Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fill In the Blank Oatmeal Bars

    As Hayden had mentioned, we've been watching more television than usual due to illness.  One show I have enjoyed watching on Food Network is The Pioneer Woman.  Ree Drummond is a churchgoing, homeschooling mom who lives on a ranch and has to feed a hardworking man and four kids.  Her recipes are hearty, healthy, and reasonable.  I love gourmet dishes, but I'd have to travel forty miles to find truffle oil or saffron.  I don't have to worry about that with "Ree".  You can see the original recipe here.  If you click on the picture at that site, you can watch Ree demonstrate.
   The real name for this recipe is Strawberry Oatmeal Bars because Mrs. Drummond uses strawberry jam.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can substitute any jam you want.  These can be Blueberry Oatmeal Bars, Raspberry Oatmeal Bars, or in this case, Apricot Oatmeal Bars. These bars taste far superior to any of those "breakfast bars" you'll find on the grocery aisle and you'll know exactly what is in them!
   At some point in the day, my family craves something a little sweet and these bars hit the spot. They are great with a hot cup of tea or coffee - or in the case of my kids - a glass of milk. Out of our family of seven, my husband Scott and my son Harrison were the healthiest when the illness was at its worst.  Harrison had to take care of the rest of us while Scott was at work.  The girls and I were lying in my bed watching The Pioneer Woman when this recipe came on.  "Hey Harrison, can you, uh?...."  We printed up the recipe and he has been making it ever since.  I happen to have a TON of homemade blueberry jam that I had canned about three years ago.  It still tastes great, but I really need to rotate it out of my storage.  This recipe makes another way for us to gobble up the jam.  I also had strawberry freezer jam, so we have also tried the original version.  So far, they have both been delicious.  I can't wait to try this new flavor Harrison is making here.  This recipe is simple, buttery, and makes a really yummy snack!  Okay Harrison, you're on!

Apricot Oatmeal Bars
1 3/4 sticks salted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 10 to 12-ounce jar jam of your choice

                                                      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Gathering my dry ingredients.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups oats

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut butter into small pieces and mix in with hands or melt butter and stir into mixture.  It works both ways.

Press half the mixture in the pan.

Spread jam on pressed mixture.


Sprinkle second half of mixture on jam.

                                                               Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Hayden stole a piece before I could take the picture!

Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
 this is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rustic Roasted Vegetables

Rustic Roasted Vegetables

  Tonight I made a simple, healthy and delicious side dish as our main course.  Christmas Day, my sister-in-law Donna Kennedy and her daughters brought a variation of these and it inspired me to experiment on my own.


You will need:
A variety of yummy veggies

I used: 
4 russet potatoes
6 carrots
1 rutabaga
1 pound fresh green beans
2 onions
*I believe the Kennedys used sweet potatoes instead of russet and I would love to try this with asparagus.

olive oil
salt and pepper 
ground sage

                                                            First, gather your veggies.

Next, find a cute kid to peel them for you.  This would be Emily.  Isn't she cute?

Peeling the taters (you do not have to do this, but Joey would peel each one off as he ate if I didn't)

See the rutabaga in the bowl.  It looks a little scary.  I had never had one before until the day the Kennedys roasted them in this dish.

            Peel the rutabaga and carrots, and clean, prep, and chop all veggies into large, bite-sized pieces.

Toss veggies in a couple tablespoons (or more) of olive oil and dump onto foil lined or sprayed pan.
I just have the potatoes and rutabagas on this one because all the veggies wouldn't fit on one pan.  Shake some salt and pepper over the top, some sage; and then drizzle honey lightly over the entire thing.

Here are the carrots, green beans, and onions.  They have also been tossed in oil, seasoned, and drizzled upon.

Roast at 400 degrees for an hour, stirring and tasting after thirty minutes.  I discovered I needed to add more salt at this point.  After the full hour, combine the veggies from both pans, if roasted separately, and enjoy as a side or main course.

                          Harrison is fixing his plate here with a side salad and homemade bread.

                            Hayden really liked this dish and discovered she has a fondness for rutabagas.

                                                        Emily, buttering her bread.

Joey nibbled a few selected veggies (namely potatoes and carrots) and then proceeded to eat leftover egg salad from lunch. sigh.

