3 Breads I No Longer Buy at the Store

breads I no longer buyBagels, hamburger rolls and french bread are three breads I no longer buy at the store, unless I am feeling lazy. The hardest one of these for me to overcome mentally was making bagels at home. I just could not see how these could be as delicious as a bagel shop’s bagels. Let me tell you how wrong I was! The hamburger rolls are literally the best ever. It’s hard to not eat them all plain with butter as they come from the oven. French bread is something I learned to make early in my life. It is simple and so much better than the store purchased loaf. Take your garlic bread to a new level of delicious with homemade french bread! 

The Uncommon Hamburger Bun

Hamburger buns are easily found in any food store or convenience market. The problem is finding a package of buns that is not loaded with preservatives and ingredients you might not want to feed your family. What if you could make the hamburger rolls in the time it takes to get a salad and potatoes ready for the meal? You can make hamburger buns. Soon you will join me saying, this is one of the breads I no longer buy at the store!

Breads I no longer buy


1 cup of warm water

4 and 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup softened butter

1 egg

3 and 1/2 cup flour


Measure out the yeast. and sprinkle it over the warm water in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Let the yeast wake up for a few minutes. Add all the additional ingredients to the bowl. 

Mix with the dough hook for 3 to 5 minutes. Dough will form and look smooth. Add a tiny bit of additional flour if dough is really sticky. 

Dump the dough on a floured board and divide the dough into the rolls. If I want hamburger size rolls, I divide into eight equal pieces, rolling into a ball, and flattening slightly. 

Choose to Make What you Need

You can also choose to make 24 dinner size rolls or 12 smaller sandwich rolls by dividing into smaller size balls. One time I tried this recipe using a single loaf pan. This worked out well and was great for sandwiches as it sliced evenly and had a good texture.

Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Space the rolls evenly.

Cover the sheet with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. (If you make one loaf of bread the baking time is closer to 30 minutes.)

Cool and serve!

These rolls freeze well for later. 


French Bread is so Versatile!

French Bread goes with just about any meal. I rarely turn down a sample of fresh bread! The recipe is versatile also. Are you making a french dip roast beef in the crock pot? Use this recipe to make rolls instead of a full loaf. Your family and guests will be impressed with your skills! Only you will know how easy making french bread can be.

Breads I no longer buy


5 ? 6 cups of all purpose flour

2 packages of active dry yeast  or instant yeast

2 tsps salt

2 cups warm water- divided (115 ? 120 degrees F)

optional- 1 egg white and 1 Tbsp water for brushing on the loaves before baking.


Adding yeast directly to the dry ingredients is fine if you are using instant yeast. Regular Active Dry Yeast should be proofed. Use 1/2 cup of the recipe?s warm water, in a small bowl mix the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Sprinkle a pinch of white sugar on top and let it sit and proof for about 10 minutes. The mixture should bubble and become frothy looking.

In the mixer bowl add two cups flour, the salt and the remaining one and one half cups warm water. Begin mixing slightly. Stop the mixer and add the proofed yeast mixture.

Using one cup at a time, add the additional flour until the dough ball forms. Continue to let the mixer knead the dough for about 5- 8  minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and  springy and pull away cleanly from the bowl.

Grease  a large bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl and turn to lightly coat the ball with oil. Cover with a clean dish towel. Put the bowl in a warm draft free place to rise for about one hour. If my house is really cool, this is how I get a warm spot for the bread dough to rise. Preheat the oven for a few minutes. Turn off the oven. Let it cool to a the point it feels really warm. Place the bowl in the oven with the door cracked slightly. Leave it to rise. Remove before preheating the oven for baking.

Getting Ready to Bake – One more rise

Punch down the dough and remove from the bowl. Place on a cutting board. Cut the dough into two pieces. ( Or if you choose to make rolls, cut into 8 pieces.) Let rest for 10 minutes. Taking one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 10 X 15 rectangle. On the long side, begin rolling the dough up tightly. Pinch the seam to seal and turn the ends under the loaf slightly. Place the loaves on a baking sheet that is greased and sprinkled with corn meal if desired. I like to use parchment paper to bake on as it reduces my chance of burning the bottom of the loaves.

