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Category: Baking Day

Baking Day: Muffins, muffins, muffins!

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Well, I didn’t end getting everything crossed off my long Baking Day list, but we did get four bags of rice cooked and frozen, salmonettes made and frozen for quick lunches, Healthy Harvest Pumpkin muffins made and frozen, Cranberry Wheat Muffins made and frozen, and Pumpkin Apple Harvest Bread and muffins made and frozen.

And hopefully that will tide us over in the quick snacks and breakfast department for a little while. Though at the rate I’m eating these things, I’m not sure sure if they will be lasting very long. 🙂

Did you have a chance to do anybaking this week? If so, post about it on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blog post. I’d love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so I can get more ideas for my next Baking Day projects! And I’m guessing many others would be inspired as well.

Want to join us for our Baking Day?

We're having another Baking Day today and tomorrow! Our freezer is almost cleaned out of everything we made last Baking Day and we're definitely needing to restock but I'm going to be gone this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, so I decided the split up the Baking Day projects over two days.

Here's what I'm hoping to get made:

Healthy Harvest Muffins
Cranberry Wheat Muffins
Pumpkin Apple Breakfast Bread
Cranberry Pumpkin Scones
Banana Apple Carrot Muffins
Whole-wheat waffles
Apple pie
Cook up rice and freeze

I'll put up a post tomorrow afternoon or evening with pictures of what we accomplished. Just for fun, if you'd like to join us in doing some baking over the next day or two, I'll include a Mr. Linky in my post tomorrow so you can leave your link to share what goodies you stocked your freezer with. Remember, the goal is to use what you have on hand, keep it simple, and have fun in the process!

Baking Day – Part 4

The beans and rice are cooled and divided into bags, the pancake mix is made to have on hand for later, the two packages of chicken breasts are boiled and diced and frozen, and the double batch of whole wheat pancakes is finished and in the freezer. And whew! I'm wiped! I poured myself a glass of orange juice and made
myself a fruit salad and I'm putting my feet up until Kaitlynn's nap time is over.

Here's the end result of all of our baking/cooking/kitchen work:

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It really doesn't look like all that much, but having the makings of a number of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners already on hand and in the freezer is so helpful. If you've never tried baking ahead or cooking up meat and freezing it, I'd highly encourage you to test it out. You might find, like me, that it's a huge time-saver, money-saver, and life-saver.

There were a number of questions left in the comments section of the Baking Day posts, many which were answered by other commentors. However, I wanted to specially answer two of them since they were directed at me:

Oooo, I hope you post about the
pot of beans. It sounds silly, but I haven't a clue how to soak and
cook beans, and then how to incorporate them into yummy recipes. I'd
sure love to learn, because it sounds a LOT cheaper (and more
healthful) to not use canned beans for everything.-Katy


To be honest, it's not hard so don't be intimidated! I just take a bag of beans, dump it in a big pot, run water over it and swish it around, then drain the water. I refill the pot with enough water to cover the beans and put them on the stove to boil.

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Once they boil, I turn the stove down to medium heat or so–enough to keep them going at a soft boil. As the water evaporates, I add more. Every 30 minutes or so, I check them to see if they're doing yet and continue to add water as needed. I just keep boiling them until they are cooked and then let them cool and fill bags with them. If you like, you can add a few teaspoons salt to them while they are boiling.

I use these in Mexican recipes, in soups, when we have beans and rice and cheese for lunch, or in some of our other favorite bean recipes.

I really do try to involve my kids in kitchen stuff,
and it worked pretty well after my first turned 2. But how can you
manage to be so productive with a 1-year-old around? When I cook dinner
each night, my 1-year-old often tears the house apart. So yeah, I got
something done, but I have to spend just as long after wards cleaning
up. Do you use a playpen? My 4-year-old would be a good helper during
ONE of these projects, but she would lose interest after that and start
fighting with her sister instead or (if I'm lucky) go off and read or
play by herself.

Well, I think the real answer is that Kaitlynn is only 16 months old and she still takes two naps each day–that's usually when I get the most work done here! She is a very busy little girl when she's awake so I must always be near her to make sure she stays safe and nothing catastrophic happens!

This morning, while she wasn't napping, I had her playing in the kitchen with some different toys and objects I gave to her. I also gave her a snack and that kept her preoccupied for awhile. But things did get a little messy–which I fully expected.

Kathrynne (3 1/2), on the other hand, is usually a great help to me. This morning, she helped with watching Kaitlynn, picking up toys, dicing chicken (with a plastic knife, of course!), and making pancakes. With some training and practicing, she's learning to be a real asset to me–which I'm definitely going to need once baby #3 is here!

When Kathrynne wasn't helping me today, I gave her some special things to play with/work on nearby including foil (this is one of her very favorite things in the world to play with!), and crayons and scissors and glue which she used at the kitchen table for a very long time.

My biggest advice to young moms out there is to make sure that you put your children as the most important priority in your day. Expect that your home will look lived in and you will get less done when little ones are underfoot; it's a fact of life!

