Monday, January 31

French Dip Brisket

Slow cooker recipes are so wonderful and easy.  I use my slow cooker several times a month for either for soups or Roasted Sticky Chicken (you can make your own "rotisserie" chicken right at home--much cheaper!) and I am always on the look out for new recipes.   Rachael Ray has even started doing more of these, which I love.   So many slow cooker recipes often times call for processed ingredients (like cans cream of XXX soup or envelopes of onion soup, and while that certainly makes a meal come together fast, those aren't the best for you and we all know I try to do whole foods whenever possible) so whenever Rachael Ray does a slow cooker recipe, I make sure to pay attention.

This one she did right before Christmas and I have been wanting to try it out.  We have a ton beef of in our freezer and it was a slow cooker recipe, so it provided another way to use up some of our beef.  I was excited to say the least.  I pared it with some homemade crusty french bread and it was very, very good!  Oh, and my cut of beef wasn't actually "brisket" and it still turned out great, so it's definitely worth trying even if the only cut you have in your freezer is roast or something of that nature.

French Dip Brisket ~ from Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 slices smoky bacon, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 beef brisket (3 pounds) (I used a three pound chuck roast)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered (I used button mushrooms, and oops! I sliced my mushrooms rather than quarter them!)
2 cups beef stock or broth
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (mine was dried)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey

For serving:

1 loaf bread, cut into 4-inch sections, split and toasted
Sliced Swiss cheese (I used provolone)
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat drizzle with EVOO.  Add the bacon to the pan and cook until just starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Return the skillet to a medium-high heat leaving in the remaining bacon fat.  Season both sides of the beef with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

While the meat is searing, add the reserved bacon and remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.  Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Add in the seared meat to the pot and cover.  Set the timer/heat level of the slow cooker depending on the time at which you want your meal to be served, or cook until the meat is tender.

Thinly slice the beef.  To serve, place a layer of sliced beef, cooked veggies, Swiss cheese on top of a slice of the bread and broil until cheese starts to brown.  Top with chopped parsley and serve with a small bowl of juices to dip sandwich.

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap  
Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap
Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday 
Paisley Passions Fun With Food Friday 

Sunday, January 30

Menu Plan Monday

Can you believe that January is nearly over?  Wasn't it just Christmas?  It has warmed up here considerably and I am wanting spring to get here fast.  But in reality, we still seven weeks of winter left....  I guess that means there is still time left for lots of soups! 

Sunday-Cajun Jambalaya Soup, green salad with homemade ranch dressing

Monday-Pork Chops w/ Plums and Red Onions, Sesame Rice, green salad

Tuesday-Coconut Chicken and Rice, steamed veggies

Wednesday-BLT's, green salad

Thursday-Eggplant Pizza with homemade crust, green salad


Saturday-Chicken Linguine with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms (Macaroni Grill Knockoff), green salad

For other great menu planning ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie

Saturday, January 29

Tried It & Loved It: Dark Chocolate Orange Pudding

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Chocolate and Mint

Chocolate and Raspberry

While those are all wonderful compliments to chocolate and I would never turn down a dessert that were any of these combinations, given a choice, I hands down would go for the chocolate and orange.  No chocolate combination makes my toes curl like chocolate and orange.  I LOVE it and I am definitely my mother's daughter in that department--it's her favorite too.  And we certainly seem to be the odds ones out, as most people (at least that I know) always prefer the chocolate raspberry combo. 

So when I came across this recipe, I knew I would love it.  And love it I did.

Dark Chocolate Orange Pudding ~ slightly adapted from Lisa at Blessed With Grace 

1/3 cup sugar (I used rapaduara)
2 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 TBSP butter 
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp finely shredded orange peel

In a large saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder.  Slowly mix in cold milk and stir to incorporate.  Over medium to medium high heat, cook and stir constantly until mixture thickens and starts to bubble.  Temper egg by adding in about a 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to the beaten egg, stirring to incorporate.  Add this mixture back to rest of the pudding and add in chopped chocolate.  Cook for about 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.    

Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and orange peel.  Transfer to heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a "skin" from forming.  Serve with sweetened cream (if desired) and enjoy. 

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway!), the Peanut loved it too.

