Basic White Bread Recipe

Many bread choices from the store contain soy ingredients.  We have a soy allergy in our family but I have been terrified to attempt to make a sandwich type bread.  It just seemed like a daunting task.  When I make bread usually it’s banana bread or Grandma’s Beer Bread.  I have been considering a bread machine but, as of now, any and all bread is made by hand with my handy dandy KitchenAid (seriously, I love my pink KitchenAid, found on sale, of course.  I had been wanting one and I kept waiting because it is a big purchase but I wish I hadn’t waited.  It’s an amazing little machine!).

Bread Recipe

Truthfully, this recipe is really simple.  Though, it is time consuming.  It’s not a quick mix, bake, done recipe (like the beer bread).  It is well-worth the effort!  Amazingly delicious, super (and I mean SUPER) inexpensive, and simple.

YOU WILL NEED:

2 teaspoons (or one packet) active-dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
1 cup  milk (I used skim)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 – 6  cups all-purpose flour

First dissolve your yeast in the warm water.  Sprinkle yeast over the warm water (make sure water isn’t too hot) and let sit for about 5 minutes.

White Bread Recipe

Mix milk, melted butter, sugar and salt together while you wait for the yeast to dissolve.  Take 1 cup of flour and incorporate into the milk mixture.  Your dough will be really wet at this point.  Don’t worry!  Add the other 4 1/2 cups (I added it about 2 cups at a time, rather than dumping it all in at once) and you’ll see the dough start to form.  If you are using a stand mixture this is the time to switch to the hook and let it knead the dough for about 10 minutes.  If you are not using a mixer you can knead the dough by hand.

Bread Recipe

If the dough is sticky add flour (only a table spoon at a time- you don’t want to add too much but you don’t want the dough sticky).  The idea dough will be smooth and will bounce back when poked or gently smacked (yes, I totally smack my dough; I don’t know why.  I just like to give it a little whack!).

White Bread Recipe

Here’s where the term ‘time consuming’ comes into play for me.  As with any yeast recipe, the time will come to wait.  Now is the time.  Oil up a large bowl and form the dough into a ball.  Let the ball of dough rest, covered in a warm place, until it’s doubled in size; about an hour.

Homemade Bread

Once your dough has risen, take it out and divide into two balls.  Let those balls rest for just about 15 minutes.  Grease up two loaf pans and shape each loaf and place in pans.  Here comes some more ‘wait time’.  Let the loaves rise in the pan for another  hour and a half.  The dough should double in size and be a nice dome shape.

Make Bread At Home

Make a slash down the length of the loaf but be careful not to cut too deep into the dough; a light hand is ok here.  Bake in a 375°F oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the pan (to avoid further cooking them) and let cool before slicing.  Store in plastic bag at room temperature for a few days or freeze for a few months.

Bread From Scratch

We used ours for turkey sandwiches, paninis and cheesy garlic bread!

Do you make your own bread?  If so, do you use a bread machine or do it by hand?  Should I get a bread maker?!

DIY Bread

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

With my Schwan’s delivery I crafted a yummy meal that my kids (and Hubs) devoured.  It’s a classic dish made super simple with Schwan’s.  I ordered my items with this in mind and had tons left over for other meals.

Stuffed Chicken Recipe

I defrosted the chicken breasts and pounded them thin.  You could also butterfly them.  The goal here is thin chicken so it cooks quickly and to be able to manipulate around the filling.

bacon Wrapped Stuff Chicken

I mixed 8oz of softened cream cheese and diced green onions with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Next a nice sized spoonful of filling into each chicken breast.  I used two pieces of bacon in a criss cross pattern to help hold the chicken together.  Use toothpicks or skewers to keep it sealed up.  Some of them turned out as more pockets rather than a roll-up, as I intended it to be, but I actually really liked the look of them.

Bake in a 350* preheated oven for approx 45 minutes.  These can be prepared about a day ahead of time just cover and refrigerate until cooking.

Enter to win a giftcard from Schwan’s!

Extra Creamy Mac & Cheese Recipe

This Mac ‘n cheese recipe is inspired by one from The Pioneer Woman.  I haven’t tried her exact recipe but changed and tweaked it to fit my family’s needs.  My foster son/nephew is allergic to mustard seed so we omitted that; made it extra creamy with half and half and cut back just a tiny bit on the amount of cheese to save some money.  This is a hit with both the kids and adults and, although it does take a bit more effort than simply opening a box, it is well worth that extra bit of time!

