Bread Machine Dinner Rolls

dinner rolls | the lively kitchen

These rolls are much loved in our house.  They are lightly sweet, heavenly when buttered and all around fantastic.  They almost always accompany Oven Baked Lentils and Rice on the table.  Lately I’ve been using them as slider buns.  Slider night is my son’s favorite night of the week and when the beef is local and pastured and the buns are homemade, I’m okay with it.  Sometimes I even serve sliders with french fries (I like the Alexa Organic Frozen Fries) and then I get to be his absolute hero, on par with his beloved Batman, Ben 10 and Ninjas (but even sliders and fries won’t put me on par with Harry Potter).

dinner rolls 2

I love my very old bread machine. Click here for my favorite loaf recipe.  The bread machine works great with this recipe, although I imagine you could make the dough by hand if you were so inclined.  I like to give the rolls ample time to rise after shaping – 3 hours at least.

dinner rolls 3

Bread Machine Dinner Rolls


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • (optional: 1 beaten egg for glazing before baking)


  1. Place all ingredients in bread machine and start dough cycle.
  2. Once dough cycle is complete, remove dough and shape into 9-10 equal sized balls.  The dough is thick.  Place dough balls in either a greased 9in cake pan or a greased 9in square pan.  Cover and let rise for 2-4 hours in a warm place.
  3. When ready to bake, uncover rolls and place in a pre-heated 350 oven.  Bake 12-18 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.  (optional: can brush risen rolls with a beaten egg glaze before baking to give a shiny top).

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

banana chocolate chip muffins | The Lively Kitchen

Want to know how I stay in my kid’s teacher’s good graces? These muffins.  (tucked in a bag with a little gift card). *

Want to know what I bring when it’s my day to provide snacks for preschool? These muffins.

Want to know why I generally separate three bananas from each bunch I buy so they can quietly get really ripe in the fruit basket and not be consumed as a snack before they are baking ready? These muffins.

* My boy’s teacher gets more than my girl’s, as he needs more grace.  It’s tough to keep hands to yourself when you’re a five year old boy.  It’s even tougher to be a teacher in class of five year olds.  They deserve much more than muffins!

banana chocolate chip mini muffins | the lively kitchen

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Makes about 36 mini-muffins.  

This recipe can easily be made into 12-14 regular sized muffins, 4 mini loaves or 1 standard loaf.  But they won’t be nearly as cute.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease or line 3 mini-muffin pans.
  2. Using a mixer, cream together softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well after each addition.
  3. Mix in bananas, sour cream and vanilla and beat until well blended.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add flour mixture to butter/banana mixture and stir by hand until just combined and moist.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched.
  7. Cool on wire rack.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

At some point before my kids hit middle school I pledge to get the hang of the school morning routine.  It’s quite honestly pathetic that I am still struggling with getting the girl and husband out of the house by 7:20, especially since generally I’m not trying to get myself or the boy out of the house at that hour too.  At one point in my life all four of us were leaving the house by 7:30 – the husband and I both for work and the kids for daycare – but somehow with the whole stay-home mom gig, I’ve simultaneously eased up on the morning schedule and created a harried pace.  Ironic juxtaposition – my middle names.

I have learned that having a pre-made breakfast like pumpkin bread, peanut butter and banana breakfast cookies and/or Oatmeal and Wheat Bread Machine Bread for toast cuts a good 5 minutes out of the breakfast prep.  And those 5 minutes are golden.  Those 5 minutes are the difference in me getting to drink me tea or not.  Which, truthfully, sets the tone for the rest of my morning.  Hot tea  = gonna be a good day!  Cold tea (or, worse, no tea) = oh dear.

(I’ve also learned that packing the entire lunch for the girl and husband the night before saves me a good 10-15 minutes, but that requires mammoth motivation in the evening hours when the couch and a good book are screaming at me to join them.)

I modified my  Baked Vanilla Doughnuts recipe recently when I was craving something with apple cinnamon flavors.  They turned out great and made two mornings into hot tea mornings.

These could be baked into muffin tins too – just watch them closely the first time to determine bake time.


Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts

Enough for 6-7 doughnuts (or about 6 muffins)

  • 1/2 c whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1/2 c white flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/4 c + 2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/2 -3/4 c shredded apple
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Optional Glaze Ingredients: 3/4 c powdered sugar + 2 Tbsp milk


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly coat a donut pan with cooking spray.

2.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well with a whisk.