I actually managed to make a meal without meat and roast veggies without adding cheese.
I tend to ruin healthy recipes with my add-ons.  It's a gift.
I can't wait to try a combo with peppers, mushrooms, taters, (peels on, thank you very much), and onions.  I will also be trying some other herbs too.  It's a whole new world -  this healthy eating thing. :)

Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Daniel 1:12


Homemade Vanilla

Something Special - Homemade Vanilla

I am so grateful to have so many wonderful sisters.  True, I only have one genetic one, but the Lord has also blessed me with sisters in the Lord and sisters-in-law.  Two of my sisters-in-law, Patty Lamar and Donna Kennedy blessed the women in their lives with these lovely Christmas presents - homemade vanilla.  Aren't these beautiful?!  You can tell we've already been using them!
    Inspired by something similar Patty and Donna saw in a flea market, they immediately began their search for containers, beans, etc.  They made a total of fifteen bottles.  They purchased the bottles from Carolina Pottery, the ribbons from Michael's, and the charms from Hobby Lobby.  I want to mention that each lady received a personalized charm and decorative stone attached to her bottle that reminded Patty and Donna of the lady to receive the gift.
    In addition to the supplies listed above, you will obviously need vanilla beans and alcohol.  Patty and Donna used a cheap vodka.  You actually WANT the alcohol to be cheap so its flavor doesn't overpower the vanilla.  I've attached the link to Beanilla here where you can read the simple recipe Patty used at the bottom of their page.  She also ordered the beans from there as well.  Be aware, the beans will have to soak for several weeks so plan ahead.  I have to say, the vanilla smells and tastes heavenly!  Thank you, Lord for my beautiful sisters!

"Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you will die, I will die,
And there I will be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me."

The Book of Ruth 1:16-17


Skillet Almond Shortbread

The entire family has been sick with whooping cough, so we've been watching a lot more TV than usual - mostly Food Network and HGTV. It was while we were enjoying the former that we saw this recipe. Lo and behold, we actually had all of the ingredients. We all thought it looked good, so I made it, and it was a hit (especially with my Dad- He loved it.) I've made it several times, and I've even tweaked it a little bit. The recipe originally comes from the show Trisha's Southern Kitchen.


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds with skins
Our variation: We didn't have any sliced almonds, so we left those out. I also added a little orange juice (about a tablespoon)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. I used a pie pan. (There are two here because I doubled the recipe.)

In a large mixing bowl, stir 1 1/2 cups of the sugar into the melted butter. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour and salt onto the batter. Add the flavoring (and the orange juice) and stir well. 

Pour the batter into the skillet. Top with sliced almonds and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until slightly brown on top, about 35 minutes. Cool the shortbread in the skillet. When cool, use the foil to lift the shortbread from the skillet; remove the foil before serving.

Yummy, yummy, yummy!


"Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets" -Ecclesiastes 12:1-14

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Savory Pumpkin Bisque

Our family has been wrestling with a stubborn cough and this soup was a wonderful comfort this afternoon.  I was able to use some of the frozen pumpkin puree I had stored and decided to try a recipe posted by our good friends, the Johnson family.  You can visit their blog here to see the original recipe.  I doubled their recipe and added some flour.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup diced bacon (raw)
1/2 cup dry, white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups pumpkin puree
1 tspn. thyme (you can use up to two tspns. if you like it more savory)
grated peel of one lemon
2/3 cup half and half
1/4 cup flour

                                                        First, fine dice one cup of onion.

                                                       Dice one cup of raw bacon.

                   Saute in two tablespoons of butter until onions are translucent and bacon is browned. De glaze pan (to pour in liquid and scrape bottom of pan to get yummy bits loosened) with 1/2 cup white wine and allow to simmer for four to five minutes.

                        Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over mixture and whisk to make a rue (thickening paste).

  Whisk in four cups of chicken broth (I simply used 4 cups of water and 4 tspns. Knorr powdered chicken bouillon because I was out of my stock).

                                                        Whisk in 2/3 cup Half and Half.
                               Bring to a boil while whisking until thickened.  Turn down heat to medium.

                                                    Stir in one teaspoon of ground thyme.

                              Grate the peel of a lemon.  I recommend you do this in a little bowl first.
                                               It is a little tricky to do this over a steaming pot.

                                                    Carefully add your pumpkin puree.

                                       Add two big handfuls of grated, sharp, cheddar cheese.

                                                Enjoy with some buttered, baguette bread.
                                                        A rich, creamy, bacony soup!

But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  John 14:26