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Review of Premier Craft-Tee Yarn

I like to crochet and have been making things with yarn since I was young. (I hesitate to admit how many years ago I started, but it’s a lot!) When I first learned to knit and crochet there was little variety in yarn to choose from. I only remember the traditional 4-ply acrylic yarn.

Now there are SO many types of yarns available! Many are made for specific types of projects and the variety stretches way beyond my imagination. It’s fun just to browse yarn isles any time I can!

With the current push to go “green” many people are transforming their used clothing or other textiles into yarn or fabric patches of all sizes and shapes to make new things. This is a wonderful idea. Anything to help save the planet!

T-shirt yarn has become popular for making a variety of things. One Internet search and you’ll find countless tutorials on how to make such yarn. I’ve made T-shirt yarn a number of times and it’s well worth the effort rather than just “tossing” an old shirt. BUT…

The problem with using T-shirts for yarn…
Time.
Even though making your own t-shirt yarn is not hard, it does take time and effort.

Not much yarn per shirt. One shirt does not make a lot of yarn. It’s enough for me to make one trivet/hot pad. But if you want to make a larger project, you’ll find yourself using assorted colors or scrambling to find more shirts of the exact same fabric weight and color. That can be challenging. If you’re buying t-shirts (even at yard sales or thrift shops), this can run up the cost of your project. Don’t get me wrong! Reusing old shirts is great for expressing creativity and saving the landfills, but you may find issues with your finished projects.

Not all fabric is the same. I’ve noticed that not all t-shirt fabrics are identical in weight and texture. Some fabrics are thinner than others. If all the fabric is cut at the same width, some yarn will be thinner than others after being stretched, which will create unevenness in your finished project. That looks unprofessional and may leave you with some very unexpected results!

Hard to match like colors. When using assorted t-shirts for one project, like colors are almost impossible to match up unless the shirts were made by the same manufacturer in the same batch. You don’t believe me? Just examine a pile of black t-shirts. You’ll see there is a wide range of shades of black! Using them in one project may leave you wishing you hadn’t.

Transforming a t-shirt or two into another item is a wonderful thing to do. However, if you’re needing a lot of yarn for a specific project, I suggest an easier, faster, less frustrating way…

Try using Premier Craft-Tee yarn instead! I have tried this yarn and I find it a lot easier and often cheaper to use than homemade t-shirt yarn, especially for larger projects or when a lot of yarn is needed. Here’s why…

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn About 3/8" Wide

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn About 3/8″ Wide

Uniform thickness. The entire ball of yarn (which I find to be equal to four to five t-shirts) is uniform in thickness. This works very well if you need more yarn for a larger project or you want to make a number of smaller projects in the same yarn. The yarn curls just like homemade t-shirt yarn. The curled yarn is about 1/4″ to  3/8″ wide and is ready to be used.

 

 

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Side Label

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Side Label

Uniform color. The entire ball is uniform in color, so there are no guessing games or hunting for matching colors when more yarn is needed. Each ball has roughly 88 yards (17.5 oz or 500 g) of yarn.

Ready to use (saves time). No time is spent cutting, stretching and winding. It takes time to make your own yarn from t-shirts. That may be fun if you’re doing it “just because.” But, if you’re like me and you sell items you make, time is money. Having the yarn ready to go saves me time, and hence, cuts the cost of the items I make. That’s a real bonus!

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn comes wrapped!

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn comes wrapped!

It’s Wrapped–Nice and Clean! This yarn comes wrapped in plastic to keep it clean–a nice plus.

 

 

 

 

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Front Label

Craft-Tee Yarn Front Label

It’s still “green.” Look at the label. This yarn is made from recycled t-shirt fabric. It’s still “green”! The only difference is that the company is doing the cutting, stretching and winding for you!

Easy to care for. Simply machine wash in warm water and dry the item flat. How easy can you get?

 

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn--No Bleeding!

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn–No Bleeding!

Colorfast (no bleeding). This is a big plus for me. I sell what I make and I want my customers to be happy. When they’re happy, I’m happy. No one wants an item that looses half its color the first time it’s washed. I ran a colorfast test on the green yarn. I placed it in a bowl of very hot tap water. As you can see in the photo, after 5 minutes in hot water, there was NO color loss! Impressive!!

