Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Homemade Breads

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Homemade; should have the definition: how to save money.  Almost anything can be made homemade for cheaper than store bought.  Now I say almost, because some things are more expensive due to ingredients and the fact that large quantities of items made lowers the cost, but I digress.  So, if you re looking to save money, start looking at what you buy and see if you can start making it homemade instead. 

Recently, I've started making our bread homemade.  I've made homemade pizza dough for the last 5 years or so, but haven't' been adventurous as to make homemade bread.  Not going to lie, making anything homemade that uses a dough has always been something I'm leery of doing.  For awhile I just thought I could never make it right.  But over the last 5 years of making pizza dough I've learned something and can apply that to bread making.

First of all, bread making really is simple.  Honestly.  If you've never made bread just know if I can make it, you can.  I've had my share of problems when it comes to dough.  One year I even threw away good dough because it kept tearing and I didn't know how to make it better.  Seriously.  But now I know better. Bread dough is way more forgivable than you think.  So, in this post I want to share some tips and tricks to making bread.  Along with some different bread recipes that I make to help save some money.  

Tips & Tricks: 

1. The dough is sticky

    If the dough is sticky you can add some more flour.  Honestly, even if the recipe only calls for 3 cups and you end up using 5.  Humidity has a huge effect.  This is the dough I threw away one day.  I was so frustrated, my hands were covered, it was sticking to everything!  I had no idea I could add more flour.  Super simple way to salvage that dough.  Just add a little more at a time, I use an 1/8  cup and continue to knead.  I continue this until it is no longer as sticky.  Unless it's really sticky, then I add more at a the dough I threw away, that would have needed probably another cup or so!  

2. The dough is tearing or having holes as you spread it 

First, you can always pull all your dough up from where your rolling it out and re-knead it.  This was something else I didn't know.  But, if your dough is tearing you can recollect it and re-knead it a bit.  If it's not a lot, you can take dough from places that there's more and just stick it to itself.  Really, it's that simple.  

3. Humidity 

Humidity plays a huge factor.  If it's humid out you can guarantee you will be adding more flour than the recipe calls for.  Sometimes it's not obvious, there's been times I didn't really think it was that humid, and yet my dough just was sticky.  So I added more flour and it worked.  

4. Wheat/White flour 

Want to make your recipe a little more healthy? You can always substitute some of your white flour for wheat flour.  I usually stay with a ratio of 1-2 cups white to 1 cup wheat.  Wheat flour can make it tougher to stretch out and knead, so I try not to go too close to 50% of wheat flour for the recipe. 

5. Water temp & proofing your yeast. 

So when I first started making pizza dough, the recipe said proof the yeast.  I had no idea what that meant. I had to look it up and see what proofing the yeast means.  So in case you are like me and this is all new, let me first explain what proofing the yeast means.  To proof your yeast you need to soak it in hot water for about 5 min. Okay so that makes sense, that's not that difficult, but some recipes say hot water, others say warm.  I don't know about you, but hot for me is hot! So how do I know what temp is best?  A tip from my great-grandma Gladys was the water should be warm, but not too hot that you can't keep your pinky finger in it for 3 seconds.  Cold is pretty easy to tell it's too cold, but if you can comfortably keep your pinky finger in the water for 3 seconds then it's a good temp. 


1. Pizza dough 

    Like I said, I've only been making our pizza dough for about 5 years.  But it is so simple and easy to make.  Plus, now that you have some tips and tricks up your sleeve it will be even easier.  I was given this recipe from a friend and I'm not sure where it came from prior to that.  

1 Cup wheat flour
1 1/2 Cups white flour 
LOTS of Oregano, Italian seasoning, or Basil   
1 tsp garlic salt 
2 Tbsp Oil* (olive, sunflower, whatever your preference) 
1 cup water 
2 tsps active dry yeast 

*You can make it without the oil, so if you don' have any or you'd rather not you can leave it out. 

