Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And the Winners Are....

Congratulations to the following winners of a coupon good for a free loaf of Rudi's Organic Bakery bread! I've contacted you via email, and you have 48 hours to respond.

Winner 1:

Comment #3:

Congrats, Jenn!

Winner #2:

Comment # 16:

Congrats, Lisa!

Winner #3:

Comment # 23:

Congrats, Kerrie!

Winner #4:

Comment # 1! (It is said that the first comment in a giveaway is cursed and never wins! It won today!)

Congrats, Stephanie!

And last, but not least, winner #5:

Comment # 22:

Congrats, Kelly!

Thank you to all who entered. To the winners, I'll be emailing you shortly. I hope you enjoy your Rudi's breads as much as I do!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 8/30 to 9/5

Wahoo! It's almost September! September, how I love thee! Apples, apples, and more apples! I'm so looking forward to apple recipes. Are you? I hope so, because I intend to share quite a few!

This week's been slow around here, with not many new recipes to share with you. But here are three we made and enjoyed:

Messy Lenny -- Such a hit that we're doing it again this week!

Anyway, here we are at a new week, and  that means it's time for menu planning. The timing's perfect, because I've got to go to the grocery store tomorrow and do my shopping. So, I've looked over my store's sales ads, and here's what I'm planning for this week:

Breakfasts will include:
  • Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies and maybe some cheese
  • English muffins with fruit and cream cheese
  • Hash Brown Casserole
  • Breakfast Bagel Pizzas
Lunches are packed for everyone but me. I consulted the lunch box crowd, and they'd like to see bagel pizzas, shredded chicken, tacos, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs. Gee, I wonder who's being influenced by poor cafeteria food choices! So, it's my mission to send them to school with lunches they love and ingredients I'm comfortable giving them. Follow my mission at 360 Lunch Boxes.

Dinners. Dinner is my favorite meal to plan. I love sitting around the table with my family at night. Here's what's on the menu this week:
  • Slow Cooker Lasagna with salad and garlic bread
  • Beef Stroganoff on Egg Noodles, which I'll attempt to make from scratch without a machine
  • Messy Lenny sandwiches on Soft Sandwich Rolls, cole slaw, and cinnamon apples
  • Brew Stew (recipe will be posted this week), crusty bread
  • Out to eat
  • Chicken & Gravy over biscuits
  • Soup (Broccoli Soup), Salad, and Bread sticks
Planned Baking:
A couple of other fun things you can look forward to this week are a coffee drinker's review and a guest post.

While you're here, don't forget to stop by and enter to win a loaf of Rudi's Organic Bakery bread. There will be FIVE winners and there are very low entries so far, so your odds of winning are great! I'll draw for a winner Tuesday morning.

Menu Plan Monday is a weekly link-up hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie. Head on over and link up your weekly plan.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Polenta Tots

It's the end of the month. I planned very, very poorly for groceries this month. Therefore, our last several days of the month have had to be more creative than even I care for. And my favorite Bare Cupboard recipe searching site, Cooking By Numbers, seems to have been taken off the 'net for some reason, so I've been seriously winging it. I haven't done too badly: we've had vegetable lo mein, bean & rice burritos, even some pan-fried pork chops. But I'm going to be so glad when grocery day rolls around. Enough of this seat-of-my-pants stuff.

One of the tricks up my sleeve is polenta. Using just one ingredient (well, okay, one main ingredient plus seasoning), I can create several dishes: grits, and polenta prepared many ways. Today, I made polenta tots. They're bite-size bits of polenta, baked until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, golden in color and resembling tater tots. Here's how I do it:

Polenta Tots

What You Need:
  • 2 cups uncooked polenta (also called grits)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced parsley
How it's Done:
  1. Combine everything in a tall-sided saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and maintain a simmer, stirring constantly, until your arm is about to fall off. Then, switch hands and do it some more.
  2. No really -- cook and stir about 20 to 30 minutes or until the polenta is pretty much a solid mass that takes a long while to fall back into place after you run a spoon through it.
  3. Line a 9x11" baking dish with parchment or foil. Spread polenta in the dish. Cover and refrigerate several hours, or overnight.
  4. Remove polenta from the pan. Cut into desired shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Flip over and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with more sea salt when they come out, if you want.
  5. Serve with pizza sauce.

