Dutch Oven Bread Boule

Can you believe we are already half way through January? It snowed here for a few days and it has been absolutely beautiful outside. Snow will always be magical to me. I am 31 years old and still love it! Also, it gives me an excuse to make lots of soups, breads, and hot cocoa.

Today’s recipe is super simple. It is a Dutch oven bread boule (French for “ball”) that anyone can master. It is no knead, and you do not need any sort of special mixers or contraptions. Just prepare it the day before you plan on eating it. That’s the only caveat. Bread is a staple in our house, and it is a food I thoroughly enjoy making. Bread is not only delicious, but the whole process of making and eating it is a spiritual experience that always makes me think of Jesus and how he gave his bread to remember him by. It is a food to be shared and eaten with friends and family. I hope you love it!

Dutch Oven Bread Boule

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You will need:

  • 3 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c warm water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • optional: 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp dried herbs
  • 4-6 QT Dutch oven
  • parchment paper

To begin, add the flour, yeast, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Stir together. Slowly pour in the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon (or your hands). Form into a ball as well as you can, and transfer the dough to an clean ungreased medium sized bowl. This will double in size, so make sure your bowl is big enough.

Cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and set it in a dry place away from any cold draft. I like to put mine on top of the dryer. Sounds weird, but it’s always warm in there and it’s the perfect setting for rising dough. Let this hang out for 18 hours.

Once the time is up, you should see a bunch of little bubbles on top of the dough. This is how you know it’s ready. The dough will also have a fantastic sourdough smell to it. Although this is not a true sourdough, it comes quite close.

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Preheat your oven to 450* F with the Dutch oven inside. You’ll want to heat the Dutch oven for 20-30 minutes to get it nice and hot.

As the oven preheats and the Dutch oven gets hot, go ahead and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pull the edges in on itself to form a round ball. Dust the top with flour. Transfer the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper that is big enough to cover the bottom of your Dutch oven. The parchment will probably come up the sides of the Dutch oven, and that is totally fine. Score a large X into the top of the dough roughly 1/4-1/2 inch deep and 2-3 inches long. Lightly spritz or brush the dough with water. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and if you wish- dried herbs all over. Lower the dough into the hot Dutch oven and put the cover on. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

If you want an extra crispy crust, turn off the oven, take the Dutch oven out, remove the bread, and put the bread back in the oven straight on the rack while the oven cools down (about 15 minutes). Remove the bread and let it cool for 30 minutes before you cut into it. Isn’t it beautiful?

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This bread is easy and does not require any special skills or equipment. Any size dutch oven will work. The smaller the Dutch oven, the taller the bread will be. The larger the Dutch oven, the flatter the bread will be. Baking time does not change. I used a 4qt Dutch oven this go around, but I have also used a 6qt and it came out perfectly.

I hope you love this recipe. If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but as it truly is, the word of God.

1 Thes 2:13

 

 

 

Tomato Soup

Happy New Year! I hope and pray that this Christmas season has brought you closer to Christ. We enjoyed spending time with each other doing a lot of nothing. I think that’s the best time…just being together without the rush of trying to be in a million places at once.

I put out a vote over on Instagram to see what the next recipe should be. Tomato soup was the winner! This recipe is incredibly simple,  and it is always delicious. It is also completely appropriate for the snowy weather we are having here in Northern Virginia! I hope you love it.

Tomato Soup

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You will need:

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart of chicken stock (32oz)
  • 1/4 c heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, or 2 tsp dried basil

Bring a 4-6qt pot to medium heat. Add the olive oil, butter, onion, salt, and pepper. Saute the onion until it is soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir around for 1 minute.

Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bubbly. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, basil, and chicken stock. Cover, and let all of this simmer on med-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I love using fresh basil and typically just put the whole bunch in and let it steep. Also, don’t be thrown off by the sugar. It is necessary to help the tomatoes reach their full potential. It really does add that little something extra that cuts through the acidity and gives it a great taste.

Once it is done cooking, carefully transfer the mixture to a blender (if you used whole basil- make sure to remove it before blending). Blend it until it is smooth. (If you have an immersion blender- go ahead and use it here). Transfer the soup back into the pot. Give it a taste and determine if it needs more salt, more sugar, more pepper, etc. Let it hang out on low for an additional 5-10 minutes.

From here you can serve it as is. Or, you can add in 1/4 c heavy cream to make it velvety smooth. You can also leave it as is and make a soup bar with fixings like heavy cream, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, croutons, chopped onions, ground beef, cut up grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh herbs, etc. It can really be served however you want it.

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This soup is very easy to make. It also freezes well and reheats perfectly.

I hope you love it!

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

Matthew 4:16

 

Peanut Brittle

Happy Feast Day of St. John of the Cross! We listen to a podcast called Catholic Sprouts every morning on our way to school. It is a podcast for kiddos and is pretty amazing. It is short and sweet, and gets to the point rather quickly as to not lose the very short attention span we all know kids have. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out. I think your kids will enjoy having something to listen to in the car.

