faves for cooking (recipes)

Whole Wheat Homemade Bread (recipe included)


I make all my own bread and this is a recipe I love. We go through a lot of bread each week so I love the fact that I save money by making all my own bread plus there are no additives or preservatives, I know exactly what goes into this bread and as mom I love knowing whats in my food and exactly what I am feeding to my kids. This recipe came from one of my favorite blogs www.melskitchencafe.com. I have the recipe tightly tucked in my brain so I don’t have to use the recipe anymore, I have made it so many times. It’s so far my favorite recipe I have come across for whole wheat bread and I have tried a few. I make my bread every Monday while I am making Yogurt. I have found that, that works great and gets both done on the same day. Monday is my prep day to make sure bread and yogurt get made every week (I’ll post my schedule for what I do each week sometime, I love having a schedule it really ensures that I get things done). I do have a favorite yeast I use, I included a picture at the bottom and you can buy it here or check your local grocery store. It’s fool proof and I love the stuff just throw it in and you don’t have to proof it or put it through a process or anything, easy as pie. I also included a picture of the wheat grinder I use, It’s the Nutrimill Classic Grain Mill. I love it, here’s the link for it, I looked on the Bosch site and the Nutrimill site and they all look like they sell it for the same price. I’ll be honest I have only tried one other wheat grinder and it was the one my mom used while I was growing up and I like this one better. This is a great wheat grinder but being honest I don’t have a ton of wheat grinders to compare it to. I love that it grinds the wheat super fine or more course if you’d like, it does it quickly and it grinds as much wheat as I need  for one batch of bread (about 14-15 cups of flour). It will also grind other grains just nothing oily like flax seed. It is easy to clean and care for so it’s a favorite on my list. I highly recommend getting a wheat grinder, fresh whole wheat is better for you than wheat that has been ground and sits on the shelf for a while, it loses some of its nutritional value from sitting on a shelf plus wheat is usually cheaper than buying wheat that is already ground into flour. If you make your own bread or do a lot with wheat I would totally recommend investing in a wheat grinder. If it’s not on your affordable list right now just buy whole wheat flour and maybe put it on your list of things to save for.

Here’s the recipe, I hope you love this bread as much as we do!

Darcy's Whole Wheat Bread


  • 12-15 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast (see picture below of the yeast I use, it's Saf brand and I love it not fail)
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten ( I buy mine at Winco foods in bulk but I have also gotten it at Walmart)
  • 2000 mg Vitamin C, crushed, (I put the vitamin c tablets in my wheat grinder as I grind my wheat so I don't have to crush them) Or you can use 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar. This acts as a dough enhancer
  • 6 1/2 cups of very warm water
  • 2/3 cups of oil
  • 2/3 cups of honey or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of salt


  • 1. In a large bowl or mixer (I use my Bosch mixer), mix together 5 cups of whole wheat four, yeast, vital wheat gluten and Vitamin C (or lemon juice or vinegar). Add the warm water and mix well. Add the oil and honey (or sugar) and mix again.
  • 2. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Add the salt and mix. add the remaining flour, I add about 5-6 cups and see where the bread is at that point you want it to be pulling away from the sides of the bowl forming a soft dough. You may not need to add all the flour, it needs to hold it's shape but can be slightly sticky.
  • 3. Let the dough knead for 7 minutes in the stand mixer (or 15 minutes if you are doing it by hand). Form the dough into 5 loaves (with the pans I use I can only get 4 loaves out of this recipe so depending on the size of your bread pans you use you should get 4-5 loaves out of this recipe). Place the formed loaves into greased bread pans. Let rise until the bread is 2 inches above the top of the bread pan.
  • 4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (I like to put the bread in the oven when it's cold and then turn it on to 350, you don't have to do this it just helps it rise just a little more, if it's already risen enough just pre-heat the oven and put them in after it is warm). Bake the bread for 32 minutes. I hate doughy bread and sometimes whole wheat bread can be doughy so I always cook it on the browner side just to be sure it is cooked all the way through. ENJOY!

