Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Homemade Soft Sweet-n-Salty Whole Grain-n-seed Pretzels

It's Tutorial Tuesday!

Have you ever wondered how to make homemade pretzels? How about heart shaped ones?! We love them here. Soft Chocolate Pretzels were the featured Valentine's Day project last year. This year I'm going all whole grain all the way.  This recipe has been a blessing. Seriously. They're a great grab-n-go snack for kids after school and for me on the run for work. We especially love them when they're sprinkled with a little sugar and salt. It's a sweet-n-salty soft-n-chewy flavoragious Tessalicious treat. Seriously, the biggest complaint I hear from people starting out with whole grain is the dough being dry. These are not that dough. They raise nicely and have awesome flavor. If you're looking for a vegan  whole wheat soft pretzel look here. If you want the multi-grain, just don't use the egg wash.  I'm doing these ones the traditional way, because they taste amazing! If you've never  taken the pretzels for a dip in a boiling water bath, you'll notice the difference in taste. I use baking soda in the water and it completely changes the flavor...in a good, very traditional way.  I don't know why I haven't shared this traditional method on the blog before today,especially with all the pretzel recipes I've shared over the years.
Chef Tess' Homemade Soft Sweet-n-Salty 
Whole Grain-n-seed Pretzels

2 cups warm water, (no hotter than 110 degrees)
1 T sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1T active dry yeast (one package)
22 oz (4 1/2 cups) Mountain Mills Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup  Teff
2T sesame seeds
2T Flax Seeds
2 tsp salt

Prep equipment:
parchment paper
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk
Pretzel salt or Kosher salt
Crystal cake decorating sugar (Any color! Be creative)

Directions: Combine the water, sugar oil and yeast in a small bowl. In a one gallon bowl combine the flour, teff, seeds and salt. Knead 5 minutes by hand or 4 minutes by machine. 

Form dough into a ball and place in a gallon size bucket or bowl with a lid. Allow to raise 1 hour (until your finger inserted in the dough leaves a hole.)

Preheat oven 450 degrees.  Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside. Bring 10 cups of water with the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8 quart 14 inch deep skillet.
The finished dough will weigh about 41 oz. Give or take. 
Divide the dough into 8 portions for large pretzels. Fold each into a rectangle. 
Roll tightly using your magical skilled nimble-fingers...and pinch as you go. Roll into a 24 inch strand of dough. 
If you want to see the tutorial on how to make them into pretzels go here.  Place the pretzels on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Raise 15 minutes. 
To make them heart shaped...Pinch them at the base...like this...

Place in boiling water for 30 seconds or so. Really that's not too long. It's just long enough. 
I use a large slotted spatula to remove them from the water and drain well. Place the moistened pretzels back on the cookie sheets, 4 to a tray. 
Whisk the egg yolk with a teaspoon of water and whisk well. With a pastry brush, carefully paint the tops of the pretzels with the egg yolk mixture. Then...we sprinkle ours with some colored sugar and kosher sea salt. Don't feel like you have to use the colored stuff...I just think it looks really fun!

I know it's pretty.  It's like a movie-star getting ready to dance. Boom-chicka-waa-waaa...(I digress).
Transfer trays to your 450 degree oven and bake 15-17 minutes.  Dip in nutella or Chocolate Fudge Honey sauce aka Chocolate Buzz.

There you go! Make some fabulous happy-heart pretzels! Valentine's day is coming and I know what I'm making!
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hawaiian Style Teriyaki Beef and vegetables with Rice (In a Jar...52 Method Continues)

It's Monday. This is the day I share food storage recipes and ideas here on the blog. I'm all about convenience meals. If you're new to my crazy blog, just know that the goodies you see in the cooking with food storage section are truly an extension of my wholesome upbringing.  With a mom who's first degree is Home Economics education and a father who is a Master Gardener, this is how I've always rolled. I am a chef (almost 17 years now). I am a mom. I've been a mom almost 13 years. When I cook with food storage I realize that there are many who have no idea where to start. The beauty of the freeze dried fruits, vegetables and meats that I use is that they are made without added chemicals to preserve them. It's just broccoli (or whatever veggie)...no chemicals. Freeze drying will actually retain about 97% of the nutritional value of food so there's not a lot of nutritional loss by using it either. The menu I use for my 52 jar method has gone crazy! People are so excited about getting their meals together, not only for daily dinners, but long term meals as well. Today I'm adding my latest recipe. My son asked me, "Mom can you make this one for forever?!" My husband licked his plate. Licked. He's very classy that way. {I'm rolling my eyes right now...do you see it?} Look at this. Does it look like it comes from a jar? 

I mean really. A Jar like this?!