I received a request from my great aunt Laura to make peanut brittle. I haven’t made this in a looong time. I remember peanut brittle being sort of one-note and overly sweet growing up. I am pretty happy with how this turned out! I made a few changes to a very old recipe I had on hand from a Betty Crocker book that was written a few decades ago. I hope you love it!

Peanut Brittle

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You will need:

  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c water
  • 3/4 c roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • candy thermometer

To start, get everything ready ahead of time. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. I use a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Nothing sticks to it….ever. I highly suggest getting some! Measure out the 2 tbsp softened butter, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 1 tsp baking soda. Have those ready to go on the side. This recipe will need your full attention for ~30 minutes.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil while stirring constantly with a silicon spatula. Do not walk away from this or it will definitely burn. When it reaches 220 degrees F, add in the peanuts. Keep stirring until it reaches 300 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter, vanilla, and baking soda. Pour onto the prepared cookie sheet and gently spread around with a silicone spatula until it is all in one even layer. It does not have to be a perfect rectangle.

You can let this cool at room temp for a couple hours, or just pop it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process. Once it is cooled, break it into pieces and store in an airtight container or bag in the fridge or countertop.

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The roasted peanuts and vanilla definitely give this an improved flavor. I find myself reaching for another bite even after I have finished a piece (not sure if that is a good thing). It is light, crispy, and has just the right amount of sweetness.

I hope you love this recipe, and I encourage you to give it a try if your thoughts on peanut brittle are on the lower end of the dessert scale.

As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Matthew 11: 11-15

 

 

Balsamic and Feta Pasta Salad

Happy feast day of St. Lucy! My oldest daughter started Catholic school this week. I am incredibly happy with this decision, and we are hoping to transition my preschooler over there soon as well. Please, pray for her!

If you are anything like me, you get kind of tired of sweet potatoes, roasted meats, and pies in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I do love those foods, but I tend to crave something light and fresh to help balance things out.

This recipe is one I like to keep in the fridge. I am a busy mom, so food on the go that I can just scoop into a bowl for a quick bite is exactly what I need. Not only that, but it is full of fresh vegetables and has great flavor. I hope you love it!

Balsamic and Feta Pasta Salad

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You will need:

  • 1 lb tricolor rotini
  • 2 c cubed seedless cucumber (English cucumber is what I know them as)
  • 1 pt cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4-6 oz crumbled feta
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c light tasting olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Boil the pasta for 7-8 minutes. Immediately rinse with cold water once it is done. In a large bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, salt, and olive oil. Whisk together. Add in the pasta, tomatoes, and cucumber. Give everything a big stir until all of the pasta and veggies are combined. From here, you can add the feta in and stir it all together, or save the feta to crumble on top of each serving individually. Your prerogative! I do it both ways depending on how much time I have.

I love this pasta salad because I am not a huge fan of red onion or olives that are found in the Greek version (red wine vinegar, red onions, olives, oregano, etc). My kids also enjoy this one better. The vegetables are familiar, and it really does taste amazing.

I hope you have a wonderful week! As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Luke 1:39-47

 

Cranberry Orange Muffins

It snowed here yesterday and we had a blast playing in it! It was a beautiful way to spend our second Sunday of Advent. We lived in SoCal for so long that we forgot what real weather was like. Moving to the Northern Virginia area has brought us right back to reality. I am happy to report that I am not feeling sick anymore. All of us came down with a nasty cold. We seem to be doing a lot better! It was also Will-Will and Clara’s first snow. We got blurry family photo  to celebrate 🙂

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This time of year I tend to make a lot of baked goods. I don’t know what it is about this beautiful season, but it puts me in the mood to utilize sugar, butter, and everything in between. I had extra cranberries leftover from an appetizer I made, and I wanted to try them in muffins. I put a spin on the blueberry muffin recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago. I hope you love it!

Cranberry Orange Muffins

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You will need:

  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour + 1 Tbsp
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/4 c brown sugar + 2 Tbsp for topping
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c whole cranberries (frozen are okay)
  • 1 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c light tasting olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat your oven to 350* F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cups, or lightly grease a muffin tin/silicone baking tray with nonstick spray.

Combine the honey, 1/4 c brown sugar, Greek yogurt, eggs, olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Sift in the 1 3/4 c flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir until just combined. Lightly dust the cranberries with the extra Tbsp of flour. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin cups. Gently fold in the cranberries.

Fill each muffin cup to the top. Sprinkle the tops with a little brown sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes. I baked mine for 23 exactly and they were perfect.

Let them cool, and then enjoy with some tea or coffee. These came out perfectly sweet and aromatic from the brown sugar, orange zest, and cranberries. I hope you love them!

