Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Granola Bars

Chocolate Chip Peanut Granola Bars

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Melt peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil together in a small sauce pan over low/medium heat, stirring constantly.  It only takes a minute or two to melt.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients except for chocolate chips, and stir well.
  3. Pour liquid mixture over dry mixture and stir til well combined.
  4. Let cool in bowl for several minutes.
  5. Place mixture into foil lined 8×8 pan and press down firmly.
  6. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top and press down firmly with hands.
  7. Place in fridge or freezer to set.
  8. Flip the foil out onto cutting board and cut into desired bar sizes.  I like to cut a dozen rectangle shaped bars.
  9. Store in fridge for best results.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Prices on Food and Commodities Rising Faster Than Wages - Scary!

This is an article I found from a newspaper in New Jersey last week !!

The new year brings a dose of sticker shock for New Jersey consumers, who face increased prices for many of life’s necessities, including heating oil, gasoline, health insurance, food and even Phillies tickets.
Nationally, consumer prices rose 3.4 percent for the 12 months ending in November, propelled upward by big increases in energy costs and a smaller uptick in the price of food.
New Jersey residents can expect increases in many of the items they buy in 2012, experts say.
Most of the price rises will be moderate — food costs are expected to rise 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2012, for example — but the combined increases in essential goods and services will further squeeze consumers’ pocketbooks.
“Inflation is running ahead of wage increases,” said economist Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa.
Commuters took the largest hit Jan. 1, when tolls on the Garden State Parkway rose 50 percent, while those on the New Jersey Turnpike jumped 53 percent.
Average passenger vehicle tolls rose to $1.05 to use the Parkway, up from 70 cents. On the turnpike, they jumped from $2.20 to $3.30.
Surveys find that may commuters have already found alternate routes, such as Interstate 295, to avoid the increases.
Those with oil heat are also feeling the pinch.
Heating oil in New Jersey has jumped from an average of $3.479 a gallon in January 2011 to $3.96 a gallon this month, a 14 percent increase, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. A relatively mild winter has kept prices from rising even further.
Gas prices have also soared, rising 9 percent from a year ago, to $3.31 a gallon Friday, according to a survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Tuition was also up at the state’s public universities and 19 community colleges. Rutgers University raised tuition 1.6 percent; Montclair State about 5 percent.
Community college tuition jumped about 3.4 percent statewide.
New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes also went up in 2011, to an average of $7,746 annually.
The 2.3 percent increase in property taxes is actually a much lower percentage than in recent years; in 2010, for example, property taxes rose 4.1 percent.
 It’s a good time to be a vegetarian — but a bad time to water your garden.
The Labor Department reports that prices for veggies decreased 11.1 percent in December after ticking up for months.
Then again, New Jersey American Water wants to tap customers for 15 percent more to pay for $300 million in infrastructure improvements. The Voorhees-based water company serves 640,000 households in 188 communities.
At Doris Rodriguez’s house in Mount Laurel, the automatic sprinkler system already has been adjusted to conserve water. Now that cold weather has arrived, she turns down the heat at night to save on utilities.
“I have allergies and it’s actually healthier to keep it a little cooler,” she says.
At the same time, income is shrinking in the Garden State. In 2010, the median household income was $67,719, down from $68,444 in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Prices for Phillies tickets ticked up for the second year in a row, with seats priced from $16 to $65. Increases range between $1 to $5 per seat, depending on location.
Fans were good sports about paying more. Tickets at Citizens Park sold out and there is a 3,000-name waiting list.
Heading down the shore this summer? The Wildwoods — Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood — have decided not to charge fees for beach access this summer. Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. says the issue could be floated in a referendum for 2013.
If you travel, eat animals, dress or correspond, expect to pay more this year. Prices are rising for six basics: airfare; gasoline; meat, including fish; coffee; postage; and clothing.
“Meats are through the roof,” Rodriguez says. “We are eating a lot of chicken.”
Starting this week, it will cost a penny more to buy a Forever stamp, going from 44 to 45 cents.
That’s the first increase in almost three years. Postcards will increase from 29 cents to 32 cents.
Some prices are heading down.
PSE&G and other utilities are giving credits to residential customers to reflect lower natural gas prices.
Expect about $30 off on your February or March bill, depending on the meter reading.
 Consumers are feeling the pocketbook pinch even more because wage increases have not kept pace with inflation.
New Jersey’s average annual wage rose to $56,385 in 2010, the most recent year for which the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development has complete data.
That represented a 2.2 percent increase over 2009’s $55,173 average wage.
Only 47 percent of New Jersey companies plan to give their employees pay raises in 2012, according to a New Jersey Business & Industry Association survey.
While that’s up from the 42 percent of employers who gave raises in 2011, employees who receive wage increases this year can expect their raises to be modest.
Thirty-nine percent of New Jersey employers plan to give raises of between 1 and 3.9 percent this year, while only 9 percent plan to boost employee pay by 4 percent or more.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says real average weekly earnings have declined 1.7 percent since October 2010.
The real earnings statistics combines fluctuations in earnings with increases and decreases in the Consumer Price Index.
“The reality is that real earnings are going down,” Naroff said. “And for the average person, that’s not good news.”

