My Super Cereal Supplement: A Granola Recipe

Here’s a post of Marissa’s from the archives that you might enjoy!

Being young, married, tight-budgeted college students, my husband and I have been trying to get creative and think of things that we can make on our own, that we would normally pay more for at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, one of those things that a large part of our grocery budget is dedicated to is cold cereal… When we came to this realization, and talked about the possibility of reducing the cereal consumption in our home, there were tears…. Yeah, I cried! I know it sounds silly. But you don’t understaaaandd! – My whole life up until now, cereal has always been a part of my breakfast. It has always been there, waiting for me, like a true friend! How could I even think of including any other breakfast food in my morning meal? And all through my single years of college, what would I have done for breakfast and dinner, if I hadn’t had my cereal waiting there so patiently in the cupboard for me? I could go on, but I’ll spare you my “life cereal” poetry… that’s just embarrassing.

As we talked about cutting cereal out of our lives, I thought of my morning bowl of cereal and all its deliciousness and glory. I couldn’t bear to let it go. I knew I had to come up with a solution. Well, I actually came up with two!

SOLUTION #1: only cut back on cereal, rather than cut it completely out. Instead of going through 3-4 boxes of cereal per week, cut it down to 1 box, and supplement it with other foods like eggs, toast, fruit and yogurt. It’s been working pretty well so far. I tried buying two kinds of cereal and splitting them each in half, so that we could have a variety still, but keep it at 1 box’s worth of cereal. That has worked decently well – I just put the other half in a gallon ziploc bag.

SOLUTION #2: (This one is my favorite) Make. Granola. That counts as cereal, and do you realize how much cheaper it is to make it??! I found a recipe on allrecipes.com for really simple granola, with typical ingredients you would have on hand. I have made it 4 times now, each time, changing it a little so I liked it better, and now, I have come up with a recipe that I really like! I’ll share it with you because I’m just hoping it will give you as much joy as it has brought to me. :)

Honey Almond Granola

2 c. old-fashioned oats (or 1 c. quick oats and 1 cup old fashioned if you want it to be in clusters)
¼ c. Sliced almonds
¼ c. + 1 Tbsp flaked coconut
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp vanilla pudding powder, divided
½ tsp cinnamon
Scant ¼ tsp. salt
½ c. orange blossom honey (or clover honey)
* milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:
1. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, sugar, 1/2 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Measure 1/2 cup honey into a liquid measuring cup, an then add milk on top of the honey* until it is up to 2/3 cup.
3. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, vanilla and almond extract to the honey and milk, mix together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well.
4. Bake at 280 degrees for 35 minutes. (check every 10 minutes, stirring each time) Bake until golden brown. Let it cool (and if you want it to be in clusters, let it cool before you stir it again), and store in an airtight container.

For a low sugar version – I have made it without the brown sugar or pudding powder, and just let the honey do all the sweetening, and it is still delicious.

I have found that Granola is a very forgiving recipe – you can really tweak it to meet your desires – If you want to add something or leave something out, you can, and it won’t mess it up!

*EDIT 7/28/10: I found out that boiling the honey for 1 minute and then adding it to the dry mixture helps to soften the oats so they aren’t so hard and crunchy and hard to chew…

**Rochelle’s notes 6/18/12:  An alternative to using quick oats is to just pulse the old fashioned oats in your blender for a few seconds.  I have tried this recipe with agave and it works well.  A fun way to change this recipe is to add in some dried fruit after the bake time.  I usually go with craisins, but you could add whatever you like.

A Perfect Cold Weather Beverage- Wassail

The Best Homemade Wassail Recipe {Home Sweet Homebodies}

Every autumn, I start getting excited about making cocoa, hot apple cider, and especially wassail.  It smells heavenly, and I’m sure that if you could make an elixir containing all the joy, excitement, and coziness of the holidays it would taste exactly like wassail.

