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I am finally getting over my fear of buying large hunks of meat and making good use of my slow-cooker. Seriously, I made my first pot roast ever two months ago. I’ve been a Mom for over five years now and the only thing I make somewhat regulary in my crock-pot is steel cut oats. It’s time for a change! In my defense I have come a long way since my hot n ready pizza days ten years ago and my salad and sandwich and occasional Voila!(just add water) days five years ago. I make as much as I can from scratch and I am a crazy lady about the quality of any processed foods we eat. I don’t cook on Friday-that’s reserved for Chipotle and my sanity, but almost every other day of the week I manage to get dinner on the table. Not that its always good, or that everyone at the table loves it, but some nights we get close. I’m pretty sure Maiya hated this, but the rest of us loved it enough to make up for her negativity.

Simple recipe with interesting ingredients! Be careful when you buy prepared salsa, it almost always has preservatives in it. Garden Fresh almost always does not and its from Ferndale, MI! Also, Wholly Salsa is a good choice

Slow Cooker Pulled-Pork Tacos from RealSimple.com

 

 

I’m a big fan of the changing seasons. Fall is my favorite. Cooler weather, changing leaves, apple pies, cider and donuts, pumpkin spice everything.  Staying in on a gloomy day and baking is just what you do in fall. In my mind it’s required. Unfortunately for my mind, I live in a place where there is 300 days of sunshine. Have I ever mentioned how backwards I am? I LOVE gloomy days, and cold snowy days, and cool rainy days. In fact I am convinced that this state is giving me reverse seasonal depression. It has been 89 degrees the past two days. And that makes me SO ANGRY! I just want to wear pants and drink hot tea and bake things with pumpkin spice flavors. I know, poor, poor, baby. For now, I have found my compromise: making granola only requires the oven to be on for 15 minutes and if I do it at 10 pm, we won’t all melt!

I changed the original recipe a bit. Made it a little easier, cheaper, and now it’s Vegan! I didn’t have pecans, but I think it needs a nut for some more crunch. This granola gets clumpy, but it is not crunchy like the other recipe I use.

Happy Baking 🙂

Pumpkin Spice Granola

4 Cups Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas!)

1 Cup Pecans (or whatever nut you fancy)

2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seeds

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon each of Cloves, Allspice, and Cardamon

or

Pumpkin Pie Spice , from the store or make your own

1. Preheat Oven to 350

2. In a 9×13 pan: Combine Oats, Flax seed, Pumpkin Seeds

3. In a small saucepan, over medium heat: combine pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and spices

4. Stir constantly, bringing to a boil

5. Remove from heat and add to dry ingredients, mixing completely

6. Bake for 15 minutes

7. Cool on a wire rack, store in an airtight container

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Here is a link to the original recipe:

http://www.thenheathersaid.com/2010/09/13/granola-is-not-scary/

Sloppy Joes!

We LOVE this recipe. I am not kidding. LOVE is an understatement. You wouldn’t think Sloppy Jos could be memorable, but I disagree. The leftovers are even better. Let me tell you, these are not the leftovers that get lost in the dark corners of your fridge.

You can make this extra healthy by using lean ground turkey, doubling the red pepper and even adding grated or pureed carrot and serving it on a whole wheat bun (or crazy healthy-whole wheat pita) or you can go all out and use ground beef, top with shredded cheddar cheese and serve on a toasted onion bun (still pretty healthy). I recommend using a food processor to chop all of the garlic, onion, and veggies. Totally not necessary, but sure makes the process quicker.

Mason loves these, but gets very upset when I call them Sloppy Jos. I have to backtrack and promise that it is not the “sloppy” version. “You know Mom only makes the “Not-So-Sloppy” kind.”

Sorry, no picture this time. I always make this meal in a hurry and haven’t remembered to take a pic yet.

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/not-so-sloppy-joes-10000001046895/index.html

Not-So-Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (I use at least double)
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef and brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 12 minutes.
  4. Spoon onto the buns. Sprinkle each with the Cheddar and top with a dollop of the sour cream.
The recipe is from RealSimple. I think their website and the majority of the recipes and tips are REAL AWESOME.

I am trying to get in the habit of making certain things from scratch that I buy regularly. So far hummus and granola are the big winners. Saves tons of money, easy recipes, and it turns out they taste even better than even the good-quality store-bought version. I try to make them every other week and it lasts almost that long.

I have been experimenting with lots of granola recipes and nothing ever comes out in nice clumps. Sometimes I get a few clumps, sometimes none. I like my granola in nice crunchy clumps, and really I haven’t even found a store-bought version that comes close to what I am looking for.

