Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recipe for Contentment

I will start right off by saying that this list is not original to me.  It was taken from a book by Linda Dillow called Calm My Anxious Heart.  (Another GREAT read.  Hmmm, with all the posts on reading lately can you tell someone got a Kindle for Mother's Day?)  This "Recipe for Contentment" was found in the Bible of a missionary woman.  I have it posted by my bed-somedays it should probalby be posted on my forehead.



Recipe for Contentment

·         Never allow yourself to complain about anything-not even the weather.

·         Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.

·         Never compare your lot with another’s.

·         Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.

·         Never dwell on tomorrow-remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.



This post is linked up at Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Tammy's Recipes, Elsa Cooks, The Norishing Gormet,

Reading to the Big Kids: Continuing the Gift of Literature

I loved being read to as a child.  I can look back and remember many of the book my mom and teachers read to me.  It is no surprise that I now love reading to my kids.  I love when the little ones know a book so well that they can fill in the words.   I love when their picture books have a sing-song cadence to them as they become familiar to us all. 
We often think of reading to children as being necessary for children before they can read, but let’s not forget the benefits of reading to an older child well after they can read themselves.  It feeds their minds and souls .  Reading together further establishes our relationship with them.  (If you aren’t convinced check out these articles on  the benefits from Steady Mom and Montessori For Everyone.)  Reading out loud to children models  a powerful message: Mom believes that reading is a valid form of entertainment, an effective way to communicate ideas and a great way to learn.

Even as I am concentrating on getting my budding readers off to a great start with their own reading I continue to read to them.  In true “Tara fashion” I made a list of books to make sure that I read to my son this year for school.  I would encourage any mother-no matter which educational option your family chooses-to think back to your favorite book from childhood and relive it with your child this summer.
My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Allbee read us The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and I remember our whole class loving the book.  I wondered if it might be a little too much for my 1st grader, but reading it together was one of the highlights of the last year.  At one point he interrupted me and exclaimed “Mom!  I think Edmond is talking to the White Witch!”  It was a great moment and a fun experience for us both.  I am so glad that we got to share it

Good books are full of ideas.  They inspire imagination, creativity and spark conversations.  Books can shape values, moral and character.  What parent does not want to take part in that?

Chances are you too remember a childhood favorite, and you will enjoy reading it to your children too.  Take the time this summer and try it., after a meal, before bed, on vacation or just the next time you hear “I am board; can I watch TV?” 

Great Book Ideas:
The Boxcar Children
Charlotte’s Web
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Loin the Witch and the Wardrobe
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Ramona books
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Little House in the Big Woods

This post is linked up at We are that Family, Mamal Diane and Raising Arrows.




Monday, June 25, 2012

Make a Move Monday:Contagious Decluttering

With the excitement of the Jenuinely Pure giveaway last week I forgot all about Make A Move Monday.  (My apologies if you were hoping to link up!) 

I was supposed to share about my progress simplifying my kitchen.  We have been in the process of eating down our pantry, using up some of what we have before getting more.  I bought a little produce this week, but otherwise we stuck with what we had.  My husband has been amazed.  "It looks like we have no food but you keep feeding us!"  As long as he isn't hungry he has no complaints.  This has been a real budget saver for the month of July for us.  It is the last week of the month, and I am going to take advantage of a chicken sale and still make my budget goal!

The major kitchen change (ok major may be an exaggeration) was the decluttering of the top of the fridge.  This was actually all my husband's doing.  (I guess decluttering is contagious!)  We kept our sound system on top of the fridge (away from little hands) so we ended up with a pile of CDs on top of the fridge.  We also kept the camera up there because with everything else, why not?  It was a flat surface and becoming quite the catch-all.  With some of the extra space from decluttering we put all the electronics, cords and paraphernalia in the pantry!  It looks so nice now!

It is time to share what you have been working on over the past couple of weeks! I am looking forward to this! Please let us know what simple move you are making toward healthy living in your home. Link up your blog post, or just leave a comment. Then take time to be inspired from other's link ups and comments.
Please read through the rules for those participating, and thanks for your participation.

