02/16/2013

Weekend Brunch: Mom’s ‘Sweet and Nutty’ Granola

Forever ingrained in my memory is that of my sweet grandmother, Vivian, moving swiftly around the kitchen; light on her toes yet seemingly at lighting speed. She loved being in the kitchen and making simple dishes from scratch. Nothing made her more happy than feeding her family and making sure they had a delicious meal on the table. You could trust that you would never go hungry at her house. In fact, one of my absolute favorite childhood memories is of my grandmother cooking and baking away while my brother and I would sit around the dining room table, eyes wide and trying to be as patient as possible while waiting for the next treat to magically appear out of the oven.

One of my favorite sweet treats was always my grandmother’s granola.

vertical granola

She never followed an exact recipe, but merely played it by ear each time using similar ingredients except without much measurement. Per my typical request, she used to make a huge baking dish of granola at least once every couple of months. After my grandma moved in with us when I was in high school, this special treat became even more sentimental to me. It was such a blessing to be able to walk through the door after school as scents of brown sugar, sweet cinnamon, and roasted nuts drifted throughout the house and welcomed me home. We would then sit down together in the kitchen nook, dishing granola into a bowl and topping with either a pour of milk, or even a scoop of rich vanilla-bean ice cream if that particular moment called for it. Sitting side-by-side, we would talk about our day, share stories and bond over something as simple as a homemade bowl of granola.

After my grandmother passed, I have found that nothing allows me to remember her more than by making the dishes she always loved. My mom recently made a batch of granola, in the same worn, large, and oval black metal baking dish that my grandmother always used.

sweet and nutty granola

She sent me home with a jar that I have happily sprinkled on everything from yogurt to cereal to oatmeal.

yogurt and granola

Anything to just give me a tiny taste of the sweet memory of my wonderful grandmother.

 

 [gmc_recipe 550]

 

Questions for You:

  • Are you a fan of granola?  What are your favorite ingredients in granola?
  • Do you have any favorite memories of your grandmother or mom in the kitchen?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
02/14/2013

L-O-V-E

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope your day is filled with nothing except indulgent chocolates and treats, beautiful bouquets of flowers, millions of hearts, sentimental cards, and the most absolute, pure feeling of love that you can give and receive.

Although Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday to many, as Ihave said before, to me it is a reminder to tell those in my life just how much I love them. Sometimes it is easy to assume my family and friends know how much I care without telling them, but I also know how great I feel when I am verbally reminded how much I am loved. It’s not that I think we should only go out of our way one day out of the year, but it’s that sometimes I believe having that reminder to go above and beyond can be the nudge we might need.

We are never guaranteed another moment or another Valentine’s Day, so I hope you will take the time today and let those around you know how much you care. That is absolutely one thing you will never regret!

In regards to Valentine’s Day this year, I am not sure what the plan is yet in my house. I have a feeling we will try and go out this weekend or have a big dinner at home to celebrate, but for the most part we will probably be laying pretty low with the actually holiday being on a Thursday.

I remember that one of the most memorable Valentine’s Days in my book was when Tim and I were first engaged and I was really looking forward to spending time with my new fiancé. We had a big romantic dinner planned at Fleming’s Steakhouse, but instead of dining in a fancy restaurant, eating a perfectly cooked steak and enjoying every minute of the evening, we instead ended up staying in at my parent’s house while I fed Tim an elaborate dinner of saltine crackers and Gatorade. It turns out he was really sick, but had been trying to pretend he wasn’t when he picked me up after work. There he was, holding a beautiful bouquet of baby pink roses with a card to match, along with a face that was as pale as a ghost. He wanted to try and still go out, not wanting to disappoint me, but I wanted us both to enjoy the dinner and not just try and get through it. So instead, we waited until the weekend when he was finally feeling better and the dinner turned out better than it probably would have even been on Valentine’s Day. It was not only less crowded, but we also didn’t feel rushed going there straight from work. It is funny how sometimes delayed plans really do turn out to be for the best!

I struggled with what to get him this year, so I decided instead to keep it simple and write a list of the 10 things I love most about him, along with the details why. I don’t want to share everything since he would probably prefer I keep some of the things just between us, but in honor of my Valentine, here are some of the things that I love most about my husband:

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  • I love that he is going to be a daddy (and an amazing one at that!) to our children someday.
  • I love the way he always tucks me in at night and kisses me good morning.
  • I love the way he allows me to sleep however is most comfortable for me. (I have been known to be a wild sleeper! I know he gets kicked a lot, but never complains!)
  • I love the way he goes to church with me and prays with me.
  • I love the way he makes me laugh every day.
  • I love the way he always fights for and believes in us and our marriage.

 

I saw this image on Pinterest, linked from Etsy, and I knew I just had to share it with all of you. No matter who your Valentine may be today, remember there is one who is our Valentine every day and promises always to give everlasting love.

John 3:16 -Bookmark Bible Verse - Valentines digital printable - 2x6 Bookmark

(Source)

Questions for You:

  • What are you getting your Valentine this year?

  • Do you have anything special planned to celebrate the day?

  • What is the best or worst Valentine’s Day you can remember?