Monday, January 24

Cranberry Orange Muffins

As I have mentioned *a time or two* here before, I am using more whole grains (really whole foods in general) in the kitchen. Some areas are better than others. Such as rice--we use brown rice exclusively around here now.  And let me be upfront--I don't love brown rice.  Not by any stretch.  I prefer white rice, but I know the brown is better for you, so we do that instead.  But get this--a friend of mine told me that using something a little "higher end" really helps in the way of enjoying brown rice.  Let me explain--I am a "bulk foods girl" (almost always).  And I am frugal.  Whatever brown rice was the cheapest, I was buying.  However, my friend told me, get the basmati brown rice instead of the standard long/short grain.  I was skeptical to say the least, but I thought, okay I'll try it this once.  And it really does make a difference.  Pair the "better" rice and using chicken stock instead of water to cook it--um, yes, thank you, I'll have seconds.  For reals, try it--let me know what you think.  I think it's nearly as good as white rice.  

Anyhow, this post wasn't supposed to be about rice.  For flour, I try to do whole wheat as much as possible as well.  We do whole wheat for sandwich bread, whole wheat pancakes and waffles, whole wheat banana bread and most of our muffins are whole wheat as well--I have switched to exclusive whole wheat in the Best Ever Muffins and Morning Glory Muffins as well as many others.  That said, there is something about fruit and whole wheat that doesn't sit as well with me.  Like the scones, when it comes to things like blueberry muffins or in this case, cranberry orange muffins, I just couldn't go all the way.  I did compromise though and did half and half (nearly).  And you know what?  They were good!  The all whole wheat may not be half bad either--slathered in butter of course.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease bottoms of a muffin pan or line with paper liners and set aside.

1 cup frozen cranberries (don't thaw)
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
3/4 cup milk (I used whole, but I am sure most milk would work just fine)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (vegetable oil would work too)
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar + 1 additional tablespoon (mine was rapadura)
1 1/4 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder (since switching to aluminum free, I have found it to more reactive than regular baking powder--if using regular baking powder use 2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, toss frozen cranberries, 1 tablespoon of sugar and orange zest.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl, mix melted coconut oil and milk.  Whisk in egg and and remaining sugar.  Add in flours, baking powder, and salt and start folding wet and dry ingredients together.  When about half way incorporated, add in cranberry mixture and fold together until dry ingredients are just moistened. 

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap 
Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday 
Paisley Passions Fun With Food Friday 

Hair Accessory Organizer

Between the hair bows I have made or purchased as well as a generous Grandma and Auntie, our Peanut has gobs of hair accessories.  It's funny too, because some of them she can't even use yet, as her is still so fine!  For the last several months, all the accessories have been contained in a zip top bag in order to keep them together and not lose any.   I then remembered that I saw an idea awhile back about using a hanger with clips and clipping long pieces of ribbon in the clips to attach the accessories to.   I thought it was a great idea, but I wanted to dress it up a bit.

Have something functional, but you know, make it cute and girly. 

Peanut was given several wonderful outfits as a baby that came with these pretty little covered hangers.  Of course I kept the hangers, but I never really used them as they weren't very practical.  Well now I have figured out something to use them for!

I sewed long strands of wide grosgrain ribbon (which I found on Christmas clearance at WalMart!) to the hanger.  I also took another piece of ribbon and sewed plastic hooks (that my mom had in her stash--sort of like these--I think they are normally used for curtains and such) to tie loose ribbons to.

I had the hanger and the thread and my mom gave me the hooks, so really the only thing I had to purchase was the ribbon. Pretty cute for only a dollar and change, don't you think?  It is so much more organized, and really, that was the ultimate goal.   

This post is linked to:

ABC & 123 Show and Tell   Tues
Creations By Kara Look What I Made!  Wed.
My Backyard Eden Make it Yours Day   Tues
Skip to My Lou Made By You Monday
Somewhat Simple Strut Your Stuff Thursday

We Are THAT Family's Works For Me Wednesday

Sunday, January 23

Menu Plan Monday

For some reason, I haven't been planning well, as we have been having enough leftovers to generate two leftover nights instead of the standard one.  I think it's because Hubs has been working more day shifts which means he isn't eating lunch at home and then going to work, therefore leaving more leftovers to eat up during the week.  So this week I am doing two leftover nights...if for some reason we don't have enough for two nights (Murphy's Law) then grilled cheese it will be. 