Mac & Cheese Recipe

You will need:

16oz of uncooked pasta (I use elbow usually; but whatever you have on hand works, too)

2 cups shredded cheese (plus 1/3 cup for topping if you bake this dish- see below)

2 1/4 cups half and half

1 egg beaten

1/2 stick of butter

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

Cook your pasta but leave a bit firm (if you plan on baking this dish after mixing, leave it really firm), drain and set aside.  Use the same pot to melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk; careful not to burn.  Whisk for about 5 minutes and then add your half and half.  Stir regularly until smooth and thick.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Remove approximately 1/4 cup of this mixture and let cool for a minute (I start cleaning up at this time).

Slowly, pour your 1/4 cup of mixture into beaten egg.  Stir to avoid cooking the egg.  Once well incorporated, add the new egg mixture to the old mixture in your pot.  Whisk together until smooth.  Add shredded cheese and stir to melt.  Your creamy, cheesy mixture should be thick and smooth and then you can add your pasta!  Stir together and serve immediately, unless you are baking it (see below).  This can be served at a later time but won’t be nearly as creamy and I suggested adding a bit of milk during the reheating process.

Optional:  Bake this dish!  Add cooked mac and cheese to greased baking dish and preheat oven to 350.  top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and back for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Easy Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Bell Pepper

When bell peppers go on sale I buy tons.  I use them in my spaghetti sauce, in casseroles and make one of my favorites: stuffed peppers!  This is a twist on an old favorite and I especially love using multiple colored peppers for a fun visual effect.  Another great part is the serving sizes are perfectly proportioned and the smaller rings work great for my younger kids while he middle slices are hearty enough for my husband.

Simply slice the top and bottom off your bell peppers and remove seeds.  Using a sharp knife cut approximately 2 inch rings, you can make them thicker or thinner, depending on your family (just remember cook time will be a bit longer with a thicker slice).  Set the rings in a shallow pan with only a few inches of water and cover.  Steam those over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes; I perfer my peppers very tender, do what works for you.  Remove from heat and set aside.Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

The filling is very basic but delicious.  Throw some onions and garlic in a pan on medium heat.  Cook until the onions are becoming see through adn then add apound of ground beef (or turkey) and brown in the pan.  You can change it up based on what you or your family likes.  Add tomatoes or mushrooms or diced peppers or omit onions if you have a picky eater.  It all works in this filling!

Place your bell pepper rings on a baking sheet and carefully spoon filling into the rings.  Top with shredded cheese and place in oven on broil for just a few minutes until the cheese gets golden brown.  I serve this with rice for a nice hearty and healthy meal!

Healthy Chicken Wings

I love bar food.  Delicious fried goodness dipped in ranch?  Yes please.  I love a certain restaurant our husbands would deny visiting during their lunch hour, with their breaded and fried to perfection hot wings…you know the place I’m referring to, right?  But I’m not dumb.  I know just how bad for me all that stuff is.  So when I had a hankering for wings last weekend I asked my husband if he could maybe grill them.  If you follow me on social media you already know I think my husband is the Grill Master (though he tends to dirty every dish or pan possible in the process when he grills, but I digress).  I also put him in very high regard when it comes to sauces.  My mouth is watering just thinking about how the house smells when he is cooking up his wing sauce.

Healthy Chicken Wings

Being the grilling machine that he is he agreed, though he’d never grilled wings before.  He put them on the top rack  on med to high heat and check on them often.  He was looking for a nice golden brown and after about 25 minutes they were beautiful.  He whipped up a semi-homemade sauce in our favorite flavor for wing sauce: Honey Hot!  I tossed the grilled wings in the sauce and they were ready to be devoured eaten.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this healthy version but I was really pleased!  It had a nice crispy crust to bite into.  This will definitely be a go to when I have a hankering for some wings!

More Kid-Approved Activities For Summer

Summer is not over yet and if you are like me you are running out of ideas and steam of how to keep your kiddos busy!  Last summer I posted a bunch of ideas called How to Keep Kids Busy This Summer Without Breaking The Bank.  And this summer I shared a free printable of a Summer Bucket List. I am, of course, using those old ideas along with new activities.  Thank goodness for Pinterest.  I’m scouring the site and pinning away.  Check it out my board and follow me.  Don’t forget to let me know if you try or come across any good pins!

