Tuesday, March 17, 2015

in the mood for food ~ bread baking and breakfast

Who doesn't love fresh bread, especially when it's homemade? I went to a sourdough bread baking class this past Sunday. Andrea of My Kitchen Clatter teaches these bread baking classes out of her home. She buys wheat berries in 50 lb. containers and using a NutriMill, grinds the berries into wheat flour. This is the flour she uses for all her bread, waffles and pancakes, pizza crust, muffins...any kind of baked good calling for flour. She will also grind 5 lbs. of flour right then and there for you to take home - which I did. The bag was still warm when I got home. Andrea had sourdough starters in Ball jars, all ready for us to take home, too.

Andrea made a big batch of English muffin dough and we all got to cut, weigh the dough
(we made each piece into two ounces, which makes small English muffins), and shape into rounds.

We then cooked the muffins on a cast iron griddle and a cast iron pan right on top of
the stove.

The recipe made a ton of muffins! And yes, some of them did get burned. These were
sooo yummy while still warm, slathered with butter and homemade jam.

If you don't have your own sourdough starter at home, here's a great tutorial from King Arthur flour on how to make your own:
There's also links on the above page as to how to maintain your starter and even how to make a gluten-free starter. Another great website for everything related to bread baking, including recipes and great video tutorials is Breadtopia.

I also mentioned in my last post that I was going to make my "famous breakfast casserole" for Tim while he was home. Rue of An Old Fashioned World asked if I'd be sharing the recipe. I forgot to take a photo while the casserole was still in the pan - it was much prettier then. In fact, I didn't even remember to take a photo until this morning when I was eating up leftovers. Warning: this isn't the healthiest breakfast casserole. I normally eat very healthy and "clean" and don't eat prepared foods, such as these Crescent rolls. But, I only make this casserole maybe twice a year, so I don't beat myself up over it. I also didn't buy the traditional Pillsbury Crescent rolls - I bought the ones at Trader Joes. They're a little bit healthier. FYI, the Pillsbury ones have hydrogenated soybean oil in them (which I try to totally avoid, if I can help it) as well as food dyes (another big no-no). The Trader Joes ones have healthier oil in them and no food coloring. If you really want to be "good", you could always make your own Crescent roll dough. Also, this recipe is adaptable to your own tastes. Use pork or turkey bacon; pork sausage or a vegetarian sausage - or, no meat at all. Use any kind of veggies that you like or have on-hand.

1 package (roll) Crescent roll dough
5 slices cooked bacon or 1/2 lb. cooked breakfast sausage
1/4 onion, diced 
1/2 green, red, yellow, or orange pepper (or combination), diced
3/4 c. shredded cheese (cheddar or a blend with cheddar in it)
6 large eggs
1/2 c. milk
Salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.
Unroll dough and place into a greased 9"x13" pan. Sprinkle cooked bacon or sausage on top of the dough. In a small frying pan, saute the onion and peppers (you could also add broccoli, mushrooms, or any other veggies of your choice) in a little bit of olive oil until partially soft, about 4-5 minutes. Layer the cooked veggies over the bacon (or sausage). Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cooked veggies.
 In a medium bowl, use a mixer to blend the eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour evenly on the top of the casserole. (It will be a thin layer and may not be completely even.) Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until egg mixture is set.

In other news, I'm happy to report that we just had a string of beautiful, sunny, warm days
that melted most of the snow and had green shoots coming out of the ground. I discovered
chives coming back in my herb garden...

daylilies poking up in the ditch in front of the house...

and Lamb's Ear trying to poke its way back through the clumps of ice and snow still stuck in the shady part of the butterfly garden, even though temperatures were in the 60's. Temps are back in the 40's again this week, which is normal here for this time of year. March is very fickle in northern Illinois...it could be cold and snowy (and we'll most likely have at least one more round of snow before it's all over), cool and rainy, or warm and sunny.

The sunset last night was incredible. At first, shades of pink and purple danced across
the sky.

As the minutes flew by and the sun sank lower, the sky turned a darker shade of 
purple and a fiery orange glowed underneath. I stood outside on my patio and watched
the entire light show until the sky was almost black.

