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Recipe Updated with journaling of their story in the family:

March 4, 2019: One of the first things I’d cooked in over a week, my blue cotton granola bars, – and the littlest who’s not little any more said, “It’s the best ever.” Maybe it was the sprinkling of pecan dust. Maybe it was just because mama cooked – and the world righted itself – and my soul sighed a restful sigh, sinking into this – a sweet part of what home is. #homeis #granolabars #bluecottongranolabars #lovemyboys #theyreallmyfavorite

September 24, 2018: For his birthday, the littlest turning 18 didn’t want cake or chocolate mousse. That was hard for me – to not bake him something. Then, last night he said, “Make the good stuff, Mom. Make your granola bars” – and I did!

Original:

When I make my Granola Bars, a lot of things come to mind: chocolate, smiles, happy breakfasts, happy afterschool tummies, pain, lots of pain, moderation, fiber, mis-diagnosis, God’s Great Mercies! My second son tried to convince me that the Bible does not pertain to everything.  I think I need to create a name for a theme, kind of like my Simply Saturday or Scratching Post – but another theme where I can tell a story about an unlikely place biblical principles apply(please feel free to leave any suggestions). My Granola Bars are like that, an unlikely desert that taught us about faith and self-discipline. 

Just to clear this up from the start, if you add raisins to your Granola Bars, you have Quaker Oats Granola Bars.  If you add anything in my list below, ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE, well, then we’ll call them Blue Cotton Granola Bars.

Where can one find God in a Granola Bar? Well, not really in the Granola Bar itself, but in the journey the Granola Bar took with my family. One of my boys developed a stomach ache in the first grade.  In the 3rd grade, we took him to a renowned children’s hospital. They, ahem, studied his stool sample and said, “More Fiber.” (I saw the sample, but it did not send red flags in my mind). They recommended 5 grams of fiber + their age. 

I was a mom with a mission, a quest – anything to make my little guy feel better. So I found recipes, including a fiber-licious recipe on the back of a box of Quaker Oats. And I commenced to fill my little guy with fiber one recipe at a time.  My boys dislike raisins, so Chocolate Chip Granola Bars was the lure to more fiber consumption.

My boys love my Granola Bars!  A box of Quaker Oats Granola bars average around $2.75.  Five boys could go through 2+ boxes a day (breakfast, before sports, or after school snack to destroy those grumpy Hungries). That can really add up. Homemade Granola Bars cost less and were more filling.

However, the stomach ache persisted and increased.  Finally, in the 6th grade, with my son struggling in school, running like someone’s grandma on the soccer field, and bearing a haunted look on his face, I was angry enough to punch a hole in a wall.  After a battery of x-rays and ultrasounds, the pediatrician determined it was all in his head. We were flummoxed.  Was our child lying to us? Was he just making it up? Did he really just not want to play soccer or do his school work, so this was his “out.”

I had prayed.  However, I had not reached my emotional bottom, until one afternoon. If I had steam pipes, steam would have spouted out of my head. Combine not-quite  but something like fury at the unknown, confusion, love, helplessness and every other emotion within any pore of my being somehow creating an emotional implosion that literally dropped me to my knees. 

I have learned on two occasions that this experience is a righteous-riled-up-ness.  This occurs when you are walking in faith with full confidence God is taking care of everything. You speak your faith.  You walk that faith. In these situations, God just wants us to stand, believe and wait.  There is something Godly in the waiting. However, sometimes God’s plan requires movement on our part – a call to action. I dropped to my knees in prayer, crying – out of confusion, love for my son, and emotional short-circuiting. I think I was emptied of all inside of me at that point.

Three days later, I was talking to a parent at my child’s school and for some reason, I told her about my son’s stomach problems. Have you every done that? Just spill an emotional story all the while wondering, “Why in the world am I saying this?” Well, sometimes it is a God thing. Her daughter had a similar problem and she gave me the name of a physician who treated stomach issues more aggressively than the children’s hospital we had attended previously. Those laborers I pray for?  Well, that day she was one of God’s laborers sent to point me in a direction.

