Back to School Power Bars

My oldest is going into school this year.  I really don’t feel old enough (or mature enough)  to have a child in school.  I want him to be successful.  I want him to make friends and be confident.  I want him to remember to say please and thank you, shut the toilet lid, share, and be respectful to his teacher (not necessarily in that order).  I also want to be sure that he has the energy he needs and a healthy body to keep him going.  When I grew up my favorite after school snack was a bowl of ice cream or a piece of toast with peanut butter and chocolate chips on top.  I had those almost everyday and I loved it!  There is definitely a time for junk food in my mind, but I also want to be sure to implement healthy snacks disguised and yummy treats.  So, I came up with this concoction that I’m very happy with.  You could substitute a few things to make it even more healthy, but I made it sweet enough that the boys wouldn’t know they were healthy.  It worked!  They love them.  I cut and wrapped half of the batch as regular granola bars so they would be easy to pop in a backpack or my purse.  The other half I cut into squares and had them easily accessible in a cookie jar.  The cookie jar squares were completely gone in two days  after sharing with some friends.  Just know that this recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to alter it to meet your wants.   Enjoy!

Back to School Power Bars 

2 cups flour

1 cup oat bran

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

3 cups oats

1+ cup cooked quinoa

2 cups dried fruit ( I used a tropical fruit mix)

1 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup applesauce

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp almond extract (I love the almond flavor, so use less if you want)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium/large bowl stir together the flour, oat bran, brown sugar, oats, quinoa, and dried fruit.  Make a little bowl within the flour mixture and put the remaining ingredients inside it.  Stir it a little bit and then incorporate the wet into the dry.  I make the flour bowl to save dishes, but you can mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl if you want and then just combine them.  The dough will be the consistency of a sticky cookie dough.  Spray 1-2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray and then scoop big blobs of the dough onto the baking sheets and spread out with the back of a large spoon or spatula.  You want it to be about 1/2-3/4 inches thick.  It doesn’t spread or rise much so don’t worry about it cooking strange if one of your baking sheets isn’t completely full of dough.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Yorkshire Pudding

This is a British staple.  In my naivety,  I was expecting Yorkshire Pudding to be like the Kraft Pudding I’m used to. . .not even close!  Yorkshire Pudding or ‘Yorkies’ are very similar to Dutch Babies, or the alternative to a roll with your dinner.  They are fun to make, easy (just be sure to plan ahead), and you will LOVE them!

Yorkshire (York-shur) Pudding

4 Large Eggs

Milk (equal quatity to eggs measurement)

Flour (equal quatity to eggs measurement)

Pinch of salt

Crisco or vegetable oil

 Crack the eggs and pour contents into a 2 cup measuring cup.  (Remember what it measures to!  My eggs measured to about 1 1/8 cup.) Then pour the eggs into a bowl.  Clean out the measuring cup (I hate using to many dishes), and now measure the flour and the milk (seperately) to the same measurement the eggs were, and pour into the same bowl as the eggs.  Use an electric hand mixer and beat the mixture into a cream, with no lumps.  Now you just leave the bowl to sit, on the counter for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.  Put a small (about 1/16 tsp) amount of oil or crisco in each muffin pan hole, place in oven for about 3 minutes, until crisco is melted and even slightly steaming.  While the crisco is in the oven put 2 Tbsp. of cold water into the egg mixture and stir it well.  Take the pan out of the oven and quickly pour the batter into each hole about 1/3 full (DON’T fill it too full, these babies puff up huge!).  Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden on edges.  This will make about 2 dozen.  Served best hot, right out of the oven.  Traditionally they are eaten with gravy.  They don’t re-heat well, but they taste great cold with jam or honey on top.

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes are very popular in England.  I decided to attempt them for my first time this week in preparation for the Olympic Games.  They turned out great!  They aren’t as hard as I thought they would be either, which was a pleasant suprise.  You’ll love them, especially alongside a London Broil and some Yorkshire pudding!

