Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some moving cards

I have a friend, who is a realtor. She is the one who sold us our home in Roanoke and helped us sell it again when we moved here from Roanoke. She is a wonderful, Christian lady who we feel is sort of like family. Anyway, she asked me to make some sets of moving/change of address cards for her. I was happy to oblige and ink up my new On the Couch stamp set from Papertrey ink. Oh, I love this set so much. So much fun. And so easy to put all the elements on your "scene" on the card. I haven't even touched the surface of the possibilities of this set and all it's cute sentiments. Anyway, here is what I made for her. They all have matching totes for putting the cards in. All she needs to do is buy some envelope labels and print off the families new address when she sells a home to them. Fun and easy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Going Homemade for Breakfast and Snacks

  • Fruit and Nut Granola
  • 4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup raisins  
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • NOTE: add 1/2 cut of choc. chips if you want some in there


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, canola oil, and honey. Spread evenly over the prepared baking sheet, pressing down lightly with the back of a spoon.
  3. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, break the cooled granola into large chunks. Mix in the raisins, and sweetened dried cranberries (and choc. chips if you decide). Store in an airtight container.
(Recipe was first shared by Lauren Meador)

I have been trying to save a little money and feed my family well these days.  Prices on breakfast items like cold cereal are absolutely ridiculous and they keep going up every month or so it seems.  We don't even eat the sugary, fancy stuff just Special K, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and Honey Bunches of Oats.  I try to buy store brand if possible, but my guys are a little picky so I can't always sneak that past them.  But again, I kept seeing the prices go up, and we would go through several boxes of cereal a week.  Not good for the budget.  I pay for my groceries with cash I get out of the bank at the beginning of the month.  When the money is gone, we are not in good shape. So I am trying to make wise grocery choices.  We don't eat out but once or twice a month and that usually is pretty cheap fare.  I make homemade pizza, lots of homemade spaghetti sauce, and other simple but tasty meals.  We have a garden this year and are just now getting in squash and zucchini and soon tomatoes (if those pesky birds don't eat them all), and jalapeno peppers and what I thought were red bell peppers.  

We are eating cold cereal pretty much just twice a week now, and I make homemade pancake mix to have on hand for mixing up quick. We eat eggs, biscuits, and whole wheat cinnamon rolls, and I eat homemade granola and yogurt.  In the Summer fresh fruit is good on the granola and yogurt too.  I also make french toast a lot with store bought sliced french bread.  We also do oatmeal and cream of wheat.  While it takes a little more time to make up the homemade "hot" breakfasts, I think it is better for all of us and we aren't so hungry a couple of hours after we eat.  
It makes me get up early too, as I fix breakfast for my husband before he heads off to work.  But with a little planning ahead and a few hours in the evenings or on the weekend, I can make some stuff that can be frozen or quick mixes that I only have to add wet ingredients to and voila, it's done.  We also love egg casseroles and those once baked can last a few mornings too.  
I'll share a couple of my favorite quick mix go to recipes.  I  have the King Arthur Flour Baking Companion cookbook and the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking books.  Must haves for anyone who loves breads and baked goods.  They have some spectacular recipes in these huge books and I must say I haven't had anything not turn out good.  
Here is their whole grain pancake mix recipe.

Whole Grain Pancake Quick mix
3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (grind them for 30 seconds in a food processor till they are very well chopped up)
4 c. white whole wheat flour (it has a milder taste than regular whole wheat)
1 c. all purpose flour
3 TBSP. sugar
3 TBSP. baking powder
1 TBSP. salt
1 TBSP. baking soda
3/4 c. oil ( I like to use the Smart Balance Oil)

All you do is mix up all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Then you slowly add in the oil till it is mixed in well and evenly distributed.  Done.  I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and it is so easy.  Please note you can't just substitute quick oats for the ground oats.  They aren't fine enough.  

Then to make a batch of pancakes (makes about 10 regular sized pancakes):
1 c. of pancake mix
1c. buttermilk
1 TBSP. orange juice (optional)
1 egg

Just measure out the dry mix, add the liquid, let it rest for 15 min. while you get out the plates, preheat the griddle, pour milk or juice for the little ones and it is done.  Cook like you would for regular pancakes.  Your kids will get a healthy, protein filled and fiber rich pancakes and they won't even know it is healthy cause they taste soooo good.  

And then here is a great recipe for biscuits that you can prep the night before and then just add liquid in the morning and roll out.  You might even be able to roll them out, wrap them up the night before and then just pop them in the oven in the morning.  Haven't tried that yet, but I will my next batch.

So here they are courtesy of Katie Lee Joel and Comfort Food cookbook:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter or 50/50 Smart Balance spread (I use the latter and it's awesome)
1 TBSP. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
(mix all the dry together and then cut in the butter until it looks like coarse meal)
Then add:
1 c. buttermilk
Knead the dough about 1 minute until smooth.
Roll out on floured surface (go easy on the flour on the surface okay, you don't want to make a flour crust on the biscuits).
Cut with a 2 inch round cutter.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 450 F for 10-12 min.
You can brush the tops with butter after you get them out of the oven.  They are great with sausage and jelly or just buttered.  

I also like to make a French Toast casserole with eggs, milk, thin sliced french bread, a little maple syrup and then a crunchy praline topping.  It sits overnight in the refrigerator and then you bake it in the morning.  
I take about 8- 10 slices of thin french bread (Wal-Mart will cut their french bread loaf for you if you ask into very thin slices)   and put it into a 13x9 pan where they will overlap slightly.  Then mix together 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk a 3 tbsp. of maple syrup and you could also add a little cinnamon (1/4 tsp.).  Then you pour that over the bread.  Then for the topping I mix about  1/3 cup of flour, 1/3 c. brown sugar,  1/3 c. oats, and 3-4 Tbsp. of butter together to make a streusel like mixture.  I sometimes add a little cinnamon to that too.  Just a dash.  Sprinkle that on top of the casserole and cover and let it sit overnight.  Then bake at 350 F for about 35-40 minutes until set.  
Now I sort of wing this recipe when I make it.  But these measurements are pretty close to what I use.  

Well I hope I have inspired you to make a healthy, quick hot breakfast for your family.  We homeschool, but our mornings really are quite busy and I can usually get these hot breakfasts out and eaten about as quickly as the cold cereal.  Just a little extra planning and sometimes a little early morning oven preheat and then stick the casserole in before I shower.  Not too bad.  The kids love it.  Try a recipe today.  You'll save a lot of money if you don't eat cold cereal all the time, or store bought pancakes, waffles or pop tarts.   And it's better for you too.  Oatmeal and cream of wheat are quick options too when made in the microwave.  Yummy.