This physician scoped my son and identified the issue.  Not a fiber issue at all.  He had esophagitis.  Some people have severe acid reflux while others have severe stomach pain, severe enough to make a man think he is having a heart attack.  Our son had lived for 5 years with a level 7 to 9 out of 10 stomach pain. Caffeine, mint and . . . chocolate are main contributors to this. And I was throwing chocolate into as many fiber recipes as I could get my hands on to increase his fiber intake – and making his pain worse the entire time.A mis-diagnosis years earlier had set us on a path that made the problem worse.

 He took Nexium for a couple of years and monitored his diet.  He had to rebuild his ability to run.  His grades went up.  He was an all district soccer player in the 8th grade. His teacher’s commented on the radically changed young man, the young man who looked them in the eye and greeted them in the morning.  A young man who engaged and led class discussion.  A young man who led his group presentation without much help, earning a commendation from a teacher who rarely gave those commendations.  The haunted expression faded. My joyful son re-emerged from the darkness in which he had increasingly existed.

Thankfully, God sent a laborer across our path to point out the road we needed to take. Sometimes, God wants us to stand in Faith for healing without physicians.  Sometimes, He wants our healing to come through physicians.

My son has learned the self-discipline of moderation.  He has also learned the power of God.  He asked God to heal him during a healing service. Through the years, I have come to believe that sometimes God requires self-discipline of us to maintain healing. My son is Nexium free. He can eat chocolate now. As you know, teens like being able to make choices, to have control with training wheels in their lives. His diet is one of those areas that allows him to practice being a man about his choices.  He has done a marvelous job!

I had to learn something new – how to cook without chocolate. Some of you can imagine how hard that can be.  I probably made scrambled eggs with chocolate before his diagnosis! An entire new recipe world opened up to me. I embarked on a quest for the perfect white cake recipe. I learned to cook with white chocolate. I learned to make Granola Bars chocolate-free – and I have those suggestions below. I learned to – gasp !-  celebrate without chocolate. We are no longer a chocolate-free zone, though. We are . . . balanced, more diverse in our ingredients.

Today turned into a Chocolate day! One of my sons asked for my Granola Bars.  Everyone unanimously agreed that today’s Granola Bars should include chocolate. Remember, balance? Self-Discipline?.  I made a caramel cake for his birthday last week. So today? Chocolate!  Won’t you join us? Just do not eat too many!

My little guy did the stirring. Mix the following:

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

one 8-ounce container vanilla yogurt

2 egg whites

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. milk or 1/2 and 1/2

2 tsp. vanilla

Stir in the following:

1 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Gently turn

3 Cups Quaker Oats

At least one Cup Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Chips, raisins, Caramel Chips or cran-raisens, gummies worms, apricots, pineapple, M&Ms, Heath Bars crunched up.

Update addition: Sprinkle before baking with pecan dust. Pecan dust is made by spinning pecans in a food processor until they are of a pecan dust- like consistency, which is larger than ground

Bake in a 9x 12 dish at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

 What kind of mood?  A healthy kick-off to the day? A play hug after school? A cool send-off for after-school activities? This is one recipe that allows safe play with successful results! Choose your ingredients with care, though!

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These are not my grandmother’s Salmon Croquettes – because she did not make them.  Nobody cooked like my grandmother.  There a few recipes, though, that are hers that when served – are 100% grandmothers right down to the eye-rolling, cannot-resist it taste.

During Lent, grandmother would make Salmon Croquets with a little pink sauce.  They were one of my favorite childhood meals – a Friday night meal.  However, I have never been able to master the skillet Salmon Croquette.  Until one day, Paul Dean, kitchen angel, sent me a message from my grandmother: “Use the Deep Fryer, Darlin’ ” (funny how my grandmother never said “darlin,’ ” but I imagine heaven changes people – and apparently gives them an even more southern accent)

And I did!  I rummaged through recipes trying to figure out where I always went wrong (crumbling, grease filled disappointment) – and, ladies, here it is – and, yes, Paula Dean, the secret is in the sauce (not Paula’s).