Roasted Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs. potatoes

2 Tbsp. oil or crisco

sea salt

Preheat oven to 410 degrees. (Yes, this is the first time I’ve ever turned my oven this hot:).  Peel the potatoes and rinse in cool water.  Cut them into bite-sized chunks.  Place the chunks in a large saucepan and then fill with cold water until chunks are just covered. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of sea salt over the water, and then cover with lid.  Turn heat to high, once at a low boil lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

Right when you set the 5 minute timer on the potatoes get out a baking sheet (with rims), pour in the oil, and place in the oven to heat.

After boiling for 5 minutes, drain the potatoes (still in the pan-or quickly return to the pan).  Put the lid back on the pan and shake it. . . seriously, vigorously. Be sure you’re wearing baking mits, because the pan is hot!  Do this for a few seconds until you take the lid off and see that the potato chunks are kind of fuzzy.  Now, remove the baking sheet from the oven, pour on the potatoes, and sprinkle some more sea salt on top.  Stir the potatoes around a little bit, so the oil can coat them.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Half way through bake time, flip the potato chunks.  When you take them out they should be crunchy and golden, if not cook longer or throw them on the grill for a little bit.

Enjoy and happy cooking!

Pecan Oatmeal Pancakes and Buttermilk Syrup

I’ve said this before, but I am not a great cook.  I am a great recipe collector and recipe tweaker.  This is one of those recipes that needs no improvement it is amazing and you will love it!  I’m so glad that I have sisters who are amazing cooks and share their recipes with me.  This one is from my sister Angela: breakfast cooking extraordinaire (plus a lot of other stuff).  She also shared with me THIS amazing recipe that is equally fantastic.

Pecan Oatmeal Pancakes
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
2 Tbsp.  brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C.  milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp.  butter or oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Pecans are best)
Combine wet and dry ingredients separately.  Add wet to dry just before cooking, then stir in nuts.  Pour batter onto hot griddle.
 Serve with Buttermilk Syrup.
Buttermilk Syrup
1 1/2 C. Sugar
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 Tbsp.  Corn syrup
1/2 C. Butter (has to be real butter)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
Combine first 4 ingredients in deep pan-the syrup will foam when soda is added.  Bring to a boil; boil 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Add soda and vanilla (this will make it expand a lot).  If you want it thinner add some milk just before you take it out of the pan and stir.

Seasoned Breadsticks

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This past week I never cooked.  Yep, not even once. Wow, I am amazed that I’m admitting this, but that’s just how life goes sometimes.  Hello McDonalds, hello random frozen things in the freezer, and hello sandwiches.  I spent most of last week cleaning.  When I’m pregnant I always tell everyone that I can have a moderately clean home, or a cooked dinner, but NEVER both on the same day.  Well, I’m not pregnant so I can’t use that as an excuse, but my house did get a really good cleaning:)  I made these a couple of weeks ago, and luckily froze some for a rainy day (which happened to be last week).  This will be two recipes in a row from Our Best Bites.  Yes, when it’s good I can’t help but share it.  I will never make any other breadsticks again.  Amazing!  It’s really the seasoning that makes it so perfect.  You’ll love it!  Happy cooking.

Seasoned Breadsticks

(word for word from HERE)

1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.  Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.  Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl.

Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.  Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough. Try to space them evenly, but it’s okay if they’re close; pulling apart hot bread is one of life’s greatest pleasures!

When there’s about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks (just put a ziploc bag on your hand, grab some softened butter, and have at it) and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning or the powdery Parmesan cheese in a can and garlic salt.

Garlic Bread Seasoning

1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley
Combine ingredients in a jar (preferably one with a sprinkle top) and shake. Well, don’t shake until you’ve put the lid on, but I assume most of you are smart enough to figure that out! :)Sprinkle on top of breadsticks or combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning with 1/2 c. of softened real butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter’s melted. If you want, you could also pop it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes so it gets brownish and crispy.