Homemade Wassail for One {Home Sweet Homebodies}

Sometimes my husband and I like to just make it a cup at a time and heat it in the microwave for a cozy evening in, but the honest-to-goodness best way to enjoy it is to simmer it slowly on your stove-top or in a crockpot and savor the smell and perfectly blended flavors.  I will share my recipe for both ways so you can enjoy it any way you want, though.

Wassail for One:
Pour your cup about 3/4 of the way full with apple juice, then fill the rest with orange juice.  Add a squirt of lemon juice (optional). Add 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, and a pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger (optional).
Microwave on high for about a minute and a half, and let it sit for a few minutes before drinking.  Feel free to strain off
the floating spices or drink it in all its delicious glory!

Homemade Wassail for a Crowd {Home Sweet Homebodies}

Wassail for a Crowd
{Home Sweet Homebodies}

2 quarts apple juice or apple cider- “no sugar added” juice is best in my opinion, but use whatever you have!
2 1/2 c. orange juice
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
12-14 whole cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger

Heat everything in the crock-pot on low heat for 3-6 hours.  It is ready after it is piping hot and the spices (besides the cloves) are mostly incorporated into the wassail and no longer floating- you may need to stir it a couple of times.  Your home will smell heavenly!  If you are in more of a hurry you can also heat it on the stove-top over medium heat for maybe 5-10 minutes and then turn it down to low heat!  If you leave it on higher heat on the stove-top it will thicken and eventually caramelize- good for syrup but not so good for drinking.  (Don’t worry if it does thicken a bit, just take it off the heat and let it cool down for a while- maybe even add a little bit of water- and it will thin mostly back down.)

Homemade Wassail Recipe {Home Sweet Homebodies}

Mmmm!

I hope you are all finding joy this holiday season!

Homemade Wassail {Home Sweet Homebodies}

PS: For anyone who is new to Home Sweet Homebodies since last year, check out my recipe for the best Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls ever, or get some ideas to dress up the holiday table with my post on napkin folding.  Happy Thanksgiving!

DIY Guy Gifts : A roundup of my favorites

Let’s face it: It’s easy to come up with fabulous handmade gifts for girls and women, and there are even quite a few great handmade gift options for little boys, but thinking of things to make for the men in our lives is… not easy.  I was talking with my friend Danielle about this last week, and after thinking of the things I have already done or have bookmarked to do, and doing a little research, I have come up with a list of my favorite DIY guy gifts.

There are actually a whole bunch of ideas for handmade gifts for men out there, but I’ve found many of them lacking… I realized that I have a few “requirements” that must be met any time I consider making something as a gift for someone.  If these requirements aren’t met, there’s a high probability the gift I lovingly toil over will end up at the thrift store, or in my craft stash, never to be finished.  So to be considered by me, any and all handmade gifts must meet these three requirements: 1. Must be useful or attractive; 2. Not a knick-knack; 3. Must be realistic.  Also, big points for not having to spend big bucks. 

So with that in mind, I am ready to share my favorite DIY guy gifts and the source you can go to for the free tutorial!

Sew

The Best Men’s Tie Pattern @ Puking Pastilles
Neckwarmer Tutorial @ Skip to my Lou
Flannel Shirt Lunchbag -right here @ Home Sweet Homebodies… tutorial to come!
Emergency Car Kit @ Holidash

Sewing Honorable Mentions:
Baseball Applique Pillow @ Better Homes and Gardens
Monogrammed Neckties @ Martha Stewart
Fabric Luggage Tags @ Skip to my Lou
Great Outdoors Fishing Vest @ Sewing.org

Crochet/ Knit

Crochet Mens Slipper Pattern @ Simply Home Made
Extra Warm Men’s Scarf @ Cotton and Cloud

Cook

Spicy Terriyaki Beef Jerky @ FOODjimoto (By the way, jerky can be dried in the oven too.)
BBQ Spice Rubs @ Kojo Designs
“Dessert of the Month” or “Breakfast in Bed” Coupons -see ideas @ Spray Paint Queen

