Tuesday, April 26, 2022

So Easy Crockpot Bread - Easy as Sliced Bread

 


RECIPES AT THE TOP - CHIT CHAT AT THE BOTTOM!


Crockpot Yeast Bread

(See below for pics of the process.)

 

1 1/3 cup very warm water (hot, but no hurt – like a hot bath)

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon table salt

(Parchment paper is really a must.)

 

Directions:

 1.       Turn the crockpot on HIGH to preheat while mixing the dough.

2.       Combine hot/warm water, yeast and sugar.  Set a timer for 10 minutes to allow time for "proofing".  (My water/yeast/sugar mixture looked like this after only a few minutes.  (The yeast foam was already growing!):


3.       Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

 4.       Once the yeast/water/sugar has finished “proofing”, gently stir a little bit, and then pour over the flour/salt mix in the mixing bowl.

 5.       Stir to mix the liquid and flour/salt and then knead only about one minute.  (I kept dusting my hands with flour to avoid sticking.) 

 6.       Once the dough formed a tight ball from the short kneading time, I dusted a little more flour around on it and placed it on a large square of parchment paper.  I placed my parchment paper with the dough ball on top into my microwave (not on) to rest while my crockpot finished preheating (Make sure the ceramic insert feels hot before you add the dough to it).  That took about 15-20 minutes for me.

 7.       Place the parchment paper topped with the dough ball into the (now hot) crockpot and cover.  (No need to wait on the dough to rise before "baking".)

 8.       Cook two hours on high (covered).  *Note that each crockpot is different for how long this will take.  Once the bread feels sturdy on top, you can carefully peek underneath the bread to see if the bottom is browning.  Note the top never browns.  It just gets done.  The bottom will brown and form a toasty crust.  When done, the bread top will feel solid beneath the top surface.

 9.       Remove the entire parchment paper with the baked bread to cool.  I placed two butter knives underneath my bread to allow the moisture to escape as it cooled (simulated cooling rack).  I let it cool a few hours and then placed in a plastic bag overnight.  I sliced when completely cool the next morning.

 

Here are a few more pics of the process:

 


Resting in the microwave (micro is OFF) until the crockpot preheats.


Plopped into the hot crockpot.  
(My crockpot is just a few years old so cooks on the “hot side”.)


Snapped a pic of the start time.


Note the time on the stove above compared to the start time picture.  The bread cooked almost two hours.  The bread felt sturdy but the top did not brown.  I had to peek underneath to see if it was brown under there.


My kitchen is dark but you can see the underneath is browned in this picture.


Cooling on two butter knives.  Cooling racks are overrated LOL.


 The underneath was nice and toasty!  
(I guess if you hated the bland color of the top, 
you could just serve it upside down!  😊





Sliced and ready for the bread bag!





THE CHIT CHAT!

I tried baking bread in my crockpot last night and it was a great success!  It may truly be the best thing since sliced bread.  LOL

I love to bake bread but baking bread in a tiny house can be a little intense with little counterspace and the fact that our little place can really heat up in the summer.  Since I have baked banana bread in the crockpot successfully (Tin Can Banana Bread HERE) (although I now cook it in canning jars since tin cans may leach into food while cooking in them), I decided to try baking yeast bread in the crockpot.  I wanted a soft bread that I could eat as sandwiches or toast.  This bread fits the bill!

I believe the increased yeast and addition of sugar in this recipe gives it the soft texture.  It really turned out delicious!  

One thing to note is that all crockpots are different.  My crockpot is fairly new and so cooks pretty "hot".  I cooked my bread on high for the full two hours.  You are looking for the top to be firm/solid and the bottom to be browned nicely.  Try to avoid opening the lid.  That lets the heat out! 

You could finish it off in the oven to give the top a nice brown finish, but that didn't bother me at all so I left it.  The idea was not to use the oven so I didn't.  Presentation isn't everything to me if the taste is worth it, and the taste of this bread is worth it!  

Make sure to let it cool completely before slicing.  I let mine cool two hours and then placed the still warm bread in a plastic bag.  I let it cool overnight before slicing.  Also, I found slicing with an electric knife made prettier, neater and less crumbly slices, if that matters to you.  

I'm looking forward to "baking" lots of bread in my crockpot this summer.  I may even stick the crockpot on the patio to keep all of the heat outside.  

