"I never did quite fit in the glamour mode. This life with my husband and family, that is my high right now." ~Patty Duke

March 28, 2011

Orange Scented Yogurt Cake

I made this cake on Wednesday for my church small group and it got rave reviews. I LOVE how easy it is to impress people! :) As usual, this starts with a cake mix, so it really isn't anything too over the top or hard to pull together. If you don't want the orange flavor you can use water or other liquid in place of the orange juice. But I like the combination of the orange with the strawberries that I served with it...mmmmmmm!

1 package plain white cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup orange juice
4 large eggs

Prepare a bundt cake pan by oiling and then dusting with flour. Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients in an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cook for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Then run a knife along edge of cake and invert it. Once cake is out of pan, invert it again so that it can cook completely right side up.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 - 2 Tablespoons orange juice (or other liquid)

Mix the two together until pourable glaze comes together. (If too thick add more liquid, if too thin add more sugar.) Pour glaze over completely cooled cake.

2 pints of sliced strawberries
sugar to taste
1/2 cup orange juice

Mix everything together and let sit in the fridge until ready to serve.

March 24, 2011

What we did today...

I saved a few empty egg cartons and we made this craft today. My kids loved it, but then again, they like anything that has to do with bugs! We used the cut up egg carton to show the life cycle of a butterfly...
1. one section is the egg
2. five sections made the caterpillar
3. just drew the cocoon
4. three section made the butterfly
I let them color and decorate each section as they liked. I also attached pipe cleaners for the antennae on the caterpillar and butterfly. The finished product is very cute, and my kids feel very proud of what they created. Here are all the supplies we used:
  • construction paper
  • two empty egg crates
  • washable markers
  • pipe cleaners
  • glue
  • scissors
I am hoping to purchase a butterfly garden for them this weekend and order the caterpillars. Then they will be able to watch the "real thing"! :) So thankful that it is spring!!!

March 15, 2011

Golden Granola

This is another staple recipe in my house. I usually keep some made and sitting on the counter for use as cereal, yogurt topper, and even ice cream topping. It is really good, and by far the best homemade granola recipe I have ever come up with.

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flaxseed
1/2 cup sunflower seed
1/2 slivered almonds (or other nut you have on hand, I have used pecans and walnuts as well)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice (we like cranberries, blueberries, or golden raisins best)

In a saucepan, cook oil, brown sugar, honey, water and vanilla until sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the first eight ingredients, the oats through cinnamon. Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 275 for 1 hour until golden, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in dried fruit. Store in an air tight container.

Blueberry Orange Oat Muffins

I made these this morning for my kids, and since then I think I have had six mini muffins. (I am cutting myself off...it is a little ridiculous!) But these are moist and sweet and for some reason are just hitting my spot today. They are really simple to throw together and only made 24 mini muffins or 12 regular sized.

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare muffin pan by either lightly greasing it or using paper liners.

Mix oatmeal and orange juice together and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the vegetable oil and egg and mix until just moistened. Add the oatmeal and juice mixture and again mix until just moist. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

March 14, 2011

3/14 - 3/20 Menu

So each week, I decide on our menu and shop accordingly. It just helps me stay organized and prepared for the week. I try to plan between five to six dinners...we usually eat out once and can have leftovers one night as well. So here is what we are eating this week:

1. Marinara Sauce with Turkey Sausage and Ricotta
Steamed Green Beans with Lemon

2. Pan seared Pork Chops
Apple Slaw
Raw Veggies and Dip

3. Homemade Sloppy Joes
Roasted Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli

4. Grilled Chicken California Salad
with Avocado Ranch Dressing

5. Chicken Fried Rice

6. Grilled Turkey Tenderloin
Baked Potatoes
Spinach Salad

7. Seared Venison Tenderloins
Roasted Veggies
Brown Rice

Along with these meals, I am planning on making blueberries muffins, oat and fruit bars, and chocolate chip cookies. This week is also my youngest son's third birthday party so there will be some kind of cake. (He hasn't completely decided what he wants yet, other than it must involve sprinkles!)
I will post recipes for some meals as I cook them. Some of these are new, so I will also let you know what we thought.

March 09, 2011

Lemon Cheese Bars

Don't let the name scare you...these bars are really yummy! The combination of cream cheese and lemon juice makes the filling close to the consistency and flavor of lemon curd. Add more or less juice depending on how lemony you like. Also, for a less intense lemon flavor you can sub a plain yellow cake mix for the lemon one.