 

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Unstretched

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Unstretched

Good stretch…not too much, not too little. As you can see from the photos, I took a 3-inch piece of the yarn and stretched it with my fingers. The piece stretched about one inch, to 4 inches. That stretch, makes the yarn comfortable to work with when crocheting. Hint: Make sure your hook is large enough and you crochet rather loosely. I used a size P crochet hook. A size Q hook might also work.

 

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Stretched

Premier Craft-Tee Yarn Stretched

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of Colors Available. As you can see from this link, Premier has a lot of color shades to choose from. Notice they’re considered “color shades” instead of exact colors. I’m assuming this is because the yarn is made from recycled fabric and is not dyed to make specific colors. Therefore, their balls of t-shirt yarn are categorized according to color shades. At the time of this posting, there are 16 color shades available! That’s plenty for me!

Excellent price. If you have your own old t-shirts to cut up, you could consider them “free” because you already got your first intended use out of them. Beyond that, shirts must be purchased for your projects. Recently, I’ve browsed thrift shops and yard sales for used t-shirts. They’re not as cheap as they used to be! My local thrift shop prices usually run from $3 to $4 for one adult size t-shirt. Yard sales I visited had t-shirts ranging from $2 to $4 each. That’s NOT cheap when you’re making items to sell!

Larger Trivet Made With Premier Craft-Tee Yarn

Larger Trivet Made With Premier Craft-Tee Yarn

Consider the cost of Premier’s Craft-Tee yarn. On Premier’s website, their Craft-Tee yarn sells for about $8 per ball. (Important note! I suggest you choose carefully where you purchase this yarn because there are sites on the internet that sell it for quite a bit more per ball!) Some sites will occasionally offer free shipping, or free shipping with a minimum order. Those options can help keep costs down. Assuming the purchase is made with free shipping at $8 per ball (which I’ve done), and getting four larger trivets and one smaller trivet per ball (see photos), my cost per trivet comes to roughly $1.78 each! I can’t buy a t-shirt anywhere locally for that! It’s a deal I can’t refuse!

Smaller Trivet Made With Premier Craft-Tee Yarn

Smaller Trivet Made With Premier Craft-Tee Yarn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Premier Yarns has free patterns online for this yarn. If you’re not sure what to make with your t-shirt yarn, try some of the patterns made available by Premier!

If you’re making things from t-shirt yarn, I highly encourage you to try Premier’s Craft-Tee yarn. If you’ve run out of your own shirts to cut up, it’s cost effective, has uniform color and size yarn for larger projects, and saves a LOT of time and energy in cutting, stretching and winding your own yarn! I’m sold on it.

Best wishes to all and happy creating!
Judi

Review of Premier Home Cotton Marls Yarn

I enjoy crocheting and knitting. I especially enjoy making items that I can sell online and at local craft shows! Crochet dishcloths are items that I make on a regular basis since I sell quite a bit of them. Hence, I go through a lot of cotton yarn!

I’ve tried various brands of cotton yarn over the years and have happily settled with Premier Home Cotton Yarns. If you haven’t given this brand a try, let me encourage you to do so the next time you’re looking for yarn! I’ve already done a complete review of Premier’s cotton yarn. (Click the link to see my earlier post!) This review is focusing on their cotton marl yarns.

About Premier Cotton Yarns
First, the marls yarn is similar to their home cotton yarn, in that it’s made with 85% cotton and 15% polyester. For all you 100% cotton yarn fans, don’t let that little bit of polyester deter you. Actually, I’ve found it to be a great benefit when making home accessories. That little blend of fibers makes the yarn softer and much easier to work with than 100% cotton. AND (and this is a big one to me!) it deters color loss when the item is washed and dried. Really! Furthermore, even though the finished products do shrink a little when washed and dried (which is to be expected), they don’t shrink as much as those made with 100% cotton yarns. I’ve found that my dishcloths made with this yarn hold up much better than those made with the other brands, despite a lot of machine washing and drying. Since I sell the items I make, product quality and longevity means a lot to me because I want to offer the best I can to my customers. This yarn wins, hands down, to me in those respects.

Color Effect of Marls Yarn

4 Strands of Vineyard Marls Yarn

4 Strands of “Vineyard” Marls Yarn

4 Strands of "Denim Jeans" Marls Yarn

4 Strands of “Denim Jeans” Marls Yarn

The marls yarn is colorful in that it is a 4-ply yarn, with each strand (ply) having a different color. The four colors are spun together into one strand of yarn. This yields a different effect in the finished product than standard variegated yarns. It’s colorful, yet uniform throughout. Something different! See the photo below of a dishcloth I made with the “Vineyard” color marl yarn!

