Monday, December 11, 2017

Stir & Pour Bread Sticks - MYO Yeast Bread Mix Series

Stir & Pour Bread Mix Variety
What if I was to tell you that you can make a huge variety of Homemade Yeast Breads with less work than making Just-Add-Water Pancakes from a Mix?

A Homemade Yeast Bread that can be made - start to finish - in less than an hour with no kneading, and about 5 minutes of hands-on time?

It's true!


Over the next couple of weeks, I'll share a series of delicious breads - all made from this super-easy mix! Be sure to subscribe to see them all! Subscription options are at the bottom of my blog page.

  • Bread Sticks - either Garlic or Cinnamon Sugar - in this post
  • Thin Sandwich Buns
  • Muffin Shaped Dinner Rolls
  • A Casserole with a Yeast Bread topping
  • Loaf Bread for sandwiches & toasting
  • Foccacia

It all started when I found this great blog post from Heavenly Homemakers. Her bread is Whole Wheat with a Vegan option, and is adapted from "Cooking Guy" on Youtube.  HIS bread requires an expensive stand mixer and uses cream and eggs (and HE is VERY CUTE and THREE YEARS OLD!).

I tentatively adapted the recipe, and made a 1/2 batch. I poured it into a cookie sheet & baked it. When it came out, I thinly spread it with Buttery Spread & cut it into Bread Sticks. I sprinkled 1/2 of the sticks with Garlic Salt, and the other half with Cinnamon Sugar and set them on the table by the children. I quickly put the baking dishes in the sink and returned to the table just in time to see the last child devour the last bite. I knew I had a hit!

I liked the ideas from Heavenly Homemakers & Cooking Guy, but I adapted their recipes my needs (vegan, no mixer, white bread) to to look like this (for one batch):

Pour & Stir White Bread - Single Batch
(Scroll Down for multi-batch mix!)
In Bowl, Combine in this order:
2 1/2 Cups Warm Water (That not-even-a-tiny-bit-hot water demanded by fussy toddlers for baths ; )
4 Cups Flour (Unbleached, All Purpose)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Yeast
1 teaspoon Salt
Stir well till it looks smooth. This should stir easily - almost as easily as cake batter. If it is thick, add a splash more water. It stirs up quite easily, and doesn't require long mixing or beating - just stir till it looks smooth - about a minute.
Cover loosely (I just put a paper plate or pot lid loosely over the bowl!) and wait 1/2 hour.
While you're waiting, preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit.
When the 1/2 hour has passed, pour into a baking pan that has been oiled or lined with parchment paper (Parchment paper is more effective under larger pieces to prevent sticking, but for nonstick Muffin tins, I simply oil)
Bake 20-25 minutes till done. NO NEED TO WAIT FOR A SECOND RISING!
Remove from oven, cool slightly, serve as desired.

In the following days, I made a few different varieties - all ready to share!
And the ideas are still coming!

But then being intrinsically lazy - um - I mean - EFFICIENT - I decided it wasn't easy enough! I mean, what's all this with mixing FIVE ingredients every time I want to make Bread?!

What a hassle! ; )

So, I did some calculations and made a large batch mix.

So, NOW whenever I want to make bread, I just add water & stir!

Here's the Mix:

MYO Stir & Pour Yeast Bread Mix
In a Gallon Container (Zippered Bag or Canister) THOROUGLY combine by shaking. I recommend that you layer the ingredients in rather than dumping the whole bag of flour in at once OR stir it thoroughly with a spoon, to ensure even distribution of ingredients:
One 5# bag Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Yeast (This is the one I use, but any should be fine)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt

Bread Mix Ingredients - Flour, Sugar, Yeast, Salt

Combine in 1 Gallon Container, Label, Shake
This mix can be stored in a cool, dry place (like a pantry) if you'll use it fairly quickly- I'd say about a month storage time should be reasonable. If you'll use it more slowly, you'll need to store it in the fridge because of the active yeast. (We have been known to leave our bulk active dry yeast in a cool dry place for 3 months with no ill effect)

To Use:
Combine in large (2 1/2 quarts or more) bowl
4 level Cups Mix
2 1/2 cups warm water

Stir Till Smooth

Stirring should take less than 1 minute

Stir well till it looks smooth. This should stir easily - almost as easily as cake batter. If it is thick, add a splash more water. It stirs up quite easily, and doesn't require long mixing or beating - just till it looks pretty smooth - about a minute.
Cover loosely (I put a paper plate over the bowl!) and wait 1/2 hour. (or cover with a slightly vented lid & leave in fridge till you need it - I used mine the next day for one batch, & it worked great!)
While you're waiting, preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit.

Dough rises a lot in 1/2 hour!

When the 1/2 hour has passed, pour into a baking pan that has been oiled or lined with parchment paper (Parchment paper is more effective under larger pieces to prevent sticking, but for nonstick Muffin tins, I simply oil). NO NEED TO WAIT FOR A SECOND RISING!
Bake 20-25 minutes till done.
Remove from oven, cool slightly, serve as desired.
All varieties bake at 425 Fahrenheit, for 20-25 Min

Line two Cookie sheets (12x9") with parchment paper. Pour in 1/2 batch into each cookie sheet, spread with spoon to cover most of pan. Bake. Spread lightly with buttery spread. Cut with Pizza Cutter. Sprinkle with your choice - Garlic Salt or Cinnamon Sugar

Dough for Breadsticks

Baked Pan of Breadsticks before slicing

Breadsticks after slicing with Pizza Cutter

So, there ya have it - a yeast bread that is easier to make than just-add-water pancakes, and produces an amazingly delicious variety of breads!