1) No linking to giveaways or promotions for affiliates or sponsors. Give aways and promos are great, but they expire. I will delete giveaway links or promotional links.
2) Keep things simple and healthy. Avoid recipes with "cream of x soup," processed cheese or corn syrup. Crafts are cool, but unless they help organize or simplify please don't link them.
3) Link back to SimplyMadeHome.This is common blog party courtesy. It also helps build the community of encouragement. Check out other’s posts and leave a comment! It is fun to hear from others.
How to link up to your post? Read below.
Using the Mr. Linky, link back to your specific post, not just your blog.
Example of Format
Your Name: Tara @ SimplyMadeHome (Simple Vinegar Switches)
Your Link: http://simplymadehome.blogspot.com/2012/03/simple-vinegar-switches.html

Sunday, June 24, 2012

For the Love of All things Green & Growing

Our garden gets a lot of neighborly attention because it is located on the corner of our lot near the sidewalk. One neighbor stopped me the other night and said, "Enjoy this year. There is nothing like your first garden!" I thought "That is really funny because that is what people told me about my first pregnancy!" 


Then I really laughed as I realized that is exactly how I am acting, like an expectant mother!  I go out to check on my garden a couple of times a day as if something should change since my last peak. I not so patiently await the arrival of the "due date" of my new fruit and get way to excited about each blossom and bud. 

We are still harvesting lettuce and now go out for daily sugar snap peas.  We have little peppers, green tomatoes and a few strawberries that we are anxiously awaiting to turn red.  The green beans keep sending out vines that are twisting up everywhere.  I am trying to train them to grow on the twine that I have strung over their heads!


 
I took out my camera the other night to capture a few shots when two teenage girls rode their bikes past.  One of them mockingly said "Look at me!  I am taking pictures of my plants!"  Let 'em laugh!  I am having a blast with my garden! 


Oh!  In other news we have been watching a pair of wrens "play tag" all spring.  They have such a pretty song that we were thrilled to see that they made a nest in the bird house my son made.  We walk by now to hear the hungry chirping of little baby birds.  It is so dark in their little house that I knew I couldn't get a great picture, but they are SO tiny!  It is precious!

This post is linked up at http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/ and http://www.raisingarrows.net/ and http://frugallysustainable.com/

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Jenuienly Pure Winner is...

And the winner of the Jenuinely Pure $20 gift certificate winner is...AM!  Congratulations! 


Don't for get that Jenuinely Pure is offer Simply Made Home readers at 15% discount when ordering with the code SMH15.  This is a great way to try their awesome products.



Thanks to everyone who entered.  Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops

This is a simple little summer dessert that is good for the diary-free, gluten-free and white sugar-free among us.  I made these for my two little allergy babes this afternoon!  They loved them. 

1.       Cut 3 or 4 bananas into 2”-3” chunks, and freeze.

2.       Puree frozen bananas and fill popsicle molds with puree.

3.       Freeze until sticks hold.

4.       Dip in warm chocolate sauce before serving.

Chocolate sauce: Mix the following ingredients in order

·         2 TBS of coconut oil (melted)

·         ¼ cup cocoa powder

·         3 TBS honey

·         1 TBS water

This post is linked up at:
Penny Pinching Party @ http://www.thethriftyhome.com/
Frugal Days Sustainable Ways @ http://frugallysustainable.com/

Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/
Full Plate Thursdays @ http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/

Fight Back Friday @ http://www.foodrenegade.com/

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reinventing the Water Pitcher (And sitting down to supper!)


Every night we try to sit down together for supper.  In actuality everyone else sits down to supper while I jump up and down off my chair playing waitress.  I wish I could say that I graciously serve my family with a humble heart.  Honestly, my patience is low and I am very tired at the end of the day.  I am in no mood to get up and down what feels like a million times.

Here is what a typical meal looks like:  We work together to set the table until I tell everyone to sit because I am moving through the kitchen with a hot pan.  Everyone sits down, and I start putting food on the table when someone finishes the first round of beverages and asks for more water.  Before I sit I get the refill from the fridge door, sit down to fill plates, stand to get water for someone else, sit to cut up food and then stand again to get one more water.  I sit down and make a snarky comment about never getting to eat hot food, daring my dinner companions to ask for one.more.thing. 

Sound familiar to any other mother?  This way was actually better than letting them get the refills themselves.  That was very wet chaos.  Sometimes when you are in the mess you can’t see the simple answer.  Thankfully my husband saw the solution: Instead of using the water from our fridge door (which seems convenient) we  went old school and put the water pitcher on the table.  It isn't rocket science, but I sat through the whole meal tonight.  It is the little things!

NOTE: If you have not yet signed up for the Jenuinely Pure giveaway make sure that you do before Friday morning!