Dishcloth made with "Vineyard" marls yarn

Dishcloth made with “Vineyard” marls yarn

Sizes Available
(1) Premier Home Cotton Marls Yarn. This is the smaller skein of yarn, with 2.1 ounces (60 grams, 105 yards) per skein.
(2) Premier Home Cotton Marls Grande Yarn. This is Premier’s larger skein, with 11 ounces (312 grams, 545 yards) per skein.
Both size skeins have the same color options.

Price Point
As you’ll typically find with any multicolored yarn, the price point is a little higher than that of the same brand’s solid colors. This is understandable because of the manufacturing process involved. But, if you compare prices of the various brands, you’ll usually find that Premier yarns are sold for less cost per ounce than the other brands. This is a BIG plus if you’re making items to sell or making a lot of things to give as gifts.

Color Options

Denim Jeans Marls Yarn

“Denim Jeans” Marls Yarn

The color options of the marl yarns are not as many as you might expect. I believe this line is relatively new. So, hopefully Premier Yarns will be expanding their color selection soon!

 

 

Advantages of Using Premier Home Cotton Yarns
I’ve found there are a number of advantages to using Premier cotton yarns:

Softer and more flexible than other cotton yarns
Great scrub-ability in a crochet or knit dishcloth
Easy to wring out (No hurt hands!)
Colorfastness (Which is HARD to come by!)
Easy machine washing/drying with less shrinkage
Faster drying time than other cotton yarns
More economical than other cotton yarns
Unique colors (as with the marls and variegated options)

I hope this information will encourage you to try this brand of cotton yarn if you’re not already using it. Once I did, I was sold and haven’t returned to the other brands (and I don’t intend to!).

Best wishes to all and happy knitting/crocheting!
Judi

Gluten free? AVOID “herb rice” in restaurants!

Many people have gone gluten free by choice. Others MUST choose gluten free options for health reasons. I fit into the later category, although I haven’t been that way my entire life. In recent years I learned I developed a serious health issue that is triggered by eating anything with gluten in it. Hence, I’ve become gluten free. This is NOT a choice for me.

Eating a gluten free meal becomes very challenging when faced with eating out in restaurants. This is particularly so when faced with menu items that appear to be gluten free. One case in point is “herb rice.” I would expect “herb rice” to be rice mixed with specific herbs and flavorings to make a delicious gluten free dish. However, many restaurants serve an “herb rice blend” that is actually a mix of rice, flavorings and orzo, a tiny pasta made from wheat. THAT’S the problem.

Unfortunately, many restaurant workers, “servers” in particular, are uninformed as to what their “herb rice” actually contains. They’re under the impression that it’s just flavored rice. I have been faced with this TWICE now since I’ve been gluten free. Note that I have nothing against the rice blends they use…they’re actually delicious. HOWEVER, they’re not just rice…they’re NOT gluten free. And with the innocent ignorance of waiters/waitresses, wary customers may be served foods they shouldn’t eat. My personal experiences are cases in point.

First, years back when I newly discovered that I should avoid wheat, I was at a restaurant/bar-grill. I choose something with “herb rice” in it, innocently thinking it was just rice. I asked the waitress if it was just rice and gluten free. She insisted that it was just rice, so I ordered it. After eating about half of it, I realized it had orzo in it…wheat pasta. When I spoke with the waitress about it and said I couldn’t eat the dish, she still insisted that it didn’t contain wheat and was only rice. We had a bit of an argument and she finally brought me the box it came in. Of course, when reading the ingredients list, wheat pasta was listed as one of the components (I’m not ignorant when it comes to food and it didn’t take much to find a wheat product in the ingredients list). When I brought this to her attention and asked for something else to replace the rice, we settled on refried beans. She was obviously not happy with me. I was brought a blob of refried beans, straight out of the can and unheated. I told the manager about the episode when we paid for the meal and I got little response in return. Needless to say, we’ve never been back there again.

