Homemade Protein Bars

I have begun a rigorous exercise routine….P90X. It’s hard and requires more calories and protein than I am used to eating. Of course the P90X people sell protein bars for you to eat, but I do not want to pay $15.95 + $5.95 shipping for 12 bars! That’s almost $2 a piece. OUCH! No way! I searched the web and modified a recipe to make my own. They are so good to0. I have been eating one everyday to up my calorie and protein intake. Dallas likes them as well and has been taking them in his lunches. I haven’t calculated out the cost, but I know it’s not $2 each!

Homemade Protein Bars

4 cups oatmeal

3/4 c unsweetened applesauce (I used my homemade applesauce from the freezer)

7 scoops protein powder (I use EAS Vanilla, since they sell it in huge bags at Sam’s Club)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup chia seeds (I got mine from amazon, great source of omega 3, and fiber)

1 cup chunky peanut butter

3 tsp cinnamon

1 cup craisins

Mix everything together. It will be thick. Spread in 9 x 13 pan and press down. Refrigerate for 30 min or so. Cut into 16 bars. Wrap in wax paper. I store mine in the freezer for freshness and pull one out as I need it.

In case you want it:

301 calories

13 g fat

6.5 g fiber

33.5 g carbs

12.4 g sugar

17.6 g protein


Homemade “Sun Dried” Tomatoes

Last week I bought 12 lbs of tomatoes. I was planning on making a whole lot of tomato soup, but silly me forgot to check how much basil I had. I didn’t have enough to make 12 lbs of tomatoes into soup! So I decided to make sun dried tomatoes in the oven with the left overs! I just quartered my tomatoes and removed the seeds by scraping the tomato with my nail. I then placed them on one of my pizza racks that is not solid. I sprinkled them with salt, pepper and italian seasoning and dried (baked) them on the oven at 175° for about 4 hours. Take them out when they are leathery but not brittle. I had to take out a few before the others were done. They are so good and sweet. They taste like a little piece of pizza! A great low calorie, on the go healthy snack that can also be frozen. Use them on salads, pizza or pasta. Check out the before and after photos:

Peanut Butter Balls

Last week I said that I was going to make some peanut butter balls for Lance’s lunches. He loves these little protein balls. They are simple to whip up and store wonderfully in the freezer. I don’t really follow a recipe. I just dump things together to make the consitency of a thick cookie dough.

This batch had:

About 1 cup peanut butter

1/2 c  or so dry milk powder (can use protein powder)

1/2 c or so ground flax (or chopped nuts)

2 T or so honey

Mix them all up and scoop with small cookie scoop. I rolled mine in some crushed apple cinnamon cereal and a few in some nesquik chocolate drink mix to keep the stickiness at bay. Freeze on a cookie sheet until hard then put in a baggie.

Frugal Tip of the Week: Homemade Daily Granite Spray/Cleaner

Being a former health inspector I like to make sure that my countertops are clean and sanitized especially after working with raw meat. I have granite counters (by the way I DO NOT recommend them!) First I was using Target’s Method daily granite spray. It was ok. It cleaned the counters but did not sanitize and had quite a strong scent for me. I don’t like scents in my products much at all. Then I moved to using my homemade clorox anywhere spray, but I wanted something without the chemicals in bleach, as I am trying to reduce the chemicals we use in the house for cleaning. A quick search online and revealed I can use Vodka to kill bacteria and clean my counter with no residue or smell left behind. I had to try it! We had some vodka stashed in the cupboard, so I gave it a shot and I really like it. It’s safe around my kid and my pets (as long as they don’t drink a bunch :)) and it gets the job done!

The “recipe” for Vodka daily spray:

1 part vodka to 4 parts water.

Put in spray bottle.

I have a small sprayer (my old method one) that takes 1/4 c vodka and 1 cup water to fill.

Go to life as mom for more frugal tips.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Yesterday’s shopping trip prompted me to search for a tomato soup recipe online last night. With 3 lbs of tomatoes I needed a good use for them! After stuffing and roasting some of them for dinner last night, I had just enough to make tomato soup based off this Tyler Florence Recipe. Of course I modified it a bit to suit what I had on hand, but it is still absolutely wonderful. It would be fantastic with a grilled cheese sandwich…too bad I can’t have one right now! Here is what I did for the recipe:

Tomato Soup

2 1/2 lbs roma tomatoes

1 onion cut up

6 cloves garlic peeled

olive oil (I just drizzled…1/4 c or so I suppose)

salt and pepper

3 c chicken broth (I used bullion and water…out of chicken broth/stock)

4 tsp butter (I used a lower fat yogurt margarine for my diet restrictions)

2 bay leaves

dried basil (I just dumped…maybe  1 T or so)

Cut tomatoes in half and put them the onion and garlic on cookie sheet with sides. Drizzle with olive oil and douse with salt and pepper. Roast at 450º for about 25 min. Bring stock, butter, bay leaves, and basil to boil. Add roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic. Simmer 20 min. Puree in blender.  I portioned mine out and froze most of it.

