Homemade Rolls 

I do not know what has gotten into me! I have been obsessed with homemade bread lately. You’d think that the weather outside would have been damp and chilly, but no. I just really LOVE homemade bread!

After trying out this awesome recipe for Homemade French Bread, I was really excited. It tasted amazing and was much easier than I thought. It was much more cost affordable and definitely much healthier!

The only downside was that the recipe took a bit longer than I preferred to spend when I have this cutie pie hanging around.


So I was super excited when I found out that the lovely Ms. Andrea at Pennies and Pancakes had a recipe for hamburger buns that took less than an hour from start to finish! I wish I could take credit for the delicious recipe, but she so deserves it!

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or just over 4 cups whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg

Directions 
Warm the milk, water, and butter in the microwave. Stir until butter is melted and let cool until warm, but not hot.

Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add in milk mixture and then add the egg. Your dough should be only slightly sticky. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into 12 balls, and place them on a large, greased baking sheet. Lightly press down on the top of each ball of dough, so that the top is more flat than rounded. They will puff up more during rising and baking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Cover with a dishtowel, and let rise 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve as desired, and store for 3-5 days on the counter, or 4-6 months in the freezer.

Before

After!

I am telling you, this was the easiest thing to make! My father-in-law had one and proclaimed that he was officially handing over the reigns and that I was now in charge of making buns for the holidays. This is the same man who drove six hours to our house with coolers filled with food so he could prep it himself for us. He loves to cook, so to pass any of it on to me, I’d say we have a winner!

When these came out of the oven, Cupcake was napping. I split one open and may have let out a little squeal. I grabbed a bit of olive oil and sea salt and I was in HEAVEN. Anyone who is nervous about making homemade bread should definitely start here. My only regret is that I did not find this recipe sooner!

Homemade French Bread

Let them eat bread! (or, something like that.)

Lately I’ve been trying to find new ways for my family to cut back on our spending. Since I love to cook, that seemed like a good area to start. If I was being really honest, I would admit that I have not been quite so responsible lately.

We moved a few states away two months ago. I did a pretty decent job cleaning out my pantry, which was awesome. Rebuilding my pantry? Less awesome. I had lost most of my coupons, did not have a working printer, and wasn’t really too sure about any of the local grocery stores. I made a lot of mistakes and spent more money than I should have.

However, I am now two months in and feeling much more settled. I know which grocery stores around here fit my needs. (Side note: isn’t it interesting how different stores within the same chain can be? We have most of the same stores available to us, but now shop at completely different options!)

I started researching different recipes to save money and came across Pennies and Pancakes. Among the many delicious things that she makes is bread! She has quite a few recipes for homemade bread on her website. I did what I usually do, and completely skimmed past that section until I read one little note. She had a recipe to make a loaf of French Bread. The approximate cost to prepare? 31 CENTS.

I adore a good loaf of french bread! In the past, I have bought the prepared ones to accompany pasta and soups and all sorts of great meals. Never have I ever been able to score one for anywhere near $0.31. So, I decided I would try.

I started copying down the recipe and immediately got cold feet. There were a lot of steps. And it would take quite some time to prepare! Long involved recipes with an active 15 month old don’t really work. As I read further, I realized that a lot of the time spent in this recipe is waiting time. Time for the bread to rise. Time that I could play with Cupcake and not have to say, “Oh give Mommy just 30 more minutes!”

I did not take many pictures of this adventure for several reasons.

1. Pictures on the original blog are pretty. My iphone cannot compete with that

2. Often my hands were covered in dough or flour or both

3. I also decided to make the most delicious Split Pea and Black Bean Soup 

4. I also decided to try to make a recipe for homemade granola bars (recipe to come soon!) that I found on the website

5. Any other time I was playing with my sweet Cupcake

My final result was not as perfectly beautiful as a loaf of French Bread should be. It was too wide, but it was SO GOOD. Seriously. My family ate half the loaf in about 5 minutes. I will be making this again. Tomorrow. And maybe eventually taking some pictures along the way!

If you do not feel like heading over to the original website, I will post the recipe and directions here. Although usually I modify every recipe, this one is 100% not mine. It is perfect as is!

Ingredients
1 cup luke-warm water
2 tsp. dry active yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. oil (for coating dough)
1 well-beaten egg + 1 Tbsp. water (brush on loaf before baking for a shiny exterior)

Directions
1. In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast, sugar, and oil. Let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Add salt and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix ingredients to form a very slightly sticky ball of dough. Add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if needed to reach right consistency. Mix for eight minutes.