Cover the loaves on the baking sheet with a towel and allow them to rise a second time for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Make 3 diagonal cuts into the top of each loaf.

Prepare the egg white glaze and brush on the loaves. This gives them a lovely shiny appearance when baked. 

Bake for  40 to 45 minutes. 

While this is a recipe that requires a second rise time, there is nothing difficult about making French bread. If you like step by step photos check out this post on French bread baking and other delicious bread recipes.


The Bagels – Breads I No Longer Buy

Folks, I am not kidding when I tell you that I love bagels. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bagels pair well with grass fed,homemade butter, homemade cream cheese, fresh jam, lunch meat, tunafish salad, chicken salad, eggs and bacon. The list goes on. I really thought this would be way too time consuming for my busy schedule. And then I saw a recipe that broke it all down for my pea brain. It didn’t look hard at all. The next time I ran out of bagels I grabbed the flour and mixer and made my own. Now I have added bagels to the list of breads I no longer buy at the store!

breads i no longer buy


1 packet of dry active yeast or 1 tablespoon
4 Cups of flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 Cups of warm water

easy so far, right?


(if you want step by step photos of this process, check out my source for the recipe – here)

Using a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the warm water.

Add the yeast to the warm water and let it wake up for a few minutes. It will look bubbly and frothy when ready.

Begin mixing the dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. The dough needs to be smooth and stretchy.

Grease a large bowl and put the dough in, flipping it over so top and bottom are greased. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for one and a half hours.

Do not punch down the dough as you do in most other recipes. Just pour the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. 

Cut the dough into 8 equal parts and shape in to balls, sort of flattened on top.

Place the dough balls on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. ( I burn so many things if I don’t use parchment paper)  Cover with the towel again and let rise for 30 minutes.

The Magic Bagel Step

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar to the water.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

Push a hole into the center of each bagel using your thumb. 

Put a few bagels at a time into the boiling water. Cook for two minutes on one side, then flip to the other side for an additional two minutes. (A wooden spoon handle is a good tool for flipping the bagels.)

Place the boiled bagels on the lined baking sheet. (You can grease the baking sheet if you don’t have parchment paper)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Finally, cool the bagels completely before storing. 

breads I no longer buy

Once you start making your own bread, making delicious homemade butter can’t be far behind.Check out these additional posts on making butter at home.

Making Butter in a Jar with Kids

How to Make Butter- A Visual Guide

Everyone should have a good all purpose bread baking cookbook on hand. I recommend this one from Common Sense Homestead. Never Buy Bread Again







How to Make Chocolate Mint Extract

chocolate mint extractThere are other ways to make chocolate mint extract. This version was inspired by the actual chocolate mint variety I planted in the herb garden. This year, the best part of my garden turned out to be the herbs I planted in containers on my deck. Late Spring and Early Summer showers and rains storms created strong, lush green plants. I have never  had such a happy looking herb garden. The first time I harvested the herbs, I was slightly overwhelmed with how much I had to preserve. I dried some and used some in cooking.

I air dried a large pile of mixed herbs, crumbled them up and fed them to the chickens. While working with all the different types of mint I had planted this year, I was really able to smell and taste the difference. I planted Mint Mojito, Spearmint, Black Mint, Mint Julep, and Chocolate Mint. The chocolate mint captured my attention and was a milder, earthier mint. Where the spearmint jumped out shouting it’s flavor at me, the chocolate mint, with it subtle deep aroma had me intrigued. After caring for all the herbs daily for the last few months, I really wanted to do something special with the leaves, so that I could remember and enjoy them through the winter.

chocolate mint extract

What can you do with fresh mint?

After rinsing  the leaves, pat dry and allow to air dry completely. At this point you can dehydrate for teas, steep the leaves in a solution to make an extract, add to potpourri when dried, or mix into the nesting material in your chicken coop.

Fresh mint can be used in many refreshing drinks. Mint juleps, mojitos, and of course, iced tea.