  • What do you love best about your Valentine?

02/13/2013

WIAW: Vanilla Custard Oats

So far this week, work has been super busy and this means my days have seemed to fly by right before my eyes.  The weather has been chilly, but sunny outside and just seeing the rays of light have me craving spring time already!  Until then though, I will just be enjoying my winter decorations as long as I still have them up and until the season’s truly start to change.  Here is the wreath I made after the Christmas decorations were put away and after the first of the year.  It will make me sad when it comes down, but I will just have to make and hang a spring wreath instead!

winter wreath

By the time I have been getting home, making dinner, and cleaning, there is nothing I have wanted to do more than cuddle up on the couch and watch a couple of my favorite shows, The Bachelor and Pretty Little Liars.  The Bachelor on Monday was the best episode so far this season, at least I think, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally not have to deal with Tierra every week!  I was sad to watch Lesley go home, but I think it was pretty obvious that her and Sean’s relationship just wasn’t on the same level as his and the other girls.  I like all four of the women who are left and can’t wait to watch next week and see how he narrows it down.  I think as of right now AshLee is my number one pick, but I also really like Lindsay a lot more than I thought I would from the first episode.  However, Des and Catherine seem like great picks too, so I think now that Tierra is gone it’s hard for Sean to go down a bad path!

Are any of you watching The Bachelor?  Who is your favorite to win?

Another thing I have been doing in my down time is trying to finish reading Safe Haven on my iPad.  I am a little more than half way through and I really can’t wait to see the movie, but not until I complete the book.  The plot is getting really good right now and my heart literally races at certain points during the story.  I like Katie’s character a lot and love that Nicholas Sparks created her to be quite the brave and strong woman.  I am looking forward to seeing how it ends, and I really hope the movie lives up to the hype and to the book’s expectations.

Have you read Save Haven?  Are you hoping to see the movie?  What is your favorite Nicholas Sparks book?

 

Here we are though, Wednesday once again, but this time I have no entire day of eats to share with you.  However, I’ve still been eating some delicious meals and treats that I did remember to snap a couple pictures of the food highlights that really stood out in my mind.   Here is this week’s WIAW (Thanks Jenn!):


 There isn’t a single veggie to be found on today’s post unfortunately, but there are plenty of other yummy treats.  Just because there are no pictures though doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating my veggies!  A lot of kale, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and broccoli have made their way into my menu this past week, just not into photos.

I found this recipe on Pinterest for Jamie Eason’s Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread and decided to make a batch to snack on while at work.  I cut the batch into eight slices, and have been eating them this week as an afternoon snack, or sweet treat after lunch.  When the bread first came out of the oven on Sunday, I had a piece served hot and drizzled with peanut butter.  I would highly recommend trying it! 

cinnamon protein bread

This was the perfect way to get that cinnamon roll craving fulfilled without hitting up the local Cinnabon, (although I have known to love splitting a delicious and huge Cinnabon with my mom!).  Save that treat for a special day out, and enjoy this recipe any day of the week.

cinnamon protein bread slice

Ashley has been sharing her snacks lately on WIAW, and I keep noticing recipes from Gina showing up on her menus.  As silly as the name sounds, ‘Amazeballs’ make for the perfect little quick afternoon snack or as a little fuel before the gym, which has really come in handy at 5:00 a.m.  I followed this recipe for Chocolate Chip Protein Ballz, but used peanut butter instead of almond butter, honey instead of maple syrup, and no chocolate chips since I didn’t have any on hand at the time.  The recipe made four servings and I have been keeping my small batch in the refrigerator ever since.

Amazeballs 

I also wanted to share a recipe I have been absolutely loving lately!  Ashley has once again been inspiring me, but this time it was with her post about custard oats.  I had never heard of them until I spotted them on Courtney’s blog, and was actually (mistakenly!) pretty skeptical at first.  I couldn’t imagine adding an egg to my oats and steered clear for a little while.  However, I started to see the trend catching on and I had to admit that there are many recipes I was nervous of at first and now love, like kale chips, spaghetti squash, and green smoothies.  I first gave it a shot back in the fall by making a batch of pumpkin custard oats, and now it is pretty routine for me whisk an egg into every batch of oatmeal I make. 

This recipe has a secret ingredient that may not be deemed as a breakfast food, but it is perfect to have as a special treat and it makes a simple bowl of oats taste absolutely amazing!  Seriously, for either an indulgent breakfast or a healthier dessert option, I highly recommend giving this easy recipe a try.

vanilla custard oats

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup of oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 cups water (I know it seems like a lot of water, but the chia seeds really soak it all up)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 egg
  • Peanut Butter (optional)

Directions

Over medium heat, bring oats, chia seeds, and water to a boil.  Remove from heat and whisk in pudding mix and egg.  Pour oatmeal into a bowl and top with peanut butter.

 

Questions for you:

  • Answer the questions above about The Bachelor or Safe Haven.  I want to hear your thoughts!
  • Are you a fan of custard oats?  What is your favorite way to make a bowl of oatmeal?
  • What meals have you heard of that at first you didn’t think you’d like, but after trying it, you now love it?
  • What’s the best thing you’ve ate this week?