Sunday, January 29, 2012

Meatless Monday Blog Hop #1

Happy Monday, everyone! (or, maybe it's not such a happy Monday for some of us...)

Today I am hosting my first recipe blog hop, and encourage you to contribute a vegetarian recipe, and by vegetarian I mean free of any meat products. It can be for an entree, an appetizer, a snack, a dessert- whatever you want, as long as it's meat-free! This is to coincide with and support the Meatless Monday initiative which encourages healthy and sustainable eating.

Here's my recipe for Meatless Monday: Cuban-style Black Bean Soup. Enjoy!

Cuban-style Black Bean Soup
(adapted from this blog)
makes 6-8 servings


1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup water
3 cups cooked and drained black beans
1/2 cup salsa
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Sour cream, lime wedges and shredded cheese for garnish

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat for a few minutes, then add the onion and garlic and saute for about three minutes or until fragrant. Next add the peppers and stir-fry until the colors of the peppers brighten and they are fragrant. Stir in the salsa, paprika and cumin last and stir-fry for another minute, then add the beans and combine well.

Next, add the water and broth and bring to a boil. Add the salt and pepper and any extra seasoning to taste. Bring down to a low simmer and cook until taste is to your liking, for about another 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately with a spoonful of sour cream, squirt of lime, and some shredded cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey Jack, if desired.

I had some leftovers with a baked yam and it was a very tasty combination

We love beans in my house; when I was a vegetarian they were a staple in my diet. Lily has always been a big fan of them, especially black beans, so she had no problem delighting in this meal. Do keep in mind, though, that this soup causes flatulence with the amount of beans and peppers it contains. You've been warned!

In addition, black beans have plenty of health benefits as well, including cardiovascular support, digestive support, and blood sugar regulating properties.  They also contain a large amount of folate and dietary fiber. With such versatility and their cheap price tag, black beans are a perfect addition to any course.

Do you have a great meatless meal? Link it up here! Only rules are to follow your hostess, and check out some of the other entries. Be sure to leave a comment so they know you stopped by!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stop by on Monday for a Blog Hop!

Happy Friday! I may write a post for today, but right now Lily is at my side and wanting attention, so I'm going to go be a Mommy and not a blogger for a bit :) I just wanted to take a moment to announce that I will be hosting my first blog hop on Monday with the theme "Meatless Monday Meals." So, if yo have a great vegetarian meal- and it can be anything without meat - please stop by and share it Monday, January 30th!

Have a great weekend, here's a cute Lily pic!

She loves her Little People :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Welcome Wednesday Blog Hop!

Hello, friends! I am pleased to announce that today I am guest hostessing on Haute Mom's blog hop! Stop on by and make some new blog friends! This is my first time guest hosting, so I feel *special*.

Kelley has the cutest blog that hosts lots of fun link parties, so be sure to follow her! Here's a message from the hostess with the mostest:

Blog Hop Rules: This is a low key hop. After is Welcome Wednesday, here to get the inspirational juices flowing and find other blogs we can stalk! Put those feet up, relax, and join the bloggy fun.

There are a few rules though:
1. Follow the hostess, Haute Mom and the guest hostesses. Be sure to leave a comment so that I can follow you back.
2. Follow the guest hostess.
3. Link up your blog for all of us to love.
4. Make an attempt to check out at least two new blogs. Don't know where to start? How about the two blogs above you? If you love the blog, become a follower and leave them a comment letting them know.
So link up! You don't have to post about the hop...but you know how we ladies work, the more the merrier. We would love it if you would help us spread the word and help Welcome Wednesday grow! One of you could be next week's spotlight guest hostess!  

I'd also like to announce that I intend to host my FIRST blog hop next Monday, with the theme of Meatless Monday Meals. If you have a great meat-free dish you'd like to share, be sure to stop by! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meatless Monday: Campanelle and Broccoli with Gravy

Today's recipe is a little something I whipped up on a whim with what I already had readily available in my kitchen. I wanted to use the broccoli and pasta with a light white sauce, but instead concocted this gravy-like sauce that was more tan than white. It tasted pretty darn good anyway, akin to the type of gravy my grandma used for the Swedish meatballs and rice dish she used to make (she may still make it, but it's been a while since I had it with her!). I used beef stock, but you can use vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian and it will taste just as good. The added white wine, lemon juice, and touch of light cream make this especially savory. I also used campanelle pasta- which are pictured below -just because they have such a delicate and unique shape, and are ideal for sauces such as these. I hope you like!

