Sunday, August 31, 2008

Allrecipes' Granola Bar

I made two batches of granola bars. One for me and one for my hubby. Mine abides by most of the restrictions of my upcoming "food-related lifestyle change" but my hubby likes one sweet snack every day, so I abided by this recipe for the most part:

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

{the only thing I changed for my hubby was to substitute 1/2 cup each of almond slivers, sweetened coconut flakes, raisins and craisins.}

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the 2 cups assorted raisins, nuts etc.
Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

Fantastic! Just the perfect amount of sweetness for my hubby (not too much) and pretty chewy, not crumbly.

The Verdict:

Well, I'm going to have to keep looking and experimenting because my hubby says it tastes like an oatmeal cookie. Which are great. But he wants a granola bar, not an oatmeal cookie bar.

Granola Bar overhaul

I decided to try this Granola Bar recipe from Allrecipes, but with some alterations. I decided not to list the original recipe simply because it's so different! Because I'm going on a "food lifestyle change" this coming week, I ended up substituting alternatives for many of the ingredients. I'm listing the original recipe in an entirely separate post to avoid confusion.

The recipe with My Variations:
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash ground cloves
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 of a blended fresh peach
1/8 t stevia
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup craisins
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, fruit and stevia. Stir in the 2 cups assorted raisins, nuts etc. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

If you're looking for something sweet, this isn't it. It has a really plesant nutty flavor and a positive aftertaste and is almost sweet, but doesn't quite make it.

The Verdict:
I actually really like it for a breakfast bar or mid-day snack. I'll probably make it again, not sure if I'll make any more changes. If anything, I might use a sweeter fruit to add.

Updated Verdict:
It's not happening for me. It's been two days and I haven't eaten it. I'm not excited about it, so I won't eat it. I have to be excited about food. (Tall order for this "diet!")

My Mexican Spice Mix

I originally got this recipe from Gifts in a Bag: Rubs & Seasonings.
The recipe:
Mexican Seasoning Rub Mix
4 T. chili powder
2 1/4 t. ground cumin
2 1/4 t. dried oregano
2 1/4 t. garlic powder
2 1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cloves
Unsure about the cloves? Don't skip it! Trust me.
I make up a batch and store in a small ziplock to keep it fresh.

Black Beans and Goat Cheese

Tonight we're watching the NASCAR race, so we're in the mood for superbowl-style food! I decided to "culture it up" a bit with Stephanie's Crock Pot Black Bean and Goat Cheese Dip.
The Recipe:
1/2 can of refried black beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a lime, juiced
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t cumin
2 T chopped cilantro leaves
3-5 slices of goat cheese
Open the can of refried black beans, and scoop out about half of the contents into the Little Dipper. Squeeze in the lime juice. Add chopped garlic, the spices, and the cilantro leaves. Stir. Top with the sliced goat cheese.Cover and plug in. The Little Dipper doesn't have a temperature gauge. Cook for 1-2 hours, or until the goat cheese has melted and the beans are warm and gooey.

My Variations:
{I didn't have refried black beans on hand, so I searched and searched and didn't find another recipe I really wanted to try, so I said "heck with it" and decided to keep the spirit of this recipe with a few variations.}
So I used:
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
4 oz cream cheese, softened
{I've been making my own mexican seasoning for a few years, so used a tsp of that instead of the suggested spices.}
A dash of lemon juice {it was on hand}
{I unintentionally forgot the garlic}
For a refried bean consistency, I combined the above in the DipPot (1/2 Quart size crock pot) and used my immersion blender to mix it up and make it a little smoother.
I scraped down the sides of the DipPot with a rubber spatula and topped with almost 4 oz of goat cheese. {I had to sample it first!}

Two & a half hours later, I was surprised that the goat cheese still maintained it's form and texture. It was pretty soft, though, and balanced the bean and mexican seasoning really well. The only problem was that it was a tad bit dry.

Great alternative dip with a little class!
I think the next time I won't drain the beans so it will be a bit more moist. {moister isn't a word, is it?}

{sorry for no pics, next time I make it, I'll take plenty!}

Friday, August 29, 2008

Basic Granola was the source of this recipe.

