Honey Nut Granola – The End of the Granola Quest!

Okay, so after making several experimental batches of granola bars using different recipes from other blogs, I finally got my hands on my mom’s old recipe.¬† Hallelujah, my granola search has now come to a happy ending!!! ūüôā¬† I don’t know what it is about this recipe, but it is perfect in every way no matter what kind of ingredient tweaking you incorporate.¬† It is the perfect blend of sweetness and soft, chewy granola that doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up to take a bite.¬† Hands down the BEST!!¬† Thanks, Mom!!!!! ūüôā

For this debut batch, I left out the nuts and wheat germ and added ground Flax Seed and mini M&Ms along with a light sprinkling of shaved coconut on one half.  (I was curious what the coconut would do to the flavor.)

These granola bars are so EASY to throw together and are now my family’s favorite treat.¬† Try them yourself.¬† I know you’ll love them too! ūüôā

Honey Nut Granola – by Toni Fuhrman

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 C. oatmeal
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 C. melted butter or margarine
  • 1/2 C. raisins or chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. wheat germ
  • 1/3 C. honey

DIRECTIONS:¬† Combine all dry ingredients and melted butter in a large bowl.¬† Mix well.¬† Add honey and vanilla last.¬† Pat down in a lightly greased 9×13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Here’s what you need to mix up these delightful treats.

Combine all the dry ingredients with the melted butter.  Mix well.

Add honey and vanilla last and mix until completely moistened.

Gently pat down in a lightly greased¬†9×13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool then slice and enjoy!  You can see here just how soft and yummy they look after baking.

Elijah enjoying his after-lunch treat.  He was so happy to get to eat one since he helped make this first batch.

1 day + 1 piece of meat + 3 recipes = 5 meals w/ leftovers!

I stumbled upon a great piece of meat on the Manager Special at Kroger this past Tuesday and knew immediately what I was going to do with it.¬† With a little bit of extra work in the kitchen at the beginning of the day, I was able to create five meals not counting the leftovers used for Tim’s lunches.¬† That broke down to a $1.47 per main meal.¬† If each meal has at least enough leftovers for one lunch then the total cost would only be $0.73/meal.¬† Yippee!

The basic ingredients that turned into this…

Three BBQ pulled pork meals and pulled pork taco meat placed in the freezer for future meals.  The pork shoulder roast was enough for dinner that night and a hearty lunch for Tim the next day.

First start with a nice pork shoulder roast that you can divide into two large pieces.

Prepare your base ingredients for both recipes (BBQ pulled pork and garlic pork shoulder roast).¬† The ingredients for the roast rub¬†are 3 T. olive oil and¬†3 T. minced garlic.¬† Once you have those two things started, you can go ahead and cut your piece of meat in two.¬† (Don’t forget to remove any excess fat from the meat before cooking!!)¬† Place one piece on top of the onion in the crockpot and add 1/2 C. water.¬† Cover and cook on low for approx. 8 hours.

Use a Dutch Oven or roasting pan for the roast.  Brush or rub the garlic and oil all over the roast then season with salt and pepper to taste.  I placed mine back inside the frig with the lid on until it was ready to start cooking around noon.

Cook roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes with the lid off.  After that time, place the lid back on and turn down the oven to 325 degrees.  Continue roasting for approximately 4 hours (3-4 pound roast).

When the meat is through cooking inside the crockpot, carefully remove it to a platter and shred with a fork.  Place a portion of the meat into a freezer bag for the pork tacos and the rest back into the crockpot.  Mix together 2 C. BBQ sauce, 2 T. honey, 2 T. mustard and 1 T. soy sauce.  Combine sauce with the meat inside the crockpot.  Cook for an additional hour.

With about 1.5 hours remaining on the cook time for the roast, I added a small bag of baby carrots to the pot then re-covered and continued cooking.

The final results!!!

The only thing I would do differently with the pork roast would be to add some different seasonings to give it a little better flavor.¬† It tasted good, but I think a little rosemary or thyme¬†would really “kick it up a notch.”

 

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This was my first experiment using wheat flour all thanks to my mom.  I wanted to purchase a 5-pound bag at the Amish store, but my mom convinced me not to.  She said that the wheat flour you purchase off the store shelf has been sitting too long and the gluten has gone flat.  The best wheat flour to use in baking bread is freshly milled grain.