Campanelle Pasta and Broccoli in Gravy
makes 4-6 servings


1 package campanelle pasta
2 cups broccoli florets 


1 cup water
1 cup vegetable or beef stock
1/4 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp light cream
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot according to instructions. Lightly steam or blanch the broccoli for about 5 minutes or until slightly tender. In a wide frying pan, saute the garlic in the olive oil over low heat until fragrant. Add the oregano and parsley, and cook while stirring for one minute, then add the white wine. Allow the wine to evaporate into the garlic, then add the cup of broth and bring to a high simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the flour into the cup of water, then add to the broth mixture and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure no clumps form. Bring the heat back down to medium-low and stir in the lemon juice, cream and black pepper; add the broccoli and cover, cooking over medium-low heat for about 5 more minute or until the broccoli is soft enough to your liking. Add all the sauce and broccoli to the pasta and coat. Serve hot with extra pepper and a lemon wedge if desired.

such a pretty shape

This recipe is great for kids and easy to make. For babies too young for big bites of pasta and broccoli like this, here's a simple little recipe:

2-4 steamed broccoli florets
1/4 cup cooked small-shaped pasta
1 tbsp gravy or butter or olive oil
Sprinkle of Parm or Romano cheese

Mix together and serve to your little one! Yum-yum!

Her expression may not exactly say it, but she did enjoy this dish

Broccoli is obviously a well-known healthy food, but since I never really talked about it on here, I'll focus on that today. It's known as a "super food" due to its richness in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and fiber, and is also simply chock full of green goodness. An incredibly versatile food, broccoli is anti-cancerous, anti-oxidating, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. That's a lot for one plant! Eating half a cup a day or at least 2 cups of broccoli a week dramatically lowers your risk of cancer. These factors just add to it already being one of my favorite foods, and Lily's for that matter! It is one of the few vegetables she will happily eat!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chocolate Sour Cream Tea Loaf

First of all, I just want to share that I broke 50 followers on Wednesday! Thanks to everyone who helped make that possible! It's kind of a big deal for me as I have only been writing this blog for about a year now, and to know that that many people actually follow along really means a lot.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, today's recipe will be a little more on the sweet side than the healthy side, but it will be good for the soul, which I think makes it healthy in a different way! You can use whole wheat or unbleached flour for it, and either way it will taste delish! This is perfect bread to make for a tea party or anytime you're having company over and want to serve an "ooooo-ahhhhh"-inducing dessert that you don't have to break a sweat over baking! this recipe was designed especially for my Kenmore Bread Maker, so if you notice anything that needs adjusting according to your machine, go ahead and adjust, or else make by hand. This is a cake bread, so it can easily be made with a dough mixed and then baked in the oven.

I can't live without it!

Chocolate Sour Cream Tea Loaf (makes 1 lb loaf)

6 tbsp lowfat milk or almond milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg, room temp
6 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour, unbleached or whole wheat
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp chopped cherries and/or cranberries

Place all ingredients into your bread machine in order, unless your machine's instructions state otherwise. Select the "1 lb loaf" and "Cake" setting and press start. If desired, remove kneading blade from machine when it indicates it's time to do so. Once finished, remove from machine and allow to cool on rack before serving. Make about 8 servings.

You can also add some sliced almonds on top when the loaf is starting to bake by brushing the top of the loaf with a little honey mixed in water, then placing the almond slices on top. The loaf basically tastes like a chocolate chip-cherry cookie cake. Yummm.

Consequently, I have not made this bread in a while and the last time I did, the picture I took came out blurry, so I don't have an image :( It is very good, as you can clearly see just by reading the ingredients list. Paul once told me this was the best thing I ever made with the bread maker. Your whole family will love it, I promise!

This would even make a great cake for a small birthday party for your young child since it's not as sugary as most cakes are. Slap on some light egg-white icing or a honey glaze and voila! Birthday cake!