Tator-Tot Casserole

We have a rule in our house that my boys are very familiar with “Eat your food, or go to bed”.  We don’t force them to eat everything on their plate, but they are required to take at least one or two bites of everything I make or they are sent to bed.  If we can get them to eat at least one bite then they usually decide they like it and eat more.  If they really don’t like it then we’ll let them eat some other leftover in the fridge, but we don’t cater very many of our dinners to the boys’ tastes.  I figure the more foods I introduce to them now the easier they will be able to feed later.  Anyway, with that said we were realizing that I hadn’t made anything for a few weeks that the boys really loved so my hubby suggested making Tator-Tot Casserole, so they would be a little more happy about dinner.  I don’t make this very often, but it’s a kid pleaser.  If you haven’t made it before, it kind of tastes like french fries and cheese burgers combined into a creamy (and slightly crunchy) casserole.  The best part is I only dirty three dishes in the whole process of making this.  So, get out a frying pan, heat-safe spoon or spatula, and a 9×13 pan and enjoy!

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Tator-Tot Casserole

 1.5 lbs. hamburger

onion flakes

2 cans cream of. . . *

1 can milk (it’s not really canned milk, I just use one of the empty cans of cream of. . . and fill it with milk)

1 can of corn, drained

Frozen Tator Tots

2 handfuls of cheddar cheese

 *I used cream of chicken and cream of asparagus, but I know a lot of people that prefer cream of mushroom.

Turn oven to 350 degrees.  

In a skillet brown the meet and then add onion flakes and stir.  Pour into a 9×13 inch pan.  Pour on top of that the two cans of cream of. . . , (fill one of those empty cans with milk)add the milk,  and corn.  Stir it together in the pan so it’s all combined.  Pour the frozen Tater Tots over the creamy meat mixture.  I kind of poke them in a little bit, so that some sink into the creaminess, but the majority are covering the top. Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven, top with cheese, and bake for 10 more minutes. Done!

Angel Biscuits

Nothing makes me happier than the whole family working together to make dinner. This Sunday I made the most amazing mouth-watering biscuits, thanks to my new Lion House Bakery cookbook. These really are bakery perfection! Hope you enjoy, and happy cooking!

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Angel Biscuits

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup shortening (butter flavor is the best!)
2 cups buttermilk
3 Tbsp. butter, meltedIMG_0240

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease baking sheets. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Measure all the dry ingredients and stir together. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives. Add yeast to the buttermilk, then add this to the first mixture. Mix well with a fork, wooden spoon, or your hands. Turn out on floured counter and pat to desired thickness. (about 3/4 inches thick is perfect) Cut biscuits with a round biscuit cutter or a glass cup. Dip biscuits in melted butter and place on greased pan. Bake 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.

Note: buttermilk is made by pouring 1 Tbsp vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup and filling the rest with milk. Or for this recipe 2 Tbsp. vinegar, the remainder of the 2 cups filled with milk.

Chicken Pillows

I discovered this on thegirlwhoateeverything.com and thought that it was funny how she explained it as being a meal everyone knows about and makes. I had never heard of these Chicken Pillows and they were delicious. Anyway, I copied the recipe directly from her site. These are a perfect, easy – can’t think of anything to make -kind of meal. Happy Cooking!

Chicken Pillows

Mix together with mixer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream

Stir in:

½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ Tablespoons dried chives
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh onion minced
3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (around 3 cups)

Assemble Pillows:
2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
1/4 cup melted butter
Italian bread crumbs (around 2 cups)

Gravy:
1 (14.5 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (0.87) package chicken gravy mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sour cream until well combined. You can do this by hand if your cream cheese is soft enough. Stir in salt, pepper, onion, chives, and diced chicken. Using Pillsbury crescent rolls, take 2 triangular rolls and push together at perforated seam to make into a square. Make sure you seal the perforations well so your filling doesn’t come out. Put about 3 tablespoons of chicken mixture in the center of each square. Fold the dough corners to the center over the chicken mixture forming a pillow. Dip each pillow in melted butter on both sides. Roll in bread crumbs on both sides. Shake excess crumbs off. Place chicken pillow on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Make gravy by mixing one package of chicken gravy mix, one can of cream of chicken soup and 3/4 can of water in a small pot. Mix together and heat until warm. Serve chicken pillows with gravy poured over top.

