The Recipe Olympics: The Easiest Crepes You’ll Ever Make!

Continuing with our Recipe Olympics we are traveling to France to taste these lovely fluffy and sweet crepes. BTW, If you have a great international recipe, we’d love to see it and post it on our blog, please email it … Continue reading

Bicycles and Not Your Average Banana Bread

Good Afternoon! I have been nonexistent with the Blog lately. Sorry about that. I just have not been cooking and we are eating out way to much. We’ve been stressed – you know… Why, or better question, how does life … Continue reading

Chocolate Energy Bars, Fuel for your Day!

If you need energy for a workout or breakfast on the go -these are the perfect way to go. Our Chocolate Energy Bars are full of protein, whole grains, chocolate, and just a touch of cayenne creating a little taste of Heaven in every bite. Low in sugar, and high in energy!

I have been using energy bars a lot now because I have a weight goal. Just 18 months ago I was 205 lbs. and am only 5’4″. I did not like how I felt on the outside or on the inside. I spent my first 40 years on the planet overweight and out of shape. I woke up one day and said NO MORE! I never looked back. It has been a struggle but only at first. Once I found the one thing that got me results quickly, I stayed with it. For me, that was running. So today, I am 162 lbs. and need to lose 22 more.

Recently, I have added to my running and eating healthy routine.  My boss gave all of us a 90 day membership to Cross Fit. Really great guy, he heard us talking about getting personal trainers and wanted to do something really great for all of us.

So here I am trying to lose the last of this extra weight, and now I’m nearly doubling my workout. I feel more drained and need the extra fuel to get through it all. So I created my version of an energy bar. Sort of a granola bar meets no bake cookies, but with wholesome ingredients. I am an advocate for real-natural ingredients, so there is real butter, natural peanut butter, and honey in these. About the only thing that’s not natural in here are the chocolate chips.  Hey, I said natural ingredients are great, but I’m not perfect -girl’s gotta have her chocolate!

Chocolate Energy Bars

Ingredients:

1/3 Cups Cocoa

1/2 Cup Butter

3 Tbs. Honey

1/4 Cup Brown sugar

1/3 Cup All Natural Peanut Butter

1. In a medium sized pot warm all of the above ingredients on the stove top until well melted. Not too hot, just until the brown sugar is dissolved. Set aside and let cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Then I gathered the rest of the ingredients -this is so easy you won’t believe it:

1 1/2 Cups Granola (see our recipe!)

1 3/4 Cups Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour – fresh ground is best

2 Tbs Wheat Germ

3 Tbs Ground Flax

1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional – but so good)

3/4 tsp Cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

2 Eggs (beaten)

2. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the above dry ingredients (minus the eggs) and mix well.

3. To the wet cocoa mixture that has had time to cool a bit, add slowly, 2 beaten fresh eggs and mix well. Then pour all of this into the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Spread into a 13″ x 9″ sprayed pan.

4. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool slightly, cut into bars and separate on a cooling rack to cool fully. Wrap and store on the counter for 2-3 days or in the fridge is best. Will last for a week if you don’t eat them all first!

Makes: about 36, 1.5″ x 4″ bars.

Time: 30 minutes

Enjoy and be healthy!!


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Strawberry Chipotle Jam

Strawberries are coming into our local grocery store by the truckloads. I was lucky enough to get a sweet connection from my Sis whose friend of a friend is a grower in CA. I ordered 2 full flats of berries. These lovely little ruby colored fruit had been growing in the field only 2 days prior to arriving at my home. They were perfectly ripe and perfectly right for making jam. This is the proper point in the story where the reader should say “Oooohh!” The berries were definitely worthy of any and all “oooohhh’s”. There were delicious. Yes I use past tense here because they are gone. All gone. We ate and ate, and jammed, jellied, sorbet, and smoothied our way through both of those flats. The results were pleasing to all but one. The youngest sister thought the Strawberry Chipotle Jam was a bit too hot for her tender tongue. I, on the other hand loved it. So fiery good. The recipe that follows is NOT hot, I scaled it back to a mild to medium heat. But if you like it spicy to the point of being sexy, than double the chipotles. Mmmm, so good!