Monday-Tacos with taco meat, black beans, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and salsa

Tuesday-French Dip Brisket, Crusty Bread

Wednesday-Baked potato bar with chili, cheese, sour cream, broccoli, green onions


Friday-Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple Stir Fry, steamed broccoli


For other great menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie

Saturday, January 22

Tried It & Loved It: Yummy Pumpkin Dip

I came across this one last fall and it is absolutely wonderful.  Of course I may be a little biased, as I love all things pumpkin.  And with my abundance of pureed pumpkin in my freezer, this is a treat we have been enjoying a lot lately.  This is super easy too, so I am really at a loss as to why you wouldn't love it.

this picture does not do the yummyness justice!

Pumpkin Dip ~ from My Blessed Life 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 15 oz can pumpkin (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 T. maple syrup
1 T. cinnamon

Whip cream cheese and add in remaining ingredients.  Mix well to combine.  Serve with fall fruit such as apples and pears.*  Enjoy!

*If serving this dip when entertaining, you can soak the apple and pear slices in lemon/lime soda that has gone flat to help prevent the fruit from browning.  Lemon water works too, but you have to use a fair amount of lemon juice, so I find the soda is just easier.  

Thursday, January 20

Valentine's Gift Ideas

Can you believe that Valentine's Day is just less than a month away?  Where do the days go?  I was looking around at and they have some wonderful gift ideas just in case you might need a few to give the love of your life!

With spring just around the corner, how about these cute sunglasses?  I love the mulberry pair!   Or if jewelry is more up your alley, I thought these earrings were just too pretty!  And every girl needs a right hand ring, don't you think? Or maybe you like the more practical side of things and want something like a new camera.  I know camera accessories are always high on my list!

The nice folks at have agreed to offer my readers a special discount!  The discount code is:  ?121745?, good for 10% off Overstock products (excluding movies, books, and electronics).  This discount code never expires, however, please be aware that it can only be used once per email address.  If you are interested in electronics, you can use 202234 - which is a free shipping promo code for electronics.

Have fun shopping! 

Disclosure:  All the ideas and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary compensation was received for doing this post, however, I was provided with a discount code.

Tuesday, January 18

CSN Review: New Bakeware

Several weeks ago, I hinted that CSN Stores had asked me to participate in a product review with them.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and I went straight for the kitchen items

With my newest obsession--delving into the world of whole foods and just getting back to basics, I have read that aluminum is not that great for you.  Consequently, we now use aluminum free baking powder and aluminum free deodorant in our household--much to my Hubby's exasperation.  No, he really is supportive in all these changes, but he LOVES to tease me about turning into a hippy.  Little does he know that I am sure I have only scratched the surface--I SO haven't even come close to reaching crunchy status. 

That said, I have been wanting to replace some of my aluminum bakeware and CSN Stores provided a wonderful opportunity!  Several months back I started looking for stainless steel cookie sheets and muffin tins (just when I was out and about--I wasn't exactly on a mission) but I haven't found any stores here in SmallTown that carry stainless steel bakeware.  Everything is either aluminum or has non-stick coating (like Teflon--and don't even get me started on the dangers of Teflon.  It really makes you think, is any modern convenience without consequence?)

Anyhow, back to my new kitchen items...

CSN Stores carries a wide array of different bakeware and one of the neat features is that you can sort products by the type of material the product is made with.  Perfect!  I simply searched for items that were made of stainless steel and their site did the work for me!

I chose to purchase both a stainless steel muffin pan as well as a stainless steel jelly roll/cookie sheet.  My new items came last week, and I have been very happy with my choices.

I was curious to see if there was any difference in baking quality and I haven't seen any at all.  If anything, they bake even better than the aluminum pans I was using previously!  Both pans bake very evenly and both have nice smooth surfaces that my goodies didn't stick too. 

I have been thrilled with my purchases and I will definitely be using CSN Stores again when it comes time to replace some of my other bakeware.   Their site if definitely worth checking out!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by CSN Stores.  I received both baking pans to facilitate this review.  The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own. 

Monday, January 17

White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Cookies

When I was making the goodie plates right before Christmas, I had a kitchen mishap.

Yes, I have more of those than I would like to do share, but I figure most of you only want to read about things that turn out, not the things that don't! Let me know if you feel otherwise...tee hee.

