Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Granola Bars

{Don't forget to enter the giveaway (below) by Friday!}

I discovered these granola bars a few years ago and like to whip them up every now and again. They are a great alternative to the store bought variety--more nutritious plus easier on the budget. Even better, everyone enjoys them, kids and grown-ups alike. Adapted from here.


2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
chocolate chips to taste

Optional ingredients: flaked coconut, raisins, other dried fruit (I included coconut. Also, note that chocolate chips are NOT optional. Not for me. )


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Mix together the oats, brown sugar, flax seed, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil, and vanilla. Mix well (so much easier if you use your hands). Spread mixture evenly into pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5-10 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm (if you wait too long they will be harder to cut).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review and CSN Stores Giveaway

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to choose a product from CSN stores to review. They have a huge selection of kitchen stuff as well as practically everything else under the sun. I was looking at getting some decor or a new fancy kitchen gadget, but then my trusty blender broke. I can't go very long without a blender, so that's what I ended up ordering. Below is the review I submitted to CSN of my new, 12-Speed Osterizer Blender.

And now for the fun part! I have a $20 gift code to give away to one lucky reader.

Here's what you have to do to enter:

  • Leave me a comment telling about your favorite simple, HEALTHY, kid-friendly meal. I want to do a whole bunch of advance meal planning the next month or so, and I want it to be simple stuff. And I'm hoping this will jump-start my planning.
  • Leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.
  • That's it. You don't have to subscribe or tweet or anything like that. :)
Good luck! I'll close the giveaway Friday at midnight.

Here's a link to all of CSN Stores. And here's a link to the kitchen stuff.

Originally submitted at CSN Stores


  • 12 speed blender
  • 450 Watts
  • Sleek slope design for attractive counter display
  • 5-Cup scratch resistant and dishwasher safe glass jar
  • Exclusive All-Metal Drive system for power and extra durability

Great Blender!

By Janell from Soutwest, USA on 3/29/2011

4out of 5

I got this blender to replace my other Oster blender when the motor burned out (after several years). I am pretty hard on blenders--I use them a lot to make smoothies. I really like the glass jar and so far I'm just as pleased with this one as my old one. It blends quickly and uniformly. Does great with ice. I don't know if there's a blender out there that would last me more than a few years. But so far this one is working great!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Texas Caviar

So good I could eat it with a spoon. Although I do prefer it with tortilla chips. Or quesadillas. Or burritos. (Etc.)

Texas Caviar

1 can shoepeg corn
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can diced green chilies (I use half a can)
4-6 tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper diced (I like orange or yellow best but I used red in this batch)
diced: cilantro, green onions, garlic (to taste)
¼-1/2 cup zesty italian dressing (sometimes I use fresh lime juice and cut back on the dressing)
1/2 - 2 jalapenos, depending on how hot you like it (optional)
Salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste (I never include Tabasco)

Mix together in a big bowl and chill overnight for best flavor (I usually can’t wait that long).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Time for Menu Plan Monday!
{This is a great loaded baked potato soup that I'll post sometime. It's not the same, but seems similar to the potato leek soup we're having this week.}

Spring break is over and with it I'm hoping some bad eating habits. We went out to eat a lot and had a lot of big family meals, which was great and what vacation is all about right? But now it's time to get back on schedule and back to meal planning. Here's what's on the menu this week:

Creamy Potato Leek Soup and rolls

Spinach Sesame Pasta Salad, grilled salmon

Chicken Tikka Masala

Pork Chops and scalloped potatoes, broccoli (Mr. J is cooking this, can't wait for that!)

Flautas (w/leftover pork) and homemade salsa, refried beans

Homemade mac and cheese, salad, bread

Pizza/out to eat with family

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicken Chardon

{Chicken Chardon pairs well with potatoes, in this case the cheesy variety}

This is another favorite from Mr. J's family. Chicken is breaded in a garlic, Parmesan, and bread crumb combo, baked in lemon butter and topped with breaded mushrooms. It cooks up tender and full of flavor; just try not to think about the amount of butter you are consuming!


4-6 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 egg
salt and pepper
2 t garlic powder (divided)
1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup butter
1 T lemon juice
1 t parsley
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced


Preheat oven to 375. Line a large baking dish (9X13) with foil for easy clean up later. Spray foil with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, beat egg, salt, pepper, and 1/2 t garlic powder. In a separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, 1/2 t garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese.

Flatten each chicken breast and cut into two pieces if desired (I like smaller servings). Dip each piece of chicken into egg mixture, then roll in bread crumbs, pressing to coat well. Arrange in baking dish.

Melt butter with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, lemon juice, and parsley. Pour half over chicken. Bake 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining butter with mushrooms and enough remaining bread crumbs to coat the mushrooms. After the 25-30 minutes, remove chicken and cover with mushroom mixture. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.
{If it looks like there is something missing from this plate, that's because there is. There was no sauteed asparagus left by the time I got around to taking a picture of our leftovers.}

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This is one of Mia's favorite recipes. It comes from my friend Bethany who always makes the best food! I've modified it just a little for convenience sake, her original recipe is here.


  • 2 chicken breasts, precooked and shredded (best method is in the crock pot w/some broth, seasoned salt, and pepper)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 C carrots, cut up (or 1/2 bag of baby carrots cut up)
  • 3 stocks of celery, chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 6 chicken bullion cubes (added at different times)
  • seasoned salt and pepper
  • 8 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 package of small egg noodles (8-10 oz.)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup*


Put chopped onion, celery, and carrots in the bottom of a large pot with butter, ¼ cup water, 1 bullion cube, and a dash each of seasoned salt and pepper. Stir, cover, and steam on medium heat until veggies are almost tender (about 10-15 minutes).

Add 8 cups of water and remaining 5 bullion cubes, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add noodles and boil for about 8 minutes or according to package.

Finally, add shredded chicken, canned soup, and ¼ t each of seasoned salt and pepper. Cook until cream of chicken soup has dissolved and soup is creamy. Add more water if soup is too thick.

*Here is a substitution for the cream of chicken soup when I don’t have it on hand: Melt 4 T butter in a saucepan, then stir in about 8-9 T flour. Add 1 cup milk, salt and pepper, and cook until thickened. Add this to the pot along with a few big spoonfuls of sour cream.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Piña Colada Smoothie

I love to make smoothies. I am pretty tough on blenders, especially in the hot summers. I never measure the ingredients for my smoothies or follow an exact recipe. However I usually include yogurt, a variety of fruit (bananas and strawberries are my favorites), liquid (milk, juice, or water, or a combination), and ice if needed (if I'm using frozen fruit sometimes I don't need the ice).

Once in a while I go out on a limb and throw in a veggie or two, like a carrot, with varying success. (Sometimes the kids will notice and tell me it tastes funny.)

The other night, I made what Mia called "The best yummy drink you've ever made, mom!" Again, no exact measurements, but here's how it went:

Piña Colada Smoothie

1 and 1/2 fresh bananas
several large spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt (maybe about a cup worth?)
canned pineapple juice and tidbits (I opened a large can and used all the liquid plus the tidbits that were left after making Hawaiian pizza)
cream of coconut* - squeeze for a couple of seconds
water and ice to desired thickness and texture

Blend and enjoy! Little umbrellas optional.

*The brand of cream of coconut that I have is Coco Real, and I found it in the liquor section: