ frisky, you can add some non-dairy chocolate chips!


Has anyone else used these chlorine-free baking liners? I had some issues with my foil liners back in January with them pulling apart from my cupcakes. I never have that issue with muffins, so I don’t know if it’s the quality of the tin or the recipes themselves. I decided to pick these up when I saw them at Sun Harvest Sprouts last week. Any ideas on how to keep my liners from pulling apart from my cupcakes?!




If there’s one baking supply you absolutely MUST HAVE in your kitchen, it’s this rounded bowl scraper. I got this as a graduation gift from my aunt. It came from the Container Store and it’s pretty nifty with conversion charts on both sides of it. I know Walmart sells cheaper, simpler varieties. But like I said, it’s an absolute must. If you don’t have one, I beseech you to go out and get one now! There’s a whole world of raw batter to be discovered! And whether that batter ends up in your muffin tins or in your mouth is entirely not my business.

But even if you did eat this batter raw, it’s okay! No eggs! Winking smile



Where was I? Oh yeah!


Fill your muffins with about 2 ounces of batter. I used a nifty one-ounce disher, but most-the-way full is about right.



Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges brown, clean toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, gentle tap on the top shows muffin to be reasonably firm, the weather radar in your trick knee goes off, or the cows come home. Whatever works for you.

Allow muffins to cool entirely on a cooling rack before consuming.




These muffins are subtle in flavor and in sweetness with a mild and slightly complexed banana flavor, like somewhere between banana bread and the feeling you get after eating an almond-butter-banana sandwich. And another thing, they’re not too sweet! One of my biggest pet peeves is muffins that taste like frosting-less cupcakes. Called me old-fashioned but I don’t think cake is an appropriate breakfast food.

So enjoy!



Vegan Almond Butter-Banana Muffins

Adapted from CC Recipe
Makes 6-8 muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup natural almond butter
1 large overripe banana, mashed
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
~1/4 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (optional)

First, in a small bowl, combine ground flax with 3 tbsp hot water. Stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes so it can congeal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.

In another bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, almon butter, banana, “flax egg”, vanilla, and non-dairy milk togther and stir until well-combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix!

Fold in chocolate chips.

Dish out about 2 oz of batter per muffin into a muffin pan filled with liners.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean.

Quality Ingredients

It think the sky has finally broken. Beginning the first weekend of the month, it appears that the anti-moisture force field surrounding Plainview has lifted, because we’ve finally been seen big cumulonimbus cloud cover and *gasp* actually get sort of spit on because of it! While we still haven’t seen any significant collection of rainfall since October, it’s a start. Many of our evenings since the first of the month have looked like this…


… even if most the time we still don’t get wet.


One of this evenings was last weekend. The cloud cover was able to cool our area enough where grilling outside became tolerable. No, pleasant, even! We took advantage.

Edgar and I came across some fresh-caught-and-flown-in-that-week wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon and decided to smoke it on the grill using this recipe!



We paired it with some red potatoes I picked up from the farmers market that morning (roasted in some olive oil with minced garlic and chopped rosemary), and some greens I sauteed in some butter (a mix of homegrown swiss chard and some storebought organic arugula and spinach). We washed it down with the same wine we marinated our salmon in—a chardonnay from Cap*Rock Winery, a local vineyard.


It was all delicious! Ed’s pretty much a fish snob. He normally won’t eat fish, unless he feels he can fully trust its source and handling. Living 12 hours from the coast has left us with far too many putrid farm fish experiences. But we both loved this recipe! I especially recommend squeezing a bit of the lemon juice on top. Smile



For dessert I pulled out some Magnum ice cream bars I was able to obtain through the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program. I first discovered Magnum in Europe at a lonely little convenience store in the middle of the Czech countryside, and I may or may not have muttered some pubescent boy humor in response to the name. Winking smile While the ice cream looked good in Europe, I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream at the time, so I didn’t try it. Shortly thereafter my trip I received a message from FoodBuzz announcing its affiliation with Magnum Ice Cream and I was thrilled to see it offered stateside!

