Granola Bars

One of our big grocery expenses is Clif Bars for Daniel. He loves them.

We have been discussing alternative options for the bars and Daniel asked if I could make something similar. Since that conversation, I have been on the hunt for a good recipe.

Over the course of the last month I tried several different recipes. One had condensed milk {low fat} as a key ingredient. Another had peanut butter and honey as the sticky component. I have been experimenting with the bases and trying different flavors. 

Then I jumped off the wagon and tried Popcorn Balls with Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzels {it was a healthy snack with popcorn in lieu of oats}. Daniel was not amused {I thought they were delicious}. He emailed me to ask if I had lost my mind and why were their popcorn kernels that he might chip a tooth on in his granola bars???

I guess I got a bit distracted from the task at hand. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but when the story of the popcorn balls was shared with both my family and his mom and sister, I learned that maybe I was a little off my rocker on this one.

So yesterday I returned to my senses and went back to the recipe that Daniel liked the most. It is simple and fairly healthy {high calorie, but CalorieCount.com gave it a B-}.
They taste great and I still plan on experimenting with the flavors some… after all, if you know me, you know I don’t cook the same recipe very often.

Granola Bars {that are not Popcorn Balls}
Recipe adapted from A Recipe A Day
Ingredients
2 cups quick oats
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp flaxseed
14 oz sweetened condensed milk {I used Eagle Brand, low fat}
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup craisins

Directions

Heat oven to 350ºF.
 

Line a 11×7-inch pan with lightly-greased parchment paper. 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl then spread into the prepared pan, evenly pressing into the corners and out to the sides.

Bake 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown {use slightly less time for chewier bars and slightly more time for crunchier bars}

Let bars cool for 5 minutes in the pan before using the parchment paper to lift them from the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars.

Let the bars cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Makes 8 bars. 

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Jack’s First Trip to the Park

This past weekend we were visiting with my family and my brother suggested we go to the park – he is all about getting out of the house. I guess he gets bored sitting around holding babies all day 🙂


With two babies in the family, this can be a challenge. However 2-year-old Izzy definitely benefits from running around to expel energy, so we all bundled up and headed out {Robert stayed home with Levi and Daniel and Sophie took a nap}.


Getting out the door took a little while… Izzy needed her tutu to wear over her pants. Then she needed shoes {and socks}. Also a hat and scarf. Then I had to bundle up Jack, make sure his diaper was clean, and grab the Baby Bjorn and a warm hat and a blanket and the camera.


The first order of business at the park was the swings.
Then we went over to the slides. This playground had a double slide, so we took turns racing Izzy down. 

She also insisted that we ride down the big slide as well {the swirly kind}.


As usual, Jack was totally laid back. 


In the end, everyone got too cold and we had to leave. Everyone that is except for Izzy. Angela bribed her with Dunkin Donuts to get her to go home! Thank you Angela for getting us all donuts!


Thursday Things

Last Thursday I mentioned the things I wanted to be when I grew up…
Well, I may not have become a truck driver, but I have made many long distance road trips. I may not be a professional photographer, but I love to take pictures. And I may not have joined the Peace Corp or moved to China to teach ESL, but I have traveled the world AND taught at a community college.
I guess it is all about perspective. 

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Daniel will often ask me ridiculous questions that involve numbers and I have an uncanny ability to almost always guess the right answer.

Perhaps this is why my second highest score on the ACT in high school was in Science Reasoning {my highest was in Math}. Then I went to college and studied Art. What’s up with that?

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I think striped sweaters on babies are incredibly adorable. So are striped socks. And onesies. I think I must have an affinity for stripes.

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Daniel and I have been watching Top Gear (UK) on Netflix. 

We recently watched the episode where they have to drive out of the jungles of Bolivia, across the Andes to the Chilean coast

There were several moments that reminded me of Papua New Guinea. 

Daniel and I reminisced about our experience of being in a Landcruiser with Andy Scott back in January of 2005. 

As Andy drove us across a particular bridge near Drima, he was telling us that he had only fallen through that particular bridge once… when he was with my Grandpa… 20 years before. 

As he finished the story, the Landcruiser suddenly started falling. 

My heart was in my throat. 

Thank goodness in PNG they make bridges with 3 beams… the chassis of our vehicle was sitting on the middle beam. 

We all got out and with the help from men from the village and a winch (attached to a very small tree) the vehicle made it across. No harm. No foul.

Thanks Top Gear for the walk down memory lane!


Chocolate Oreo Cake


Saturday we went to Chattanooga to hang out with TTU friends – can’t believe it has been almost 10 years since we were in Cookeville!

Since Jack is still little, we opted to go down just for an evening of dinner and games {everyone else met earlier in the day for lunch and bowling}. 


I hate to show up to a get together empty handed, so I raided my cupboards to see what I could whip up… 


I had a container of Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and it had a recipe for a chocolate cake on the back. I also had leftover Oreos from the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bars that I made for Valentines Day. So I decided to make a cake topped with Oreos and Cool Whip. It turned out to be incredibly moist and delicious – definitely a hit.


Chocolate Oreo Cake


Ingredients

2 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY®’S Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot fudge sauce*

1 cup boiling water

Oreos, 1/2 package chopped (or as many as you want).

Cool Whip


Directions

Heat oven to 350º F. 

Spray cooking spray in 9x13x2 pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. 

Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. 

Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). I found this step to be odd, but I think it made the cake incredibly moist.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Cool cake then top with oreos and finally cool whip. 

Serve with a glass of milk.

*Update: I forgot to include the secret ingredient when I first posted. Hot fudge sauce for the win.

2012 Book 7: Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

According to Goodreads.com Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know is a comprehensive collection of tales edited by the American essayist, editor, critic, and lecturer, Hamilton Wright Mabie. 
Most of the tales in this compilation were ones I was familiar with. Though there did seem to be some differences in how some of the stories went. For example, this compilation has the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk AND Jack the Giant Killer. I am not sure that the Jack’s are the same character but I thought the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk was the one to say, “Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.” However, according to this book, that line belongs to a Giant in Jack the Giant Killer.  Furthermore, this compilation calls Cinderella “Cinderbritches” and Goldilocks “Silver Hair.” There were also a few stories I had never heard before, including The White Cat and The Light Princess.

What I gleaned from reading these stories is that fairy tales are extremely gruesome and I am not sure that children should read them. Maybe wait until they are teenagers or pre-teens?

Thursday Things

I like to eat cornflakes with vanilla ice cream. It’s like an ice cream cone you eat with a spoon.

Daniel and I have a habit of quoting lyrics to songs whenever we hear certain words.
For example… Someone says, “stop” which is followed by one of us saying, “collaborate, and listen. Ice is back with my brand new invention…” 
Now that we have a baby, we sometimes quote lyrics to baby songs. In public. Not cool.
When I was in the fourth grade I wanted to be a truck driver when I grew up. When I was in Jr. High I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. In college I wanted join the Peace Corp and travel the world or go to China and teach English as a second language. What happened? I didn’t come even remotely close to doing any of those things.

I find chopping vegetables to be therapeutic. Grating cheese, not so therapeutic.

Lately I have really been wanting to go mountain biking. Not sure how to work that around having a baby. The closest places I know to go are in Chattanooga and Huntsville {somehow I thinking biking in wildlife management areas around here would be frowned upon}. Also there is the whole having to feed my child every couple of hours… I guess I will have to wait for now.

I have been trying to persuade Daniel to sign up for this year’s Muddy Buddy race in Nashville. He is not crazy about the idea of getting a bike really muddy!?!?!