Artisan bread like Carrabbas

Yummy Carrabbas bread coming at you. Try the olive oil dipping sauce to go with it. Make it with straight all-purpose for an authentic loaf at Carrabbas or try a healthier version mixing it with half white whole wheat. Check out the 101 tutorial for helpful measuring techniques.

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour, more for dusting dough (you can substitute 3 cups of King Arthur white whole wheat flour like I did in the demonstration, which makes it 3 1/2 c. all purpose and 3 cups ww )

Dough Directions:
In a large bowl or plastic container (I use a 5 quart shoe box from the Dollar Tree, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups of lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Use the stir and scoop method to measure flour. Lightly stir flour in container and scoop into measuring spoon. Level off with a butter knife. Stir in flour , mixing until there are no dry patches. You can mix this with a wooden spoon or in a large mixer, like a kitchen Aid. You do not need to knead this just mix well.  Cover. Let dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Refrigerate up to a week. If whole wheat flour is used, I recommend using it within 5 days.

Baking Directions:
Place broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and preheat to 450 degrees. When ready to bake,sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with a serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a round loaf. You do not knead the dough. Just form into a loaf. Place the dough on a pizza peel (we’ve used a wooden or plastic chopping board) sprinkled with cornmeal. Let dough rest for 40 minutes or more. Dust dough with flour. Make a tic tac toe board with the knife. Slide dough onto baking stone. Bake until well browned, 30  minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Original recipe from Artisan Bread In 5 minutes a Day, Thanks for the cookbook, Jeff.

Serving Ideas:
Serve with soup, chili or stews
Use bread for grilled panani of your choice
Make garlic bread with day old bread slices

Freezing Soup Tutorial: Baked Potato Soup Recipe

Did you know potato soup is freezer friendly? I make a double bubble recipe of homemade potato soup in a 10-quart stockpot. I allow it to cool for several hours before I put it in the fridge. You never want to put hot soup in the fridge or it will dramatically lower the temperature of your refrigerated items. This soup is delicious on a cold day with cornbread or grilled cheese sandwiches.

A huge pot of soup can be divided among a neighbor, friend or relative in need. It can also be frozen in quart size bags as pictured below.  After it’s cooled overnight, the soup is ready for the freezer or it can be reheated as leftovers. This soup has a better flavor after the herbs have sat overnight.

In order to prepare it for the freezer, I use a quart bag inside a large 4 cup glass measuring cup, but a large deep bowl will work too. The bowl or glass supports the base of the bag and holds it upright for easy filling. I use a 1 cup measuring spoon to dip the soup from the pot and transfer it to the bag. Then I lay the flat bag and carefully move the soup to the seal to squeeze out excess air. Any drips or spills can be rinsed off under running water the bag once it’s sealed. The bags lay flat to freeze nicely in the freezer.

The frozen soup is heated quickest when it’s thawed for 24 hours in a plastic shoebox in the fridge. However, you can do a quick thaw in cold or warm water in the shoebox if you need it fast. This will help you get the soup on the table quicker. Reheat the soup on the stove on low temperature slowly or in the microwave. Or better yet, a double boiler keeps it from scorching.

The following recipe is a double recipe, but it can be halved. I use the insides of baked potatoes when I baked a 10 pound bag and make several meals.

Baked Potato Soup


  • 8 baked potatoes (flesh scooped out and the skins reserved for potato skin recipe)
  • 4 baked potatoes, chopped in cubes with skin on
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots shredded, optional
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 8 cups chicken stock (2 cartons or homemade)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Bake potatoes in microwave or oven. Scoop out interior for the recipe; save potato skins for another use. As potatoes cool prepare soup by melting butter in a large stockpot, and saute onion and carrots. Add the flour to the onions and stir to make a roux. Add stock, water, cornstarch, mashed potatoes, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add chopped baked potatoes, cheese, half and half and milk. Bring back to a boil and reduce heat to simmer and simmer for about thirty minutes or longer. Serve with a tablespoon of shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and/or chives or green onions. Don’t forget to freeze the leftovers! If you make this recipe, you’ll finally have some.

Do you enjoy potato soup?


Batch Cooking Baked Potatoes

I’m filling my oven with potatoes today (Monday) for potato sides throughout the week. Since a 10 pound bag was only 2.50 this week it makes a bargain for every meal. Today we’re having baked potatoes with our talipia for dinner. Tomorrow I’m planning baked potato soup for myself and another family. My poor friend has had tooth surgery and she is in need of soft foods, like nourishing potato soup. I’ll post this recipe for you.

We’ll have potato skins appetizers the following day and if I were to have any leftovers, cold potatoes make excellent home fries or hash browns for breakfast. All of these items might just take a 10 pound bag! It’s a good thing I have another bag waiting for more potato dishes. We’ll probably take a week off from potatoes though :)

Oven Baked Potatoes

Wash potatoes with a vegetable brush and water.  Pierce potato a few times with a knife or fork (sometimes I leave this step out when I’m in a hurry and I’ve never had one burst in the oven). If I’m serving some as baked potatoes, I rub them with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. These potatoes are best placed in a dish and the others can be baked around them.  I bake extra for potato soup, potato skins and hash-browned potatoes. I call this method working smarter and not harder.

Bake in a 400 degree oven (no need to preheat) for an hour or more depending on how many you are cooking and the size of the potatoes. I take small ones out within an hour and leave extra large potatoes longer. They are done when the potato feels squishy to the touch with a pot holder.

