Tag Archives: learning

homemade soft bread crumbs [with tutorial]


soft bread crumbs  I  frozen pizza, again?

If you click to enlarge the image, you can see the texture of the crumbs well.

I had never heard of soft bread crumbs until I came across a recipe that called for them. So first I figured out the difference between soft and dry bread crumbs. Here’s what I learned thanks to Wikipedia: “Dry breadcrumbs are made from dry breads which have been baked or toasted to remove most remaining moisture, and may even have a sandy or even powdery texture. […] The breads used to make soft or fresh bread crumbs are not quite as dry, so the crumbs are larger and produce a softer coating, crust, or stuffing.”

Then I discovered how easy it is to make your own soft bread crumbs; so that’s what I did. I even took pictures along the way to share with you! Come back tomorrow for the tasty recipe that required me to learn this new skill! (That recipe can be found here.)

What you’ll need: slices of fresh bread and a blender or food processor
soft bread crumbs  I  frozen pizza, again?

Tear several slices of fresh bread into 1 inch pieces. (I even used a couple of slices that were starting to go stale.)
soft bread crumbs  I  frozen pizza, again?

Place pieces into a food processor or blender. (The blender isn’t very full; it’s just above the bottom mark on the pitcher, even though it’s hard to see that in this photo.)
soft bread crumbs  I  frozen pizza, again?

Cover and pulse several times to make coarse crumbs.
soft bread crumbs  I  frozen pizza, again?

Homemade Soft Bread Crumbs
From the Kitchen of: Taste of Home

Prep Time: 2 mins
Servings: 1 slice of bread = about ½ cup crumbs
Difficulty: Easy

slices of fresh bread – white, wheat, or French
blender or food processor

Tear several slices of fresh bread into 1 inch pieces. (I even used a couple of slices that were starting to go stale.)

Place pieces in a food processor or blender. Cover and pulse several times to make coarse crumbs. Use immediately.


  • If using a blender, do not overfill it. You should put enough torn pieces in the blender to cover the blades but not so many that the blades can’t reach the top pieces to chop them up. I filled mine somewhere between the 1-2 cup or ¼ – ½ liter mark.
  • Some websites have said that you can store soft bread crumbs in the freezer for later use, but I have not personally tried this.




If you liked this recipe, you might also be interested in:

homemade taco seasoning  I  frozen pizza, again? cheesy italian quick bread  I  frozen pizza, again? cheddar bay biscuits  I  frozen pizza, again?
Taco Seasoning Mix // Cheesy Italian Quick Bread // Cheddar Bay Biscuits


roasted zucchini and carrots


pork chops by marcia  I  frozen pizza, again?

You’ve seen this pork chop before! Find the recipe for it here.

This recipe isn’t really a recipe but more of a new cooking method – roasting. I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the idea of roasting food, but I just didn’t know how to do it myself. Thanks to this recipe now I do. It’s a pretty simple concept actually and produces great results.

Russell and I decided that this is now our favorite way to eat carrots. Sadly, I have tried roasting zucchini twice since I discovered this recipe, but both times it turned out bland and soggy. If anyone has any helpful hints on how to season zucchini to keep it from being bland, I’d love to hear them.

Also, this recipe isn’t restricted to just zucchini and carrots – try other veggies like bell peppers, cauliflower, or even green beans, or try non-veggies like sweet potatoes.

roasted zucchini and carrots  I  frozen pizza, again?
Roasted Zucchini and Carrots
From the Kitchen of: Voracious Vander

Prep Time: 30 mins
Servings: however many you want to serve
Difficulty: Easy

whole zucchini
whole carrots
olive oil
seasoning(s) of choice


Preheat oven to 425° F/ 220° C. Line a baking tray with parchment/baking paper and a light layer of olive oil. Set aside.

Cut zucchini and carrots into 3 inch/8 cm sticks, making sure they are even in thickness. Place veggie batons into a bowl (preferably one with a flat bottom). Add a little olive oil (start with 1 Tbsp and add more if needed but not too much) and seasoning of choice, then lightly toss veggie batons to coat. I took the lazy smart option requiring less dishes to wash and just shook the bowl to coat the veggies.

Note about seasoning options: Keep it simple with salt & pepper or try other spices, such as paprika, cumin, rosemary, sage, or crushed red pepper. You could even try spice blends like Italian, Mexican, or Old Bay.

Spread out veggie batons on prepared baking tray and roast about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until golden and slightly browned on the edges.




If you liked this recipe, you might also be interested in:

parmesan pork roast  I  frozen pizza, again? cheesy zucchini and rice casserole  I  frozen pizza, again? cream cheese corn  I  frozen pizza, again?
Parmesan Pork Roast // Cheesy Zucchini and Rice Casserole // Cream Cheese Corn

pita bread, part 2 / tiger tuesday


I tried to add this at the bottom of yesterday’s pita recipe, but it wouldn’t show up for some reason. Oh well, you can see it here on this post instead.

Russell actually helped me with my first (less successful) attempt at homemade pitas. I took pictures as evidence.

pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?

I asked him to smile and this is what he gave me.
pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?