Make Ahead Holiday Mashed Potatoes

I would have to say that mashed potatoes are one of my all time favorite foods. They are the ULTIMATE comfort food for me. If I’m sick, or stressed or just hungry, they are a go to staple for me. I just don’t like having to make them every time I am craving them. That’s where grandma’s Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes come in really handy. They can be made and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or frozen without losing their texture when thawed. Plus they taste amazing! Give these babies a try for the holidays. Who doesn’t love side dishes you can make in advance? One less thing to do on the big day, just heat and eat!

Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs russet potatoes peeled (if you don’t want peelings on) and cubed

8 oz cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

2 tsp onion salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Boil and mash potatoes. Add everything else and beat until creamy. Put in a casserole and and dot top with butter. Bake at 350º until hot about 25 min. If refrigerated, they may take up to an hour. To freeze these, I like to use my large cookie scoop (1/4 cup) and plop them down on a cookie sheet and freeze until hard…about 2 hours. Then place in baggies. Just pull out what you need for dinner and microwave or heat in the oven if you like. Mashed potatoes any night of the week or for breakfast…I don’t know ANYONE who does that. Oh wait, maybe that’s me!

Holiday Staples with New Flavors



I am all for family traditions…can anyone say “green salad”, and no I don’t mean lettuce, but that is a recipe for another day. When it comes to the holiday table, I like to vary my flavors. I cannot have the same foods on the holidays year after year after year after year after year. You get the picture right? Today I would like to share with you two new recipes for traditional holiday side dishes: stuffing and sweet potatoes. I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to your holiday menus.

I must confess….I love just about any kind of stuffing, but I get sick of the same general flavors of poultry seasoning or apples. A few years ago, we were at my Aunt’s house for one of the holidays (Thanksgiving or Christmas. I can’t even remember which now!) and she had a new stuffing recipe that has become my new favorite! It’s spicy and flavorful and not your “typical” stuffing. I LOVE it! Even my non stuffing eater of a husband likes this one. I am not sure where the recipe originally came from, so I cannot give credit, but I will share it will you all.  At least this way I will have it online too, instead of jotted down on a piece of scrap paper! Note: I have never made this inside a bird.

Cornbread, Chorizo and Jalapeño Dressing

3/4 c butter

1 1/2 c coarsely chopped onion

2  jalapeño peppers seeded and minced

1/2 lb chorizo sausage with casings removed browned, drained and crumbled

1 6 oz. package cornbread stuffing mix

3 c dry bread crumbs

2 c warm chicken stock

1 egg beaten

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

5 chopped celery stalks

1 red or green bell pepper

1/2 c fresh parsley chopped

1 tsp dry oregano

1/2 tsp dry coriander

1/2 tsp dry sage

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Melt butter in a pan and add onions, celery, and bell pepper. Saute 5 min. In a large bowl add bread crumbs, sausage, chicken broth and remaining ingredients. Stir together and place in 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 375º.

Now, for the sweet potatoes pictured above. Don’t they look wonderful? They sure taste wonderful! One thing, I don’t like your normal marshmallow covered sweet potato casserole. And the thought of canned sweet potatoes or yams make me want to hurl. This is for the real deal…fresh sweet potatoes or yams. I bought the  ones to make this recipe on sale last week for 4 lbs for a $1! Time to stock the freezer. I am not sure how well this recipe will freeze. I will sure try it out and let you know! If it freezes well,l it would be a great side dish to make ahead for your holiday meal and just heat it up on your big day!  Update: It can be frozen! I stuck mine in a ziplock and froze. I then thawed  it in the fridge and microwaved to heat. Tasted great! This recipe is loosely based off a pomegranate glazed sweet potato recipe that I have had in the past and would work with pomegranates instead of cranberries. I just had cranberries and cranberry juice on hand, so I made my own version!

Cranberried Sweet Potatoes

3 large fresh sweet potatoes or yams or about 5 cups

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp honey

1 cup fresh cranberries

salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Place in 9 x 13 baking dish. Add oil, honey, salt, pepper and cranberries and give it a stir. Roast at 400º for 45-50 minutes or until tender. Stir a couple times during roasting.


2 Tbsp cranberry juice

2 Tbsp honey

Simmer for a couple minutes on the stove. Pour over roasted potatoes and stir just before serving.

Note: You could also add some chopped toasted walnuts or pecans…my boys won’t eat it with them, so I leave it out.

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