Making Bread

My boyfriend, Matt, enjoys making bread. Dinner rolls, danishes, loaves filled with herbs. He’s a bread making machine! I never wanted to try baking some myself because of the kneading process. I was lazy.

That changed when I found Alexandra Stafford’s no-knead peasant bread. I read the recipe and figured it was simple, so I made it on a Saturday where I didn’t have any plans. (That’s rare, by the way).

Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of the baking process, but it came together fast! It was mixed by hand with a spatula: no stand mixer needed. And you only need one bowl to mix the ingredients, how great is that?

However, even with the quick prep, the dough still needed to rise for a total of…okay, so the first rise is 1-1/1/2 hours and the second rise is 10-20 minutes. I let it rise for 1/1/2 hours, then 20 minutes, so you do the math for me. Haha!!

After the first rise, I formed the mass of dough into a ball, divided in half, and placed each half into two (different sized) bowls using forks. The transfer of the balls with forks resulted in the dough coming apart. I wasn’t sure why the directions called for forks, but I assumed it was to keep my hands from getting messy (if that was the case, the directions said that if the dough came apart during transferring, to use your hands. Contradiction).

Because my bowls were different sizes, that affected how the dough rose the second time. The dough ball in the small bowl became huge while the ball in the large bowl didn’t look too big.

The differences in bowl sizes also affected their baking time. The one in the small bowl was done in 20 minutes while the other took longer.

Now, as I mentioned, it was my first time baking bread. I didn’t know when it was fully baked, even though I ate it all the time. I’ve eaten (and seen) soft, white bread, brown bread, wheat bread…but baking loaves myself made me wonder, ‘Is it done? How do I know?’

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The loaves came out decent. The outside was crunchy and the inside was really buttery (because of the greasing of the bowls) and soft, a little too soft. Not doughy. According to Matt, it was a little undercooked.

I trust him.

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Even with that knowledge, I was proud of myself for making my first bread! I will be making it again.

But I better buy two same size bowls first.

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Food Friday: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Hope you all had a fun and full Thanksgiving! Did anyone brave the crowds and shop till they dropped today?

Whether you stayed home or crossed people off of your gift giving list, we can all agree that we’re going to be eating leftovers for a while. We can go the traditional route of a second Thanksgiving meal, but what can we do to spice things up?

I have no idea what to do and plan on eating leftovers as is. But maybe you have some ideas on how to spruce up stuffing or leftover turkey? If you do, let me know in the comments!

Food Friday: Nom

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Photo Credit: ibtimes.co.uk

I’m a social media “fanatic.” I put that word in quotes because I’m not Facebook, Twitter or Instagram 24/7, sharing random videos/status updates and uploading photos. I go on these sites to browse, but hardly post. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook (one minute it’s getting me down, the next I’m excited and looking at a friend’s photos from her vacation); Twitter has become dull, and Instagram is still engaging, but not as it used to be.

Do you agree?

However, despite all of the different social media platforms and how they have a negative impact on our lives, there is an app that is different and enriches our quality of life: Nom. It’s been out since March of this year but only gained attention recently with its new redesign. It’s a combination of live-streaming demonstrations, commentary, and photos that gets users cooking and continue to be inspired to cook. It was created by Youtube co-founder Steve Chen and joins other food-centric apps such as Food.com and Food Network in the Kitchen. To me, this is a cross between Instagram (photo and video sharing), Facebook (photo and video sharing, “like” and comment on content), and Snapchat (video sharing). So even with all of these social media channels being an inspiration for Nom, it looks like a cool app to download.

I might get rid of my usual social media apps and get food ones instead! Quality of life has improved.

Do you use any food apps on your phone? Will you be downloading Nom? Let me know in the comments!

Food Friday: Newport Beach Eating Guide

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Photo Credit: meditateinthesouthbay.org

My family and I came back Monday from a four-day trip to Newport Beach to attend my cousin’s wedding. We had never been to Newport but were told that it was an upscale area in California, and it really is. The shopping malls are huge with high-end shops, the area is very clean, and there are a lot of BMW’s, Mercedes, Lexus, and Escalades roving around. I felt like I was in Beverly Hills!

Given that Newport is a fancy area, the restaurants are also elegant. However, we mostly ate at affordable places in and around the city and they were just as good! Here is my short list of eating in Newport Beach and its surrounding areas.

Roll It Sushi & Teriyaki-When we arrived at our hotel at 7:30pm, we were hungry. Unfortunately, we were in a business area and most of the eateries were closed or too far away to walk to. After a few minutes we saw this place in the corner of a strip mall. We got a small steak bowl with white rice, regular chicken teriyaki plate with brown rice and potato salad, and a salad. The thin steak pieces with teriyaki sauce is bursting with flavor; the chunks of white meat chicken are moist, and the salad is fresh. Roll It is a healthy version of Japanese food, and this place makes eating healthy really, really yummy.

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Balboa Candy-Located on the quaint Balboa Island, this candy shop has every sweet piece of confection for sale: from saltwater taffy and jellybeans to gummies and chocolate. We went a little crazy in here…’nuff said.

Too Sweet-Right across the street from Balboa Candy is Too Sweet, which specializes in chocolate. There are chocolate dipped pretzels, frozen bananas, and caramel apples among their selection. I chose a peanut butter and chocolate seashell. Too cute, and really soft, creamy, and gone in a minute.

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In-N-Out Burger-Newport Beach doesn’t have the iconic California burger restaurant, so the closest is in Irvine, across the street from the University of California Irvine. If you’ve never eaten at one, make a trip out West now (if not California, get your In-N-Out fix in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, or Utah). It’s a simple menu (along with a Not-So-Secret Menu) with good quality food. Everything is freshly made and you can taste it.

Lemonade-Californians are all about healthy eating, and this place caters to them. Just from looking at the menu of sandwiches, hot food, and flatbread Lemonade screams “healthy!” We split some mixed vegetables and a grilled mozzarella sandwich. Both are good, and the sandwich is huge, with a good crunch from the bread and the yummy blend of cheese, tomato, and avocado.

The Pizza Press-Located in the Metro Pointe at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, The Pizza Press makes thin-crust pizza with the option to build your own. The concept is cool: Pre-made pies are named after the country’s most well-known newspapers (The Sun, The Times), and each section of the ordering process is labeled like a publisher’s, well, process (editorial, proofing). We made our own pizza of red sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, and pepperoni. The pizza is crunchy, flavorful, and doesn’t make you feel bloated afterward.

And, that’s about it. Have any other affordable restaurants we have to try the next time we go to Newport Beach and/or other Orange County cities? Let me know in the comments!!