Try adding mint to fresh  salads, or added to stir fry vegetables

Mint Jelly-  My mom always served mint jelly with lamb. This year I will make my own mint jelly!

Health and Beauty uses

A sprig of mint and a sprig of Rosemary, added to 8 ounces apple cider vinegar will help fight dandruff flakes. Let the mint and rosemary steep in the apple cider vinegar for a week, use as a rinse after shampooing hair.

Mint Tea will calm your stomach ache. Add fresh mint leaves to hot water. Allow to brew like tea. Tea helps calm and control the spasms associated with a stomach upset.


How to Make Chocolate Mint Extract


How to Make Chocolate Mint Extract 

  1. Gather the fresh chocolate mint leaves. Use about a cup or cup and a half of fresh leaves. (Buy a chocolate mint plant here, if you aren’t already growing it)
  2. Lightly break up the leaves to release the natural oils from the leaves. Place the leaves in a pint jar. You want the jar to be full but not packed down. The leaves should have room to swish around and be completely covered by the liquid.
  3. I use vodka to make my extracts. Since vodka has little to no taste of it’s own, it allows the extract to fully be flavored by the plant material. Use an 80% proof strength. I grab the cheaper stuff for this project. Rum is another option for a slightly different flavor. 
  4. Pour the vodka over the leaves, covering the leaves completely. Close the jar tightly, store away from natural light, like the back of a shelf or the back of a cupboard.
  5. Every day or so, take the jar out and shake it up gently to distribute the leaves. Place it back in the dark.

chocolate mint extract

Bottling the Chocolate Mint Extract

After two months the extract should be getting strong enough to strain and bottle for use or gift giving. I like to give it at least two months and up to four months is great! The flavor and aroma will continue to deepen. 

When the extract is strong enough, strain through a fine strainer or coffee filter into a clean jar. Label and store the extract away from natural light. When I make a batch, I store it in the mason jar until I bottle it up for gift giving.

Using a small funnel, carefully pour the extract into a 4 ounce brown bottle. I purchase these in bulk from SKS Bottles or smaller quantities here.  

Chocolate Mint Extract

Add your own beautiful tag or label for the chocolate mint extract. I came across a suggestion to add to the gift. Chocolate mint roots easily. Start some individual plants in cute small pots while waiting for the extract to steep. Then, give the extract and the small pot of chocolate mint! Great idea for the cook on your gift list.

What to do with  your chocolate mint extract

Use a drop or two in your coffee, tea or hot cocoa

It is delicious in ice cream! Add a tablespoon to flavor homemade batch of ice cream.

Add a teaspoon to homemade vanilla frosting for a chocolate cake! (drooling)

Use in baked goods along with the vanilla extract

Chocolate Mint infused Honey

Gift Tip!

One last tip on making extracts for gifts. If you are getting a late start, give the recipient an extract kit. You can start the extract for them, using a pretty mason jar. Add a small funnel, a glass jar for the extract, and a card with the instructions on filtering and storing extract after a certain date. The gift recipient can enjoy the process too, and then bottle it up and enjoy. 

chocolate mint extract

Now it’s your turn! What would you do with chocolate mint extract ?

Read my post on making Vanilla Extract!



chocolate mint extract






Honey Cinnamon Applesauce in the Crockpot

honey cinnamon applesauceHoney cinnamon applesauce in the crockpot was on the to-do list. Honestly, what was on the to-do list was “get the apples processed!” They were everywhere in the kitchen since I felt the need to bring home a couple bushels of apples from the orchard. And in my own haphazard style, I ended up mixing up the tart apples I bought for eating and canning with the apples bought for pie filling and applesauce. Now I had a large crockpot of the the most tart applesauce ever made. There are many other ways to preserve apples but this year we needed more applesauce on the shelves.

Sugar would have been my first solution a few years ago. Since that time we have begun using honey more often as a sweetener of choice, here at home. It’s definitely worth a try. Most batches of applesauce are sweet naturally because I don’t choose the tart crunchy apples. Experimentation leads to new culinary delights! So I set to work making this batch of applesauce more palette pleasing.

