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Stocking Up for Simple Suppers

November 7, 2010

I’ve never been good at preserving. Or, more accurately, I’ve never tried. Canning, pickling, these abilities still elude me. One form of preserving I have mastered: freezing. Oh yes. I’m quite the master of freezing. I think this may bother my roommate when she tries to find room for her frozen dinners in amongst my packages of frozen chicken breasts, loaves of bread and miscellaneous bundles of tart dough. But I hate wasting food, and when you’re shopping and cooking for one person, it’s hard to eat everything before it goes bad. Freezing is my answer.

Two of my go-to freezer staples are Gardenburgers and Sandwich Thins. They provide endless healthy, quick emergency meals when I’ve failed to go to the grocery store for a week or two. However, it’s starting to get a little dull. And I’m starting to feel a little guilty. As much as I love having easy meal options on hand, paying for prepared, packaged versions of things I could easily make myself seems a little unnecessary to me. The simple fix? Make my own. With a rare commitment-free day available to me last week, I decided to use my time wisely preparing a variety of homemade veggie burgers and my very own Sandwich Thins.

Have you heard of this handy little bread items? They are extremely thin buns that are whole grain, only 100 calories and stand up to all your sandwich- and burger-making needs. I know, I know. You’re wondering why I’m worrying about calories when I post recipes for things like eclairs and pies. Truth is, I’d rather shave calories off all my other meals so I can indulge in dessert later. It’s all about balance, right?

After a quick internet recipe search, I whipped up my own batch of these fabulous breads. I was so impressed with how easy they were to make! And how perfect they looked! Who needs store bought? These are better.

Sandwich Thins

(adapted from this recipe from Food.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 3 cups plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup wheat bran or oat bran
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp rolled oats (optional)

Directions:

  1. In  the bowl of your stand mixer or in another large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar and yeast and whisk to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. Meanwhile, in another large bowl whisk together the flour, wheat bran, and salt.
  3. Add the egg and oil to the yeast and whisk to combine. Add HALF of the flour mixture and whisk again. This is your sponge. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.
  4. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer. Add the remaining flour mixture to your sponge and knead about 5 minutes until the dough is fully combined and forms a ball. It may still stick to the sides of the bowl a bit– that’s okay. As long as it’s slightly sticky but not wet, the dough is fine. If it is super wet still, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  5. This batch makes 16 buns. In order to keep them consistent in size, it’s best to use a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, buy one. It’s so worth it. (Otherwise, you can do your best to eyeball it.) Start out by weighing your entire ball of dough, then divide this weight by 16 to determine the size of each portion (my total weight was about 220g, so I aimed for 50-52g for each bun).
  6. Round each portion by cupping your hand over it on the counter top, tight enough to shape it but not so tight that you’re squeezing it. Move your hand in a tight circle to make a taught ball out of your dough. This is when it helps to have your dough stick a bit, since it will help tighten the ball. If you’re leaving a bunch of dough behind, though, add a little flour.
  7. Place the rounds on parchment-lined or greased baking sheets (I needed three sheets), leaving at least two inches between each round.
  8. Fill a small bowl with water. Dip your fingers in and press down firmly on each ball of dough to flatten it. Use the backs of your knuckles as well to achieve a 4-inch wide, very thin circle. Continue with the remaining rounds. Sprinkle each with rolled oats, or some additional wheat bran. Cover loosely with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Before baking, dock each bun with the end of a chopstick or the blunt end of a skewer.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before slicing in half with a sharp, serrated knife. Place in zip-top bags and freeze! When you’re ready to use, wrap it in a paper towel and microwave 15-30 seconds to defrost, then pop in the toaster (just a little bit, they burn easily since they’re so thin) and make your favorite sandwich!

Now I have all I need to make 16 delicious sandwiches! As for those veggie burgers, I went with the recipes below, but look forward to my own version soon. I’m thinking some Indian flair would shake things up!

Southwest Pinto Bean Burgers

Southwestern Pumpkin Burgers

Sweet Potato-Pecan Burgers

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