Banana Oatmeal Muffins

I’ve mentioned before my preferred rules for healthy eating, but something I failed to mention is that I hate wasting food in any way. One issue that’s been nagging me for a few months now came to my attention after buying a box of Quaker Oats instant oatmeal packets. Although I typically get the maple and spice type flavors, this specific time I bought the fruit and cream variety pack.

Ever since I purchased this specific box, I’ve had four packets of banana and cream instant oatmeal sitting in my kitchen cabinets. Determined, I began to do a little research to figure out the best way to prevents this perfectly good food from going to waste. That’s when I had an epiphany…

 

banana-oatmeal-muffins

Despite being a bit dense in true muffin fashion, this recipe somehow managed to be light and airy at the same time. Also, the hint of a cream flavor really makes an impact! Even my picky eater of a husband enjoyed a couple of these for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 packets banana and cream instant oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F)
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all of your dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash your bananas and then add your wet ingredients. Mix well.
  4. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened. If you overmix, you’re risking your muffins becoming far too dense.
  5. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. I recommend to start checking around 12 minutes if your oven cooks a bit on the hotter side.
  7. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on wire rack.

Crunchy Maple & Spice Granola

When deciding on my meals and snacks, I have three major goals.

  1. I like for my food to be healthy and as free from chemicals and preservatives as I can make it.
  2. I like to be as self-sufficient as possible, making whatever I can from scratch.
  3. Cost is a major factor for my tiny family so I need to keep everything budget friendly.

Often all three goals aren’t met with my food. However, I occasionally get lucky like I do with one of my favorite homemade snacks, granola!

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It’s so simple to make and makes a decent amount. I like to store mine in small containers so it’s easy to grab and go, or even to quickly mix into yogurt or cereal.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (honey works as a substitution)

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients until evenly mixed. Spread the mixture out onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for one hour at 250 degrees (F).

Allow to cool to room temperature before storing. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.

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+20 to Cooking!

My Super Budget Meal Plan

As I continue my painful, knee-scraping tumble down my path of chaos, I’ve realized that we need to buckle down on our budget. Our move sucked us dry due to the lack of warning and any move into a new place will cost us as well (U-haul, utility deposits, possible bribery), and I’d prefer to keep from having to borrow money from the family who has already over-extended themselves to help us out.

Step one to buckling down on a budget is to decide where I can cut corners on meals. Since this isn’t an area I can simply cut out, I find it’s best to start here and see how much of the finances are left after. Don’t worry, I’m still doing what I can to keep them healthy and frequent enough. I realize these meals aren’t balanced, but this meal plan is more of a temporary band-aid for our financial issues.

Between my hypoglycemia and my pernicious anemia, it’s best for me to eat on a regular schedule that consists of several small meals throughout the day. I try and pair this with a water schedule in which I set not-annoying-at-all alarms on my phone, which go off every couple of hours for twelve hours. Keep your personal health needs in mind when creating a meal plan and tailor it to your own tastes and budget.  Also, it’s typically a good call not to put yourself in a situation where you’re eating the same food everyday.

The silver lining of a rather cloudy situation is that while we’re staying at the in-laws, my husband is spending most nights at a friend’s house in order to save some money on his commute. During that debacle, he won’t be here to need groceries — instead he’ll simply mooch off them for a change.

meal-plans

So, let me explain this plan a little. First off, I kept dinner rather fluid. While we’re staying with the father-in-law, occasionally dinner is brought home or cooked for the whole family and that gives us an amazing opportunity for some variety in our meals as well as save us a bit of money when buying our own groceries. Also, although most of this appears to be plain, low protein, and a bit repetitive, I swear it’s not as monotonous as it looks. The oatmeal, salad, and yogurt can all be topped with a variety of things to switch up the flavors. From fruits to veggies to berries to nut butters, most meals could be created rather diverse. Oh, and by “cold oatmeal”, I’m actually referring to overnight oats.

Furthermore, I feel it is important to note that the flavor packets in Ramen aren’t the most healthy of choices. I tend to leave them out (my husband uses them for flavoring other dishes, the unhealthy fiend) and toss in soy sauce, vegetables, chicken, or even a hard boiled egg.

The best part about this meal plan is I was able to buy two weeks of food — I could even stretch it to more, if necessary — for less than $90. Yes, you read that right. I was even pleasantly surprised after the cashier rang me up.

Here’s what I bought:

grocery-list

I found this list to be the best way to get a large variety of meals from a small amount of food. Once again, I urge anyone reading this for suggestions to tailor this to your own needs and tastes.

And always eat your fruits and veggies.

Basic Salve Recipe: Herbal Remedies 101

Now that the basics of how balms and salves differ have been covered, we can dig into creating these wonderful, healing items. First, I would like to cover how to make a very basic salve. I’ve used and altered this recipe for several different projects I’ve made and during the course of this herbology series I’ll share some of my favorite recipes!