recipe source: melskitchencafe.com


This is hands down my favorite yeast.  saf yeast pic

 And here is the wheat grinder I use and love.

nutrimill wheat grinder

Homemade Strawberry Jam (freezer jam)


We love homemade freezer jam at this house it’s a big favorite and I am here to tell you it’s really not that hard to make. I give some tips in the post to making it easier but really the trick is to buying the fruit in season so it’s cheap and then just allowing some time and a little mess to get it done. Trust me you’ll be so happy you did. My favorite way to make freezer jam is to follow the Sure Jell recipe in the box, I pick Sure Jell mostly because the only ingredients are sugar and Strawberries and the Sure Jell Pectin. I have used other pectin before but some have corn syrup in them and I try and avoid feeding corn syrup to my kids when I can. Sure Jell does not have corn syrup in it and I love that, so that’s what I use. You can buy it here on Amazon 8 boxes for not quite $12 and that is a great deal, better than I paid at my local grocery store. After or when you buy your Sure Jell look on the back of the box at how much fruit and sugar you need to buy, get the ingredients you need, wash or purchase jars or containers and then get your helpers ready to make Jam (I have some of the best helpers I must say).


I follow the directions on the box pretty closely but I do puree about half of my strawberries in my blender (even though I think the recipe says not to do that, I do it and my jam turns out great) and then the other half I use this amazing chopper (see picture below) to chop up the rest so that there are small chunks of strawberries in our strawberry Jam. I can’t say enough good things about this small little chopper I’ll probably do a post just for it because I love it so much but making Jam run smoothly is only one of it’s many talents, it’s great for chopping nuts, Oreo’s, carrots, onions, etc. you name it, it can chop it.


After Chopping your strawberries you’ll add your sugar (see box for exact recipe, it’s what I follow every time and it is super easy) you’ll then cook your Sure Jell and add it to your bowl of strawberries and sugar and stir (this is where your little helpers come in handy) I did 9 batches that day so we had 9 bowls full of strawberries and sugar and there was a lot of stirring going on. After you’ve finished stirring the Sure Jell in and finished stirring for the time it says to stir you pour it into your jars or containers and you are done. Leave it out for 24 hours and then put in in the freezer. It’s not hard and it is so worth it. I’ll say it again, we love homemade jam at this house, a huge favorite. Yum!


Here’s how much you’ll get with 9 batches.


And here is a closer look at what you’ll need to buy to get started.

Homemade Yogurt


I don’t want my chicken post to get drowned out by this yogurt post but a few people have asked me about homemade yogurt and I was eager to share it with you, so if any of you know anything about chickens scroll down one more post and give me your tips on chickens and then hurry and scroll back up and make some delicious homemade yogurt.

This is hands down a huge favorite at this house, I love it, my husband loves it, and my kids LOVE it. I have to thank my sweet friend Mel for this one, she brought me over a quart of homemade yogurt last fall and it was so delicious I decided I better try making it myself, I had tried once before and failed miserably, she gave me the recipe and a few instructions and I decided to give it a go again because the yogurt she gave us was SO good. I tried her recipe and the first time I was successful and I have been making my own yogurt ever since (I make it every Monday, very religiously, someday I’ll share with you my weekly schedule, but another post for another day). I love that this yogurt is so pure and I know exactly what I am feeding my kids it means a lot to me, plus from scratch food is almost always better for you, and it usually tastes so much better too. The good news is making yogurt really isn’t hard, and I mean that, it takes a bit of time but really waiting mostly. You can do it I promise. Here are a few things you’ll need to get started, things that aren’t expensive and once you have them it will make your yogurt making a breeze. You may even have them in your kitchen already. Here’s the list and when you see the recipe you’ll see why you need each one.