1 box lemon flavored cake mix
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs
8 0u. cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
juice and zest from 2 lemons

Mix cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg with an electric mixer. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture. Press the rest into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan using your fingers. Bake this at 350 for about 15 minutes or until just turning golden brown.
In the same bowl and same beater mix cream cheese, sugar, remaining egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. Spread this mixture over the baked bottom. Crumble reserved cake mix mixture over the top. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the filling is just starting to set. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

March 08, 2011

Bring on Spring

Well, no baking today...unless you count cooking dinner tonight. Today has been dreary and chilly here, but I guess those days are to be expected in March. However, my boys simply can't wait for spring and planting the garden and flowers. So we decided to just make our own flower garden inside this afternoon. I basically came up with this with what I happened to have on hand. All we used was:
  • plain white cupcake cups
  • green pipe cleaners
  • green fun foam (or construction paper)
  • washable markers
  • cup of water
  • paint brush
  • craft glue or hot glue gun
Start by letting the kids scribble color a cupcake holder. Once they are completely done coloring "paint" over the marker to create a tye-dye look using the water and paint brush. Be careful to not use too much water! Cut leaves out of the fun foam or construction paper. My boys added bugs to their leaves...of course!! Once everything is dry, and it doesn't take too long, glue everything together.

Even my boys thought this craft was great. But like I said, they definitely put their own twist on it...my five year old made a venus fly trap complete with bugs on leaves for it to eat! :) I LOVE boys!!! :)

March 07, 2011

Fruit Filled Oatmeal Bars

This recipe is very versatile as you can really make the filling any flavor you would like. They end up tasting a lot like cereal bars you can buy in the store and are great just as they are, but are also quite good warm with a little scoop of ice cream. (Of course, what isn't improved with a little scoop of ice cream!)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter
1 small jar of jelly or jam of your choice (I used cherry preserves with a little orange marmalade added)

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture.
With your fingers press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom of an ungreased 9X9 baking pan. (This mixture is very dry!) Spread jelly or jam on top. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes or until the top is golden.

(Sorry for the picture where they are almost completely gone...these simply don't last long in my house!)

Whole wheat banana muffins

I try to keep these kind of things on hand in the house for snacks for the kids. They love them, and I figure it is way better for them than the prepackaged varieties we can buy in the store. I always make muffins or breads like this in my mini muffin pan just because they eat them better that way. You can always use a larger muffin pan or even a loaf pan though if you like.

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I like the mini chips)
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or can use applesauce)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 large)
1 - 2 tablespoons wheat germ

Mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips) in a large mixing bowl. Combine all wet ingredients (egg, oil, milk, and banana) in a separate bowl. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. Sprinkle in wheat germ. Add up to an additional 1 - 2 tablespoons of milk if the batter seems too dry. The batter will be lumpy.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees until brown and spring back when touched. (For the mini muffins, it takes about 15 minutes.)

Positivity Needed...

Monday mornings...ugh! Weekend is over, back to the real world, blah, blah, blah... On the other hand, it is a new start and a fresh beginning. I guess it is all perspective. I really want to have the latter, but I am just not feeling it. Honestly, I really haven't been "feeling it" for about the last two weeks. Not sure really what is going on, but this is not my normal self. I am finding it hard to put a positive outlook on much of anything. Everything irritates me and gets on my nerves. I am quick to find fault with most everyone around me. Quite frankly, I am getting on my own nerves!! Maybe if I just fill my life with enough positive words and thoughts they will squeeze out any room for all this negativity. So, here I am looking for your help...any positivity to fill my day with?

March 02, 2011

Chocolate Cobbler

I normally make fruit flavored cobblers, but decided this time to try the chocolate variety. It made the house smell SO good while it was baking, and I can't wait to try it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. It looks like a complete disaster when it goes in the oven, but ends up in this beautiful creation of chocolate cake like on top with gooey fudge on the bottom.

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar (additional)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (additional)
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in an 8x8 inch baking dish while the oven preheats.

Stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. (Batter will be thick and sticky). Spoon this batter over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR!!

In another mixing bowl stir together the remaining sugar and cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the batter. DO NOT STIR!!! Slowly pour boiling water over the top. And again, DO NOT STIR!!!

Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Serve slightly warm with ice cream.

***I doubled this recipe and made it in a 9x13 inch cake pan. It did slightly run over while baking in the oven...be warned! :) ***