Stay tuned for the whole series!

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Easy, Soft, Wheat Rolls in the Slow Cooker

Easiest Ever Slow Cooker Whole Wheat Rolls
These Rolls are No Knead, Oil Free, Vegan Whole Wheat, Refrigerator Rise, and cook in the Slow Cooker!

But, what would all that matter if they weren't also soft, fluffy, and delicious?

They are!

So, what's a woman to do when Christmas is fast approaching, and she has no oven? Let's say for example, that her oven caught on fire, and the replacement had to be special ordered. Not that I'd know anything about that ; )

Well, she can just make her Nice, Soft, Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls in the Slow Cooker : )

This is my own recipe, but I got the method from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - whose work I highly recommend! 

It's so easy!

Here's what you do:

First, you make your Dough. It takes about 5 minutes to stir together:

Easy Soft, No Knead Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
 (Makes 2 batches - for a one batch recipe, see my Whole Wheat Rolls post)

I prepare a double batch of dough in a plastic shoe box from the dollar store
Be sure to add ingredients in this order:

3 Cups Warm Water
5 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, the kind people make instant Mashed Potatoes with)
1/2 Cup Sugar*
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt

Stir well with a spoon till well combined and no floury patches remain. If it is VERY hard to stir, and doesn't look like the picture below, you can add a couple more Tablespoons of Warm Water.

Dough after stirring

Cover loosely (I put the shoe box lid on, but don't snap it down on one corner) and allow to rise for 2-5 hours on counter.

Dough after initial rise - ready to place in fridge or use.

Place in Fridge till needed, or use right away (ideally, use this within a week)

Then, line your Slow Cooker crock with a large piece of parchement paper. Tear off a square and push it down into the crock - press it against the edges so that you can see flat paper on the bottom, coming up the sides of the crock.

Shaped Dough Set In Parchment Lined Crock

Shape your rolls, and place them down inside the paper.  Leave a bit of room between them so that they can rise. Place the lid on the crock, with a double layer of paper towel resting under it (this will keep the condensation in the lid from "raining" on your rolls while they bake.

Slow Cooker Lid Lined with Paper Towel While Baking

Now - either put the crock in the fridge overnight, or leave it on the counter for 2 hours to rise.

Put the crock in the electric part of the slow cooker, and slow cook on high for 2 hours. My slow cookers all - regardless of size or brand - take precisely 2 hours for bread - but yours might be different.

Done Baking

At the end of two hours, carefully remove the lid & paper towel, lift the rolls out by the parchment paper (oven mitts are helpful here!) and set on a plate. Brush with buttery spread if you so desire. You can also sprinkle with Kosher salt,  Garlic salt or some other favorite topping.

"Buttered" and ready to Serve

Cool a bit and enjoy!

Mmmmm..... The obligatory "crumb" picture

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Star Movie Review

If you're looking for a GREAT movie to take your kids to see this Christmas season, this is it!

I didn't receive free tickets or any other compensation for writing this review - I simply liked the movie so much that I wanted to encourage YOU to go see it! 

I have a confession to make. We're those "weird" homeschoolers who don't own a television. Our daughter has NEVER been to a Cinema to see a movie.  We watch videos from the library or Youtube or our own collection, but we don't GO to movies. Until last night, that is.

A friend recommended this film, and I became curious. I thoroughly checked out the online reviews and made sure there was no objectionable content. I wasn't just looking to make sure it was "G-Rated" but I also wanted to be sure that the Christian story was reverently and sensitively depicted. I could find no problems and lots of positive reviews, so we set out to see it.

Having not been to a cinema in a number of years myself, it was a novel experience for me to sit in recliners to watch a movie for the first time!

Prices have changed a lot since we last went to see a movie, but I like the idea of supporting the GOOD films that Hollywood makes, to encourage them to make more good, wholesome entertainment. 

My daughter told everyone she met that this was her first movie going experience EVER. She was super excited!

When the lights went down, what we saw on the screen was even better than I had hoped from reading the reviews. Throughout much of the movie, my daughter was laughing so hard, that I was concerned other moviegoers would be annoyed! And yet, none of the jokes were offensive or irreverent. Artistic license was taken with the Story, but in a way that was in keeping with the spirit of the narrative.

(As a side note for Orthodox & Catholic viewers, Mary & Joseph were depicted in a "Protestant" way - as a young couple in love, but Mary was portrayed as a Virgin throughout the movie)

I don't want  to add any spoilers here, but there were many devout, touching moments in the movie that brought home the Spiritual significance of the Birth of Christ. There was a stunning amount of  Christian content without ever being "preachy."

It was a charming, funny tale told from the perspective of the animals - but the glimpses into humanity - and Theology - were profound.

There ARE some intense or frightening scenes for small children or sensitive children involving snarling dogs and their menacing keeper - minions of Herod. No actual (non comedic) graphic violence, but still, it might be troubling to very little viewers.

As a little bonus, the voices were done by an all-star cast. I won't pretend that I knew who most of the Hollywood stars, were, but I noticed in the credits that Christopher Plummer (of Sound of Music fame) had done the voice of Herod - fascinating since he also played (another) Herod in Jesus of Nazareth.

The Star gave me hope for our culture, that Hollywood can still produce movies that are worth watching - and so much fun at the same time!

If you're only going to see one movie this year (or this decade ; ) The Star should be it!

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