Easy Granola

Well, now that I’ve started making granola, I can’t stop.  I love it, the toddler loves it, and when his friends are over for play group they descend upon it like a committee of vultures (that IS the technical term, I promise!).  Well, they reacted that way to the peanut butter granola that I posted before, and my husband likes this basic granola even better than the peanut butter.

  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 brown sugar, packed
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/4 water
  • sundries (nuts, raisins, shredded coconut, other dried fruits, etc.)

Super easy!  Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients — flour, sugar, oats, and whatever sundries you are using — in a big bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave, then add the water to it and stir the liquid into the dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly, then pour the mixture out onto a big cookie sheet.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want it.

This time, I made this with peanuts and cashews, and it is fantastic.

I tried doubling this to make a big batch, but you might have a hard time getting it all to cook evenly, so I would stick with this size batch.  After you’ve had a couple of test handfuls, the rest should fit pretty well into an empty plastic 16 ounce peanut jar.  🙂


Peanut Butter Granola

Ok, wow.  I realized yesterday that even though my blog is called “Granola Mommy,” I don’t have a single granola recipe posted.  Hmmm, probably has something to do with the fact that, until yesterday, I’d never actually made granola….

But now I have!  Two batches, actually.  The Toddler Taste-tester was quite impressed with both batches.  Turns out that it can be really easy, and it’s SOOO much healthier than store-bought stuff.

I found the original recipe here:


To give credit where it is due.  This was really good, but of course, few recipes pass through my kitchen unchanged.  So now I will tell you how I made the second batch.

  • 4 Tbs creamy peanut butter
  • 4 Tbs honey (local if you can get it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1.5 cups oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with unflavored cooking spray (you don’t use the flavored stuff anyway, do you?).

Combine the peanut butter and honey in a bowl, then microwave for about 30 seconds.  Mix them together really well, then add the cinnamon and vanilla and mix again.  Now stir in the oats until they are all very well-coated with the mixture.  Spread them out on the cookie sheet and bake for about 8 minutes.  Let cool, and devour!  (Or you could try saving it in an airtight container, but good luck not eating it right away!)

This is a good base recipe that you could add all kinds of stuff to — chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, shredded coconut…get crazy!  I plan to.  You could try maple syrup instead of honey (let me know if that works).  I think next time I am going to try drying it in the dehydrator instead of baking it and see how that goes.  If you guys come up with anything awesome to add to this, let me know!

Slightly Spicy Three-Bean Soup

Lately, I’ve been all about making soup.  I’ll post some of the other recipes as soon as I have the time, but this one, co-created by my husband, is so easy to tell you about that I would have no excuse for not getting it up right away.  😉  Easy to write up, easy to make — throw stuff in the crock pot, let it make your house smell fabulous all day long!  We like the bean combination that we used, but I bet it would work with whatever dry beans you have in your cupboard.  This is also an easy and tasty way to add some whole grains, as well as legumes and veggies, to your diet.

  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup Great Northern beans
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dill
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup bulgur

Put the beans in the crockpot.  Chop the carrots and celery and add them to the pot.  The jalapenos we just seeded and quartered, and we just peeled the onion and cut it into large slices.  Add those to the pot, then add the garlic and bay leaves.  We used about 1 teaspoon of dill and about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

I recommend doing everything up to this point the night before you want to make the soup, since it’s going to need to cook most of the day.  Then, when you get up in the morning, toss in your ham bone and 8 cups of water and turn it on high for an hour.   After an hour, turn it down to low and let it cook for 9 or 10 more hours.  So, if you have to get up and go to work in the mornings, add the bone and water and turn it on first thing, then turn it down right before you leave for work.  At my house, my husband turned it on right before he left for work, and I got up and turned it down an hour later.  Anyway, after it’s cooked for another 9 or 10 hours, remove the ham bone (leave the ham that falls off the bone) and the bay leaves (if you can find them).  Turn the crock pot to its “warm” setting (if it has one) and stir in the bulgur.  This will thicken your broth to give you a nice, thick, hearty bean soup.  Give it about 30 minutes to an hour, then dig in!

