Coconut Kale Daal

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If you’ve never made daal before you are missing out. It is made with protein packed little lentils that are stewed in a broth of your choice usually with spices and other yummy bits. It would make a

Lentils are part of the legume family, the same as beans, chickpeas, and lupins believe it or not. Lentils come in many varieties but I’m partial to the red lentil because it is a little milder in flavor and becomes creamy in daal. Other varieties are better if you’re making salads including the awesome beluga lentil which round and turns the cooking liquid a dark indigo.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of red lentils
  • 1 15 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 15 oz can of petit diced tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch of kale
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 large red onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2-4 cups of water
  • 1 tbs of coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Rice and naan or flatbread to serve (optional but suggested)

Let’s make it!

Into a large heavy bottom pan add your coconut oil and let it melt. Then add in your onion. Cook the onion on medium high until it has turned translucent and lost it’s brilliant purple color. Then add the garlic and spices and stir for about a minute until it all becomes fragrant.

At this point you can add in the tomatoes and the coconut milk*. Stir everything together to combine it. Now this next bit is optional but if you want to use an immersion blender at this point to make everything smooth that would also be wonderful. Disclaimer I did not do this step but I think everything would turn out great.

Next add in your lentils and your water. You are going to need to adjust the water so the daal becomes the thickness you like. You want to cook everything on a high simmer until the daal has become thick and the lentils have broken down to become soft. At the very end you can add the kale which should be cut into bite sized pieces. Serve with rice and naan.

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Rosemary and Garlic Bean Dip

The holidays are happening and sometimes I find myself gorging on the appetizers rather than saving space for the main dish. If you are looking for something a little lighter, bean dips and hummus can be a great option! They are flavorful and can be eaten with plenty of healthy veggies. (Or you can put them on crackers, bread, or toast).

Today, I’ve made a rosemary and garlic white bean dip that will go great on your cheese platter next to the olives. The great thing about this recipe is you can change up the flavor depending on what you have in your fridge. This would be great with fresh basil, thyme, or even some fried sage. I just had a bunch of rosemary that needed to be used in the fridge from a stew I made last week.

Bean Dip

Ingredients

  • 15 oz drained can of white beans (great northern beans)
  • Small bunch of rosemary (about a tablespoon)
  • 1 Clove of garlic, mine was a pretty large clove
  • 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil plus more for the top if you want
  • 3 tbs of water
  • The Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper

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Let’s make it!

The great thing about dips is you just add everything into a blender or a food processor and pulse it together until it is your desired consistency. I’ve really enjoyed using my KitchenAid blender but I food processor would also work well. I added about half the water before adding the rest, but you should add only enough to make it the consistency you want. I only used one clove of garlic since I knew I would be storing it in the fridge for the next couple of days. I find that the intensity of garlic tends to grow during storage.

I finished it by drizzling over some extra virgin olive oil.  I think this would taste amazing over toast with some Trader Joes everything seasoning.

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Enjoy!

You may have noticed I’m trying out a new format for the recipes. Let me know what you think! I wasn’t totally set with the formatting on my other posts.

Chickpeas and Capers for #MeatlessMonday

It’s been a long day but I promised whoever reads this blog, probably just my future self, a meatless Monday meal (wow so much alliteration) and Instagram that I would post this recipe. I intend to keep that promise.

Chickpea Sauce

I like this dish because it’s so easy and I almost always have tomatoes, onions, some kind of white bean, garlic, and capers in my pantry. Yes, I’m the kind of person who always keeps capers on hand, but they are just such great little buds of flavor. They burst in your mouth and really elevate this dish with their intensity. Although if you don’t have capers you could certainly substitute this with a teaspoon of red wine vinegar or lemon juice to achieve a similar tang.

I know a ton of people say that in their recipe you really don’t miss the meat, but I think that is true when you add a bean to a dish. The protein makes you feel fuller so this is not just a tomato sauce but a whole meal when topped over your favorite shape of pasta.

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Ingredients

1 15oz can of chickpeas
1 medium onion diced
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes (I like petit diced more because they are smaller but whatever floats your boat!)
1 tbs capers plus 1 tsp of the juice, or you can add a tsp of red wine vinegar
1 lb of campanelle pasta or whatever pasta you enjoy
1 tbs of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Start by boiling the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate heavy bottomed pot add your olive oil and onions. Cook them until they are tender but not caramelized. Then add the garlic and spices and stir for about a minute until everything become fragrant (you know that yummy garlic and onion smell).
Add in the tomatoes and the chickpeas. Allow these to simmer for 10-15 minutes until it has reduced slightly.
Take it off the heat and add the capers and the caper juice. Stir to combine. Then add in your drained cooked pasta and stir until it is covered with the sauce. Add your parmesan cheese unless you want to keep this vegan.
Enjoy!

