At Home PERFECT French Baguettes

Chef John at foodwishes.blogspot.com has some great cooking videos.  He is really entertaining to watch. 
This recipe is amazing and easy!  No special equipment needed really.  And it really does turn out even better than a baguette from the store.  So watch this short video and then make some fantastic baguettes!  Note, if you use bread flour or wheat flour, it will not turn out quite as airy or crunchy, but it will still be very tasty!
For 4 smaller or 2 large baguette:
1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups water (325 grams)
1 3/4 tsp salt
18 oz by weight all-purpose flour (500 grams), about 4 cups
- Mix dough just until combined.  Cover bowl with plastic and let rise 12-14 hours or until doubled.
- Punch down and shape loaves, let rise covered with floured plastic 1 to 1 1/2 hr or until almost doubled.  Snip or cut into bread for your baguette look.
- Bake at 550 F. about 15 minutes (spraying with water before baking, at 5 minutes and 10 minutes during cooking time) or until well-browned


Aromatic Brown Rice Pilaf

This pilaf is a great side dish to fish or chicken. The fresh basil and lemon zest makes it taste so fresh and delicious. You could also turn it into a main dish by adding cooked green beans, carrots, onions, and some chicken!

Cooked brown and/or wild rice (cook in chicken broth for more flavor)
pine nuts or pecans, toasted
dried cherries or craisins
chopped fresh basil (approx. 1-2 TBS per 1 c. of rice)
grated lemon rind to mix in and for garnish (approx 1/2 tsp per 1 c. rice)
salt/pepper to taste
**Also very tasty  mixed in is some White Balsmic Citrus Basil Dressing (found at Costco)

-Combine all ingredients. Adjust flavors to taste (more salt/basil/lemon zest--You can also add a little lemon juice if desired). Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.
-Costco sells a great brown rice/wild rice combo that I highly recommend!
-This makes a great on the go lunch.


Winter Squash Bisque

 You could certainly make this when your garden squash is coming in abundance...but I don't really like soup in the hot summer!  Frozen garden squash will work great for this recipe.

4 cups chopped assorted summer green/and or yellow squash
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 15 oz. cans chicken broth
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
3 large cloves garlic
-Place all of the above in a crock pot.  Cover and cook on low 6 hours.  Blend until smooth and creamy then add:
1 15 oz can coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp curry (more if you want)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
-Stir until combined.  Taste and adjust spices to your desired preferences...more salt, curry, etc.  Serve warm.


Steamed Vegetables with Secret Sauce

This is a repost with a more appetizing picture. This is the most common thing we eat at our house.  It basically is a side dish (or main dish) for every meal we have.  I crave this!

My mother-in-law introduced me to the idea of eating a big bowl of steamed vegetables (broccoli is always the main base vegetable in any combination) for breakfast.  I LOVE IT! I know it sounds weird, but it just starts the day right.  Do I always have this for breakfast?  Nope!  I am not always on top of things and I find cereal is often just easier, but it is still my preferred breakfast meal.  My children also enjoy eating their "veggies" for breakfast after which they often also eat either a whole grain cereal or whole grain toast with whipped butter.

My two most common preparations are:
1. Steamed with Forrest Lime Dressing (the secret sauce!!!) poured on AFTER you steam veggies
2. Steamed veggies then seasoned with salt, lemon pepper, and a little whipped butter

Combination ideas--really anything goes!:
-Carrots, broccoli, and yellow onion (the onion is a secret ingredient that makes it extra tasty.  You just need a little bit)
-Carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and onions
-Green Beans, red bell peppers, carrots, onions, and asparagus
-Broccoli, asparagus, kale, swiss chard, onion, and carrots


Artisan Bruschetta Pizza with Balsamic Glaze

 I had a pizza similar to this at Nordstrom Bistro, so I tried to recreate it.  TASTY!  No specific directions here...just ingredient ideas!

Using a pizza stone (heated in oven at 500 for at least 30 minutes) place rolled out pizza dough on top and then top with:
Fresh basil
chopped tomatoes
fresh mozzarella balls
pecorino romano cheese
olive oil
additional spices if desired (like garlic, oregano, etc.)

-Bake in oven at 500F 8-10 minutes until crust golden around the edges.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze just before serving.