The addition of chopped cherries and/or cranberries to this recipe does not only make it even sweeter, but also adds a strong antioxidant benefit. Cherries and cranberries both contain a high level of antioxidants as most berries do, as well as a lot of vitamin C. An interesting fact I recently learned about fresh fruit versus dry fruit is the nutrition content is greatly diminished in the drying process. Some might say, "well, duh!", but honestly, I didn't think it had as strong an effect as I found out it does. Read here to learn more; it turns out you may also take in a greater number of calories and sugars when eatting fruit dried since the pieces of fruit are smaller, and therefore you may unconsciously eat a lot more than a single serving size. 

The reason I bring up dried fruit vs fresh fruit is because this recipe originally called for dried fruit which I used the first time, but when I found out fresh is (obviously) better, I opted for some chopped cherries instead that I had recently picked up at the local fruit stand. So, feel free to use dry instead for convenience, but just keep in mind that the nutritional value is not the same.

However, dried fruit is a much better on-the-go snack alternative to candy and cookies, or any other overly processed, sugary snacks they make for kids these days. Lily LOVES dried fruit, especially prunes, raisins and cranberries. Putting a handful of mixed dried fruit into a ziploc bag or re-usable container (like a snack trap!) along with some nuts is a great snack to take with you for your family on an outting. If you want to stay fresh, of course, you can also simply chop some fruit up and take it with you, or share and apple or an orange.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January's Featured Blog of the Month

I love photography. I've been told I'm a good photographer, but I don't use one of those fancy cameras professional photographers use, even though Paul has one. It's just too much trouble for me and my Android is just more convenient, but I sure do admire pretty pictures! One of my fave new photography blogs is Me As A Mother. It's super cute and creative, full of lots of pretty things to look at. Many feature creator Heidi's adorable daughters in whimsical settings or just being kids. I adore how Heidi captures what could be a normal, everyday moment in time, and manages to freeze it and bring it to life in a whole new way on film (or, digital rather).

The first shot of hers that really caught my eye was this precious little angel here. And here's a kid who's not afraid of Santa!

Whether you are a photo lover in general, or just someone who likes to peruse cute pictures, stop by Heidi's awesome blog and show her some love!

If you would like to nominate a blog to be featured that has less than 200 followers tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Taking a sick day...

Sorry, folks! I have not been feeling well since Saturday. I am not in the right state of mind to write a full-fledged post right now. Fortunately, I had help with my other new blog which launched TODAY, The Veillee, so please stop by and show us some love! Today is also a holiday for some, but regardless, it is Martin Luther King Day, so I will leave you with one of my favorite inspiring quotes of his before you go to check out the new blog:

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

 le sigh...

Okay, now back to enjoying my chicken noodle soup...

Have a great day! I will have a new recipe up next Monday that involves pasta, broccoli, and a yummy new sauce! Wednesday will feature a new up-and-coming blog, and a new bread machine recipe will end the week this Friday.

Yeah, that's about right. Thanks, Lina!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Banana Flax 'n Walnut Bread Machine Recipe

I love my bread machine! If you read my last post featuring a bread machine recipe, you already know why. They make things so convenient, and with one, anyone can be a baker! Here's a great new recipe for banana bread, yum! It can be made dairy-free as well, so it's perfect for those with allergies who enjoy fresh-baked bread.

Banana Flax 'n Walnut Bread 


1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp butter or canola or coconut oil
3 tbsp honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup ground flax flour
1 very ripe banana, mashed or sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1/4 cup flax seeds

Bring all ingredients to room temperature, then place all except the walnuts and flax seeds in bread machine according to instructions (mine has me place the wet ingredients in first, with the yeast on the top). Set the loaf size to 1.5 lbs on the "Basic Bread" setting, with crust setting however you want it (I normally use "Medium"). Turn it on, then add in the walnuts and flax seeds at the appropriate time if your machine has you add them in later in the cycle, and remember to remove the kneading blade before it starts to bake so you don't get a broken loaf. If you prefer, take the dough out after the kneading cycle has finished and mold it into a desired shape, then stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. After about 4 1/2 hours using the bread machine, you'll have fresh baked bread! 

Be sure to use a ripe banana!

Banana bread has always been a favorite of mine. My mom makes it from scratch by hand, and I have many fond memories enjoying it with some butter or peanut butter spread on top. Few things in life are better than warm banana bread.