Fried Chickpeas

Ok, another super easy, incredibly tasty, and extremely healthful snack recipe for you!  I had to find something else to do with the many cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in my pantry (no one can eat THAT much hummus!), and I just discovered another really great cookbook by Mark Bittman — The Food Matters Cookbook.

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • seasonings

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then spread them on a towel on the counter and blot them dry.  If you don’t get them as dry as you can, they won’t turn out crispy.   So be gentle, but try to get them very dry.  Now, in an oven safe skillet, like a cast iron, combine the chickpeas and the olive oil, coating the chickpeas in the oil and then spreading them out in a single layer in the pan.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.

When you pull them out of the oven, you want to season them while they are still hot.  Some suggestions for seasonings — cumin, or curry powder, or plain old garlic salt.  These are very, very, tasty.  The toddler LOVED them.  🙂

Cereal Fruit Bars

Wow — a new post!  Sorry it’s been so long.  I hope the new recipes I’m going to be sharing are worth the wait.  These first few, at least, are super easy.

  • 1 to 1.5 cups dried fruit (any kind — raisins, cranberries, apricots, plums, whatever you like)
  • 2 Tbs honey (I used local honey for some added anti-allergy benefit)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • fruit juice or water as needed
  • 1 cup granola or other whole grain cereal

Ok, this is super easy.  Place the dried fruit, honey, and olive oil in your food processor.  Blend until you have a smooth mixture.  You may have to add a little fruit juice or water if you are using closer to 1.5 cups of fruit, but I used closer to 1 cup of fruit and didn’t have to add any.  If you need to stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor, do so.

Once the fruit mixture is nice and smooth, scrape it into a bowl and fold in the cup or so of cereal.  Mix until the cereal is evenly distributed, then spread into a small glass casserole dish — 8X8 would almost be too big.  Now refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut into squares and enjoy!  I like to wrap the squares individually in plastic wrap for a quick grab-and-go snack, or to keep in my purse as a treat for my son.

Smoky Potatoes

These potatoes are pretty simple, and have been a big hit with everyone who has tried them.  Don’t be scared of the pepper — rather than making the dish hot, it adds an interesting smoky flavor.






  • 2 pounds yellow or white potatoes (Yukon Golds, for example)
  • 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounce block of  mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 4 ounces olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and scrub your potatoes, then cut them into small dice.  Cut the cheeses into dice as well, then place cheese and potatoes into a large bowl.  Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Now spread the mix out into a 9×13 baking dish and pour in the 1/2 cup of milk or cream.

Here comes the one part that can be a pain.  Cut one end off of the Serrano and scrape out the core and all the seeds.  I used a baby spoon, but if you don’t have one, a butter knife will probably do the trick.  You want to keep the rest of the pepper intact, as it has to hold liquid during the baking process.  Once you have the pepper cleaned out (and make sure you get all the seeds — that’s where the heat lives!), snug it down in the middle of the potato dish, using the potatoes to keep it upright.  Now fill it with olive oil, about 3 Tablespoons.

Bake for about 1 hour, until the potatoes start to brown.  Once you pull it out of the oven, use a pair of tongs to gently grab the pepper and drizzle the oil from it as evenly as possible over the potatoes.  Now you’re ready to eat!

Enchilada Casserole

I grew up in the Southwest, eating a lot of Mexican food. As a result, I’m very picky about my Mexican food. However, while I grew up eating a lot of enchiladas, I’m not very good at cooking them! They are time consuming and difficult to get right. This casserole gives you the enchilada-y goodness without the hassle. It’s very simple and very tasty! Thanks to my mom for passing it along to me!