So, before I left to drive back to Arkansas, my mom pulled out her grain mill and filled up two gallon-sized zipper bags for me to take home and put inside my freezer.¬† (The freezer helps prolong the life of the gluten.)¬† After working with the dough, baking and then tasting this wonderful bread, I am now searching¬†online for a reasonably priced grain mill of my own so I can begin grinding my own flour on a needed basis.¬† I was happy to learn that the KitchenAid mixer has a grain mill attachment….Hmmmm….I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a good deal! ūüôā

Here’s the recipe I adapted and tweaked to my liking…

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast (or 1 envelope yeast)
  • 2 C. warm water
  • 1/4 C. butter, softened
  • 1/2 C. honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C. white flour

DIRECTIONS:  Dissolve yeast in warm water.  In a large bowl, combine butter, honey and salt and mix well.  Add yeast mixture and then gradually add flours.  Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth.  Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled (approx. 1 hour).  Punch down and let rest for a few minutes.  Divide dough into two parts and shape into loaves.  Place in greased pans and let rise for about an hour.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  In a large bowl, combine butter, honey and salt and mix well.

Add yeast mixture and then gradually add flours.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth.

Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double in size.

Punch down and let rest for a few minutes before dividing into two parts.

Shape into two loaves.  I found that rolling mine up like a cinnamon roll and pinching the ends works well at keeping the shape better during baking.

Place in greased pans and let rise for about an hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Enjoy the nice soft insides with a hint of sweetness from the honey.¬† My pickiest¬†eater scarfed down a whole piece and came back asking for more!!!¬† Wow!!!¬† This recipe is nothing like some homemade wheat breads I’ve tried that taste and feel like bricks.¬† My siblings and I still like to tease our mom about her “indestructible wheat bread!”¬† You could literally bang it on the edge of the table and not a crumb would fall off.¬† Hahaha!¬† Those were always sandwiches that really filled you up. ūüôā

The $1.25 Cure

Isaac’s ear canals¬†are the size of a pen tip and therefore impossible to clean or even have tubes put in to help with the fluid buildup.¬† These past four months his left ear has been retaining more and more fluid.¬† We’ve been having to see the ENT every month to have his ears checked for infection and cleaned.¬† Thankfully he has not had any infection although the volume of fluid has steadily increased with each passing month.¬† I can only imagine what that must feel like to Isaac.¬† He is already struggling in speech so having one of his ear drums blocked by all that fluid must make things sound incredibly warbled.¬† It’s like listening to someone talk under water!

Our only option was to¬†wait until Isaac¬†turns three to have his tonsils and adenoids¬†removed and then the doctor would be able to do a small incision into the tympanic membrane to create an opening to suction out all the fluid.¬† In the meantime, we just had to¬†hope and pray that his hearing wouldn’t cause extreme speech delays and¬†the fluid wouldn’t cause infections.

While up in Illinois, I picked up a few ear candles from the Amish town near my parents’ home.¬† I thought for only a $1.25, it was worth giving a try to see if it would help with Isaac’s hearing.

It works by tilting your head all the way to the side and placing the tip lightly inside the ear opening and lighting the opposite end with a match.  As the candle burns, the heated air inside the candle flows into the ear warming the wax and loosening it.  The wax is then pulled out of the ear and up into the candle by the natural vacuum reaction from the flame.  It is completely painless and simple to use.

At his last speech therapy session, I didn’t mention that I had cleaned Isaac’s ears but waited to see if his therapist noticed any difference in his vocalizations.¬† After therapy was over, Isaac’s therapists commented to me that it seemed as if Isaac was a completely different kid.¬† He was jabbering up a storm and making all kinds of different animal sounds at the approriate times.¬† Yay!

The final test will be when Isaac goes in for his ENT appointment tomorrow.  The doctor will be able to verify if there is no longer any fluid in the ear when he goes to look at the ear drum.

Amazing how much junk can come out of one little guy’s ears!!!¬† Now we won’t have to pay the $60+ each month just to have Isaac’s ears cleaned by the ENT.¬† I just think these candles are AMAZING and love how well they work!!!

Canning Homemade Salsa & Pizza Sauce

So here’s the¬†recipe for a very easy salsa that can be made with either all fresh garden veggies or canned tomatoes.¬† For this batch, I didn’t have any garden tomatoes, so I used canned whole tomatoes and some fresh bell pepper and onion.