I can't think of any kid who doesn't like banana bread either- it's sweet and healthy with the honey and whole wheat flour, too! And you know how much I love flax! Making bread with a bread machine is a perfect way to get your kids to help out without making much of a mess. It's simple to just measure the ingredients together then one-by-one place them in the machine together. Plus, what kid doesn't like pressing buttons? Lily loves fresh baked bread :)

Helping me scrape the sides of the bread pan, taken last summer

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Blog!

Today I would like to shamelessly promote a new blog project I'm working on with a friend that we're calling "a place for writers". Do you like to write short fiction? Are you a secret poet? Aspiring novelist or playwright? We're looking for new work from anyone who truly loves to write and would like to join our brand-spankin' new community of up-and-coming writers.

We accept all forms and styles, including poetry, ballads, fiction, non-fiction, short plays, screenplays and essays. Please send submissions to in doc format. We will also accept text or pdf, but greatly prefer doc so we can make edits and comments accordingly. We will not steal your work, if that is a concern, we want you to get the credit that's due! Please take a look at the About section for more information and the disclaimer at the end. 

The site will officially launch January 16th in honor of Edgar Allen Poe's birthday, which is on the 19th. We will be kicking the year off with Poe tributes, dark poetry, horror stories, and other macabre tidings to read. I will post about it again next Monday, so hopefully you will decide to stop by!

This Friday I'll post another bread machine recipe, so do check back! Next week stay tuned for another up-and-coming blog being featured, and remember to provide your candidates for great blogs with less than 300 followers in the comments. The only condition is that the blog be about parenting, family, health, cooking, or creativity. Thanks in advance, and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Very Veggie Meatless Monday

Today is a very full moon. I have been feeling its strong and draining pull since last week. At first I brushed my laziness off as my body forcing me to take a break after a busy last 2 months, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with it, but I have seen many are being affected by la luna as well. If you haven't gone out to take a look yet, do it now! It may be a little late for my Meatless Monday post, but it's definitely not too late to look at that moon!

I did not have a recipe planned or prepared for today, otherwise I would've posted yesterday. However, Paul requested one of his favorite sides I make- Sweet Curry Glazed Carrots -and carrots were something I just happened to have in the fridge (thanks to Paul, who apparently had planned out tonight's meal, at least somewhat). I also had a lonely russet potato waiting to be eaten, so that got used tonight too, along with a mix of frozen peas and corn which I simply steamed. Have a gander at my veggie-based Meatless Monday dinner!

Sweet Curry Glazed Carrots


3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into quarters (as shown)
2 tbsp butter or buttery spread
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp curry powder
Dash of pepper *
Dash of nutmeg*

*approx. 1/4 tsp

There are two ways you can successfully make these carrots, and I will provide you with both: the first is to blanch the carrots in about an inch of boiling water in a large sauce pan for about 5 minutes. Drain water from the pan, then add the butter, syrup and curry and mix it in well with the carrots until they're coated. Cook, stirring, over low heat for about 5 minutes, then add the pepper and nutmeg and cover the pan. Allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until tender and glazed. They will be hot, so allow to cool before serving.

The second way you can do this is to steam the carrots seprately in a steamer basket for about 5 minutes. Once ready, set aside then mix the butter, syrup, curry, pepper and nutmeg in a saucepan over low heat until a thin paste is formed, then add the carrots and coat. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, then cover as directed in the afore mentioned mode of preparing. 

I wouldn't say either way is easier or better, I have just had success doing it both of these ways. 

Cheesey Baked Potato Slices


1-2 russet potatoes, sliced width-wise
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried chives (or fresh)
Salt and pepper
About a handful of shredded cheddar cheese or anything else good for topping potatoes with

Preheat oven to 400. Once potatoes are sliced, line up on baking sheet(s) greased with a little of the olive oil. Spread the rest of the olive oil on the potato slices faced up with a basting brush. Sprinkle the parsley, salt and pepper on the slices, then pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Take them out after 10 minutes and top them with the cheddar cheese, then put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Once lightly browned to your liking, take them out and sprinkle the chives on top before serving. We like these taters a little crispy in my house.

The cheese is totally optional too, btw. You can keep it vegan by subtracting the cheese, or using soy-based cheese, although having tried that type of cheese myself, I would not recommend using it unless you really are a strict vegan! I think it tastes like glue! Well, what I would imagine glue tastes like anyway...

For baby:
Steam some of the carrot sticks until very soft, then mash some butter or milk into them for flavor, depending on your babe's age. If they're over 6 months, a little butter is fine for them. You got peas and corn to toss in too!