This post is linked up at

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays @ http://www.tammysrecipes.com/


Health 2Day Wednesdays @ http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com/

Works for Me Wednesday @ http://wearethatfamily.com

Super Summer Readers


I love reading, but I have a tendency to be a little obsessive when I pick out books.  I get engrossed in a subject, and when I read one book I like, I go back and read every book on that shelf.  My goal for this year was to be more well rounded in my reading choices and pick out books from all over the library.  
I made a list of 12 books covering a variety of subjects.  Currently I am on book #5 in the 6th month so I am not too far behind.  If you are looking for a good book for your summer reading here are a few suggestions!
·         Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers-So many people told me to read this book that I finally gave in.  This book was waaaaay off the shelf for me, but that was part of my goal.  (Confession: I have only read one other fictional book since high school!  I read a lot but obviously not a lot of fiction.)  To my utter surprise I was captivated by this book.  This story is a parallel to the story of Hosea from the Bible: a woman bought out of prostitution and won over by love.  I realized that while I had been praying for months for a deeper understanding of the love of God, I never dreamed that a fictional book would bring me there.  Understanding God’s love humbles me. It causes me to be less judging of others and creates in me a heart of gratitude.

·         Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver-I have read many books about food, but this one was different.  Most of the food books I read are concerned with health and nutrition and are more along the lines of differentiating good fats from bad fats or an explanation of traditional diets and ways of cooking.  This food book had very little to do with nutrition and focused on ethical and economical food and agricultural choices.  It chronicles one family’s quest to eat locally for an entire year.   Their goal is to understand where their food comes from, reduce the gas miles on the food they eat, and support their local community.  Kingsolver writes in a more “flowery” language than I am accustomed to reading, but I did find the insights on personal responsibility and food politics very interesting.  Summer is the perfect time to read this book, because you just may find yourself wanting to visit a farmers market or roadside stand after you read it!

·         The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom-This book was not originally on my list, but a friend put up a quote from Corrie Ten Boom on Facebook a couple of months ago, and I knew I had to reread it.   I first read this book in Jr. high, so it is not a difficult book to read from a literary stand point, but that is not to say that it is not challenging from a spiritual stand point.  The Hiding Place is an amazing autobiography of a Dutch woman who hides Jews during World War II, is caught and is sent to a concentration camp with her sister. The choices that Ten Boom and her family had to make are unimaginable.  Their faith and courage are inspirational.  This is a book I want my kids to read some day.
 

Fiction, food and history…I think that is a variety of books!   If you have read any of these books I would love to know what you thought about them.  Any book suggestions for me?  I am always open to adding a great book to the list!

This post is linked at

Works for Me Wednesday @ http://wearethatfamily.com

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jenuinely Pure Giveaway!

I am so excited this week to be partnering with one of my favorite companies: Jenuinely Pure.  I have been using Jenuinely Pure products for almost three years.  I fell in love with both the company and the products immediately.   Jenuinely Pure was born out of the desire to provide families with natural products that are both effective and affordable. 
With as many cleaning products as I make myself, it may be surprising that one of my favorite Jenuinely Pure products is the All Purpose Cleaner.  All purpose cleaners are easy to make, but my husband hates the strong vinegar smell.  My husband understands why I use vinegar in so many areas of our home, but he prefers that I use the Jenuinely Pure cleaner.    This cleaner is so effective, and it smells wonderful.  I love that I can purchase a gallon refill and save nearly to $10. 
Another one of my favorite products is the Baby Wash.  At my children’s last wellness check the doctor said “Keep using whatever lotion you are using.”  I told him that the kids don’t use any lotions regularly.  He was shocked, “What kind of soap do you use?”  I told him that we use Jenuinely Pure!  I also have loved giving away this Baby Set as a unique baby gift. 
The Jenuinely Pure skin care line has to be the most affordable natural skincare out there.  I read through the ingredients on the back of my Moisturizing Serum the other night.  There is not a chemical in it.  I could probably purchase all the ingredients online or at the health food store, but it would cost a fortune to gather all the beneficial oils and extracts in this bottle. 

