No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Finger-licking good and healthy to boot.

That’s exactly the type of snack these little bars are.

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They are honey-sweetened and feature peanut butter, dark chocolate, and coconut.

Oh yeah, and oatmeal too.

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See? Healthy and good. And maybe a little bit addictive.

Perfect for a little snack to accompany your coffee or a sweet treat to put in a lunchbox.

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In addition to being healthy, this is a no-bake snack, so it’s easy to make a full pan of these without even turning on your oven.

I don’t make these THAT often, but when I do they’re usually gone by the second day.

Trust me, it’s good stuff.

Here’s the recipe if you’re interested in whipping some up for your family:

1 C peanut butter
1/2 C honey
1/2 C coconut oil
2 C rolled oats
1 C flaked coconut
1/2 C nuts or dried fruit
1 1/2 C dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the first three ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add in the rest and stir until chocolate is melted. Press into a 9″x13″ pan and chill for a few hours. Cut into bars.


Banana Baked Oatmeal Muffins

This is a great recipe if you’re looking for a healthy bite.

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Though we have no food allergies in our house (thank God!) and don’t specifically avoid any certain ingredient, they are perfect for families who ARE avoiding specific things.

No white sugar. No flour. No eggs.

Less than 100 calories a piece.

As an added bonus, they are super tasty and nutritious. Perfect for a quick grab-it-and-go breakfast or a healthy little snack.

These would also be great in kids’ lunchboxes. I am always struggling to pack healthy for my gang. After packing five lunchboxes a day every weekday morning I seem to run out of fresh ideas sometimes.

I haven’t tried this yet, but these supposedly freeze well also.

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I snagged the recipe off of this website.

Here’s the lowdown on what you need to make these:

5 cups rolled oats

2 1/2 cups overly ripe bananas

1 tsp salt

5 TB sweetener (you choose which one–I used honey)

2/3 cup Chocolate chips

2 1/2 cup water

1/4 cup + 1 TB oil (coconut or vegetable)

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 380 degrees F and line cupcake pans with liners. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add in to the dry ones. Mix together well, than spoon into cupcake liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Makes about 24.

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Ways to Use Leftover Bacon Grease

Today let’s talk about bacon.

Do you love bacon? Really, really love bacon?

If your response is, “oh yeah,” then you’re going to love this article. (If your answer is no, then why the heck not?)

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Well, we love our bacon around here. If you only know me by this blog, you may not know this little fact about me–I am a butcher’s wife.

Yes, my friends, my man makes such wonderful things as bacon, sweet bologna, ham, and many kinds of sausage.

Then he brings them home for us to eat.

What’s not to love about that? One of my favorite things is to smell his shirt when he comes home from working in and out of the smokehouse. Yup, I give him a big old hug and then breathe in that woodsy-smoky smell. (I’m weird, I know.)

Anyway, on to my little post about bacon, and the uses of bacon grease. I started a quart-sized mason jar to collect and keep our bacon drippings after we’ve cooked a batch. Because it’s a shame to just waste it, man. Here are some of the uses I’ve run across to use some of that leftover bacon goodness: 9445e6236fb4443b3e8259a76050cd91   Make stove-top popcorn. This one is newer to me, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I used some bacon grease in lieu of my usual coconut oil (which is good too!) and it totally rocked. It provides the grease and the saltiness. bca218ff11263dfddd84a2f4edd679c0 Fried Potatoes. Potatoes, onions, a little s & p, all fried up in bacon drippings. Yum. Image courtesy of this blog.DSC02697_thumb[7]   Bacon Dressing. Just add a little vinegar and sugar and you voila! a tasty salad dressing. Image and recipe found here.

Cookies. Substitute bacon grease for 1/2 of the butter or shortening, or whatever fat your recipe calls for. (Ex: Instead of 1 cup butter, use 1/2 C bacon grease and 1/2 C butter) It will lend a little extra something to the taste, but shouldn’t overwhelm.

imagesMake soap. This site tells you how to get that bacon grease ready to make into soap.

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Make a candle. Spring Mountain Living has a good tutorial on doing this.

Feed the birds. All you need to do to make a simple bird feeder is a pine cone rolled in bacon drippings, then rolled in birdseed and hung up.

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Season your cast iron cookware. You know I am loving my cast iron skillet and have learned the importance of having a well seasoned one. Use this instead of other fats/oils for seasoning purposes.

Season veggies and soups. Or pretty much anything. Trust me, you can hardly go wrong by adding at least a dab of it to almost any old thing you’re cooking.




Old Fashioned Vinegar Pie

Okay, by reading the title of this post you either think I’ve gone off the deep end or you are pursing your lips in potential disgust.

Don’t let the name of this pie fool you. Despite what it sounds like, it’s actually pretty tasty.

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Yes, it’s got a little tang to it, but not so much that anyone would guess it features vinegar as an ingredient.

Imagine a sweet but tangy custard-type of pie.

I was intrigued by vinegar pie when I ran across this charming article about it on Money Saving Mom.

