Welbilt Bread Maker, R.I.P.

Good evening and thank you for attending this funeral for my bread maker. I'd like to say a few words.

We had so many happy memories together. You brought John memories of baking with his grandma on their farm. You helped us save money by baking our own sandwich bread for most of the fall and for the better part of February.

I feel like we were just getting to know each other, trying out new recipes, when this happened....

I blame myself. I didn't put the kneading and mixing blade in correctly, and I screwed up the ingredients in general.

Somehow by putting the blade in wrong I managed to get yeast all over the outside of the bread pan, where it did no good.

But in my haste to be rid of this disgusting mishap, I threw away the kneading and mixing blade inside the un-risen bread goo. A new blade would cost at least $20 USD plus another $20-30 in import fees, thus totaling the bread maker that my mom payed $.50 for at a church rummage sale. That would be a lost cause, anyways, since ours is so old that they don't make blades for it anymore.

The nasty final bread isn't the way I want to remember you. Let's go out with this photo of the special flour we bought for you. I just tear up when I see John's naive optimism, baking wheat bread for our sandwiches.

On another note: it's just about finals week here and John and I are busy preparing our final papers. I have several really cool recipes to share with you, and soon it will be summer, so I'll have plenty of time to sit around and blog. So until later in the week, I'm taking a break.

Happy Easter!

Black Bean Burgers

This is the second recipe that came from my desire for summer to get here, like, 2 weeks ago. I'm ready for meat-grillin,' sweet-tea-drinkin', and sunnin' myself at Lake Erie. Meanwhile, John and I are having fun as we experiment with new burger recipes.

Another reason for this recipe is that we bought a package of burger buns for the chicken tequila burgers and needed to use the rest of them. These burgers came together easily and tasted great! Neither of us have ever had a really great black bean burger and these proved to us that these burgers are easy and flavorful.

I'm ashamed to say this is my only picture. We topped them with salsa, cilantro, and sour cream, and we had the same roasted parsnips and carrots on the side (I wish all that had made the picture). These would be amazing with guacamole or even a plain avocado on top, but that won't happen here for a while (the provincial motto is "Southwestern Ontario - an avocado wasteland"*).

Black Bean Burgers
adapted from A Good Appetite

1 (14oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained**
1/3 cup red onion chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp ground cumin

Smash the black beans with a fork or potato masher. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Heat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, then spray with non-stick cooking spray. Form into 2 or 3 patties (or more, in our case). Broil 4-5 minutes per side, or longer, depending on your oven. The burgers should be warm through.

*False. It's "Ontario - Yours to Discover."
**Canned beans in Canada are a little more than 14oz, so we made 5 burgers total.

Got Rice Dream?

Welcome to what may be the last (for now) installment of my series of alternative milk reviews. It's not the last because I'm sick of trying milks - far from it. It's more that I've done all the "normal" ones. The only ones left are made from oats or hemp. I want to be willing to the try them, for the good of science, but it hasn't happened yet.

Mean while, Rice Dream!

This milk might have been the least flavorful, good or bad, of all the ones I've tasted. It's fairly bland. Let's get right to it.


Normal. It looks more like milk than anything else I've tried so far.

Content: Like I said, I'm not too impressed. The flavor isn't as strong (or weird) as the vanilla soy milk, but not as good as the chocolate soy or almond milk. That said, it's bland enough to go on things like cereal without tasting weird. It didn't taste that much like rice until I got to the bottom of the package.

That said, if you buy the enriched kind then you get some additional vitamins, etc. Notice that it's high in calcium, which helps. I think it has about the same fat content per serving as the soy milk, 2.5 grams per cup.

Texture: Pretty close to skim cows milk, but a little creamier or thicker.
Cost: I believe all them cost about the same - $2.19-2.99 or so. What do people do who can't have dairy? I'd go broke spending money on milk.

So far, the winner is still almond milk, in terms of an everyday alternative to dairy, and chocolate soy milk, in terms of which one would I wish on a genie's lamp to receive an endless supply of.*

*Sentence ending with a preposition. My bad.


Chicken Tequila Burgers

Lately I've started pulling a lot of recipes from Cara's Cravings. She's the kind of person who eats healthily and is creative at the same time. She's the poster child for people who believe healthy food isn't boring. These burgers are a prime example.