The all-wheat pitas didn’t look too bad (not counting the very obvious dry edges), but they were dense and a bit dry. My jaw actually got tired after eating a couple.
pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?



And now we switch from the ‘cute husband’ portion to the ‘cute kitty’ portion of the post. After I posted the pictures of Tiger and Buzz last week I found a few more that I forgot I had taken.

Tiger and Buzz played all morning and tired themselves out by the afternoon.
tiger & buzz  I  frozen pizza, again?

Tiger doesn’t fit in the cube so well anymore.
tiger & buzz  I  frozen pizza, again?

Watching the birdies together. (In this photo you can see how much bigger Tiger is than Buzz.)
tiger & buzz  I  frozen pizza, again?




pita bread


pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?

In this photo are 3 types of pita: all white, part white/part wheat, and all wheat. 1

I told you last week that I tried a new recipe that included learning a new skill. Well, as promised, here is my latest adventure in learning to be domestic: baking bread (which is a domestic goddess skill that is pretty high on the list, if you ask me).

I chose this recipe because it was my turn to make the snack for our weekly Card Night with our friends, Teri and Caleb, and hummus was suggested as a good snack option for Caleb, who is currently on the South Beach Diet. And what goes better with hummus than pita? Plus, store-bought pita is not something I enjoy. I learned after I had decided to try my hand at homemade pita that pita is one of the easiest breads to make so it great for beginners, which is me.

The week that I made the pita my brother and his fiancée Sharon were here visiting us, so I asked Sharon to help me. She’s a beginning baker too, so we were both learning together. Learning is fun (and messy)!

pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?
An action shot of us kneading the dough / Showing off our homemade pita dough

While I was making the pita the Bible story of Elijah and the widow suddenly made more sense to me. The story is from 1 Kings 17 and it goes like this:

God declared that there would be no rain in Israel for the foreseeable future because of their disobedience to Him. During this time Elijah the prophet was in hiding from Ahab, the king of Israel, who wanted to kill him for pointing out all the bad things Ahab was doing. At first Elijah stayed in a ravine out in the wilderness where there was stream to drink from, but when the drought got severe the stream dried up. So God made other arrangements to provide for Elijah. He sent Elijah to Zarephath in the land of Sidon to seek out a widow who would supply him with food. When he got there the widow said she barely had enough flour and oil to make one last meal for her and her son. But Elijah told her that if she would make some bread for him too then God would make sure her jars of flour and oil never went empty until the drought ended.

I was always a little confused about this story because I didn’t think that flour and oil were enough to make bread. I figured that it needed an egg or something to help hold it together, so how was endless flour and oil going to be that helpful to the widow? Well, as I was making the pita I realized that the basic ingredients weren’t much more than flour, water, and oil. So yeah, endless flour and oil was really helpful to the widow. I feel like I should throw in a “knowledge is power” here. 🙂

And now, finally, the pita recipe…

pita bread  I  frozen pizza, again?

photo credit goes to my “baby” brother, Brian (he took this with his iPhone too!)

Pita Bread
From the Kitchen of: Budget Bytes

Prep Time: 1 ½ – 2 hours
Servings: 6-8 pitas

1 ⅛ cup warm water
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus enough to oil bowl and dough
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 ½ cups all-purpose (AP) flour
1 tsp salt

In a small bowl, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes or until a foam develops on top. Once foam develops on top, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. [Sidenote: I just realized that I forgot to add the oil when I made my pitas. They still turned out tasty anyway.]

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour (half whole wheat, half regular AP) and salt. Stir to evenly combine. Add the small bowl of liquid to the big bowl of flour. Stir to combine.

Continue mixing in flour until it forms a loose ball that you can no longer stir with a spoon. Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and continue to knead in more flour until a soft and pliable (and no longer sticky) ball forms. You should have used around 3 cups of flour total and kneaded the dough for at least 3 minutes.

Kitchen Tip: For those of you are who are new to bread making like I am, here are some helpful instructions (with pictures!) on kneading dough.

Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl then rub more oil on top of the dough to keep it from drying out. Cover loosely with a towel and let sit to rise for one hour or until doubled in size.

Kitchen Tip: I learned that the key to making bread rise is a consistently warm environment. Sometimes your kitchen, especially in the summer, can be warm enough (80-90°F), but the easiest way to ensure a consistently warm environment is to use your oven. “Turn your oven on to its lowest setting possible (around 150 F/ 65.5 C), let it heat up to that temperature, then turn the oven off and open the door of the oven wide for about 30 seconds to dissipate some of the heat. […] Traditionally, you cover the bowl with a towel, also to keep the dough from drying out. Look in periodically.” 2

Punch down the risen dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Stretch the dough into a log and cut it into 8 (or 6, depending on how thick you want the pita to be) equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then roll it out into a flat, 6 inch diameter circle. (I finally used the Tupperware pastry mat that my mom gave me to roll out the pitas.)

Kitchen Tip: To shape into a smooth ball, hold the ball in the fingers of both hands then start tucking the edges of the ball under, pulling the top taut and rotating the ball as you go. Just keep tucking until it’s nice and smooth on top. Here‘s a video for the visual learners.