3. In a second bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, apple and vanilla, stirring well with a whisk.

4.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Don’t over-stir, as it will make the donuts less tender.

5.  Either spoon batter into the donut pan, or, if you’re a perfectionist like me, pipe the batter into the pan using a large plastic bag with the corner cut off.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until donuts are slightly golden on bottom.

6. Cool in pan about 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

7.  When doughnuts are cool, top with glaze.

8.  Enjoy.

Photo Friday – healthy school lunches

It was nice to get back to ‘normal’ life this week, complete with packing lunches after a two week break.


carrots + cucumbers + yellow peppers, tomatoes, gel cup (a first-time surprise for her and it made her day), cheese tortilla


cucumbers + yellow peppers, tomatoes, Trader Joe’s tube yogurt, pirate’s booty, PB&J (on Oatmeal and Whole Wheat Bread Machine bread)


kiwi + carrots + red pepper, tomatoes, tube yogurt, oranges, PB & J

20130111-080211.jpgcarrots + red peppers + tomatoes, pirate’s booty, kiwi, leftover Costco frozen cheese  pizza – I went all out for dinner last night.

Week of School Lunches – Day 2: Grade School Vegetarian Lunches (part 1)

Continuing on with the Week of School Lunches series, that I started yesterday.

These are some of the lunches I packed for my daughter (age 6) to take to elementary school.  She has a bigger appetite and likes much more variety in her lunch than her preschool aged brother.  Our elementary school allows nuts, which give me more flexibility while packing vegetarian lunches.

We used a Laptop Lunch bento box system last year and loved it.  It’s still in good shape and will be used again this year.

Week of School Lunches – Day 2

nectarines + raspberries, frozen peas + carrots, yogurt, triscuits + sunflower seeds

Pear, fruit snacks, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, cheese + tortilla

cantaloupe + pineapple, sprinkles, red peppers + carrots, yogurt, pb &j sandwich

Pasta + tomato cream sauce, carrots + red peppers, applesauce, apple, cashews

Grapes + yogurt, crackers, mixed nuts, peppers + carrots

Coming tomorrow: Part 2 of Vegetarian Grade School Lunches

Week of School Lunch Ideas – Day 1: Preschool Lunches

I’ve been stockpiling $0.99 boxes of markers, shopping with the kids for closed-toe shoes and trying to cram a summer’s worth of good-intentions-but-never-happened learning into our final days (aka – ‘you can have a snack after you tell me what 7+9 equals’).  Which can only mean one thing – school is about to start again.

I’m setting goals (that will probably be ‘adjusted’ after a few weeks).  Which basically means I’ve got to get more done each night:

  • we will lay out all outfits the night before
  • lunches will be at least 50% packed the night before
  • the kids will set their shoes and socks by the door, you guessed it, the night before

I’m cherishing the final days of summer, but also looking forward to the excitement of a new school year.  I’ve loved the freedom and flexibility of summer and appreciated it much more since we’ve started full-time school.  Yet, I do like the structure and routine of a Monday-Friday school year.

I thought I’d help get myself in the school-lunch-packing mindset by doing a week of school lunch posts.  I’ll feature some lunches that I packed for my kids last year, as well as some creative lunches I’ve seen around the web.  Feel free to send me any ideas or links (thelivelykitchen[AT]gmail{dot}com)!

A Week of School Lunch Ideas – Day 1: Preschool Lunches

These are lunches packed for my pre-school age son who is a creature of habit with food. He is quite loyal to his beloved tortilla + cheese roll-ups.  I pity the fool who dares to pack him PB&J.

cheese + tortilla, cucumbers, berries

broccoli + celery, chickpeas, cheese + tortillas, watermelon, water

cheese + tortillas, celery, chickpeas, grapes

broccoli, cheese + tortillas, celery+ peppers + raspberries

chickpeas + pasta, broccoli, apple, cheese + tortilla, water

Chips, cheese + tortilla, banana half, clementine, cucumbers + broccoli

strawberries + pineapple, broccoli + cucumbers, cheese puffs, cheese + tortilla

Coming Up Tomorrow: Grade School Vegetarian Lunches

Naturally Green Doughnuts! (aka Baked Vanilla Doughnuts)

 Alternative Titles: Shrek Doughnuts, Nickelodeon Doughnuts, Kermit Doughnuts

After my two successes using beets to make a natural pink food color, once to color buttercream frosting and once to make pink sugar cookies, I started thinking about what other fruits or vegetables I could use to get colors other than pink.  I’m all for abolishing gender stereotypes in parenting my son and daughter, but, seeing as how my son wants a Ninja Turtle cake for his upcoming birthday, I’m thinking I should expand the available color palate for future baking projects.