 One batch of salsa (approx. 5-6 pints):

  • 1 pkg. Mrs. Wages Seasoning – $1.64 (was originally $3.29 but purchased mine with B1G1 Free sale last season)
  • 1/2 C. vinegar
  • 1 #10 can whole tomatoes – $2.69
  • 1 bell pepper – FREE (from a co-workers garden!)
  • 1 onion – $0.24
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes – $0.68 (I needed just a little bit extra plus it added a little chunk to the salsa)

 

Drain the juice out of the large whole tomatoes and puree the tomatoes inside a blender.  It usually makes approximately 8 cups of pureed tomatoes.

Pour into a large pot and place on medium heat.

 

 

 

 

Finely chop your onion and bell pepper unless you like larger chunks in your salsa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combine the bell pepper, onion, 1/2 C. vinegar and seasoning to the pureed tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Stirring occasionally, lower heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

While the salsa is cooking, heat the water inside your canner to just under a boil and place enough canning lids in a small saucepan with boiling water.

 

 

 

 

 

Use sterile, hot pint jars and fill with the salsa leaving a 1/2 inch head space.  Use a damp towel to clean the rim of each jar ensuring that there are no chips in the glass or food caked on.  Place a canning lid and band around each jar and tightly seal before placing inside the canner.

All jars should be immersed in almost-boiling water for 40 minutes.¬† If you don’t have enough water inside the canner to cover the lids, add more.

 

 

After 40 minutes, remove the jars from the canner and let rest on a towel until they have cooled and lids seal.¬† You will hear a loud “pop” when a lid completely seals.¬† Let rest on the counter overnight before removing the bands and storing.¬† Place any unsealed jars inside the refrigerator.

 

 

 

For the pizza sauce, I used one #10 can of whole tomatoes ($2.69) and pizza seasoning ($1.60).  You need exactly 15 cups of pureed tomatoes or 8 cups water and 7 cups tomato paste mixed with 1 cup seasoning.  I measured out all the tomato juice from inside the can first then pureed the tomatoes and measured before adding together in a large pot to cook.  Cooking and canning instructions are the same as the salsa.

Cost breakdown for me was:

  • Salsa – $5.25 (= $0.87/pint)
  • Pizza – $4.29 (= $0.71/pint)

 

Happy 8 Months!

A little late, but at least I actually remembered to do a post while Adam is still 8 months.¬† Haha!¬† He’s changed so much in the past few weeks.¬† The biggest change being that he is now crawling and has a total of FIVE razor teeth.¬† Of course one thing hasn’t changed – he is still the happiest little baby around! ūüôā

I Need a Vacation After My Vacation

What’s that saying…”Land on your feet running?”¬† That’s how I feel after arriving home yesterday with the boys around dinner time and trying to unpack and prepare for all of the following day’s events.¬† The thing I hate the most upon returning home after a vacation is the mound of laundry and cleaning that must be done.¬† Blah!¬† But as much as I hate feeling overwhelmed by the load of work pressing on my shoulders, I’m forever thankful for routines and just being “home.”¬† Not to mention the all important fact that I am with my handsome hubby after being separated for a week.

As much as I would have LOVED to relax after all that driving, instead we all jumped back into our Tuesday routine.  Isaac had two hours of therapy this morning so while he was busy working at Easter Seals with his therapists, I took the other two boys with me to get half of the grocery shopping done.

We finished up with one store and swung back around to pick up Isaac at school.¬† Then we headed to Kroger to finish up the grocery shopping and head home to unload food and kids.¬† In this extremely hot weather it’s always a toss up¬†as to what to unload first – frozen foods or kids!¬† Hahaha!

Got everyone some lunch and the two little ones down for a nap in good time then set in to get the kitchen cleaned, house picked up and the laundry started.¬† It didn’t help knowing that our prospective buyer was coming by at 3 p.m. with a few inspectors.

After everything was cleaned and baby boy fed again, I tackled canning a batch of salsa and pizza sauce since we are completely out of both.  Yikes!

Then with a few minutes to spare after throwing dinner in the crockpot, I made a double batch of laundry soap.¬† I’m glad I had just enough Borax to make the double batch and throw away yet another bulky box that I don’t want to mess with packing.

Now all that’s left to do is actually FOLD my mountain of laundry….gulp….I threw it all on my bed to force myself to fold it before I could go to sleep tonight.¬† My own version of tortuous motivation. ūüė¶¬† Haha!¬† Maybe tomorrow I will be able to slow down a bit and get all my computer projects out of the way and finish boxing up more closet items to prepare for moving to storage.¬† We’ll see…