 

Follow Nicole LLandLoL’s board Crafts and Activites for the Kiddos on Pinterest.

DIY Coffee Creamer

I live on coffee.  You may think I am exaggerating but I’m not.  It is an addiction. If drinking coffee is wrong then I don’t want to be right.  Here’s the catch.  I really only drink iced coffee.  Even in the winter I will always choose iced.  I don’t love any hot beverages, really.  Don’t get me wrong, if my choice is no coffee of hot coffee I will choose hot, of course.

DIY Coffee Creamer

I like some sugar and creamer in that iced coffee and I can sip on it all day.  I make it extra special with my DIY homemade caramel sauce, too. Delish!  This recipe came up when I reached for my coffee creamer and found that it had been finished off!  Eeek!  Luckily, this recipe is super simple and versatile.

You will need:

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

1 and 3/4 cup milk (whole, skim whatever you have on hand works!)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

This recipe is for a french vanilla flavor but, like I said, this is a versatile recipe.  Instead of the vanilla extract you can add cinnamon, chocolate, caramel or a combination of any of these.  Seriously, the options are endless.

Also, if your sweetened condensed milk comes in a different size can; no worries!  Basically, it’s one part milk and one part sweetened condensed milk plus some flavoring.  Pour into a glass container (a mason or canning jar is perfect) and shake what your Momma gave you.  You can use this in hot or iced coffee. It’s inexpensive and really good.  I don’t even have to add sugar when using this creamer.

Do you prefer cold or hot coffee?

 

Watermelon Refresher Recipe (With or Without the Booze)

It’s summer time which means tons and tons of watermelon in our house.  The kids eat it constantly and I encourage it because it’s cheap and good for them!

This is a great treat for kids (or Momma, especially with a bit o’ booze!) because it’s refreshing with a bit of sweetness.

Watermelon Refresher

You will need:

1 cup watermelon cut

1 cup coconut water

1 cup ice

1 tablespoon sugar

(Optional: make it a ‘grown up’ drink with a shot of vodka!)

Blend those ingredients up and pour into glass.  It’ll be a water/juice consistency, which is really refreshing but if you’d like a thicker more ‘smoothie’ type consistency add ice and more watermelon, as needed.   Garnish with a wedge of watermelon if you are getting fancy or sharing with company.  ENJOY!

Red, White and Blue Breakfast Parfait

Looking for a fun and easy way to serve up some patriotic snacks?  Look no further!  This super simple yogurt parfait is perfect for kids and adults.

Red White and Blue

You could, of course, simply use sliced strawberries.  I think what makes this extra special is the easy strawberry syrup/jam I shared just the other day.

Strawberry Jam

 

You will need:

Strawberry Jam/Syrup

Yogurt (Greek, plain or vanilla, really any will do)Strawberry Jam/Syrup

Blueberries

 

I don’t use these glass cups for the kids but a fancy class or cup really gives this yummy treat some “Oomph”.  Layer the strawberry jam first, then yogurt and top with whole blueberries.  If you aren’t making the strawberry syrup/jam and are using just sliced berries I suggest using vanilla yogurt; the sweetness to the jam works really well with plain yogurt, though.

Such a simple idea with such great results; my youngest went around to everyone’s empty cups trying to scrap the bottom to get more!

DIY Strawberry Jam (No Pectin)

Strawberry Jam Syrup

I buy a lot of fruit.  It is always available as a snack option for all four kiddos and these kids can EAT.  Sometimes I over buy, though and I hate for things to go to waste.  I use over ripe bananas in lots of recipes like banana muffins and 3 ingredient pancakes.  When I had strawberries right on the verge of turning; you know, softening and not exactly perfect for snacking, I decided I wanted to make a yummy but THICK type syrup.

Strawberry Jam

I wanted the ‘syrup’ to be thick enough to put on toast and I liked the idea of keeping the chunks of strawberries.  Really this is more like a jam (without pectin) but for a thinner more syrup-y outcome just use more water and strain the chunks out.

strawberrycanned

You Will Need:

1 Cup Strawberries Chopped (I had about 8 ‘leftover’ and used that)

1/3 Cup Sugar

3 Tablespoons Water (More if you want it thinner)

1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice (Optional)

Add all three ingredients to a small saucepan and turn heat to medium/high.  Once boiling, reduce heat and stir occasionally.  Let mixture cool before storing it in the fridge.  I don’t know how long this will last in the fridge because we used it in two days.