Before getting to the actual recipe, let’s discuss the different kinds of oils that can be used and how to choose the perfect one for your desired results. You can find sites that will go on and on and on about the different type of oils (also called carrier oils) that can be used, but I’ll cover the five most common here.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Yes, that olive oil. The one you probably use for cooking all the time. EVOO is good for use on dry skin, but can occasionally leave an oily feeling and also has a bit of a scent to it.
  • Avocado oil
    • One of the top recommended oils for effectively relieving the effects of eczema, avocado oil is a great oil for moisturizing.
  • Grape seed oil
    • Grape seed oil is a very light oil that is often used for aging and delicate skin.
  • Coconut oil
    • Everyone and their mother is on the hype train for coconut oil, and salve makers are no exception. Coconut oil leaves a non-greasy feeling and is good for cleansing. It can create a harder salve, almost pushing it more towards a balm, and also needs to be stored in a more temperature controlled environment or else it will get grainy and lumpy. It is still usable after this point, only the salve doesn’t feel as great and is not as visually appealing.
  • Almond Oil
    • My personal favorite, almond oil is used for soothing dry and irritated skin. Another great one for rashes and winter skin.

 

Basic Salve Recipe

  • 1 TBSP herbs (fresh is preferred)
  • 4 TBSP oil
  • 2 TBSP grated beeswax
  • 3-6 drops essential oil (optional)
  1. Stew herbs in a pot, enamel is best, with oil over heat set on low. Stir often to prevent burning because herbs will get very crispy is not watched. Keep this going for 4 to 6 hours. Get your Netflix on.
  2. Strain out herbs with a cheesecloth and return infused oil to the pot.
  3. Stir in beezwax until completely melted and add drops of essential oil, if you’re choosing to use some. To test consistency, dip a spoon and set aside. If too hard , add more oil and if it’s too soft add more wax.
  4. Pour mixture into glass jars and let cool before capping.

 

Once again, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do your research and make sure you are using the right ingredients in the correct way. Some people may have dermatological reactions to certain oils or plants and this should be taken into consideration. Also, this is a good time to remind/inform everyone that some essential oils should not be used by people with certain conditions. For example, pregnant women should avoid basil, thyme, and citronella oils. Please, do your research.

Venison Burgers on Pretzel Buns

With my hunting father-in-law and brother-in-law, we tend to get an influx of fresh and frozen venison. What to do with all this venison?

Homemade burgers!

Before starting my patties, I begin by putting together pretzel buns that are continually big hits in my house. My go-to pretzel bun recipe is from Lady Behind the Curtain.

I then put together my panade mixture. Taking this extra step when making burger patties will keep your burgers from being too dry and/or falling apart. I put two slices of white bread, torn to pieces, and ¼ c milk into a glass casserole dish. A large bowl would work perfectly fine, too.I’ve learned to mix my patties in a casserole dish because once I combine the rest of the ingredients and the meat I’m able to use a fork and divide my patties up equally right in the dish for easy forming.

I then combine the bread and milk together until they form a paste. I then add  two tsp garlic powder, one tsp onion powder, one tbsp Worcestershire sauce, two tbsp olive oil, one tsp dried oregano, and ground pepper to taste into my dish. Finally, I add my one pound of ground venison and mix it all together.

Then, I divided my meat mixture into six even patties and grilled!

Panade Mixture:

  • 2 slices of white bread, torn to pieces
  • ¼ c milk

Meat:

  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Ground pepper to taste

In a large bowl, make panade by combining milk and bread together to make a paste. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Divide the mixture into sixths and make six patties.

+10 to cooking

 

Extra Crispy Southern Fried Chicken

There’s nothing quite like good old fashioned extra crispy Southern fried chicken. But I’m picky about my crispy and Jess is picky about everything else. I somehow managed to find the perfect recipe to meet both of our tastes!

Ingredients:

  • Marinade
    • 4 cups water
    • 1 tbsp kosher salt
    • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 4 pounds of chicken
  • Coating
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (will be split into two different bowls)
    • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 1/2 tbsp onion powder
    • 2 tbsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tbsp baking powder

 

Directions

  1. In a large glass dish or bowl, combine the water, salt, and Worcestershire sauce and mix together. Add chicken and turn to coat; cover and refrigerate to marinate for 20 minutes, turning a few times.
  2.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 ½ cups flour, and half of each garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the remaining flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper, as well as the baking powder, water, egg, and milk.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade (discarding remaining marinade) and drain.
  5. Preheat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees F.
  6. One at a time, dip chicken pieces into flour mixture, then batter mixture, then flour mixture again, making sure each piece is well coated. Stack coated pieces on a plate or baking sheet.
  7. Drop chicken, one piece at a time, into the hot oil. Fry half of the chicken for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, then fry remaining pieces for the same amount of time.  (Note: Stir chicken around hallway through the frying time, so that each piece cooks evenly).
  8. Drain fried chicken for about 5 minutes on paper towels or a wire cooking rack before serving. Season more if desired.

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+10 to cooking

How I Detox

To beat my once a month bloat, every month I mix up an apple cider vinegar detox drink. I drink it daily for a week and have been very happy with the results. In addition to beating the bloat, it also helps clear up my skin! You can’t beat that, can you?

I use a 59 oz bottle and mix…

  • 8 tbsp cloudy apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
    • raw is recommended but I often opt for pasteurized because I have issues with the raw honey clumping up and not mixing in correctly after refrigeration.
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • fill the rest of the bottle up with cold water and shake-shake-shake! Don’t forget to keep it chilled!

I created this recipe after doing quite a bit of research into detox mixes. I combined a lot of the common ingredients that I thought would be most beneficial to my needs. Admittedly, this mix is a little hard to swallow at first, but I did get used to it and it no longer phases me.