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Homemade Granola

Are you officially granola if you make homemade granola?  My friends and family joke, calling me granola because we are eating more ‘traditionally’ now.  I don’t think I am, I think I am a ‘sorta’ granola.  Kinda, sorta- like this great blog “Sorta Crunchy.”  She wrote a post about the ‘sorta’ part, and I ‘ditto’ the post.

Back to the recipe, its a keeper!
I found it on my friends blog “the_uncomplication_project.”  Her blog is just a couple months old, but she is off to a great start!  I have learned from her already and look forward to her future posts.
Like she says on her blog, it is not a crunchy granola, it is a bit chewy, which I like!  It was very easy to make and my 2 younger girls devoured it.

Chunky Granola

Preheat oven to 350F
Place in ungreased 9×13″ pan:
6 c rolled oats
Bake 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and stir in:
1/2 c. sunflower seeds or nuts (I used pumpkin seeds)
1/2 c. coconut (I didn’t have any, used dried cranberries instead)
1/2 c. wheat germ (I forgot this ingredient, oops!)
1/2 c. powdered milk

Add to dry mixture:
2/3 c. honey
2/3 c. oil (I used coconut oil)
1 t. vanilla

Stir until toroughly coated. Bake 10-15 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes until uniformly golden (I do 4min-4min-3min). Do notoverbake. Let cool in pan undisturbed, then break into chunks. 

Click on over to “the_uncomplication_project” to see her notes on the recipe, and while you are there, check out the blog she’s got going on so far.


Homemade Pretzels

I found this homemade pretzel recipe at Heavenly Homemakers and I have been wanting to make ’em for awhile now!  The perfect time came, no school because of a snowstorm!

Let me tell you, this recipe did NOT disappoint.  It is sooooooooo good.

Making the dough was easy, the girls loved kneading the dough, but the actual shaping into pretzels was a bit too labor intensive for me.  Maybe I got used to the ease of playdoh when we practiced while the dough was rising.  Or maybe I’m just lazy.   When I realized how skinny we had to make the dough ropes (our first batch were so funny and ugly and fat!) I thought it was too much work. (or maybe I wanted it to go faster knowing we needed to finish up so we could go get our picture taken with Santa!) Next time, I am going to make the dough, roll into ropes, and cut into 4 inch pretzel rods/sticks.  This will be easier because we won’t have to work so hard at getting the ropes thin.  Thick ropes make bloated pretzels, fyi!

These are AMAZING still warm from the oven, and even good the next day heated in the microwave.
I am going to keep dough in the shape of pretzel rods in my freezer, so whenever we get the craving we can just pop them in the oven.

Heavenly Homemakers did a wonderful, step by step tutorial, so I didn’t, but I took some pictures of the process.
Everyone took a turn kneading the dough. That was fun!

Time to rise!
Pretty dough, isn’t it?

Practicing our pretzel shapes with playdoh while the dough was rising

They were quite pleased with themselves.

I was so ready for a pretzel I almost ate these

Ahahhahaha!  Our first ugly, way- too- fat, but still tastes great batch of pretzels.

That is better.
RECIPES/ Seasonal

A Healthy Homemade Gift

I have several friends who have really been great examples to me when it comes to embracing food that is nourishing. It is quite humorous when we get together, it’s not but a few minutes before the subject of food is brought up.  We discuss brands of food, where to shop, and recipes we love, among many other things. I love foodie friends!  It is often I will get a text from a friend letting me know what is on sale and where, or “the clementines are really good right now at…” It is really fun to have friends who care about what I care about.  I have learned much from them, and I want to give them a special lil’ somethin’ for Christmas.

I’ve been keeping my eye open for a fun, homemade, edible gift that I can put together.  Something just simple, easy, nourishing, different and low in sugar.  Well, my eye finally found what it was looking for! I recently participated in a crockpot recipe blog carnival over at Passionate Homemaking.  I found so  many great recipes, but one made me very excited.  It was the perfect homemade gift that my healthy foodie friends would appreciate.  It is…

…ok, I just hesitated to tell you because now that I have talked it up, you will probably think…WHAT?  Who would want THAT for Christmas?  Let me prepare you.  It’s not cookie mix in a jar or fabulous fudge…remember, it is for my friends who get excited talking about what the best substitute for sugar is or how to substitute a healthier fat in a recipe.  Now that you have been warned, I will proceed.

Cranberry & Flax Multi-Grain Cereal …Made In A Crock-Pot
(don’t say I didn’t warn you..)
Seriously, I think they will love it.  It is different, sugar- free, nourishing, and easy! The recipe was posted by “Monkeys On. The. Bed.” I am grateful to her, and look forward to browsing her very cute blog.
 I plan on making a mix with the dry ingredients and packaging it cute, with the instructions printed and tucked inside.  The only wet ingredients in the recipe is water and applesauce, so it will be very easy to make.  It cooks in the crock pot overnight…mmmm, imagine waking up to a house that smells like cinnamon! (at least that is what I am hoping for!)  I am going to put it in my crockpot tonight.  I quick mixed some together so I could take a picture for this blog post.  I am participating in another blog carnival for homemade gifts and will be submitting this post.  The Carnival is over at Nourishing Gourmet, you must check it out!  This site is full of great recipes and tips on healthy eating.  I can’t wait to see other homemade gift ideas that will be posted!! (I’ve already seen one for fudge, so head on over there!)