Secondly, just last night we were at a different restaurant and they presented us with their new spring/summer menu. A wonderful dish was listed and I opted for it. Again, it was served with “herb rice.” I asked the waitress about it and she was very polite in saying she thought it was just rice, but wasn’t certain. I opted for hash browns instead of the rice. (They were out of the rice blend anyway and I was already planning on ordering hash browns since I suspected the “rice” was not just rice.) Nevertheless, the waitress DID offer information for me…the brand name of the blend. I looked it up and here’s the ingredients list…

Parboiled long grain rice, orzo (macaroni product made from wheat flour), salt, autolyzed yeast extract*, onions*, garlic*, turmeric spice which imparts color.

*dried
CONTAINS WHEAT INGREDIENTS

I’m thankful that the waitress was kind enough to at least offer the information to me so I could check for myself. I also appreciated her humbleness in admitting she was not certain of the ingredients. Unfortunately, apparently restaurant owners and chefs don’t inform their workers about these critical aspects of their food. For most patrons, it’s not an issue at all. But for those who MUST avoid certain ingredients, it’s important for the wait staff to be knowledgeable of what’s being served. Sadly, that’s usually not the case, so it’s up to the patron to be informed and wary of what they order.

Unless you really know the restaurant and how they prepare foods, wait for the herb rice until you get home and make it yourself!! Don’t order it in a restaurant.

I hope this information helps someone out there to avoid ordering some food that can cause health issues. Again, if you can eat gluten, the herb rice blend is a delicious option. But if gluten presents a problem, don’t be fooled by the name. It’s not just flavored rice.

Best wishes to all and happy eating,
Judi

How to Choose the Best Olive Oil

We’ve all seen our favorite chefs at work on TV. Most of them use extra virgin olive oil. Why? Because it’s one of the healthiest oils to consume. However, they rarely say what brand they’re using (unless they’re being paid to advertise for that company).

Good quality olive oil can be one of the healthiest oils to use. It helps correct blood cholesterol problems and is high in vitamin E and antioxidants, fighting harmful compounds in the body. Olive oil plays a vital role in the Mediterranean diet, which we know is very healthful.

So…when we get to the grocery store, choosing which olive oil to buy seems about like choosing a breakfast cereal! There are MANY to choose from…too many. It’s just too confusing. So, I’ve done some research to help us all pick the best olive oil from the array we have to choose from at the moment.

It’s important to know that not all olive oils were created equal. In fact, MANY that are typically on our grocery store shelves are not healthful oils at all. Many have been “refined” (a process that involves heat and/or chemical solvents), have been on the shelf for extended periods of time and hence are not fresh, or are older oils that have been blended with fresher oils to mask their rancid flavor. Yuk!

Because eating old or rancid oils is actually damaging to health, I decided to put together a list of things to look for to help you choose which oil is best among those that are available to you at the moment when shopping. There may be higher quality oils out there in wherever-land, but they’re not the ones you’re looking at for the moment when you’re starring at the huge array on the grocery store shelf. You NEED to know which one to choose NOW! Copy this list and carry it with you the next time you shop for olive oil.

First, it’s important to know that ANY extracted oil is highly perishable. Light, heat and oxygen can interact with the oil and cause it to age or even spoil, creating compounds that are harmful to our health. So, keep this fact in mind as you make your way through the steps below.

When at the grocery store…

Put your “blinders” on! First thing, DON’T look at the price right away. IF you shop for price only, you’ll probably choose the cheapest oil on the shelf. Mistake #1. That oil is very likely refined and not the most healthful. That’s not what you want!

Choose oil in a small dark glass bottle (or packaging that shields the oil from light).  Unless you’re going to use a LOT of oil FAST, go for the small size…one that you know you can use up in a relatively short amount of time. Be sure the bottle (glass, not plastic) is dark, helping to protect the oil from damaging light. Otherwise, if you know you need a lot of oil and will be using it up quickly, opt for oil in a large can.

Be sure the cap is sealed and air tight. Well, duh. This should be a “given.” However…it’s worth checking because you never know what you might come across in a grocery store.

Choose “extra virgin olive oil.” Extra virgin is the highest quality olive oil. Now…DON’T take the front label on the bottle for it’s word. Turn the bottle over and look at the ingredients list. It should only say “extra virgin olive oil.” It MIGHT list refined oil and extra virgin olive oil. If it does, put it back on the shelf. It’s a blend of less-than-healthy refined oil, most likely mixed with fresher oil to improve the flavor. Not your best option.

Look for “first cold pressed” or “mechanically pressed.” This is the natural way to extract oil from olives. Otherwise it was probably extracted using heat and/or chemicals, which is not desirable and not the healthiest oil around. Choose a naturally extracted oil.