Then I read this naturally colored rainbow cake post at Itsy Bitsy Foodies.  First I  feel like a total slacker for never attempting such an impressive kitchen experiment (check out all the colorants she screened). Then I think ‘score, someone has done all the work for me!’   I think it was Einstein (Happy Birthday, by the way, to Mr Einstein) who said “A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of men, living and dead,and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received. “

 So, in the spirit of exerting myself to give as much as I have received, I took the idea of using spinach as green food coloring from the Itsy Bitsy Foodies and applied it to a baked doughnut recipe.   Because Einstein was totally talking about green doughnuts.

To make the natural green color, I juiced about 3 cups of fresh spinach.  I can’t think of a way to create a smooth, concentrated green colored liquid without a juicer, so if you are juicer-less, you can use store-bought food color or just let the doughnuts be naturally off-white.

I added spinach juice to both the batter and the frosting, but got a much bigger color impact in the frosting.   I couldn’t add more than 3 Tbsp of spinach juice to the batter without needing to compensate for the added liquid.  As you can see below, the 3 Tbsp didn’t add too much green to the finished baked good.

 If I try to make a more green baked good in the future (like, say, some Ninja Turtle green cupcakes), I will use my dehydrator to further concentrate the green spinach juice so I can get more color into the batter without adding to much liquid.  See Husband, I really do need all those random kitchen appliances.  Really.

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts with a Naturally Green Glaze


 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
3/4 c buttermilk – can also use 3/4 c milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1/4 c honey
1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly coat a donut pan with cooking spray.

2.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well with a whisk.

3. In a second bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, butter and vanilla, stirring well with a whisk.

4.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Don’t over-stir, as it will make the donuts less tender.

5.  Either spoon batter into the donut pan, or, if you’re a perfectionist like me, pipe the batter into the pan using a large plastic bag with the corner cut off.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until donuts are slightly golden on bottom.

6. Cool in pan about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Green Glaze  

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh spinach juice (or milk, for a white glaze)

Mix sugar and juice/milk together until smooth and thick.  Add more liquid or sugar as needed to get consistency right.  Spread over cooled doughnuts.

These work equally well as muffins:

The spinach juice is absolutely taste-less in the frosting.  My husband and kids loved these and they’d be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

Vegetable Plate Dinners

Growing up,  we often went to a restaurant called Black Eyed Pea.  It’s a home-style cooking chain and it serves more than Black Eyed Peas, lest you worry.  I usually ordered the Vegetable Plate, which was quite novel to adolescent Michelle. ‘You can make a meal out of only vegetables?  How novel!’  

I’ve always loved eating a meal of several different dishes versus one big monotonous entree and I loved getting to choose five different vegetable sides to make a dinner. Granted, sometimes my choices looked like this: mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, black eyed peas (which my brother and I stuffed into the rolls to make little pea sandwiches) baked potato and hash brown casserole.  Notice only one green thing in the bunch?  Yep.  Notice 3 different forms of potatoes?  Yep.

Lately I’ve been making vegetable plates for our dinners every week or two.  I make 3-4 different vegetable ‘side dishes’ and we combine them all to make a meal.

Veggie Plate Night Spreads:

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter, fruit, roasted green beans, leftover mashed potatoes, cheese bread, steamed broccoli.  Yes, there are only two bites of mashed potatoes left.  Yes, that’s odd.

bread machine bread, roasted green beans, roasted asparagus, roasted potatoes, fruit.

Stuffing, steamed broccoli, oranges, celery+broccoli+cucumbers+carrots, mashed potatoes

Brown rice, roasted brussels sprouts, cut up carrots and celery, steamed broccoli, tomatoes, broccoli slaw, mangoes.

Anyone else frequent Black Eyed Pea Restaurant?

Natural Rainbow Smoothies – Daily Buzz Moms 9×9

This post was written as part of the DailyBuzz Moms February 9×9 Challenge: Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I am honored and excited to be one of nine bloggers chosen to share a rainbow-inspired blog post. The nine posts will be featured on Feb. 23 on DailyBuzz Moms.