Cranberry & Flax 
Multi-Grain Cereal
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 5 cups water
  • 2.5 cups natural applesauce
  • 1.5-2 cups dried unsweetened dried cranberries (or any dried fruit)
  • 1 heaping tsp ground ginger
  • 2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 Tbl steel-cut oats
  • 6 Tbl wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup pearled barley
  • 3 Tbl yellow cornmeal
  • 2 Tbl flaxseed 

                                                                             Dash of Salt
                                                                           11/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients.  Package cute and give to a friend with these instructions:
Oil crockpot to prevent sticking.  Add 2.5 cups of applesauce to crockpot.  Dump in Cereal Mix and stir until blended.  Add 5 cups of water.  Stir.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.  Wake up, and when you smell cinnamon, let that remind you how very much you are loved!
*top with milk and honey if desired.
**only half the mix would fit in the little bags/cups I purchased, so the recipe makes double what you see in the picture, just so you are not confused!  I’m kicking myself for not getting a bunch of mason jars to put this in. Duh!  I love mason jars!!  I also love circles and good deals, so I couldn’t pass up these cute (but a bit too small) cups!

 I just realized my foodie friends read my blog and will now know what they are getting for Christmas.  Oops!  Oh well…:)
For Going Green Packages and Toppers Part 1, Click here.



Homemade Chicken Soup

I made Chicken Soup today and it is GOOD!  It is amazing what a good stock can do to a soup, homemade stock has such deep flavor compared to stock from a can.  You can read more about the benefits of stock and how to make it here.

We woke up to the smell of chicken due to the chicken bone stock that had been getting happy all night in my crock pot.  This morning, I strained the stock, this time I threw away all the veggies and bones, but I have read that you can make stock from the same chicken bones 2-3 times, so I will try that next time. The veggies were very spent and I was too lazy to pick through the bones to rescue them (sometimes I do, then I use my hand blender to blend them into the stock) so they got dumped with the bones.

I started my soup with a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter in the bottom of a soup pot.  Adding the butter along with the olive oil gives the soup another layer of flavor, and also allows you to turn up the heat for sauteing the veggies.  If you were to use just olive oil, you would have to keep the heat at medium due to the low smoking point of olive oil.  Adding butter solves this problem. (a tip I leaned from good ol’ Rachel Ray)

I threw in some chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves.  I let the onions get nice and soft over med-high heat, about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, I chopped 3 carrots and 2 stalks celery, and then added them to the pot.

I let them cook a bit to draw out their flavors, about 5 minutes, while I chopped 5 potatoes (1 too many, use 4 instead).

Added potatoes and  11/2 cups cooked chicken to the pot.  You can read here how I cooked my chicken.

Added chicken stock (about 6 cups), 11/2-2 tsp thyme, 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.  If the soup is too thick, add more stock.

Stir and simmer 40-60 minutes, stirring every once in awhile.  Could add all to crock pot and cook on low 4-6 hrs or on high for 2-3 hrs.

Sometimes I substitute whole wheat pasta for the potato, depending what I have on hand. My kids prefer the pasta, but will eat both.  I also usually add some frozen peas or corn.  Enjoy!

Frugal/ HOME/ RECIPES/ Sweets

Homemade Popsicles

This morning, there was no fresh fruit in the house.  My girls are used to having some type of fruit with their breakfast, so I decided to make them fruit smoothies with some frozen fruit I had hanging out in the freezer.
My method of making fruit smoothies is pretty much dump and blend.  I fill my blender 2/3 full with frozen fruit, then add enough liquid (start with a cup and add as needed) so that it will blend easily and smoothly. I like mine thin enough so I can see a vortex when looking down into the blender, then I know it won’t get stuck in our straws!  I usually use water and a splash of orange juice.  I will add honey or sugar if the fruit is not very sweet, you won’t know until you taste a bit of the smoothie.  I like having frozen peach or frozen banana in our smoothies, they both add a nice texture/thickness, and are both less expensive then frozen berries.  If you were to use all berries, it would take a lot and would be costly.
This morning, I used a frozen fruit mix that had peaches, pineapple, grapes, and melon.  I also added frozen strawberries and blueberries.  We were running a bit behind, and I did not leave my girls enough time to slurp much of their smoothies down.  Because of this, I had a bunch leftover.

What to do with it??

Make homemade popsicles!!  The kids love these, they are so easy to make and MUCH less expensive then the whole fruit popsicles you can buy. These little plastic molds are great, but if you don’t have any, you can use a paper cup with a wooden craft stick. We made these all summer long, their favorite is when I add yogurt to the smoothie, which makes a creamy popsicle.
I will do a series on smoothies coming up. There are so many ways to make them: green smoothies, fruit smoothes, yogurt smoothies, protein smoothies, we even make healthy chocolate peanut butter smoothies and chocolate covered cherry smoothies. MMM-MM!  They are a staple in our home, a great way to have a healthy snack and to get those fruits and veggies in!!