Friday, February 13, 2009

Making Friends with Yeast & Mix It Up!

For some reason, yeast and I have not gotten along. I have tried a few times through the years to make bread or rolls, but they never turn out right, which is a shame because my family and I devour fresh rolls. I have avoided yeast altogether for years. This week, I decided that there is no reason that I can’t be friends with yeast with a bit of practice. I knew that my first attempts would not result in perfect rolls like my sister Heather’s, but like any skill, I will get better with practice. So here are the first two recipes that I tried this week. Neither turned out great, but they weren’t as bad as I was expecting and the house smelled so good while they were baking. If you have any favorite roll recipes for beginners, send them my way! I am not giving up this time.
Tasty Rolls
These weren’t as heavy as they look. Most of them were pretty light, but I did have a few which weren't as airy. These turned out pretty good for my first attempt in years. We ate them all within 24 hours!

5 c. flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 c. milk
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix 2 cups flour and yeast. In a separate bowl, heat milk, water, oil, sugar& salt to lukewarm in microwave. Add all at once to flour mixture and beat till smooth. Mix in enough flour to make a soft dough (2-3 cups). Mix well, then turn out onto floured surface and let rest under a bowl for about 10 minutes.

Shape dough into 12 slightly flat balls and place on greased baking sheet to rise till doubled in size. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cuban Bread
I have never had Cuban bread so I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like or taste like. This has a nice crispy crust, but is very soft inside. Apparently, it’s used to make Cuban sandwiches kind of like a Panini, but I served it with spaghetti and marinara dipping sauce. (Cuban bread with Italian spaghetti?? I know) It tasted good with the sauce, but pretty plain without it. I usually like fresh bread all by itself. Maybe it’s because it didn’t have any oil or butter. You can see that I need to work on bread skills by the lumpy, bumpy appearance of the crust. Some day I’ll get it nice and smooth!

3 pkgs. active dry yeast
4 t. brown sugar
2 c. water
5-6 c. bread flour, divided
1 T. salt
1 egg (or 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash)
3/4 c. hot water

Combine yeast, brown sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl; stir to mix. Stir in 2 cups of the flour; beat well. Let stand 10 minutes for yeast to develop.

Stir in salt. Add remaining 3 to 4 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until a stiff dough forms. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep dough manageable. Dough should be smooth, elastic and not sticky. Oil the surface of the dough and put it in the rinsed mixing bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough. Knead lightly. Form into two long loaves. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet; place loaves on baking sheet. Let rise, uncovered, 10 minutes. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf. Brush loaves with egg wash. Place on middle shelf of a cold oven. Place a shallow pan on the bottom shelf; pour hot water into pan. Set oven temperature at 400° and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until loaves are well browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet and let cool on wire racks.

Vegetable Lasagna
I found this at San Diego Cooks. It has lots of vegetables, but isn’t vegetarian since it calls for ground turkey. I used ground beef since Robin doesn’t like ground turkey. (Even though I think I could have gotten away with using it in this recipe.) The kids weren’t too happy about finding “a salad inside the lasagna”, but they liked the taste. Robin and I really, really liked it.
1 bottle of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1/4 t. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz. extra lean ground turkey breast
2 T. balsamic vinegar

2 c. fat-free cottage cheese
2 egg whites
1/4 t. nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
3 c. shredded zucchini
1 c. shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
12 pieces lasagna pasta, cooked
12-14 fresh basil leaves
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1 c. fresh spinach leaves
2 T. Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. In a saucepan, heat olive oil and cook onion until soft, then add garlic. Add ground turkey and cook until browned. Add spaghetti sauce and vinegar, heat for about a minute and set aside. In a separate bowl mix together cottage cheese, egg whites, nutmeg and pepper: set aside. In another bowl mix together zucchini and mozzarella cheese and set aside.

In the bottom of a 9x13in pan, evenly spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce. Place 3 pieces of pasta on the sauce without overlapping. Now build your lasagna layers starting with ½ cup of your cottage cheese mixture. Next comes all of your basil leaves followed by your mushrooms and 1 cup of the sauce mixture. Now add 3 more noodles, 1 cup zucchini mixture, and spread your spinach over the top evenly. Add ½ cup cottage cheese mixture and three more noodles. Add remaining sauce, zucchini mixture and top with the Parmesan cheese. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 35 minutes: uncover and cook another 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

Seco de Pollo (or Seco de Gallina)
This is an Ecuadorian dish that Robin grew up with. These measurements are estimates since I learned how to cook it from my suegra (mother-in-law) and she told me just use “some of this” and “some of that”. She knows how to do it without measuring of course. This is kind of my version of it. We usually have it with yellow rice and fried plantains, but we had used up the plantains so I fried potatoes instead. (It’s a good way to get kids to eat veggies without them knowing.)