Food Prices To Continue to Rise for 2012

FORT MILL, S.C. -- Sticker shock in the grocery aisle is forcing some people to change their food buying habits to make ends meet.

Let's face it, a hundred dollars at the grocery store isn't buying you what it used to.

Prices rose nearly five percent for common household groceries last year, according to the USDA.   Prices reached record levels around this time last year.

In 2012, the USDA says some food prices are predicted to rise, but not as fast as last year.
Connie Jarrett from Fort Mill says $100 used to buy three or four bags of food, now it doesn’t.
Her days of going to Harris Teeter for all her groceries are over. Rising food prices are the reasons why. Now, a trip there involves planning.

"I try to look for their specials,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett will drive to two or three other stores if there's a better deal.  She says it saves her a little bit of money. Hitting another store saved her two dollars on her favorite coffee.

"So I'll go ahead and get a couple when otherwise I might just get one,” she said.

Jamie Johnson shops at Food Lion.

"The prices have definitely gone up,” she said. Johnson is buying less and sticking to basics.

"Just make good dishes out of those,” she said.

Johnson says she tried going to different stores to take advantage of sales, but it didn't work for her.

"When you look at the difference in what you're burning for gas, it's best to just stay at one store,” she said.

The USDA says 2012 food prices aren't expected to be as high as 2011, but will be above historical averages. Typical foods you eat at home are expected to rise 3 to 4 percent.

The USDA forecasts meat, eggs and dairy prices will rise at a slower rate than cereals, baked goods and processed fruits and veggies.

The USDA says there was an end of the year surge.  Plenty of people noticed.  

"I can't come out of the store and spend less than 60 dollars and that's just for a week.  That's ridiculous for a single person,” said shopper Leigh Hartsoe.

In general, stores try to eat the rising costs, but can only do so much before passing it on to customers.

The USDA says weather, fuel prices and demand all play roles in determining food prices.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pretty Jar Mixes

These are some pictures of a few very simple jar mixes I made for a food storage class I did quite a while ago. Kept forgetting to post the pic's. Left to right are Winter Bean Soup Mix, Cream of Anything Soup Mix, Vegetarian Black Bean Soup, Beef Noodle Seasoning Mix, and Split Pea Tortellini Soup Mix.

Stromboli - Pizza Roll

Ok, I am new at trying to make a step by step tutorial for cooking - so I made these for dinner tonight, the boys loved them!

Use your favorite pizza dough recipe, roll out into rectangle-
     Then place your favorite toppings, don't use sauce now. We used black forest ham, salami and mozzarella cheese.

Roll up, tucking ends under. Place onto cookie sheet with cornmeal sprinkled on it.

Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake 375 for 20 min. Cool, cut into individual servings. Serve with warm pizza sauce. Enjoy

Pizza Dough (our favorite recipe)
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour (we use half whole wheat and half white)
Dissolve yeast in water and sugar. Add oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Beat with dough hook on kitchen aid 2-3 min. Stir in rest of flour. Let rise for about 10 min. Punch down, divide into two, use for pizza or pizza rolls above.

Homemade Magic Shell Chocolate Sauce

8 ounces of chocolate (this can be from a bar or chocolate chips)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Place coconut oil in double boiler and melt completely then break up chocolate in double boiler and melt until nice and smooth. Cool for about 10-15 min. Use over favorite ice cream

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No Bake Peanut Butter chocolate chip balls - Using Powdered Milk

1 cup honey
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups dry powdered milk
3 cups oats (instant or old fashioned)uncooked
1-2 Tbsp wheat germ
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 1/2 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs

Mix all together, form balls place on wax paper. Freeze until firm and place in ziploc bag.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Make Your Own Chicken Gravy Mix

Couldn't find a good picture and I didn't have one but here is one I found.

1 1/3 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup sifted flour
3 Tbsp. chicken bouillon dry granules
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. butter

Thoroughly mix all ingredients except the butter. Add the butter using a pastry cutter, making sure evenly distributed. Store in air tight container in fridge for 4-6 weeks. Makes 2 2/3 cups gravy mix.

Make Your Own Rice Mixes

Chicken Flavored Rice Mix
4 cups long grain rice
1/4 cup chicken flavored instant dry bouillon granules
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 tsp. dried parsley leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. dried chopped onion

Mix all ingredients keep in an airtight container -
To Use - Mix 1 1/3 cups chicken rice mix and 2 cups cold water and 2 Tbsp. butter, bring to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover pan and reduce heat to low, cook for about 20 min, until all liquid is absorbed. Makes 4-6 servings

Spicy Rice and Bean Salad

1 cup of basmati rice uncooked
1 Tbsp. oil of your choice
1/2 cup sweet chopped onion
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. Tamari (organic soy sauce)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp Earth Balance butter

Directions- cook the Basmati rice according to the package directions. I cooked the rice the night before to save on time. Chop all your vegetables, IN a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat saute the onion. Add spices, garlic and green onion and saute on low until spices begin to bubble slightly. Add the Tamari sauce and black beans, stir well and cook for about 5 min.  Add frozen peas, carrots and frozen corn, stir well.  Heat on low for about 5 more min. Stir in the cooked and drained rice and butter.
Makes 6 cups - Enjoy!!

Using My Food Storage

I love these containers for storing regularly used items from our food storage, then we refill them as needed. 
These are from my kitchen cabinet, nothing fancy but thought I would share how we use our long term food storage items regularly!


Did you know that if you combine rice and beans in a meal it could replace the need for meat or other protein? Rice and beans each contain certain amino acids that, when combined, form a complete protein. Great news because if you are in a crisis situation and can't get into the grocery store to get meat you can combine these two - RICE and BEANS!
If you have Rice and Beans along with the basic ingredients for making flat bread or tortillas you can make burritos by replacing the filling with rice and beans for meat and using bottled salsa. You could eat this everyday if you had to!

Did you know that Rice is a staple of about 70 percent of the world's population? It is one of the most versatile and compatible foods in the world. Rice, when dried can be stored for many years, which makes it perfect for long term storage.
I recommend you store it in either 1 gallon containers or 5 gallon buckets with tight fitting lids. Rice will keep if stored properly for 15 + years.

If you have six people in your family as I do then you will need 36 gallons of rice for a years supply or 6 -6 gallon buckets.

So...this month let's work on storing Rice!

Because I Have Been Given Much

Long Term Food Storage Basics - How to Pack Rice, Wheat, Beans and Dry G...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where and How to Start Using My Food Storage

Using food storage on a daily basis is simple, convenient and economical. (And every meal doesn't have to include wheat or beans!) Here are some easy ways to incorporate food storage into your family's diet and convert any recipe into a food storage recipe.

1. Use Whole Grains
-Use whole wheat flours, oats and other grains in your cooking.They add more flavor and nutrition to your recipes. If this is new to your family, start slow. Begin by replacing part of the white flour with whole wheat flour and work up to using more. Flour made from whole wheat flour is great for this and it is hardly noticed. Oats add nutrition and work well in place of bread crumbs in meatloaf. Cooked wheat can be added to ground beef to be stretched for tacos. The wheat takes on the taco flavoring and goes without detection while making the meal that much healthier.
2. Use Powdered Milk-The Pricey smoothey shops do it all the time! Powdered milk is lower in calories and has less cholesterol than whole milk products and adds protein!Try it in soups, casseroles, bread recipes and smoothies or any recipes calling for milk.
3.Convert powdered eggs. I love having powdered eggs on hand. They are convenient and easy to use. They are even easy for camping! Just add the dry egg powder and water to your liquid ingredients.
4. Use Dry Beans instead of canned. The savings are significant. To make them more convenient in your cooking, make a large batch of beans and freeze in can size portions. 1 2/3 cup is equivalent to a 15 oz. can of beans.
5. Throw in dehydrated vegetables and fruit. Dehydrated or freeze dried vegetables and fruit retain much more of their nutrients than canned ones. Once you start using them the convenience will win you over. No washing, peeling or chopping. Dehydrated onions, potatoes, carrots, corn and peppers are ready to go in soups and casseroles. Dehydrated apples, raspberries and strawberries are great to quickly throw into a warm bowl of oatmeal, or reconstituted to add to a baked recipe such as sweet rolls. They are great even right out of the can as a nutritious snack.