It is listed as "Master Granola Recipe" and has suggestions for alterations in flavoring and added elements.

This is what I did for my first Granola:

2 cups Old-fashioned Oats (NOT QUICK!)
½ cup Wheat Germ
2 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
¼ cup Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp flavorless cooking oil, such as Vegetable or Canola (I used Canola)
1 Tbsp Water
1 cup Extra Ingredients (see "Variations" at the bottom of the AllRecipes list)
My Extra Ingredients:
2/3 cup Almond Slivers (hubby LOVES anything almond!)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Flavoring (see "Variations" at the bottom of the AllRecipes list)
My Flavoring:
¾ tsp almond extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Coat a 9-by-13-inch metal pan with cooking spray, then set aside. (I lined my pan with foil but forgot the spray. It stuck in some areas, but didn't burn and it came off easily once cooled.)

{Just the oats}

2. Mix oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt and Extra Ingredients--except dried fruit--in a bowl. Bring syrup, oil, water and any Flavoring to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat. Drizzle over oat mixture, and stir to combine.

{yummy, slightly gooey goodness}

{I took this about a minute after putting it in the oven because I forgot that I'd already taken a "before" picture!}

3. Pour mixture onto prepared pan. Working a handful at a time, squeeze cereal to form small clumps. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in dried fruit and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool. (Granola can be stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.) Makes one quart.

{After the first 1/2 hour of baking, just added the cranberries. Already starting to "tan up."}

You can double the recipe, but bake the granola in two pans. You also may need to increase cooking time. The key is to bake the granola until it is an impressive golden brown.

The Verdict: (In this case, did it pass the hubby test?)

1000% yes!

We're ready to make granola bars now (if this batch lasts long enough to make bars out of it!!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CrockRoasted Chicken

Or Croasted Chicken?
Or Rocked Chicken?
You decide, I'm still salivating over Virginia's recipe and pictures!

Author: Virginia, who's also from New Hampshire! (Go freedom fighters! Live free or Die! Yeah!) She is also pursuing an eating-local-lifestyle with her and her family.

The Recipe:
I lined a 4.5Qt crock pot with aluminum foil and placed four aluminum foil balls on the bottom to lift the chicken off the bottom surface. I roasted a 4.5 lb chicken for 6.5 hours and it turned out great! The skin wasn't crispy & the meat was nice and tender. I then transfered the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool for 15 nimutes. I carved it, then used the bones and what meat was left on the bones to make the crockpot chicken broth for which Virginia also listed a link in her blog post. Here's the broth recipe:

2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
6 cups water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 tablespoon dried basil
Place the chicken pieces, water, celery, carrots, onion, and basil in a slow cooker.
Cook on Low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Strain before using, and discard vegetables. Chicken may be removed from the bones, and used in soup.

My Variations:
I didn't have carrots or onion so just used the celery and basil.
It crocked on low for 12 hours (yikes!) and I woke to a fantastic chicken soup smell! Can't wait to use it for soup bases this fall!

Great Peach Ideas!

Virginia continues to offer great ideas! This post is all about peaches!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Granola Bars

My hubby typically takes a granola bar to work with him for his mid-morning snack and try as I may, I haven't broken the habit of just making cookies or bars for him instead of buying the packaged bars. (and paying dearly for them!)

I came across this recipe quite by accident today and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try... Suzanne's Granola Bar.

I also found this general granola recipe with 8 variation suggestions on the AllRecipes site.

We'll see if it passes my hubby's test!

How to Make Tomato Paste

As does often happen, I found myself at a site through a suggestion on a comment, then I lost the trail. But somehow I ended up at eHow and found this recipe for making my own Tomato Paste.
Let me share my thought process behind this:

I'd begun buying canned chicken for sandwiches instead of canned tuna. I thought it would be a nice change of pace for my hubby because he doesn't like fish, but doesn't MIND canned tuna salad sandwiches.
Well I was certainly surprised one day when I had some of it myself and couldn't remember if I'd used chicken or tuna because tasted like canned tuna. To my dismay, I went home and discovered I had indeed used canned chicken...and they taste. exactly. the same.