Anyhow, for the goodie plates, I was attempting to make the peppermint bark that turned out so beautifully last year.  Well, white chocolate chips are fickle.  You can't get any moisture in them or they won't melt all nice and smooth.  I think that some of the steam from the double boiler snuck in, as the white chocolate chips got half melted, half chunky, and just plain icky.  Not what you want when making peppermint bark.  So I scrapped the peppermint bark idea during Operation: Goodie Plates Baking.  However, because I am cheap frugal, I poured the heaping mess of white chocolate chips in a plastic container and thought I could use them for something else.

Well that something else was repurposed for one of my favorite cookies, White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Cookies.

I used to buy the Otis Spunkmeyer version of these in our high school student store at 4/$1.00.  I bought these nearly everyday--I switched it up with the jumbo size doughnuts from the cafeteria.  I know.  How I was ever a size 2 is beyond me.  Anyhow, I must digress...

While I don't have the metabolism I did back in high school, I still love, love, love these cookies.  Of course I did attempt to make this sweet treat a little healthier with some not as refined indgredients.  And for the record, Hubs hasn't stopped talking about them since.  He loved that the cookie dough wasn't overly sweet, which was complimented with the super sweet white chocolate chunks.

There you have it, the thoughts and opinions of my official taste tester.  And yeah, the unofficial taste tester's comments were, "Dat good, Mommy!"

White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Cookies

2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar (mine was Rapadura--hence the darker colored cookie)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
12 oz. white chocolate chips or a 12 oz. white chocolate hunk, chopped into chip sized pieces
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Cream sugars and butter.  Add in vanilla and eggs, mix until smooth.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Fold in white chocolate chips/chunks and macadamia nuts.   Drop by spoonfuls or cookie scoop on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes--or about 12 if you don't refrigerate.  :)

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap 
Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday 
Paisley Passions Fun With Food Friday 

Sunday, January 16

Menu Plan Monday

Last week went good...just one (as standard!) roll over to this week.  I am also pulling out some old favorites, so this week should be pretty tasty.

Sunday-Pork Chops, steamed veggies, sweet potatoes

Monday-Buffalo Chicken Calzones, green salad with homemade ranch dressing

Tuesday-Broccoli Cheese Soup, green salad

Wednesday-Nachos with taco meat, black beans, cheese, sour cream, and salsa

Thursday-Slow cooker Pork and Black Bean Chili, green salad



For other great menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie

Saturday, January 15

Tried It & Loved It: Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze

I read a lot of blogs and I print off nearly just as many recipes.  I also join in several different recipe blog hops each week and I come across so many different recipes that I have high inspirations of trying.  Combine that with my obsession dedication to watching Rachael Ray every day (I heart our DVR - free for 12 months - so I double heart it!) and all my food magazine subscriptions and I've got a mess of recipes just waiting to be tried out.  And some of them I do try right away.  Others though, get stored in my recipe binder, and wait patiently. 

And then I forget about them. 

Later, as I am flipping through my binder looking for a recipe I've already made, I come across one that I've been wanting to try and think, "I really should make that."

And then I forget again.  And so the cycle goes.

So in effort to motivate myself (and share some great recipes with you!), I am starting a new feature called Tried It & Loved It which will appear here each and every Saturday.  This way I can try some new recipes and pass along ones that are so worth your time too.

Oh, the sacrifices I make. 

This recipe is one that I actually made fairly soon after I came across it.  And they are delicious, but I don't make them too often.  Not because they aren't absolutely yummy, but I think scones should be light and crumbly and all purpose flour is a sure way to achieve that.  I have been substituting whole wheat flour in more and more recipes like cookies, muffins, and many others, but I just can't seem to do it when it comes to scones.

But we can all indulge once and a while, right? 

Of course, I did change it around just a smidge--I didn't make mini scone bites for fear I would eat the whole batch.  I did standard sized scones.  The icing also made quite a bit the first time, so I reduced it by half the next time around and it was perfect.

