Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars & Money Saving Recipe Shopping

I found a wonderful recipe via Pinterest the other day that I was stoked to try.  It was for five-ingredient peanut butter granola bars.  I am trying to eat healthier, less processed foods now, but I've been finding it hard to satisfy my sweet tooth without some chocolate candy or packaged cookies.  Enter this recipe.  Here is my take on the homemade granola bars:

4 C. Rolled Oats
2 TBPS Chia Seeds (optional, but a VERY healthy add-in)
1/2 C. Unsalted Peanuts, chopped
3/4 C. Peanut Butter, melted
1/2 C. Honey

Optional Add-Ins I Used
Mini Chocolate Chips
Flaked Coconut
Diced Dried Plums (Plum Amazins)

In a large bowl, combine oats, Chia seeds, and peanuts. Add honey and mix to combine. Add melted peanut butter and mix until moistened. Fold any add-ins into the mixture. If the mixture is still too dry, add more peanut butter or honey a little at a time until moistened.

Press into a 9x13 inch pan.  Chill in refrigerator for an hour.  Cut into bars and enjoy!

If you so choose, you can also bake these.  I did not bake mine, as I was afraid it would turn out more crunchy instead of chewy, but I may try baking it next time, just to see.  If you do decide to bake them, preheat your oven to 350 degrees prior to mixing the ingredients, and grease your baking pan!  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

This was my first attempt at these, and they don't stay into bars too well, but they are AMAZINGLY delicious!  And I don't feel guilty about eating them since they are fairly healthy.  :) 

As a shopping tip, I'd like to share that I purchased most of my ingredients from Whole Foods.  They have containers that you can 'scoop your own' nuts, grains, etc., and pay by the pound.  In general, I think that is an expensive way to buy food, however, it's great for buying ingredients for a recipe that you don't normally have on hand, and would otherwise not be using.  I bought just enough oats, peanuts, and chia seeds to make this recipe.  I actually ended up with close to 6 cups of oats for $2.59, 1/2 cup of raw peanuts for $0.64, and 1/2 cup of Chia seeds for $0.70!  (The rest of the ingredients I had at home).  It would've cost me a lot more to buy a full size can of oats and peanuts alone.  Just something to consider next time you prepare to make a recipe!  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Open Faced Cheesy BBQ Joes for 2

This recipe may soon be a Monday night dinner staple!  Adapted from this recipe.  

My husband and I are somewhat picky eaters, so we did away with can of diced tomatoes as well as the jalapenos and jalapeno juice and it was EXTREMELY tasty!

1lbs ground beef
1/3 C. barbeque sauce
3/4 C. ketchup
1 TBPS. Worcestershire sauce
2 slices Texas Toast
Shredded cheese for sprinkling
  1. Brown ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and cooked through; drain and return to skillet. Stir in ketchup, barbeque sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and cook 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare Texas toast according to package directions. Serve beef mixture over Texas toast; sprinkle with cheese.

Vicks VapoRub on Feet for Cough?

Ever heard that one?  I've been suffering from a cold for over a week now.  I think I'm pretty much over it except for that pesky cough at the end which can linger for a while and gets worse at night.  After an hour of coughing and keeping my husband and our baby awake with my hacking, I decided to give it a shot.  Unfortunately, it did not work for me.  I tried it two nights in a row, thinking it didn't work the first night because I had already put lotion on my feet.  However, no such luck.  If you've tried it, has it worked for you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dry Erase Menu Board

This project was another Pinterest inspiration.  I've seen several variations of the menu board; the one I linked above, dry erase ones that hang or are magnetic.  I had the intention of doing a dry erase board with magnets to hang on the fridge, but I ran into two obstacles: 1) I couldn't figure out how to attach my magnets to the back of my frame (hot melt glue does not work, FYI) and 2) if I could have attached them, the magnets were not strong enough to hold the weight of the frame.  So alas, I have used the stand on the frame and have the menu board set on our kitchen countertop.

I'm going to bypass the step-by-step directions and supply list on this one, as you can really do as much or as little with yours as you'd like.  I bought my frame at Michaels... it's like a mini-poster frame where all four sides pop off.  Besides my frame I used a sheet of scrapbook paper cut to fit the frame, letter stickers, and cute cooking stickers.  Dry erase markers DO work on glass, so write away!  I love this particular project because it's a great way to plan your meals for the week!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DIY Reusable To-Do List

I whipped up a crafty little project today, which was an inspiration of a combination of two ideas I saw on Pinterest.  Here is my reusable To-Do List:

Here is your supply list:
  • Clear plastic picture frame (Mine is 5x7 and I got it at Walmart for $0.95)
  • Sheet of scrapbook paper cut to fit frame
  • 2"x2" post-it notes
  • Ruler
  • Paper cutter (or scissors if you have steady hands!)
  • Pen, pencil
  • Embellishments for your frame (stickers, bows, etc.)

  1. Start by cutting your scrapbook paper to the size of your frame.  I chose a 5x7 frame so I could put two post-it notes, but you can use a 4x6 frame and use one larger post-it, or a bigger frame, and so on.
  2. Use a ruler to evenly space your post-its on your paper.  You can make some light markings with a pencil.  
  3. Make a box around the stack of post-it notes by making dashed lines, dots, or squiggles. 
  4. For your title, you can write it in pen, or use letter stickers.
  5. Slide your paper into the frame.  
  6. If you wish, you can embellish your frame with stickers or bows (which I plan to do once I get to Michael's to get some cute stuff!)
  7. Write your To-Do reminders on the post-it notes and stick them in the boxes on your frame.
  8. Peel off and discard once the task is complete!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Today's Wisdom

Took this photo today with my macro lens.  Makes me feel like I haven't lost my touch.  :)

Spring Cleaning: Clothing Purge!