There are many wonderful benefits to using your long term food storage in your every day cooking.
*Rotate your storage    *No waste - with dehydrated you will only reconstitute what you use
*Learn to use these food staples in a way your family will enjoy them even in times of crisis
*You will have a healthier family, whole grains and fruits and vegetables are great and more satisfying.

Is Homemade Bread Cheaper? Um, Yeah!

Here is my take on a loaf of whole wheat bread... I don't know what it costs you at the day old store, but this is what a 2lb loaf made by me costs. 

1 1/2 cup warm water - free
1 tbsp vegetable oil - .04 
3 tbsp sugar - .01
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour .11
1 1/4 cups white flour .6
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten .10
1/2 tsp salt - $.01 
2 tsp dry yeast .10

total cost for 2lb fresh loaf is about $.43.... And this really surprised me too, since I had never taken the time to figure it out. It would be less for white bread, since you don't need to add the vital wheat gluten or the whole wheat flour, and I usually use less yeast.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Best Me for My Children

I want to give my children LOVE: I want them to have a mother who truly loves them and expresses that love not just in words, but also in deeds.  I want my actions and attitude to exhibit my deep love for my kids so that even if the words were gone, they would never question my love.
I want to give my children JOY: I want to create a joyful home—one that is full of laughter and silliness and a true grasp that all things are in God’s control and therefore we can always rejoice.  I want to be a joyful mother, not doing my work grudgingly but with a cheerful heart and attitude.
I want to give my children PEACE: I want our home to be a peaceful place.  I do not want our hours and days to be filled with stress, hurry, and angry words.  I want to be organized, disciplined, and rest-filled so that our home is a place that the children (and Jason) long to be in after time in the “real” harsh world. I want my family to be in our home and just say, “Ahhh….”
I want to give my children PATIENCE: I want my children to have a patient mother—a mother who understands their ages and limitations and extends them loving grace even in the midst of training and discipline. I want to be patient with their short-comings, personality quirks, and childish ways.
I want to give my children KINDNESS: I want my children to have a mother who looks for ways to serve them.  I don’t want to just do the bare minimum while I quietly hope that no one else needs anything.  I want to be intentionally kind—looking for ways to express my love for them.  I want to speak kind words—to them, about them, and about others.
I want to give my children GOODNESS: I want to give my children a mother who is good and who seeks the good for others.  I want to always be above reproach and never afraid that listening ears may pick up on sinful hypocrisy.
I want to give my children GENTLENESS: Oh how I long for gentleness!  I want to give my children a mother who speaks in gentle words and with a gentle tone of voice.  I want my facial expressions to be gentle, my touch to be gentle, and my correction to be gentle.  I don’t ever want my kids to avoid me for fear of harshness.
I want to give my children FAITHFULNESS: I want to give them a mother who is always, always faithful—faithful to them, faithful to their daddy, faithful to my word, and faithful to my work.
I want to give my children SELF-CONTROL: I want my children to have a mother who is strong enough to control her words, her actions, and her body language.  I want my children to see a mother who intentionally chooses to do and/or say what is right even when emotions are high and sleep is low.
And so, although I am sure there will be some Legos and dolls and craft supplies under our tree this year, I pray that our home will also be filled with gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  And those, my friends, can’t be ordered online.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pinewood Derby Cupcakes

So, I volunteered to make cupcakes for the pinewood derby for cubscouts and I baked from the time I got home from work - roughly about 515 until now just finished!! Well, mainly because I don't use box mixes I made them from scratch of course.  I got this idea off Pinterest, love it! Hope the boys like them!

