Wednesday, February 22, 2012

23 hours...or 25 minutes...

Morning everyone.  So since I have been feeling under the weather the last few days, I knew a warm & cozy soup night last night would be just what the doctor ordered.  And the best part of this dinner was, while it probably took me about...hmmmm....23 hours to "put together,"  I think the actual HANDS ON cooking time was about 25 minutes.

Let me explainJ

First up was a nice bowl of Cooking Lights Creamy Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup....And let me tell ya:  I love a recipe with TWO steps! 
The hardest part of this recipe was chopping up all of your veggies (1 cup of onions, 4 1/2 cups of sweet potatoes, 3 cups of carrots) but after that, it is all downhill from thereJ

First, you cook up the onions for about 4 minutes before adding in a little cinnamon & nutmeg and cooking that all together for a minute.  (you can rough chop the onions...you're only going to end up blending them up anyways)

Next into the pot went:
  • Diced sweet potatoes
  • Diced carrots
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth

Bring everything to a boil....
Then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the veggies are soft).  Next, you hit the soup with a blender (if you don't have a hand blender...get one!  They are awesome and super versatile!), add in 1/4 cup of fat free half & half and some salt & pepper and you have a velvety pot of creamy veggie soup!

Like I said, the "toughest part"??  Chopping the veggies and waiting for it to boil, but your actually 'hands on' work was about 10 minutes....sweet right??  And speaking of sweet...the soup was pretty awesome, especially with SO few ingredients.  Don't forget the cinnamon & nutmeg!  It REALLY brought out the sweetness of the veggies!  YumJ

But let's cut to the chase.  The BEST part of the meal was the part that had been brewing on my kitchen chair for the 23 hoursJ
Yes, it was time again to whip up the AWESOME recipe for Jim Lahey's NO KNEAD BREAD.  I don't know about you, but I absolutely DESPISE kneading.  Some people love it (I'm sure it's quite therapeutic), but for me, it's one thing that stands between never buying store brought bread and just having homemade at the ready at all time.  Sure, I use my bread machine to do the dirty work for me a lot, but this is even easier THAN THAT!  You just need to PLAN AHEAD!  Jim Lahey...I salute you!!J

ANYWAYSSSS....in a large bowl, I stirred together
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of water (enough to gather the dough)
You mix all of that together so that it's enough to form the dough into a ball (it will be sticky and messy!!!).  Cover and keep warm for 12-18 hours.  Didn't I say PLAN AHEAD???  But the actual mixing took...2 minutes?  So it makes up for it!

The dough is ready when it's grown and is covered in bubbles like so...

Then, on a floured board, you fold the dough over 2 or 3 times and then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for another 15 minutes.  AGAIN:  Hands on time-1 minute!

Next, you fold the dough into a ball and place it seam-side down on a flour terry cloth towel.  Cover the bread with flour and ANOTHER towel and let sit for another 2 hours.  Hands on time-2 minutes...

After 2-3 hours, your dough should POOF like so...

And here's where you need to PLAN AHEAD again.  1/2 hour before the bread is ready to go in the oven, you need to preheat the oven AND a cast iron pot at 450 degrees.  Once it's ready, flip the dough into the preheated pot seam-side up (CAREFULLY!), pop the lid back on and bake it for 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15-30.  Hands on time:  2 minutes...

Yes...it's a lot of planning ahead, but just LOOK at the GORGEOUS bread that can be achieved with NO KNEADING and about 7 minutes of effort!
Nothing beats hot out of the oven bread...and cooking this in the cast iron pan creates a CRACKLY and CRISPY crust while keeping the inside soft & chewy.  It's just divine!  Try this out...but make sure you do all of your "cooking math" first!  It's worth itJ

Alright...well, I gave you the ultimate in winter-y dinners, even though it's suppose to be in the 50's & MID 60's throughout this week.  Crazy, right??  Such is life in NJ these daysJ  How's the weather where you are?

Have a good Wednesday everyone!

1 comment:

Amee said...

Donna, what a healthy and amazing comfort meal!! Love it! Thanks so much for sharing on Fit and Fabulous! :)

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