Chef Tess Hawaiian-Style Teriyaki Beef and Vegetables 
with Rice

1 cup Freeze Dried Beef Chunks
1 cup Freeze Dried Broccoli
3/4 cup Freeze Dried Bell PepperFreeze Dried Bell Peppers
1/4 cup Freeze Dried onion or Dehydrated Green Onion
1 package (1 1/2 oz)  NOH of Hawaii Teri-burger meatloaf  seasoning mix  get packets here OR 1/4 cup seasoning from the bulk bag
2T Ultra Gel (modified corn starch) Note: 2T regular corn starch will work, but you must boil the sauce.
1 cup Long Grain Rice

To make as a meal in a jar:
In a quart wide mouth jar: Layer beef, broccoli, bell pepper and onion.

NOTE: The repacking of Freeze Dried Meat must be done within 24-48 hours of opening the can and must be done in a dry environment. Once repacked you must use an oxygen absorber to make sure there is a vacuum oxygen free environment. 

The NOH seasoning I found at our local Asian market and I tried several different company's blends before I settled on the NOH. In all honesty, it was just stinkin' hard to find a blend that had soy sauce powder as the main ingredient. So far this is the winner. We loved the flavor. I have so many Polynesian friend from Hawaii and other islands and they just rock the teriyaki. If you can find soy sauce powder online in a small container under 50 lbs...I'd love to hear about it. 

Plus...it fits my "just add water rule".
I also used the modified food starch called Ultra Gel because I like it. You don't have to use it, you can use 2T of regular corn starch. Just be sure you cook the sauce to a boil and let it thicken. 
Shake the seasoning and the starch into the meat and veggies. 
Put 1 cup of rice in a baggie on top of the veggie mixture. 
Oxygen absorber must be placed on top of the bag inside the jar if you want this for long term storage. Even shorter term with the beef it must be present for food safety. You don't need to water bath or pressure can the jars. This is a method of canning called "Dry Pack". The oxygen absorber chemically bonds with oxygen and "eats" it, making the space in the jar a vacuum. This is remarkable for extending shelf life. This meal will be shelf stable 7-10 years.
To prepare meal: 
Combine rice with 2 cups boiling water in a medium sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. When rice and water come to a boil, reduce heat to very low and simmer 20 minutes. 
For sauce: Combine the meat and veggie mixture at the bottom of the jar with 3 1/2 cups  very hot water in a pan on the stove.  Allow to sit 10 minutes to absorb water. Turn on heat and cook 5-7 minutes more until sauce is slightly thickened. The rice and sauce will be finished cooking at about the same time if you cook them both at the same time. 

There you go.  Have fun with this one!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

I am no longer the corporate chef for Honeyville but we still love them dearly. My family is greatly blessed and relies heavily on the extra money brought in by sales tracked back to this site. This is also the company that packages and sells my spice line as well as my food storage cookbooks. Thank you so very much for your support. Xoxo!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Amaranth On the Stove Top

If you've been with me in the past you know of my absolute obsession with grains. It started as a mild crush and now I'm totally addicted. Grain and seeds add such a remarkable depth to your meals. I'm a huge fan. So, it won't come as a suprise if I share some more basics here right? Meet Amaranth. My darling friend on the left. On the right we have brown teff.

If you've never had Amaranth, it's an amazing super-grain and one of my favorites. Now I call it a grain, but technically it's a seed. Not all seeds are grain. Only seeds that are members of the grass family can technically own the name of grain. It's a very fun and technical thing. The good news on amaranth is that it's gluten free, high in protein and has all necessary amino acids to be conscidered a complete protein...30% more protein than rice, wheat or oats. In it's glory, it can grow a million-ka-billion seeds (give or take). I find it  absolutely delightful and mild in flavor. It's become one of my favorites for breakfast. 
I'll simply cook it on the stove top and when it's cooked, drizzle it with a smidge of honey or even better, fold in some yogurt and fruit to the cooked grain.

It's simple to cook on the stove top. You will need a quart size sauce pan with a tightly fitting lid. Bring 3 cups water to a boil. I add a pince of salt to the water. Add 1 cup of amaranth to the pot. Reduce heat to very low. Cover with a lid and allow the amarnath to simmer 25 minutes.

The seeds are still rather small when cooked, but they look so ding-a-dang crazy-cool.

I love a little drizzle of honey. My personal favorite is a maple hazelnut honey.

Here...now you can see it really close up.

My final note. My most recent love...freeze dried yogurt bites folded into the cooked grain. Oh my stars. It's a creamy little nugget of joy in a sea of goodness. How's that for a cool new happy food?

There you go. Make some amaranth!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

I'll be in Rancho Cucamonga teaching 2 classes on Grain Tomorrow! If you're in California near the Inland Empire...come on down! I'd love to see you!

