Granola

Wow…it’s been four months since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been busy and especially in the last month due to the holidays. My daughter asked me, “Why is it the woman’s job to write the cards, buy and wrap the gifts, do the decorating, plan the meals, etc., when it comes to Christmas?” Good question. Once again, I’ve gotten sick after the holidays.

So what does that have to do with granola? I’ve been not feeling well enough to make any more. But, today, I will. Why make my own when there are so many good ones out there? Mostly, so I can control what goes into it. I never used to care, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m trying to watch calorie intake, especially when it comes to sweetener, since I don’t do artificial ones.

Back in the day, I used to eat Nature Valley granola. I’d eat a larger than I was supposed to eat serving and it would last the better part of the day, at which point, I’d bake cookies and eat half the dough. Gee, maybe that was more of the reason I was starting to gain weight than the granola. Hmmm, food for thought.

A year ago, I was visiting a friend and her husband was making his own granola. If he could do it, so could I, so after searching for a good recipe to try, I found this one. I LOVE it and if I wake up in the night with a hunger pang or two, think about this granola sitting in a jar in the pantry, my hunger pangs grow and I usually have to go and drink water to fill my stomach enough to go back to sleep.

If you haven’t tried making your own, you should!

  • 4 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats (I use Quaker)
  • 1 1/2 cups raw nuts and seeds (I use 1 cup pecan pieces and 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds)*
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I leave it out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil or melted coconut oil (I prefer the olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (I use 100% maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dried fruit

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the liquids together in a measuring cup and pour over the dry ingredients. Blend together and pour on a lightly greased  rimmed cookie sheet (I use a silicone mat instead of greasing the sheet). Spread into an even layer.

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from over and stir. Bake another 10 minutes.

When cool, add the dried fruit of your choice and store in a sealed glass jar or tin. You can add the dried fruit when you’re ready to eat, instead of adding to the jar/tin. I think it stays more crisp that way.

*You can also add flax seeds, if you want more health benefits.

Play with this recipe and jazz it up by adding chocolate chips, coconut flakes, etc. Up to you! It’s great on yogurt, dressed up with M &Ms, peanuts, etc., as a trail mix, or just served with milk. LOVE IT!

January 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

King’s Hawaiian rolls

I just finished eating dinner. This summer, we’ve been eating a lot of salads, mainly because it’s been hot. What goes well with salads? Rolls! And I’m not talking any old rolls. kingsI like King’s Hawaiian. They remind me of the sweet dinner rolls my stepmother used to make. Warm, they were amazing and King’s Hawaiian are the next best thing.

Apparently, in Hawaii, people like sweet rolls. Not the sweet rolls you are probably thinking of that have a fruit filling and frosting, but yeast rolls with no topping, like the meat-filled manapua rolls they sell Hilo’s  farmer’s market. I’ve even had the purple sweet potato-filled rolls, but they also have no frosting, just a somewhat sweet dough. Yum! Though I’m trying to watch calorie intake, a little butter on a warm roll is almost like dessert!

September 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

Pens

If you’ve read through my posts, you know I LOVE office supplies! Every time I go to Staples or even walk by the office supply section at Kroger, I get a bit excited. I’m always hoping to find some little thing that I don’t have, but positively need! I’m drawn to anything colorful, like Post-its, paper clips, binders, and something simple, like a pen. Good pens are hard to find.

For Christmas, the little man got some new pens and he has been kind enough to put them in our shared stash. You may think, “Pens are pens.” There really are differences and I’m talking merely about inexpensive ones, not Mont Blancs. Usually, I use a standard Bic, which I’ve been using since they started making them, but I often buy new brands and styles, just to try them out, like Paper Mate. My better half got a package of Paper Mate Profiles and let me tell you, it writes like buttah! It’s soooo smooth! It glides across the paper like Dorothy Hamill on skates.

I bought new pens for work, since we only get horrible standard issue varieties, and they basically scratch the paper as I write. Never a good thing. My penmanship is bad as it is and an inferior pen makes it worse. So, what did I do? I bought more of the Profile pens for me to use on the job! Signing my name has never been easier! Way better than the old felt tips, that I used to think were boss and certainly better than the old Bic sticks.

Do I have a slight obsession with writing materials? Perhaps. Actually, I use a pencil more than I use pens and believe me, some pencils are way better than others, just like pens!

My roll top desk has three small drawers, perfect for my hordes of pens, pencils, and markers. Can you really have too many?

June 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Pioneer Woman’s Housewares Line

Have you seen PW’s line? Sad to say it’s not at Target, because I do shop there. It’s at Walmart. It’s homey and cheerful and will certainly make being in the kitchen more pleasant. And I really like that it’s so colorful and has the mixed and matched look that reminds me of my family’s cottage from my youth.

Back in the day, people didn’t outfit a cottage with new anything. The beds had mattresses that were no longer worthy of home use (I am talking sooooo saggy that it was like sleeping in a boat), furniture that no doubt from an earlier era, bedding and dishes were mismatched leftovers people were no longer using at home, and even reading materials were things that had been read already and at least 20 years old. But, from the old flannel robes that hung on hooks for all to use to the enamelware bucket and dipper, that cottage still brings back cozy, wistful memories. This housewares line evokes those heavenly days.