Some bottles say “organic.” Organic options in most any foods are good. However, “organic” alone with regard to olive oil is NOT the only thing to look for. Check out the other components before deciding that it’s your best option.

Look for quality seals on the label. Not all oils will have them, but they are helpful in ensuring the oil was produced according to set quality standards. Some seals you might see include:

COOC (California Olive Oil Council)
North American Olive Oil Association
International Olive Oil Council
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin…DOP in Italian)
PGI (Protected Geographical Indication…IGP in Italian)

Look for an expiration date or “best by” date. Try to select one with at least a year left before it expires. The further out the date, the fresher the oil. Freshly produced olive oil will last up to 2 years from the time of harvest, IF kept under ideal conditions (which is often not the case). AND we don’t know the time lapse from harvest to production and many dates are based on production dates, so there is some mystery here. So…the more time left in the dating, the fresher the oil.

Look for the producer and place of origin of the olives. Ideally, it’s best to find an oil from olives that were grown, processed and packaged in the same location. However, that would RARELY be found on our grocery store shelves. Just note that oil will be freshest and of higher quality under those circumstances. That translates into less transport time, less chance of spoilage due to less-than-ideal conditions along the way, etc. However, MOST if not all of what we’ll typically find on our grocery store shelves will not meet this criteria. It’s good to look for it anyway. IF you manage to find one…latch onto it!

NOW…After having looked for oils that meet the above criteria…it’s time to compare prices. Now you’ll know you’re getting the best deal on your olive oil AND the most healthful option you have to choose from at the moment.

When you get home…

TASTE the oil when you get it home. Ignore the color because the color will vary depending upon the variety of olive used and when it was picked. The color does NOT reflect the quality of the oil. When tasting, the oil should smell and taste like olives, and should have a slight bitterness and possibly pepperiness. This indicates the presence of the polyphenol compounds…the healthful compounds that we WANT in the oil! Hopefully the oil you selected will meet this criteria. If not, it’s back to the drawing board the next time you shop for oil.

Store your oil wisely. Store it away from light, heat and oxygen (close the bottle quickly after using it). Use it up quickly…don’t try to store it for a long time.

Get the most health benefits from your oil. Use the oil unheated as much as possible to get the most health benefits from your carefully chosen product. When using it to cook with, heat it the least amount possible to keep from destroying the polyphenol compounds and breaking down the oil (which is not healthful).

Here’s a video that I produced on this subject. Hope this helps!! Happy eating, Judi

Marinated Cruciferous Salad

Marinated Cruciferous Salad (Recipe)

As mentioned in my video about cruciferous vegetables, we ALL should eat these vegetables whenever we can. Raw or slightly cooked is best.

Below is a VERY simple salad recipe of mine using cruciferous vegetables marinated in an oil/vinegar dressing. The recipe can EASILY be varied to meet your family’s tastes and it can be increased or decreased with little effort beyond cutting the vegetables. Make this easy and use the cruciferous vegetables you have on hand!

Check out the video below the recipe, showing how this salad is made. Enjoy!! Judi

Marinated Cruciferous Salad
Makes about 2 Cups

2 cups chopped cruciferous vegetables of choice*
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1-1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar**
3 pinches sea salt
1 to 2 pinches dried oregano***
1 pinch dried granulated garlic

Place vegetables and onion in a medium size bowl. Add the dressing ingredients. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Toss again and serve.

Note the MANY possible variations with this salad:

* Use any combination of cruciferous vegetables you want. Suggestions include: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (of any sort), radishes, arugula, kale, broccoli rabe, watercress, and/or bok choy

** To vary the flavor, lemon juice may be used in place of apple cider vinegar

*** In place of oregano, other herbs may be used such as: basil, dill, sage, cumin, marjoram, parsley, or thyme

Experiment and try different combinations to find your favorite!

 

Introducing…”NutriBit” Videos

As many people know, I have a lot of formal training in food and nutrition. In addition to that I’ve owned and operated my own bakery/bistro, taught nutrition to college students, AND I continue to delve into personal research on a regular basis.

It was recently suggested to me that I share some of this information with others. That seemed like a reasonable thing to do, especially since it ties in with my blog AND YouTube videos. Hence…the birth of “NutriBits”…as in “bits” of nutritional and health/wellness information relayed through videos. These are short, to the point videos I’ll be creating as I share valuable nutritional, health and wellness information that could help you in the kitchen, at the grocery store, and in your quest to live a healthier life.

