Easiest. Bread. Ever. Part 2. Rustico Olive Bread Recipe. So good, even you won’t believe you baked it…

olivebreadsliced

Rustico Olive Bread – Baked, Sliced, and Ready to Devour

 

(adapted from the New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe)

I’ve been making the Simple Bread Recipe for months now, and wanted to try some new versions. I made this Rustic Olive Bread last weekend, and it came out fantastic! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 Cups Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
1 Cup Wheat Bread Flour
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast (yes, only 1/4 tsp!)
1/2 cup Sliced Pitted Olives, preferably Greek or Sicilian
1/2 tsp Salt
Cornmeal
A cotton kitchen towel (no terry cloth, or you’ll have a huge mess on your hands!)
(Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf)

The actual labor on this bread is about 30 minutes, but here’s the rub: it has to rise 12-18 hours. I usually mix it up in the afternoon, let it rise over night, then finish it the next morning. You just have to plan ahead a tad.

olivebreadolives

Olives Sliced and Ready to go in the Mix

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups tepid water (about 115-120 degrees), 1/2 cup sliced olives, (I used a combination of Greek & Sicilian Olives from the Whole Foods Olive Bar, and sliced them myself) and here’s my big secret, add about a Tablespoon of the oily olive water. (If you choose not to do this, up the water to 1 5/8 cup and the salt to 1 tsp) Mix the ingredients together until the all the dough is incorporated and it looks “shaggy”. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place (70 degrees-ish) undisturbed for 12-18 hours.

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Mixed and Ready to Rest for 12-18 Hours

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Doubled in Size and Bubbly after Rising

2. When the surface of the dough is all bubbly, you’re ready for the next step. Lightly flour a work surface (I use a large wood cutting board) and roll the dough out onto it, and sprinkle it with more flour. Roll the dough over on itself a couple times, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit about 15 minutes.

3. Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, gently roll the dough into a ball (don’t get too crazy, just a ball-ish shape is good enough) Now coat the towel really, really well with the cornmeal (regular flour works as well. I like to use a combination of both flour and cornmeal) Place your dough ball on the towel, coat with some more of the flour and/or cornmeal. Cover with another towel (or if the towel is large, fold it loosely over the dough) and let it rise for 2 more hours. I find it easier to then put the towel full of dough in a large pot, preferably the one you are going to bake in. (you’ll see why in a minute) When the dough has about doubled in size it’s ready to bake.

olivebread2ndrise

After Second Rising, Ready to Bake

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Going in the Oven…

4. About a half hour before your dough is ready, pre-heat the oven to 450. Now here you have two options. Option 1: Place whatever you are going to bake the bread in the oven and heat it up. (use a heavy baking dish or pot. Cast iron. enamel, pyrex or ceramic) When the oven reaches temperature, just slide your hand under the dough and flop it over into the pot. It’s ok if goes in messy, just shake a bit to straighten it out, and it will straighten out the rest of way as it bakes. Option 2: Just pull the towel out and flop the bread gently back into the pot it was rising in. Honestly, I have done this both ways, (pot pre-heated and not) and I see very little difference. Cover the pot with it’s lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes until loaf is nicely browned. Remove the loaf from the pot and let cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack. (this is the hard part, it smells so good you’ll want to dig right in! But your loaf is still baking on the inside, so let it cool)

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Cooling on the Rack – Golden Brown Deliciousness

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Rustico Olive Bread – Baked, Sliced, and Ready to Devour

Note: This recipe works great even at altitude, and I find up here at mile-high I do need to bake for the full hour. Things just take a little longer up here.

* Depending where you buy your flour, your olive loaf will cost $1-about $1.50 a loaf. I buy organic flour at Costco in bulk and the biggest yeast I can find, so my loaves are on the cheaper side.

Easiest. Bread. Ever…A Simple Bread Recipe that will make you look like a Hero. Or at least, a baker.

Easiest. Bread. Ever.
(adapted from New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe)
breadsliced
When I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical. No kneading? Seriously? But it’s true. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Not to mention, costs about .50 a loaf* The same loaf at Whole Foods would cost you about $4.50. Make it, and you’ll look like a hero.

Ingredients:
3 Cups Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast (yes, only 1/4 tsp!)
1 1/4 tsp Salt
Cornmeal
A cotton kitchen towel (no terry cloth, or you’ll have a huge mess on your hands!)
(Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf)

breadingredients

The actual labor on this bread is about 30 minutes, but here’s the rub: it has to rise 12-18 hours. I usually mix it up in the afternoon, let it rise over night, then finish it the next morning. You just have to plan ahead a tad.

