Posts Tagged cooking

Do It Yourself – Artisan Bread

As I had mentioned before I began this journey by the undoubtable need to save money and become more frugal. So here we are with bread! Lots of people will rave on that there is nothing like a loaf of freshly baked bread, and they are not wrong!

Bread making can be VERY intimidating so I knew I need to start simple and I have found it! Artisan bread is easy peasy! I found this GREAT recipe from The Italian Dish Blog. (Which BTW is my FAVORITE Italian Recipe Got To Place.)

I’m not going to post the entire instructions here so I recommend you visiting the page directly. She has it very clean cut, nicely place pictures, and a video showing you how to fold the bread. I can’t make it any more simple than what she has already. 

Artisan Bread / Peasant Bread / Italian Bread… etc etc etc. 

What do you need?
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting (instant) yeast (2 packets)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour

THAT IS IT! That’s all you need. (See posted link above for directions)

You get a nice crispy outside and warm moisture inside.

If you have NEVER baked a loaf of bread a day in your life, this is where I suggest you start! Make a big pot of spaghetti, salad, and some artisan bread and your family will be begging you for more!

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Homemade – Granola Mix (*A home favorite!*)

This Granola Recipe is my absolute favorite breakfast item. I mix it with my Greek yogurt, eat it as a cereal, or just a snack. This is a favorite for my son as well and my mother. She would have at it morning noon and night seven days a week if I had let her.

What is great about this recipe is its versatility. You can make extra crunchy, softer, healthier or not so healthy. This also can be melded into granola bars. This recipe belongs to the mother of a co-worker of mine and I am so grateful to have this recipe and be able to share it with everyone here.

Without further adieu; Mrs. M’s Granola Mix Original Recipe

 What you need:

-3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

 What to do: Pre-heat the oven to 200. Mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl, (but not the dried fruit). After everything is blended together add your oil and syrup and mix thoroughly. On a lined cookie sheet with parchment paper evenly spread the mixture onto it and slide it into the oven. I recommend setting a timer for 15 minutes, the granola needs to be stirred roughly about every 15 minutes baking for an hour.

This comes out wonderfully.

 Mrs. M’s Granola Mix Original With Variations

Honey Variation (this changes the taste of the of the granola by quite a bit)

-3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup of pure honey
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

 Healthier Variation. 

-3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

 Diabetic Variation

 -3 cups of whole oats (not quick cooking oats)
-1/8 cup or 6 teaspoons of splenda brown sugar mix
-1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup
-1/4 cup canola oil
-3/4 coconut flakes
-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
-1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Optional; dried fruit of choice.

Crispy Instructions

If you want to have the granola a little crisper try setting the oven on 350 and cooking for 45 minutes stirring the mixture every 15 minutes.

Softer Granola Instructions

For a softer granola cook as normal on 200 and the hour stirring every 15 minutes. However once you take out the granola from the oven let it stand a cool until it is just warm and can be touched, then place into an air tight container while warm. This will make it a bit softer.

Extra tips and tricks:

Just remember you can always substitute for things you don’t like or have allergies to. Instead of Almonds try walnuts. If you don’t like Canola Oil then use another flavorless oil to cook with. Experiment and play with the recipe.

My personal favorite is with no fruit and using sugar-free syrup.

What  new variations are you interested in trying?

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Homemade – Artisan Bread (*AKA Peasant Bread*)

This was my first bread making experience. It is easy and I found that the directions to follow from The Italian Dish Blog were wonderful with a nice video to follow-up with. From a non-experienced bread maker to another start here first.

Please Note: This is an Artisan bread not sandwich bread. It goes GREAT with a nice big plate of spaghetti.

What you need:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting (instant) yeast (2 packets)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose white flour

What to do:

I suggest going to The Italian Dish Blog as she explains the process very thoroughly with pictures and video.

FAQ:

Q: My bread turned out really crispy on the outside. Did I do something wrong? A: No; true artisan bread is crispy crunchy outside and gummy yummy inside.

Q: Is there a way to lessen the crunch. A: Yes; ignore the water step.

Q: Can I half the recipe? A: Yes.

Q: Have you tried a whole wheat version of this? A: No; but I will! I do know that a whole wheat version to make it more palatable you need a sweetener. Honey will probably be my way to go.

Q: Why did you call it peasant bread in the title. A: My mother grew up relatively poor in TN. This was a term she often used in regards to artisan breads.

