Archive for March, 2011

Granola yumminess

The other day I made some granola for Coffee Break.  It was a hit( from what I could tell) and I received many requests for the recipe.  I wish I could say it is my original recipe but it is actually from Ina Garten.  Of course, I have added my own changes so I guess you could say it is part Ina’s and part mine.  Either way, the recipe follows and feel free to modify to your tastes and preferences.


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (I usually use a combo of almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates (I usually substitute raisins)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Sometimes I add sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds depending on what I have available


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.  (I actually use a rimmed cookie sheet with a silpat mat)

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.  (If you want loose granola and not bars then don’t press the mixture down into the pan) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.


This is really good served on yogurt, sprinkled on top of hot oatmeal, or eaten like trail mix.   And as previously stated you can switch out ingredients that you don’t like for something that you do.  I imagine it would be great with dried apples and cinnamon, dried cherries and little chocolate chips, or whatever combo strikes your fancy.


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Braised short ribs

Time to haul out the big boy, i.e. my big blue cast iron dutch oven.  I have wanted one of these forever and this past Christmas I finally received one as a gift from my parents.  His name is big boy because he is large and heavy and takes up all of the burner and then some.

So today I decided to make some braised short ribs because it is overcast and rainy.  What could be better than a slow cooked meal on a yuck a buck day.  I didn’t really follow a recipe, I just kind of threw some of this and some of that in.  I will try to recreate it to the best of my ability.

Braised short ribs

2-3 pounds of beef short ribs (if you can’t find these at your local grocery you can substitute a chuck roast cut into 2-3 inch cubes)

3 stalks of celery, chopped-I include the leaves also because they add flavor

2 medium onions, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of red wine

4 cups of beef stock

salt and pepper

spices of your choosing-I used bouquet garni from Penzey’s

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large dutch oven heat up 1 Tbsp of olive oil over high heat.  While the oil is heating, season the short ribs with salt and pepper. 

Once the oil is hot, place the ribs in the pan and brown for about 2-3 min per side.  You don’t want to crowd the pan so I did mine in two batches.  While these are browning, you can chop all your veggies.

My pieces aren’t all the same size but I figure I’m the only one who is going to notice anyways.  Anyways, after the ribs are browned remove them from the pan. 

Turn the heat down to medium and add the veggies to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 min.

Add the cup of wine.  I used a sweet red because that is what I had on hand but you could use whatever wine you like to drink.  Oops, looks like I had a little too much to drink.

Let the wine cook down for a few minutes and then add the beef stock and the seasoning.  Put the short ribs back in the pan and continue to heat until the liquid comes back to a boil. 

Remove the pan from the stove and put in the oven.  Cook at 300 for about 3 hours.  Remove from the oven and serve over mashed potatoes, polenta, noodles, rice, or whatever is your favorite.  You can either leave the vegetables the way they are or blend them up in the sauce with a blender. 


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Today was quite a day.  Rob started driver’s training ( I can’t believe he is 15 and is going to be driving soon).  It seems like just yesterday he was a little baby and could be held like a football.  Ha ha!  Anyways, he is growing up so fast and he has the attitude to match it.

Colin also started baseball practice today.  His skills have improved quite a bit since last year.  I look forward to watching him play this season as it should be exciting.

Amidst the daily chores, running children back and forth, and some grocery shopping I did manage to make to make some yummy marionberry oatmeal bars and an easy peasy turkey stuffing casserole.  The recipes are posted below.   Tomorrow I will be working on some crafty things.  Stay tuned for more details….

Marionberry Oatmeal Bars

1 cup light brown sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups marionberry jam (I found this at Target but if you can’t find it you could substitute blackberry or raspberry jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan.  In a large bowl combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and oats.  Rub in butter using hands to form a crumbly mix.  Press 2 cups of the mix into the bottom of the pan.  Spread jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge.  Sprinkle remaining crumb mix over the top of the jam and lightly press into the jam.  Bake 40-45 min until lightly brown.  Allow to cool and cut into bars.

Turkey Stuffing Casserole

1 box of Stovetop stuffing mix

2 cups cooked, shredded turkey (or chicken)

1-1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or whatever veggie combo you like)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an oval casserole dish.  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the casserole dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.


“The entire law is summed up in a single command:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other,
watch out or  you will be destroyed by each other.”
Galatians 5:14-15 (NIV)

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Hello world!  This is my first attempt at blogging so this should be an adventure.  I decided I needed an outlet for all the random thoughts and ideas that are floating around in my head.

For those who don’t know me, I am a 39 y/o stay at home mom of five children.  They are wonderful children and God has truly blessed me.  I have to admit we face many challenges but that is what makes life worth living.  We are sometimes dysfunctional, sometimes crazy, and sometimes so full of energy we are about to burst.

One of my favorite things to do is cook and bake.  I enjoy trying new foods and new recipes and the best part is sharing my little experiments with everyone.  I try to buy locally when available and I am looking forward to trying my hand at home canning/preserving this coming spring and summer.  I am also going to attempt a garden in our yard (provided I can find a spot with enough sun).

My faith is very important to me and I am trying to raise my children with a solid foundation of Christ.  I have been blessed in so many ways and I try every day to bless someone else in a similar way.  Most likely I will have some scripture for the day that I will post on here as this is what motivates me, gives me strength, and lets me know that I am loved.

One of the most recent activities that I have become interested in is creating frugal crafts/projects out of things that I find or purchase inexpensively.  I am in the process of painting our house and enjoy decorating for pennies.  Any and all ideas are appreciated and welcomed.  I love reading blogs from others who have repurposed items or created beautiful objects out of what could be seen as junk.

Well, I think that is enough for now.  Stay tuned for future posts.



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