Homemade Granola Bars

I should really make a new tag and call it “post a month” because I am way behind in this post a day thing.  Oh well…

I’ve been trying to change up our eating habits at the Cobb house.  Nothing extreme, just trying to get more fruits and vegetables into our diet while reducing the amount of processed foods we eat.  I have spent the last few days reading blogs and recipe sites looking for some new recipes to try on the family.  I was really interested in finding a granola bar recipe.  I don’t like to eat a big meal at breakfast – I would rather just grab a granola bar.  The Special K bars are my favorite – Chocolate Pretzel, Raspberry Cheesecake…YUM.

I decided that if I was going to go to the trouble of making granola bars at home then they either had to be healthier, cheaper, or both.  I found several granola bar recipes, but even the ones labeled “healthy” had lots of butter and sugar added.  So, I decided to do something that I rarely do, and I created my own recipe.  I was really happy with the results.  Not only are they pretty darn yummy, but they have no preservatives, high fiber, and relatively low calories (If my numbers are correct, around 150 calories per bar).

Of course, since I didn’t know how they would turn out, I didn’t take any pictures along the way.  If I remember, I will take some more pictures of the next batch and post those (at my current rate of posting, look for those in mid-June!).  However I do have one picture of the bar, taken after they were cut and wrapped.

Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1  2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup wheat bran
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 oz dried pineapple
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp dried cherries
  • 1 oz chopped raw almonds
  • 1 oz chopped raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed
  • 1 oz sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup nut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix rolled oats, wheat flour, wheat bran, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add fruit, seeds, and nuts to the dry mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk together nut butter and honey.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix really well.  Add applesauce and mix again.

Press the mixture into the greased 8X8 baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown.  Allow to cool completely and then cut and wrap.  Makes 16 square bars.

Some notes about these bars:

  1. They are really chewy, rather than being a crisp granola bar.
  2. The dried fruits, nuts, and seeds can be exchanged for just about anything you like.  The key is to have between 2 and 2 1/2 cups of this component – it can be all fruit, all nut, or any random combination.
  3. You can use any nut butter that you like.  I made my own with a combination of raw cashews and almonds, but any nut butter will work.
  4. I think I am going to try these in a 9X13 baking dish next, just to see if I like the texture of a thinner bar.

Enjoy!!

Linden’s World

When we first moved to Louisiana, Linden experienced a total personality switch.  Gone was the self-confident, outgoing little girl from Michigan.  In her place was a quiet, shy little girl.  Oh, she could still scream and throw a tantrum with the best of them, but she was extremely quiet and clingy whenever we would go to church or anywhere else.  At one point this fall she put her hands on her hips, glared at me, and yelled, “you ruined my life by making me move to Louisiana!”  Good times.

We started the school year in August with Linden being home schooled for Kindergarten.  The less said about that, the better.  Let’s just say that about 9 weeks into the school year, we knew it wasn’t working.  Even though I had heard some not-so-great things about the local school, Tim and I decided Linden really needed to be enrolled in Kindergarten.  It has been a huge blessing.  She is completely over her shy phase – her teachers from Church are constantly commenting on how she is out of her shell and talking and playing with the other kids.  She has made huge strides in reading and writing in the few months that she has been in school.  She was even selected as Student of the Month in her class for February.  She only has 15 students in her class, which is really great for her.  She is also attending speech classes, which are already making a difference.

Linden waiting for the bus on her first day of school

This winter, Linden also participated in Upward Cheerleading.  Even though she said it was “boring”, she enjoyed it and we really think this helped with breaking through her shyness.  She was in a squad of 8 girls, all Kindergarten and 1st grade.  The girls cheered for the Kindergarten-1st grade Upward basketball teams during the 7 game season.  The girls cheered on the sidelines and also performed a halftime cheer each week.

Linden and her squad getting ready to perform a side line cheer

Linden and her squad cheering for the players as they were introduced

Linden and her squad getting ready for their half time cheer

Timothy Update

Yesterday I let everyone know what Rebecca has been doing to stay busy.  So, I thought I would post about what Timothy has been doing lately.

In school, Timothy has been learning grammar in English and working on fractions in Math.  He is studying Europe with his sister in World Cultures and has been learning about sea creatures in Science.

Timothy also recently finished up his first basketball season.  He played Upward Basketball through church and really enjoyed it.  Since this was his first season, he had a lot to learn.  Fortunately, the weather is so nice here during the winter that he was able to go out in the driveway and shoot almost every day.

Timothy has also been spending a lot of time with his good friend from church.  They got to play on the same soccer and basketball teams this year and they were kind enough to “pose” for a picture at one of their games.