Class is free on Saturday but we need to have an accurate count of how many will be attending. Honeyville Farms Retail Store - RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CAHoneyville Farms Retail Store | 9175 Milliken Ave.| Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Phone: (909) 2431050 FAX: (909) 980-0469
Hours of Operation: Monday thru Friday: 9:00AM - 6:00PM, Saturday: 9:00AM - 5:00PM


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Carbs 101 and Low Carb Bread

I got to be a guest blogger on the  Honeyville Farms Blog today. Why not jump over and see what all the buzz is about regarding low carb cooking and baking. I think it's one of the coolest posts I've done. Enjoy. I'll be at the Honeyville retail store in Rancho Cucamonga, California this Saturday for TWO classes. One at 10 AM and one at 2 PM. Both Classes are on Grain Surgery 101...how to use all those beautiful grains!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Call and reserve your spot. Class is free on Saturday but we need to have an accurate count of how many will be attending.
Honeyville Farms Retail Store - RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CAHoneyville Farms Retail Store | 9175 Milliken Ave.| Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Phone: (909) 2431050 FAX: (909) 980-0469
Hours of Operation: Monday thru Friday: 9:00AM - 6:00PM, Saturday: 9:00AM - 5:00PM

Click Images to Enlarge!

Carbohydrates 101 and Low Carb Bread

I'll start off sweet. There's been a lot of talk in the media and in blood-sugar news (Do you think the blood sugar news delivers on Sunday? With comics?). For the most part the thing that the publications can agree on is the fact that sugars that are broken down in your body from starches that you eat will have an impact on the "blood glucose" level in your body. For diabetics and those wanting to control their blood sugar level, the use of foods that have a minimal effect on how fast your blood sugar levels rise is a really happy idea. I have a sister that I call Auntie Em. I've loved her my whole ding-a-dang life and have seen her struggle with type 1 diabetes. It's a frustrating disease with fatal side effects if not taken care of properly. So, can I start out in all seriousness, by saying that though I'm silly sometimes, I know that this is a very important post. It can effect a lot of people to have some idea of how to eat to help control their blood sugar levels. If you're not diabetic, when someone says they are diabetic, it is not something to take lightly. When their blood sugar levels get too low or too high, the results could land them in the hospital.  However, controlling your blood sugar is not only a concern for someone struggling with diabetes, but also for anyone wanting to lose weight. Period. It's a proven fact. If you eat food that keeps your blood sugar levels at a nice even rate, you will burn fat. Now do I have your attention?  What a treat.

Revolutionary Ideas
A few years ago, Auntie Em had me read a book called "The Glucose Revolution". I had a paradym shift my thinking when it came to carbohydrates. I no longer used the the term "complex carb" like I had in school. The evidence was put clearly enough for me to know that my line of thinking when it came to carbs was one that needed to be re-visited. Since that book there has been a lot of research on how blood sugar is effected by carbohydrates. There is now a lot of evidence supporting a method of tracking the impact carbohydrates have on your blood sugar using a chart called the Glycemic Index. "The Glycemic Index is a numerical Index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response (i.e. their conversion to glucose within the human body). Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a Glycemic Index (GI) of 100." For more information on the science behind this index, go here

Switch it Out
For the most part, I found that I could easily change how I looked at carbohydrates. By choosing ones that were low on the Glycemic index, I could still eat carbohydrates and lose weight. For Auntie Em, this meant that she too could eats some carbs more than others and still control her blood sugar levels. It made a huge impact on my family and my life. So, that's what I'm sharing today. Generally I try to keep my GI under 55 on the index. I still eat carbs, not in excess, but found some result really amazing for foods I thought were "complex". In general, grain that is kept whole, cracked or rolled will have a lower GI than those that are milled into flour. The only exception is Almond flour, it's high in protein and very low GI. Even so, whole grain flour, because of it's fiber, will be lower on the GI. I've also discovered the benefits of using a lot more fiber in my diet!  Wow does fiber effect...a lot of things...um...including your colon health. How's that for being tactful right there? What a treat.

In all reality there are other factors, but the one that most excited me was seeing what the common foods were that I used, that could easily be changed or replaced with lower Glycemic index foods to help me. You will want to read about the Glycemic Load and how you don't have to entirely avoid all high "GI" foods. Here's a chart that I found helpful. Portion size does matter. Darn it...you still can't eat until you pop...but at least you can feel great knowing you're taking care of something very important to your health. 