Bites Around the Blogosphere

Good Sunday morning to you! I've got a recipe to share with you a little later today. For now, check out these tasty bites I found this week:

Raspberry Jam at Andrea the Kitchen Witch, because making jam is yet out of reach for me, so I turn to others' expertise.

White Chocolate Peppermint Pie at Beat Until Fluffy

Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups at From Glitter to Gumdrops

Cherry Blueberry Preserve at Finding Joy in my Kitchen

Chicken Empanadas at Food for my Family

Coconut Chocolate Macaroon Cupcakes at Soap Mom's Kitchen

Haystacks at Veggie Num Nums

Friday, August 27, 2010

Messy Lenny

Sloppy Joes. They're the things of childhood. I have fond memories of Manwich and ground beef on a soft, white hamburger bun, dripping all over my plate.

Manwich, however, contains ingredients that I don't want to consume. Take a look:


Tomato Puree , (Water , Tomato Paste) , High Fructose Corn Syrup , Distilled Vinegar , Corn Syrup , Less Than 2% of: Salt , Sugar , Dehydrated Onions , Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Peppers , Chile Pepper , Tomato Fiber , Spices , Guar Gum , Xanthan Gum , Dehydrated Garlic , Carob Bean Gum , Natural Flavors

No, thanks.

And I love beef. I really love beef. It's the only meat I have a love affair with. However, I'm in my 30s, and I need to eat less of it. I'm striving for a mainly plant-based diet, so most beef has to go. My whole family benefits from eating a mostly plant-based diet. Enter the lowly lentil.

Lentils make wonderful ground beef stand-ins for several recipes: Meatloaf, tacos, and sloppy joes are three of my favorites. After reading mixed reviews on lentil sloppy joes, I decided to venture forth and create my own spin on this idea. I love sloppy joes, so it was worth the effort. What I got was a recipe that tasted so much like the Manwich of my childhood that I wouldn't have known the difference had I not been the chef.

This is not a Sloppy Joe. This is Messy Lenny. The Lentil.

Messy Lenny

What You Need:
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 1/2 a large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup ketchup (check for high fructose corn syrup!)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • a few dashed of garlic powder
  • buns for serving (I suggest this recipe)
How it's Done:
  1. Cook lentils in water until tender. Some folks say they can be cooked in 30 minutes. I find that 60 is more realistic. Here's how to cook them: Add lentils to water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender. Check the water level occasionally to prevent scorching. After cooking, if there is more than a couple tablespoons of water left, drain some out and proceed.
  2. Add onion, pepper, and oil. Cook and stir until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and serve on buns.

Another Look at Crackers

Yesterday, I wanted to make some crackers for a snack in my daughters' lunches. I went searching all over the Internet looking for just the right recipe. I settled on this recipe, but changed it quite a bit. Don't be intimidated by nutritional yeast. It's not the same as the bread rising sort of yeast. Nutritional yeast is golden in color and is usually flaked. It's also not the same as brewer's yeast. Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor to it and is great for seasoning and for making cheesy sauces. These crackers taste like a cross between Goldfish and Oyster crackers.
Nutritional Yeast is often sold in the bulk section of health food stores.

Homemade Crackers
adapted from Shmooed Food

What You Need:
  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • a few shakes of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup cold olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp ice water
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt for topping, if desired

How it's Done:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while stirring. Then, drizzle in the water and apple cider vinegar.
Form the dough into a ball. I found it easiest to form it into three balls and work with smaller pieces.