Recently, Timothy was awarded with an iPod shuffle from the Children’s Minister at Cypress.  He received this award because he has memorized every scripture verse he has been given since we moved here in July.  This is definitely one of his most treasured possessions now!  Timothy also attends Bible drilling at church on Sunday night and will be competing in the church competition in May.  There are district and state competitions as well and he even has a chance to win a scholarship to youth camp this summer.  When he is not studying, playing sports, or participating in activities at church, he loves to play the Madden 2011 on the wii.

Where did the time go? Rebecca Update

Wow…It’s been almost a month since I posted.  Where did the time go???  Of course, I was really, really sick for a while (the flu, strep AND a sinus infection)…but still, a whole month??

Anyway, I decided I would use my next few posts to let you know what everyone has been up to while I have been AWOL.

Rebecca has been busy with school and lots of activities at church.  In school she is finishing up Algebra and studying Forces in Creation in her Physical Science course.  She is learning about Europe in World Cultures and working her way through a grammar workbook in English.

She has also been cooking a bunch.  Some of her recent recipes include Onigiri

and chocolate mint brownies.

These and other recipes can be found on her blog.  The chocolate mint brownies are insanely good.  Of course, after she made them, we confirmed the fact that the mint chips were a limited time item.  However, once we run out of these chips (we still have like 12 bags, so that won’t happen for a little while), she is going to try using Andes candies baking chips as a substitute.

When she isn’t slaving away in the kitchen and doing her school work, Rebecca has been keeping busy at church.  She is still singing with the youth group band every other week during Collide (the teen Wednesday evening service).   She and her friends were also on the winning team for Chicken, Cow, Duck (one of their youth pastor’s games).

This past weekend was D-Now at our church, which is short for Discipleship Now.  The teens spent the weekend at church having small group sessions, worship meetings, and competing with each other.  The highlight of the weekend for many of the teens was spending the weekend with the Christian group, Revive, who came and hung out with the teens during the weekend and then gave a concert Saturday night.

Thanks to Stacy Rains (the children’s minister at Cypress) who took this picture and also hosted the 7th and 8th grade girls during the weekend.  Hopefully by now she has had a chance to catch up on her sleep (but I doubt it!).

Just an FYI, Rebecca turns 14 next week (March 24)…That cannot be possible!

Our New Calendar

With all five of us getting more involved in our new area, I was starting to have a hard time keeping track of everyone’s activities.  I have tried to use Google Calendar, but I am just not good at keeping up with a calendar on the computer.  I need a “real” calendar on which to record our events.  So, I bought this calendar in town:

 

I liked the big spaces for each day and the cork board strip at the bottom.  Tim put the calendar in a central location in our dining room.  Then, I had the fun job of embellishing it.  Here is what it looks like now:

I cut out 1″ shapes for each family member (using my Cricut, of course!):

Which shape = which person?

Hand gun = Tim

Lady Bug = Tricia

Country Girl = Rebecca

Basketball = Timothy

Flower = Linden

Once I had the shapes cut out, I cut 3″ strips from index cards and attached them to the shapes:

To the back of these, I added a small magnet:

Since there are some events that repeat, I can use some of these more than once – for instance, sports practices, bible studies, etc.  Plus, since they are magnetic, I can move them around easily and without any mess.

I made several and put them in a basket below the calendar:

 

Cricut Fun – Old West

Continuing on from Friday, another Cricut cartridge I got for Christmas that has gotten a lot of use is the Old West set.  I was really happy my parents found this one because it has come in handy making decorations for Tim’s classroom.

Some of the cut outs I made for the “Word Wall” in Tim’s classroom (the bulletin

board where he displays the current vocabulary words for his classes).

 

Close-up of the cowboy boots.  There is some really cool detail on the boots, but

it didn’t show up in my picture.

 

This horseshoe looks a lot like the Indianapolis Colts logo (at least I think so!)

 

Cowboy hat

 

Spurs, which I really loved once I attached the silver spurs (which look kind of white in the picture).

 

Cricut Fun – Boys Will Be Boys

I haven’t been doing much writing lately.  Instead I have been using my free time to play around with the Cricut my mom bought me for Christmas.  I have made several cut outs from the Boys Will Be Boys cartridge set.  Here are some of my favorites:

Soccer cut-out in Southwood Blue and Orange

 

Basketballs (2 in Southwood colors)

 

Footballs and 2 soccer cut outs in TJ’s Upward colors for 2010

 

Basketballs in the 2011 Upward basketball colors

 

Baseball glove

 

Baseballs and bats

 

These basketball hoops were really tricky.  I made them in both the 2″ and 3″ sizes.

