November 19, 2014

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

I grew up watching very little TV.  We never had cable and my mom always found different ways to entertain me.  Most of my time was spent in the kitchen with her baking.  I'd "help her do the dishes" or "roll out pie dough".  

"Doing the dishes" was really just me playing in the sink.  I wasted more soap and water than you can imagine, but it entrained me for hours!  And "rolling out pie dough"....I think that's what started my dough addiction.  After mom was done with the real pie, she'd give me the leftover dough to make my own.  With the rolling pin and cookie cutters from my play dough kit, I'd sit at the counter until whatever I was making was just right. (Shhh...don't tell, but of course I sampled a little along the way!)

A couple years ago I discovered the Food Network (aka. the greatest television show on earth!)  My mom and I are obsessed with Pioneer Woman.  We watch every episode when we're at my grandmas.  I  have to make fun of my mom a little though... For some odd reason, she always calls the host "Medicine Woman".  Sorry Ree...for the record one of us remembers your name!  

A couple visits ago, we were watching an episode and came across this Strawberry Oatmeal Bar recipe.  Ree, you're killing us!!  We sit and eat the whole pan in one night!  They're delicious!  We even tried using grape jelly once, but take my word for it, strawberry is still the best.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

by Simple and Sweet Creations
  • 1 3/4 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10-12 ounces strawberry preserves (or other flavor)
In a standing mixer, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle half the mixture in a greased 9x13 pan and lightly pack.
Spread preserves evenly over the surface.
Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and lightly pat down.
Bake at 350º F for 30 to 40 minutes or until light golden brown.

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November 18, 2014

Potato Soup

Every year, usually sometime in October, my great (literally great) grandma comes up for a visit.  It works out perfectly as my mom could use an extra hand peeling and canning potatoes.  We always seem to plant way too many!  A couple years ago we had over 500 pounds!!  Yes, 500 pounds of potatoes for four people!  Of course we shared with family, friends, and neighbors.

But seriously, what do you do with that many potatoes?  No matter what you do -mashed, boiled, baked, fried- they become old after a while.  My mom tried canning them.  Everyone else loved them, but they weren't my favorite.  They were a little soft for my liking.  She also froze several batches of potato soup.  Let me tell you, nothing is better than going in the freezer on a cold day and pulling out a container of potato soup.  Just heat it up and lunch/dinner is served. My kind of cooking!

Since we had so many potatoes my mom offered to send home soup with my grandma.  Of course she accepted!  Who would turn down potato soup!?  My grandma has a one-of-a-kind sense of humor. One morning, my mom went out to feed the horses and left her in the kitchen peeling potatoes.  When she came back in, my grandma was holding a sign that read "Will Work For Food."  

To this day we still laugh and tell her she'll have to help if she wants her share of the garden.  Every year she keeps coming back, so the labor must be worth the reward!

Potato Soup

6 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces evaporated milk

Combine first seven ingredients in a large pot.  Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring often.  
Reduce heat to a simmer and add evaporated milk.  
Cover and cook 30 minutes, stirring frequently, not allowing the soup to boil.
Allow to cool slightly before pureeing in a food processor or blender. 

Copyright © 2014, Grace George. Simple and Sweet Creations. All Rights Reserved.

Click for printable recipe.

November 17, 2014

Chicken Parmesan

I am way too organized.  It's actually becoming a problem.  What!? How's that a problem?!  Let me explain... I organize my closet in rainbow order by style/season.  Papers and worksheets are all in chronological order.  I make lists for nearly everything...weeks in advance.  Going on a trip? Weeks before I'll make a list of things I want to pack.  Yes, even down to the number of socks and underwear. Things to Do, Weekly Menu, Grocery Lists, Dinner Options...I could make a list of all the lists I make but I think you get the point.  

Last week I was looking at my Dinner Options list trying to come up with a menu for the week.  What haven't we had in a while?  You'd think with a list of over forty choices we'd rarely eat the same thing. WRONG!  Most of the time it's the same ten or so things.  

This week I challenged myself to do all things we hadn't had in the past two weeks.  We had fish one night and stew beef another.  But the best was Friday's meal.  Chicken Parmesan!

I can't tell you the last time I made Chicken Parm.  Way too long!! Traditionally, the dish has a bad rep, but this version is waistline friendly!  Just what we'll be needing with Thanksgiving right around the corner!

Chicken Parmesan

  • 4 thin chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • Spaghetti or spaghetti squash (optional)
In a shallow dish combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Place egg whites in a separate dish.
Dip chicken in egg then breadcrumb mixture. Repeat for a thicker breading.
Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Lightly spray tops of chicken with cooking spray.
Bake at 450º F for 20 minutes. Flip and bake an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
Top with sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly.

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November 12, 2014

Stew Beef

Would you believe it was 65º here yesterday?  Yes, 65º F in Ohio in November!  But don't get too's supposed to be 35º and snowing Thursday.  Please tell me how that is possible.  

We just started our wood burning stove in the basement.  I think I'm going to move to the basement!  If you've never experienced the warmth that comes from a fire....heaven.  That's the only word that gives it justice.  It's just amazing.  

I usually take my laptop down and write papers or work on other homework while standing by the fire.  Yes, I have to stand by it.  If I sat down I'd probably fall asleep!  (Sorry...analysis essays usually don't have the most thrilling topics)

The past couple of nights we've even eaten dinner downstairs.  A warm meal by the warm fire...nothing is better than that! Especially when its a bowl of Stew Beef and noodles/mashed potatoes.  

In the morning just throw all the ingredients in a crock pot and, by dinnertime, its ready to go!  Our family of four usually has leftovers too.  My dad loves to take the extra beef with a little sauce and make a sandwich for lunch.  Never tried it myself, but he claims it's delicious.

Crock Pot Stew Beef

by Simple and Sweet Creations
  • 1-2 pounds stew beef
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • Mashed Potatoes or Noodles
Combine stew beef and soup in crock pot.
Cook on low all day.
Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

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November 7, 2014

Pumpkin Squares

Every time we make these pumpkin squares I have to take a plate to my neighbors.  They absolutely love them!  I made them for my bake sale and they were a hit.  Some people even asked to buy a whole tray!

Looks like someone sampled these already...

Yes, my neighbor was one of those people.  I saved him two (large!) pumpkin squares too!  Obviously that wasn't enough...

...don't mind if I do!
His obsession with pumpkin squares started about a year ago.  While we were on vacation, he offered to watch our horses and cats and get the mail.  How sweet :) To thank him for coming over, my mom and I made his family a tray of pumpkin squares. 

Pictures took a little too long
Now let me tell batch makes quite a few pumpkin squares.  They're great to make for large groups, parties, or bake sales.  I think they returned the tray in two days...completely gone!  They're that addictive.  BEWARE!

Pumpkin Squares

by Simple and Sweet Creations
    • 1 cup oil
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3 ounces cream cheese
    • 3/4 stick butter
    • 1 tablespoon milk
    • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
    Combine first eight ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer. Pour into a greased floured jelly roll pan.
    Bake at 350* F for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
    Beat remaining five ingredients in a standing mixer. Add more powdered sugar if frosting seems too runny.
    Frost cooled cake and cut into squares.

    Omit frosting and sprinkle cooled cake with powdered sugar.

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