 

Turmeric Sweet Potato Soup

I don’t know about you, but there are specific times when I feel like my body is craving something healthy. I’ll specifically head out to the store to gather a huge head of lettuce and other salad supplies or, like today, I’ll blitz up a bunch of root veggies into a healthy soup.

This happened the other day, mid workday, I just felt like I needed something, and the sweet potato in my pantry were screaming to be used for something. This soup in incredibly easy and a great excuse to use your (new) incredibly awesome KitchenAid immersion blender.

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This thing has been a dream to use and I don’t know how I survived beforehand. I have a Magic Bullet but blending up anything warm in that leads to a spluttering mess when you try to unscrew it because the steam has nowhere to go. Now I’ve only had the KitchenAid immersion blender for about a month, so I hope it will last a while. If you would like to check it out here is a link to the one I have. It’s been a great blender so far and definitely made this soup a quick recipe.

Turmeric Soup

I started the soup by chopping up onions, carrot, and one sweet potato. Because you’re going to blend everything, you don’t need to chop everything small. After sweating the onions until translucent I added the garlic a tiny bit of ginger and a teaspoon of turmeric. Then I added 2 cups of water and a chicken broth cube. You could certainly make this vegan by using veggie broth. You could also add a little coconut milk to make this a little creamier, although I thought the veggies creamed up nicely.

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It’s a great mid-week lunch or dinner. You could put a side of chicken or some pieces of crusty bread to make this a little heartier for dinner. Also, I would definitely recommend pumpkin seeds. They make the soup a little more filling. I toasted mine and added a few more after my photos.

 


Ingredients
1 large sweet potato (chopped)
1 massive carrot (mine was huge but two medium carrots would work)
1 tsp turmeric
1 small onion (chopped)
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups of water
1 cube chicken broth
1 tsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt and toasted pumpkin seeds for serving.
Directions
Add the chopped onion into a heavy bottom pot with oil. Keep it on medium heat and stir it until the onions have gone translucent but not burning.
Put in the garlic, ginger, and turmeric and mix around for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then add in the carrot and sweet potato. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
Finally, add the broth cube and the water. Cover and let it come to a boil. Turn the soup down to a simmer until the carrots and the sweet potato are soft. I usually poke them with a fork, and inevitably end up eating one or two pieces and burning my tongue.
Once everything is soft you can blend it with an immersion blender or put it in a standing blender until the mixture is smooth. At this point you can adjust the taste with salt and pepper and the thickness by adding a little more water.
Serve the soup up in your favorite bowl with a dollop of plain yogurt and toasted pumpkin seeds. (If you have some laying around from halloween please add them on!)
Enjoy!

 

 

Banana Oat Squares

Does anyone else buy bananas specifically to let them go dark brown and soft for banana bread, because I do. I’m not a huge fan of bananas. I know it’s best to eat them when they are slightly freckled but I prefer them when they’re tinged just barely green. After that point they are hard for me to choke down unless they are smashed up and mixed with yummy chocolate and oats.

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I made these for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Most of my kitchen is currently packed away in a storage container in Ohio, and that includes my bread pans. I own an unnecessary amount of bread pans for one individual and not one of them were left out from the move. Luckily, I’m flexible in the kitchen and found this square dish. So, these are more like banana bread squares rather than just bread.

They are exquisite and buttery (although they contain no butter…none!). They make the perfect snack at any time of the day and you shouldn’t feel too guilty about them in the morning.

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Ingredients
2-3 medium mashed bananas
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of flour (if using 3 bananas add another 1/4 cup)
1 cup of mini chocolate chips (plus more for the top)
1/2 cup old fashion oats
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbs honey
2 tbs brown sugar
3/4 cup of coconut oil

Directions
Preheat your over to 325˚F.
Mash your overripe bananas. Add the eggs, vanilla, and coconut oil and beat together until smooth (if you’re like me and just got an immersion blender which you’re really excited about you can use that to blend the liquid ingredients).
Mix in the honey and the sugar, then add in the dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips and sprinkled some on top to make them extra pretty.
Put into the over for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle. Because these are baked in a 9×9 pan, they will cook much faster than normal banana bread so you can be snacking much sooner.
Enjoy!

Sunday Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you start a new job, it takes a little time to get back into the swing of things. Back in July I started doing something I love, actually working as a science communicator. Outside of cooking, I love science. I have a master’s degree in ecology, but I also enjoy writing and talking to the public about science. I love sharing the passion and wonder that comes with understanding your world!