It's almost that time again, if not already.  That's right!  Time to clean out those closets!  ...for me it was more like clean out the closet, dresser, and additional storage tub.  I try to go through my clothes at LEAST once a year to decide what I want to keep and what needs to go.  I love to hang on to things as long as possible, but my husband and I are moving this summer and I would hate to cart a bunch of clothes unnecessarily across several states to clutter our new home.  Going through clothes for me is like going to the dentist; I don't like to go, but it needs to be done.  My main reasons for my dislike of my annual closet cleaning are 1) hanging onto clothing with sentimental value, regardless of if it fits, 2) most of the clothes I get rid of, I get rid of because they're too small, and 3) I paid good money for my clothes, only to do away with them now.  Here are my tips for a successful and mostly pain-free clothing purge:

  • If you can't remember the last time you wore it, put it in the "To - Go" pile.  No need to try it on.  Chances are you won't be wearing it anytime soon.
  • If the item looks like it's straight out of another decade, again, put it in the pile.
  • Feel free to try each item on or don't, but you need to make a decision on whether to keep it or toss it.  If it's been at the back of your closet or bottom of your dresser drawer for the last year and you aren't excited to find it... another item for the pile.  
I like to separate my clothes into three piles: 1) to keep, 2) to donate, and 3) to trash.  I know there are many people out there who are less fortunate who would really benefit from my gently used clothing, so I try to donate as much as possible.  My go-to donation station is Goodwill, or a thrift store of my careful choosing.  However, if the clothes are too worn, have stains, etc., I try to salvage them as dust rags/cleaning cloths, otherwise, they get tossed.  Here are the last two of my bags to take to Goodwill. 

As much as I dread my annual clothing purge, I feel a lot better once it's done.  I feel accomplished, organized, and philanthropic knowing I'm helping someone else by donating my clothes.  Once I've decided what to keep, I organize my closet and hang my clothes by 'dressy-ness'.  My casual tops go together, and my dressy tops go in another spot, while dresses and dress pants go together.  If you're going through your dresser as well as I did, I have everything out by the time I'm done.  I refold what I'm keeping and put it neatly away.  Happy Cleaning! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Pockets (Needs Improvement)

Tonight I tried out a recipe I found on Pinterest, adapted from Jenna's Journey's recipe.  My family eats chicken at least once a week so we're always looking for new recipes to keep things exciting!  These looked good: chicken, cheese, cream cheese, bread... what's not to like?  

Cheesy Chicken Pockets (My Version)

Servings: 2

2 [thin] boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 block of lowfat (or fat free) cream cheese
1/2 C. shredded cheese (whatever flavor you have on hand)
2 TBPS bacon bits (optional)
1 can of Pillsbury seamless dough sheets
1 TBPS butter or margarine (melted)(optional)
Breadcrumbs for topping (optional)

Boil chicken until cooked and tender.  Meanwhile, set out block of cream cheese to soften.  Preheat oven to 350.  Once chicken is cooked, shred with a fork.  Mix together shredded chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, and bacon bits.  Separate dough sheets into two and spoon mixture onto one end.  Cover and seal the dough sheets.  Brush the tops with melted butter and top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs (optional).  Bake for 17-20 minutes until lightly browned and crispy.  

Here was the result:

How it could be improved:

- WOW these were big!  ...each one was P'Zone sized, for all of you who are familiar with those.  Next time I would cut the seamless dough sheets and make four smaller ones instead of theses two large ones.  I had leftover chicken mixture which wouldn't fit in these two.

- Half a block of cream cheese was WAY too much for the amount of chicken I used.  On the original recipe where I got the idea from, she used an entire block of cream cheese, but she used bigger chicken breasts, so I cut the amount in mine in half for my first attempt.  Next time I would use 1/4 of a block and see how that turns out.  

- This may sound weird, but I didn't really like the boiled chicken 'taste'.  Next time I will cook the chicken in the crockpot to get it prepped for shredding.  

This has the potential to be a really great dish!  Not the healthiest by any means... although you could certainly tweak it to make it better for you, if you want.  I am disappointed that my first recipe post on here wasn't a total success, but what can you do?  If I try the recipe again, I will make adjust as I described above, and I am optimistic I'd enjoy it much better.  Feel free to comment and leave your suggestions for this recipe.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Hello all!  My name is Jenn and I'm 26.  I'm a first time mommy to a sweet two month old baby boy (as well as a spoiled, fluffy kitty named Pooh), a proud U.S. Air Force wife of 4 years, and an only child to the greatest parents on the planet.  I've been in the working world since I graduated high school and only recently stopped to be a full time mom.  However, I'm finding out that being a full time mom IS a full time job, just without the monetary compensation.  But I'll accept smiles and special moments.  :)  My favorite hobby is photography, I take more pictures than anyone I know.  You can check out some of my stuff here.   

I started this blog to share my experiences with mommy-hood and becoming a domestic diva as a stay-at-home mom; I hope to share with you crafty projects and recipes... both the successes and failures ...hence the title of my blog.  :)    At this point, I don't know how frequently I'll be able to post blogs (given the new baby!) but I'm going to put in a good effort!