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil if you are planning to.  Make a whole in the middle of the bowl.  Add the yeast in the middle and pour warm water over the yeast.  Let it set for about 5 min.  Then knead and roll into a ball.  Let sit for about 5 min. and then you can spread the dough out onto a pizza pan.   Finally par bake it at 475 for 5 min.  Then it's ready to add your toppings.  Cook at 425 for 15 min. 

2. Bread 

    This is the recipe I use for my homemade bread.  A huge perk of this recipe is makes 2 loaves. One to eat right away and one to freeze, which means you don't have to make it all the time!  Homemade bread recipe from The Recipe Critic

3. Buns 

    For homemade buns, I just use the same bread recipe as above.  But, after it's risen the first time divide the dough in half.  Then using a sharp knife cut each half into 12 sections.  You can cut the half into thirds and then each third cut into four pieces, then you have 12.  Grease the cookie sheets or use silicone baking sheets. Shape each dough into a ball. Place the dough balls on the cookie sheets.  Cover and let them rise again for about 30-45 min. Bake at 375 for 18-20 min. While warm rub the tops with butter. 

Be sure to watch out for my next post about how I make cinnamon rolls with this same basic bread recipe!  Plus, a more how-to with photos on how to make those buns! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Last minute quick Christmas gifts

This post includes affiliate links, which means if you click on the link I get a portion of any sales at NO COST to you.  See my disclosure page for more details.  

AHHH! It's officially December and you have a few more gifts you need.  Want to save some money, give some awesome gifts and not have to spend lot of time on them? Well, you came to the right blog post! I have 3 awesome gifts that almost anyone would enjoy and they take hardly any time and money to make as well!  Plus, they are gifts that can be used so great for those teachers or co-workers who may get lost of stuff that they need to find a place for.  Instead these are gifts that can be used up after a period of time. 

First: Bath salt mix 

What a great relaxing gift to give to someone.  This is my favorite way to unwind at the end of the week, taking a salt bath.  What better than to give someone a way to help them make time for their own self-care. 

1/2 Cup of Epson salt 
1/4 Cup of Baking soda 
1/4 Cup of Sea salt or course salt 

This will make about 1 jelly sized jar.   I usually make 4 batches and get 4 jelly jars.  Super easy to make and doesn't take much time either! Plus, if you put it in a jelly jar the jar is decorative enough in itself!  So, double points! 

Second: Hot coco-mix: 

Who doesn't like hot-coco?  Okay, I know some people don't...BUT, most do.  And what a fun gift to get at Christmas! Plus it's a gift that can be used up!  This is great for teachers, co-workers, family, really anyone who enjoys hot-coco! 

I've been using this recipe from Eating on a Dime.  We have liked it and it's really easy to make.  Now the only thing I do different is I don't add the salt, but that's just a preference thing.  But this recipe is super easy and all you need is a mason jar to add it to!
We like to use mason jars for our gifts, but if you are wanting to send this to school as teacher gift they make plastic jars now too!  These are a perfect option for sending your little to school with a gift for teacher.  

Or we recently made these gifts for our mail carriers. Just use a party bag; add some marshmallows, a cute wooden spoon and a fun tag!  This would also be a great way to give this git to your student's teacher!  

Third: Lotion bars 

Lotion bars are a fun gift that can be used for almost anyone.  You can use a mini muffin tin for the molds.  We also bought these for crayon melting and they can work for lotion bars too!  I liked these ones because the pack came with different shaped molds so you can use them for different events.  But, back to lotion bars.  They are easy and quick to make.  

Equal parts beeswax pellets & Organic coconut oil
double boiler or a smaller pot and larger pot
essential ils (optional) 

Melt both in a double boiler, or if you don't have a double boiler you can use a smaller pot inside a larger pot of water. If you want you can add essential oils as well.  Once the coconut oil and beeswax has melted remove from heat and add the essential oils you'd like.  Pour the mixture into the molds.  Put in the fridge to Harden.  After about 20-30 min you can pop them out and they re ready to gift! 

Pair both the lotion bars and the salt mix for an extra special gift!!