learning to cook healthier & without a recipe!

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns, Sweet Potato Fries & More!

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Nothing makes me happier than getting to spend an afternoon cooking. I know it sounds crazy but it really is fun! We had a few people over for dinner the other night and decided to make some homemade hamburger buns. I wasn’t sure how it would work out but was excited to try! 

Rachel Ray has had some awesome little recipe blurbs in her magazines lately that have things you can make with just a couple of simple ingredients. That is the source of the butternut squash dip and the sweet potato fries… although the fries didn’t turn out very fry-ish…

For the buns- the original recipe came from, you can find it here. A bread mixer would be really awesome for things such as this. I think hand kneading just doesn’t quite give you the rising results you need. I also doubled the recipe and couldn’t find my dough hook attachment for my electric mixer so this process was a little messy. I’m going to post the recipe for the original amount (8 buns) instead of the double amount. Here it is…

  • 12 1/2 ounces whole wheat flour or whole spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 ounces vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees)
  • beaten egg
  • poppy seeds (optional) or sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200. You start by mixing together the flour, wheat gluten, and salt. Vital wheat gluten is awesome- I’ve never had anything whole wheat rise like it did with the vital gluten. (P.S. obviously I got my allergy test back and am not allergic to wheat!! or anything! So awesome!) Set aside the dry ingredients and dissolve the honey into the warm milk then add the yeast on top. Let it mush up a little bit before mixing it in all the way. Let this sit for about 10 minutes to really get active and bubbly. Once it has add it to the dry ingredients and add the cool, melted butter.
Turn the oven off. Hopefully you have a dough hook (it looks like this) for your electric mixer, if you don’t its hand kneading time! There is a video to show you how on the post of whole wheat bread. Mix for 5 minutes with the mixer or knead for about 8 -10 minutes by hand. Check to see if the dough is forming into a nice ball and if it’s too dry or too wet. If too dry add water, if too wet add flour. Mine was a little to dry. I got a spray bottle at the grocery store which was perfect for wetting the dough just a little bit to make it a good texture. Continue to mix for 5 minutes or hand knead for 8-10.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover with a towel. Place in the warm oven for 10-15 minutes to rest. Mine rose like crazy during this time!

Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. After the bread has rested, punch it down and roll it out. Separate into 8 buns and shape them how you would like them. Tuck the seams under and place on the pan. Boil some water on the stove top or in the microwave, carefully pour the boiling water into a pan and place on bottom rack in oven. Put bread, uncovered, in the oven to rise for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, replace water with more boiling water and let rise for 25 more minutes.

Take bread out, make sure it isn’t sitting under the AC vent, and preheat oven to 350. Whisk the eggs and brush buns with the egg wash and sprinkle poppy seeds or sunflower seeds on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned. These were pretty heavy, one hamburger went a long way, I kind of felt like I had eaten 3 hamburgers after I finished 1 but it was well worth it!

While the buns are cooking…

Make some butternut squash dip!

You’ll need

  • 1 butternut squash- medium to large
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • a little salt & pepper
  • olive oil
Slice the top and bottom off of the squash. It is so pretty- enjoy the beauty of it:
Peel starting at the bottom and sliding the peeler up. It took me a couple tries to realize this way was a lot easier! Chop up into small pieces. Dice the onion and add to the squash. Pour a little olive oil over both, add salt and pepper and stir it up.
While the bread is cooling…
Put on a baking sheet and roast at 400 for 25 minutes. Once the veggies are soft, throw it all in the blender and puree it. Put in the fridge to chill. Serve with crackers (my favorite are the Back to Nature Crispy Wheat Crackers) as an appetizer!
Meanwhile, while the dip is chilling, slice up a couple of sweet potatoes (they go a lot further then you would think) for some sweet potato fries, all you need is:
  • a couple sweet potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • cinnamon (optional)
Turn the heat up in the oven to 475. Toss the thin sliced, fry shaped, sweet potatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. I think I over did it on the olive oil, sweet potatoes get so soft so fast, they don’t need much extra liquid. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I wish I had done this- those suckers stick to the the pan quite a bit) and pour the potatoes on. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the potatoes after 15 minutes. My first batch burned on one side but they still tasted ok. My second batch were too soft and I tried flipping them too soon and they started falling apart. I’ve got some work to do on these. I turned the oven to broil at the end and that seemed to help a little. Let cool and serve like that or with tossed with some cinnamon.
Our friends brought over some delicious veggies we put on the grill and we sauteed some onions and mushrooms in butter, olive oil and salt & pepper for the burgers. Put it all together and you have a really tasty cookout!
Listening while cooking: Blind Pilot- listen to them for free on npr first listen- they are really great!

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