This jam is perfect to serve over a brick of softened cream cheese along with crackers. But the way I enjoy it and highly recommend anyone to try is to take a 2-3 lb. pork roast and marry the 2 together in a crock pot for 6 or 7 hours on low. The results will blow you away! So darn good!

This recipe is easy and here are just a couple of little tips before we get started. For the berries, pulse in a food processor, but leave some big chunks, we are not making a smoothie, so no puree. For the lemon, after it has been zested, place it in the microwave for 20 seconds and you will get more juice.

Strawberry Chipotle Jam

Sweet and Spicy Jam for atop Meat, Cream Cheese, and Dessert!
Ingredients:

7 Cups Strawberries, crushed (around 3 lbs.)
2 large Lemon, zested and juiced
6 1/2 Cups sugar
2-3 canned Chipotle Peppers (packed in Adobo sauce)
1 tsp. Salt

Crush the berries into small pieces, if there is a bit more than 7 cups, that’s OK.

In a blender, toss in the lemon juice, the zest, and the chipotles that you’ve picked out of the can. Blend until liquified.

In an 8 quart stock pot, place the liquid from the blender, the berries, the salt and all of the sugar. Heat on medium high heat and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, watching and stirring constantly. This could boil over, so always watch the pot.

Check for gel consistency by placing a teaspoonful of jam on a frozen plate. If you can draw your finger in a straight line through it and it stays separated and not runny than you can go on to the next step. If the jam is just not there yet, continue to simmer and check it this way every 5 minutes.

Place the hot jam in sterilized jars and seal in a hot water bath. If you have never canned before, it is not difficult, but take some time and read up on it so you are prepared, then you will be successful.

This should make around eight 6 oz. jars. Enjoy!

 

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Dang Tasty Whole Wheat Pancakes

These little power houses are energy packed and so easy to make. They are light and fluffy despite the powerful ingredients like fresh ground whole wheat and flax seed that pack a punch full of fiber and protein. I made this recipe after being so tired of the same old pancake mixes with tons of sugar and generic ingredients. It’s so import to me to put healthier food on the table as I have gone through the transition of  being extremely obese to just a few more pounds to go. I do grind my own wheat and flax seed, but you don’t have too.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Easy homemade whole wheat and flax seed pancakes, are great when topped with fresh fruit!

grinding flax seed

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbs. Flax Seed (ground)
1 Cup Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Butter (melted)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 Cup Butter Milk

Directions:
In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.In a separate bowl beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla together. Then add the mixed wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and then add the melted butter. Mix just until combined, it’s okay if the batter is slightly lumpy.

Makes 12 medium pancakes, with only 140 calories per pancake!

Start Your Garden Now -Great Tips from an Impatient Gardener: Wall O’ Water and Planting Tomatoes!

Holy Wall O’ Water Batman!

I have raised, above ground, garden beds that I built with my favorite and only son. These are made out of regular scrap lumber that we assembled using 3″ wood screws and filled with run of the mill dirt and compost. By using the raised beds, I can fit more plants in them, and the beds look really neat and tidy. It’s a lot easier to grid out your garden by the square foot, and the lite aerated dirt in raised beds allows for the plant roots to grow rapidly and the dirt to warm faster in the season. Also, being able to get to my beds easily for weeding and sowing purposes is always a plus.

Turns out, at Home Depot and Wal-Mart they sell these things called Wall O’ Water. They’re a plastic tubular Teepee about 20-22″ inches tall that are pleated. Each pleat is a tube that you put water in, about 2/3 full. Fill it up, then let the walls sit in place without any plant inside, to get nice and heated by Mr. Yellow Sun for a couple of days. I then take them off the dirt, dig my hole where it’s been sitting, place my plant, and put my Wall O’ Water back over the top and it sits like a teepee. It’ll extend your growing season about 8 weeks, so you can plant earlier! Genius!! These perfect little green houses will protect your plants from frost down to about 16 degrees F.

Another nice trick I figured out from the folks at Home Depot and Wal-Mart is that their paint stir sticks make great plant markers. For free! Brilliant!

