Friday, September 28, 2012

3 Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Do you have 10 minutes in the evening to dedicate to making a delicious healthy breakfast? If so, you have to try these bars!

Breakfast is so challenging at my house. My boys do not typically like the same foods for breakfast. My older son enjoys a traditional breakfast of eggs and bacon or sausage, pancakes or waffles. My younger son would rather eat pizza, spaghetti or leftovers from the night before. I have to admit, spaghetti was often on my breakfast plate as a kid, but when I became pregnant with my first child that all changed and from then on I could only eat breakfast foods for breakfast. Spaghetti for breakfast ~ yuck!  Since he will not experience pregnancy, I am hoping puberty hormones will eventually cause him to develop a more mature palate.

These Peanut Butter Bars are AMAZING! I made some last night and served them this morning with fingers crossed. Both boys really liked them! That totally excites me, but what excites me even more is that the bars are healthy too. They were eating oatmeal and they didn't even care! Woohoo! I can't get them to eat oatmeal for anything. So this recipe is definitely a keeper.

I feel a little David Letterman coming on.

Top 10 reasons why you should make this recipe:

10. Only 3 ingredients!
9. 10 min prep time!
8. Both my boys like it so I bet your family will too!
7. Perfect on-the-go food!
6. Customizable ~ add in dried fruit, nuts, or protein powder (for extra flavor and protein)
5. Satisfies longer than sugary cereals, bars, or processed pastries!
4. Oats help lower cholesterol!
3. No baking required!
2. No morning dishes to wash!

and the number one reason you should make these bars 

  1. Your kids will be eating oatmeal and loving it!
Buon Appetito!

3 Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars
prep: 10 min
bake: 0 min
yield: 12 bars
calories: 281
fat: 12.2

1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup honey*
3 cups old fashioned oatmeal*

  1. Put peanut butter and honey in a heavy saucepan and heat on low until thoroughly combined and becomes a liquid consistency. 
  2. Mix in oats and stir. 
  3. Press into a 9 x 9 inch pan. 
  4. Cover and let set overnight. 

*for gluten free, use gluten free oats
*for clean eating, use raw honey

Joyful Living

I truly believe that each one of us have certain gifts and abilities given by God for our good and his Glory. Everything is from God and if we choose to do what He has gifted us to do and do it as unto him instead of for the approval of oth
ers, it will enable us to live a life of abundance, perhaps not monetarily, although that could be true, but emotionally and spiritually abundant.

We were not given these gifts to waste. So I encourage you to discover how God uniquely made you and live your life accordingly.

This is from I just had to share.

How can we steward the gifts God gives including what we have and who we are?

1. By maintaining an attitude of thankfulness (1 Thess. 5:18) to God for what has given us and made us. We can’t be thankful for something and abuse or misuse it at the same time. Let gratitude govern your use and enjoyment of all things.

2. By taking care of what he gives us including possessions, relationships, our bodies, and our souls. For some of us this may mean learning to be more organized so we don’t waste our time. Some of us may need to learn to be more disciplined in order to keep our homes tidy and our laundry put away (ahem, this one’s for me. I need to remember that while laundry may be a curse, that even laundry work is a gift from God). Some of us may need to take more seriously the fact that we have only one body and need to care for it well so it can be used for God’s glory and for the good of others.

3. By sharing what he has given us, including our very lives.
God did not give us time, money, a home, talents etc. to shelve, but to share. The Christian life is all about glorifying God and loving others. The most practical way we can this is by giving to others what God has given us. And we should do so joyfully, without expecting anything in return (including a thank you note).

All that you have is given to you to receive with thankfulness. We are to enjoy, care for, and share them with others and the best way we can do this best by keeping our “chief end” in mind.

You can read the entire blog post here. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Banana Crumb Muffins

I recently gave some banana bread to my next-door neighbor as a thank-you for their wonderful hospitality when we moved to our new neighborhood. I feel blessed to have neighbors that practice good ole "Southern Hospitality" even though we are not in the South. A few days later she stopped by to tell me that it was the best banana bread she ever had, and asked if she could have the recipe. I love it when that happens! I think you will enjoy them too, but you don't have to take my word for it.

The cinnamon and brown sugar crumb topping sets this recipe apart from other banana breads. This recipe yields 12 muffins, one large loaf, two regular size loaves, or 4 mini loaves (which are great for gifts). Paired with coffee or milk, they make for a delicious breakfast or snack. 

Buon Appetito!

Banana Crumb Muffins
yield: 12 muffins
prep: 15 minutes
cook: 18-20 minutes
calories: 213
fat grams: 6.7

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl combine bananas, sugar, egg, and butter. Mix well.
  4. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. 
  5. Fill greased paper lined muffin tins 3/4 full.
  6. Combine first 3 topping ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle on top. 
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes. 

This video explains how to "cut in butter".

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Turtle Cookies

Here's some tantalizing Turtle cookies to tempt you today, which happens to be Tuesday! This post is brought to you by the letter T.

This recipe is a variation of Mom's Famous Cookies. This cookie recipe is so versatile. Simply mix the dough and add in your favorite candy chips like peanut butter, mint chocolate, white chocolate, or butterscotch; pretzels or dried fruit would also be a great addition. Turtles candies and dark chocolate chips added in the dough make for a truly tasty treat.

The dough can be mixed and stored in the fridge until ready to use. I usually make a batch, store in the fridge for up to a week, and then bake a few at a time as needed. This ensures that leftover cookies don't go to waste and also helps with portion control :) To freeze, scoop dough balls onto a cookie sheet or platter and place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Then remove frozen balls and store in the freezer in a freezer bag for up to six months. When ready to use, place frozen dough balls on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until done, or you can let the dough thaw and bake for 10 minutes.

Buon Appetito! 

Turtle Cookies
Source: Southern Living 
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 12 min
Yield: 40 cookies
Calories per cookie: 155
Fat grams per cookie: 8


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  •  2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7 oz.) package milk chocolate-caramel-pecan clusters, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 (12-oz.) packages dark chocolate morsels
  • Parchment paper


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, beating until blended.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat in morsels just until combined. Using a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop or measuring spoon, drop onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

3. Bake at 350° for 10 to 14 minutes (I bake them 12 minutes) or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely (about 15 minutes).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smothered Hamburger Steaks and Onions

Hamburger steak is a typical southern recipe. Dressed up hamburger patties with gravy makes for some delicious comfort food, and since ground beef is inexpensive you don't have to worry about busting your grocery budget. I know you all have a grocery budget, right? This dish is low carb making it a perfect choice if you are trying to limit carb consumption.

I first came across this recipe several years ago when I was doing a lot of freezer cooking.  It has become one of our favorite family recipes. For those that don't care for onions, the onions are sliced and can be easily picked out.

Buon Appetito!

Smothered Hamburger Steaks and Onions
yield: 6 servings
calories: 336
fat gram: 10

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 large onion, sliced
Beef gravy (bottled, canned, or mix) I like to use 2 packages of McCormick brown gravy mix following directions on package. 

Mix all ingredients except onions and gravy. Shape into patties (I like to make 4 oz. patties) and brown in greased skillet. Turn; add onions. Add gravy; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. 

To freeze, prepare patties. Place a sheet of wax paper between patties. Place in a freezer bag and store in freezer for up to 6 months. You can also freeze leftovers in a freezer bag. If freezing raw meat, when ready to cook simply thaw and cook per recipe instructions. If freezing leftovers, simply thaw and reheat in microwave or on stove.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Roasted Tomato-and-Feta Shrimp

This recipe is so versatile and can be served as an appetizer, salad, or main dish. The beauty of the fresh ingredients make for a gorgeous presentation. All these are good reasons to make this recipe, but the best reason is because it is delicious!

I think it is awesome and I think you will love it too :)

Buon Appetito!

Roasted Tomato - and - Feta Shrimp
source: Southern Living December 2010
6 servings
prep: 10 minutes
bake: 25-30 minutes
calories per serving: 233
fat grams per serving: 12.3
nutritional info does not include French bread

  • pt. grape tomatoes
  • garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined, medium-size raw shrimp (31/40 count)
  • 1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • (4-oz.) package crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Crusty French bread, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Place tomatoes and next 4 ingredients in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, tossing gently to coat. Bake 15 minutes. Stir in shrimp and peppers. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Toss with parsley, feta cheese, and lemon juice. Serve immediately with crusty French bread.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hate Imprisons, Jesus Frees

I was in the middle of posting about a yummy Roasted Tomato-and-Feta Shrimp recipe when I began thinking of the violence that occurred in Libya yesterday and how four innocent Americans were murdered because of the hate of others. 

Tragedies happen everyday in the world due to hate. There is so much hate that imprisons so many. Some are imprisoned by the fear of what might happen to them when hate is given free reign. This could be in a country where terrorism is ever present or the battered wife and children in our own neighborhood. Others are imprisoned by the hate inside them and they do not even know it. They lash out in an attempt to be free when ironically those actions just imprison them more. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death." This could perhaps be speaking of physical death, but ultimately it is speaking of spiritual death. As humans we are so ignorant and prideful to think that we know what is right. Judges 25:21 says, "Israel had no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes." When Israel made decisions without first inquiring of God the results were never good. Sometimes we think we know what God wants us to do, but we don't actually seek him and ask. We can't live by what seems right in our own eyes; we can't follow our emotions because we do not know the right way apart from Him. We have a king,Jesus, and his ways are righteous and just. He made the rules and knows what is best for mankind.

As I sit on my Laz-y-Boy sofa, in my comfortable house, in a safe middle class neighborhood it is hard for me to imagine what many experience due to the hate of others. On one hand I feel so blessed that I do not have to face such evil and fear on a daily basis, but at the same time wonder why I am one of the lucky ones.  

I am so thankful for those that sacrifice their lives and freedoms to help ensure the world is a little safer and allow me to live in a free nation. Their sacrifice reminds me of Christ's love and sacrifice. He gave up his life and time with God in heaven to come down and provide a way for us to have everlasting freedom and joy. He holds the power to rid people of the imprisonment of hate. 

Jeremiah 29:12-14a
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

I didn't plan to share such things, but as I was writing about a shrimp recipe it hit me that there is so much despair, hate, and fear in the world.  Shrimp recipes are awesome, but it can't be the focus of the blog today. There are more important and eternal matters.  Don't get me wrong, feeding and caring for your family should be a high priority, but Christ's love and His ways should top the list every time. 

I am thankful for the blessings and safeties that the Lord has allowed me to experience, but I don’t ever want to take for granted or forget those that are not so fortunate. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nana's 7 Layer Salad

This is Nana.

This is Nana's 7 Layer Salad.

This is how I feel when I eat Nana's 7 Layer Salad.

Any questions?

 This salad is one of my mom's, aka Nana, favorite recipes. We enjoyed it often when I was growing up.  I remember mom entering this recipe in a 4-H cooking contest and winning first prize. It is perfect served in a trifle bowl since it allows you to see all the beautiful layers. If you want a lighter version you could simply use light dressing and/or light cheddar cheese.  The measurements are not exact which allows you to easily modify the amount needed for your family. 

Buon Appetito!

Nana's 7 Layer Salad

Layer ingredients in the following order:
Iceberg lettuce or lettuce of your choice, torn into bite size pieces 
Chopped tomatoes

Sliced purple onions
1 can Ranch Style Beans, drained
Cheddar Cheese, grated
Creamy Italian Salad Dressing (Seven Seas Green Goddess is what Nana uses.) 

Sprinkle enough Fritos to cover the top just before serving.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roasted Green Beans with Sun-dried Tomatoes

I'm back!! It feels so good to sit here and type this blog post. Life is slowing down a bit and I am loving it!!! I hope you all enjoyed a great summer. Fall will be here before we know it and soon I will be posting yummy fall comfort foods. The leaves here in Maryland are already starting to fall, which seems odd since it is in the 90s today. In Sicily we didn't experience fall like in the states so I am looking forward to the trees changing colors soon. We have gorgeous views from our house and can't wait for the sea of green trees to change to autumn shades.

Veggies are so important to a healthy diet and should be served with each meal. I don't know about you, but it is always a challenge to come up with new ways to cook vegetables. One of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is to roast them. Roasting is super easy and a really healthy way to enjoy your favorite veggies.

I love this recipe; the combination of green beans and sun-dried tomatoes is perfect. While living in Italy sun-dried tomatoes became one of my favorite foods. I love them in salads, on sandwiches, and in pasta.

This recipe calls for fresh green beans. You could use frozen, too. It also calls for pine nuts. I had a ton of pecans so that is what I used. It still turned out scrumptious.

Buon Appetito!

Roasted Green Beans with Sun-dried Tomatoes
source: Southern Living November 2010
serves: 8-10
prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 25 to 30 minutes
for 8 servings:
calories 178 
fat 15.1

1 1/2 fresh green beans trimmed
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp butter, melted
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss together all ingredients. Place mixture on a 18 x 12 inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or to desired degree of doneness, stirring twice.