Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Food

Nutella Granola Bars

Last weekend, we visited campus to attend the swim team’s final home meet for the season. Before leaving for our trip, I went through my treasured recipes to prepare a few baked favorites for all three children. M’s favorite is a no-brainier… She loves Old Fashioned Baked Oatmeal. I usually make her a 9×13″ pan, cut into squares and packaged in an airtight container. I’m told she usually skips the dorm breakfast and opts for a big bowl of plain yogurt paired with a crumbled square of my baked oatmeal.
P is more of a junk food kinda kid. He loves plain ole’ chocolate chip cookies. I usually make Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies. I’m told he shares them with floor mates and friends so I usually try to make a rather large batch for sharing. Who can resist a batch of freshly baked cookies?
K is a mix between the two when it comes to choosing a favorite baked item. Her care package contained a batch of Nutella Granola bars. For this easy bar, all of the ingredients are combined and pressed into a 13×9″ baking dish. They are then sliced and wrapped individually for freshness and portability. The bars are full of good hearty carbs and are sweetened by combining Nutella with peanut butter and honey. This is a great no-bake recipe that can be prepared in a jiffy. Make sure to individually wrap the bars to keep them fresh and pliable.

Nutella Granola Bars 

2 cups old fashioned oats

3/4 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup honey or light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 400°. In a jelly roll pan, pour oats, peanuts, wheat germ and sunflower kernels. Mix thoroughly and bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter and Nutella until blended.
Add the warm honey mixture to the dry, toasted ingredients and toss to coat. Press into a greased 13×9″ pan. Cool. Cut into bars. Wrap individually with plastic wrap. Store in an air-tight container.



Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, cookies

Ginger and Spice Biscotti

Over the holidays, we spent a few days in downtown Chicago where we visited a charming little store called Teavana. Housed in Water Tower Place, this was our first visit to the store. As we headed into the cozy shop, we were encouraged to taste-test a variety of deliciously fruity tea samples and admired all of the containers of loose leaf tea stacked high on tidy shelves lining the store walls.
Well, after spending over $100.00 in purchases, we headed out the door with several pounds of tea, and a few Teavana trinkets that we convinced ourselves we absolutely needed.
Arriving home, M and I decided to make a batch of Ginger and Spice Biscotti cookies to have on hand during our evening ritual (enjoying a cup of piping hot tea and watching the Hallmark Channel).
…And there’s nothing like a warm cup of tea and a spiced cookie during the cold winter months living in the Midwest.

Ginger and Spice Biscotti

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
3/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground oatmeal (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray, with cooking spray, a cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, and molasses. In another bowl, combine flour, wheat flour, baking powder, and remaining spices. Mix into the wet ingredients to form a stiff dough.
Divide dough in half, form each piece into a roll about as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2 inch thickness. Sprinkle with ground oatmeal. (Optional)
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool 5-10 minutes.
Cut into 1/2″ thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet, and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Cool, store in airtight container.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Food, Gifts

Moist Pumpkin and Citrus Tea Loaf


In our house, Saturday is baking day. The warmth of the kitchen and the sweet smell of cinnamon and nutmeg baking seem to make the cold winter months a bit more bearable. This loaf is quite easy to assemble and most of the ingredients are usually kept on hand (if your needing a quick treat that can be whipped up in no time). The addition of orange juice makes for an interesting twist. If you have an orange on hand, zest a teaspoon or two into the batter for a lovely burst of extra citrus flavor. On occasion , I’ve added a half cup of finely chopped dates to the batter for added moisture and flavor. Using smaller loaf pans, I often make several loaves to give away as gifts. Friends and family always enjoy a special homemade treat for the kitchen.