In my corporate food science days (oh paycheck, how I miss thee) I worked with different companies that supplied colorants to the food industry.  If you, as the product developer, were willing to put the term ‘natural and artificial colors’ on your product label, you could get just about any color you wanted.  It often came after significant R&D work, as colors can be quite finicky to work with in certain food products.  I once worked on a cake mix that we had to reformulate because the dark brown color we used caused blue streaks to appear in the batter when water was added to the dry mix.  Apparently consumers don’t like to see blue streaks in their chocolate cake mix.  Who knew?

When formulating a product with the goal of labeling ‘natural colors,’ your color palate was a bit more limited.  See, nature doesn’t have any Blue Raspberries or Arctic Blueberries to provide that oh-so-natural-looking Smurf Blue color to yogurt or frosting or cereal.  Natural reds, oranges, yellows, greens and some purples are pretty easily obtained thanks to carrots, beets, algae, spices and berries. (And sometimes crushed beetle shells. Yep – read about it here) Still, when the label says ‘natural food color’ it simply means the color originated from a natural source.  To get the colors out of the natural source, there is quite a bit of chemistry and processing involved.  Meaning, you don’t simply drop some ground beets into a vat of yogurt to make it pink.  More like you drop some concentrated liquid that was made by processing beets with hexane or acetone and other solvents and then stabilized with a natural acid.  Mmmm, acetone.  Wait, isn’t that stuff in nail polish remover?  Yep.

While ‘natural’ food colors are indeed a better choice than ‘artificial’ food colors, I think the best and healthiest food colors are those that come straight from the plant to you.  Nature makes some bold, amazing and enticing colors.  They can be pretty tasty too.

Want to start your day with a rainbow of truly natural colors?

Red Smoothie – Frozen Strawberries + Apple Juice

Orange Smoothie – Carrot Juice + Oranges + Ginger + Frozen Peaches

Yellow Smoothie – Frozen Pineapple + Frozen Banana + Pineapple Juice

Green Smoothie – Fresh Spinach + Fresh Kale + Frozen Peaches + Water/Ice

Blue(ish) Smoothie – Frozen Blueberries + Frozen Banana + Coconut Milk

Purple Smoothie – Frozen Blueberries + Frozen Blackberries + Frozen Cherries + Water

Combining all six of the smoothies creates a cheerful and vibrant rainbow smoothie full of nature’s colors, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and protein.

While the all-in-one cup smoothie was awfully photogenic, my kids preferred the single serving, single color little smoothie shots.  They tasted each one and picked their favorites.  Orange was tops for me, Red for my girl and Yellow for my boy.  The husband was outside doing yard work (sorry dear) and didn’t get to choose a favorite.

I will freely disclose that I do not routinely get up and make six separate smoothies in the morning.  While my plant-powered diet does give me plenty of energy, it does not make washing out the blender six times or hauling out all the frozen fruit in my freezer feasible or remotely pleasant for a school morning.  My daily smoothie is generally a combination of the green and purple smoothies.  It’s not as vibrantly singularly colored, but it is very filling and tasty and lets me start my day with 2-4 servings of fruits and vegetables consumed before 8am.

PS – Nature’s colors can be potent dyes, so I recommend consuming your natural smoothies on non-carpeted floors.  🙂

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Valentines Day White Chocolate Spoons

I am not a crafty mom.  That’s why I have a food blog and not a craft blog.  God, who has a huge sense of humor, has given me a crafty, artistic daughter.  So, I’m slowly conquering my tendency to start cleaning up art supplies within 2 minutes of getting them out, trying to embrace the inherent messiness of crafts with kids and, really, just get over myself.

I get Family Fun magazine and am honestly impressed at the creative yet reasonable crafts they have in each issue.  Most don’t require 5 trips to the craft store and  skill with wood working or metal welding like other craft magazines.

I saw this craft in the February Issue and this thought process followed:

Spoons with white chocolate and sprinkles. Hummmmm.

I can do that.

Sprinkles are easily contained on a cookie sheet.

Melted white chocolate is easily contained in a ziploc bag.

Only two stores to get supplies: craft store for ribbon, clear bags, and Wilton sprinkles,  grocery store for spoons and white chocolate.

I can do that.

A craft the kids will enjoy, one that is good for gifts, one that only requires one trip to one craft store, one that can be done for $15?

I can do that.

And I did.  We did.  And, dare I say, it was fun.

In process (with some neighbor friends).

Finished Product

Close Up

Are you a crafty person?