We loved them. They're easy to put together and have really interesting flavor.

The recipe made 4 good sized burgers for us, so we had this dinner twice last week. The first side was roasted carrots and parsnips, our new alternative to fries.

The second time around we had steamed broccoli and mushrooms that we sauteed with some more of the tequila. John and I aren't big drinkers, so we figured we wouldn't have a lot of other uses for it. Turns out, mushrooms sauteed in tequila: A+.

John's one comment was that he wished we had briefly sauteed the jalapeno and garlic before putting them in the burgers. I thought they were amazing and I can't wait to have them again. But I'm also suffering from the It's-Almost-Summer itch. I'm ready to get that grill out and get to work making burgers. They satisfied my need for summer to come early. These burgers, and the 50 degree days that feel "hot" because it's Canada.

Chicken Tequila Burgers
from Cara's Cravings

2 chicken breasts, about 11oz total, cut into chunks*
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2-3 tsp minced jalapeno pepper
zest from 1/2 lime
dash of lite soy sauce
1oz tequila
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup plain oatmeal (either instant old-fashioned are ok)

To serve: your favorite hamburger buns and a mix of sauteed bell peppers and onions.**

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the burger ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times, until chicken is uniformly ground. Remove and divide into two portions; shape each into a ball, place on the baking sheet, and flatten with your palm. The mixture will seem rather loose and wet, but don't worry; this is why we are cooking under the broiler rather than grilling these.

Broil the burgers for about 10-12 minutes total, flipping halfway through. Serve on buns with sauteed peppers and onions.

*I used a package of ground chicken and mixed it all together in a bowl. Worked like a charm. I think it was about a pound.

**We just used mayo, which was supposed to have cilantro in it, but I forgot to get it at the store. Cilantro and mayo go together really well.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins are my new favorite thing. They're easier to make than cupcakes and generally easier to "healthify," if you will.

Don't get me wrong, these babies have chocolate chips in them (but guess what - they apparently have antioxidants if they're dark chocolate!). They're smaller than cupcakes, and I made them with some wheat flour instead of only AP. The wheat added some nice flavor that I wasn't really expecting. This recipe made a lot of muffins, and they tasted great, so I'll definitely make them again.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
from Epicurious

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats, toasted lightly
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted lightly
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a bowl whisk together the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. In another bowl whisk together the egg, the butter, and the milk, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the mixtures are just combined, and stir in the oats, the walnuts, and the chocolate chips. divide the batter among 6 paper-lined 1/2-cup muffin tins and bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a rack, let them cool slightly, and serve them warm.

Got Soy Milk?

Are you ready for our next contestant in "What sort of milk alternative do I like?"
I know you've been waiting anxiously.

This one is a triple whammy. I want to cover Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry soy milk in the same post.

It seems relevant to say that there are quite a few brands of soy milk, and that I somehow doubt they all taste the same. Also, I didn't include plain soy milk after sampling the other three, and I'll explain why as we go.

I'll give my general thoughts and then do the categories that I gave the first time around. To me, vanilla soy milk doesn't exactly taste...good to me. I suspect that plain would probably taste less good, and I can't put my taste buds on exactly what it is that bothers me. My guess is that it tastes sort of like tofu, and that's...weird. However, since I bought the vanilla soy, I went ahead and finished off the carton over a period of about a week, and it kind of grew on me. Still, my general feeling is that should I become lactose intolerant, soy milk won't be the route I go.

[Contender #1: Vanilla.]

Regarding the strawberry, it tastes a bit too much like the vanilla. I'm not sure if a stronger strawberry flavor would have tasted better, but that's what I was expecting. Also, the color looks the same as vanilla, and again, the food coloring might not be better, but it's kind of a mind trick that it tastes like strawberry.

[Note how NOT strawberry colored it is. Aren't actual strawberries pretty red? Don't they stain? Just sayin'.]

The chocolate was by far the best - by FAR. The soy-ish taste really works in its favor somehow and gives it a nutty taste, kind of like Nutella.

It's not exactly good for you, any more than chocolate dairy milk is, but it does have some vitamins. I think I'd buy it again.