3. Using your hands, lightly coat the ball of dough with 1 tsp oil. Cover and let rise till doubled in size (1- 1/2 hours).

4. Punch down the dough, and knead it for 5 minutes.

5. Rub a baking sheet with olive oil. Using your hands, flatten the dough into approximately a 12×6-inch rectangle. Starting with a long side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seams and ends together.

6. Cover and let rise 30 minutes on the baking sheet.

7. Uncover and lightly coat in an egg wash made from one well-beaten egg and 1 Tbsp water.  Using a very sharp knife gently make 1/4-inch deep slices on top of the loaf.

8. Place a pan of water in a cold oven. Move a rack to the top level. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

9. While the oven pre-heats, allow the dough to rise, uncovered, an additional 10 – 15 minutes.

10. Once the oven has reached 450 degrees, place the loaf on the top rack, quickly throw two ice cubes on the bottom of the oven, and shut the door. (The steam from the water in the pan, and the water on the bottom of the oven creates a crispy/chewy crust.)

11. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes. Crust will be golden brown, and hard to the touch.

12. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think! This bread makes me REALLY excited for the autumn and lots of awesome soup recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe for soup? Leave a comment below!

Easy and Clean Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I literally have no idea how I made it the past 27 years without this recipe. My sweet friend Katie posted a picture of these delicious little treats online and I knew I had to have it. Please drop whatever you are doing and make these!

The original recipe is awesome and super easy to follow. It’s dairy-free (and vegan!), which is always a big winner with me because I LOVE me some chocolate, but it can be really hard to find without milk. I knew I had to try it! I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house and personal preference, and they came out perfectly and took me almost no time to prep. The hardest part was waiting for it to freeze!

I highly recommend using refined coconut oil to avoid an overpowering coconut flavor in this recipe!

Ingredients

Crust:

3/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Peanut Butter Filling:

1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate Topping:

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (or use a silicone pan like mine!).

IMG_3735Mix together the ingredients for the chocolate crust. Press evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Put in freezer to set. (Approx. 10 minutes)

IMG_3737Mix together the ingredients for the filling. Remove pan from freezer. Evenly spread filling over the top with a spatula. Return pan to freezer to set. (Approx. 15-20 minutes)

Now it’s time for the topping! Stir the ingredients until you have a smooth sauce with no clumps. Take the pan out of the freezer and pour the sauce over the peanut butter layer. Return to freezer until firm. (Approx. 1 hour) If you were using a pan lined with parchment paper, you can gently pull the paper to remove the bars from the pan after they are firm. If using a silicone pan, just pop those bad boys out!

Disclaimer: I have no pictures of the chocolate sauce stage because I may or may not have started trying to eat it the second it was ready.

Store these in the fridge (up to 2 weeks) or the freezer (up to one month) in an air-tight container. The original poster preferred to keep them in the fridge so they did not get too firm over time. I find that hysterical, because ours did not last long enough to ever get “too firm” in the freezer. Perhaps in you have more restraint than I!

Here is the one picture I managed to snag before we immediately devoured it! I cannot wait to make these again!

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Black Bean Brownies

Let me start off by saying I adore baking. I also love eating all the treats sharing the treats I bake! I am a strong proponent of enjoying honest to goodness sweets with not too many modifications. I am against “diet” food pumped with fake stuff. It doesn’t taste as good for me personally, and it certainly doesn’t help quell my cravings.

So, typically I make real brownies. However, my twin toddler nephews were coming for a visit and I wanted to bake something that was healthy, yummy, and made with whole foods!

The recipe requires a food processor. Mine is itty bitty, so I do it in halves, and it still takes me only about 10-15 minutes to prepare (depends on how many little hands want to get in on the action).

Ingredients:
15 oz can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/2 c quick oatmeal
1/2 c maple syrup
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
2 T cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in bowl. Add to food processor and process until completely smooth. Return to bowl
3. Add chocolate chips and mix well
4. Smooth batter into 8×8 greased pan. Bake for approx. 15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).

For my two handsome toddlers, I premeasured all of my ingredients like we were in a cooking show. I just called them to the kitchen to dump all the ingredients together!

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Cupcake joined in, too!

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(Don’t let this picture fool you. Two seconds later, Cupcake crawled over and knocked over part of the maple syrup cup and then tried to lick the floor where it spilled. It’s cool.)

Verdict? A fudgey brownie with no bean taste! The boys ate them up quick. I can’t lie- I prefer a typical, bad for you, brownie. However, these are a great treat for little ones, those watching their weight, or those just trying to eat healthier!

Try it and let me know what you think!