Lily and Paul gobbled this all up :) Kids will like the added sweetness to the carrots, and you can rest assured knowing that maple syrup- despite its high sugar content -has plenty of healthy benefits to it! You may not know it, but maple syrup (in its pure form) contains strong immunity boosting minerals zinc and maganese. The zinc is also good for your heart and can strengthen reproductive organs in men. Maybe that's why Paul likes it these carrots so much...not to mention waffles with lots of syrup!

So, don't worry if you have a child (or other family member) who likes to load up their pancakes with extra syrup. Although it is very sugary, it at least has enough benefits to balance the sweetness out. This does not include maple syrup made by brands like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth's (how sad is it that both of those brands negatively exemplify black women?). Make sure the syrup you buy is PURE maple syrup, grade A or B, such as the one I usually pick up, Maple Grove Farms Pure Maple Syrup. I use this one because it is less costly than most pure syrups; also Stop & Shop carries a good Nature's Promise pure maple syrup that isn't too expensive. Of course, if you're a real maple syrup aficionado, you probably go directly to a farm to get the freshest you can find.

For added bonus, here's a site that explains the detoxifying benefits of maple syrup. I learned about the master cleanse formula a long time ago, but never actually tried it, mainly because I had to go to work everyday and could not just be at home relaxing while the formula did its magic, seeing as how I was supposed to drink virtually nothing but a light concoction of water, lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days (!). If you are looking for what I have been told is an incredible and simple way to lose weight quickly and detoxify your body, take a look. If the formula alone doesn't intrigue you, maybe this will.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Rant of the New Year

The holiday insanity has ended, and I'm hoping to get things back on the straight and narrow. So, spring cleaning has begun early in my house, and besides actual cleaning, this includes going through stacks of papers and bills and catching up on projects that were pushed aside during the later 2011 months. Do note the second thing I mentioned there was "bills"; this is obviously the least enjoyable of the early spring cleaning tasks, in that it reminds me of just how in debt I am. There are several entities under that category that are refusing to be forgotten about, which have made their way back to the top of the "to pay" heap. I also just found out about the horrible things that can happen to your energy bill when after your gas expenses have been estimated for the past 5 months, they suddenly become actual expenses. I currently have a headache as I type this just for the record.

Anyway, instead of curling up into a ball and rolling around in the corner while simultaneously pulling my hair out, I decided to vent here...I hope you don't mind. Sometimes I just don't know what else I can do anymore. I feel that I've done as much as I can to cut back on expenses, and I rarely ever treat myself to anything anymore, and we hardly ever dine out, and I can't tell you the last time my husband and I had an actual date. I apply to freelance jobs as often as I find the time to do so- a very competitive market under normal circumstances, which is now pretty much just like trying to win the lottery with this economy. I buy the cheapest diapers I can find that aren't totally useless, and Lily and I only participate in free activities such as going to the park and readings at the public library. What else can I possibly be doing to remedy this bill hell situation????

I try not to stress too much, because if there are 2 things I've learned about stressing out, they are: 1) things always end up working themselves out just in the nic of time anyway, and 2) there's a lot to be said for prayer, even in times of desperation. I have not quite reached the desperation threshold, but I will probably hit it by the end of the week at this rate.

It's funny, I felt like I started the new year off so right (albeit it's only 5 days in), so how did it go so wrong so quickly? Simple: I didn't tend to things last year when I could've as well as I should've. It really feels like I lose no matter what I do, since as soon as I get on top of one debt, another pops up and this time it's accumulated even more girth. And then another one that got put on hold or deferred or just pushed aside reminds me of its existence again, and then I'm ready to break down into a mess on the floor and just cry my eyes out. Is this normal?

I normally don't vent about these things or even discuss them with other people, but I feel that everyone is hurting right now, so why not start? I've always felt I have an issue with sharing how I really feel about things, instead preferring to say things are fine when people ask me how they are, when in actuality they are often far from it. I just hate to worry people- we have enough to worry about anyway, right? But, most of my followers here don't know me personally, so you probably won't be as bothered by my rant as others might be. Or perhaps I am just reading too deeply into things as usual, and my problems are just as easily forgotten by others as my pesky bills are forgotten by me.