Salmon Croquettes:

2 Cans Salmon, flaked

2 eggs (one if you use less bread crumbs)

1 1/2 Cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Mix Bread Crumbs (the blue bag)

1/4 Cup Parsley

1/4 Cup Celery

1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese (My grandmother is shaking her pointing finger at me calling me a 21st Century upstart)

1/4+ milk to soften (until you can pat mixture into a hamburger sized patty)

Now, ladies, here is another key secret to successful Salmon Croquets. Refrigerate – reducing breakage while deep frying.

I recommend a Fry Baby, but go larger if you’re like me and have 5 sons. 

Deep fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. 

You can either go to The Secret in the Sauce here or try the Secret in my Sauce further down.  Maybe you just ought to eat the one while reading the other.  That would probably be best.

The true secret to so many sauces and recipes can be found in the 1954 Cissy Gregg’s Cookbook and Guide to Gracious Living.  A lot of my heart-stopping recipes are from Cissy (Hot Brown, Egg Nog,  Charlotte Russe and so much more).  But since I cannot keep a secret – I’ll share the Secret to the Sauce:

First you make a Bechamel Sauce

1/3 Cup butter (6 tablespoons)

1/2 medium-sized sliced onion, minced

1/3 Cup flour

3 Cups hot milk

1 tsp. salt

A dash of red pepper

A couple sprigs of parsley

a dash of nutmeg

Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan.  Add onions and cook slowly until a light brown.  Add flour and blend until the flour makes a smooth paste but of course the onion minces are still in it.  Add milk and other seasons, stirring constantly and briskly at first until the sauce is thick and smooth.  Sissy Gregg recommends you strain it.  I did not.

To turn this delicious Bechamel sauce into a Mornay sauce you do the following:

Add 2 egg yolks

1/2 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese

1 tablespoon butter

Heat the Bechamel sauce and combine with egg yolks.  Stir constantly and remove from the stove as soon as it starts to boil.  When hot and thick add cheese and the butter.  The sauce must not boil or it will curdle.

This saucy sauce is used for many delicious dishes, including my hometown favorite, the Kentucky Hot Brown.  Or just drop a dollop on your morning hard-boiled eggs. 

When the sauce is finished, spoon over Salmon Croquets. I just tossed some radishes, squash, zucchini and spanish onions with my Aunt Joyce’s Salad Dressing – oh, this dressing is from heaven! – But I’m not sharing it today.  I’ll share it next week.  One can only share one secret sauce at a time!

Saucy Salmon Croquets

 

 

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I wish I could take credit for these Chocolate Chip Brownie Delights. I discovered them at my 3rd grader’s Christmas Party.  This must-have recipe was pulled out of thin air the night before by a very creative mom.  I encouraged her to submit it to a contest. She demurred, but shared the information – a magical recipe that has all my sons happy to visit me in the kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Delights are so easy you could almost feel guilty. That guilt evaporates when you see the older ones stealing a few when your back is turned and the younger ones begging for more – the guilt is replaced by a happy heart – the kind of happiness moms find in a variety of ways – a hug from a son,  “I-love-mom” written in the snow – or devouring the cooking and asking for more’!

Recipe: One large Nestles Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Dough.  Slice cookies between 1/4 to 1/2 inch and then cut into 1/3s.  Roll into balls and place in non-stick mini-muffin tins.  Cook according to directions.  (If you want a homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, check out Type A Mommy’s recipe – She claims it’s the BEST  Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ever.

You can either make homemade brownies or buy them pre-made.  I prefer Kroger Bakery Brownies because they are so moist.  Keep in mind that I am focusing on an easy after-school surprise – a no-frazzle approach on those days when I just want to be a happy mom making life a little sweeter for my boys.

