Amazing Granola

Trying to get the family to eat a little healthier is not always an easy task.  Barbi does the best at healthy eating, and I truly am trying to, but sometimes those unhealthy carbs just taste sooo good!  We’ve all heard that a good breakfast is the best meal of the day.  Here is a great recipe for homemade granola.  It can be eaten as a cold cereal with low-fat milk or warmed in the microwave to eat on a chilly fall morning.  Need an afternoon snack?  Just grab a handful to eat to help tide you over till dinner!

Amazing Granola

5 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup wheat germ

1 cup peanuts

1/2 cup to 1 cup powdered milk

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1 cup chopped nuts

*optional ingredients:  one cup each of raisins, dried cranberries; dried blueberries;  sesame seeds or coconut flakes.

Place all these ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well.

Combine 1 cup honey with 3/4 cup vegetable oil. Warm this in the microwave a few seconds to stir the honey better.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir very well, until all is coated.

Spread on large cookie sheet (might need 2) and bake at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.

Store in an air-tight container.

Substitutes Save Money!

As many home makers are doing these days, I try to stretch those grocery dollars as far as they can possibly go.  Coupon shopping has become the norm for me.  I met a fellow coupon shopper this morning in the store as we were both contemplating the sour cream on sale.  She confessed to being new to the coupon scene and ask a number of questions.  When we parted 15 minutes later, we both felt like we’ve been friends for years!

One money saving idea is to use ground beef instead of cubed steak.  I tried this in a recipe the other day, and it worked beautifully.  Using the left-over gravy in place of the marinara sauce tasted great too!  The entire family raved about it.

Here is the recipe with my adaptations included.  Taken from ‘Great American Recipes.’

Steak Parmesan

1 lg. egg, lightly beaten

2 tbsp. milk

3/4 c. Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

4 beef cube steaks*

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/3 c. marinara sauce*

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine the egg and milk in large shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in another shallow bowl.   Sprinkle the steaks with salt and flour.  Coat them in the egg, then in the bread crumb mixture.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the steaks.  Cook until golden brown on both sides and juices run clear.  Spoon marinara sauce over the steaks.  Sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover the skillet and cook until cheese is melted.

Serve with angel hair, bow tie, or your favorite pasta.

*I made (8) 1/4 pound burgers and used them instead of the cubed steak.   I also used my left over  beef gravy instead of marinara sauce.

Making use of the garden goodness

As I mentioned in my last post, the summer went by all too quickly.  I did manage, however, to finally get my kitchen/dining room painted!  After 11 years with the same white walls, this is a definite improvement!  The color is Hazelnut Creme!

While some of our fruit trees and bushes did well this growing season, our garden left a lot to be desired.  Whether it was too wet and then too dry, or too hot for too long, the point is that the results of our labor in the garden were slim!  The hot peppers produced the most.  We had a few tomatoes, but I longed for more for canning and home-made salsa.  Tim had to make an unexpected trip to PA last week and brought me some very nice tomatoes and zucchini grown by Mennonite farmers nearby his parents’ home.  Here are two recipes for making the best use of these two garden veggies.

Zesty Zucchini Skillet

4 c. chopped zucchini

1 c. chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. dried oregano (I used Italian seasoning)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. picante sauce (I used salsa)

1 med. tomato, peeled and chopped

1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used cheddar)

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini, onion, and garlic in oil for 2 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, and salt.  Stir in picante sauce; cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomato; cook for 1-2 more minutes or until heated through.  Remove from heat; sprinkle with cheese.

This recipe brought rave reviews from both Russ and Ben, who normally don’t like zucchini!

Fresh Salsa

10 medium tomatoes

1 lg. bunch cilantro (I use half)

1 bunch green onions

1 medium/large red onion

1 clove garlic

1 green bell pepper

8-10 hot chili peppers (or whatever variety of hot pepper you enjoy)

1 lemon

pickling salt to taste–about 2 tbsp.

Process all vegetables coarsely in food processor. Mix together in large mixing bowl.  Squeeze the juice of the lemon over mixture and add the salt.  Stir together.   Makes about 2 quarts.   I have also added yellow, red, or orange bell peppers.

Although my kids prefer the cooked salsa I make, this fresh salsa is Tim’s favorite!  Enjoy!

Where did the summer go?

September 7. . .already! The summer is over as is Labor Day! How in the world did that happen? It is hard to believe that we are in a new school year. . .and that Barbi and her brother Ben are both seniors this year–one in college, and the other high school! The days of summer were filled with working; gardening; and preserving fruits and veggies. Fresh fruits from the orchard are always a welcome delight.

This year our blueberry bushes and plum and fig trees gave wonderfully in their bounty! We enjoyed eating them fresh, making jam; and freezing them.