Happy baking and happy St. Paddy's Day (we're not doing anything special; we don't even
like corned beef roast, plus Brian's working tonight)...don't forget to take a few minutes from
your busy life and stand in awe of the beauty in our world.

Linking to Cozy Little House Tweak it Tuesday.


  1. The breakfast dish sounds great and easy! Your English Muffins look awesome. Aren't we glad to see some green popping out of the ground? YEA!!


  2. Your breakfast casserole sounds delicious. I make a sausage/egg one every Christmas and Easter; it's nice to be able to mix it up the night before and pop it in the oven while we do fun things in the morning. Your baking class sounds wonderful. We also grind our own flour; we have a Wondermill. It's good exercise! We've had our sourdough starter for about eight years now and it's so great to have it ready to use anytime. I'm not a huge baker myself but my husband does a lot. It's a really fun hobby for him. Hope you're having a good week.

  3. Melanie, I love the sound of that breakfast casserole, and those English muffins looks scrumptious! There's nothing like sourdough to really give bread that distinct artisan taste! Every bakery on the island sells their version of a variety of sourdough loaves, and traditional Cretan baked good and they are all delicious!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe to your delicacy '' la Melanie!


  4. Those English muffins look wonderful! Greg and I just talked about trying to make some from scratch the other day. I have some iris starting to come up, but haven't noticed any of the perennial herbs yet. We're back to more seasonal March temps this week as well, but that's okay. Like you, we expect one more snow at least.

  5. Yummy, love a good English muffin slathered with butter and chunky marmalade! What a fun class that must have been.

    Mary x

  6. Years and years ago, long before children, I used to make sourdough bread. I try not to eat flour these days, but you are tempting me to make some sourdough bread.

  7. What this post has given me is a healthy appetite, lol...

  8. Oh my gosh! Those english muffins look so good! I've been eating gluten-free for almost a year, but every once in a while I crave bread, especially english muffins. I've seen a few green things poking out from under dry leaves, but it's still pretty cold here, so it will be a while before we see any significant growth. Spring is my favorite time of year!

  9. This post is making me so hungry, Melanie! Those muffins look great, and what fun to go to a cooking class. I Love breakfast casseroles...yours looks so yummy!!
    Mary Alice

  10. Your class sounds like a lot of fun! The English muffins look SO good. I am gluten free, and enjoy baking bread. It's so nice to have fresh baked goods!

  11. What a fantastic class! This lady really takes you down to the bare roots of bread making (bad choice of words but I really mean it!). I know you loved the experience and the goodies you took home. I have been wanting an artisan bread making book and I saw one at Anthropologie last week, it was just SO pricey, I had to walk away. I bought a loaf of sourdough rye bread at Mariano's recently and it was outstanding. I so want to get back to making bread so your post really lit a fire under me.

    The casserole looks so good. I'd like to make this for me and Al one weekend morning. Healthy hints, too. And I know you love to spoil Tim when he's home.

    I'm seeing a few bulbs poking through but it's only mid-March. Could this be from the sort of mild winter we had? Seriously...we had snow and freezing temps but not for four straight months like 2013. I'm keeping everything mulched and not getting too excited...I just know we are going to get hit hard a few more times.

    Going to the lake Friday to do an inventory. I guess we will have a few day trips like this on the agenda. This time I will be smart and bring my Nook, a picnic basket with fried chicken and a bottle of wine. Very boring and no place to cozy up except a somewhat normal spot in the corner of the Great room. :(

    Hugs to you,

    Jane x

  12. Melanie, I saw your comment over on the Over 40 group about blogging and commenting. You are the first new-to-me blogger that I have visited from there. I am your newest follower and I will put you on my sidebar so I don't miss your posts. GREAT to "meet" you! xo Diana

  13. wow, I just love English muffins, use to eat them everyday with peanut butter and jelly as I walked out the door. They make great carry and go breakfast's. A great class is one where you learn and eat!

  14. Thank you!!! It sounds so good... I think I might need to make it this weekend. Either way, I'm pinning it :)

    The english muffins look really good too.



Thank you for taking the time to leave a kind comment - I read and appreciate each one!