Monday, October 20, 2014

The Best Challah Bread

Happy Monday blogland! Last week was my first attempt at making challah bread, and let me tell you it came out AMAZING! My husband devoured a loaf in minutes (granted it was a mini loaf.)
I never knew how easy it was to make it! I am hooked, I am never buying challah again. 
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
What you will need:
2 1/2 lbs. bread flour or all purpose flour (approx. 10 cups)
2 tbsp. dry active yeast
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tbsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
2 3/4 cup warm water
2 eggs
1 egg+water for egg wash
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
Put yeast, 1-2 tsp. of sugar, and add 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Mix the ingredients together and let the yeast proof (activate) and foam up until it doubles in size.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the 2 eggs and mix the eggs with a beater attachment. Then add all of the wet ingredients (the rest of the water, oil, yeast mixture) and mix together again. Add the sugar and salt and mix again.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
With the mixer on the lowest speed, add flour cup by cup until the dough starts forming a ball and pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
At this point, swap out the beater attachment for a dough hook. Keep adding flour cup by cup until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch. In total this should be roughly 10 cups of flour.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
Knead the dough together by hand to make sure everything is incorporated together. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover the top of the dough with a thin layer of oil and cover with a wet towel. 
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, this should be about an hour. Punch the dough down and let it rise for another hour.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
At this point, you are ready to form the challahs. I like to do simple braids. 

I also stuffed the centers of one of my challah's braids with a cinnamon sugar mixture. To do this, all you need to do is combine sugar with cinnamon in a 4:1 ratio with a little bit of melted margarine.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
Roll out your 3 ropes for the braids and flatten each. Lay out your filling in a thin line down each flattened rope and pinch up the sides to seal it in. Then just braid the challah like you would normally.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
Once all of your challahs are formed, let them rise for an additional half hour. 

Top each challah off with egg wash (one egg with a little bit of water) and some cinnamon sugar if you want it sweet.

Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.
The Best Challah Bread~The Dreams Weaver
Enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Beef Shepherd's Pie

My friend made a shepherd's pie similar to this one a few week's back at a potluck get together weekend. I had never made shepherd's pie before, or had ever even tasted one! I tweaked her recipe a bit, OK really a lot! My husband always wants me to make it now and there are never any leftovers!

Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver

What you will need:
6 medium potatoes
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 head of broccoli
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. salt
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. ground beef
1 small can tomato sauce
Pinch of ground black pepper
Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver
Preheat the oven to 375F.
 
Cut the potatoes into small cubes so they boil faster. Place all potatoes in salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender.

While the potatoes are boiling, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, broccoli and spices. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver
Stir in the tomato sauce and cook until the sauce darkens in color.
Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver

Add in the beef and break up any large clumps of meat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes.
Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver
 While the meat is cooking, drain the potatoes and mash using a hand blender or by hand. I add a little margarine to the potatoes so they stay creamy.
Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver
Transfer the meat mixture into a greased dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge.

Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver

Bake until potatoes brown and the juices begin to bubble around the edges, about 40 minutes.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Beef Shepherd's Pie~ The Dreams Weaver

Enjoy!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies

My first post when I started my blog almost a year ago was my Roasted Pumpkin Puree. That was the first year we had gone pumpkin picking and the first time I ever tackled a whole pumpkin! Well, my love for pumpkin has grown since then! 

This year I wanted to try a new recipe from the pumpkins we've picked. These soft baked pumpkin cookies melt in your mouth with their great pumpkin flavor and warm spices topped with a sweet vanilla glaze.
Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
What you will need:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda 
1 tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 
1/2 tsp. salt  
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze (recipe follows) 
Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  

Beat sugar and butter together in you mixer until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt while the mixture is on low speed. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets. 
Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver

For glaze: 
Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies and allow glaze to set up before putting them away.
Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Enjoy!

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Friday, July 11, 2014

DIY Coffee Sugar Scrub

I’m a huge fan of coffee, especially my new found love of cold-brewed coffee. After cold brewing, I am left with a ton of coffee grounds after. I wanted to find a way to re-purpose my leftover coffee grounds. I was researching ways in which to use them and stumbled upon a great scrub idea from The Kitchen on the Food Network.
Coffee, and caffeine in general, do amazing things for the body. Coffee intake has been studied on its affects, and drinking coffee helps prevent certain types of cancer! It is also an antioxidant. The grounds, when used as a scrub, are excellent exfoliates. They diminish the appearance of cellulite and tighten and tone your skin. Plus, you get to smell like coffee after! I love the smell of coffee.