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cup tepid water (about 115-120 degrees). Mix the ingredients together until the all the dough is incorporated and it looks “shaggy”. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place (70 degrees-ish) undisturbed for 12-18 hours.

breadmix1 breadmix breadcovered

2. When the surface of the dough is all bubbly, you’re ready for the next step. Lightly flour a work surface (I use a large wood cutting board) and roll the dough out onto it, and sprinkle it with more flour. Roll the dough over on itself a couple times, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit about 15 minutes.

breadbubblybread15minutes breadcoattowel bread2ndrise

3. Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, gently roll the dough into a ball (don’t get too crazy, just a ball-ish shape is good enough) Now coat the towel really, really well with the cornmeal (regular flour works as well. I like to use a combination of both flour and cornmeal) Place your dough ball on the towel, coat with some more of the flour and/or cornmeal. Cover with another towel (or if the towel is large, fold it loosely over the dough) and let it rise for 2 more hours. I find it easier to then put the towel full of dough in a large pot, preferably the one you are going to bake in. (you’ll see why in a minute) When the dough has about doubled in size it’s ready to bake.

breadflopintopot breadreadytobake

4. About a half hour before your dough is ready, pre-heat the oven to 450. Now here you have two options. Option 1: Place whatever you are going to bake the bread in the oven and heat it up. (use a heavy baking dish or pot. Cast iron. enamel, pyrex or ceramic) When the oven reaches temperature, just slide your hand under the dough and flop it over into the pot. It’s ok if goes in messy, just shake a bit to straighten it out, and it will straighten out the rest of way as it bakes. Option 2: Just pull the towel out and flop the bread gently back into the pot it was rising in. Honestly, I have done this both ways, (pot pre-heated and not) and I see very little difference. Cover the pot with it’s lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes until loaf is nicely browned. Remove the loaf from the pot and let cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack. (this is the hard part, it smells so good you’ll want to dig right in! But your loaf is still baking on the inside, so let it cool)

breadbaked breadsliced

Note: This recipe works great even at altitude, and I find up here at mile-high I do need to bake for the full hour. Things just take a little longer up here.

* Depending where you buy your flour, your loaf will cost .50-about $1 a loaf. I buy organic flour at Costco in bulk and the biggest yeast I can find, so my loaves are on the cheaper side.

Happy Cinco De Mayo! It’s Fresh PALOMA Time! Here is my Own Personal Recipe…

Did you know the most popular tequila drink in Mexico is NOT the Margarita but the Paloma? The Paloma (Spanish for “dove”, thank you Wikipedia) is a tequila-based cocktail, usually prepared by mixing tequila with a grapefruit-flavored soda and served on the rocks with a lime wedge. Well, I’m not a soda gal, but I do love fresh grapefruit juice. I was first sold on this cocktail at Pinche Taqueria here in Denver on York & Colfax (they have a killer Happy Hour 3-6pm, and their fresh delicious Palomas are only $3!) and loved it so much I played with the drink at home and came up with my own version (sans soda). I call it La Paloma Fantasía. (the Fancy Paloma)

Note: To Salt or not to SaltSalt is always optional, but if you’re a salty-type, just rub a grapefruit wedge around the rim of your glass and dip the damp rim in margarita or kosher salt. Also, I don’t believe in exact measurements for cocktails, you should always adjust to your taste…

La Paloma Fantasía

A LARGE chilled glass (I don’t fool around with tiny cocktails)

1/3 cup FRESH-squeezed grapefruit juice (this is crucial in my book)

1-2 Tablespoons FRESH Lime juice

1 Tablespoon Agave

2-3 Ounces Quality Tequila*

A splash-1/2 Ounce Grand Mariner (my secret weapon)

1/4-1/2 Cup Club Soda (or your favorite sparkling water to top off the glass)

Combine all the ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker about half full of ice, shake it up, and pour over a little ice in your large chilled glass, and top with the club soda or sparkling water of your choice. Garnish if you like with a lime wedge, a grapefruit wedge, a sprig of mint or cilantro, whatever tickles your fancy. This refreshing, delicious summer cocktail will become one of your favorites! Use caution, this cocktail is so tasty it’s waaay to easy to drink too many of these 😉

*The quality of your tequila matters. Choose a pure agave tequila for the best taste. If Patron (my favorite) is out of your budget, try Sauza. It’s a good one for the price.