Lemon Scone Bites with Lemon Glaze - from Kate at Cooking During Stolen Moments


2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, cut into small pieces
2 t. freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. milk

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter/two knives/your hands, cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a separate bowl, mix zest, lemon juice, and milk and pour immediately onto dry mixture and mix until combined and dough can be shaped into a ball.  On a floured surface, press dough down into a disk shape until it is about a 1/2 inch thick.  Slice disk in half and cut each half in thirds.  This is for standard size scones, to make the mini scone bites, please refer to the original recipe

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.  Let cool completely prior to glazing. 
    Lemon Glaze:

    1/2 c. powdered sugar
    2 t. freshly grated lemon zest
    1-2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (more or less depending on consistency)

    Mix together zest and powdered sugar and add in juice until mixture is a desired glaze consistency.  Place scones on cooling rack set over a cookie sheet (easy clean up!) and drizzle glaze over scones.  Let dry before storing.  

    Not that you'll have any left. 

    Wednesday, January 12

    Basil Pesto Ranch

    This recipe came as a suggestion from my husband.  Several weeks ago, we were having green salad with our customary homemade ranch dressing (yum! yum!) and he suggested I add some of my homemade pesto to it.  At the end of last summer, to utilize my mass amounts of fresh basil I had on hand, I made up a whole bunch of pesto and then froze it.  Some I froze in ice cube trays (for approximate tablespoon portions) and some I froze in larger 1/2 cup portions.  Until he suggested it, I had completely forgot all about my pesto and I thought it was a great way to start using it up. 

    I thought his idea sounded wonderful and the verdict....

    it was.  

    Basil Pesto Ranch

    1 cup buttermilk (you can make your own if you don't have any)
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 teaspoon oregano
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons black pepper
    4 tablespoons homemade or prepared pesto 
    1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

    Combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, and all dry ingredients, whisking until combined.  Add the mayo and pesto and whisk until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to develop flavors. Serve over green salad.

    This recipe is linked to:

    Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday 
    Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap
    Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday 
    Paisley Passions Fun With Food Friday

    Tuesday, January 11

    She's a Fan

    I told you how we loved the Cranberry Spice Granola....well the "we" was the Hubs and me.  I hadn't given any to Peanut at press time.

    I have now...

    the response was, shall we say...favorable. 

    Sunday, January 9

    Menu Plan Monday

    Last week went well--just one repeat for this week.  That is a good week for me.  For reals.  And not because I didn't get to it either--the eggplants at the store last week looked less than stellar, so when I went yesterday they apparently had received a fresh batch, so that meal got bumped to this week. 

    Sunday-Eggplant Parmesan (I make my own sauce though, not the one listed), steamed veggies

    Monday-Chicken Broccoli Couscous (I just this one!)

    Tuesday-Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, green salad

    Wednesday-Beef Enchiladas with homemade sauce, spanish rice, green salad

    Thursday-Spicy Peanut Chicken, steamed veggies


    Saturday-Lasagna (using this tip), green salad, and if I am feeling ambitious, crusty french bread

    For other great menu plans, visit the Organizing Junkie

    Wednesday, January 5


    I was doing dishes the other day and Peanut was participating in her favorite past time...she was climbing up in the computer chair and going for the computer. 

    Side note: she likes to grab the mouse and tell me she is blogging.   

    Yes, I know.

    As she is going for the computer mouse, which she KNOWS is off limits, I threaten to go put her up in her crib.  As usual, it works like a charm.  She turns and tells me as she's shaking her head, "Peanut not touch."  "Yes, you are right," I told her.  Then, in a rare moment of brillance, I suggested she take the mouse pad (which we use but don't need to) and set it up with her own computer.  She got all excited and scampered off. 

    After I had put her down for her nap, I was getting some different tasks done around the house and I came across this:

    My little imitator. 

    Tuesday, January 4

    Cranberry Spice Granola

    I have been making homemade granola for awhile now and I think I have found the trick to getting those crunchy, yummy, large bits of granola.  Of course if you add lots of sugar, it will definitely be more sticky and yummy--but if you are wanting to watch your sugar intake, and be a little more sugar conscious, this might be the trick for you too!

    I was ironing the other day and I had on the Food Network for noise (does anyone else do that?) and Sunny Anderson was making this granola.  This was the first time I ever heard of adding egg whites to granola.  Interesting, huh?  And it adds a little bit of extra protein too!  I took the idea and ran with it and this is what I came up with.

    Ours was gone in three days...other recipes I have tried would last at least a week, if not longer.  Even the Peanut loved it.