There are many things I hope to accomplish in this new year, this year filled with promise and hope. Some of them are:

1. Get Lily potty trained 
2. Get back into my yoga routine
3. Get something published
4. Keep in touch better with people who matter

and of course...

5. Pay off as much old debt as possible

Looks like #5 should be at the top of my list, yet a message that came to me in the middle of my new year's celebration at church was: you can do and be anything you want to be, but the first thing you are is a Mommy. Just writing that and remembering that again brings tears to my eyes, and that is what I'll be holding onto while I sort the rest of the mess in my life out. Lily comes first no matter what, and she will be my rock as much as I am hers during these trying financial times. What else do I/we have if we haven't got family and loved ones in our lives to help us get through tough times? I have so much more to be thankful for anyway, so I will do the best I can and focus more on the 

* not me, but how I feel now that I vented

I wish you well in all and any resolutions you have for this new year! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bread Machine Delights for the New Year

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can you believe it's 2012 and the world didn't end? I feel pretty good about this year, and I know a lot of other people who do too, how bout you?? I rang it in right with a fun group at church accompanied by my husband, daughter and mother-in-law, singing and dancing and playing music until past 2 in the morning! Can you believe Lily stayed up all that time? She refused to sleep and wanted to party with us too! What a trooper- she didn't even get cranky! We obviously slept in late that day...what did you do on NYE?

As I was saying most of last month, I've been busy, but for NYE weekend I took a break and just relaxed for the most part, simply enjoying the company of my family and being cozy at home. Winter has finally stepped up to the plate with weather in the 20s, so I am back to baking. Last month I focused on cookies, so this month I'll focus on something healthier with fresh baked breads! Yummmmmm.

Christmas 2010 Paul got me a bread machine and it has become one of my most used kitchen appliances. Once you go fresh-baked, you'll never go back to store-bought breads, and when using a bread machine, even the least oven-inclined people can easily make just about type of bread imaginable.

The bread I make the most is a simple wholewheat and flax I came up with by just trying different grains and seeds and using honey in place of sugar. I gave loaves of it as gifts to my family members and everyone loved it! I hope you enjoy it too :)

Jessica's Wholewheat Bread Machine Loaf

Ingredients (for a 1.5 lb loaf):

1 1/4 cup room temp water
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp dried skim milk powder
3 cups wholewheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup mixed grains and seeds: rolled oats, flax, sunflower, crushed walnuts

Bring all ingredients to room temperature, then place in bread machine according to your machine's instructions; mine has me place the wet ingredients in first, and the yeast in last in an indent I make in the flour on top. Select the "1.5 lb loaf" setting and "Wholewheat" setting (if applicable), as well as whatever style of crust you prefer (I usually use medium). Then press start and let the machine do it's magic. Add the oats and seeds at the appropriate time if your machine has you add them in later in the cycle, and remember to remove the kneading blade before it starts to bake so you don't get a broken loaf. If you prefer, take the dough out after the kneading cycle has finished and mold it into a desired shape, then stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. 

After about 4 1/2 hours using the bread machine, you'll have fresh baked bread! 

I did not have an image of one of my whole wheat breads handy, so here is a pic of how it could look via

Investing in a bread machine is a really great idea; it will cut down costs to your grocery list, you will enjoy getting creative with it, and your house will smell like warm bread! Paul loves to come home to bread baking in the machine or oven- it smells just as great either way! Lily loves it too, and when you make bread yourself, you will guarantee preservative-free and filler-free bread. This is the best bread to make toast and sandwiches for your children with. Children benefit from eating whole grains in many ways, including receiving protection from developing diabetes, having more energy, and receiving weight-control assistance. Here is a link to some studies done on this wonder food, and here is a post I did in the past with some more information on the benefits of eating whole grains.

Image courtesy

Using honey in place of sugar for most recipes does not effect the texture of the bread either; you can also add a honey glaze to the top of the loaf while it's baking by mixing a little honey in a little water then brushing it onto the top of the loaf about halfway through the baking period. Sprinkle some seeds on the top of it too if you like!

Do you already own a bread machine, and if so, how often do you use it? Do you just love it? What are some of your favorite recipes? Do share!

For the month of January, I'll post a different bread machine recipe each week on Friday (it just happens to be on a Wednesday this week). If you have a recipe to share, I might just decide to give it a try and post about it, so be sure to send me a link!

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