Planting Tomato Plants

Did you know that you need to plant in the ground more of your tomato plant than just the root ball that you get from the nursery? For a healthy strong tomato plant you need to plant at least 2/3 of the plant in the ground. I know, who would of thought?

To do this you have to pluck off the lower most stems and leaves off of the main stem of your plant. That means you’ve just lengthened the stem. All of that extra stem gets submerged in the dirt and will grow strong root shoots instead of leaf shoots now, strengthening your root system immensely. Remember, tomatoes are a vine and they will grow roots off any of their submerged stems. Watch how your tomato plants will flourish. A true night and day difference. I promise!

See?! Dirt cheap tricks and you CAN start your garden now! Why wait? Let me know how your garden grows. I’d love to hear from you!

Start Your Garden Now -Great Tips from an Impatient Gardener: Seedlings!

Gardening can be dirt cheap! Yup, pun intended here. I live in Zone 5A and I get sick and tired of waiting to get my garden in. The weather in the mountain west is so fickle. I virtually have no patience when it comes to getting outside and getting busy in the spring. I want dirt and grunge under my fingernails now! There must be dirt in my veins or something.

Start Your Own Seedlings

First, thing first, I started my seedlings on my kitchen counter. I picked up a bag of Seedling Starter Potting Mix which you can buy at Wal-Mart or at any garden supply store. I then took some cardboard egg cartons, that I had a friend save for me. Filled them up with the potting mix to the rim, and placed 2-3 tiny seeds on top. Did you know any seed needs to be planted in the dirt twice as deep as it is big. Yup, so I just dusted my seeds with the smallest amount of dirt over top of them, just enough to cover them up, and misted them with water.



Then it’s time to create your own mini indoor green houses. I placed my cartons of seeds into a store bought Bundt Cake container or a plastic storage container with a lid and cut a few slits/holes in the top for some air flow. Then close the lid and put it in a nice sunny location on my counter. I misted them with water everyday. Do NOT let them dry out! Within 7 days I had seedlings sprouting! Such a proud garden mama 🙂

Let your seedlings reach at least 3″ high before planting them outdoors in your garden. I personally like to grow my seedlings 8-12 weeks indoors, transferring them into larger cups/pots/2-liter bottle bottoms as they outgrow their initial home.

See?! Dirt cheap and you CAN start your garden now! Why wait? Let me know how your garden grows. I’d love to hear from you!

Cheddar and Chive Drop Biscuits

My Mom would say in her sweet Kentucky accent, “Oh Honey, these are gonna be so good, you won’t be able to sit still and eat ’em!” Yup just like that, and she would be right! Mom’s are always right, haha.

Now I do not profess to be a professional biscuit makin’ maven by any means -our Little Granny was the queen of that scene…Simply put, I cheat! I will confess it right now. I do not carefully measure and knead and cut biscuits, nope. Instead I make a nice loose batter and “drop” the dough with an ice cream scoop, yes that’s right. It takes less than half the time, and the result is a light and flavorful biscuit that really could be a meal by itself.

The ingredients for these seem a bit unconventional, but it all works out, trust me. Feel free to tweak the chives, cheese, and garlic to suit your own tastes -won’t hurt my feelings I promise. Just let us know if you try out these scrumptious biscuits and what you did with the recipe. Give ’em a go!

Cheddar & Chive Drop Biscuits

These quick and easy drop biscuits go great with any meal!
Ingedients:

2 Cups Flour

1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Sugar

1 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp. Paprika

2 Tbs. Fresh Chives, chopped fine

3 Cloves Minced Garlic

1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup Melted Butter

1 Egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together. Then add the chives and the cheese until fully incorporated.

In the bottom of that same bowl, make a well in the center of the dry flour mixture, add the milk and butter into the well. Mix all of it together gently with a wooden spoon until just barely mixed. Dough should be sticky. Do not over mix, this will engage the flour too much and make the biscuits tough. So gentle is the key.

Drop by 1/4 Cups or an ice cream scoop onto a lightly sprayed pan 1″ apart. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush on top of the biscuits before baking.

Bake 15-18 minutes until lightly golden. Enjoy!