    Cranberry Spice Granola

    1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
    1/4 cup coconut oil
    1/4 cup sugar (I used Rapadura) 
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 tsp vanilla
    4 1/2 cups rolled oats
    1/4 cup chopped pecans (I would have used more, but that was all I had on hand)
    1/2 cup slivered almonds
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds
    2 egg whites
    1/2 cup dried cranberries

    Beat egg whites until nice and foamy, set aside.

    In a separate bowl, mix oats, pecans, slivered almonds, and sunflower seeds.  Set aside.

    Mix the maple syrup, coconut oil and sugar in a saucepan.  Heat until sugar is dissolved and it starts to bubble.  Remove from heat and add in cinnamon and vanilla, mix well to combine.   Pour over the oat mixture and stir well to coat the dry ingredients evenly.  Add in the egg whites and stir well.  Spread out in a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet that is either greased, lined with parchment paper or a baking mat (like Silpat).  Bake at 325 degrees for ten minutes.  Turn granola once and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Let cool completely and mix in dried cranberries.  Store in an airtight container.

    This recipe is linked to:

    Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
    Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

    Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday
    Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

    Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap  
    Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap

    Monday, January 3

    Ham & Spinach Stuffed Sandwiches

    I meant to get this posted last week in time for New Year's Eve, but it completely slipped my mind.  These have a wonderful mix of flavors and are great make ahead little sandwiches.  My family has been making these for Christmas Eve for close to ten years now--they are a major family favorite.  This is another one of those "Why don't I make these more often?" recipes.  They are pretty easy to make, so I really don't know why I don't make them more often.  And I discovered that the Peanut was absolutely in love with this sammich {sandwich}, so I definitely need to make these more than once a year.

    These traditionally call for sourdough baguettes, which I normally get in a five pack from Costco (cheater, I know).  But my Costco doesn't carry those (grrr).  Instead, I made do with my own homemade loaves of bread (I used all purpose flour this time--cheater again, I know.), but on the second rise, my towel stuck adhered to the rising bread, so when I pulled back the towel to put the loaves in the oven, the loaves deflated like pathetic old balloons (double grrr).  All that to say, these loaves were not nice and fluffy like they should have been.  But in the end they worked out good, so I was happy.

    Ham & Spinach Stuffed Sandwiches

    1 (24 inch) baguette or 1 larger loaf of homemade bread, baked like a loaf of french bread

    8 oz. cream cheese, slightly softened
    2 Tbsp. lemon juice
    1 tsp. dill weed
    2 green onions, chopped
    1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of all excess water

    4 cups minced ham (this time I used leftover ham, but I've purchased deli ham in the past and it works just fine)
    1/3 c. chopped pecans
    1/2 c. mayonaisse
    1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

    If using a baguette, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out centers, leaving about a 1/2 inch shell.  Remember you can dry the centers out and save them for pre-made bread crumbs!  Set baguettes aside.  As mentioned, my loaf wasn't all fluffy and thick, so I skipped this step--but if you have a bready normal loaf, you'll want to do this too.  

    Combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, dill, green onions, and spinach. Coat the inside of the bread shells (and all cut edges) with spinach mixture.

    Mix ham, pecans, mayo, and mustard.  Fill coated bread shells with ham mixture and place each half together.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate several hours.  Slice to serve.

    This recipe is linked to:

    Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
    Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

    Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday
    Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

    Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap  
    Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap

    Sunday, January 2

    Menu Plan Monday

    Can you believe it is 2011?  Remember when Y2K was the big fear?  Is seems like forever ago, but not really...  I hope everyone had a great New Year's and that each of you will have your best. year. yet.

    I didn't plan very well last week (not enough leftover nights), so several of last weeks items didn't get made.  So you'll be seeing some repeats this week, along with some of our new favorites.  For this week:

    Sunday-BLT Carbonara, green salad with ranch dressing

    Monday-Fire Island Penne, green salad with ranch dressing

    Tuesday-Stuffed Beef Loaf, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies

    Wednesday-Eggplant Parmesan (I make my own sauce though, not the one listed), steamed veggies

    Thursday-Spaghetti with homemade sauce, green salad

    Friday-Parmesan Chicken, rice pilaf, green salad


    For other great menu plans, visit the Organizing Junkie

    Saturday, January 1

    2010: Photo Recap

    I've seen a couple others do this, so I thought it would be fun!  Just a *few* photos from the last year...

    Not my personal best, but look how little the Peanut is! 


    Remember this

    Blessings in the new year,


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