A link to my introductory video is below. Please check it out and DO post questions that I might be able to help you with either here or in the comments section of any video I post. I’ll be happy to help with whatever questions I can! Judi

Two Green Fruit Smoothie

Two Green Fruit Smoothie

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, refreshing, “cooler” foods are coming to mind. For me, smoothies are in order. Yesterday I concocted something different I wanted to share…it was fabulous! It’s made with both raw baby greens AND green tea. Lots of fruit is added for sweetness. It’s filling and delicious. Here’s the recipe followed by my YouTube video showing how it’s made. Enjoy! Judi

Two Green Fruit Smoothie
Makes about 2 Cups

12 whole almonds (raw, not roasted nor salted)
12 blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup chopped fruit of choice (I used kiwi and fresh pineapple)
1 banana, fresh or frozen
1 large handful of raw mixed greens (ie spinach, baby kale)
1 rounded teaspoon of milled chia seeds or flax seeds
1 cup (8 oz) freshly brewed plain green tea, cooled
Sweetener of choice, optional

Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Process until smooth. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Bread Muffins

Gluten Free Bread Muffins

Many people have gone gluten-free these days for assorted reasons. No matter what the reason, one thing that is often missed is bread. No matter what is said about bread in the news, even though its form may have changed, bread has been a staple in the diet of people for eons. If you enjoy bread and suddenly find yourself trying to do without it, life is just not the same! Nothing quite takes the place of bread.

I’ve explored gluten-free bread recipes and have found this one to be a winner. It’s a recipe I developed after a NUMBER of trial runs. It works baked in a loaf, but even better when made in a regular size muffin tin. This bread is not sweet, so it goes well with meals. The recipe is as follows.

Watch the video below for my special tips on making this bread successfully along with details of how to make it in a loaf. Enjoy! Judi

Gluten Free Bread Muffins
Makes 12 Regular Size Bread Muffins (or 1 loaf)

14 oz gluten-free flour blend (that contains NO xanthan gum, guar gum, nor yeast)
4 oz gluten-free oat flour OR almond meal/flour
3 Tbsp plain psyllium husk powder
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
1 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or any vegetable oil you prefer)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add liquid mixture to the dry mix and stir until well combined.

Lightly coat a regular size 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. Scoop 1/3 to 1/2 cup batter into each muffin cup, dividing the batter evenly among all cups. Allow batter to “rest” as the oven preheats.

Place top rack of oven on the middle shelf. Preheat oven to 350ºF. When oven is heated, place muffin pan into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow muffins to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Enjoy.

Bread may be stored, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for one or two days. For prolonged storage, wrap each one tightly and store in the freezer until needed. Allow bread to thaw at room temperature or very briefly on a defrost setting in a microwave oven.

To see tips on how to successfully make this recipe or how to bake it in a loaf form, see the video below! Judi

Homemade Pizza Crust

Homemade Pizza Crust

I don’t know too many people who don’t enjoy pizza, at LEAST once in a while. There is SO much you can do with a pizza in addition to the usual tomato sauce, cheese and assorted toppings. It’s truly limited only to one’s imagination.

I started making homemade pizza crust for my family years ago when we first bought a bread machine. A fabulous recipe came in the little booklet that accompanied the machine. Well, the machine is now long out the door from being used for so many years. Since then, I started my bakery and made breads “en-mass” in a quantity NO bread machine could ever handle. Hence, I developed my own recipes.

Here’s a delicious basic pizza crust recipe. Once you master this, it would be easy to get creative with it by adding herbs or other flavorings to enhance whatever pizza you’re making. Give it a try if you haven’t made your own crust before. It truly IS well worth the effort because homemade crust has a flavor far better than any store-bought pizza could possibly have.

Homemade Pizza Crust
Makes One Thick 14″ Crust OR Two Thin 12″ Crusts

3 cups (15 oz) bread flour
1 pkg (1/4 oz) Rapid Rise yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup water, warmed to 120-130ºF
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Butter or other grease for pan
Cornmeal

Note: The following instructions are designed for a stand mixer. The dough may also be mixed and kneaded by hand. Be sure to knead very well until the dough is smooth and elastic.