I slice the brownies into 1/3s and place on top of the piping hot Chocolate Chip Cups the muffin tin creates through baking.  The heat melts the brownies a bit in a carmelizing kind of way.

Let cool before removing from the tins.  If you remove too soon, they will lose shape and fall apart.

There are many different ways into the hearts of our children.  Some are direct – “I love you.” Or with words of praise about their nobleness, their talents, their hard work, their uniqueness.  Sometimes we love our children invisibly but powerfully – through prayer.  Sometimes, it is indirect – like Chocolate Chip Brownie Delights.

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loaded potatoe soupcc

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – right?  So what did I learn to do when I, um, married a man and had a bunch of sons – learned how to cook some mighty fine fixin’s, that’s what!  Let me tell you, it has not been a cake walk!

My husband could care less about food – and he married the woman who believes to the tips of her toes that all moments are not complete without a food moment!

My oldest son grew into a health-conscious individual whose high nutritional ethical standards could not be tempted with his mama’s cooking (well, the oysters work their magic – and a pint of Marble Slab ice cream). He turned his nose up at the birthday cake I made him a few years ago. Sigh!  He was on a sugar diet.  The next day, I found him devouring my Marble Slab Deep Dark Chocolate with Key lime.  He’d finished his sugar diet.

You have to hide food from the second one.  Mid-night snack?  That’s him.  Left-overs?  Gone before the clock strikes mid-night. He loves it when I cook my yum (or rather Southern Living’s yum) shrimp and pasta or Giada’s grandmother’s spicy shrimp and rice.  Savor?  I don’t really think he knows what anything tastes like.  He inhales his food.  However, he avoids vegetables like a good Charles Dickens novel.

The Joyful one – he just smiles, looks in the oven and asks, “Can Nanny come over and take it out.  It’ll taste so much better if she’ll do that.” I just stand there blinking.  He left me speechless when he asked if I could take Wal-Mart’s frozen lasagna over for Nanny to cook because it would just taste that much better. And then he smiled that great big joyful smile.  No matter what your opinion is, you cannot say that your cooking is better than your MIL.  The stinker had me in check-mate-kitchen style!

The youngest one just wants white sauce (Alfredo)  on everything.  And dipping sauce for his vegetables.  He misses the food from his “old” school.  He cannot stand the new school’s food.  This is the boy who cried when he got in the van after I made him take his lunch on spaghetti day. He loves cereal, pancakes, broccoli and carrots. If I’ve got the sauce – I’m the kitchen queen.  Oh, he adores my mashed potatoes.  I had to give Nanny the recipe so he would eat hers! LOL

 The way to one son’s heart is through a bowl of Loaded Potato Soup – O’Charley Style.  However, since we cannot go to O’Charley’s all the time, I searched for a recipe that would soothe the soup beast within.  About nine  years ago, a lady at church gave me the following recipe.

2 packages Pioneer Brand Country Gravy Mix (instead of 1 cup of water use 1 cup chicken broth)

1 lb. Velveeta cheese

One handful of shredded cheddar cheese

8 to 10 Potatoes, cut in small cubes, simmered until soft

2 cups milk

Bacos

Prepare gravy mix according to directions.  Add 1 lb. velveeta cheese cut up to help melt.  Stir until melted in mixture.  Add 2 cups milk.  Then add the cooked potatoespotatoes. Simmer until warm.  Serve with 1/2 tsp. Bacos sprinkled in the middle.

Whip up a little Loaded Potato Soup and watch those hugs come in! What could be more beautiful, more Simply Saturday!

 

 

 

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coffeecakeccIt’s beginning to look like Christmas – the mantle is decorated, the snowman wreath is on the front door, and the stockings are up. That means it is time for my Grandmother’s Christmas Coffee Cake which can be found coming out of my oven through Valentine’s Day. A teacher’s gift, a Christmas morning staple, and some warm tangible love for my boys’ tummies – that’s Grandmother’s Christmas Coffee Cake.