We picked up the vanilla bean flavor covered in dark Belgian chocolate.


You know how often novelty ice cream has a sort of artificial flavor to it? Not these!! These really were 270 completely-worth-it calories of real ice cream decadence. I’d totally get them again! The only thing is that they’re rather pricey. Best for a once-and-awhile treat!


Overall, I’m very proud of this meal. I love being able to utilize the best ingredients I can get my hands on, whether it’s buying local from our farmers market (which FINALLY opened last weekend!), buying organic from a grocery store, or growing my own food.

Have you seen this video yet??

I already buy organic on some items, but this video did encourage me even further. Plainview has slim pickin’s as far as organic anything goes, but when I go to Sun Harvest/Sprouts in Lubbock, I make a greater effort to choose organic when I’m given the option. Honestly, it doesn’t affect my budget much. I choose produce that’s in season and/or on sale, so I rarely spend more than 50 cents/lb more than conventional. Those few dollars extra spent are usually accounted for simply by choosing to buy only what I need instead of haphazardly throwing things in the cart (still a habit I’m working on…).

I think people choose to buy organic for different reasons. Mine is a combination of stewardship ethics, economic ideals/industry support, health, and simply wanting my food to taste exactly how God designed it to taste, and therefore increasing the flavor quality of my cooking.

What do you think? Do you buy organic? If so, why or why not? And to what extent?

Burrito Salad

This past weekend for our Saturday night dinner event, I served build-your-own burritos, in the style of places like Chipotle and Freebirds. Basically I was craving a burrito and didn’t want to travel an hour away to get one.

Inevitably I made WAY too much food for our dwindling number of summer participants (FOUR), so that ultimately meant LEFTOVERS. Edgar and I have had some combination of our leftover dishes in practically every lunch and dinner since Sunday night, but I’m not complaining. Sure could do worse!

Normally when I go to Chipotle/Freebirds, I order a veggie burrito with cilantro-lime rice, fajita veg, corn salsa, black beans, guacamole, and queso fresco. But sometimes I like to mix things up and get it in the form of a salad! And that’s what inspired this lunch I had Monday afternoon.


  • Spinach/arugula blend
  • Raw kale
  • Cilantro-lime brown rice
  • Sauteed peppers and onions
  • Barracho black beans
  • Roasted Corn Salsa
  • Queso Fresco

I’d add some avocado, but there weren’t any perfectly ripe ones at United that day. Sad day.



I’ll leave you with a quick recipe!

Roasted Corn Salsa

2 ears of corn
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 jalapeno, seeded, and diced small
1 large shallot, diced small
1 small tomato, diced small, rinsed of excess moisture and seeds
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Peel off husks and cornsilk from the corn cobs. Brush 1 tsp of olive oil on the corn cobs and roast on a grill (or on a cast iron pan on the stove set over medium-high), rotating every few minutes until evenly speckled with roasted bits of corn.

Cut corn off cobs and place in a medium bowl. Mix in the jalapeno, shallot, tomato, and cilantro.

In a separate small bowl, mix remaining 2 tsp of olive oil, lime juice, sugar, and salt. Then mix into the corn.

Serve immediately at room temp-ish, or chill.


Have you ever been to a burrito bar? What do you normally order?

Snooping in my kitchen: The fridge!

Let’s interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to play, Snooping in my kitchen. In this episode, I’ll show you pictures of what’s going stale in my fridge right now and you’ll be excited, right?!

Actually, after three hours of loading 100 photos into one blog post yesterday, I just wanted a break from trip pictures.

And really, sometimes this can be quite fun. I had a college classmate (sort of. She graduated before I came to Wayland) who would sometimes list the contents of her dorm room mini fridge on her Xanga, and I always found it quite interesting to see what college students choose to store at their convenience.

First up! The top shelf. This is where I keep the majority of my dairy and dairy-ish items.



Thawing chickpeas. I’m making channa masala!

Organic heavy cream. For making my own half-and-half. And whipped cream. And butter and buttermilk. I’m hardcore.