So if two such different flavors taste so much the same when they're canned, what else am I eating that I think I know what it should tast like but I'm. completely. wrong?

Enter tomato paste (among many other things). So many recipes call for tomato paste. Even some that call for fresh tomatoes also call for tomato paste. So I decided I wanted to try my hand at making my own tomato paste and see how it comes out....

And finally, here's the link! (Thanks for your patience!!!)

In addition, I have an idea for storage. It's recommended to use the paste right away or freeze it. Many recipes call for the standard size small can of paste, but some call for half a can, or another quantity. I think I'll freeze them first in an ice cube tray and weigh the average cube, then label the freezer bags with those weights. Just another tip you can use or not!

Jana's Crusty Parmesan Zucchini

Recipe "Author:"
Jana, from Jana's Journeys. I can't tell you how fun it is to hear about other people's lives, so similar to your own. The best way to describe her is how she did so herself: "I'm 4'11" of crazily fun cuteness!"

I found this recipe at another blog she contributes to: the Friendship of the Fabulous Foodies. (so fun!!)

Original Recipe: Crusty Parmesan Zucchini (Jana adapted it from a recipe she found in "The Vegetable Dishes I can't Live Without."
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsps minced or cruched garlic (or powder, to taste)
4 small/slender zucchini and/or summer squash, halved lengthwise (or one huge zucchini, cut into strips)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1-2 tbsp fine bread crumbs (optional)
2-3 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
Preheat Broiler.
Line cookie sheet with tinfoil, coat with olive oil.
Place zucchini in the pan.

Mix the remaining oil in with the garlic in a cup, then brush the mixture onto the top and sides of the zucchini.
Shred the parmesan cheese (add breadcrumbs here if you're using them) and sprinkle it onto the zucchini.

Broil for about 7 minutes.
My Modifications:
I did mine pretty much how Jana did her's.
~I try to shy away from breadcrumbs, so I omitted them just like she did.
~I didn't measure the parm that I used, but I know for a fact that I used closer to 1/2 cup! (Maybe more!)
The Result:

Perfectly "al dente!"
Even my hubby said they were something he'd eat again. He doesn't often say that about veggies in general!
The Verdict: (Will I make it again?)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baked Breakfast Cereal

In my regular blog, I've not held back about how LITTLE I'm a fan of oatmeal! However, I'm always on the lookout for a new way of making it. I simply don't like it, but I'd LIKE to like it. I like food! I don't WANT to not like ANY food item! So it bothers me.

I saw this recipe for Baked Oatmeal and decided to read a little more. Even if I decide not to try the oatmeal version, I've found that I don't mind Hot Rice Cereal. It's much the same idea as oatmeal, but with rice (though you have to look for the special hot rice cereal - don't just use regular rice grains!)

So I may try this with my hot rice cereal someday. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

Elizabeth's Roasted Tomato Sauce

Recipe "Author":

Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Flowers. She is such an inspiration in her creative use of materials as well as her testimony. She also has a website for her pressed flower cards and art, using recycled paper (she recycles it herself), and an Etsy shop!

Original Recipe: roasted tomato sauce
15 cloves of peeled garlic
8 # of ripe tomatoes (any kind)
5 medium onions, quartered
1 cup of fresh herbs, chopped (I use a mixture of oregano, Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, thyme, and rosemary)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
freshly ground black pepper (I like a lot)
2-4 tablespoons of honey, optional

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop 5 of the cloves of garlic. Leave the remaining cloves whole. Cut each tomato in half. In a large roasting pan, carefully toss together the tomatoes, garlic, onions, herbs, oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Roast for 25 minutes. Gently stir. Roast for another 25 minutes, stir again. Roast another 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and broken down into a sauce with a golden brown crust on top.
3. Remove from oven and taste for seasoning. Mash tomatoes slightly, (some chunks are nice) or blend until smooth if you wish. This sauce freezes well, or is great for canning. Use it with pasta, fish, or as a wonderful dipping sauce for really good french bread.