Cream 1 Stick Butter and 1/2 Cup Butter-flavored Crisco  Baking Stick
Add 1 and 1/2 Cup Sugar
Blend two together until creamy
Add the following mixture 1/3 at a time to the creamy mixture: 2 Cups Sifted Flour, 1 tsp. Baking Powder, 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda.
When mixed, add 3 well-beaten eggs (room temperature)
Next, add 1 Cup Sour Cream

Make a 1 tsp. cinnamon/3 tbsp. sugar mixture. Line 2 loaf pans with wax paper and scoop 1/4 + 1/4 of mixture into the bottom of each loaf. Sprinkle sugar mixture liberally over the batter. Scoop the remaining 1/4 + 1/4 into the loafs, topping of with liberal sprinkling of sugar mixture.

The recipe originally called for an 8-inch bundt cake or tube cake pan, but they were too big for basket gifts and teacher gifts, so for gifts, I use loaf pans (one recipe makes 2 coffee cakes in loaf pans). They freeze great, too, so you can make bunch and store for winter usage!

Bake at 350° for one hour.

From my house to yours, a very Merry Christmas – may this recipe bring to your house the smiles it brings to mine!

 

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Yeah, ladies!  Oysters are the key to a true feast – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and January Fun-feast meal!  The pre-requisite feasting delight is not the must-have turkey and my especially yum dressing or whatever feasty dessert conjured up.I refuse to be shewish and withold the key to Feasting Success from you – though my grandmother would be so tempted to do so!

You know how your children bubble excitement to share a turtle, or slimy worm, or somthing unrecognizable which you truly wish to never see again.  Well, right now, I am so excited – just like my boys are when they present me with what they think are great gifts.  So, even if you feel repugnance, just turn on that Mom-Mode smile and encourage me in my Joy of Feasting Moment.

I have been waiting months to share this with you – and did not want to wait until it came out of the oven on Thanksgiving Day!)

Christmas Oysters (Scalloped Oysters)

From the Cabbage Patch Cookbook (sadly out of print)

 3 pts oysters (2 large fresh containers)

Cracker crumbs (hand crushed) (Zesta Crackers)

2 eggs

1-1/2 Cup half and half

½ Cup oyster liquor

Salt and pepper to taste

½ lb. Butter or margarine

 Cover bottom of baking dish with cracker crumbs.  Put in layers of oysters.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bits of butter.  Repeat until dish is almost full.  Sprinkle cracker crumbs, salt and pepper on top and dot with remaining butter.  Beat eggs with half and half and oyster liquor.  Pour over oysters. (Aunt Joyce and I pour extra half-and-half until you see it just below surface) Bake in moderate oven about 30-45 min.(more like 1 hour) until custard is set and top golden brown(it will soufflé up while in oven and settle down when taken out)

This great Holiday-Feast-Must-Have comes out of the over a lovely looking souffle!  Can it get better than this? I do not think so!

 

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Come join me with my friends, my BFFS, my peeps that I left behind in The Promised Land when I moved out of state.  We created a blog, The Friendship Table, where we can still share recipes for a friendship dinner – the next closest thing to being there. Friends are such gifts from God! 

Here is my desert contribution:

Tres Leche Cake
(MarthaStewart.Com)
Evaporated, condensed, and whole milk are combined in this cake for just the right amount of sweetness. Make the cake up to three days in advance and refrigerate it. It’s traditionally served chilled and topped with whipped cream but is also delicious with chopped pineapple.
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish
100_26296 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can(12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold whites into yolks until almost combined. Gently fold in flour (do not overmix).
Spread batter in prepared dish. Bake until golden and pulling away from sides of dish, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a small knife, scrape skin from top of cake; discard. Cool cake 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the three milks; pour evenly over cake. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
To serve, prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with sugar to soft peaks. Chill cake and cut into squares; serve topped with whipped cream.

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