Honey jar of leftover coffee. Wait, what?

A chunk of gruyere cheese

Goat cheese

Honey jar of bacon grease. I use it in cooking like butter. Therefore it goes on the dairy shelf!

Organic whole milk European style yogurt. Lately I’ve been participating in 100 Days of Real Food weekly mini-pledges, and the challenge for this week is no low fat/lite/fat free anything. The only grocery items that were really affected in my household were yogurt and milk, to the husband’s great joy. I actually started buying whole milk yogurt after my trip to Europe, where NO dairy was reduced fat. I felt relieved while eating my muesli with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, oranges, and WHOLE milk yogurt almost every morning and then later when I was able to button up my jeans more comfortably than at the beginning of the week. Since I’ve never had a problem overeating dairy (okay, except ice cream), this didn’t really change my diet much. Plus, my last blood tests revealed I could use some more monounsaturated AND saturated fat in my diet. Only problem is that I have to travel to Lubbock to get whole milk yogurt. Grrr.

Next shelf! The produce shelf!


I like to pull a Roni and keep a lot of my produce at eye-level. I do use my crisper for things like carrots and broccoli, but things that go bad quickly I like to keep at eye-level.

Zucchini wrapped in a paper towel (them things get sticky and wet when they age. Paper towel helps prevent that)

A few aging stalks of asparagus (Edgar ate all but two. What the heck?!)

One leek

Alfalfa sprouts

Leftover canned pumpkin

Organic spinach. A staple in my household.

Sliced Mushrooms

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Perfectly ripe avocado (I leave it on the counter until it’s ripe, and then if I’m not ready to eat it, I stick it in the fridge to halt the ripening)

Half an organic red pepper (waste not want not)


The protein+leftovers shelf


Local bacon

Leftover Eggplant and Tofu Curry

Thawing local grass-fed sirloin steak (Edgar is finally on a rotating shift, which means this week he gets to work days and be home with me in the evenings for the first time since November! We’re celebrating by grilling steak on Tuesday!

A tiny container of gravy Edgar brought home from Dairy Queen. I have no idea.

Eggland’s Best eggs. I normally buy local, pastured eggs but my delivery won’t come until this weekend. Plus I got a coupon through the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program. Whee!


The drinks and bulky items shelf


Organic unsweetened soy milk. (How long does opened soy milk last in the fridge??)

Edgar’s Gatorade

Leftover Leek, Bacon, and Gruyere quiche

Organic whole milk


The veggie crisper drawer


Organic baby carrots

Organic whole carrots

Organic celery

Organic broccoli

The fruit crisper drawer


Organic apples. That’s it. Most the fruit I buy is not fridge-friendly (mango, bananas, frozen berries, etc)



The Door (ooooh dread! We actually don’t use many condiments, but they’re there on the rare occasion we need them)


Mascarpone cheese (I use it instead of cream cheese, since cream cheese has a lot of ingredients I can’t pronounce)

Small chunk of parmigiano-reggiano (the real stuff)

Some leftover chunks of Challenge unsalted butter (I honestly can tell a difference in the flavor between this stuff and the store brand. I don’t care how many times they call it a ‘flavor seal,’ parchment paper wrappers are not appropriate for unsalted butter. Only aluminum foil is, and only Challenge seems to understand that!)

Rapid Rise yeast

Lime juice


Fig jam

Crofters Organic North America Superfruit Spread

Blackberry jam

Sweet pickle relish

Sundried Tomato Paste in a tube!

Tiny jar of grape jelly from a coworker


Stubbs Barbecue sauce

Jack Daniels Barbecue sauce

Low Sodium Kikkoman soy sauce

Organic grade B maple syrup (after three expensive bottles of spoiled maple syrup, we realized we were supposed to refrigerate them. Ahh!)

Light raspberry vinaigrette

Unsalted ketchup

Spoiled grade B maple syrup (sigh)

Dijon mustard that Justin and Aubrey left at our house a month and a half ago (we are not a mustard-eating family!)


