Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Granola YUM

 Here's another awesome granola recipe to try.  True to form, this recipe is changed from the original.   I got the original recipe from Deb's awesome ward cookbook.

1 large container quick oats (42 oz)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar

Mix together in a large bowl, then add:
1 can sweetened condensed milk or honey
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir until everything is well coated.  Be sure to eat some of the balls that form.  My 3 year old likes to help me taste test.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes.  The granola should be turning golden brown when it's done.

Fun variations:
Stir in a box of corn flakes with the cooked granola, to simulate a popular breakfast cereal.  Or add nuts, dried fruit or coconut.  That's part of the fun with granola.  You can either eat as is or dress it up to suit your personal tastes. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chocolate Pudding Garnish

For Family Home Evening last night, my 6 year old daughter made chocolate pudding.  Nothing special, just the instant boxed kind.  We used the blender to mix it up.  Much easier than using the whisk or beaters.  We topped it off with whipped topping (also the boxed kind, great stuff to have in your food storage) and grated chocolate for a garnish.  The garnish was the coolest part, I thought.  I had the kids ask Grandma for a Hershey's Kiss (since I'm all out of chocolate).  They came back with two, but I seriously only used one to top 9 dessert cups.  How awesome is that!  I just grated the chocolate kiss over each dessert with a cheese grater.  ~Lena   

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cinnamon Spice Muffins

Here is the latest muffin creation from my kitchen (adapted from Deb's basic muffin recipe).

Cinnamon Spice Muffins
4 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil

Sift together dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients.  Mix just until everything's moist.  Spoon batter into muffin tins.  I love using my ice cream scoop for this!  I like to even the muffins out so I get 2 dozen muffins.  Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 15 minutes.  Sweet and spicy, quick and easy.  Perfect for a busy family like ours. ~Lena

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Scones

My little piano student (with anticipation on his face) told me this morning that his family had chocolate chip scones out in the van.  He said they had little scones and medium-sized scones, but no big scones.  The scones sounded so delicious, that this afternoon, after I was done teaching, I promptly made my own version of chocolate chip scones.  If I were to have my druthers, I would have used mini chocolate chips, but since there were none to be had in the house, I made do with the regular chocolate chips that I had on hand.

They turned out just like I expected.  Very light, slightly sweet, chocolately biscuit.  These are English-type scones that are baked and are like a biscuit, not the scones that are fried (fried bread) from the West. 

Chocolate Chip Scones
4 cups flour (I used half white and half white wheat)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the margarine until the mixture is crumby.  Add eggs and milk. Mix until the mixture just comes together.  Add the chocolate chips, just until they get mixed in.  On a floured surface, pat out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with a floured cutter.  We chose a small heart shape to be in keeping with Valentine's day.  The dough is a bit sticky, so have flour on hand to dip the cutter in when needed.  Place cut scones on a baking sheet, so the scones are not touching.  Bake at 400 degrees F. for 8-15minutes or until the edges start to lightly brown.  The baking time will depend on the size of your scones.    Serve warm with our without glaze.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons evaporated milk.

Mix together until smooth.

Drizzle on scones after they have been out of the oven for a few minutes (the glaze then won't slide off as quickly).  MMmmmm!  This is a great snack for a February afternoon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Resolutions Resolved Part 2

The Budget
Do you have a dream that you want to accomplish or a place that you want to visit, but feel like you don't have the money to spare?  What do you want to do in this life?  Are you limited by your financial situation?
A lot of us will say, "I just need more money," when in fact, we may just need to reevaluate our spending.  You might be surprised when you do so.  So many of our "needs" are really just "wants."

I don't really have anything new to divulge about budgets.  One of the best resources that has helped me, is a booklet called "One For the Money" by Marvin J. Ashton.  He covers 12 points that can help us manage our money better.

1.  If we can pay a tenth of our income to God, who we cannot see, we will be better able to pay our "creditors" (those to whom we owe money) whom we can see with the 90% left to us.  Malachi 3:10 has such a wonderful promise, that each of us can try.  I have been blessed again and again for paying my tithing each month. 
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." 

2.  You need to be in control of your money and how you spend it and not let your impulses and whims at the store dictate how you will spend your money. 

3.  Sometimes you have to say "no, we can't get that now."  It doesn't mean we won't ever get that item, we just can't get it now.  I love this Mormon Messages video on this topic with Elder Robert D. Hales.

4.  It is important to create a budget for each month, and then stick to it.  Emergencies will arise, and the budget may need to be adjusted, but as long as you stay within your means, and not go into debt for regular expenditures, you will succeed.

5.  Instead of giving the kids an "allowance", have them earn it, with the jobs they do around the house each week.  This teaches them to earn money by working for it.

6.  Let kids spend their own money.  If they make mistakes in  how they spend it, let them make mistakes.  It's all part of the learning process. 

7.  Set family goals, where everyone can contribute.  When I was in middle school, we planned a trip to Disneyland as part of our summer vacation.  To help us achieve our goal, we kids decided to make lunches to take to school, instead of buying school lunch.  Then the money that we saved, we put into a ceramic "well" that Mom had above the sink.  I remember my lunches not being all that great that year, probably because I was the one who made them, but I also remember the satisfaction of working together as a family for a shared goal, which we were able to achieve.
8.  Learning new skills will not only bless you, it can help you bless the lives of others.  And in the event of a job loss, having up to date skills makes you more employable.

9.  Work towards paying off your mortgage early.  Think of the security owning a home will give you and your family!

10. If your husband, or you, were to die tomorrow, what would be the source of income for your family?  Having insurance isn't just nice, it's a necessity.  Two of my aunts lost husbands at relatively young ages.  They had young children at home to care for.  Term life insurance is inexpensive and easy to get, especially if you are in your 20's or 30's.  I say get as much as you can on the breadwinner in your family.  I don't want to have to run out and get a job if my husband dies.  I have young children at home, and I would prefer to stay at home until they leave for college.
11. Become educated on how your investments, bank accounts etc. work.

12. Be prepared with food storage and emergency preparedness.  These are a couple blog posts in and of themselves.  If you have food storage and emergency supplies, when disaster strikes, at least you have something to eat and the things you need to take care of your family.

Another excellent resource is    Here you can find the basics to get started, or the pep talk you need to continue living within your means.

It has been very exciting to work towards these goals with our family.  Becoming debt free, living within our means and working towards paying off our house and saving for college and retirement is an exciting journey we can all take.  When we try to live providently, meaning-in the Lord's way-then the Lord will bless us and our families, and we will find peace even in the midst of the storms that swirl around us.