Bread prices can climb all they want to if I can make my own!  This recipe is simple, requires only a tiny kneading (one minute) and rises while baking.  What's not to love about baking bread in your crockpot AT HOME MY WAY!


Enjoy!




Gina



 














Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Easiest Pancakes Ever - Sheet Pan Pancakes (Less work than flipping flapjacks!)


 

Recipes at the Top; Chit Chat at the Bottom!

Homemade Sheet Pan Pancakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons baking POWDER (not baking soda) (yes, 3 Tablespoons is correct)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used a little less  because I don't care for sweet pancakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or oil (I used oil/easier.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (I left this out.)
  • Cooking spray (for prep of the pan)
  • Optional:  Toppings of your choice like blueberries, chocolate chips, banana slices.
Instructions:

PREHEAT THE OVEN to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir well to fully incorporate everything.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and oil (also the vanilla if using).  Stir well to beat the eggs and fully incorporate.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Stir the batter just until until smooth.

Spray a one inch deep sheet pan with cooking spray.

Pour the batter into the sheet pan and spread evenly.

Sprinkle any toppings over the batter (berries, chocolate chips, etc).  (I purposefully left one half of my batter plain because someone at my house is picky.)

Bake 20-25 MINUTES or until browned, springy like a cake, or a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let sit a few minutes before cutting.

Serve them up and ENJOY!

LEFTOVERS:  Let cool completely and bag the cut squares flat in a gallon zip bag.  I placed parchment paper between the layers.  Freeze flat.  You could also store in the fridge for a few days.  Would work great for a week's meal prep.

TO REHEAT FROM FROZEN:  I reheated a couple of pancakes in the microwave for two minutes.  They were beyond wonderful and I will never (did I say NEVER) make pancakes again any other way!


ENJOY!




Gina


NOW THE CHIT-CHAT

Confession:  I hate to make pancakes, but I LOVE pancakes!  

This weekend, Doug got up early and cooked bacon.  (We cook bacon outside on the flatstone griddle  because if we cook bacon inside our tiny house, we smell bacon for the whole week.)  Anyway, before I could even wake up, Doug had bacon cooked and teed up for breakfast.  For Sunday breakfast, I usually will make grits, toast, or homemade biscuits to go with whatever meat he has his heart set on. 

This past weekend, I really wanted pancakes but I HATE cooking pancakes.  They make a huge mess!  The first couple of pancakes turnout nice and perfect and as you cook, they get flatter and thinner.  Ugh!  And - what a mess!  Batter drips everywhere, butter is everywhere.  Suffice it to say, I can't even enjoy my pancakes once that huge mess is in the kitchen.

I've been reading all of the wonderful things you can make in a sheet pan.  Sheet Pan Pancakes?  Would they even taste like pancakes? I decided to dive on in!

Doug always is a little skeptical when I have a new recipe to try but he's a great sport and usually will try it (if it's something it already eats).

I mixed up the batter and just look at those little bubbles!  Isn't that what your Home Economics teacher always told you was the sign of perfect pancakes?  The magic bubbles were there!



I spread the batter into my only sheet pan (excuse the look of the thing).



I topped it with what I had on hand:  a few blueberries and a few chocolate chips.  I left half plain for Doug because he's boring like that.



I baked them until the top was just browning, a knife inserted came out clean, and the whole thing felt springy like a cake.


(Not a great pic - but trust me, they were delicious!)


I let them cool a few minutes and sliced them up.

They were light and fluffy and perfectly delicious!  I topped mine with my favorite clear Karo syrup and some melted butter.  Doug had his with some normal pancake syrup.  

Almost better than the pancakes themselves was that Doug BRAGGED to his mom that I had made him the best pancakes.  He told her all about how I did it and how good they were!  Awwww.  Got to love when your sweet husband brags about you to your mother-in-law after 36 years of marriage!💓  

I loved making them this way for a few reasons:

  • Super easy to mix up;
  • Basic pantry ingredients;
  • Took no time at all compared to standing at the stove flipping pancakes!
  • While they were baking, I did my dishes so after breakfast cleanup was a breeze!
  • Leftovers were easy to freeze.
  • Reheated from frozen they were just as good as the first time I made them.
  • Perfect for large families or feeding a crowd!
  • You could even take them for a potluck breakfast!
  • So many ways to tailor them for picky eaters or just for a little spice in your life!