Whipped cream in a can Edgar bought it.

More pickle relish Why?!?

Smart Balance mayo spread (for the rare occasion I make tuna salad. Really, that’s its only purpose. Same with the pickle relish, in fact.)

Asiago Caesar dressing

Leftover ganache from the Death by Chocolate Mini Cupcake experiment.


White wine (Clos do Bois Chardonnay. Very good, especially when consumed after freshly corked! Though we have a habit of not drinking it quickly enough before it oxidizes)

Red wine (Red Truck Organic Petit Syrah. Also good, but not my fave.)



Alright folks! Hope you… uh.. enjoyed that?

Coming soon on Snooping in my kitchen—the freezer and the pantry!

Anything strike you as weird? Interesting? Unexpected? Completely typical? Hehe.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve got in your fridge?

Auf Wiedersehen, Germany!

As I write this, I’m on a bus heading to the German/Czech border. Does anyone know when Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic?

Fun fact: When I was in 4th grade, I was assigned to share where I would like to visit in my life. Since my mom had recently taken us on a family trip to West, Texas, a town inhabited by Czech immigrants, I decided I wanted to go to Czechoslovakia! Of course, part of why I chose that country was the fact that I was in fourth grade and could actually spell and pronounce it, so I admit there was a bit of showing off there. Winking smile


I will say that one of the things I want to do while in the Czech Republic is find a kolache. A real one. By the way, it really irks me when people call a sausage wrapped in pastry dough a kolache. A kolache is a danish pastry filled with fruit or cream cheese. The sausage thing is a pig-in-a-blanket. THANKYOUVERYMUCH.


Anyway. We had a fantastic time exploring Leipzig yesterday. After our breakfast feast, we went on a morning bus tour around some of the major areas of Leipzig. We visited the city hall, and the Battle of Leipzig memorial (the battle being sometime during the Napoleonic wars). Then we visited the Bach Museum, the Thomaskirche and the Nikolaikirche. They are both churches where Johannes Sebastian Bach served as the music director for some time. We were also blessed with the great privilege of singing concerts in both churches!!




















During the afternoon we were able to explore the inner city on around own, eating and shopping at whim.


Mariah and I bought some chocolate! I’ve been nursing this 70% dark chocolate with crystallized ginger for about three days now.




The statues depicting the story of Faust…



Rubbing the foot of Faust for good luck. Not sure why. Faust wasn’t a very lucky fellow…



We pwn. I know.



Proof I was here!




We found American street performers singing I’ll Fly Away. Kris, being Kris, joined in.


More proof!



Mariah, David, Kris and I decided to eat lunch at this Italian joint. The waitress was rather frustrated since there was already a group of Americans (from our groups) upstairs, and she her English wasn’t very good. We didn’t want to perpetuate the stereotype of the “stupid, loud Americans,” so we made sure to be extra kind to her. She did seem to warm up to us after a while!

As for the food, I ordered a bottle of San Pellegrino. I’ve never had unflavored sparkling water before yesterday. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I had some bottled seltzer water from Walmart once and found it disgusting and akin to Alka-Seltzer. I don’t know if it’s simply because my tastes have changed since then or if San Pellegrino legitimately tastes better, but I was in love!


For my meal, I ordered the grilled seabass with rice. The waitress actually had to ask me whether I wanted to filet it myself or if she should. (!!!!!!!!!) I felt like Julia Child right there! But yes, I let her do it, because if I left it to myself, there was a good chance that I would have died from choking on a bone. Just sayin’




Soooooo yumm!! Everything was wonderful and we tipped the waitress a good 20%, even though apparently the suggested tip is somewhere between 8-10%. Ah well. She deserved it. Smile

After a few hours of wandering around the shops and sipping my first European cappuccino, we held our first official concert at the Nikolaikirche, one of the churches were Bach was staffed at some point. I let a friend use my camera to take pictures. He did a pretty good job!