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Homemade – Hamburger Helper

I am the first person to tell you I am OVER hamburger helper. I DISLIKE cooking from a box! My husband teases me all the time about this, but I’d rather make it from scratch than use a box meal.  Well that didn’t help him any; Steven likes box meals once in a while and that is handy for the nights I do not want to cook. What do we do then? COMPROMISE!

Browsing a nifty post on Buzz I came across this gem of a post from another blogger I have fallen in love with!

The Tip Garden

I typically have all of this stuff on hand in my pantry. If you don’t a small investment would save you money down the road.

Here is the staple list you will need

  1. Past Noodles (wheat, regular, vegan, or veggie it doesn’t matter)
  2. Powdered Milk
  3. Corn Starch
  4. Spices
  5. Cheese
  6. Meat

Pretty basic in many homes.

The first recipe we tired was the Cheeseburger Macaroni Helper:

 What you need; pantry kit:

-1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
-1 sauce packet:  2/3 cup powdered milk
-1 tablespoon corn starch
-1 teaspoon of each: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder,  Sugar, Paprika

Fresh Ingredients for cooking day:

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
3 cups hot water
1 cup shredded cheese

What to do: Brown ground beef in large skillet, drain grease, add hot water, pasta and contents of sauce packet.  Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low about 12 minutes stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender. During last few minutes of cooking, stir in the cheese; cover and cook final few minutes till cheese is melted.  Turn off heat and uncover. Let skillet dinner sit for about 5 minutes. This will allow sauce to thicken a bit.

HOLY COW how easy is that?! It was pretty nomnom and Money Saving Too!

Check out The Tip Garden for more pantry “hamburger” helper items.

FAQ

Q: Can I use regular milk instead of powdered? A: Yes; The first time I made this I use regular milk. I followed the ratio for milk the 2/3 of a cup of powdered milk would make. (1 & 1/2 cups of milk) So I added 1 & 1/2 cups of milk and 1 & 1/2 cups of water.

Q: How can I make this healthier? A: Use whole wheat noodles, ground turkey or chicken, reduce fat sharp cheddar cheese, and reduce fat milk or non-fat powdered milk. It’s not too shabby! If you’re like me and LOVE veggies add some onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and more.

Easy to make, easy to store, and quit worrying about “What’s for dinner?”

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Homemade – Plain Yogurt (*In the Crock pot!*)

I have learned that making yogurt is a time-consuming practice. Not so much because of the prep time, but the time it needs to cure. The yogurt did not turn out like what you buy at the store, but it was really good! I could eat this plain with nothing added where store-bought stuff I can’t do that.

Here are the three blogs I checked out for DIY Crock pot Yogurt

Money Saving Mom

Thankfully Thrifty

Keeper of the Home

The winner was Keeper of the Home. I opted for the additional steps for thicker yogurt. Although I like them all!

What you need: 

-1 Crock pot
-Whole Milk
PLAIN yogurt (must have active cultures)

TIP: You want to use 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt to every 4 cups of milk. In the other blogs, their ration was 1/2 gallon of milk 1/2 cup of yogurt.

What to do:

At this point I am going to recommend to simply go to Keeper’s blog! DIY – Plain Yogurt The layout and pictures are wonderful. READ thoroughly before doing this project. The first time I tried it I missed a step and this turned out VERY runny. (Although good still.)

FAQ

Q: How much time did you spend on this project. A: As I stated before this isn’t a hard project it just takes a lot of time to do.

Q: Can I use other types of milk? A: Some say yes and some say no. I have always used whole milk, BUT I think tonight I may just opt to try it out with 1%. I’ll let you all know how that goes.

Q: Can i use these recipes to create Greek yogurt? A: Greek yogurt is merely a strained version of regular yogurt so in theory yes! You need cheese cloth. You simply let the yogurt sit longer and drain.

Q: This yogurt is very runny did I do something wrong? A: No; this isn’t like store-bought yogurt. Manufacturing has done a number on us! To thicken it up you can drain the yogurt with cheese cloth.

Q: Can I use this yogurt in my cooking? A: Of course!

Q: What if I don’t want plain yogurt. A: Just add your desired flavoring after the yogurt has been created. Add whatever items you want! Get inventive! I love crunchy granola with mine.

Practice Makes Perfect. This is a project that needs practice.

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