Roll the dough very thin -- under 1/8th of an inch. This is important, because the crackers will puff up substantially even this thinly rolled.

Cut as desired. I used some small cutters. You don't have to do that. You can use your pizza cutter to cut them into squares.

Place them on your baking sheet. 1/2" apart is plenty, as they don't expand.

Bake the crackers 10 to 12 minutes, or until browned. They will get crispier as they cool.
Repeat until all your dough is used. It's much harder to reroll "recycled" dough. It gets very stiff, so use as much of it as you can the first time around.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Post: Solar Cooking

Hi Friends!

Today, Sharlene is going to talk to us about cooking with the power of the sun. I hope you'll enjoy what she has to say. I know I'm fascinated by the prospect of solar cooking and one day, I plan to try it out for myself!

Solar Cooking is Cutting Edge Green, Healthy, and FREE!

First of all, I really want to thank Michelle for the invitation to guest blog on All Home Cooking. All Year Long. It's always fun to meet new people and in BlogLand, it's a special joy.

Some of you may know me but, for those who don't, let me introduce myself. I'm Sharlene Thomas and the author of "A Month of SUNdays - Solar Cooking at Home." My focus is bringing solar cooking to mainstream cooks so that you can enjoy all the health and financial benefits I've enjoyed since discovering this fantastic way of preparing my meals. And, like Michelle, it's all home cooking. I would love to have you visit my blog for more information and recipes.

Let me make it clear, up front, I'm not asking anybody to get rid of their stoves or other kitchen appliances. No way! I'm simply asking that you consider adding a solar oven to your cooking arsenal to put money in your pocket, as well as help keep America green.

All you have to do is invest the same time and energy you do in preparing your current meals. Food preparation is no different from what you are already doing. Just follow your recipe and use the solar oven when it's time for the long-cooking process. Because so many people think of solar cooking primarily for camping, I work hard to make sure that my recipes include all types of cooking: down-home, original and gourment recipes, frozen and prepackaged mixes, as well. For a great introduction to solar cooking, check out my original Roasted Whole Chicken on a Celery Rack.

A solar oven can do everything a conventional oven can do -- but the fuel is FREE -- and, with care, your oven can last 20 or 30 years. Now, that is some serious money in your pocket. Need an example of what can happen to your energy bill? Check this post.

Tired of people complaining about your food or making you feel bad, check out my posting "An Honest Opinion is a Matter of Taste" to feel better.

Having a garden can only enhance home cooking. Want an easy way to plant a garden, anywhere, for fresh veggies and fruit, without the backbreaking labor? Check out this post, "Save Your Back - Use Lasagna Gardening." There's nothing like fresh veggies to make a meal sparkle.

Do yourself a favor and find out how many sunny days and partially-sunny days you have available in your state (we have 272 in NC!) and take advantage of the benefits of solar cooking. You will definitely see a difference in your utility bill and, not only will you be doing your part in saving our fossil fuels, you'll love the food!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Tag-Along

Tuesday Tag-Along

Hi there friends! Thanks for stopping by. While you're here, why not enter to win a free Rudi's Organic Bakery product?

Sit & stay a while. I've got some fabulous recipes for all sorts of things, like...

And if you're looking for lunch box ideas for back to school, check out my other blog, 360 Lunch Boxes.

Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment with a link to your blog and I'll swing by later today.

Rudi's Organic Bakery Review & Giveaway

image courtesy Rudi's Organic Bakery

The moment has arrived: I'm here to talk to you about some fantastic breads. Have you heard of Rudi's Organic Bakery?

I love to bake bread. I can make it all: sandwich loaves, burger buns, dinner rolls, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, bagels, English muffins, and more. However, I don't always have the time, and if I'm honest, I don't always have the inclination to bake bread. I only bake bread when time and desire are both present. When I can't bake it myself, or don't want to, I turn to Rudi's. Rudi's Organic Bakery churns out top-quality breads that I can trust.