Look how perfectly chocolatey it looks! It's the best non-milk thing I've tried so far, though it's not exactly an every-day milk substitute. It's dessert.

The ratings

: For the strawberry, not good. For the vanilla, it's a sort of off-white, and that's about what I'd expect. For the chocolate, perfect.
Texture: All three had a pretty milky texture, probably a little thicker than skim cows milk. Again, that seems about right, since they have some fat in them.
Cost: All three were on sale for 2.19 a piece, down from 2.99. I felt like they went a little further than the almond milk (2.99), but I'd rather have almond milk than vanilla or strawberry soy. For chocolate soy, I'd happily pay full price. And since I think of it as a treat, that's ok. But none of them yet have been cheap enough to replace cows milk in my student budget.

I feel like I've exhausted the "Content" category above, so let's skip ahead to the numbers.

Vanilla: 8. Tasted...ok, but it's just not for me.
Strawberry: 8.5. Tasted better than vanilla, but still not that great. And it's the same color. Weird.
Chocolate: 9. Delicious! I wish I could have some every day, but I won't. It's still dessert, just with vitamins.


Pasta with Ricotta and Sweet Tomato Sauce

I've seen this recipe on a few blogs lately and really wanted to try it. The idea of baked ricotta sounded like heaven on a plate to me, and basically that and every other part of this recipe is totally easy to make.

And it's so, so good. This meal would be a really good one for serving to a large group of people, if you had friends over, family in town, etc. It's not fancy, but it's so good.

I made just a few changes, and I've noted them below. We will definitely make this again soon.

Pasta with Sweet Tomato Sauce and Baked Ricotta
from Food alla Puttanesca, and others.

1 15-ounce container ricotta, drained in a cheesecloth-lined strainer for a few hours
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried oregano*
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar**
1/2 tsp sugar (if needed)***
1 pound wide pasta, such as pappardelle****
a handful of fresh basil, torn
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan*****

After you’ve drained the ricotta, preheat the oven to 400F. Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and put the ricotta in the center. Flatten it so you have a 1″ thick disk.

Rub all over with 1 tbsp olive oil, then sprinkle with oregano******, salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, then remove and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.

Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium until soft, 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes, then crush the tomatoes with a spoon. Taste and add sugar (optional), salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve some of the pasta water.

Toss the cooked with the sauce and a tablespoon or two of pasta water and the tomato sauce, and basil. Crumble up the ricotta and add to the pasta with the parmesan cheese.

*I omitted, I'm out. **This makes it really taste amazing! I'm impressed with you, balsamic vinegar. ***Yes, we added this, and it was delicious. ****We used thin, wheat spaghetti. *****We used Romano, because it's what we had on hand.
******I sprinkled it with smaller pieces of the fresh basil.


The Dash-In

And now, for my last Fort Wayne post for the semester, I'd like to introduce you to the Dash-In.

This is another good place to go for lunch, especially if you work in the downtown area.

We actually ended up there by mistake, after being turned away from a very busy place that I hope to tell you about another time.

The Dash-In is part coffee-house, part restaurant, not unlike the Friendly Fox. John ordered a hot chocolate, and promptly got whipped cream on his face. Their menu isn't the biggest, but there were a lot of things on it that caught my eye.

I eventually settled on the portabella quesadilla, which was top notch.

My mom got a fancy grilled cheese, with some delicious combination of cheeses in it - the kind that most grad students don't keep on hand. In general, some of their sandwiches made me think, "So what, I could make that." But I think that's part of the point of their restaurant. They seem to cater to people in the downtown area who want something simple, relatively fast, and good for lunch. I'll say that I wasn't super impressed with the pesto soup that my mom and John both got on the side. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't that good.

John ordered a hummus plate, and the hummus deserved an A+. So maybe the Dash-In is the kind of place where you need to order the right thing. It's another place in Fort Wayne that makes me think twice about dissing their restaurants. But I'd give it a just slightly lower grade than the Friendly Fox.

Still, like Carla said, Fort Wayne is a much better place to go out to eat than Terre Haute. I've been fortunate enough not to have to make that comparison for myself, at least, unless we visit Carla and Dave in the Haute.


"Life by Chocolate" Cakes

I made these amazing cakes to go with the stuffed chicken breast meal. The extravagance was partially just because were were in Fort Wayne, and partially because my dear friend Stephanie from Bloomington came to visit!