Are you curious about trying Jenuinely Pure?  Jenuinely Pure would like to offer a $20 gift certificate to one Simply Made Home reader, and a 15% discount to all who order from Jenuinely Pure this week with the code SMH15.  To enter Simply subscribe to or becoming a follower or Simply Made Home and leave a comment telling me you did so.  For an extra entry "Like" Simply Made Home on FacebookFor a third entry "Like" Jenuinely Pure's Facebook page as well!  And "Share" this giveaway on your Facebook page for a forth entry!  Be sure to leave a comment for each entry that you complete for your additional chances to win!  The winner will be announced Friday.  Good luck and happy shopping!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Popcorn Chicken



After reading that Popcorn Chicken gets its own day in my meal plan, a few people asked for the recipe.  I do not like to disappoint!  I like this recipe for several reasons. 
  • It is a great freezer meal.  I can freeze a few pounds of Popcorn Chicken on a couple cookie sheets.  Once it is frozen I store it in a sealed container for fast meals when I need them. 
  • My oldest loves to help coat the chicken because it is one of his favorite meals.  It is fun to work together with him.
  • I can adapt it to be dairy-free if I need to. (It could easily be made gluten free with coconut or almond flour too.)
  • It is tasty and healthy, and everyone eats it without complaining!
Popcorn Chicken
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Butter (or coconut oil)
Mix together the flour, salt, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder and paprika.  Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.  (Kitchen shears work best for this job.)  Coat the chicken in the flour mixture.  (Here is where I freeze the pieces to store for later meals.) 

Cooking option 1:  Coat 9x13 pan with butter.  (The more butter the better!)  Place chicken pieces in the pan, trying to spread the chicken out so that they are hardly touching. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes stirring at the half way point.

Cooking option 2:  Heat butter in a skillet and pan fry the chicken until golden brown.  (This is my family's preferred method.)  WARNING:  This option had me cooking on date night!  True story, the first time I cooked the chicken this way was for the kids right before date night.  My husband was so impressed that he said "Let's drop the kids off at the sitters and come back here for Popcorn Chicken salads.  This tastes way better than anything we would buy!"  Maybe he was just being cheap, but I took the complement and made him chicken that night!

This post is linked up at:

Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/


Health 2Day Wednesdays @ http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com/

Fight Back Friday @ http://www.foodrenegade.com/

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why We Homeschool


Schooling decisions can be very sensitive for some, so it usually takes a great deal of curiosity for someone to tilt their head to the side, squint their eyes slightly and say “Can I ask-why do you home school?”

We are between our 2nd and 3rd year of home schooling.  (We don’t formally preschool so I don’t count it.)  Our first year was a trial year for us.  After it went well we decided to home school our kids through grade school unless it seems God changes our course.  It is nice to be past the daily weighing of options and out of the active questioning phase.  Since we found our daily rhythm I do not get up every morning and ask “Why do I do this?”  Still, it is good to look back at our school decision process. 

After our first son was born my husband and I took a class called “Parenting with a Plan.”  In it we took a few weeks to discuss the 3 main schooling options families have: public, private and home schooling.  We were open to all and felt that they each had something to offer our family.  While we didn’t have a strong conviction one way or another, we did know that it was our God-given responsibility to teach and train our children even if we decided to enlist the help of a school system and its teachers.   For us it was not a “one-size fits all” issue.  Watching the parents with strong convictions about their schooling choice was hard.  I envied them as we went back and forth as to what would be best for our family. 

As our son grew we (and others) noticed that he was falling further and further behind in his speech.  Cognitively he was fine, but so much learning happens through communication and conversations.  His speech was affecting his learning.  Age 5 was fast approaching, and we had to find answers.  Finding the answer turned out to take more time than the solution-a tonsillectomy.  With his tonsils out he began to catch up to his peers at a rapid pace. 

Suddenly he was 5 and it was time to make an educational decision.  We felt that he could use another year at home working on his “preschool” skills and learning without worrying about where he compared to others.  It was a great decision and a great year for us.  We worked together in the afternoons while the little ones slept.  It was such a special time, and he learned so much.  I am so glad that he was spared being labeled as behind or slow. 

We continue now because home schooling has blessed us.  We appreciate the lifestyle that it gives our family.  We can closely monitor our children’s progress not only in academics but also in the development of their character.  The opportunities we have for hands on learning and serving together is exciting.   We are so thankful that God has led us down this road and are looking forward to the journey ahead.

This post is linked up at :


Works for Me Wednesday @ http://wearethatfamily.com
Frugal Days Sustainable Ways @ http://frugallysustainable.com/

Monday, June 11, 2012

How I Meal Plan


I love having a meal plan.  I don’t know how to feed my family anymore without it.  I certainly can’t grocery shop without it.  I know it saves me time and money each month, but it is the mental energy that I can’t afford to lose these days.  Meal planning saves me a ton of mental energy each day. 
Breakfast is easy.  I start with the same meal plan and cycle through each week.  My basic plan is a launching point for me, and I rearrange it as the week demands.  (It is not a good idea to make pancakes on a morning that we have plans to be out of the house before 9:00.)