Getting adhesive on the thin orange details was not so fun, but I think it was worth it.

 

Close up of one of the basketball hoops.

Ettou-o

Yesterday when I found out a storm was coming I started craving comfort food.  When we lived in Michigan, Tim would always make chili or beef stew when we were expecting a big snow storm or a really cold weekend.  Even though I am not at all a good cook, I decided to try my hand at something stew-ish.

In honor of our new home state, I decided I would try my hand at either an ettouffee or a gumbo.  It wasn’t really think enough to be an ettouffe, but I didn’t thicken it in the style of a gumbo, so Tim and I decided to call my creation Ettou-o (pronounced eh-two-o).  Rebecca has been calling it Michigan gumbo.  Whatever they called it, I am happy to say that it turned out pretty good and there are even some leftovers for today.  I also made some home-made bread to go with it.

Here’s the recipe for Ettou-o

Ingredients:

1 pound sausage

2 Tbls butter or vegetable oil

4 Tbls Flour

2 white onions, diced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

2 cups chicken stock

4 cups water

1 can stewed tomatoes

Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning to taste, I used about 4 Tbls

1 can purple hull peas with jalapenos – do not drain liquid

1 can cream peas – do not drain liquid

1-3 pounds additional meat (I used mixed seafood, but you could use chicken and/or more sausage)

Cooked white rice

 

Method:

In a large stock pot, brown sausage.  Remove cooked sausage from pan, leaving any grease.  Add butter (or vegetable oil) and diced onions to the pot.  Saute onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add in diced jalapenos and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Add flour and stir until a thick paste is formed.  Add the chicken stock, water, stewed tomatoes and sausage and stir.  Season with Tony Chachere’s seasoning.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add in the purple hulls and cream peas.  Re-season if necessary.  Simmer for about an hour.  Add in the mixed seafood and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Serve over prepared rice and/or homemade bread.

Home School Update

It seems like it has been a while since I have written about our home schooling.   I meant to post this last night, but time got away from me!

As I have mentioned here, last November we decided to put Linden in Kindergarten at our local school.  Things just weren’t clicking for her at home and the two of us were fighting every day.  Tim finally told me that she needed someone else to be her teacher so I could just be her mom.  School has been a very positive experience for her.  She is a lot less shy than she was when we first moved here and she is making very good strides at reading and writing.

Another blessing from having her in school is that the school day is much more productive for Timothy and Rebecca.  The bus picks Linden up from our driveway at about 7 am.  Since she eats breakfast at school, the big kids get dressed before Linden leaves and then eat breakfast once she is on the bus.  After clearing the breakfast dishes and a little morning silliness, we are usually able to start our school day by 7:30.

Timothy is finishing up 5th grade and just finished up a unit on fractions and factoring in his 5th grade math text.  He finished his first science book for the year, Zoology 1 by Apologia, and is getting ready to begin Zoology 2.  This is our first year using Apologia science texts and we love them.  The books are very comprehensive and have lots of experiments that my son can do mostly on his own.  Each of the big kids has been given a list of books that they are expected to read this year.  It is kind of a work in progress and has changed a little over the year.  Timothy has finished a number of books this year including the Chronicles of Narnia series.  He is now reading A Wrinkle in Time.  For grammar we are working through a comprehensive workbook.  Timothy and Rebecca are doing Social Studies together using Around The World in 180 Days, also by Apologia.  They just started the unit on Asia.

In addition to this Social Studies work, Rebecca is finishing up Algebra 1.  For science, she is working through Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Physical Science.  She loves this course and has been able to do several hands on experiments this year.  Rebecca is also reading a lot and working through a comprehensive grammar workbook.  She is also getting back to updating her weekly blog for computer class.

With Linden in school, we are able to finish up classes and extra work by lunch, leaving the afternoon for reading, cleaning, and a little fun!

What Are You Reading?

Well, Christmas is over and we are pretty much back in our routine.  Also, while we are not in any danger of being snowed in by the Snowpocalypse terrorizing our friends up in Michigan, the temperatures have dropped here in Louisiana and it looks like I will have lots of inside time for the rest of the week.  That means I have a little more time for hobbies like knitting and reading.  I also have more time to use my Cricut – and all those great cartridges my parents got me for Christmas!

I am getting ready to start a pair of slipper socks for Linden, if I ever get them finished, I will post some pictures.  I am getting ready to re-read the Narnia series – that is, if my kids can find our copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  There are also a couple of books Rebecca got for Christmas that I would like to read, including City On Our Knees and Crazy Love.  What’s on your winter reading/project list?