My alterations:
~No onions ('cuz I know my hubby's tummy won't appreciate them)
~1/4 cup dried herbs ('cuz I don't have my own fresh and WON'T pay out the you-know-what for them!)
~No salt or pepper. When I got married, I stopped using salt in most of my recipes because my hubby and I have VERY different tastes when it comes to salt, so we add it after if necessary.
~And I forgot the honey.
~I happened to have a few Sweet Banana Peppers from my mom's garden, so I sliced two up to add to the sauce. I kept the seeds, but discard those if you don't like the heat.
***AND be sure to wash your hands very well after handling peppers! If you happen to wipe your eyes before you wash up, you'll be sorry!
~Because it was late, once I took the sauce out of the oven, I removed the sauce from the roasting pan and put it in a dutch oven of sorts with an ice bath in the bottom half. (Two pans, the bottom one slightly larger having the ice water bath to cool the sauce a bit faster.)
~Then I took my immersion blender (long wand-looking blender used often for drinks, etc.) and blended it all together so it has some chunks but not too many. I also took out some of the skins, but not all.

The results:

My house smells SO good! I tasted a little and it was fantastic, I can't wait to have a whole meal of it!
I was a little surprised at how little sauce I got out of it though. I haven't measured it, but probably 3-4 cups of sauce from 8+ lbs of tomatoes. That may be normal, I don't know. (Never made my own sauce from fresh tomatoes before!)

The real test: (Will I make it again?)
Guaranteed YES!
(I'll probably double batch it to make it worth jacking my stove up to 450 for an hour and a half on a hot summer night though!)

***An idea - using a good oven thermometer, I could try this in a pan on the grill. Hmmm...something to consider!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Berry Peachy Tarts, Results

whole peach
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
handfull berries
15 phillo cups

Cut up one peach, squirt lemon juice over peaches, and blend to a puree consistency. If you're serving right away, the lemon juice isn't necessary, but I was blending up the peaches the night before, assembling in the morning. I find that when cutting/blending most fruits it's beneficial to add the natural preserving benefits of lemon juice.
I love to use an immersion blender, just throwing everything into a mason jar to do the blending.

I bought pre-cooked phillo cups in trays of 15 so there was no prep for the cups. If you aren't buying premade, prep according to package directions.

Pour pureed peach into cups, top with berry. I used blueberries as they are in season right now.

Two words: Yum-Ee!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh, the decisions....

Now, just as I'm planning tomorrow's tomato cooking fest, I run across Elizabeth's recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Could this get any harder? (The decisions, not the recipes. Nor the eating of the results of said recipes!)

Berry Peachy Tarts

I'm supposed to bring a "non-messy, non-greasy, healthy (if possible) finger-food type snack" to church Sunday.


Can't do my health bars.

Or brownies.

Veggie sticks & dip?

How about (drumroll please...)

berry peachy tarts

Yeah, I just came up with that.

Yeah, I do well sometimes.

I wonder if there's already a recipe out there for this.

Probably, but I'm going to do it my way anyhow!

I have phillo puffs in the freezer just waiting for something special!

I'll cut up a fresh peach, then puree it, adding just a touch of lemon juice.

Then I'll quickly bake the puffs, then fill them with the pureed peach and put a berry on top! (Whichever berry is in season right now!)


I'll let you know how it went, and hopefully add some pictures, too.

Fresh Crock Pot Tomato Sauce

I can't wait to try this with my mom's garden tomatoes!
Or this one! (Both from
And I find these instructions from have a lot of useful advice.
I may do a hybrid sauce!
Definitely need to invest in canning supplies.

Use your Crock Pot as a Smoker!

I'm really intrigued by this one! My hubby will be so thrilled!

CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce

I've been looking for a crock pot recipe for making my own tomato sauce from whole garden tomatoes. So far, this is what I've found. I may be able to adapt it from canned tomato products to fresh. If I do, you know I'll post it here!