Moist Pumpkin Tea Loaf

1/2 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray, with cooking spray, a 9×5″ loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs. Mix in pumpkin and orange juice. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nuts. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients stirring just until completely moistened. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until an toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove loaf and cool completely on wire rack.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Food

Sweet Irish Soda Bread

As we begin the new year, the brutal Midwestern winds and the lake effect snow machine are both working hard to bring us record low temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Many local schools/businesses are closed again today and I am anticipating a difficult commute to work this morning. As the sun comes up and the traffic begins to build, I will be keeping an eye on the posted travel alerts as I may, very well choose to work from home today.
While everyone is still tucked warm in their beds, I’ve decided to get an early start and begin baking a few items as we may be hunkered down indoors for a while. The warmth of the oven will certainly help to heat the chilly kitchen. It seems the heater is working double time to try to keep up with the thermostat.
Recently, I saw a post for Irish Soda Bread that caught my eye. You can find it posted as Irish Raisin Bread at “If I Only Had A Time Machine”. The recipe included many ingredients that I don’t typically add to my mother’s traditional recipe. With a few variations, I made the loaf for my family on Monday night. Boy, everyone certainly enjoyed the new flavors and textures of this recipe. Last night, I sliced up the last of the bread and vowed that I would soon make a few more loaves.
So, along with a pan of baked oatmeal, I think I’ll be making another batch of bread this morning. I’m sure the warmth of the oven and the smell of freshly baking bread with help to shake of the winter blues as we have many more months of this crazy weather ahead of us. (I just looked it up… we have 70 days and twelve hours left until the arrival of Spring.) Bundle up and stay warm!

Sweet Irish Soda Bread
(Adapted from If I Only Had A Time Machine)

cups Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, cold
2 cups Raisins
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Rum Extract or Irish Whiskey
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cups Buttermilk or Sour Milk
2 tablespoons Old Fashioned Oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two round cake or pie pans.
Combine first seven (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Cut in butter or margarine until the texture resembles course crumbs. Add raisins. In a separate bowl mix remaining (wet) ingredients. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients forming a soft dough. Place dough onto a floured surface and knead well. Form into round cakes, place in prepared pans. Slice a light cross down the center of the loaves and sprinkle with oats. Bake for 40-50 minutes.



Posted in Crafts, Gifts

BOILER UP Bracelet

Black and gold are the collegiate colors of Purdue University. In my family, the Boilermaker logo is near and dear to our hearts. Currently, we have three children attending the University. Whenever possible, we proudly wear the Boiler colors. Our closets and drawers are filled with black and gold sweatshirts, pants, jackets, and tops. Our cabinets are filled with Boilermaker plates, glasses, mugs, and platters. Over the years, we’ve purchased Purdue fleece blankets, sheets, and soft plush pillows to decorate dorm rooms.
While shopping last week, I spotted some great beads in the craft section of our local discount store and I thought it might be fun to glitz up my jewelry selection with a few black and gold bracelets for our next team event. I am certainly not a skilled jewelry maker so this project is incredibly quick and easy and you can use any combination of colors to tailor the bracelet to satisfy your needs. Elastic cord is used to assemble the bracelet so very few supplies are needed.
This is quite a simple and inexpensive project so next time you’re in the craft aisle, take a look at the bead selection. You might be quite pleased and surprised at the unique variety of colored beads you can assemble on a clear cord to recognize and celebrate your favorite team.
I’m lovin’ that black and gold… BOILER UP!

BOILER UP Bracelet

7″ clear stretch cord ( measure your wrist for a more exact measurement + 1″)
Assortment of colored beads (lots of shapes and sizes)
Clear gel Tacky Glue

Measure and cut a 7″ piece of clear stretch cord. Fold a piece of tape across one end of the cord (to keep beads from falling while assembling). Arrange beads, as desired and string them onto the clear cord. Test the length around your wrist so that beads are evenly dispersed and the cord is completely filled when stretched around wrist. Carefully, tie the bracelet with a double knot, securing beads. Place a small dot of tacky glue on the knot, covering knot completely, let dry. Tuck the knot under a bead to keep it hidden.