Trust. Let's talk about that for a moment. These days, it seems there's always something negative on television or in print about the food industry. It can be hard to trust those that manufacture our foods. After all, we're putting our lives in their hands! Therefore, it's important to me to find companies who cook with ingredients I know and would use in my own kitchen. It's important to me that my family's foods are:
  • all natural
  • organic if possible
  • full of flavor
  • fresh
  • from a company who I can feel comfortable supporting.
Rudi's fits the bill. Let's break it down:

All Natural
  • "Made with stuff you can pronounce and ingredients you recognize" -- Rudi's
The ingredients in the Honey Sweet Whole Wheat: Organic whole wheat flour, water, organic honey, organic wheat gluten, organic evaporated cane juice, yeast, organic high oleic sunflower/safflower oil, sea salt, organic oat flour, organic vinegar, organic molasses, cultured organic wheat starch, organic barley malt, ascorbic acid, natural enzymes
  • No synthetic ingredients
  • No chemical pesticides
  • No high fructose corn syrup


Full of flavor

Are they ever! Rudi's makes some of the best breads I've eaten! They have a strong, pleasant aroma, great, soft crust, wonderful, chewy texture, and lots of flavor.

The Cinnamon Raisin bread is addictive! It's thick slices are loaded with raisins, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds. It's such a wonderful treat, with a taste so rich and so filling that you have to read the nutritional information to make sure you're not actually eating dessert! Each slice has THREE grams of fiber! Topped with a smear of cream cheese and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, Rudi's Organic Cinnamon Raisin bread is heaven on your plate.

My whole family enjoyed the Spelt Ancient Grain bread. Full of great stuff, like spelt, quinoa, flax seeds, kamut, amaranth, and millet, it's a bread that's delicious, chewy, and good for you.

Honey Sweet Whole Wheat was my Picky Eater's favorite bread. The other day, I made her some round sandwiches for her lunch box, and she asked for the crusts to munch on while I was making lunch. Any healthful bread that gets the Picky Eater Stamp of Approval is a winner with me, too. The nutritional facts for this bread are wonderful: 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 3 grams of fiber for each generous slice.

Country Morning White is a classic white bread.

 While all those grains in the other Rudi's Organic line are full of goodness and things we ought to be reaching for, sometimes, you just need a white bread. Reach for Rudi's. It's soft, yet sturdy, and has a deliciously rich, smooth taste. We found it to be the perfect bread for grilled cheese sandwiches.

  • Rudi's Organic Bakery breads have a shorter shelf life than other store-bought breads. I love that. It tells me that they avoid all those weird chemical preservatives that other companies use.
  • The breads taste fresh baked right out of the package.

From a Company I Feel Comfortable Supporting

Rudi's Organics has a values list that I love. Go read them. They'll put a smile on your face.

And while you're there, check out who Rudi's partners with. The names include:
Rudi's is a fun, upbeat, positive company. Check out Rudi-isms for another smile. And connect with Rudi's on Facebook and Twitter. They love to hear from their fans.

Now that you know all that about Rudi's, how would you like to try a loaf for yourself, on the house? You can win one of five coupons for a free Rudi's Organic product. Here's how to enter:

  • You must be a public follower of my blog via Google Friend Connect to win.

  • Leave a comment telling me which product you'd like to try. Visit Rudi's to see all their great organic bakery products. Please include your email address if it's not available in your profile. If I can't contact you, you can't win.

  • Entries must be received by Monday, August 30th, at 11:59 p.m. I will use Random.org to select five winners on Tuesday, August 31st and notify them by email and here on All Home Cooking. All Year Long.
Rudi's Organic Bakery sent me one loaf each of Cinnamon Raisin, Spelt Ancient Grain, Honey Sweet Whole Wheat, and Country Morning White for my review. No other compensation was received and the opinions in this review are strictly my own.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday -- Last Full Week of August!