I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do something I love every day, and it’s really nice to get paid for the work I am doing. (I guess I was paid during graduate school but not enough to feel like I was really able to take care of myself completely). It’s really great to feel a little more like a real adult!

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Of course even adults need sweet treats every once in a while. Now that I have figured out my schedule and settled in to my new home, I feel like I can dive more into cooking and documenting what I cook.

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Sunday’s are great for baking cookies! These are a mashup of a bunch of different recipes and they came out really well. I like using the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips because I just feel like they spread more evenly throughout the cookie so you are sure to get a bit of chocolate in every bite! I also don’t have a mixer, so I like recipes with melted butter, because creaming butter by hand takes a lot of upper arm strength that I just don’t have.

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Every time I make cookies I always save at least half of the dough and set some cookies on a tray to freeze for later. We’ll see how these turn out when I decide to make them, but I’m sure they will be great. Also, if you’re like me and addicted to salt, definitely dust these with flaky sea salt before popping them into the oven.


Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2/3 cup of light brown sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter (melted)
1 tsp of vanilla or more if you like
2 large eggs
1 tsp of fine salt and more of flaky for the tops
6 oz of chocolate chips

Directions
Pre-heat your oven to 350˚F/175˚C.
Melt the butter in the microwave, but let it come back to room temperature afterward. You can also do this by keeping about a third of the butter out and throw it in to bring the temperature of the butter back down.
Next add your sugar and mix together. It’s going to be pretty liquid at this point. Then add the vanilla and the eggs (make sure they’re beaten first).
Pour your liquid into the dry mixture. I know usually you slowly add the dry into the wet but my dry mixture was in a much bigger bowl and I’m not that fussy about it. I’m also all about having as few dishes at the end as possible.
Mix together until it’s all combined. Then fold in half of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips. Scoop out the dough onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. I like parchment paper cause food doesn’t tend to stick to it but if you have one of those cookie mats, that will work as well.
Allow them to cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges have become golden brown. Don’t worry if the center of the cookies seems undone. They will continue to cook as they cool.
Allow them to cool for as long as you can stand. I have very little will power so usually I burn my mouth on the hot chocolatey goodness.

Herbed Pumpkin Pasta Sauce with Arugula and Goat Cheese

Hey everyone, first it’s been a long time. I was traveling for a couple weeks at the end of July and then BOOM I got an internship at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. I’m super pumped about my new job, but it’s left me little time to develop any new recipes. I also know that somewhere on Instagram I promised a rice bowl a couple of days ago, but today I made one of the best sauces I’ve had in a long time and could wait to share. (Plus I need to get the recipe out of my head and onto paper without forgetting.

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Now I know it’s summer and you’re saying, Caitlin, why the heck are you using pumpkin in August, but hear me out? I know the world is filled with zucchini bread this time of year, but I really just needed a taste of fall so I decided to make a pumpkin bread to cure my craving. As with any pumpkin bread, however, I had about a half a can of leftover puree that needed to be used.

After scouring Pinterest looking for recipes I finally decided to make a pumpkin sauce. Fun fact in Australia they call butternut squash pumpkin. Anyway this sauce turned out amazing, and I want you all to try it immediately even though it is not actually fall. It doesn’t really have a fall flavor, more like a nice Italian cream sauce, so you can still enjoy this tasty meal without being reminded of the impending cool weather.

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ITALIAN HERB PUMPKIN PASTA WITH ARUGULA AND GOAT CHEESE

Ingredients
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 tbs salted butter
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 can of pumpkin puree (about a cup and not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup of whole milk (you could try a plant based milk if you want but I haven’t tried it)
1/2 lb of penne pasta
Goat cheese and arugula to finish
salt and pepper to taste
Directions
1. Begin boiling salted water for the pasta.
2. In a separate pot or deep pan add in butter and onions. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent but not browning.
3. Then add in the sugar and balsamic vinegar. This is kind of a cheat way of making caramelized onions. If you want to go for full caramelization you can, but I think the balsamic gives the sauce a nice depth.
4. Sauté the onion mixture for about a minute until the balsamic begins to bubble then add the garlic, basil, and oregano. Cook for about a minute until fragrant.
5. Add in the pumpkin purée and mix through until the other ingredients are combined.
6. Slowly begin to add the milk while mixing. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot.
7. Bring the sauce up to temperature and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add your salt and pepper. I needed to add a pretty generous amount of salt to make the flavors really come alive. Pumpkin purée is pretty bland by itself.
8. Serve over your cooked pasta with fresh baby arugula and crumbled goat cheese. The ribbons of goat cheese that form in the pasta are so beautiful. Hopefully this dish will have you going back for seconds!

