Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Bread


It's been 67 days: 10+ weeks: almost two months since I have had a stove or oven capabilities. The same story minus a few days for refrigeration. For those 67 days, 10+ weeks and nearly two months I have been thankful for the gallon of milk in the cooler-even though it didn't quite taste like fresh COLD milk, and for the grill-even though I got sick of 'grill food' about two days after I fired it up.

You see- we moved. Into a construction zone. Into a home with a shell for a kitchen, power cords for decorations and wood dust as a flour substance. Yes. It was bad (and good) and awful and amazing all at the same time. At times I laughed it up-other times I curled into the fetal position and sucked my thumb for hours.

So-if you wonder why this virtual kitchen 'o mine has been on a seemingly endless hiatus- there you have it. There were several times I made killer meals throughout those days, weeks, and months without a real kitchen-or countertops. Or even running water, for a while. But the truth is, the numbness of it all forced me to repress those times in order to maintain some form of sanity.

If I claw my way through all those deeply repressed memories of those horribly frustrating, fetal position days I may recall making a few winning things but I honestly can not think of a single thing presently. All I recall is...chicken nuggets. Hamburgers and Hotdogs. Kielbasa. Barf. Gag. Reel in horror. Even my coveted and much loved chicken spiedies eventually became something old and tiresome.

So-please don't blame me for not being a miracle worker and having five course meals from the microwave plastered on this blog. Trust me- it just ain't me. I never want to look another processed food in the face again as long as I live. Never ever, ever never.

That said:

I am pleased to report now, that I am on day number 5 of HAVING a stove/oven and it has been five days since I have even glanced toward the grill. Wait. Do we even still HAVE the grill? I might have burned it, along with all the empty boxes that pile up outside my door daily...

Needless to say: I hope to be a little bit more faithful in recipe posting from henceforth. I'll tell you one thing, right about now- cooking and baking and working in the kitchen is about the biggest luxury I can afford. And a little secret? I pretend I am on a cooking show as I prepare the meals now. BUt shhhhh- don't tell anyone that. My reputation would be shot. And DON'T look on youtube for my home video cooking show episodes. Please. Don't.


About at day 60 of my plight, after having one of those reverting to childhood tantrums, I opened a box (the last) labeled "kitchen" and found: my BREAD MACHINE. Then, I proceeded to fall to my knees in thanksgiving and cry amidst laughter.

Then, I got up and found my flour (the real stuff, not the wood stuff).

THEN, I suddenly felt at peace and all seemed right with the world.

Then my body began salivating in uncontrollable amounts and I was forced to add more flour to the recipe in order to compensate for the saliva spillage. (joking on that last part...maybe.)

One of my fresh from the bread-machine breads I made was this: Cappuchino Chocolate Chip bread. It sounds like a breakfasty-danishy type bread but I assure you- it is a normal bread consistency with just a touch of coffee taste and a bit of bitter sweetness. Makes a killer piece of breakfast toast, I assure you, but as with all bread machine recipes- fresh and warm from the pan is the best way to eat 'er up.

May the recipes begin!

Chocolate Chip Cappuccino Bread

3/4 c. warm milk
1 egg, beaten
3 T. cappuccino mix granules- I used vanilla toffee. Yum You can also use instant coffee.
2 T sugar
2 T water
1 T. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
3/4 t. salt
3 cups bread flour
2 t. active dry yeast
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Add all but chocolate chip ingredients into your bread machine pan in order suggested by manufacturer. Set machine on Basic or White bread setting.

Before final kneading, add chocolate chips.

After 3 hours of doing nothing but catching whiffs of baking bread and hearing the whirrrr of the machine going full throttle- presto chango! You've got a unique loaf ready to be slathered with honey butter. Or pumpkin butter. Or apple butter. Or pear butter...
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Belgian Molasses Bread

I know, I know- another bread machine recipe. But hey-that's what I was stuck with-so that is what YOU are stuck with. That is, until I can stop diving into my homemade meals with such vengeance that I actually take a moment to snap a photo before it is eaten to it's last crumb. After all, it would be a sin to post a recipe without a photo...

Belgian Molasses Bread
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* 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons molasses
* 3/4 cup warm milk
* 4 1/2 tablespoons warm water
* 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Place ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Basic or White Bread and 1 1/2 pound loaf settings.

I love the beautiful coloring of this bread. Honey brown-ish. And it goes superbly with Crockpot Pea Soup.

Hearty Split Pea Soup

You know what I love about homemade soups? They are great for using up leftovers. It is a rare occasion when I make a soup from scratch for the intent of making a soup, from scratch. Rather, my goal is usually to clean the fridge of it's bits of this or that. For that reason, it is hard for me to post recipes for soups- because soups are rarely alike in the Newman household and those phenomenal soups created once will likely never be created again.

But not THIS soup. THIS soup is made because the taste of it pervades me dreams and ONLY for that reason. It is not a "use this up, toss this in" sort of soup-but one that you make solely to smell it cooking away in its' crockpot for hours at a time- or to feel it's hearty thickness warm your innards on a cool day. This is, plain and simple, my own kind of comfort food.

You know what else I love about this particular soup?

1) It's cheap. Like feeds a family of 6 for under $4.00 kind of cheap!


2) It's a cupboard stocker. Being made with dry split peas means that you can have the ingredients in your cupboard and they can stay there for a LONG time, just WAITING to bail you out on that week when grocery money is non-existent or...catastrophic world events take place...or the internet crashes and the whole world goes insane...or the snowstorm of 2009 leaves you holed in your bear cave until 2011. That sort of thing.

Hearty Split Pea Soup

* made in the crockpot *

You'll need:

* 16 ounces dried split peas
* 2 cups sliced sausage/kielbasa
* 1 1/2 diced carrots
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 5 cups chicken stock (made simply with boiling water and chicken bouillion)
* 1 cup hot milk

In your crockpot, layer the first nine ingredients in order listed (do not stir). Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until vegetables are tender. Before serving, pour in hot milk, stir. Sniff. Smell. Salivate. Then go fishing for bay leaves~ discard when found. (The bay leaves, not the soup!) THEN- discard the soup. RIGHT down your throat.

Lots of pea soups are made with ham and I *like* it that way, but I tend to go the whole sausage/kielbasa route for one simple reason. That is how Mom made it. That is how I grew up with it-and so, call me partial, but that is it for me. If your mommy dearest made it with ham, by all means- make it with ham. Or, if you have an extra hambone lying around- go ahead, TAINT it with leftovers! (ha! JUST KIDDING!)

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