After scouring the internet for some idea of how much honey to add, I decided to start with a quarter of a cup of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can always add more honey to taste. If you are starting fresh and adding the honey at the beginning of the cooking process, add a  four tablespoons of honey, to start with. You can always add more later. 

honey cinnamon applesauce

Honey Cinnamon Applesauce  (Serves 8)

14 apples

1/4 cup of raw honey

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract

Cut apples and remove the core. I usually slice the apples into four to six pieces and toss into the crockpot. When all the apples are cut and cored, fill the crockpot with water and three tablespoons of lemon juice. Stir to coat all the apples and let sit for 15 minutes. Lemon juice prevents some of the browning, although you can see this batch came out quite dark.

Drain the water from the apples. Add the honey, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Set the crockpot to cook on low for four hours. Check your apples while they are cooking because each crockpot cooks differently. Your batch of apples might cook more quickly. 

Using a stick blender (immersion blender) Blend the cooked honey cinnamon applesauce to the consistency you prefer. 

Return the crockpot to cook down the mixture for another hour or two. The honey cinnamon applesauce will thicken as it cooks. 

honey cinnamon applesauce

Serve a dish of this delicious applesauce alongside one of these low sugar muffins for a healthy start to the day. Or check out these savory ways to add applesauce to your recipes. I am loving that idea for AppleSauce IceCream!

Looking for more ideas on using apples? 

Make a Cider Press

Skillet Apple Pie

Spiced Apple Jelly – No Pectin

Apple Jack- Is it Legal and Safe?

Pear-Apple Jam 

Caramel Applesauce


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honey cinnamon applesauce




Pear Blueberry Kompot Beverage

Pear Blueberry Kompot Refreshing non-alcoholic fruit beverageOther beverages will pale in comparison to a Pear Blueberry Kompot. Before the day began, I had no idea that I would be googling “What to do with pear peels” and going down a rabbit hole learning the history of kompots. The pears were getting past the point of no return. I planned to preserve them canned in water but ended up making a batch of pear butter and pear blueberry kompot.

That’s life when you don’t want to waste any of the harvest goodness. I have a hard time looking at the peels and cores from soft fruits and tossing it all to the compost bin. I am glad that I learned to make tomato sauce from the scrap pile. And so, as I started cooking the pear butter, I looked at the bowl of pear peels and decided their must be a way to turn those into attractive food. 

The first hurdle to overcome was confusing the term kompot or compot with compote. A kompot is a European non-alcoholic beverage similar to a fruit juice. You can serve pear blueberry kompot both hot and cold. I found references and recipes for kompot on many Eastern European cooking blogs, Ukranian recipe blogs and Russian Websites. On the other hand, a compote is a dessert sauce prepared from fruit and drizzled over cake or other sweet food. 

Pear Blueberry Kompot

While the pear butter simmered, I had time to start the pear blueberry kompot. I tossed together 2 quarts of water and the pear peels from a dozen pears. I added a cup of blueberries, one cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. 

Bring the mixture to a boil and continue  on a low boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit and cool. 

When the liquid has cooled, strain out the solids. I used a strainer lined with cheese cloth to make sure my juice beverage was clear. You could also line a strainer with a basket style coffee filter. Of course I could not find these when I needed them. 

Pour into quart canning jars, and store in the refrigerator. But first, I had to try a serving of this beautiful fruit juice drink. It was refreshing and delicious. I can also see that it would be amazing served warm on a chilly day, like hot cider.