In a stand mixer bowl, add bread flour, yeast and salt. Stir to combine and set aside. In a small bowl or mug, add warmed water OR place water in a mug and heat it briefly in a microwave oven until it has warmed to the appropriate temperature. Add vegetable oil to the warmed water. Pour liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Stir to moisten the flour.

Place mixer bowl on the stand mixer and attach a dough hook. Turn the mixer on low speed and allow the mixer to knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Remove bowl from stand. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the baking pan(s) by lightly greasing the pan with butter, then sprinkling cornmeal on the pan. Spread the cornmeal around the pan by tilting the pan in different directions to lightly coat the greased area with the cornmeal. Set aside.

After the dough has rested, form the pizza crust either by placing it on a VERY lightly floured board and rolling the dough into the desired size circle, then place the dough on the prepared pan. Alternately, you could place the dough ball on the prepared pan and spread the dough into a circle with your fingers. Dock the dough by poking holes in the dough with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming as it bakes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF and prebake the dough for 5 to 7 minutes, depending upon the size and thickness of the dough. (Be sure to remove the crust from the oven before it starts to brown.) Remove pan from oven. Spread crust with desired toppings and return it to the oven. Bake pizza until the cheese is bubbly and toppings appear cooked. (Note that the time to finish the baking process will vary depending upon the size, thickness and toppings used.) Serve.

Check out my video below to SEE how the crust is made! Enjoy, Judi

Homemade Oatmeal Bread

Homemade Oatmeal Bread (A Recipe From My Bakery)

I enjoy baking and have ever since I was in early elementary school. In my adult years, I established my own bakery and specialized in making yeast breads, although I did make a lot of other goodies too. Little by little, I’m creating YouTube videos demonstrating how to make a lot of the breads I made in the bakery. To accompany the videos, I’m writing blog posts so you can print out the recipes if you want. They can also be downloaded in .PDF format from my website at http://HandMadeInIowa.com.

Below is my recipe for homemade Oatmeal Bread. The recipe has been scaled down to make two loaves, the usual amount for home recipes. It’s truly delicious and was a BIG seller at my bakery! Give it a try. It’s really not hard! To SEE how it’s made, check out the video below, where I walk viewers through the process step-by-step. Enjoy! Judi

Homemade Oatmeal Bread
Makes Two Loaves

1-1/2 cups rolled oats (either quick or old fashioned)
1-1/2 cups boiling water (or reserved water from cooking potatoes)
3 Tbsp (1-1/2 oz) butter
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 room temperature eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb, 4 oz bread flour
1/2 oz Rapid Rise Yeast

Note: This recipe is designed for being prepared in a home stand mixer. If you don’t have one, simply hand mix the ingredients per the instructions and hand knead, being careful to work in as little extra flour as possible.

In a stand mixer bowl, combine the rolled oats, boiling water, butter, honey, brown sugar and salt. Place the bowl on the mixer stand and mix on low speed, using a standard paddle blade. Mix until the ingredients are well blended and oats appear to be “cooked.” Remove bowl from mixer stand.

Test the temperature of the mixture with an instant read thermometer. When it cools to between 120 and 130ºF, it is safe to proceed forward. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, weigh out the bread flour. Stir in the yeast. Stir the flour mixture into the oat mix, just enough so the flour won’t spray out of the bowl when the mixer is turned on. Place mixer bowl onto the mixer stand, insert the dough hook, and mix on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the dough hook and bowl from the stand.

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring a medium size saucepan of water to boil and prepare the oven to use as a proof box. Turn the oven light on. Place the lower rack at the lowest position in the oven and the top rack in the middle of the oven. When the water comes to a boil, place the saucepan on the lower oven rack and close the door. (This method can be used with both an electric and gas range.)

After the dough has rested, remove it to a VERY lightly floured board. Form into two loaves and place each loaf into a sprayed, oiled or greased loaf pan. (I used 8×4 pans, but 9×5 pans would also work, making shallower loaves.)

Place the formed loaves in their pans on the middle oven rack over the pan of hot water. Close the oven door and allow them to rise for 30 to 40 minutes, until about doubled in size. Remove loaves and saucepan from oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

An optional step to adorn the loaves: In a small bowl, mix one whole beaten egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush each loaf with the egg mixture and sprinkle with extra oats. (If you do not do this optional step, simply brush the BAKED loaves with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.)

When the oven is preheated, bake bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove loaves to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before slicing.