Luckily, I am hooked on a certain food blog-and found this almost perfect recipe. http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/10/pumpkin-butter-and-pepita-granola/

My only problem is that all granola recipes overwhelm me by the number of ingredients which turn out to be 90% optional and that nothing ever clumps right. After many fails, I have discovered that it is imperative NOT to stir the granola once it is out of the oven. I revised the recipe to make it simple and easy to read and added my secret to clumping and now it is time to MAKE GRANOLA!

Basic Granola3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup flaked coconut (I like unsweeted wide chips, but use whatever you have or like or don’t use at all)
ÂĽ cup canola oil
â…“ cup packed dark brown sugar
ÂĽ cup honey
1 cup whole almonds
Cinnamon*
Sea salt*

Make  sure oven rack is in the middle
Pre-heat oven to 375

Stir together all ingredients.

If the mixture looks dry, add more honey. From what I understand, excess oil gets in the way of clumping, so I wouldn’t add extra oil if you like your granola clumpy.

Put the granola mixture in a pan lined with parchment paper (I use a 9×13 pyrex, but whatever fits is fine)

Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown about 30 minutes

Check after the first 15 minutes, and then check about every five minutes until it is to your liking. This stuff burns fast, so don’t walk away!

Place on a rack to cool

DO NOT STIR! If you want your granola clumpy, ignore all granola recipes you may have read and don’t stir it- at all. You should end up with a giant mass of granola that you can break apart into pieces.

Store it in an airtight container in the freezer. It will stay fresh and last for months, if you can possibly manage not to eat it all on the way to the freezer.

FYI
*I am very generous with cinnamon and sea salt. Start with a pinch and add what you like.

This is just a basic recipe. You can add anything you want. Just remember to stir in dried fruit AFTER baking and BEFORE cooling

Some ideas for variations:

Switch out the almonds for walnuts, add a pinch of nutmeg and some banana chips (I like mine unsweetened, but I suspect I am the only one) and you have yourself some banana-walnut granola

dried cherries and almonds

dare I say dried cherries, almonds, and dark chocolate chunks?

cranberry-walnut

pepitas and a mixture of dried fruit

sunflower seeds and dried fruit

dried tropical fruit mix and macadamia nuts

dried apples and walnuts, raisins and lots of cinnamon

dried blueberry, walnut, and flax seed

pecans and dried mango

I saw this recipe on CBS News. It took me at least a couple of years to try it because it seemed too easy and I kept thinking maybe I should add this or that to make it healthier. (Classic Karyn move, making things more complicated then they need to be.) When you have a 4 year old that takes a thousand years to eat breakfast on school days, peanut butter and oats and raisins in grab and go form means making it to school on time without meltdowns. Thank you simple recipe!

Almost Too Easy Breakfast Bars

1 Cup Peanut Butter
Âľ Cup Honey
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
½-1 Cup Raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F

Spray a 13×9” Pan with non-stick cooking spray

Combine Peanut Butter, honey, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Stir occasionally until melted and smooth

Remove from heat and stir in Oats and Raisins.

Spread mixture into greased baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool completely and cut into bars.

I have tried many, many, MANY, different hummus recipes and it turns out the easiest one is the best. You have got to make this. Enough said. Here you go, you can thank me later.

Hummus

New Vegetarian Cooking
Rose Elliot

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can Chickpeas(Garbanzo beans)
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
sea salt (or regular salt)
4 TBsp Tahini (Sesame paste)

Drain a 15-ounce can of Chickpeas, reserving the liquid

Process chickpeas in food processor with garlic, lemon juice and a little salt until the mixture is smooth as possible, adding a little of the chickpea liquid if necessary.

Add 4 Tablespoons of Tahini and process again until gloriously smooth and creamy, adding more liquid as you go-you probably won’t need it all.

Taste it. Add more salt if needed.

Serve in a bowl or spread out on a plate. Sprinkle with a little paprika or drizzle some olive oil on top-if your into that kind of thing.

That’s it!

Hummus

 
Mix in if you like:
artichoke hearts (I add a few in while processing, and then stir in a bunch of chopped artichokes at the end)
toasted pine nuts
roasted red pepper (I would do it the same way as the artichokes)
roasted garlic

Eat it with toasted pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, pretzels, or maybe assorted veggies if your feeling healthy.

USE IT AS A SANDWICH SPREAD! Good-bye Mayo!

Make my favorite sandwich with hummus instead of mayo and you will be in love.

Good quality French Bread-sliced
spread hummus on each bread slice
top with Boarshead Ovengold Turkey
slice of tomato(salted and peppered)
thinly sliced red onion
greens-spinach, romaine, whatever you like

or a BLT
good bread, bacon (baked), lettuce (something crunchy) tomato(salted and peppered), and hummus

Keep it in the refrigerator, it lasts a long time, but you’ll never find out how long because you will eat it so fast.