Fruit-Tarts

These were pretty simple to make and very tasty.  The next time I make them I think I’ll buy some white baking flour to taste the texture difference.  I’ve been grinding my own wheat and have loved the flavor of things, but the wheat was a little heavy for tarts, I think.  Hubby loved them just the way they were. Try it out:

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Fruit-Tarts
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 teas. baking powder
1/2 cup jam

FROSTING
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teas. vanilla
2 Tbls. milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  In mixer, cream shortening and sugar together and then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Sift together flour and baking powder and stir into shortening mixture to make a soft dough. Cool in refrigerator for an hour or up to a day.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes (match one for top and one for bottom). Dab about a spoonful of jam onto center of bottom shape and then place the top over the jam and trim the edges with a pastry wheel or crimp with a fork to close.  Place tarts on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 min. Let cool.

Mix vanilla, milk, and powdered sugar until you have a thin frosting.  Dribble frosting on cooled tarts.

Pizza!

I’ve had a good share of Pizza’s in my day. . . granted, the majority have been $5 pizza’s, Pizza Hut, or Dominos variety.  The grease on it always grosses me out.  The sauce on it always grosses me out. . . I usually squeeze and wipe any sauce that I can off of it.  Yet, I still love pizza – strange.  Well, I also enjoy making pizza, which I must say is in a whole different league of goodness than any of the noted varieties. My sister, Michelle (who I get a lot of my great recipes from) gave me these recipes and my life has changed forever. . . or at least my expectations of pizza.  The sauce is especially exquisite, as stated in the title:).  I will never use store bought sauce again!  The picture below is just of the dough and sauce. . . with some added spinach just because I put spinach in-and-on pretty much everything last week. So, my suggestion is to make the sauce on a rainy day or when kids are asleep at night and store it in freezer safe containers until you’re ready to use them.  They freeze GREAT and it just gives the flavors more time to get to know each other:) This summer I tripled the batch and put them in freezer jam containers.  If you try this just don’t mistake them with strawberry jam; not a good combination). Here you go, and happy cooking!IMG_5718

Exquisite Pizza Sauce (makes 3 regular size pizzas)

    2 (6 oz) can Tomato Paste
    12  fl. Oz. Warm Water
    6 Tbs. Grated Parmesan Cheese
    2 tsp. Minced Garlic (I used 4 cloves-pressed)
    4 Tbs. Honey
    1 ½  tsp. Onion Powder
    ½ tsp. Dried Oregano
    ½ tsp. Dried Basil
    ½ tsp. Ground Black Pepper
    ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
    ¼ tsp. Dried Red Pepper Flakes
    Salt to Taste

Boil for approximately 5 mintues.  You don’t want all the liquid to boil out, but you want it to not be so runny, and then cool for at least 30 minutes before serving so it can marinate.  Can freeze.

Perfect Pizza Dough

Use Kneading Arm for KitchenAid
In KitchenAid dissolve the following:
     2 1/4 cup HOT water
     1 1/2 tsp. sugar
     1 Tbsp. salt

Slowly add and continuously mix:
     3 cups Flour
     1 Tbsp. yeast

Continue mixing and add:
     2 1/2-3 cups flour
     1-2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning

Mix on high and add flour if needed.  Kneed dough for 3-5 minutes.  Dough should eventually pull apart from edges and bottom of bowl.  Remove dough from Kitchen Aid and place in large sprayed bowl- cover with light towel.  Place in warm location and let rise for 1 hour.

Roll out desired amount of dough.  It can make one really thick crust pizza or 2 large regular crust pizza’s.

Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with sauce, seasonings, cheeses, meats, veggies, etc. What ever you want:)  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes and your pizza has reached perfection.