I should mention that I believe you could make any pancake mix (using 2 1/2 cups of dry mix with whatever liquid ingredients is recommended) and still bake them in a sheet pan, with the same easy results.  (I haven't tried this though.)  I have baked pancakes in muffin cups (sprayed but no liners) and dipped pancakes in the syrup.  That worked "okay" but wasn't as easy and fast as this method.

Baked Sheet Pan Pancakes are the very best!  I hope you try them out for your peeps and love them as much as we did!














Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Ditch the Box: Easy Homemade Hot Chocolate

 




RECIPE AT THE TOP; CHITCHAT AT THE BOTTOM!


Easy Homemade Hot Chocolate


1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
dash salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla


Instructions:  

  1. MIX sugar, cocoa powder and (dash) salt in a saucepan.
  2. STIR in hot water.
  3. COOK over med heat until mixture boils AND stir two minutes.
  4. ADD milk to the above mixture and HEAT until frothy (DO NOT BOIL).  (Stir often.)
  5. REMOVE from heat and add vanilla.
  6. STIR well and serve.
  7. ENJOY!

After the milk is added, let it warm (without boiling) until the milk gets frothy.



See the froth?  Mmmmmm!



The Chit Chat!


New Year's weekend we had an ice storm.  It was cold and dreary and there was seriously not much to do EXCEPT stay home!  In fact, even if we had found something to do, it was slick enough just trying to walk to the car that we definitely didn't want to drive in it.  Also, thankfully, it was not a work day so Doug and I pretty much just lazed around and were worthless.

After too much laying on the couch (watching Forensic Files), I decided that we needed a treat.  (I never ask Doug if he wants something special for a snack because he always says he is "fine; doesn't need anything".)  But, I remember making homemade hot chocolate when the girls were little and remember it being delicious so I decided to whip some up as a surprise before Doug could talk me out of it.  I used to use the recipe on the Hershey's Cocoa box and that is what I searched for.  Pinterest to the rescue since I had a generic brand of cocoa in my pantry which didn't have a recipe for hot chocolate on the outside.




Homemade Hot Chocolate is wonderful!  You expect it to be overly rich and super sweet but it really isn't.  It's just the best and warming the milk creates the frothy experience you get when you use a mix.  It's frothy and hot and fudgy.  Mmmmm!

Probably the thing that reminded me to make hot chocolate that day was that I was crocheting a pair of mittens.  


(Not so great since one thumb is too small LOL - but this is the first pair so it's a start!)



The first time I ever had hot chocolate in my life was when I was in 8th grade.  I had recently moved with my family from central Florida to Missouri and I had signed up to learn how to crochet after school as part of a 4H class.  We walked to Mrs. Garrett's house from the middle school and she taught a small group of us how to crochet.  We walked to her house one very cold winter day, a day very unlike any I had ever experienced in central Florida. In Florida, it didn't even get cold enough for a glaze of ice to form on a mud puddle!  It was frigid the day Mrs. Garrett made us hot chocolate.  We arrived, nearly frozen solid after our walk to her house and she had hot chocolate warming on the stove in a tiny little silver pot on the stove.  We each got a steaming styrofoam cup of hot chocolate to enjoy before we got out our crochet projects.  It was amazing and after 40+ years, I have never forgotten the skills Mrs. Garrett taught me (although obviously, I needed her help with these mittens) nor the taste of her hot chocolate on that cold Missouri day.  (Funny how food can take ya back!)

Coincidentally, Doug had never had homemade hot chocolate in the year 2022 and I'm so glad he tried it this time!  He must have been out and about when the girls and I enjoyed it back in the day.  He now LOVES it!  It's always so nice when the one you love really enjoys some little thing you make.  

We both enjoyed super sized mugs of this Easy Homemade Hot Chocolate which was perfect for two middle aged lovebirds living in a Love Shack!  

Next time you think about buying a box of hot chocolate mix, SKIP IT.  Just make sure you have some cocoa powder in the pantry and a little milk in the fridge.  You will be much happier with a mug of this sweet and chocolatey treat.

Enjoy!



Gina