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can nacho cheese soup
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup chicken bullion or chicken broth
  • corn tortillas

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cube and cook the chicken breasts on the stove top. In a bowl, mix the chicken, enchilada sauce, nacho cheese soup, onion, olives, and chicken broth.

Now you’re going to layer your enchilada casserole like a lasagna. Pour 1/3 of your enchilada mixture into an 8×8 casserole dish, then top with corn tortillas that you’ve torn into bite-sized pieces. Cover that with cheese, then spread another 1/3 of your mixture on top of that. Add a layer of torn-up corn tortillas, the last of the enchi mixture, and lots of cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. YUM. Enchilada-y goodness without the hassle!

When I’m doing a layered casserole like this, I often find it helpful to pour the liquidy portion of the dish into a large Pyrex measuring cup. That way, I know exactly how much I have, and how much I should use for each layer. I usually use less for the first layer, so I can use more for the last layer, since the liquid will seep down from the top to the bottom. You don’t want to get to the top layer and realize you don’t have enough liquidy stuff left, so err on the side of caution, and use a measuring cup. If you have 3 layers, and 3 cups of liquid, use slightly less than 1 cup for the first two layers, and the rest for the top layer.

Mom says you can use lots of different kinds of meat in this, besides chicken — leftover pulled pork, for example.  Experiment to see what you like best.

You could also add a small can of diced green chilies for a little extra flavor and a hint of heat.

Oh So Simple Burgers

Do you have 1 pound of ground beef and an onion? Ok, you’ll need burger buns and salt and pepper and trimmings too. This recipe makes two generous burgers or three more moderate ones.

  • 1 pound ground beef (not too lean)
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper
  • buns and whatever trimmings you like
You’re going to want a large baking pan with roasting racks for this one. (I’m not even sure I’m using the right words here, but heck, a rectangular cake pan with some wire racks is all you need)

Turn on the broiler in your oven, and place the rack so that your patties will be about 3-4 inches from the burner. You need to take into account the height of whatever you are using to broil them in. Then pan and racks I use are about 2 inches tall, so I set mine as close to 5 inches from the coil as I can.

Mince half an onion as fine as you can. Place your beef in a bowl and drop the onion on top of it. Sprinkle on a respectable amount of salt and pepper, according to your personal tastes. Gently mix everything together. Your goal here is not to make goo of the meat, just to get everything kind of introduced. If you have some onion left over, that’s fine. Gently form the meat into patties and place them on the racks in your roasting pan.  Be careful not to over-work the meat.  If you have left-over onion, simply sprinkle it on top of your patties.

Place the hamburger-cooking-apparatus in the oven and broil for about 4 minutes, then flip the burgers and cook for another 4 minutes. If you like your burgers slightly better done than pink-in-the-middle, cook for 5 minutes on each side.

If you’re looking for a cheeseburger, I would add the cheese less than a minute from when you want to pull it out, since the broiler will melt it VERY fast.

I know this recipe seems extremely simple, but I promise that it is quite tasty, and it is a jumping-off point for more complex flavors, if you like, such as adding Ranch flavoring, or even something so simple as adding Worcestershire sauce to the mix.

Thanks, “How to Cook Everything!” (my go-to cookbook)

Italian Crusted Smothered Chicken

Easy, quick, and tasty — who could ask for more?

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Italian dressing
  • bread crumbs (they even make Italian herb bread crumbs if you want some extra Italian in your dinner)
  • 3 large mushrooms
  • 3 slices provolone cheese

Marinate your chicken breasts in the Italian dressing. Thirty minutes will do it, but if you have time to give it an hour or two, so much the better.

When you’re just about ready to get started, chop up your mushrooms. Pour some bread crumbs onto a plate. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms, then stir them around really well to get them coated, then push them to one side of the skillet to leave room for the chicken. Add a little more oil in the empty side of the skillet. While the mushrooms are beginning to cook, bread your chicken breasts in the crumbs and place them in the skillet, top side down.

Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes on that side, then flip and cook for about another 3 minutes. You’ll be wanting to move your mushrooms around a little during this. After you’ve flipped and cooked your breasts for another 3 minutes, scoop the mushrooms onto the breasts and cover with the provolone cheese. I found it took 3 slices to completely cover the chicken and mushrooms. Now, cover, reduce heat SLIGHTLY and cook for another 3 minutes.

Make sure your chicken is done, either with a meat thermometer, or by cutting into the thickest part of the chicken and making sure it isn’t all pink inside.

This goes well with any of the veggies I’ve previously posted. Tonight it was served with Brussels sprouts.

Handheld Spinach Dip

My husband has been so good for me in so many ways. For one thing, because of him, I’ve tried so many foods that I always thought were…well, gross. 😉 The ABCs, if you will — Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and Cooked spinach, to name a few of the recipes I’ve posted here that you wouldn’t have caught me eating 10 years ago. 😉 I’m still not up for oysters, but at least I was willing to try spinach dip, and thus was born this little treat.

Basically, mix up some spinach dip and then bake it in little frozen pie crusts. Oh, my goodness. It’s rich and decadent and tasty!

  • a 12oz bag of frozen spinach
  • an 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 6 to 8 ounces grated cheese (I use a hot cheese, like pepperjack or jalapeno)
  • a little bit of cumin
  • minced garlic
  • butter
  • frozen pastry shells like the ones seen above

Normally, I use fresh produce, rather than frozen. But for this, frozen works just as well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Next, if you bought the type of frozen pastry shells that I did, they need to thaw a bit before you bake them (mine said 20 minutes). So take them out of their packaging and separate them, then just leave them alone to thaw while you do everything else.

If your cream cheese has just come out of the fridge, you’ll want to microwave it for 30 seconds or so to get it nice and soft. Set it aside — we’ll need it soon.

Get out your spinach, open the bag, and dump the spinach into a colander. Run some hot water over it, then go chop your half onion up. Squeeze the water out of the spinach, then run some more hot water in it and let it sit. Melt some butter in a pan, then saute your onion and garlic in the butter. Sprinkle with some cumin, but be careful — it’s a powerful spice! Don’t cook this too long, as you don’t want your onions to be total mush by the time the whole dish is done. Just a couple of minutes ought to do it.

Grate your cheese. I really prefer a hot cheese with this, but if you don’t like hot, you could use plain jack or even mozzarella.

Keep running hot water over your spinach and then squeezing it out until most of the hard lumpy bits have gone. Then squeeze out most of the remaining water and dump the spinach into a bowl. Add the onion, the cheese, and the cream cheese. Mix very well.

By this point your shells are probably thawed. Poke a couple of holes in the bottom of each of them with a fork, then spoon the spinach dip into the shells. The box of shells I bought had eight in it. I only made six, but there was more than enough to make eight. I just didn’t think we could eat that many, so I greased a small casserole dish and scooped the rest of the dip into that, and baked it along side my little Handheld Spinach Dips. Bake for 30 minutes or so.

You’re going to want to let these cool a little before trying to take them out of their tiny pie tins, or the shells will break. I hope you did what I did with the extra dip, because I recommend using this waiting time to eat some of the spare dip on some pita chips or Italian bread.

I got the basics of the spinach dip recipe from my sister-in-law, another fantastic cook, and then kinda tweaked it to make it my own. Thanks, girl!


My sister-in-law’s original recipe called for a can of Rotel tomatoes. So, if you like spicy, use the hot cheese and add the tomatoes. I had just never had tomatoes in my spinach dip, so I skipped them this time, until I knew the recipe a little better.

And hey, if you’re worried about the calories or fat in this dish, you can always use Neufchatel cheese instead of the cream cheese. It has 1/3 less fat, and you can also use a low or nonfat mozzarella. (Personally, I say you’re probably not going to eat these every day, and a little decadence now and then is what makes life worth living!)