Here’s what my potatoes are designateted for:

 Day 1: Baked potatoes with desired toppings.

 Day 2: Baked Potato Soup Base (from the halved baked potatoes below) or you could make mashed potatoes or twice baked potatoes with the skins below. Go here for complete potato soup recipe.

 Day 3: Potato Skins (I use the pioneer woman’s recipe and I use a melon scoop to empty a half of potato out. The insides are used for potato soup and the outside-reserve 1/2″ potato inside for potato skins. I have enough for two meals so 1/2 of the skins will go into the freezer to make skins later. I realized her skins were not on her blog so I will have to do a complete post on this recipe later.

 Day 4: Potatoes for hashbrowns I’ll cube these and brown them in 1/2 canola oil and 1/2 butter, add onion and green pepper and serve them as a breakfast or dinner side. Go here for complete recipe.

Baked Potatoes…The possibilities are endless.

Menu Plan 11/7-11/13


It’s that time of year when it starts getting chilly and we will be doing more crock pot meal.  I’ll be posting the boiled chicken recipe I use since I won’t be grilling it this next time around.

I didn’t get around to making the sweet potato pound cake, but I might attempt it this weekend since I’m making my sweet potatoes in the oven tonight. I did make the slab apple pie though and it was good, but I’d leave out the bottom crust next time, because I really didn’t taste it much. We just love the apple crisp (our standby recipe).

Here’s the plan for next week.

I’ll bake my potatoes sometime on Saturday for Sunday’s menu.

Sunday-Potato Soup I’m trying a new recipe without the usual chicken broth I add to my recipe. I’ll let you know what I think and I will still post mine, but frugal girl’s sounded really good. I’m going to load it up like she  and serve it with cornbread.

Monday-talipia (grilled if the weather is permissible and pan sautéed in olive oil if not), baked potatoes, spinach salad

Tuesday-Hebrew National hotdogs, with stir-fried peppers and onions, potato skins

Thursday-pantry soup and grilled cheese for hubby and kids (I’m teaching class)

Friday-Baja Chicken Pizza (Kraft recipe on the back of a cheese bag)

Saturday-grilled hamburgers (if weather permits) backup plan is black bean casserole in the freezer.

Thawing foods in a shoebox

Thawing bags of food can be tricky because moisture is developing as they thaw. I’ve tried to thaw quart size bags on a plate before, but it takes up a lot of space in the fridge and the corners will drip onto the shelves. Have you ever had this problem? Here’s some refrigerator thawing tips.

The answer is to use 5 or 6 quart plastic shoebox (dollar store kind) in your fridge. I keep one handy in my cabinet for thawing purposes.  My current box holds 3 bags of fajita chicken in marinade. I started thawing this out two days ago for dinner on Thursday. Since I had over six pounds of chicken, it needed a good 2 day thaw. The box fits nicely in between shelves.

Guess what? The box catches all the condensation as it is thawing. When I’m ready to grill, I can use the box to transport the chicken and then I wash it in hot soapy water for the next thawing.

If  you forgot to thaw your food in the fridge and you need a quick thaw (2 hours or less), you can immerse your frozen bags in cold water for a while or try microwave thawing. Don’t leave it in the water all day, especially if it’s meat, this is unsafe thawing.

I typically thaw soups, meat, poultry, sauces and broths in my box. What could you thaw in your box?

Freezing Potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas or Anytime

We all love a good buy and potatoes are a great price at Ingles this week through Saturday, 11/6/2010.  A 10-pound bag of russets is just $2.50! The standard price is 3.99 to 4.99.

Most of us think of fresh-baked potatoes on the menu we see a sale like this, but what do you do with the leftover bag. Some might let the bag grow sprouts and eyes and others may wait until they smell something funny. Let’s not be one of those who let the bag of potatoes rot. Let’s make some potato dishes, such as potato skins, twice baked potatoes, my personal favorite, baked potato soup, and hash-browned potatoes. Did you know all of these can be frozen? Cubed potatoes can also be frozen. I’m thinking mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why not at this price?

I found the following method online to help us prep potato cubes for quick meals. I’ll be posting my baked potato soup recipe as soon as I purchase my potatoes. I’ll buy 20 pounds (2 bags) and bake as many potatoes as possible in my oven for many different side dishes throughout the week. Now that’s saving energy, time and money. Happy potato baking or boiling, whichever you prefer.

Freezing - To freeze large potatoes, begin by washing, peeling, and removing eyes. Cut into ½ inch cubes and blanch for 5 minutes. Immerse in ice water immediately following for same duration of time. For smaller, thin-skinned potatoes, scrub, blanch for 4 minutes, and bathe in ice before placing produce in an airtight freezer bag (from Green Giant Website)

Perfect Baked Potato in the Microwave

Scrub potatoes and pierce with fork. Lightly oil hands with olive oil and rub potatoes generously. Sprinkle kosher or sea salt on potatoes. Microwave on a microwave safe plate for approximately 6 minutes per large potato. I typically nuke 6 potatoes and it requires about 25-30 minutes depending on size. I will check them with a silicone hot pad to see if they are squishy (give gently). When they slightly give when I squeeze them, they are done. I immediately wrap them in a piece of foil to allow them to steam on the counter. Steaming time can vary depending on how much longer until dinner time. Just allow them to sit approximately 5-10 minutes to further soften the interior. Unwrap and enjoy a faux oven baked potato! They are so good with the works just like dining out. Butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese, salt, pepper, green onions or chives. This could be a meal with a salad. Enjoy!

What kind of potato dishes do you enjoy?