Until next time happy eating!

❤ Caitlin

Corn Salsa

My favorite part of a chipotle burrito bowl is the corn salsa. It leaves little pops of sweetness mixed with the spice of the meat and fajitas. I decided that I needed those little sweet yellow jewels in my life more often. So I set out to recreate the corn salsa to dash over every subtly Mexican dish I made.

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This is such a great side dish to bring to a summer BBQ or a potluck. Corn is so fresh and cheap during the summer. This cost me just over a dollar to make so it’s definitely a good choice if you’re looking for an easy cheap topping that is as good for your taste buds as it is for your wallet!


CORN SALSA

Ingredients

2 fresh cobs of sweet corn

1/4-1/2 of a large red onion diced (my onion was a monster)

1/2 a jalapeno finely diced

1/2-1 lime (depending on how juicy and how limey you want your salsa)

salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. In a bowl cut the corn off the cob. There are many ways to do it but make sure you use a large bowl so that the corn does not go everywhere as it falls of the cob.
  2. Squeeze in the lime. I used a half of a very juicy lime because I didn’t want the lime flavor to be overpowering. You can adjust to what you want.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Remember when using the jalapeño the seeds are the spiciest part. I compromised and scooped out most but not all of the seeds but feel free to scoop out more/all of them if you don’t want it as spicy.
  4. Enjoy on top of tacos, nachos, burritos, you name it! This is such a yummy and simple way to boost your meals and keep it fresh for summer.

ENJOY

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Bean and sweet potato, rice bowl

When I was growing up, at least once every two weeks my mom would make what we called rice bowls. They were simple, usually just rice, whatever veggies we had available, and some kind of protein (chicken, tofu, beans). Her’s tended to have an Asian flair and usually had soy sauce over the top. It was a simple way to make a big meal for the family that would satisfy everyone. They were personalized depending on the pickiness of the family member. My sister and I usually left off the tofu, for instance.

As a single person, I often find myself craving easy to make meals that reheat well and I won’t get sick of too quickly. This meal checks all of those boxes. It’s a take on my moms rice bowl with my own twist. These meals are great because you can use whatever you have in your pantry and fridge as additions to this great meal. Do you have a bunch of lettuce that needs to be eaten? Throw it on top. How about some left over beans? Get those in there too. It’s easy and simple but wholesome meal.

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I started with a bunch of leftover kale from the famers market that was needing to be eaten. I had one sweet potato and I added some pinto beans. *hint always keep things like cans of beans and tomatoes on hand for recipes buy extra when they’re on sale. The kale is garlicky while the sweet potato and beans are tossed in cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cumin. You could also add smoked paprika if you wanted a charred flavor.

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Then it’s all about assembly. Start with your rice and then pile your veggies and everything else on top. I added crumbly queso fresco and some home made tortilla chips to really boost the flavor and fun of the dish. I also added a yummy cilantro sauce to the whole dish which I’ll share below. Then you enjoy a quick and easy meal. Less than 30 minutes if you don’t count the rice cooking.


BEAN AND SWEET POTATO RICE BOWL

Ingredients for the bowl
Cooked white or brown rice
1 medium sweet potato chopped
1 bunch of kale chopped (mine was a variety but use one you like)
1 14oz can of pinto beans or your favorite variety of refried beans
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
a dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. olive oil
1/4 water
Toppings (really the sky is the limit here)
lettuce
queso fresco
scallions
tortilla chips (I made my own by toasting up a corn tortilla)
Cilantro lemon sauce
1 bunch of cilantro
2 medium cloves of garlic
1/2 a large lemon
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp. salt
dash of cayenne
Directions for the bowl
  1. In a large skillet on medium heat, add in all of the sweet potato and the 1/4 cup of water. Allow the water to boil off and the sweet potato to become soft. You can test the sweet potato for softness with a fork. Once the water has boiled off add the olive oil chili powder and cumin and mix for a few minutes until the sweet potato starts to brown slightly.
  2. Move your sweet potato to the side of the pan. Add in your kale and garlic to one side and your beans to the other. Over the beans add the chayenne pepper and mix.
  3. Mix the kale until tender and wilted. Mix the beans until warmed through. Add any salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In another pan make the tortilla chips by brushing both sides of corn tortillas with olive oil. Cut into quarters and and place on a pan. They will begin to bubble. Brown on both sides before removing to cool.
  5. Assemble your bowl. Put the cooked rice on the bottom then your veggies finally any topping you want. At the end you can drizzle the cilantro lemon sauce over the top.
Directions for the cilantro lemon sauce
  1. In a blender, add in cilantro, garlic, water, salt and cayenne pepper.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Drizzle over the top of bowls, tacos, rice really anything you want.

