Roasted Garlic Parmesan Toast

This is a post about toast. A toast post.

I realize that you probably think toast is boring. Dry. Crumb-y. Crummy? Heck, I thought the same thing. But this toast is a delicacy! It puts regular old garlic bread to shame. To shame! This is a recipe you’re gonna want to make with every Italian meal you eat from this point forward. And it’s almost too simple to even be called a recipe. It’s more like a suggestion. An inspired idea that I highly recommend. Whatever. Just trust me and make it!

Part of the incredibleness of this toast may be the bread itself. I can’t vouche for other bread, but I’m guessing that your favorite crusty french bread will do just fine if you’re not up for bread baking. But I really hope you are up for it, because there’s nothing more satisfying than slicing into a piping hot loaf of homemade whole wheat bread.

Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing that it contains only five simple ingredients, none of which are additives, preservatives, or processed ingredients. But I think the biggest reason I love baking my own bread is because of what I call ‘the Little House on the Prairie factor’. I like to pretend I’m Ma kneading bread dough in a log cabin with a hot pot of stew over the fire while the girls play with their corn husk dolls.

You do that, too, right? I figured.

I’m fairly certain that everything in the world tastes better when covered in smashed up roasted garlic. Maybe even mustard greens (*shudder*). Still, I think I’ll let you test that one out. I’m sticking with bread for now. Oh, ALSO – if you’re feeling extra experimental, roast some halved cherry tomatoes along with your garlic and pile them on top of the finished product. Let me know how that goes, because I’m almost as obsessed with roasted tomatoes as I am with roasted garlic.

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Toast

Basic Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
1 T yeast
1 T olive oil
1 T honey or agave
2 t salt
5 – 5.5 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat)

For the toast you will need:
1 head roasted garlic (or more, 1 head will cover 2 pieces of toast)
Butter or alternative
Olive oil, for drizzling
Parmesan, for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt, optional

Instructions:
1. Dissove yeast and honey in warm water in a large bowl; allow yeast to proof (or foam) for about 10 minutes.

2. Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes. Then, stir in the remaining 2 cups flour to form a stiff dough.

3. Knead until smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes (this is when you can pretend to be Ma).

4. Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.

5. Shape dough into a large loaf and place in an oiled bread pan. Let rise for about a half hour in a warm place – preferably a place your puppy can’t get to! Thankfully, I caught this sneaky girl sniffing before she had a chance to get a taste.

6. Cut diagonal gashes on top of loaf and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can roast the garlic at this time too.

7. To roast the garlic, cut the top off of the head so the raw end of each clove is exposed. Cover the exposed ends in olive oil and wrap the entire head in aluminum foil. Roast for about 45 minutes until completely soft. I like to roast several heads at a time because it disappears quickly!

8. After the garlic has cooled, squeeze all of the soft cloves into a container and mash with a potato masher or a fork until it forms a slightly chunky spread, or longer if you want it to be completely smooth.

9. After the bread has cooled for about 15 – 20 minutes, cut into slices. Turn a frying pan or a griddle on high heat and lightly butter each side of the slice of bread. Grill until each side is crisp and golden.

10. Spread the smashed garlic onto the toast and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, pepper, and salt, if desired. Eat slowly and savor every delicious bite.

This recipe came about by chance (or fate) last Sunday after I had baked bread and roasted some garlic for tomato sauce.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Sunday cooking I got the munchies and put the toast together on a whim…and was completely blown away. My life will never be the same.

I tend to exaggerate at times. This is not one of those times. You’re looking at life-changing toast.

Roasted, toasted, posted. BOOM.

Oh, one last thing! I can’t feature a picture of my girl puppy without also featuring one of my boy puppy. That would be favoritism. What kind of mother do you think I am?

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Avocado Paninis with Basil Mayo on Whole Wheat Focaccia

We eat a lot of sandwiches ’round here.

They’re quick and easy, perfect for those nights when we’re too ravenous to take the time to cook. They’re also super healthy if you use lots of veggies and a great whole grain bread. Yesterday, I got the hankering for a hearty, whole wheat bread and found a wonderful recipe that I hope you’ll try. Homemade bread makes the absolute best sandwiches! A panini maker doesn’t hurt, either. My gem of a sister-in-law got me a mini George Foreman for Christmas and I’ve been making great use of it.

If you’re not into baking your own bread (it’s quite a process!), I’ve put the sandwich recipe first so you can try it out with your favorite store-bought bread. It’s a delicious combination of flavors!

Avocado Panini with Basil Mayo

Basil Mayo:
Combine 2 T mayo or substitute (I love Vegenaise, a great vegan option, or olive oil mayo) with 1 T fresh basil, chopped tiny, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Sandwich:
Bread (duh)
Avocado, sliced or mashed
Tomato, sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh baby spinach
Monterrey Jack or Mozzarella cheese

Spread the mayo on bread, pile on the sandwich fixings, grill, and enjoy! Simple and delicious.

The next half of this post is dedicated to those of you who, like me, are willing to wait 14 hours for a fresh loaf of bread.

Yes, I said 14 hours.

Fear not, brave soul! There isn’t a whole lot of actual work involved in making this bread, just a whole lot of waiting. You know how yeast works, right? You’ve gotta be patient with it. In this case, extremely patient, because we’re making a poolish, which is a pre-fermented dough that needs to sit for 12 hours. But you don’t have to do anything – touch it, move it, stir it, nothing. Just let it sit there. You can sit, too, if you want. Take a nap, even. It’s easiest to whip up the poolish before you go to bed and it will be ready in the morning. You can even extend the time the poolish sits to almost 20 hours if necessary.

