Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Desserts, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box, No-Bake

No-Bake Oat and Honey Snack Bites

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If you like peanut butter, you will love this no-bake treat. I’ve made several variations of this recipe over the years but this one is so simple and produces about 36 rounds of goodness. After parking these in the fridge for about 30 minutes, I pack them in a Tupperware container so I can tuck them into lunch boxes all week long.

No-Bake Oat and Honey Snack Bites

2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter, honey, and maple syrup; mix thoroughly. Sprinkle in the oats and chocolate chips. Use a small ice cream scoop to shape dough into individual 1″ balls. Place on a cookie sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Pack into air-tight container. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Beef, Dinner, Main Dish

Copy Cat White Castle Sliders

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My mother-in-law gave me this recipe when I was a newlywed. She had served these delicious mini-burgers for a friendly gathering and I was hooked the minute I tasted them. In the Chicagoland area, there is a fast food restaurant that serves these bite-sized burgers in large quantities. It’s fun to make a load of these for tailgating finger food. I often pack the foil wrapped, pre-cooked burgers in the crockpot to stay warm at the tailgate party. They are always a crowd-pleasing hit!

Copy Cat White Castle Sliders

2 pounds ground beef
1 (1.25 ounce) envelope onion soup mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
24 dinner rolls, split
1/2 cup sliced hamburger pickles, drained

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef; drain. Mix the onion soup mix, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese into the ground beef mixture. Cover, remove from heat. Lay the bottoms of the dinner rolls on a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap and seal in the burgers. Spread the cheese and beef mixture on the bottom half of each roll. Top each burger with two pickle slices. Replace the tops. Cover and completely wrap the burgers with the aluminum foil. (The idea is to steam the burgers enclosed in the foil.) Bake until the burgers are heated through and cheese melts, about 30 minutes.

Below, I’ve included a few step-by-step photos….

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baking, breakfast, Gardening, lunch box

Chunky Homemade Applesauce with Simple Granola Topping

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We spent a beautiful afternoon at the local apple orchard last weekend. I had my mind set on making several batches of homemade applesauce while the fruit is in abundance and is reasonably priced.
When we first moved to our current home, J and I planted several apple trees on the back portion of our property. That was 13 years ago and we have not been able to harvest one single apple since then. We planted them in an open area beyond our woods which must be the perfect spot for all of the local deer to munch on whatever fruit begin to grow on the miniature trees.
In our area there are several great orchards so taking a trip to purchase bulk fruit and vegetables isn’t too much trouble. We picked up lots of apples, sweet potatoes, cider, fresh apple donuts, and chestnuts.
I’ve been making this particular applesauce recipe for years and years. The addition of vanilla makes a world of difference, adding an extra layer of flavor. If you own an apple peeler/corer, it will make this recipe super quick and easy to assemble.

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Chunky Homemade Applesauce with Simple Granola Topping

8 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large pot, combine apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes; while stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Mash apples to desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Simple Granola Topping

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins or dried fruit, if desired

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto parchment lines sheet pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to achieve an even color. Add raisins or dried fruit if desired.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Bread, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Creamy Corn Bread

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Lately, M has been taking a thermos of soup in her lunchbox. Every Sunday evening, we make a big pot of soup that will last through the long school week. Recent recipe choices have included cream of broccoli, minestrone, vegetable beef, and other favorites. I’ve also been baking cornbread muffins to accompany the meal. I bake them in silicone muffin liners for easy cleanup.
This Creamy Corn Bread recipe gets its sweetness and creaminess from the corn and yogurt in the mix. No need to add sugar, this bread is sweet, moist, and satisfying!

Creamy Corn Bread

1 egg
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix
1 (8-ounce) carton plain fat-free yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Pour into a 9×5″ loaf pan coated with cooking spray or spoon into lined muffin pans. Bake at 350° for 40- 45 minutes for loaf pan or 17-20 minutes for muffins.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, Food, lunch box

Honey and Oats Bread

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Several years ago, on one of my weekly visits to Goodwill, I found a brand new Williams-Sonoma Bread Machine on one of the shelves. I was delighted because I had given my old (smaller) bread machine to my brother-in-law when my kids were little.
The William Sonoma machine makes a really large loaf , has some attractive settings, and is a quality machine. I make my share of breads and scones by hand, but there is nothing like throwing all of the ingredients into the pan before going to bed and waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread.
This recipe is one of our favorites. You can use white bread flour or wheat flour…I was low on wheat flour this week so I mixed white and wheat. My kids load it up with crunchy peanut butter and homemade jam. This makes a hefty loaf that is sure to please.

Honey and Oats Bread

1 cup water, mild temp.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the bread pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the basic or light crust setting, press start.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Food, Gardening, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Chewy Oat and Jam Cookie Bars

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What to do with all of this delicious homemade jam? …Make Oat and Jam cookie bars!
Last week, we canned loads of Concord grapes and tucked the jars away for a year’s worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Thumbprint Cookies, and Chewy Oat and Jam Cookie Bars. Yesterday, I made a small pan of the delicious bars and they were gone in a flash. As we start the new school week, I am going to double the recipe, individually wrap the bars, and tuck them in the fridge so they can easily be packed in the lunchbox.
Starting this week, my children will be adding a morning swim practice to their already long school day so they will leave before 5:30 am and won’t return until after 6:00 pm. This means packing breakfast, lunch, and after-school swim snack into the lunchbox. I usually stock the fridge and pantry with homemade peanut butter, lots of fruits and veggies, eggs, cheese, milk, whole grain bread, yogurt, snacks, and oat cereal so there is plenty to choose from. This recipe is quick and easy to assemble. Use any flavor jam to suit your family’s taste. M has suggested we make a peanut butter glaze to spread over the warm bars…haven’t tried it yet but sounds like a scrumptious idea!

