Friday, June 15, 2012

Cranberry Almond Granola

I'm starting to pay attention to how much we spend on groceries, and came to the realization that we spend $10 to $15 on cereal EACH WEEK. Insane, right? Hubs eats a ridiculous amount of cereal (2 huge bowls a day) and Little B has recently started eating an adult-sized bowl for breakfast several days a week. In an attempt to save a little cash, I started making my own granola. (Have you seen how much they charge for a tiny little box of organic granola?) I've made 3 different batches over the past couple weeks, and the last batch was by far my favorite. Here you go...

Cranberry Almond Granola

5 cups of oats
3/4 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. sunflower seeds (shelled)
1 c. dried cranberries
3/4 c. honey
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix oats, shredded coconut, almonds, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Combine butter and honey in a saucepan. Heat until butter is melted; stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir well.

Spread onto a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring well and re-spreading twice. Remove from oven and leave in pan to cool. Once cool, store in a ziptop bag or canister with lid.

You can mix this up with whatever "filler" you've got on hand - raisins, walnuts (I threw a few of those in, too), flax seeds, whatever sounds good. I'm also working on perfecting my peanut butter granola recipe; will post that soon! Enjoy!

Chicken and Sweet Potato Crock Pot Magic

As you may have gathered by now, I'm just crazy for sweet potatoes. Love them. Ditto for my slow cooker. It requires an act of God in our house to just open the damn oven - I swear my 2-year-old can sense danger from a mile away and immediately runs toward it - so the Crock Pot is a tool on which I rely heavily. At least until he learns to climb up on the kitchen counter. Which will probably happen tomorrow.

And so - 2 of my faves collide in this super yummy, SUPER easy recipe. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

3 chicken breasts
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 onion, sliced into rings
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/8 c. orange juice
salt, pepper & cayenne pepper to taste

Place the chicken in the Crock Pot; season generously with salt and pepper. Top with the onion slices and then the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the sweet potatoes and then pour the OJ on top of everything. Season the sweet potatoes well with salt and pepper, and a good sprinkle of cayenne pepper. (I make mine pretty spicy, which gives a nice edge to the sweet ingredients.) Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Serves 2 and a couple kiddos.

Weeknight Date Ideas (at home!)

I was inspired by a great post I saw over at Audrey Confidential on 101 things to do with your husband. I loved the idea of doing something creative with your spouse and busting out of your date night rut. BUT, since I left my "real" job over a year ago, we're on a serious budget and, as a result, date nights have decreased in frequency. More often than not, once B is in bed, we find ourselves parked on the couch watching mediocre TV. So I felt compelled to find some creative ways to hang out with my Hubs any ol' night - no Friday night babysitter required!

1. Engage in a Wii battle. We like bowling, frisbee golf and other games that keep my booty off the couch.
2. Play darts (we have a dart board in Hubs' study) or pool, or another "bar" game you may have access to.
3. Cook dinner! Forego a family dinner and instead prepare and eat a romantic dinner after the kiddos are in bed. Bonus points if you do not eat said dinner in front of the TV. (Also, please feed the children something before you put them to bed.)
4. Toast marshmallows...In front of the fireplace or at an outdoor fire pit.
5. Re-arrange the furniture. Ask your husband for input on the layout of a particular room and then get moving!
6. Play bartender. Fix each other fancy cocktails and sip them on the porch.
7. Clean. I know, this is pretty lame and not particularly romantic, but every now and then my husband will help me clean bathrooms after B is in bed. It's so nice to have someone to chat with while you scrub!
8. Play Scrabble. Or, in our case, Words with Friends. We're too cheap to buy the real game, so we just pass my iPhone back and forth.
9. Read a couples devotion. (Disclosure: I bought a book awhile back but we haven't gotten around to using it. Honestly, I think most of them are a bit corny for our taste, but I'm sure it would be a good exercise and help us to be more mindful of keeping faith at the center of our marriage.)
10. Take a bath. Hubs usually refuses on the grounds that baths are hot and miserable, but the idea of getting naked together occasionally convinces him.
11. Play strip poker.
12. Get online and research your dream vacation.
13. BBQ. Make a meal in which every item of food is prepared on the grill, including dessert.
14. Watch your wedding video, if you have one, or look through wedding albums. I recently looked back at our guest book (which also featured hilarious photo booth shots of all our guests) and was overwhelmed with fond memories.
15. Make sushi together. Or pizza, if you're not into raw fish. (But really, it's 2012. You should probably get around to eating sushi.)
16. Do a DIY project together. Refinish a piece of furniture or actually DO one of those cute ideas you've pinned on Pinterest.
17. Have a dance party. Make your own themed playlists (think 80's music, old school hip hop, etc.) and take turns playing your tunes. Who doesn't like busting a move to the classics? I like big butts and I cannot lie...
18. Make infused vodkas together. Find some recipes online or develop your own creative flavors.
19. Find a baseball game on TV. Assign each of you a team - when your team scores, your significant other loses an item of clothing. Hope for a shut out.
20. Have a spa night. Put on white bathrobes, apply face masks and soak your feet in the tub. (If anyone actually convinces their husband to do this, please report back.)

I hope this has sparked some of your own ideas. Please share!