Enjoy your Cinco De Mayo! I’m off to make home-made tortillas to go along with my Paloma Fantasía…

 My Fantasy Cocktail Shaker from Nambe’…

Best Bagels Ever, and Yes, YOU Can Make Them! Here’s How

bagels

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Click for a downloadable recipe PDF

Make your Own Bagels? Yes You Can!
It’s easier than you think, cheap as hell (about $1 a batch) and tastier than any bagels you can buy. Here’s how:

Best Bagels Ever, at Homebagelspics1

Ingredients:

4 Cups Bread Flour*

1 TBLS Sugar

1 1/2 tsps Salt

2 tsps Instant Yeast (1 package)

1-1/4 – 1-1/2 cups Warm Water **

* I use Organic All-Purpose Flour. If you can buy it in bulk at Costco your bagel cost is cut almost in Half!

** Water needs to be 110-115 degrees for yeast to be happy. I use a candy thermometer. Though the recipe does not say you have to “proof” the yeast, I do. I like to make sure the yeast is good, and I think my bagels come out a bit fluffier if I proof the yeast first in the warm water with the sugar, 5-10 minutes)

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. The dough should feel stiff, but add a little water if it is too stiff or you can’t get all the dry flour incorporated. (High-Altitude note: you’ll need to use the full 1 1/2 cups water, sometimes a touch more)

Either plop the dough on your counter and knead for ten minutes, until it is uniform and smooth, or put your dough hook attachment on your mixer and run for about 8 minutes. I’m lazy, I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer.* It works fantastic. This step is important! I’ve tried skimping on the kneading time and the bagel were flat with poor texture. * I’ve had my Kitchenaid stand mixer for ten years and it still runs like a champ. I highly recommend them.

Cut the dough into 8 equal size balls, cover and set aside to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

This part takes some practice, but you’ll get the hang of it…Take each of the dough balls and roll into a “snake” until it is longer than the width of your hand.
Wrap the “snake” around your dominant hand, overlapping the ends. Now use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together until they fuse, and you’ll have a circular bagel-like shape.

Cover and rest your bagels for another 20 minutes.
bagelspics3
While your bagels are resting, Preheat the oven to 425, get a large heavy pot of water boiling, rub a good splash of oil on a cookie sheet/baking tray, and get your favorite toppings ready.

Use any toppings you like. My favorite is sort of an “everything bagel” mix of kosher salt, cracked pepper, garlic, poppy seeds and sunflower seeds. Note: if you use salt, always use kosher or “large grain” salt, and use it very sparingly!

After 20 minutes your bagels will start looking puffy. It’s time to get boiling. Gently add them to fully boiling water. Do not crowd them! Boil for 1 minute, then flip them over and boil for one more minute. Be sure and time it, too long and the bagels get soggy. If you don’t have a timer, just hum the Jeopardy theme song twice, it’s exactly 30 seconds 😉
Let them dry for a minute, then dip them in your topping and place them on the baking tray.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip them over and bake for 10 more minutes, and they are done! Let them cool for 20 minutes, then grab the cream cheese and dig in. There’s nothing nicer than a hot, fresh bagel. Enjoy!

#bagels #baking

Note: Slice your leftover bagels in half and freeze. For in instant breakfast just pop in the toaster oven or toaster. Bagels also make great sandwiches.

bagelspics4

Funky Glamor Easter Centerpiece with Beet-Dyed Eggs, Rhinestones, Faux Fur & Feathers

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Happy Easter! Funky Glamor Easter Centerpiece…easter3

With the “Use-What-You’ve-Got” mentality, I gathered together some odd craft supplies I had lying around and created one of the funkiest Easter Centerpieces I’ve ever seen (If you’ve seen funkier, show me! I’d love to see it) Faux fur scraps, feathers, and rhinestones on beet-dyed eggs arranged in my vintage polka-dot bowl. I hope it sparks you to be creative with whatever crafty bits you have lying around the house…

This is the first time I’ve ever dyed eggs with beets. First off, fair warning. It WILL dye your hands, (though it wears off pretty quickly) so wear gloves unless pink fingers are your thing.

1. Hard boil the eggs. I used this method http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/eggsdairy/r/Hard-Boiled-Eggs.htm and it worked perfectly, no cracks or issues. Let them cool.