I'm so happy that we're at the end of August! Time seems to be flying by. My kids have already been in school 3 weeks. It's almost September, which brings with it weather that's a tiny bit cooler. Then, there's October, which brings with it my wedding anniversary and Halloween, and cooler weather still. And before we can blink, it'll be November, with Thanksgiving and the newest Harry Potter movie (so excited about this!), and Christmas will sneak up on us, and we'll be back to New Year's Day!

So what will that mean for cookathome2010.blogspot.com? We'll have some changes, but it will all be for the better. Anyway, I'll talk about that when the time draws nearer.

Three exciting things coming this week: two reviews and a giveaway! Stay tuned for details on those.

We really enjoyed these foods last week:

Here's what I'm planning to cook this week (and Monday of next week):

  • Something with two gigantic Porterhouse steaks. I'd like to do something new with them, rather than the same delicious grilled steaks we usually do. This is the only meat meal we'll have all week.
  • Lentil Sloppy Joes on homemade rolls
  • Black Bean Burgers, also on homemade rolls
  • Quiche
  • Rice & Vegetables with Gravy
  • Pintos & Rice. Possibly with cornbread.
  • 2 nights of leftovers, to use up whatever's needing to be eaten.
The above will be served with any number of the following:
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • corn on the cob
  • cauliflower
  • cucumbers
And here's what I'll likely be baking this week:
  • several varieties of bread
  • sugar-free coconut macaroons
  • honey popovers
  • muffins of some sort
Lunches: Army Man, Picky Eater, and Bayberry take lunch each day. I'll be eating whatever's leftover or whatever looks good.

Breakfasts: pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, fruit, eggs, and juice

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Which I Entertain Children, Bake Bread, Make a Discovery, and Take a Really Great Photo

Picky Eater had a friend over, and I was thinking of activities they could do together. I thought about making some play dough, but then it occurred to me to have them make real bread instead.

So I whipped up this dough, and let them play with it a while (read: they did the kneading).

Then, they shaped their rolls and I baked them. I also baked some standard-shaped rolls that were not kneaded by dirty second grade fingers. Just because, you know, the rest of us wanted some, too.

Please, please proof your yeast*! I cannot tell you enough just how important this simple step can be. Rarely does yeast not cooperate. It's usually quite willing to munch on your sugar and bulk up like it's meant to. But sometimes, it doesn't. Just today, I had to scrap my proof mixture and start again because a packet of yeast didn't rise. Thanks to proofing, I only had to throw out a cup of milk, a half cup of maple syrup, and a packet of yeast, rather than the entire recipe. Don't get me wrong: it hurt to throw away that syrup especially, but better to restart than to have a failed recipe.

*Proofing is when you combine your warmed liquid, your sweet ingredient, and your yeast, and you let them sit undisturbed for ten minutes or so. At the end of ten minutes, your mixture should have doubled in size. If it hasn't, throw it out. Your yeast is no good.

Maple Dinner Rolls
They're not sweet.

What You Need:
  • 1 cup warm evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (pure, not pancake syrup)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (can substitute oil)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached King Arthur flour)
How it's Done:
  • Proof your yeast. Combine yeast, warm milk, and warm maple syrup. Stir it up and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Come back 10 minutes later, and stir in the beaten egg, melted butter, and sea salt. Gradually add in flour until a soft dough forms.
  • Knead 6 to 8 minutes until smooth.
  • Let rise for an hour. Punch down, and divide into 24 equal pieces. Now, I like to roll mine into ropes and curl them around in a spiral (I've done it lots of times before), but you can simply roll them into balls and leave them like that. Let them rise another 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes. Brush with melted butter. If you sprinkle them with sea salt and garlic powder, they taste just like Olive Garden's bread sticks. Yeah, next time I'm making them into bread sticks instead of spirals. I'm thrilled with that discovery!
I am really proud of this picture. :) My food photography has come a long way since January 1, 2010.

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