DIY Coffee Sugar Scrub~ The Dreams Weaver
What you will need:
3 TBSP coffee grounds
1 TBSP sugar (any one will do, I used brown sugar)
2 TBSP olive oil (or coconut oil)
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

DIY Coffee Sugar Scrub~ The Dreams Weaver
Mix up all of the ingredients in a jar or some sort of seal-able container.
It will last up to 2 months in a sealed container. 


Enjoy!


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Monday, July 7, 2014

How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

No morning is complete without my coffee fix! No matter what season, my coffee of choice is always over ice! I grew up in a coffee family {maybe that’s why I’m on the shorter side!} Coffee is connected to so many moments in my life: the smell of coffee at family breakfasts on the weekend, hanging out at Starbucks with friends, midday iced coffee with my mom and sister, and finally getting my husband to share my love of coffee with me. 

However, when I try to make my own iced coffee from hot brewed coffee, it never tastes quite as good as the iced coffee I get at Starbucks or any other good coffee shop. Hot brewed coffee over ice always tastes watered-down and slightly burnt. 

I think I have found the answer to my problems. I am going to share my secret, an at-home cold brewed iced coffee that is bold and flavorful. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
First, you need to choose a coffee. You want to use a good quality coffee, as the taste will really come through. I used one of my favorites, Starbucks Dark French Roast. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Once you have course ground your beans, {if you are starting from whole coffee beans like I am} measure out how much coffee you will need and pour it into you container. I used a mason jar since it closes airtight. You are going to want 4 ounces {1/2 cup} for every 1 quart {32 ounces} of water. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Pour in your filtered or spring water. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Give the coffee mixture a good stir to combine everything. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Screw the cover back on to your mason jar. You want it to be air tight, if using a container without a lid cover with saran wrap. Let the coffee sit for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
After 12 hours it's time to strain the coffee grounds out. {If you let the coffee sit longer, the final result will be more bitter and bold.} You can use a cheese cloth or a fine strainer like I did to strain the coffee. 

To strain, place your strainer over a bowl or a pitcher and pour the coffee mixture through. The cold brewed coffee will filter through and the coffee grounds will stay in the strainer. 

The cold brewed coffee will last in a sealed container in your fridge for up to a week!

Save those coffee beans!  I have an easy DIY coffee sugar scrubyou can make with them later in the week! 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Now it's time to pour some of your cold brew over ice.

Tip: Make some coffee iced cubes so your coffee never gets watered down! 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver

You can drink it black, as cold brewed coffee is naturally sweeter than hot brewed coffee, it will naturally taste sweet. 
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Or, add some milk and sugar for even more decadence.
How To Make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee~ The Dreams Weaver
Enjoy!

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Easy Summer Iced Tea

 Happy 4th of July!  So happy that there are blue skies and no more humidity today for the holiday!  4th of July is like the unofficial start of summer for me, and nothing says summer like a cold glass of iced tea!
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
What you will need:
4 tablespoons of your favorite tea 
3 cups of boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
Cheesecloth
String

Measure out 3 cups of water, I used a mason jar since it fit perfectly, and microwave for 3-4 minutes until bubbling.
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
While the water is coming to a boil, you want to prepare your tea bag.  Cut a square of cheesecloth and place your tea in the center. Then, bring up the corners of the cheesecloth and gather together.  Secure your tea pouch with a long piece of string. {your want it long enough to hang out of your mason jar}
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
Measure out a 1/2 cup of sugar.
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
 Once the water has come to a boil, add the sugar and stir.  Then place your tea pouch into the jar, leaving the string hanging out, and seal the jar.  Let the tea steep for 2-3 hours.
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
 When the time is up, the tea will look nice and dark.  This tea will be very concentrated, perfect for a tall glass of ice on a hot summer day.
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
I removed the tea pouch and transferred my iced tea to a glass bottle. {totally not necessary but I think it pours better}
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
Enjoy!
Easy Summer Iced Tea~ The Dreams Weaver
 What is your go-to summer drink?

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