Glycemic Indexes and Glycemic Loads for Common Foods

GI and GL for Common Foods
FoodGIServing SizeNet CarbsGL
Peanuts14 4 oz (113g)152
Bean sprouts25 1 cup (104g)41
Grapefruit25 1/2 large (166g)113
Pizza30 2 slices (260g)4213
Lowfat yogurt33 1 cup (245g)4716
Apples38 1 medium (138g)166
Spaghetti42 1 cup (140g)3816
Carrots47 1 large (72g)52
Oranges48 1 medium (131g)126
Bananas52 1 large (136g)2714
Potato chips54 4 oz (114g)5530
Snickers Bar55 1 bar (113g)6435
Brown rice55 1 cup (195g)4223
Honey55 1 tbsp (21g)179
Oatmeal58 1 cup (234g)2112
Ice cream61 1 cup (72g)1610
Macaroni and cheese64 1 serving (166g)4730
Raisins64 1 small box (43g)3220
White rice64 1 cup (186g)5233
Sugar (sucrose)68 1 tbsp (12g)128
White bread70 1 slice (30g)1410
Watermelon72 1 cup (154g)118
Popcorn72 2 cups (16g)107
Baked potato85 1 medium (173g)3328
Glucose100 (50g)5050
The table below shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI's of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL's of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high.
Learning More
Additional information and values for Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load can be found at www.glycemicindex.com.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index#ixzz1kRnpny00

The good news, is that we can still have bread. We just need to use a lot of whole grain with fiber and protein. In this battle I employ Vital Wheat Gluten very often as a lean protein boost.  For those who are really concerned about impact carbs...this is a bread that I think you'll really like that is also lower on the GI...and at 5 net carbs a slice, even the diabetics will call it their new best friend! What a treat.

Aimee Krey is also diabetic and remarkable. If you don't know her, she is one of the Instructors at the Honeyville retail store in Salt Lake City who also has a food blog and is a guest on Studio 5. Aimee inspired me with her low carb bread recipe. Aimee Krey's Low Carb Bread (for the bread machine). Aimee told me she had struggled getting the bread to work out of the bread machine. I didn't use one.  Here's my adaptation of that recipe. Thank you Aimee! Yields one loaf of low carb bread (12 slices at 5 net carbs each). I'm with Aimee, I adore the texture the seeds give the bread.

Chef Tess' Low Carb Bread
4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3T olive oil
1 1/4 cup warm water (no hotter than 115 degrees)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Granular Erythritol
1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
 1 cup Blanched Almond Flour
1/4 cup Flax seed
1/4 cup  Corn Bran
2T Sesame Seed
1/4 cup Teff 

In a gallon size bowl, combine the baking powder, salt,  Erythritol, Vital Wheat gluten, almond flour, Flax seed, corn bran, Sesame Seed and teff.
  In a medium bowl combine the yeast, sugar, olive oil and water. Set aside until yeast mixture activates and bubbles. Add to the dry ingredients and knead by hand about 3 minutes until a mass of seeds can be seen safely nestled in a mesh of vital wheat gluten. Form into a ball. Cover and allow to raise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 
 Punch down. Transfer to a counter top that has been lightly misted with water. Form into a loaf (tutorial here). Lightly coat the top of the loaf with a misting of oil. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to raise 45 minutes longer. 
 Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread 35-40 minutes (until over 165 degrees internal temperature). 
There you go! What a treat!  Happy baking. Happy new world of carbs! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Michelle's Mom's Caramel Popcorn

My friend Michelle taught a grain class today and I sat in on it. Yes, I attend classes as well as teach. It keeps me young. I think she taught me a few things too.  Thank you Michelle! One of recipes that she shared was pretty dang yummy. It was a great way to make  chewy caramel corn using 3 ingredients for the caramel (4 ingredients for the whole recipe if you count the popcorn).  I think it was just awesome. Aaaawwwwsoooome!. Michelle told us that this is a recipe her mom would make with her very often. Every Thursday night when she lived at home they'd make caramel popcorn together and watch a movie. Ah. You know I'm a sucker for a good family recipe right?  I think it's one that we'll keep around for a long time. Note. It uses a lot of butter. Um...I really think this needs to be added to my "Evil" category. Do you know what else?  I think it would be amazing with some freeze dried apple mixed with the popcorn (caramel apple popcorn?!) or salted almonds. However, as it sits...it's just a simple, easy, no fuss, beautiful, chewy and delicious caramel popcorn. 

Michelle's Mom's Caramel Popcorn

2cubes butter (1/2 lb)
1/2 cup dark Karo Syrup
2 cups Brown sugar
16  cups popped popcorn (about 1 cup unpopped)

In a heavy bottomed pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add Karo syrup and brown sugar. Bring to a hard boil one minute only. Pour over popcorn and stir well. 

Thank you Michelle! Thank you Michelle's Mom!

There you go. Make some easy caramel popcorn. Another family favorite here is the  Homemade Cracker-Jacks. Whatever you make. Make yummy memories!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess