Cuban Bread Recipe

Whip up this delicious no-knead Cuban bread and have it on the table in just over an hour!

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral posts.]

Back when I was tutoring a Western Civilization class, I came across this random tidbit that about made my head spin. Especially with the whole gluten-free diets that have swept the country.

The daily ration for monks in Carolingian society was 3.7 pounds of bread! (from Spielvogel’s Western Civilization)

3.7 pounds. Can you imagine? That’s like several loaves of whole wheat bread every single day! 

When my friend Candace introduced me to this Cuban bread recipe I thought, hmmmmm, I probably couldn’t eat 3.7 pounds of this bread, but I probably could polish off a whole loaf on my own. 

Don’t worry, I didn’t. But it is awfully tasty. It doesn’t need to be kneaded and it only takes about an hour from start to finish, including baking time! Talk about easy!

Cuban Bread Recipe

Modified from the Tightwad Gazette (I almost always modify any new recipe using these simple strategies to make it healthier.)

Ingredients

Quick and delicious, this {almost} whole-wheat cuban bread is a must-try recipe!

Instructions

Grease a cookie sheet.

Combine the first five ingredients. Add enough white flour to make a soft dough. Let the dough rise for 15 minutes. Divide and shape it into two round loaves, brush with water, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place a pan of hot water on the lowest rack of a cold oven.

Place the loaves on the middle rack and then turn the oven on to 375. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a light golden brown. Once it’s done, lightly spray with cold water for a nice soft crust. Serve warm with butter.

See, isn’t that easy?!

Easy and delicious, this Cuban bread recipe only takes about an hour from start to finish!

Make some Cuban Bread

As you can see, this is one of the easiest bread recipes ever, and it’s ever so moist and delicious. Whip up a batch and have it on the table in just over an hour!

Mocha Muffin Recipe

Deliciously moist and rich, these mocha muffins are a family favorite.

Like most regular American recipes, the original recipe called for a ridiculous amount of sugar. Thanks to the bananas, you can cut the sugar by more than half and still have a perfectly sweetened muffin! So that’s what I do.

Looking for a delicious mocha muffin  that's made with (mostly) whole food ingredients? Try these moist mocha muffins.

The “healthified” version started with my mom. Sadly I don’t know the source of the original recipe! 

Mocha Muffin Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup butter (or oil or a mixture!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp vanilla (try making your own vanilla!)
  • 1/4 cup very strong coffee
  • 3 cups flour (I use 2 cups freshly ground wheat and 1 cup of white)
  • 1/2 cup flax seed, ground
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/ 1/2 tsp b. soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp b. powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa, optional
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional (If chocolate can be optional!)

ooking for a delicious mocha muffin  that's made with (mostly) whole food ingredients? Try these moist mocha muffins.

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine butter and sugar.
  3. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour into two greased muffin tins. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Slather with butter and enjoy with a homemade yogurt shake. Extras freeze really well.

Hootenanny Recipe

Hootenanny.

It’s got to be one of the funniest-named breakfasts ever. And it sure looks funny as it rises and topples in the oven. But hootenanny is delicious, delightfully simple, and (with a light dusting of powdered sugar) a fancy way to serve eggs.

Joshua grew up eating it and now we’re all fans.

Because it’s so simple to mix together, it makes a great Sunday morning breakfast. Toss the hootenanny in the oven, get ready for church, eat breakfast, and go!

Looking for a delicious breakfast that's simple to make, tastes delicious, and is full of protein? Try this hootenanny recipe!

The mountains of puff have fallen. Since the very best part of hootenanny is the crust, Joshua came up with the brilliant idea of baking it in muffin tins. Yumminess! 

Hootenanny Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 T butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup  of milk
  • 1 cup flour (we use half freshly-ground whole grain flour, but have also used 100% rice flour for a gluten-free version. It wasn’t quite as puffy, but was still really tasty.)
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T vanilla, opt. (make your own vanilla !)
  • dash of cinnamon/nutmeg, opt.

Hootenanny is a new favorite breakfast treat (and Sunday morning tradition!) It is simple to make, healthy, and so fun to watch as it grows and topples in the oven.  Plus, you can replace the flour with rice flour for a gluten-free treat!

One of the ways Joshua helps me celebrate the Lord’s day is by making hootenanny with the kids. (Usually we use paper plates all Sunday long too! The fancy plate was just for the pictures-sake.) 

Hootenanny Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Melt butter in a 9×13 pan OR 12 muffin tins.
  3. While butter melts, mix together remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour over melted butter. Do NOT stir.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  6. Serve with real maple syrup and a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Enjoy your Hootenanny

Whether you join us in our Sunday morning tradition of hot hootenanny, or just make it for a special treat, I think you’ll agree that hootenanny is a delightfully fun (and tasty!)  breakfast food.

Recipe: Homemade Granola

Granola was a staple in our house growing up. My mom rarely bought cereal, but we had granola at least twice a week. Homemade granola is simple to make, cheaper than cereal and much, much more nourishing which is why it’s one of our favorite healthy frugal breakfasts.

We eat it topped with raisins, chocolate chips, or craisins; with homemade yogurt; or as a layer in Eppli Cakka (a delicious Faroese dessert or breakfast).

Homemade Granola

Family’s Favorite Granola Recipe:

Ingredients: 

4 1/2 cups oatmeal (I prefer old fashioned oats)
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
1/2 cup honey (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla (homemade is delicious!)
2 T water

Instructions: 

  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Bake in a 9×13 pan (glass seems to heat more evenly and avoid burning as easily) at 300° for about 1 hour.
  4. Stir after 20 minutes, then 15, then 10, then 5 until evenly golden brown.
  5. Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

Recipe: Homemade Lime Soda

When I was morning sick with Edmund, a friend recommended club soda to calm the nausea. It helped. For weeks, club soda was a regular staple at the dinner table. Even though it didn’t take the nausea away, it really helped take the edge off.

Then when three weeks of the stomach flu hit our home, we went through can after can of club soda.

Soda water has been used for centuries to calm nausea and it’s a staple in our pantry now.

Delicious homemade lime soda

Of course, it’s not just good for calming stomach complaints, it makes such delicious summer drinks.

My favorite is this refreshing lime soda that Joshua makes as a special treat for the kids (and me!) It’s made with freshly-squeezed limes and raw sugar or agave nectar and makes a delicious substitute to regular soda. Plus, it’s so easy to control the sweetness.

Homemade Lime Soda

Ingredients

  • Fresh limes (or lemons)
  • Agave nectar, liquid sugar in the raw, or homemade simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint, optional
Instructions
  1. Fill glasses with crushed ice.
  2. Fill glasses 3/4 full with club soda.
  3. Squeeze limes.
  4. Add lime juice and liquid sweetener to taste.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
Looking for more refreshing summer drinks? Try kefir water. It’s not only tasty, it’s filled with probiotics.
[Thanks Brooke!]

Recipe: Spinach Chips

“Mama, can I please have more spinach chips?” my two-year-old begged.

“Yes, but finish the rest of your food first,” I said. As I answered, I could hardly keep from chuckling. Since first trying these delicious spinach chips, “more spinach” has been a regular request at our dinner table. Spinach has become a reward for finishing the rest of their food.

A bed of spinach

I planted a whole bed of spinach, just to keep up with the demand.

We’ve made this recipe so many times, I thought it was high time to share our own favorite varieties.

Spinach (or Kale) Chips

Spinach chips tossed in oil

Ingredients:

  • Fresh spinach (or kale)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Our favorite flavors (optional):

  • Fresh garlic & a touch of cayenne (I use about one clove per of garlic plus a teensy dash of cayenne per panful) OR
  • Lemon juice & pepper (about half a squeezed lemon and a generous dash of freshly ground pepper per panful)

Spinach chips ready to bake

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° for spinach [or 300° for kale].
  2. Wash spinach thoroughly and pat dry
  3. Toss very lightly with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt
  4. Add flavors, if desired, and toss thoroughly
  5. Spread in a single layer on pan.
  6. Bake for 7-12 minutes, depending on the size of your spinach. The chips should be paper thin and crisp.

Enjoy!

 May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking Redeemed, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, & Graced Simplicity

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

Of all the DIY projects to try, homemade vanilla extract is among the easiest. It just takes two simple ingredients, but makes a rich, fragrant extract to use in your kitchen or give as a lovely gift.

Plus, your kitchen will smell simply delightful for hours and hours after you make it.

Homemade vanilla extract is delicious and delightfully easy to make! It only has two ingredients, but makes a lovely addition to any recipe (and amazing DIY gift!)

Vanilla beans and alcohol= delicious pure vanilla extract

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

There are a whopping two ingredients you’ll need for your homemade extract: vanilla beans and alcohol. Can’t get much simpler than that….you just have to choose what kind of beans and what kind of alcohol.

Vanilla beans:

There are several kinds of vanilla beans, but Bourbon (also known as Madagascar) is the popular scent we’d all instantly recognize as vanilla and the type I bought. Then there’s two grades: A and B. Grade A beans have more oil and are considered better for cooking. However, the grade B beans are generally preferred for making extract.

[I ordered my vanilla beans here. You can also order certified organic and fair trade vanilla beans and cute glass jars from Mountain Rose Herbs]

Alcohol:

Vodka, bourbon, tequila…any should work fine (just don’t use inedible rubbing alcohol!) I made one batch with vodka and one with bourbon to experiment. The bourbon lends a fun bourbon-esqe flavor, but if you’re after the true vanilla flavor, vodka is the way to go.

 (Whew, how’s that for making a simple recipe a bit more complicated!)

For a strong vanilla extract, use 1/4 pound of beans (approx. 25 beans, but it can vary a lot) to 1 quart of alcohol.

Slice the vanilla beans down the center, leaving them attached at the end if you think it looks pretty.

Place in clean glass jar. Cover completely with alcohol. Screw the lid on tightly and store for one to six months in a cool dark place stirring regularly (daily…or weekly…or whenever you happen to remember.)

Label and date, at least if you tend to forget exactly what and when you bottled as quickly as I do.

Start using when the extract smells vanilla-y enough to you. As you use the vanilla, you can add more alcohol. The vanilla won’t be as strong, but I kept reusing the vanilla beans we were given till they lost most of their potency.

Once they’re satisfactorily extracted don’t throw them away! Turn the beans into vanilla sugar.

 [Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]

Nourishing Protein Bar Recipe

Slightly-crunchy with the perfect touch of sweetness, these protein bars are one of my favorite snacks. (If I’m in a hurry they work for breakfast too!) Unlike many store-bought protein bars, they’re jam-packed with nourishing whole foods.

Looking for a delicious & sustaining snack (or breakfast!)? Try these nourishing protein bars.

Since first reading about these bars a couple years ago, I’ve made them dozens of times and adapted the recipe to suit our tastes. One of the great things about this recipe is its versatility! If you don’t have, or care for, one of the ingredients there’s usually at least one way to substitute.

Nourishing Protein Bar Recipe

Ingredients

All measurements are approximate. 

Instructions

  1. Blend almonds, raisins, oatmeal, and flax seed in a blender until fine.
  2. Pour into a bowl, add the coconut flakes and salt and mix well.
  3. Over low heat, melt peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla & honey in a saucepan.
  4. Add to “dry” ingredients and pour into an 8×8 pan.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil over low heat and spread over bars. Refrigerate, cut into delectable pieces, and enjoy!

Due to the coconut oil, these bars are best just out of the fridge. 

For those interested, Country Life Natural Foods–has wonderful prices on bulk coconut flakes, organic raisins (just barely more than Aldi!), oatmeal, and much more.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cake

Fall is here, and with it the delightful smells of soups, stews, and pumpkin!

This moist pumpkin spice cake is a family favorite and tastes even better a day or two after you make it. Plus, if you don’t polish it off in a day or two, it freezes well for later.

It’s not exactly healthy, but are cakes supposed to be healthy?

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cake

adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 1- 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups oil (I use light olive)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (it’s so yummy fresh!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2+ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/ 2+ tsp. allspice
  • 1/2+ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2+ tsp cloves

Instructions: 

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 9×13 pan.
  2. Mix wet ingredients.
  3. Mix dry ingredients and add to wet. Stir until moistened.
  4. Pour into pan and bake 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool and top with spiced cream cheese frosting, if desired.

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe: 

  • 1 /2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • Powdered sugar

Instructions: 

  1. Mix together cream cheese, butter, and spices
  2. Add powdered sugar to make a smooth frosting. If too thick, add a couple drops of milk.

Frosting Tip: for years I painstakingly tried (and failed) to get the frosting perfectly smooth across the top of my cakes. Instead, now I “swirl” the frosting. It looks cute and takes so much less time. :)

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking RedeemedOur Simple Country Life, & Proverbs 31

How to Make Kefir Water

Lime flavored kefir water, garnished with fresh mint. 

When a dear friend offered me a glass of homemade kefir water, all sorts of alarms sounded in my mind.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. It sure wasn’t a drink that tasted like an amazing sparkling limeade.

What exactly is kefir water? It’s a slightly sweet carbonated drink that’s simply bursting with probiotics. You make it by letting kefir “grains” (a gel-like combination of yeast and bacteria) sit in sugar water and minerals for a couple of days and ferment into a drink that’s refreshing and incredibly good for you.

We eat homemade yogurt regularly, but I’d been wanting to add more probiotics to our diet. After that first drink, kefir water was an obvious choice!

My friend gave me a kefir starter (thanks so much!) and I’m having a hard time keeping up with demand even with doing a gallon at a time. My 22-month-old’s name for kefir water is simply “nummy!”

We don’t even have pet fish, just pet bacteria. Thankfully, they’re about as low-maintenance as fish, plus you get a yummy drink out of them!

Kefir water recipe

(Makes one gallon—so far the gallon hasn’t lasted more than a few days! You can also half the batch.)

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1/2 cup kefir grains*
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup raw natural sugar, depending on how sweet you want it. 
  • Small handful of organic raisins or other dried fruit 
  • 1 eggshell or trace minerals, optional 
  • 1 gallon water [Spring, well or filtered tap water are the best options. Distilled water has lost so many minerals you’d want to add trace minerals back to the water.] 
  • Flavorings, optional

Instructions

  1. In a glass gallon jar, dissolve the sugar in a little water.
  2. Add the raisins, kefir grains, eggshell/minerals (if using), and finish filling with water.
  3. Cover with cheesecloth or a tea towel and rubberband securely.
  4. Let sit on the counter for 2-4 days. If it tastes good after two days, proceed. If you want more of the sugar “eaten”, let sit for another day. Don’t let it go too long though, especially in the summer, otherwise once the grains run out of sugar to eat, they beging to starve.
  5. Removed the raisins and eggshell and toss. Strain out the grains to start a new batch.
  6. Start a new batch immediately or store the kefir grains. 
  7. You can drink the kefir at this point, but it tastes much yummier if you let it carbonate for a day on the counter. To carbonate, pour into sturdy glass jars, leaving plenty of headspace for the kefir water to expand. I leave a good 2+ inches, to be on the safe side. Add fruit, juice, food-grade essential oils, or vanilla (if desired) for flavoring. Seal tightly and leave on the counter for a day. 
  8. Refrigerate or drink immediately over ice.

Tips and tricks: 

  • If you don’t have a local friend who can give you a starter, you can order dehydrated water kefir grains online from Amazon or a kit (including minerals and a strainer) from Cultures for Health
  • To store the kefir grains, mix 1/4 cup of sugar with filtered water. Add the grains and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 
  • Kefir grains love the added minerals from eggshells, but the thought of tossing in a raw eggshell groses me out. Instead, save the eggshells when you make hardboiled eggs and store them in the freezer. Just pop one out when it’s time to make another batch of kefir.
  • Different natural sugars contain different minerals. My friend recommends using 3/4 natural cane sugar and 1/4 sucanat. I haven’t bought any sucanat yet, and the kefir is surviving fine on just the natural cane sugar, but I’m sure it would make them even happier to add sucanat.
  • You can get organic raisins in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods for only a few cents more per pound than Aldi’s raisins. Grapes are on the dirty dozen list, so as you can expect, conventionally grown raisins tend to have quite a bit of pesticide residue! 
Have you made kefir water? If so, what’s your favorite flavoring? 
[Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]