Stephanie's Crockpot Barbecued Chicken and Cornbread Casserole

In my search for something else, I stumbled upon Stephanie's Crockpot Barbecued Chicken and Cornbread Casserole. My hubby's not a huge cornbread fan, but I think he'll suck it up for a chance to get at the BBQ Chicken!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Ever tried growing your own sprouts? This was listed on Jenn's site Frugal Upstate, one of my very favorite blogs.
This isn't exactly a recipe, but I don't want to have to look for it AGAIN.
It's a very cool idea and I just got myself some black beans to try it out.

8/27/08: I found another site with very simple instructions (and no soliciting!)

Grapefruit Granita

Granita is Italian Ice. It's just that Italians don't call it Italian Ice. It would be Americans calling American Football "American Football" instead of "Football."
Well, then this would be Grapefruit Italian Ice.
Soooo refreshing!

Pasta Salad

As well as how to make C.O.R.N. for dinner!

Check it out!

Rice Salad

You'll have to scroll a little ways down, past the yellow grainy stuff. (Actually, it's a recipe for laundry detergent, if your interested.)

Until you get to the Rice Salad. I promise, it's better than it looks!


This post highlights some of Ann Kleinberg's recipes from "Gift from the Kitchen."
Indluded are Pineapple Corn Relish, Onion Jam, and Pickled Radishes.
I also included directions for my Gorgonzola Stuffed Olives. (Who knew you'd need directions?)

Macaroni and Cheese


Jenn's All day Mac N Cheese.

I talked about it here on my blog.

I made this again yesterday with a few twists. First, I can't stress enough how important it is to mix all the ingredients together in a huge bowl before putting it in the crockpot. I don't know why it works, but it was even better this time than ever before! (I've made this quite a few times in the last couple of months.)
Second, I mixed with the milk before adding to the noodles:
1/4 tsp white pepper (I'll probably use 1/2 tsp next time, I couldn't tell it was there.)
1/2 tsp ground mustard (I love adding mustard to my mac n cheese, I've never measured before though. I'll probably use a whole tsp next time.)
And the flour.

Then I took a tip from Rachael Ray and toasted up a couple pieces of bread, slathered them in butter, and chopped them up for breadcrumbs. I would have used a food processor to make them finer, but I don't have one, so that's that.

I wasn't 100% sure I could do this, but I took the "crock" out of the "pot" and slid it under the broiler for a couple minutes and it was ... Scrumptious!!

Heath Bars

Not to be confused with Health Bars.
No, there's no chance this can be confused with Health Bars!

Recipe found on my blog.

If you suffer from or are in the slightest bit at risk of heart disease, stop here. Don't even look at the recipe. It could just cause your heart to spontaneously combust.

Gad Zukes!!!!

First up: Zucchini

I already blogged about this recipe earlier today over at my main blog, but in the spirit of newly founded organization, here's Jana's Crusty Parmesan Zucchini
and Suzie's Zucchini Latkes (pancakes)
and of course, Jenn's Zucchini Soup

Introducing Blecipes

I thought up Blecipes - a play on Blog Recipes, because I wanted a place to go back to when I need to retrieve all those great recipes I find while skipping around blog-land.

So although this is mostly for my benefit, if you find it helpful to have a variety of unique recipes all in one place, then feel free to roam and enjoy the fruits of my willing labor!

Friday, August 15, 2008

My dietary restrictions

In case you're interested, here are my dietary restrictions:

Food allergies:
All dairy including butter
Coffee Bean

Additional Candida-related restrictions:
anything fermented (alcohol, vinegar...)
citrus fruits (too acidic)
bread made with yeast
deli meat
table salt
restricted to one serving of fruit a day
dried fruits
wheat, cornmeal, corn flour, white flour.
honeys or syrups, molases, etc.
canned beans
pre-sprouted sprouts (you can eat sprouts you sprout yourself.) Got Sprout?

Additional things I shouldn't eat and why:
Peanuts (makes me break out)