  1. A food thermometer, here is the link to the one I have, I know there are a lot nicer ones out there but this works perfect for what I need. I read the reviews and liked the sounds of it plus it was cheap and it hasn’t failed me yet.
  2. Cheese cloth, or I really prefer these nut bags, I have never used cheese cloth because I found these while I was searching for cheese cloth and they got great reviews plus I like that you can make nut milk with them if you want and I have even used them to wring out Zucchini, I really like the endless possibilities, but since we are talking about yogurt here they are perfect for that. I have 2 so I can strain my whole batch of yogurt at the same time.
  3. A large pot like this, this is the one I have but you don’t need to buy this one you just need one that will fit a gallon and a half of milk or even a gallon if you want to make a smaller batch.
  4. 7-8 canning jars hopefully you have these laying around gathering dust and now you have a need for them, but here’s a link if you don’t or you can buy them at your local grocery store. I love, love, love these plastic canning jar lids (which I already did a post on) they are so handy when making yogurt, I like using wide mouth jars but you can use regular if you’d like.
  5. cooler, everyone has a cooler right? If you don’t here’s a link for one, but I am hoping you already have one.
  6. Yogurt starter, the plain Greek yogurt that comes in a 2 pack from Costco works perfect (i’ll post a picture for reference) and once you’ve made the yogurt once you can use that for starter the next time if you’d like. If you don’t have a Costco nearby you can look at your local grocery store for yogurt that doesn’t have anything but milk and live active cultures in it like Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, (weird names like that) you just want milk and those live active cultures in it. Nancy’s brand is a good one too.
  7. Milk, different brands make a difference in taste, my favorite is Costco’s milk but you can use whatever you have on hand or whatever brand you normally buy. I use whole milk when making yogurt, I like my yogurt creamy and I like whole milk for my own reasons, but use 1% or 2% if you’d like, they will both work. I don’t know about nonfat, give it a try and let me know if it works.

Please don’t let the things you need intimidate you, you can do this I know you can. Most of that stuff you probably already have in your kitchen and if you don’t just buy the couple things you need and let’s get started. Here’s the recipe and the step by step process, and then I posted some pictures below to show some of the process.

Homemade Yogurt


  • 1 1/2 gallons of milk, I don't measure I just eyeball this (you can do a gallon of milk if you want to make less, a gallon will make roughly 2-3 quarts of yogurt depending on how long you strain it and a gallon and a half will make closer to 4 quarts of yogurt depending on how long you strain it). I always do a gallon and a half or even more sometimes but we have a big family.
  • 1 C of sweeter I prefer using organic cane sugar from Costco (i'll post a picture) but you can use agave, regular sugar, whatever you'd like best to sweeten it with. Reduce the sweetener just a little if you use 1 gallon of milk, I'd say to 3/4 C of sugar.
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla (reduce this to 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla if you only use a gallon of milk)
  • 1/2 C of yogurt starter (this can stay the same even if you only use a gallon of milk)