Pear Blueberry Kompot and a Bonus from the Scraps

The pear butter was still bubbling and the kompot was complete, but there was still a problem. I still had a pile  of boiled fruit that was rather large and still looked wasteful to me. This reminded me of the tomato sauce I made from scraps. Why not do the same with the boiled fruit? I began pressing the boiled fruit from the pear blueberry kompot through the fine mesh strainer. You could also use a food mill for this. I press with the back of a large spoon, pushing and scraping the fruit. Occasionally, scrape the fruit puree from the bottom of the sieve.

pear blueberry kompot

pear blueberry kompot

After I extracted all the puree from the boiled fruit, I gained two cups of fruit puree! This can  be used like applesauce in recipes or eaten as is. I plan to use it in baked goods, in place of some of the oil. You could also use the puree in this recipe for breakfast muffins in place of the fruit. Final production – one jar of pear butter, two quarts of pear blueberry kompot and two cups of pear blueberry puree. Oh and one totally messy kitchen!

Pear Blueberry Kompot


2 to 3 cups of pear peels

1 cup of bluberries

1 cup of sugar

2 quarts of water

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool completely. 

Strain out the solids using cheesecloth and a fine mesh strainer.

Store in glass jars in the refrigerator.

For other ideas on using fruit for beverages look into making a shrub! Or try this recipe for making mead. Looking for a more adult beverage? Check out this Shrub recipe from Lovely Greens.

pear blueberry kompot refreshing non-alcoholic fruit beverage




Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna

Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna DSC_5595We are not vegetarians. Never even entered our minds. Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna is a perfect blend of hearty meat dish and garden fresh goodness. We like hearty meals and when I have tried to serve my family a meatless dinner, well, lets just say it was not met with rave reviews.

When I was visiting my daughter, she said that we would be having her zucchini lasagna recipe for dinner. I was surprised because her husband is a fan of eating meat for dinner. It sounded good to me, though so I was looking forward to trying her recipe. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the recipe included meat! It was not vegetarian lasagna, but zucchini lasagna with meat. And, it was delicious. I really think this tastes like the original lasagna. The zucchini has the texture of lasagna noodles and the rest of the ingredients are the same as the original recipe.

Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna

Make sure that you start this recipe early in the day. The texture of the dish and of the zucchini is much better if the water is drawn out of the zucchini and that can take up to an hour. The entire process took me about an hour and a half to get it ready for the oven, including the wait time to draw water out of the zucchini. I baked it for the suggested 45 minutes covered and an additional 15 minutes uncovered. I hope you will enjoy this version of Zucchini Lasagna.


Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna DSC_5587

Zucchini Lasagna

I’m sure there are also many ways to vary this recipe. If your garden is providing a generous amount of tomatoes and green peppers, increase the freshness level by making your own tomato based sauce. If you are looking for more dinner time recipe suggestions take a look at this post with quick and easy dinner recipes.

Meat Lovers Zucchini Lasagna
Serves 9
A Delicious, hearty take on the standard vegetable zucchini lasagna
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 4 large zucchini sliced as thin as you can length wise. Try for 1/8th inch thickness or try using a mandolin
  2. 1 pound of ground beef, sausage, turkey
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 1 cup chopped onion
  5. 24 ounces of pasta sauce of choice
  6. 15 ounce Ricotta Cheese
  7. 16 ounces shredded Mozzarella
  8. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  9. 1 large egg
  10. salt
  1. Start well in advance of dinner time. Slice zucchini and lay slices out on parchment paper or paper towels. Salt the zucchini slices to pull out the excess water. This will help keep the lasagna from being soupy. Wait at least 40 minutes. I waited one hour. Wipe or dab off the water from each slice using a paper towel.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly cook the ground meat with the chopped onion and garlic. drain the meat mixture. Add the pasta sauce and simmer. In the meantime, in a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and 12 ounces of the mozzarella. Add the egg and mix well.
  3. Put a small amount of the pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. You can make one large lasagna using a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or two smaller ones using two 8 x 8 inch pans. If you are feeding a smaller family, this would give you a dinner to freeze for another evening.
  4. Begin building your lasagna, starting with a zucchini layer, then spread the cheese mixture, then the meat and sauce layer. Continue for two to three layers and end with zucchini topped with sauce and the remaining four ounces of mozzarella cheese.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until topping is browned to your desired amount.
  6. Let cool for at least 10 minutes to firm up before cooking.
Timber Creek Farm https://www.timbercreekfarmer.com/
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zucchini lasagna