Craft

Lego Belt Buckle and Tie Tack @ Kojo Designs
Car Shirt @ The Blue Basket
iPhone App Magnets @ Infarrantly Creative
Rolled Paper Chess Set @ Paper, Plate, and Plane

Crafting Honorable Mentions:
Upcycled Bicycle Handlebar Bag @ Giver’sLog
DIY Monogram Mugs @ Design Mom

Here are two more great ideas: The first is from Charmed Goals, and she writes about “Boy Balm and Leather Food”- a beeswax & olive oil blend scented with manly essential oils that can be used for lips, dry skin, and polishing leather.  The second is from Fortuosity, and it is too late to do this year, but you could plan to do this for Christmas 2012:  “A year in the making”– this awesome wife bought a hardcover planner and filled it with pictures, mementos, recognitions, and notes all year long for her husband, and presented it to him at Christmas time.  There’s a lot of love behind a gift like that!

By the way, Kojo Designs is also doing a Gifts for Guys series this month, so head over and check out some of the other ideas they are featuring.

I hope this was helpful for those of you planning to handmake gifts for the men in your lives!  If you’ve got a great idea to add to the list, leave a link in the comments so we can all check it out!

Cooking Tip: Perfect Ground Beef

I have to admit that when I cook ground beef (aka hamburger) I usually do it somewhat haphazardly, i.e. throwing the frozen hunk of meat in a hot frying pan and trying to defrost it and cook it at the same time. Not pretty, not appetizing.  So I was amazed and impressed when I learned this technique for cooking ground beef that yields perfect results every time from my mom after a family dinner. 

First, you really need to start out with completely thawed or fresh hamburger.  Put it in your frying pan, and add water (start with about 1 cup of water per pound of hamburger you are cooking).  Don’t turn the heat on yet!  This is important!  You can add onions now if you like them, or you can add them later.  They will be softer if you add them now.  Take your cooking implement and mash the meat so that the water mixes with all the hamburger and gets between each piece of the meat. 

Now, with everything mixed together, turn the heat on high and brown your hamburger as usual.

Turn off the heat and drain the water from the hamburger.  I pour everything into a colander, then put the meat back into the pan.  Turn the stove back on to medium- high heat.  You can add the onions now, if you like them more firm.

If you want to add taco seasoning, now is the time.  You will need to add some water  along with the seasonings so the meat stays moist.  You can use a store bought envelope of taco seasoning, or make your own using the following recipe:

Homemade Taco Seasoning
2 tsp. dry onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. minced dry garlic
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin

Mix! If adding to ground beef, add 1/2 c. water and simmer 10 minutes.

What lovely texture! It is ready to be eaten or frozen!

KFNEBJVRND8Y

Ham and Pasta Salad

 

I had a ton of cubed ham and some tomatoes from a friend’s garden that needed using last night, and I found a yummy looking recipe here that I thought I could use, but as it turned out, I was missing at least 1/3 of the ingredients.  So… I looked through my refrigerator to come up with something else, then threw what I had together and the result was tasty, not to mention pretty healthy.

Ham and Pasta Salad
Prep time ~25 min.

4 c. your favorite uncooked pasta (I used tri-color rotini)
2 1/2 c. cubed ham
3 medium/ large tomatoes, cut in large chunks
1/2 diced green pepper
1/2 sliced cucumber
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 c. grated cheese
1 c. plain nonfat yogurt
1 envelope of ranch or dill mix

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then rinse with cold water and drain.  Combine pasta, ham, tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber, celery, and cheese in large bowl.  Mix seasoning envelope with the yogurt, then add to other ingredients.  Chill for several hours, or eat right away- your choice (it will taste saltier if you eat it right away).  It tastes great the next day.  This recipe makes 6-7 generous servings.