Friday, January 22, 2016

Slow cooker bread

My oven gave up last week. Luckily, my stovetop is still cooperating. Let's just say that my Crock Pot and I have gotten really close.

Then it snowed. As we all know, snowy weather is baking weather. I was craving fresh baked bread. No dice.

Then it dawns on me, why can't I bake bread in my Crock Pot? I go scouring the internet looking for a bread recipe. As luck would have it, I find a healthy one with whole wheat flour, oats, and wheat germ. I mix it up. It bakes nicely,'s dry.

Round two. I skip the internet recipe, but use the same baking method. Bingo!


1 TBSP yeast
1/4 cup warm water (~110 degrees)
1 cup warm milk
1 large egg
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP honey
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 - 3 cups flour

1. Turn your slow cooker in high. Grease a 1.5 quart glass mixing bowl and set aside.  Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add this to a large bowl with milk, egg, oil, honey, and salt. Stir to combine.

2. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time and stir until a dough ball forms. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding additional flour if needed, until it is smooth and elastic. Turn the dough into the mixing bowl and LOOSELY cover with foil.

3. Place 1/2 cup of water and a flattened, crumpled ball of aluminum foil or a metal trivet into the bottom of the slow cooker. Set the covered mixing bowl on top. Cover and cook on high 2 hours 45 minutes.

Unfortunately,  I didn't take any pictures, because it went straight from the Crock Pot onto the dinner table. Though I certainly recommend allowing it to cool before cutting it.

Because I love a good shortcut, I use an extra large bowl to do my mixing and I then knead it in the bowl so I don't have as much clean up to do.

Now, I will say that this is not as fluffy and soft as bread baked in an oven, but it's easier and a wonderful stand in for times when you want bread and your oven is on the fritz or, say, it's really hot outside.

Best of luck! Let me know how yours turns out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Meal Planning

I'm still alive over here! Apparently, I'm a fits a fits and spurts kind of blogger. I recently made a large meat purchase and thought it might be helpful to know what I cook to keep our budget so low. I currently budget $350 per month for 5, sometimes 6 (we have one away at college eight months out of the year).

OK, here's what I bought:
10lbs. ground beef $1.99/lb
10lbs. Country pork ribs $1.49/lb
10lbs. chicken drumsticks $0.89/lb
10lbs. chicken leg quarters $0.49/lb
7lbs. boneless skinless checken breast $1.69/lb
4lb chuck roast $3.49/lb
TOTAL: Just under $75

By making a trip to the grocery (Aldi's and Sam's) for some staples and adding that to the items I already have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer, I was able to plan out 29 meals. I also plan in leftover days (about one every 5-7 days) and we buy take and bake pizza on Sundays (with a coupon), so I actually have enough meals to last us about five weeks. So, with keeping chickens, thus having fresh eggs always on hand and adding in breakfasts and lunches for the weeks, you can see how I keep our costs so low.

So, above you see our menu for that period of time. I don't necessarily go down the list in order, but try to mix it up, so that we aren't left with beans and soup at the end of the month. I also try to scan the menu every few days and make sure that the recipes that use fresh produce are made before the produce goes bad. Pretty simple system.

And I made my menu board out of a frame from the dollar store and a pretty sheet of scrapbook paper. It hangs on the wall in my kitchen and I erase each meal as we eat it.