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As always, thank you for your support.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Luke 3:4-6

Apple Pie Filling

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! This is the first year out of nine that we haven’t hosted or been over to someone’s home. I am cooking a small “linner” (official term for lunch and dinner) for all of us tomorrow, and I went ahead and prepped an apple pie today to give myself more room in the kitchen. Apple pies can be quite bland if you don’t make an awesome filling. I have been making apple pies for years, so this recipe is one I have poured a lot of time into. I used to buy the canned filling and just dump it between crusts, and voila! Come to find out- nobody really liked it. I can’t imagine why?! Ha!

This apple pie filling recipe is the result of many years of compliments, complaints, and the number spoon fulls I want to eat straight out of the skillet.  The combination of browned butter and spices really make this filling something special. I hope you love it!

Apple Pie Filling

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You will need:

  • 8-10 apples
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Peel, core, and medium dice your apples (I used a combination of Pink Lady, Fuji, and Gala). Toss them around in the lemon juice to keep them from browning. This also brightens them up and adds wonderful flavor.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the stick of butter. Let it simmer until it starts to brown. Don’t go too far, because once butter starts to brown- it will burn shortly after. Once the butter is browned, add in the apples and stir until they are all coated in the butter. Toss in the cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, white sugar, and salt. Let this cook on med/low heat until it starts to soften and thicken (about 10-15 minutes). Once the consistency is is how you like it, add in the nutmeg, cloves, ground cinnamon, vanilla, heavy cream, and lemon zest. Give it all a stir, let it cook together for a couple of minutes, and then remove it from the heat.

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From here- you can fill a pie crust, make mini pies in mason jars, eat this by itself with some vanilla ice cream, top it with a crumble and bake it, or do whatever your heart desires! This pie filling has incredible depth of flavor without being too heavy with spices. I put mine in a blind-baked store-bought pie crust (making dough is not my strength) and bake it off until the top dough is golden brown.

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As we go into this holiday, remember what you are thankful for. I am thankful for the normal everyday things my family and I get to do together, and I am thankful for the blessing that is my family. God has been great to us, and I couldn’t have hand-picked a better life to be living.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.

John 15:16

Salted Caramels

Fa-La-La-La-Laaaaaa! I love Advent, I love Christmas, and I love cooking and gifting delicious goodies to people. Salted Caramels are one of my favorite treats, and I want to give you this easy recipe so you can wrap them up and gift them to your friends and families!

Salted Caramels

You will need:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt + 1 Tbsp for later
  • wax paper, cut into rectangles
  • candy thermometer
  • Just to let you know, this will take you at least 45 minutes to cook. If you don’t have the time- don’t start it. It needs your full attention and constant stirring, so give yourself freedom to stand over the pot, because in this case- this watched pot will boil and boil and then burn!

Add white sugar, brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 1 tsp of salt into a large heavy bottomed pot. This mixture will triple in size while cooking, so make sure your pot is big enough. Bring the ingredients up to a simmer (med heat) and stir gently with a silicone spatula making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stir slowly and continuously until your candy thermometer reaches 245-250 degrees.  I let mine cook at 248 for 2 minutes before removing it from the heat. This will ensure the caramel is firm, yet chewy. Do not let it get past 250 degrees or it will become too hard to chew.

Once your mixture has reached the desired temp, remove from the heat and stir in the 2 tsp vanilla. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan, or directly into a 9×13 silicone dish, or into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper. Any of those three will work great. Let the caramels cool completely (2 hours is ideal). Once the caramel is cooled, turn the pan upside down onto a lightly salted cutting board. The salt will keep the caramel from sticking to the cutting board, and it will also give it great flavor.

Cut the caramels into long strips, and then cut the strips into small bites. If your knife is sticking to the caramel, give it a spray with non-stick spray, or rub it with an oiled cloth or paper towel. Sprinkle sea salt over the caramels and toss them around in it to make sure all sides have a little bit on them. Wrap each caramel in a piece of wax paper and then twist the ends tight. These can be stored at room temp for 2 weeks, or in the fridge for up to a month. Bring to room temp before eating. These make great little gifts and can be put into cute bags or Christmas themed tins for giving.

I hope you love this recipe! I have been trying different recipes over the last few weeks (my family is about sick of caramels at this point) and this one seems to be the winner. I know corn syrup puts people off sometimes, but it is honestly the best way to make caramels. I hope you give it a try.  And…I have a second way to dress these up!

If you have a mini cupcake mold (I have a silicone one that I love) you can layer dark chocolate chips (about 6 per mold), top those with toasted and chopped pecans (half way up the mold), and then top with the hot caramel. Let those cool and they will make pecan turtle stacks. These are so good and they look beautiful! Sprinkle a little sea salt on top and serve on a tray, or wrap for giving.

I hope your Thanksgiving meal is delicious and shared with family and good friends. We will be putting our Christmas tree up on Friday evening, and then we will begin our Advent journey with devotionals and kid’s activities on Dec 1st.

Lots of love and many blessings,

Chelsea

@thecatholickitchen

Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3