Let’s go!

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Focaccia
Recipe (barely adapted) by Food Network

Poolish:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
3/4 cup water
Pinch active dry yeast

Whisk all your poolish ingredients together in a medium bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours, or longer if refrigerating. When it’s ready, prepare the rest of your dough.

Dough:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
2 t fine salt
1 3/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk the dry ingredients (flours, flax meal, yeast, and salt) in a large bowl. Stir in the poolish, water, and olive oil to form a loose, sticky dough. Cover with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes (I know, more waiting). The original recipe actually calls for two additional 30-minute rising periods, but I was too impatient and skipped them. The bread turned out wonderful, but feel free to stick to the original recipe and let it rise longer if you like.

Preheat the oven to 425 and spray your pans with olive oil. Divide your dough into the two pans – I used a springform pan and a square nonstick casserole dish! You can use whatever baking pans you have; it doesn’t have to look beautiful. The loaves should look like discs (unless using a square pan, obviously 🙂 ), about 2 -3 inches deep.

Topping:
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Dried herbs, optional (I used thyme)

Combine the olive oil, garlic, and herbs and spread evenly over the two loaves. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown, remove from pans and let cool. Perfect for avocado paninis!

My favorite thing about this bread is the glorious olive-oil and garlic-flavored crust. Extra virgin olive oil is where it’s at, people. It tastes divine. I put it on nearly everything I eat. Not dessert…but yeah, everything else. 

This sandwich would be good cold, but if you crispify it (trust me, that’s a word) you end up with an olive oil crunch layer that almost makes you forget about the taste explosion that is basil mayo.

On a side note, Elesha and I have decided to post every Saturday and Wednesday, respectively, so y’all will have a better idea of when to be on the lookout for new recipes. Also, be sure to check out our updated Recipe page and the Skinnyfat Recipe Makeover page. We’re so thankful for all of you and we look forward to sharing more food adventures with you this year, so keep reading!

But first, make a sandwich.

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Zucchini (and Friends) Bread

Now that it’s fall, I go weak in the knees for all things baked. So when I came across this easy (and adorably written) recipe, I knew I had found a quick cure for my bread craving.

After devouring a thick slice with melty butter (Smart Balance, really), I was satisfied…momentarily. I wanted more bread, but not the simple, yeasty bread I’d just baked. I wanted dense, sweet, gooey bread. Zucchini bread.

The recipe I used was really just a guideline. You won’t believe the nutritious goodies I’ve added! Besides zucchini, this bread will fuel you with banana, flax seed, applesauce, coconut, walnuts, and wheatgrass. Yes, wheatgrass.

Poor wheatgrass. It ain’t easy being green. One of the superest of superfoods, hardly eaten by the average American. And even then, it’s usually only consumed in green juice or powdered capsule form. Why are we such grass haters? Grass has rights, too. Give grass a chance.

I realize I sound like a hippy, but I promise I’m still talking about wheatgrass.

I saw a small bottle of wheatgrass capsules in the store last week for $28.99. No, no, no! It was all wrong! Instead, I bought a container of the fresh stuff in my local health food store for $1.89. Better, right? The fresh stuff has more of the good stuff in it, anyway. I think the reason people don’t buy wheatgrass is because they think “You want me to eat grass? Ew! Nasty!”. Well, think again, people, because this recipe allows you to reap the health benefits of wheatgrass and not even realize you’re eating it. No more excuses!

Zucchini (and Friends) Bread
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (I used half white whole wheat, half whole wheat pastry)
2 t cinnamon
1.5 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup finely chopped wheatgrass
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup coconut meal (I have lots left from making milk)
1 very ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup milk of choice (I used coconut)
1/2 cup canola oil (or oil of your choice)
2 t vanilla
1/2 cup raw sugar (or other dry sweetener, or 1/4 cup stevia)
2 T agave (or other liquid sweetener)
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

NOTE: I realize you may not have every single one of these ingredients on hand. No worries, you can omit the wheatgrass, applesauce, coconut meal, banana, or walnuts if you don’t have them. You can even substitute other nutrient-dense foods in their place: carrots, squash, oats – get creative!

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the dry ingredients (the first six) in a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix the rest of the ingredients except for the zucchini and walnuts in a separate bowl. When mixed thoroughly, add the zucchini and walnuts.

Step 3: Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix thoroughly.

Oh YUM - look at the green bits!

 Step 4: Scoop mixture into a well-oiled bread pan.

Step 5:  Try not to eat too much of the delicious batter. I failed miserably at this step.

Step 6: Let bake for 1 hour or until you can put a butterknife in the center and it comes out clean. Let it cool. When I cut a slice a few minutes after taking the loaf out of the oven, it just fell apart. It tasted wonderful but it was just crumbs. I was devastated and thought I’d have to start all over. NOT THE CASE! 2 hours later I wanted another piece and it had magically bound together! Let it cool. Still, it’s very soft, so be sure to cut through it carefully so it doesn’t fall apart.

Pretty simple, right? The only hard part is all the waiting, but I promise you – it’s well worth it!

Hopefully all this bread will silence the baking monster within me for a few days. After that, I’ve got a couple cans of pumpkin in the cabinet begging to be put into Elesha’s pumpkin bar recipe, a pie, or maybe even brownies.

Fall is the best.

~Becky, a skinnyfatgirl

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