Enjoy!

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Simple Italian Herb Pyrex Bread

I think I started getting into bread making about a year ago because I generally love the challenge of making new dishes. It started with quick, no knead breads and now I’ve moved on to trying my hand at sourdough. (My starter’s named Camilla and she’s my favorite biology project).

I also was interested in making my own bread because I wanted something cheap that was also healthy. A lot of the bread you see on at the supermarket is filled with weird ingredients and preservatives. Unless you spring for the more expensive stuff you really don’t know what you’re getting into, but as a graduate student I can’t justify $6 a loaf. It could cost you as little as less than $0.50 to make a loaf of bread when you add everything together. And if you want to get a little fancy by adding dry herbs or garlic it could cost you much less when compared to the crusty bakery bread, which can cost almost $4 a loaf. It’s a pretty good choice if you have the time and patience.

I feel like many people are afraid of making bread because of the yeast. I was one of those people about a year ago, until I saw this video for making simple rolls! After I succeeding in making these rolls I knew that making bread could never be that difficult.

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If you do get into making bread more often, I strongly suggest you buy a large jar of yeast rise yeast like this one. It will save you money in the long run and you can keep it alive in the fridge for a little over a year. You’ll know the yeast has died if it does not begin to create bubbles when left in the warm water sugar solution. If this is the case you should discard your yeast.

Today, I’m showing you one of the easiest loaves to make. This isn’t a crusty bread, but it is something that you can pop into the toaster everyday. I made mine in a pyrex dish because for some reason I wanted it to be round but you could easily pop this into a regular sized bread pan and get a beautiful traditional loaf. I’ve only made one small loaf here but you could make more if you doubled the recipe. I also wanted to add some Italian herbs and spices to this bread. I added olive oil instead of vegetable oil, although you can add either depending on your preference.

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The bread dough will be very wet and sticky to the touch when you first bring it together but after the first rise it will get much easier to work with. As the yeast ferments the sugars in the dough it creates air bubbles and makes the dough easier to work with so you can then knead and place the dough in your dish for the second rise.

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After the second rise it will begin to actually look like bread. Don’t worry if it hasn’t gotten as tall as you want it as long as it has about doubled you are in good shape! It will still rise much more in the oven and then you will have a nice fresh loaf. Making bread has been a great experience. Cooking with yeast is a little like a science and brings out the creative side of my scientific mind. I really enjoy cooking these easy breads and I hope you do the same!

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SIMPLE ITALIAN HERBED PYREX BREAD

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups of white flour (plus extra for dusting)
3/4 cups of warm water
1 tsp granulated sugar or honey
2 tsp of fast rise yeast
1/4 cup of olive oil (plus a teaspoon more for greasing)
1 tsp of dried oregano, thyme, and basil
1 tbs of sea salt (or enough to taste)
Directions
  1. In a separate bowl measure out warm water (the water should be warm but not so hot that it hurts you to touch if it hurts you it’ll hurt the yeast) and add sugar and yeast to the water. Leave this mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes until the bubbles have formed and nearly doubled the volume of the mixture.
  2. In a large bowl add in flour, salt, any spices, and the oil. Mix these together.
  3. Add in the yeast and water solution making sure to get all those bubbles in there.
  4. Mix everything together until it comes together. You may need to add more or less flour depending on your flour and atmosphere. I feel like every time I make bread it takes a little tweaking until it comes together the way I want. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
  5. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it sit for at least an hour in a warm spot. In the winter I like to put it in a sunny spot.
  6. After an hour check the dough. It should be doubled, if not let it sit for a bit longer. Scrape out the dough onto a flour dusted counter. Begin gently kneading for 3-5 minutes to build up a little gluten. It doesn’t take a ton of kneading. Keep dusting it with flour to keep it from sticking.
  7. Place in a greased oven safe dish Like a  and cover with a wet cloth again for another hour.
  8. Once the dough has doubled put it in a 350˚F (about 175˚C) oven for about 30 minutes. You’ll want to keep an eye on it. The top will get a nice golden brown color. That’s when you should take it out.
  9. Finally, and this is the hard part, let it cool on the counter completely. If you don’t let it cool completely it will get soggy and chewy inside but I know it’s hard to resist the sweet smell of fresh bread. It should be pretty easy to release from the dish if you want to take it out to cool more quickly.
  10. Enjoy with butter, eggs, cheese, or all by itself!

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