The Sazón that I use comes in a small box and has individual envelopes of seasoning inside. The kind I use is with coriander & annatto. Not all supermarkets carry it, but I find it at Wal-Mart in the Latin foods section.
1/2 onion
1 green pepper
2 tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
Handful of fresh cilantro
1 t. cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
1 envelope Sazón by Goya
2 t. canola oil
Juice from ½ lime or lemon
1 lb. chicken (cut in parts or boneless, skinless breasts)

Place all ingredients except the chicken in a blender. Add enough water to blend well. Put in half of the mixture in a skillet and put chicken on top. Pour remaining mixture on top of chicken. Cover and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked, adding a little water and mixing into sauce occasionally as needed. (Cooking time will vary depending on size of chicken pieces.)

Light Broccoli and Cheese Soup
I made only half a batch since I wasn’t sure if we’d like it, but we did and next time I will make a full batch. I used skim milk and it turned out fine for us.
1 c. chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 c. reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 (16-oz.) package broccoli florets
2 1/2 c. low-fat milk
1/3 c. flour
1/4 t. black pepper
8 oz. light processed cheese, cubed (Velveeta Light)
Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

Chocolate Caramel Bars
I forgot to buy milk chocolate chips so I used the semisweet that I had on hand. The way the butter is listed in the ingredients is a bit confusing. I thought that probably it was saying to put 1 cup of butter in cold and the 2 tablespoons melted since you are supposed to have a crumbly mixture, but I wasn’t sure. I just melted the whole thing and it wasn’t crumbly at all, so I think the 1 cup is supposed to be cold. That's okay. It still turned out an ooey-gooey yumminess. Make sure to make this ahead of time so the caramel can set before you need to cut.1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. soda
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. + 2 T. butter, melted
1 (14-oz.) bag of caramels (48)
1/2 c. whipping cream
1 pkg. (12-oz) milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, oats, salt, soda, brown sugar, and butter. Mix well to form a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 of crumbly mixture in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Melt caramels in whipping cream over low heat. Sprinkle chocolate chips over baked mixture and top with melted caramel. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture on top. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake
This is my new favorite cake!!! It doesn’t taste low-fat at all. There isn’t a strong pumpkin flavor. To me it tastes like a moist chocolate spice cake. I didn’t have pastry flour so I substituted about ½ cup of cake flour and ¼ cup all-purpose flour for the pastry flour and then added the 1 cup all-purpose flour. I also threw in about ¾ cup chocolate chips to the batter before pouring into the pan. The recipe came from Eating Well , where they have lots of tempting, but healthy recipes.
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. salt
1 c. nonfat buttermilk
1 (15-oz.) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 c. dark brown sugar packed
1 lg. egg at room temperature
1 lg. egg white at room temperature
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 T. vanilla extract
Glaze & Garnish:
1/2 c. packed powdered sugar
1 T. nonfat buttermilk
2 T. mini chocolate chips or toasted chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl.

Blend 1 cup buttermilk, pumpkin puree and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Beat in whole egg and egg white. Stir in oil, corn syrup and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 2 hours.

To glaze & garnish cake: Combine powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon buttermilk in a small bowl, stirring until completely smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the top; garnish with chocolate chips (or chopped nuts) while the glaze is still moist.


  1. They all look so good!!! I may have to try the caramel bars. I'm a sucker for anything with caramel in it!!

  2. I am so going to make some of these recipes. Thanks so much for sharing!


  3. Funny girl! Thanks for the compliment on my rolls. You keep it up and you and yeast will be best buds in no time! Yummy looking recipes.. all of them!

  4. Oh my gosh, i know what you mean, i have always stunk at making bread! But here is the best recipe for rolls i have ever tried, EVER. You have to have a bread machine, but dang, they are awesome.
    Luv, Melanie

    Buttery Rolls
    * 1 cup warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F)
    * 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    * 1/4 cup sugar
    * 2 eggs
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    * 4 cups bread flour
    * 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast


    1. In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).
    2. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 portions; shape into balls. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 13-16 minutes or until golden brown.

  5. The caramel ones made me fair doing that to me on a night without dessert!

  6. I am looking forward to trying out a few of these recipes. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I have added you to my list of people I follow. Have a fabulous day!


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