What’s in PW’s line? Everything from dishes and cutlery to bakeware and rugs. You can find cute serving pieces, a cookie jar that looks like her Basset House Charlie (a friend who has a basset hound filled it with dog-shaped cookies for her daughter as a gift), kitchen towels, placemats, and a super cute measuring cup set. Her line is perfect spruce up a dull kitchen. I can imagine it as perfect picnic ware on a summer table. Looks like you’ll have to head to Walmart to see it in person or order it online.

PW housewares

June 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

Toast

Yes, it’s a very simple thing, but I do love it! I wasn’t feeling well this morning and it’s the only thing I wanted, besides a cup of plain, black tea. Toast with butter. Plain white. It helped get over that not so great feeling. It’s what Mom used to make for me and one of the best comfort foods. Mmmm, crispy toast spread with soft butter.

Which bread makes the best toast? There are soooo many options. Raisin bread, whole grain bread, cinnamon bread, and good old white bread. All you need is a toaster and some butter. And heck no to margarine. Butter is the way to go. No chemical or artificial substitutes need apply. I grew up in Dairyland and I likes me butter! Oh, and my butter sits in the cabinet in a butter dish. I know, I know, “Shouldn’t it be refrigerated?” Well, I haven’t died yet and I’ve been eating it this way since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. My house is generally cool enough to keep it in stick form.

Want to dress it up a bit? Momma would add a small amount of cinnamon and sugar and then cut the toast into “fingers.” It made it seem like a decadent treat, when all it was just buttered toast with a sweet sprinkling, cut into four pieces. You can also butter it and add your favorite jam. What’s the best jam? Homemade freezer jam. Haven’t had freezer jam? Read my previous post. You will NEVER want any other kind. Summer is coming and it’s the perfect time to make it, because ripe fruit works best. And you don’t need anything more than fruit, sugar, a box of Sure Jell Low-Sugar Fruit Pectin, and eight 8-oz. containers. It’s a no-brainer.

Get a little protein with your toast by adding a thin layer of softened cream cheese with your jam or fresh fruit, thinly sliced. You can also butter a slice on both side, cut a hole in the middle with a biscuit cutter, drop it in a fry pan, crack an egg in the hole, dust with salt and pepper, top with the buttered cut out, flip and when the egg is cooked, enjoy. You will not see me do this, because I do not like eggs.

I could eat toast anytime of day. If you use whole grain bread, you’re not just getting a bit of comfort, you’re getting fiber, something we all need.

 

 

April 24, 2016 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

Salad dressing

I was never much of a salad eater, perhaps because it was the only part of the meal I was ever allowed to make…and back in the day, it consisted of iceberg lettuce, rock hard tomatoes, and waxy cucumbers. Occasionally, a bit of shredded carrot made its way into the mix and maybe a radish or two in the summer, but in my world that was basically a salad. I know you’re supposed to eat your greens and I’ve learned that I actually enjoy salads, as long as they’re interesting. What makes a salad better? Arugula, mixed greens, ripe tomatoes or grape cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, peppers, red onion, nuts, cheeses, like Feta, blue or my favorite BellaVitano from Satori, dried fruit like cherries or cranberries, and of course an amazing dressing. I often make my own, but I LOVE Beekman 1802 Happy Goat Chevre Dressing, available at Target. It’s creamy and with a hint of goat cheese flavor. Makes my mouth water, just to think of it. Really, for me, it’s the dressing that makes a salad zing!

There are so many yummy salads you can make that don’t even include lettuce, like one of Rachael Ray’s chopped salads or Trisha Yearwood’s Ty’s Thai Salad (adjust the dressing…way too much oil and sugar for me. I cut the recipe in half, but would cut the oil to about 1/3 cup and use less sugar. You can always add more.).

For homemade dressings, try:

Standard Red Wine Vinegar Dressing (the little man really likes this):

1 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (0ptional).

Combine all ingredients and whisk together or shake in a sealable jar.  The touch of sugar really makes it yummy. Pour it over your favorite salad fixings.

The Beekman Boys have a great salad dressing recipe list, too.

Summer is coming and it’s time for me to ramp up the greens and veggies! They always make me feel healthier.

 

March 20, 2016 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Kitchen Gadgets

I just bought myself a birthday present…a PL8 Professional Mandoline. Why? Because I didn’t have one. And, there are times when I want to thinly slice something and I am not a chef and am too afraid of cutting off a finger with a sharp knife. Am I not worried about slicing off a finger with the mandoline? Yes. But it does have a guide to help prevent that and I have a pair of gloves that will add additional protection! A co-worker bought them for me when I did slice part of my index finger off with a rotary cutter. Big oops, but lesson learned.

Many years ago, I used to pine over items in the Williams-Sonoma catalog. I’d think to myself, ‘Someday, I will buy that. And that. And that.’ Well, now I have just about every gadget I need. It’s taken a long time, but I can’t really think of another item I would actually need to buy. So, what are my favorites? I’ve talked about my Kuhn-Rikon garlic press, the Excalibur Dehydrator, silicone pot holders, and Wusthof knives. But I also love my:

I love lots of other items like my potato masher, my ice cream scoop (old school with the button to release the ice cream), mini-cookie cutters for fall pie crusts, and more.
Do I really need all these items? No, but they make kitchen tasks easier and more fun!

 

January 30, 2016 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

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