2. Cook up your beets. I used the recipe for beets on this page: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally-without-a-box-onion-skins-beets-cabbage.html Of course, I used the boiled beets, which are now pickling in the fridge. (if you’re not into natural, just use Paas dye or food coloring. I won’t tell anyone.)

3. Dye your eggs. The longer you leave them in the juice, the darker they will be, just be sure and stir them around from time to time while they’re in there. Place them on paper towels (or a rag you don’t turning pink) to dry. I tried to get fancy with it by creating stripes. It is subtle but it worked. I just held the egg steady in the beet juice at one level, let it dry, then at another level, let it dry, and so on. NOTE: At first I tried to use beet juice from a can of beets. Epic Fail. Just made a mess. Don’t do it.

Decorating the eggs

1. After letting the eggs dry thoroughly, it was time to get funky. First I gathered all my goodies. I chose to use a sheet of David Tutera self-stick rhinestones on the eggs. This was very easy. I just cut them into strips, peeled off the back and stuck them on. Even eggs deserve some glitz. I must say I’m digging the sticky rhinestones, so many uses! I was lucky enough to get these in a gift bag, but you can find them at Joanne, Hobby Lobby, Micheal’s, and many places online such as Amazon. I plan to reuse the ones on the eggs after we eat them.easter3 (the eggs that is, not the rhinestones)

2. Arrange the display. I choose to use a cute vintage polka-dot bowl that usually sits on my kitchen counter. I put a white faux fur scrap in first, being sure to tuck all the edges under, then added a string of coque feathers tucked in around the fur, and then added the guinea feathers outside the coque feathers. (I keep a bunch of miscellaneous feathers around for decorating projects. They’re great to add to flower arrangements, just alone in a vase, in centerpieces, etc.) Lastly, the eggs went in the bowl on top of the faux fur, and I set the bowl on top of another faux fur scrap. That’s it! Quick, easy, and well, a little weird I know, but it suits my personality. Everything I used (except the eggs of course) can be reused again. The only things I bought were the beets and the eggs, which will all happily be eaten.

I hope you’ll be inspired to get funky and think outside the Easter box with your project. I’d love to see your funky creations! Please share them in the comments section below. Happy Easter!

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I have a confession to make…

Looking fit at Burning Man 2012 after P90X... Here I am looking fit (and rather silly) on my Burning Man vacation last year, after P90X, before all hell broke loose…

I have a confession to make. Right now, I am feeling slightly less than fabulous. Like so many women, I’ve been fighting that old “Battle of the Bulge” all my life, gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over. While my closet is full of fabulous clothes, they range in sizes from 6-10. Today finds me on the high side and back in the 10s. I want my 6s back. I was doing so very well last year. I’d completed both Insanity and P90X, was down on the small side of the closet and feeling great for my August vacation to Burning Man. Then upon returning, all hell broke loose, emotionally speaking. Financial stress hit hard. My father went into the hospital, then passed away. A couple months later my Mom got very sick and was in and out of the hospital as well. (she’s doing better now). Through it all, I let my workout routine go to hell, and ate for comfort. Today I begin the official journey back to feeling fabulous. Eating for health, working out 4-5 days a week, and adding more physical activity to my days. I will be sharing my journey with you here, and you have my permission to hold me accountable. I’ll be posting all sorts of helpful tips & tricks as well. I’ll tell you what’s working for me, and what isn’t. So come follow along, it’s going to be an interesting ride…

PS No matter what your weight, you still have the right to look great! Dress well and work it, no matter your size, because you ARE fabulous.

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Spending Teeny, looking Terrific…

I can’t remember the last time I paid retail…I am obsessed with “the Deal”. There is absolutely no reason you have to spend a ton to look good. In upcoming posts I’ll share all my little cheap-ass spending secrets with you, and I will honestly say where I get it and how much it cost. Here’s a couple brief examples:

Just running out to do errands? No excuse to look shlumpy. (whenever a see a lovely lady in faded jeans, dirty tennis shoes and a grubby tee-shirt I want to grab her by the shoulders and scream “You deserve to look better than this!”) It only takes a minute for a quick, put-together yet comfy look. Here’s one of my fast & fabulous errand-runner looks, and what it cost me…

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This is what I wore last Friday night out gallery-hopping. A fun, comfortable yet fashionable look. Here I am shopping at the Mona Lucero Boutique, a great local fashion designer. (I don’t remember what she said, but it must have been funny…)

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There’s loads more to come, don’t miss out! Subscribe to the blog.

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