  • Pour the milk into a large pot and turn stove on to medium heat, stir often, you don't have to stand there the whole time but be sure to stir often, I have burned the milk before and the yogurt tastes terrible when this happens. Heat the milk to 180 degrees, this is where your thermometer comes in handy. Once the milk is heated to 180 degrees remove it from heat and add the sweeter and vanilla. If you want the yogurt to be plain yogurt, don't add the vanilla or sweetener.
  • Let the milk cool to 120 degrees (again use your thermometer, testing it periodically to know when it has cooled to 120 degrees). After it has cooled to 120 degrees put about a half cup of yogurt starter in a bowl and scoop out one or two cups of the warm milk into the bowl with the yogurt starter whisk until it is smooth and then pour into the pot with the warm milk and whisk all together.
  • Pour the warm milk into 7 canning jars and seal with the plastic or metal lids, make sure they are pretty tight so water doesn't get into the milk. Set the jars in a cooler. Let your tap water run until it is as hot as it will come out of the tap and fill the cooler up to just under the lids of the jars with warm water, the water should be between 120 degrees and 110, if it cools off more than this during the process remove some of the water and put more warm water in, sometimes I microwave some of the water to make it just a bit warmer, not all of it though you don't want it to be to hot. After you pour the water in the cooler shut the lid and let the yogurt incubate for 8-10 hours, checking half way through to make sure the water has stayed warm enough. Once the yogurt has set you can strain it (you can tell when you tilt the jar and you see that the milk has gotten thick, or unscrew the lid and check it, you'll be able to tell).
  • Strain the yogurt, do this by pouring the yogurt in the nut milk bags 3 quarts in one and 4 in the other, I hang the bag from my kitchen hardware on my cabinet doors, but you can hang it anywhere. Strain over a bowl. After about 30 minutes pour the yogurt in a bowl and whisk until desired consistency is reached. pour or spoon the yogurt into clean canning jars and top with a lid. Put the yogurt in the fridge to cool.
  • *The liquid that has strained off the yogurt is whey and I save it most of the time, it is a great substitute for buttermilk or milk in pancakes or waffles or any recipe you would use buttermilk in, just remember it's a little sweet (if you added sweetener to the yogurt) so don't use it in a recipe you don't want a little sweetener in.

Here’s some pictures of the process to help you visualize how to do it.

SONY DSCHeat the milk to 180 degrees (okay so I went a little over). After it reaches 180 degrees turn off the heat and move the pot to the counter and add 1 Tablespoon of vanilla and 1 cup of sugar (a picture of the sugar I use is at the bottom of the post I really like this organic cane sugar, it’s a little better for you than regular sugar and it is exceptionally delicious in the yogurt. I got mine at Costco but you can also buy it here on Amazon) or you can use agave or regular sugar. Let the milk cool to 120 degrees. Put half a cup of yogurt starter in a bowl and spoon out some of the warm milk into the bowl, whisk until smooth and pour back into the pot of warm milk and mix.

SONY DSCPour the milk/yogurt starter mixture into 7 canning jars.

SONY DSCPut the Jars in a cooler and fill with as hot of water as you can get out of the tap. Don’t let the water cool to less than 110 degrees curing the incubation process, check it at about hour 3 or 4 and if it has cooled below 110 degrees take out some of the water and add some new warm water. Shut the lid and let the yogurt incubate for 8-10 hours.

SONY DSCOnce the yogurt has set up (it’s pretty obvious when it has set up to check just unscrew the lid and you can see it’s taken on a custard consistency) dump the jars into the nut milk bags to strain for about 30 minutes, longer if you want your yogurt thicker. I can get 4 quarts of yogurt in one bag but it is super full to the top but it works great just be careful when you are dumping in that last one. When it is strained empty the yogurt into a bowl from the bag and stir with a whisk until desired consistency is reached.

SONY DSCSpoon or pour the yogurt back into a clean quart jar and top with a lid and refrigerate. You can top the yogurt with fresh fruit, granola, whatever you’d like. My kids like to mix in homemade strawberry jam, it’s vanilla flavor so it tastes delicious just like that too. Enjoy, and tell me what you think.

This all may seem like a lot of work but really give it a try I mean it when I say it isn’t that hard and it’s so worth it, I don’t have time on my hands to spare and I know you don’t either but I really think you’ll find that this really isn’t that hard and it will be so worth your time.

*one more quick note… What you strain off from the yogurt is Whey, don’t throw this away, it works great in pancakes, waffles, frosting anything where you would use buttermilk just remember it is a little sweet so you don’t want to use it in a recipe where you don’t want a sweet flavor in your buttermilk.

SONY DSCHere’s a picture of the sugar I use, you can get it at Costco, or on Amazon here.

SONY DSCHere’s a picture of the yogurt starter I use, it’s from Costco.

Recipe source www.melskitchencafe.com

You’ll find out quickly that Mel is one of my favorites. I have been following her blog for about 4-5 years now and I LOVE her recipes.