I've had to learn to lower my expectations a lot since having children. I'd rather get a lot less done in the day and have invested quality time with my children, than have gotten a huge, long to-do list done and neglected my family in the process. They are only little once and I never want to forget that fact!

By the way, if you have little ones and are struggling with how to "do it all", I love the advice given by Jennie Chancey (mom to many little ones) here. Her words and thoughts have been a real blessing and help to me in navigating this incredible (and sometimes overwhelming!) task of mothering!

Baking Day – Part 3

Your "participation" through comments and emails is making this Baking Day so much more fun! Thanks for joining me! I just finished up making the banana muffins, boiling the pot of beans, cooking the brown rice, and freezing the bananas.

While I had banana bread on the list, I opted for banana muffins at the last minute. Guess it was due to a mood change? 🙂 At any rate, I'm really happy with how the muffins turned out. I used a whole wheat banana bread mix some friends had made up for us along with the organic bananas I bought marked down yesterday.

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I substituted applesauce for oil to cut down on the fat and they turned out beautifully. Plus, they don't have any sugar in them–the mashed bananas serve as the sweetener. These will make for a perfect afternoon snack or quick breakfast.

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I boiled the pot of beans and cooked the brown rice while I was working on these. Both of these need a bit more cooking time and then they'll be done. Once cooled, I'll portion them into bags and stick them in the freezer for easy lunch or dinner additions.

Next, it was time to freeze the bananas. Any time I can get a great deal on bananas, I buy as many as I can afford in our grocery budget and then we eat what we can and freeze the rest. Chopped frozen bananas are wonderful added into fruit smoothies or you can freeze the bananas whole and thaw later for use in baking.

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I'm planning to use these bananas in smoothies, so I chopped them and put them on cookie sheet and stuck them in the freezer. As soon as they are frozen, I'll transfer them to a bag to use as needed.

Now I'm off to make pancakes, bran muffins, and hopefully cook up some meat.

Baking Day – Part 2

Just finished up my first two projects: making homemade yogurt and granola.

I've made yogurt before, but never in a yogurt maker so this was a new adventure. A kind reader gave me a yogurt maker she didn't want any more so Kathrynne and I had fun testing it out for the first time. So far, I really liked it as compared to making it without a maker, though I wouldn't necessarily encourage everyone to go get yourself a yogurt maker unless you have access to one for free. 🙂

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We used the marked-down Horizon Organic milk I picked up yesterday and some other marked-down milk we had in the freezer along with one little carton of vanilla yogurt as the starter. The basic recipe is that you boil the milk until bubbles form on the side of the pan, let it cool to 110 degrees, take out a little and mix it with the yogurt starter, mix it all back together, and pour it into the yogurt cups in the yogurt maker and let it run for 8-12 hours.

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When I make it without the yogurt maker, I do everything the same except for putting the yogurt in a bowl covered in a warm oven overnight. It's best to use plain yogurt as a starter, but I couldn't find any small things of it at the store yesterday so I fudged and got vanilla. We'll see how it works!

The granola recipe is a new healthy one I got from What to Eat When You're Expecting. It didn't look terribly exciting but it was very healthful and that's what I was looking for so I decided I was game.

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Here's the recipe, with my tweaking:

Great Granola (Makes 5 cups)

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons apple juice concentrate
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup wheat bran (I added this instead of nuts, if you like nuts you could use them instead.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Spread oats in nonstick pan and toast in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees.

Combine the raisins and 1/2 cup of the juice concentrate in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Drain the raisin liquid over the oats (set raisins aside) and add remaining ingredients. Combine well with a wooden spoon. Bake in 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in raisins and press the mixture firmly in the pan. Bake another 5 minutes and let cool to room temperature.

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I doubled the recipe because I had enough ingredients on hand. I wasn't incredibly impressed with this granola recipe, though I think it will be yummy with served over homemade yogurt with some fruit. If anyone out there has a particularly yummy recipe for granola which doesn't have sugar in it and is low in fat, I'd love to try it.

And now I'm off to make banana bread and start cooking a big pot of beans.

Baking Day – Part 1

One of the ways we save a lot of money on our grocery bill is by cooking and baking from scratch. However, lest you think I spend hours every day slaving in the kitchen, let me tell you, I don't. Instead, I like to take one day every few weeks and bake/cook up a bunch of stuff to freeze.

In half a day or less, I can cook/bake up enough goods to last us for two weeks or more–saving us a lot of time and money in the process. And it's so nice to have our freezer stocked and ready for use at a moment's notice to pull off a quick and easy breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Today, just for fun, I thought I'd let you peek in on a somewhat-typical baking day at our house. I'll be sharing pictures and recipes

First off, I start out with a plan. I took inventory of what we already have on hand and made a list of things I could make based upon that. The goal here is to save money, so it's all about creatively using what I already have on hand.

I went through our cupboards and refrigerator last night and came up with this simple list which I've posted up on the refrigerator:

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If I have extra energy, there are a few more things I'd like to make, but we'll see how the day progresses.