It was hard to find a pic of Stephanie when she WASN'T posed like this.

That's a fun picture of her from our Terre Haute adventure last summer.

And here's a nice one I found on facebook.

Stephanie is really supportive, and she also doesn't cook much herself, so I wanted to make something that would knock her socks off.

I knew this recipe from PW would do just the thing.

It's basically chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. My mom said I finally found something that pushed her limits of how much chocolate she can take.

Ohhhhhh yessssssssss. These were so good. Unbelievably good. And photogenic!

The only change I made was to butter and flour the cupcake pans, the same way I would for a cake. This is my preferred way to make cupcakes and muffins now, since I almost never have cupcake wrappers. PW calls for you to use cooking spray, but a lot of the comments on the post said that people had trouble with theirs sticking. I also took care not to push the chocolate kisses down into the cupcake, since that also caused sticking for some people. For me, these popped right out of the pan and looked exactly the way they were supposed to. I'd love to make them again, but I'll refrain from doing so until we have a house guest or something else exciting.

Life by Chocolate Cakes
from Pioneer Woman

  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ cups Buttermilk
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 sticks 1 Cup Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Water, Boiling
  • 18 whole Hershey's Kisses, Unwrapped
  • Canned Pitted Cherries (optional)
  • 8 ounces, weight Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 6 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 18 muffin cups with baking spray.

To make the cake batter, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate container, combine buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and stir to combine. Add boiling water, allow to bubble for a few seconds, then turn off heat.

Pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture. Stir a few times to cool the chocolate. Pour buttermilk mixture over the top and stir to combine.

Pour 1/4 cup cake batter into each muffin cup. Lightly set one kiss in the middle of each cupcake; do not press down.

(Alternately, you can add 3 canned, pitted cherries to each muffin cup before adding the batter.)

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove cupcakes and allow to cool on a baking rack.

To make the ganache, heat cream and corn syrup over medium heat. Chop chocolate and add to a bowl. Add vanilla to cream mixture, then pour cream mixture over the top of the chopped chocolate. Whisk together until melted, smooth, and glossy.

Dunk cupcakes in ganache. Allow to cool and set before serving.*

*We had way more ganache than we needed, so we just kept piling it on. It was definitely the right choice.

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Feta and Spinach

When John and I visit Fort Wayne, we like to cook something complicated. Something...

unusual. We decided that stuffed chicken would be the way to go. Unfortunately, this didn't photograph as well as I would have liked. The picture doesn't do it justice, and I kind of lost my train of thought with the side items (potatoes...and rice. one or the other would have been better).

Still, these weren't too hard to assemble, and they were a real success! My mom took a few bites and said that if she'd ordered this in a restaurant, she would have been really pleased. We used toothpicks, instead of string, to keep them together. They seemed at first like they would fall apart while I was browning them in the pan, but toothpicks didn't make them hard to turn. Also, a single chicken breast can be cut into two servings, which is perfect for people who want a smaller portion, but an ideal for serving them to guests, since 2 chicken breasts serve 4 people.

I would definitely make these again. They made me want to try other stuffing possibilities.

Feta and Spinach
from Closet Cooking

1/2 cup spinach (steamed and squeezed dry of any excess liquid)
2 tablespoons feta
2 tablespoons ricotta
1 green onion (sliced)
1 tablespoon dill (chopped)
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken breasts (butterflied and pounded thin)
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot (diced)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon dill (chopped)
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)

1. Mix the spinach, feta, ricotta, green onion, dill, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Lay the chicken breasts out and split the spinach and feta mixture between them. Roll up the chicken around the filling and tie it up or secure it with toothpicks.
3. Season the chicken with season with salt and pepper.
4. Heat the oil in a pan.
5. Add the chicken, brown on all sides, about 2-4 minutes per side.
6. Place the chicken in a baking dish and bake in a 350F oven until it reaches 180F, about 30 minutes.
7. Melt the butter in the pan that you browned the chicken in.
8. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for a minute or two.
9. Add the wine and deglaze the pan.
10. Add the chicken stock, lemon zest, season with salt and pepper and reduce by half.
11. Remove from heat and mix in the heavy cream and herbs.