Lunches are almost always leftovers or a reinvention of leftovers.  I think that this really helps us avoid waste and keep costs down.  I know the meals that do not usually have any leftovers so I can easily plan wraps or sandwiches for that day. 

It has taken me a while to find a supper plan that is a fit for our family, but I love the efficiency of what I have now.  (Yes, I know that everyone else in the world eats “dinner,” but I was raised in a small Iowa town where we ate “supper.”)  I start by giving each night a theme.  I am married to a “meat and potatoes” man so there is no “Meatless Mondays” or ethnic dishes to plan around.  We keep it super simple and plan a different meat for each night: Monday-ground beef, Tuesday- Chicken, Wednesday-Beef (usually a roast of some kind), Thursday-Pork/Fish.  Fridays are busy so if we are home we have Popcorn Chicken.  (I make a huge batch and freeze it when chicken is on sale so that it is an easy freezer meal.  Who wants to cook on the front of a weekend?)  Saturdays are for pizza and grilling.  Sunday nights we have supper with our house church.

After I had my daily themes I came up with four recipes for each day for the season.  In the Spring/Summer we like lighter meals and a lot of grilling options.  In the Fall/Winter we eat a lot of soups and stews.  I sit down and plan a month at a time.  I can look at all my Mondays for the month put ground beef freezer meals on the crazy busy days or buy enough chicken for the whole month when it is on sale.

While I can’t always follow my plan all the time, I know of no other way to be prepared to feed my family quality meals at the lowest possible price. I don’t think that a meal plan is a meal rule.  It is a tool, and I still have to roll with the punches.  Monthly meal planning works really well with bulk shopping.

Here is a peak at my spring/summer supper meal plan.  I literally cut and pasted it here so the notes behind each dish are for my benefit while meal planning.   (Browned meat means that the meat can be precooked and put in the freezer.) 

  Monday-Ground Beef

·         Meatballs (Freezer)

·         Shipwreck (Browned Meat)

·         TacoPotatoes (Browned Meat)

·         CheeseburgerSkillet (Browned Meat)

Tuesday-Chicken

·         GrilledChicken (Freeze Marinade)

·         Sundried Tomato Basil Pasta (Browned Meat)

·         Burritos(Browned Meat)

·         CoqAu Vin (Crock pot)

Wednesday- Beef

·         Stir Fry

·         Shredded Beef Sandwiches (Freezer)

·         Beef and Broccoli (Crock pot)

·         Beef and Noodles (Crock pot)

Thursday-Pork/Fish

·         ShreddedPork Sandwiches (Freezer)

·         Parmesan Tilapia

·         Salmon Patties

·         BLTs

Friday- Pop Corn Chicken (Freezer)

Saturday (Lunch) Pizza (Freezer crust or quick crust)

Saturday (Supper) Grilled Burgers


This post is linked at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays @ http://www.tammysrecipes.com/ Hearth and Soul @ http://www.pennilessparenting.com/ and




Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meal Plan 6/10-6/16

Well, I feel a little silly meal planning this week.  Apparently I am having calendar issues as I gave my husband his Father's Day gift today and called my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day.  I wondered why everyone else was not making a bigger deal about the dads in our lives.  Yep, I am a week off.  Not sure how reliable my calendar and meal plan is right now, but I will give it a shot!

Monday
B-Bagels, sausage and eggs
L-Chicken salad (still eating lettuce!)
S-Smoked Pork (with homemade buns) and Green Beans

Tuesday
B-Pancakes
L-Leftovers
S-Meatballs and Broccoli Potato Bake

Wednesday
B-Leftover Pancakes
L-Picking up milk (and lunch!) at Picket Fence Creamery
S-Chicken Burritos and peas

Thursday
B-Eggs and Oatmeal
L-Leftovers
S-Beef and Noodles and Roasted Broccoli

Friday
B-Pumpkin Muffins
L-PB&J tortillas and veggies & dip
S-Pizza

Saturday
B-Waffles
L-Popcorn Chicken and veggies & dip
S-With my extended family

Sunday
B-Leftover Waffles
L-Fish sticks and salad
S-Supper with our house church

Simply 10-What to do with all those toys!



After year one of home schooling we concluded that it was working for us.  We decided we would continue down this path for the next few years we arranged our home to suit our schooling needs.  We turned the dining room into the home school room and the adjoining formal living room into a toy room.  I love it! 