Seed Bombs: Saving the Earth One Flower at a Time

Hmmm… Earth Day is a few days away… Mother’s Day is coming, Oh and let’s not forget the end of the school year is fast approaching! A teacher might like a little thank you gift that keeps on giving…

What on earth is a seed bomb? Well to describe them, they are clever little balls of clay, dirt, and seeds that you can make and share as gifts. Kids will love making and using these because it involves getting their hands busy in the wonderful cool clay and dirt, and ‘bombing’. Truth be known, I had a great time getting my hands dirty and squishing the cool concoction between my fingers. It was like I was 5 again. Love it!.

Wikipedia’s gives a bit more insight as to what they are used for:
Seed bombing or aerial reforestation is a technique of introducing vegetation to land by throwing or dropping compressed bundles of soil containing live vegetation (seed balls). Often, seed bombing projects are done with arid or off-limits (for example, privately-owned) land.

That’ a mouthful. Really these are an ingenious way of helping out the environment. They have been around for a while and have been used with great success in other countries to help plant native grasses and flowers along a vast expanse of land. Here in the US, there is a movement that’s started to help beautify your surroundings -perhaps even in a covert way. For a better grasp of what I mean, I will refer to GuerrillaGardening.org. They ‘encourage gardening without boundaries… and seek to provide inspiration through an exchange of ideas and experiences from guerrilla gardeners around the world and those seeking to become one.’
“Brilliant!,” I thought to myself. “I’m in!”

…Now I am not endorsing breaking any laws here or trespassing, but the thought of making a vacant lot or abandoned eyesore of a building a little brighter and more cheerful, really intrigues me. I think what someone could quietly and anonymously do is go through town and scatter these little seed bombs, let Mother Nature do her part and wait to see what happens. Kinda naughty? Well perhaps a little. It’s sort of fun to think that being a bit sneaky -by the moon’s light- one could drop, sling, fling, punt or shoot via sling shot into a vacant field or abandoned lot, these little balls full of life. Then with a bit of spring rain and a little time -FLOWERS! But really, what harm can come of it as long as seeds that you use are native to your area.

Seed Bombs

You’ll need:
Packs of wild flowers
Air dry red clay
Gardening dirt

These are super easy to make, but are a bit messy so be sure to make these outside. All you need is a small container of red clay, the air dry stuff works best and is so cheap at Wal-Mart. To this I added dirt from the garden. Yup, regular dirt. I did relocate a few worms, but that is the fun of it! I mixed together about 4 parts clay to 1 part dirt, but this was not exact. You do not have to be exact here, we are not baking a cake. Then I took about 10 packs of various wildflower seeds that are native to my area and added only enough water to get everything workable. I believe I only used a bit less than 2 cups water. Then the fun, I mixed and squished and mixed some more until everything was the consistency of thick cookie dough, not too sticky. That was my favorite part!! Then roll these into the desired size. I made them smaller than a ping pong ball and it made about 5 dozen. Then set them on a tray until completely dry. Depending on where you live and your humidity levels, it could take a couple of days. Then package up and give away.

There should be instructions included, something fun and clever explaining what these funny little things are. Somethign like: “Fling me into the wild blue yonder where I will be sure to land on ground that is in need of beauty and color, like a vacant field or abandoned lot. Or plant in a sunny location and water regularly.”

Now when I was all done with this little project, and began to clean up, I passed by the spinach patch I realized that it did NOT have to be just flowers. Think about it -lettuce and spinach and kale! All of these grow well and quick. Deer and other woodland creatures will love this as a treat.

Oh and a side note. After I had finished and hours had passed, my dear Hubby saw a plateful of little round, brown nuggets. He thought they were cake balls and was reaching his hand out to grab one while asking what sort of cake they were. “STOP!!!” I yelled, “don’t eat those! They are dirt!” The craziest look came over him. I then explained and we both just giggled, but oh how we would NOT have been laughing had he got a mouthful of those. Well, I would have laughed… and laughed. And I am actually giggling right now writing this.

Anyways, try them out with your family. Then let us know what you think and how much fun you had dispersing these around town. Maybe take some pictures when your eco-friendly works of art start to appear this summer! Happy Earth Day!