Shortly after reading the article I made it, really liked it, and have since researched it a little more on my own.

Vinegar pie was made popular back in earlier American history when ladies didn’t have access to fruits and a huge variety of ingredients year round like we do today. This pie was very cheap to make and used a minimal of basic ingredients which they would have likely had on hand. The Little House books even mention Ma making vinegar pie for holidays and such.

Through my research, I found a variety of recipes for this, some that used much more vinegar than what this recipe calls for. I think I’ll stick with this one for now as I enjoyed it and am definitely adding it to my repertoire of dessert recipes.

Vinegar Pie

  • 2 Pre-baked Pie Shells
  • 1 Qt Water*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 heaping TB flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 TB cold vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or you can sub in maple extract)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Bake pie shells and allow to cool. Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Mix eggs, flour, salt, and vinegar together with a whisk in a separate bowl. When water boils, add filling mixture in. Allow to continue boiling and whisk constantly while it thickens. Wait for it to become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from heat. At this point, add in cinnamon and maple and stir to combine. Pour into pre-baked pie shells and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

*You can use 3 Cups of water if preferred. This will shorten the preparation time a little bit.

*Another tip: The recipe I followed recommends using some type of sieve to pour the finished mixture through, just in case any pieces of curdled egg are in there. I didn’t have any in mine, but I did whisk the heck out of it when cooking the filling mixture.


Skillet Cornbread

I’m starting to appreciate my cast iron skillet more and more these days. One of the things I use it for very regularly is to bake cornbread in.

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Growing up, we just baked cornbread in a glass baking pan and it was more cake-like. Thanks to the culinary expertise of my dear husband, I learned how to make it in a good ole’ black cast iron skillet. Now I bake it this way usually about once a week, often to accompany chili or soup.

The recipe I follow comes from this awesome vintage cookbook I found at a yard sale:

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I adapted it as my own when, on a whim, I subbed in coconut oil for vegetable oil or shortening. We loved the result, so that’s what I’ve used ever since! Besides the coconut oil, I think it’s key to put your empty skillet in the oven for maybe 10 or so minutes to get it nice and hot before putting the batter in.

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Skillet Cornbread

1 C flour

1/4 C sugar

4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 C yellow corn meal

2 beaten eggs

1 C milk

1/4 C coconut oil

Preheat oven to 425 and place empty skillet in to warm up. Sift together all of the dry ingredients. Add in eggs, milk, and oil. Pour batter into greased cast iron skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Homemade Wheat Crackers

I’m very excited about this recipe! My gang loves their crackers, so you know I jumped on it when I found a recipe for homemade wheat crackers in the latest Penzeys Spice catalog.

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I’ve only tried making crackers one other time, a Cheez-it replica that turned out to be sort of a fail. (To make your day, I can tell you that I have my share of “fails”–I just usually don’t publish them!) They were okay, but way too salty and either too well done or not done enough. In other words, I didn’t roll them out to the same exact thickness, which apparently is crucial in making crackers. So, to help redeem myself, I gave this recipe a try. Surprisingly, they turned out pretty good!

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This recipe makes a decent-sized batch, so for me it was worth the effort. As a bonus, you know exactly what’s in them and can serve them up for snack or pack in lunchboxes for your kiddos. They are the bomb when paired up with some good cheese.

Wheat Crackers

1 C wheat flour

1 C all-purpose flour

1/3 C poppy seeds

1/3 C white sesame seeds (I didn’t have any, so mine were missing these and were fine)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 TB olive oil

3/4 C water

In large mixing bowl, combine the flours, seeds, salt, and baking powder. Add the oil and water and stir to combine. Knead a few times until well mixed. Pull into 8 sections, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450. Sprinkle counter or table with flour and roll out 1 section so it is very thin. Cut into squares and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 8-12 minutes. Do this for each section of dough. Store in an airtight container.

*Note-If you own a pasta maker, you could also use it for rolling out the dough into thin sheets. I know nothing about pasta makers, but Penzey’s recommends running it through until it is on setting 4.


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No-Stir Granola

Ever get into a breakfast rut?

I do sometimes. I love breakfast, but I like to mix it up once in a while with something different on weekday mornings.

The beauty of this recipe is that it could easily be eaten for breakfast, or as a tasty snack any old time.

Oh yes, I made this over the weekend and have been noshing on it a piece at a time. My hands can’t seem to stay away from that tupperware container with the granola in it!

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This is a hearty granola that can be baked on a rimmed baking sheet, with no need to stir it during the baking time. The result is a crunchy granola that you break apart once it’s cooled.

(Other granola recipes, like this one I posted a couple of years ago, has you stirring it periodically.)

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Here’s the recipe that I followed to make this nice crispy treat:

1/3 C maple syrup

1/3 C brown sugar

3 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 C vegetable oil

3 C rolled oats

1 1/2 C nuts

1/2 C coconut

2 C dried fruit

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray. Spread mixed granola out onto sheet. Bake at 325 F for 30-40 minutes. Once this is cool, break apart and place pieces in an airtight container. Eat by itself or covered with milk.