Decluttering our toy room and home school room was easy for me.  I have tried to keep these rooms organized in a way that the kids can pick it up without me at the end of the day.  (Any advice you have on Legos  is appreciated.  I had a system for Legos, but our collection seems to breed like rabbits.  We have out grown it.)

I tossed all the “dollar bin” like toys that have accumulated over the past few months.  Broken crayons and full coloring books also found the trash can.  I thinned out some of our favorite toys just because it is summer and we aren’t playing inside as much.  We can get them out again when we need them. 


Those decisions weren’t hard for me at all, but I love puzzles, books and games.  I try to assure myself that Goodwill will find a good home for them.  They are good but just haven’t won their way into the hearts of my children.  I see the money that was spent by me or others who love my kids, and it is hard not to feel like that money was wasted.  I don’t like waste.  I constantly have to remind myself that while these things are good they were intended to bless us.  If they aren’t blessing my family they need to go.


The other pill have to swallow is my pride.  I have limitations on how much stuff (both physical and mental) I can manage.  I see it as a juggling act.  If God gave me the ability to juggle 5 balls at a time it does me and my family no good to try to juggle 6.  I want to do it all, and instead I end up doing many things poorly.  I am I work in progress.


Where to go from here…I think that the kitchen is next on my list.  I am not looking forward to that one!  I know that there is a lot of work to be done.  It will feel good when I am done, right?


It is time to share what you have been working on this week!  I look forward to this every week!  Please let us know what simple move your are making toward healthy living in your home. Link up your blog post, or just leave a comment. Then take time to be inspired from other's link ups and comments.
Please read through the rules for those participating, and thanks for your participation.

1) No linking to giveaways or promotions for affiliates or sponsors. Give aways and promos are great, but they expire. I will delete giveaway links or promotional links.
2) Keep things simple and healthy. Avoid recipes with "cream of x soup," processed cheese or corn syrup. Crafts are cool, but unless they help organize or simplify please don't link them.
3) Link back to SimplyMadeHome.This is common blog party courtesy. It also helps build the community of encouragement. Check out other’s posts and leave a comment! It is fun to hear from others.
How to link up to your post? Read below.
Using the Mr. Linky, link back to your specific post, not just your blog.
Example of Format
Your Name: Tara @ SimplyMadeHome (Simple Vinegar Switches)
Your Link: http://simplymadehome.blogspot.com/2012/03/simple-vinegar-switches.html



This post is linked at http://www.raisingarrows.net/ and http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quick and Easy Hamburger Buns (with Updates!)

I am updating my bun recipe.  There are no major changes, but just a few tweaks here and there as I get better at making them.  (I do think that breads take a bit of trial and error.)  I have cut back a little on the water as well as the salt.  I felt that I was adding a lot of extra flour while kneading because the dough was just too wet.  I also learned that while sugar feeds yeast, salt makes it harder for yeast to do its job.  I have been using the dough hook on my mixer and giving it few extra minutes to develop the gluten instead of adding the vital wheat gluten.  (But I have made this without my mixer as well; the mixer is not mandatory, just convenient!) You can see the changes below. 


My goal this summer was to find a homemade bun recipe that we like.  We grill every weekend and are bun snobs!  I have been outraged at the cost of a good bakery bun so I was determined to find a recipe that I could make to cut the cost.   (We have had a LOT of homemade croutons from the buns that didn't make the cut.  It all worked out since we had an abundance of lettuce from our garden!) 
Here is the bun recipe I have settled on.  The best part: I have fresh buns in an hour from start to finish!  How great is that?

Ingredients

·    2 tablespoons active dry yeast

·    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)

·    1/3 cup olive oil

·    1/4 cup honey

·    1 egg

·    1 teaspoon salt 1/2 to 5/8 teaspoon salt

·    3 cups wheat flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)

·    2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and honey.  Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir the egg, oil, salt and flour together and then add the yeast mixture to form a soft dough.  Knead until it is elastic, about 5-8 minutes. (You may have to add a bit more flour to the dough to make it workable if it is still too wet to form balls, but do not keep adding flour until bowl is clean on the sides like other bread recipes.  That will make your buns too heavy.) Do not let rise. Divide into 8-10 pieces; shape each into a ball and then flatten slightly. (You will know that the dough is the right consistency if your fingers are a little messy, but you can still work with it to make it into balls.)  Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 425° for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown.  (My husband would emphasise not over baking!)

I have had a lot of success lately doubling the recipe and placing 1/2 the dough balls immediately in the fridge before rising.  A couple days later I place them on a baking sheet to rise while my oven preheats.  Fresh buns are so much better than 2 day old buns!

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