Make Your Own Brown Sugar

HOw to Make Your Own Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar


2 Pounds of Sugar
6 ounces of Molasses

Put Sugar and Molasses in food processor and pulse a few times until incorporated. Store in airtight container for 30 days

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pie PopTarts

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

2 Pillsbury pie crusts to make it easier
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Maple Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Chocolate Topping:
1/2 cup chocolate morsels
vegetable oil
re-sealable plastic bags

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cream cheese, sugar, canned pumpkin, remaining 2 eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together until thoroughly combined.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll pie crust ¼ inch thick. Use a pizza cutter to cut pie dough into same-sized rectangles, approximately 4 inches tall by 3 inches wide. You could really make these any size you want, Mine were all different sizes. If you're using store-bought Pillsbury roll out crusts, they may need to be rolled a little thinner, I'm not sure. I didn't use them.

Spoon a 1-3 Tablespoons of the pumpkin pie mixture on top of one of the rectangles. Gently place a second rectangle of pie dough on top. Secure edges together by pressing them gently with a fork. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the tart begin to brown slightly. Remove and cool.

To make the glaze, stir together all ingredients until a thick, spreadable consistency is reached. Spoon a thin layer of the frosting on top of cooled pumpkin pie tarts.

To decorate, melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave on medium. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted. Add a little vegetable oil to make the chocolate more liquid. Transfer to a re-sealable plastic bag and cut the corner off. Drizzle onto pop tarts, sprinkle with orange sprinkles.

Store in an air tight container. Best if eaten within 2-3 days. Keep refrigerated.

Make Your Own Spreadable Butter

Soft Butter Spread
A fluffy butter mixture that's easily spreadable
2 cups
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water, at room temperature
1. Using an electric mixer, blend butter on HI until fluffy.
2. Continue mixing, and slowly add oil. Continue mixing and slowly add water. Mixture will turn white and be very light and fluffy!
3. Chill until set.

My Freezer Cookin Weekend!

Freezer Cooking Session!!

Ok, well I attempted a long weekend of freezer cooking. I am not quite done yet but have realized I need to make sure I am doing this religiously. For our menu for 30 dinners, 15 breakfasts, and baked goods I only spent $88!! Granted, yes I have a pretty good food storage but I got a steal on meat. Turkeys of course on sale we already had one and when I went to walmart the thawed turkeys were only $.50 per pound. That is a steal so I cooked 45 pounds of turkey this weekend ( thanks moms roaster!). I also made 6 packages of homemade hamburger buns and hotdog buns, muffins, and banana bread. I will post more when I finish up.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Going A Year Without Groceries

From the store, that is! How wonderful would it be not to have to go to the grocery store 3 x a week like most of us! There are times I think I have gone two times in a day. I found a fabulous blog I wanted to share with everyone about this family who went a year and now longer without going to a grocery store. They could do a butcher's, farmers market, food stands on the side of the road, their own garden, etc. I love this blog. She has tons of great information and tips, please check it out!

Drought Resistant Flowers In Kansas

Don't let your garden go down in flames!  Summers in Kansas City are hot, hot, hot.  The following flowers are both drought-tolerant and likely to succeed in the greater Kansas City area.

Burning Bush, Kochia Madagascar Periwinkle, Catharanthus
Creeping Zinnia, Sanvitalia Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia
Dusty Miller, Senecio Rose Moss, Portulaca
Four o’Clock, Mirabilis Salvia, Salvia farinacea
Gazania, Gazania Snow-on-the-Mountain, Euphorbia
Jacob’s Coat, Amaranthus Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia
Basket-of-Gold, Aurinia Sage, Salvia
Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia Sedum, Sedum
Blanket Flower, Gaillardia Silver Mound, Artemisia
Butterfly Flower, Asclepias Spanish Bayonet, Yucca
Daylily, Hemerocallis Spurge, Euphorbia
False Indigo, Baptisia Stonecrop, Sedum
Fleabane, Erigeron Tickseed, Coreopsis
Gayfeather, Liatris Torch Lily, Kniphofia
Goldenrod, Solidago Yarrow, Achillea
Iris, Iris  
List adapted from:
Flowering Annuals, Kansas State University, April 1992 by Gustaaf A. van der Hoeven, Kimberly Williams.
Flowering Perennials, Kansas State University, April 1992 by Gustaaf A. van der Hoeven, Kimberly Williams.

Gardening in Kansas

I found a wonderful tool for gardening here in this great state of Kansas. It has a breakdown of when to plant and when to harvest certain items in your garden. Hope it helps!