Our first concert was a great success and we sounded amazing! I’m hoping to get some video feed of us sometime this week so I can share what it is we apparently do best. Winking smile


So that wraps up Saturday and our final day in Leipzig. Coming soon… Terezin and Prague!



I’m sitting in the band hall getting ready to leave on a bus headed to DFW. Here’s what I packed for snacks!



Unsweetened dried mango, a Larabar, some Justin’s nut butter, some 72% dark chocolate, and bananas. Let’s see how much of this actually makes it onto the plane!


Wish me luck! I’m not sure when I’ll get internet service, so I guess we’ll see when this pops up!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I was right! I said in my previous post that perhaps the reason why my pizza crust was too crunchy for my liking was the fact that I left it in the oven too long. I decided to use some leftover dough for dinner and this time it was only in the oven for about 5-8 minutes. Perfect chew! Many people like thin crust for the crunch. Honestly, I prefer a chewy crust. I go for thin crust because it means fewer calories. So if I can get my chewy crust in thin form, all is good in the world! And that seems to be the case in my kitchen right now.

This recipe is something of a combination of Roni’s Thin Crust Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, Jenna’s Best Pizza Crust, and a little know-how as learned from Mr. Alton Brown. I wanted to create a “’high-protein” whole wheat pizza crust for Weight Watcher Points Plus’ sake, and so I incorporated soy flour. And because I love a great deal of chew, I used bread flour, a higher-gluten wheat flour, in place of all-purpose, and opted for an addition of vital wheat gluten to ensure a nice rise and chewy texture, which can be difficult to achieve when using whole wheat flour and the completely gluten-less soy flour.

Michelle’s Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
makes 2 large pizza crusts (can easily make 24 slices of pizza, total)

2 1/2 tsp (or 1 packet) of active dry or quick-rise yeast
1 1/3 cup warm water (preferably about 120 degrees)
1/2 cup soy flour
1 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 tbsp ground flax
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil + more for rubbing

Combine water and yeast together in a small bowl (I used a measuring glass) and allow the yeast to “bloom” for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the flours, the flax, the gluten, and the salt together thoroughly. Stir in the olive oil. Once the yeast has bloomed (it will look foamy), stir into the dry mix until you get a sloppy ball.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead the ball for about 10 minutes, or until the whole ball is smooth and evenly moistened without being sticky or dry to the touch. Add more flour or water in the kneading process, as needed. Sometimes it’s needed. Sometimes it isn’t. Ball will be done “kneading” when it becomes sort of elastic. It shouldn’t tear easily when you fold it over on itself, and you should be able to poke it gently with your fingertip and have the dough bounce back fairly easily.

Lightly oil the ball on all sides and place in a large bowl and cover tightly. Place in a warm place for several hours at minimum (until the ball doubles in size), or up to a day. I prefer to leave mine out for, at minimum, overnight, since that gives the gluten time to relax and make the dough easy to roll out without pulling back into a smaller round.

Once you’ve allowed the dough to rise for the amount of time you wish, cut the dough in half (for two large pizzas. I wrap up the second and stick it in the freezer for a quick pizza night at a later date) and with one ball, press out into a small round starting with the center of the ball. Use a rolling pin if you wish to roll out the dough, starting the pin from the center of the dough and rolling outward, turning the dough after each roll so you get whatever shape you wish (round, oval, amoeba… whatever).

Top with whatever ingredients you wish (pre-cooked where applicable. Don’t try to “cook” ingredients that require more than a few minutes in the oven, because you don’t want to overcook your crust), and place in a 400 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes, or until the crust firm at the bottom and a bit puffy on top. Or, if you’re using cheese as a topping, when the cheese is sufficiently melted to your liking is a good gauge.

Serving size: 2 slices (1/12th of the recipe or 1/6 of a whole pizza crust)
Calories: 154
Fat: 2.7 grams
Carbohydrates: 24.88 grams
Fiber: 4.32 grams
Sugars: .06 grams
Protein: 8.98 grams
Points Plus: 4


Don’t forget about my Lea & Perrins Giveaway! Winking smile

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