Preheat the oven to 500°F (mine wouldn’t get that hot, only 450°-475°, but my pitas baked just fine) and let the dough circles rest as the oven comes up to temp. Place a damp cloth over the dough circles so they do not dry out. When the oven is hot enough, place the dough circles on a wire rack* (a couple at a time) and place the rack in the oven. Watch the circles puff up as they bake. When the circles have completely inflated but not yet turned brown, remove them from the oven and put in the next batch. If you let the pitas cook until golden brown they will be crispier and may retain the inflated shape as they cool.

*The wire rack should not be coated; only use plain metal racks in the oven.

As you remove the pitas from the oven, stack them on a plate and cover with a damp cloth. The trapped steam will soften them as they cool. Once completely cooled, store the pitas in an air tight container in the refrigerator. They should also freeze well.

Personally, I preferred the all-white pitas to the part wheat/part white, but both were good. To make all-white pitas just use all AP flour instead of adding the ½ cup of wheat flour.

1 Sharon and I made the all-white and part wheat/part white pitas. The all-wheat pitas were from an earlier attempt and did not turn out as well as the others, but they do add a nice contrast to the photos.
2 science.howstuffworks.com




a country experience for the city folk


Russell and I had a “this only happens in the country” experience this past weekend: we attended a livestock show and banquet. We were invited by a couple from our church whose granddaughters are part of the local 4H program. We weren’t really sure what to expect but we went anyway to support the girls. I was actually pretty excited, though, because going to livestock shows isn’t something we city folk do.

One of the granddaughters showing her pig.
(Sadly this was the least blurry picture we were able to get of her.)
livi  I frozen pizza, again?

The banquet was held Friday night in the gym of a local private school. It was much less showy than I expected, but there were pretty cowboy boot-wearing princesses and a queen. The queen received a $250 scholarship from a local Ag company. (Russell and I joked that the scholarship might buy one math book – college textbooks are so dadgum expensive!) I didn’t take any pictures because there wasn’t much to photograph and the lighting wasn’t very good. We also learned that the eldest granddaughter of our church members was the 2012 Livestock Show Queen.

This is her showing her pig.
2012 queen  I  frozen pizza, again?


**Note: I know most of the pictures are blurry to some degree, but again the lighting wasn’t very good and the animals moved around too much.**

The livestock show started at 9:30 the next morning. I figured it would probably take up most of the morning, but I didn’t realize it would take up the whole morning and part of the afternoon. We left a little after 12 to go eat lunch and they had just started showing the pigs, which were last on the schedule. This time I took a lot of pictures (60 actually) and my camera battery threatened to die on me towards the end. The show wasn’t quite as action-packed as I was hoping, but I did learn a whole lot about lambs, goats and pigs. 

We didn’t really understand what was going on at first because, even though there was an announcer, he couldn’t easily be heard over the animal noises. Eventually we realized that there was a program and that helped us follow along better. We figured out that we had just watched the showmanship competition where the kids get judged on how well they show and control their project/animal. The senior class went first (ages 14-18), then junior class (ages 8-13), then pee wee (under 8). We were told that the real competition doesn’t start until age 8; those who participate in pee wee are just getting practice.  

Aren’t they cute? (click pictures to enlarge)

 pee wee lambs
peewee lambs1  I  frozen pizza, again?peewee lambs2  I  frozen pizza, again?

 pee wee goats
peewee goats  I  frozen pizza, again?peewee goats2  I  frozen pizza, again?

Then we figured out that the second part of the show is when the animals are judged on how marketable they are. The judge looked at their shape and size and chose which is the most attractive. I think that this part is to help potential buyers decide which one to buy.

During the showmanship part each participant only shows one animal, but during the market part participants could show multiple animals per category. There were 6 categories of lambs, 2 of goats, and 6 of pigs. We couldn’t tell the difference among most of the breeds of lambs because they looked the same to our untrained eyes. The goats were only separated into lightweight versus heavyweight. The pigs, however, were much easier to distinguish because their markings were very distinct.

The best of each breed of lamb getting judged for “best in show.” 
(click picture to enlarge)
all lamb breeds  I  frozen pizza, again?

Even though this picture is blurry you can still easily see the distinct markings of the 3 pigs.
pig categories  I  frozen pizza, again?

We also learned that lambs, goats, and pigs are all handled in different ways. The lambs were easily led around by their handler. The goats required a harness around their head because they are stubborn. The pigs were guided by long poles (sort of like a riding crop). Oh, and we discovered that pigs defecate a lot. And by a lot I mean A LOT. And they don’t even stop or go off into a corner to do it; it just comes out as they are walking. (Kinda gross if you ask me, so I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t grow up on a farm. Of course, if I had grown up on a farm then I probably wouldn’t be grossed out by pig poo.)

lamb handling
lamb handling  I  frozen pizza, again?

goat handling
goat handling  I  frozen pizza, again?

pig handling (they were the only ones to use the pens)
pigs in pens  I  frozen pizza, again?

So even though it wasn’t quite what I had expected it was still a pretty interesting experience and definitely educational!