Chewy Oat and Jam Cookie Bars

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2teaspoon baking soda
1/4teaspoon salt
1 cup Concord grape jam. (other flavors will work just as well)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar, set aside. In a medium bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix dry ingredients in to the creamed mixture. Press 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the jam over this layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam. Lightly sprinkle chopped pecans over the bars. Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box, No-Bake

Easy No-Bake Granola Bites

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Making your own granola bars at home can certainly be more nutritious for your family and is definitely a money saving idea. A box of granola bars can range in price from a moderate $2 up to as much as $7, which is really quite expensive. Often, one can only guess at the ingredients that are included in the nutrition facts label. Ingredient names that I can’t recognize or pronounce are always a red flag for me.
While this recipe isn’t the most nutritious of the bunch in my recipe box, it certainly is easy to make and I like the fact that it’s a no-bake recipe that can be made during the late summer months when the air conditioner shouldn’t have to compete with a hot oven. I often add nuts, seeds and dried berries for added texture, nutrition, and flavor. I wrap the cooled and cut bars in plastic wrap so that they stay fresh and are easily packed for travel. This is a great “kids in the kitchen” recipe.

Easy No- Bake Granola Bites

2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light (reduced sugar) corn syrup or honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Spray a 13×9″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. Bring the brown sugar and syrup (or honey) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until blended. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated; let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Stir in the chocolate chips. Press mixture into prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap to preserve freshness.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Food, lunch box

Apple and Spice Muffins

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It’s Sunday and time to bake for the coming school week. Muffins seem to pack perfectly into lunch boxes along with fresh fruit, carrots, yogurt, a sandwich and some trail mix. It really saves time in the morning when things are prepared ahead and packable lunch items are set out on the counter so the kids can choose their favorites. The swim season will begin next week and more food will be needed to fuel their young bodies through a day of school and endless yards of swimming.
This muffin recipe is a new one. I looked through a few of the local community cookbooks yesterday and this recipe looked easy enough to combine and pop in the oven. I added some apples to add depth and flavor. I will slather icing on a few of the muffins for an after dinner dessert and pile the remaining (un-iced) muffins into a Tupperware container for lunches.
An afternoon of baking has produced, 18 muffins, a tray of chewy granola bars, and 24 vanilla cupcakes. I have one more tray of cupcakes in the oven as M’s friend is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and she wanted to bring a birthday treat to school to share with friends at the lunch table. I have made a batch of cream cheese frosting and will finish icing the birthday cupcakes after dinner. A will sprinkle some colorful rainbow nonpareils over the frosting to make them look festive.
On the dinner menu…Teriyaki Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries…Another productive Sunday!

Apple and Spice Muffins

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 apples – peeled, cored and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, spices, and salt. Set aside. Cream together margarine and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir together soda and 1 tablespoon warm water, and mix into the sugar mixture. Stir into flour mixture. Add apples and mix until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 17-25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
( I use cream cheese frosting, homemade or store bought, depending on time)

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Food, lunch box

Rise and Shine Morning Muffins

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Rise and Shine Morning Muffins

Well, I have the last of this week’s school lunches packed and heading out the door with my children. It’s Friday and as we head into the weekend, I will have to plan my selection of items that I will bake for next week’s menu.
This is one of my favorite lunchbox recipes to send to school. These little gems are filled with whole grains,apples, nuts, pineapple and raisins. Plenty of goodies to keep a hungry tummy satisfied. I bake a large batch and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for a week’s worth of lunches.

Rise and Shine Morning Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all- purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped apple
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line muffin pan cups with paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. In another mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in carrot, apple, coconut, pecans, pineapple and raisins. Add flour mixture and stir just until blended.
Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer muffins to cooling racks to cool completely. Store muffins in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Desserts, Food, lunch box

Chocolatey Oat and Peanut Butter Cookies

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So, tomorrow my oldest will be leaving for college…I am surely going to miss her smiling face on a daily basis. It will be hard for me to let her go….
I have spent a good part of the morning baking goodies to pack in containers and load into boxes. Cooling on the counter top, there is a loaf of Irish soda bread, a tray of granola bars, and some Chocolatey Oat and Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe below).
I will wait for them to cool completely and then arrange them in containers for the long drive down to Purdue University. My hope is to continue to send her “care packages” on a weekly basis so that she knows that we miss her and that she is in our thoughts…sending a little “home-baked love” her way as she begins her journey through college life on campus. We love you, K!

Chocolatey Oat and Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups peanut butter
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Extra oats for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter, oats, and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (or scoop out dough with a small ice cream scoop) and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press down with slightly damp fingers. Lightly sprinkle with extra oats.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.