Another way we enjoy them is in a pie. Here is my version of a cold Plum Pie–perfect for a hot summer (or autumn) day.

I sort of just wing it when making this pie! I add sugar to taste and cornstarch until thick!

Plum Pie

1 baked 9-inch pie shell or graham cracker crust
3 c. crushed plums
1 c. sugar
3-4 tbsp. cornstarch

Put plums in sauce pot. Stir in sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Boil a few minutes or until thick. Let cool. Pour into pie shell and refrigerate several hours or over night. Serve with a dollop of Cool whip!

Summer Blues

Carolina evening sky

Well look at that… when did July happen?? Summers usually go quicker than cheesecake at a wedding, but this year has flown especially fast! Despite my best attempts to plan for family dinners, something always comes up that requires a hurried meal or no meal at all! With everyone running out the door at various times, the phrase “fending for yourselves” has become a family mantra. Hopefully life will slow down during the next 3 weeks before the wildness of school starts again. In the mean time, here’s a fun recipe I whipped up for a recent picnic. Enjoy and stay cool!

Creamy Cold Coleslaw
(sorry, my pictures got lost in cyberspace!)

3 cups grated cabbage
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine cabbage and carrot in large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, mixing well (yes, it’s really that simple). Pour over cabbage and carrot mixture and stir to mix.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Unbelievably easy, and a great side dish for any summer gathering. I usually serve this with grilled chicken and zucchini spears (hubby takes care of that), deviled eggs, and fresh-cut tomatoes for a healthy, filling meal. Absolutely no complaints from the picky eaters!

College Quickie: Rice

College tends to deplete a lot of things in life, such as time, food, money, food, sleep, food, brain power, and food. After a long day running between classes,  or working to pay for those classes, microwaved leftovers start to sound pretty good.  Extra rice always manages to land in our fridge, saved for the inevitable missed-dinner nights, and it happens to be my favorite dish to experiment with.  My list of rice variations rivals Forrest Gump’s shrimp list, and since it’s been “one of those weeks” where nothing else gets done, I decided to share…

Long grain white rice

Rice And:
grilled fish (tilapia or salmon)
frozen peas
mozzarella cheese
teriyaki sauce
soy sauce
sweet and sour sauce
tuna salad (mix tuna with sour cream, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds)
chicken strips
sour cream
lemon and lime juice
chow mein noodles
fresh tomatoes (grilled or fried)
tomato sauce
marinara sauce
chicken alfredo
orange slices
on toast
tortilla chips
taco shells
ground beef
stir fry leftovers

…to name a few! Anything I didn’t mention?

Like the South Loves Bar-b-Q

Few dishes are as fundamentally southern as barbeque. Spelled a variety of ways (bbq, bar-b-que, bar-b-q), and served for any occasion (parties, cookouts, weddings, even funerals), barbeque is easily the most-consumed summer meal. Don’t quote us, but we’re pretty sure.
BBQ is a great way to use left-over chicken breasts and the recipe we used was fairly simple. Definitely a win-win! Serve it with hamburger or hotdog buns, plain toast, flour tortillas, lettuce, sandwich bread, bagels, etc, etc, etc. Just don’t forget the sweet tea.

B-B-Q Chicken Sandwiches

5-6 chicken breasts, cooked
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/4 cups ketchup
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1/3 c. Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 large sandwich buns

Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into thin pieces (this is the most time consuming part!).

Set aside in large mixing bowl. Pour oil into large skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Stir well; simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
Pour sauce over the shredded chicken and mix well. Return chicken to skillet and heat through.

 Serve on anything listed above, or get creative. 🙂

Rolled Cold

In case we didn’t mention this earlier, we live in South Carolina. Hot, muggy, humidified, sticky South Carolina. The temp will not fall below 85 until sometime in September, so we have a lot of hotness to look forward to! Living here requires a bit of creativity regarding cold meals and desserts. Any oven-baked dish is just not as appealing when you are already drenched in sweat, but avoiding the oven entirely is pretty much impossible.
“Ice cream” were the first two words off the tip of my tongue when Mom asked if I had thought about this week’s dessert. It’s cold, it’s sweet, and it’s simple. Unfortunately, throwing ice cream in bowls does not make for an interesting recipe. So I dug around a little and found this fantastic idea.

Barbi CANNOT cook without Pandora.
Jan started wondering about the lack of butter or oil.
Warning: not for the weak-wristed!
Make sure the cake is completely cool. We chilled it for 30 mins.

Rolling the cake with the ice cream inside was a fun challenge and the whole thing looked so artistic that I waited a full three seconds before digging in! The guys, of course, had no such inhibitions…

Squished out some at the overlap, but pretty sure no one noticed!