Monday, August 27, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

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I am all about quick and easy recipes, and this one is both. I found it on Pinterest from  I originally wrote down this recipe as a possible school lunch item, but we all wanted dessert tonight and it hit the spot.  If you love pretzels, peanut butter, and chocolate, this is for you!!  Plus I always have pretzels and peanut butter in my storage to make this an inexpensive treat too! (and who am I kidding, I always have chocolate in my storage too :)

 The bottom layer of these bars is a combination of crushed up pretzels, butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar.  I forgot to take a picture of it before I added the melted chocolate.

 In this picture you can see the bottom layer a little better.

 I used my immersion blender with chopper attachment to make the pretzel crumbs.  Yes, those are beans in the picture, it was from another recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
6 T butter melted
3/4 C peanut butter
1 1/2 C pretzel crumbs
1/2 C powdered sugar
3/4 C chocolate chips
2 T peanut butter

Spray the bottom of an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.  Stir the butter (melted), pretzel crumbs, peanut butter, and powdered sugar until combined.  Spread into the pan and press down gently.  Refrigerate 10 minutes. 

After cooling in the fridge, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter and melt in the microwave.  Stir frequently so the chocolate doesn't burn.  Spread over the pretzel mixture and refrigerate about 1 hour.  Cut into bars.

Friday, August 24, 2012

School Lunches Update

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I want to update you all on how my school lunch baking day went.  I made a few things from THIS POST and I think there are a few winners!

 The frozen smoothies are my kids' favorite food out of all of this.  They also said their friends were jealous that they got a smoothie for lunch!  They are so simple to make and I LOVE that they are eating spinach and protein powder and they have no idea!  To make freezing the silicone molds easier, I used a tall plastic storage container to hold them upright.  These will definitely be on the lunch menu all year.  

 As I am writing this I am dipping my veggie sausage pancake bites into warm syrup.  I know, they are suppose to be for the kids' lunches but they are really good!  I froze all of them in freezer bags and I think freezing them makes them even more moist.  Reheating them takes about 50 seconds for 4 and I put them in a thermos for the kids to take to school.  In the picture you can see I made blueberry and the Morningstar Farms sausage patties.  I broke up the patties and pressed them into the batter, yummy!!  
I also made the macaroni and cheese muffin cups and they were delicious!  I think we may use that recipe for dinner.  They were really good right out of the oven.  I reheated them and placed two "muffins" in a thermos for my kids.  Only one child didn't care for them reheated, so we'll see if I keep this one for a lunch idea.  Dinner for sure though!!

Lastly, I have a confession to make.  I made the pizza pockets and turkey and cheese pockets.  And.....I used store bought roll dough.  I know, that is shameful.  (I am totally kidding) I am in the process of selling my house and all of my usual kitchen gadgets are put away so our house looks less cluttered.  I miss using my Bosch!!  So to make my life easier I bought frozen roll dough to make the pockets. They turned out great and my kids said they prefer the pizza pockets over the turkey and cheese.  I also froze all of these and it made mornings easier this week.  I reheated a couple and added them to the lunch boxes.

So far the first week of school lunches has gone smoothly and my children have loved their food.  I am going to try the pizza muffins and soup in a mason jar next.  Now, if I can survive the roofers and painters today........

Monday, August 20, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade - School Lunch

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Having a pantry and storage room that are filled with baking staples allows me to create lunches for my children while also saving me money.  I pack 4 of my children's lunches, the 4 year old eats at home, everyday for school.  My kids will eat sandwiches but they get bored with them pretty quickly.  I found a great lunch box system that works great for us.  They are called Easy Lunch Boxes and they make packing a lunch so simple.  (Here is the link for Easy Lunch Boxes) The Easy Lunch Box website also has hundreds of lunch ideas.  I have also seen a similar container made by Ziploc at the grocery store and they are a very inexpensive.

Easy Lunch Box system
 Once you have the container you will need to fill it with nutritious food.  There are many options besides sandwiches that you can make for school lunch.  My kids love: mini bagels and Laughing Cow cheese wedges, quesadillas, tortilla wraps, soups in a thermos, spaghetti in a thermos, pasta salads, corn dogs, mini black bean burgers, and homemade pizza pockets, to name a few.  This year I wanted to add to our recipe collection and I found quite a few ideas on Pinterest.  Most of these ideas use pantry items and a few fridge items.  

Frozen Smoothies

One of my favorite sites is called 100 Days of Real Food because she uses real food to create meals for her family.  One of her great ideas is to make smoothies and freeze them in silicone molds.  I actually own these molds and they are amazing and work great!! I have never had one leak or pop open and they clean up easily in the dishwasher. They are available on amazon for about $10 for 4.  Click HERE to see where to buy them.
You can freeze a healthy smoothie and pack it in a lunch box and it will be thawed enough by lunchtime for a very healthy treat. Other items that freeze well are applesauce, pudding, juice, yogurt, etc. Click HERE to view 100 Days of Real Foods smoothie recipe and other great lunch ideas.

Chicken Noodle Soup

100 Days of Real Food also has, what I think is genius and I can't believe I didn't think of this, chicken noodle soup in mason jars and frozen for those busy mornings.  Just pull one out from the freezer, heat up, and place in a thermos.  Genius!!!  That would make lunch prep so quick in the morning!
You will see in her photo how pretty and healthy the soup would be for lunch.  You could make all sorts of soups, stews, or chili for lunch.  Click HERE for the recipe.

Muffin Tin Pizza & More
This next idea could be adapted to so many different kinds of food.  I made muffin tin lasagna in an earlier post and this is a take on that.  It is called muffin tin pizza.  Make a couple muffin tins of these, freeze, and you have lunches for a month.  I found this recipe on All My Great Ideas Are Really From Pinterest (fabulous name) and it is also a fabulous idea!!  
Pizza Muffin Tin Recipe
Click HERE to see her great post, and blog!  My plan is to make a big batch of homemade pizza dough and freeze it.  That way I can make these without the hassle of waiting for the dough.  

Mini Pancake Bites

This last idea has had my mouth watering since I pinned it on Pinterest.  My kids think it sounds kind of weird, but I think once they taste it they will be sold.  Pancake Sausage Bites!!  I am going to make them in a mini muffin tin and freeze them.  Instead of real sausage I am going to use freeze dried veggie sausage in some and freeze dried blueberries in another batch. If you don't have freeze dried or dehydrated use the real version.  Click HERE for the recipe from
Gwaltney Foods
If you use whole wheat flour these little bites could be healthy too!  Serve them with a little maple syrup, fruit (or smoothie) on the side and your kids will be the envy of the whole lunch room. And don't forget how easy and cheap it is to make your own syrup.

Now, I always start off the year with so much motivation, so we'll see what works and how long I can keep up with the baking :)  But I feel so much better giving my kids a lunch that I know they are eating and also getting good nutrition.  And remember that you can substitute most items in these recipes with freeze dried, dehydrated, and homemade versions of what the recipe calls for.  Even the sausage and cheese have a freeze dried substitute!!  There are also recipes for making your own vegetarian meat, called seitan, made out of wheat gluten.  All of these lunches can be made from your storage and you will feel so great knowing you made healthy lunches for your kids.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Food Storage and Humidity

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I just returned home from a week long family vacation at the beach.  Yes, the beach is fun and relaxing, but it is really humid too!!!  I don't really care for humidity and I am so glad that I live in a dry desert!!!  While I was at the beach house I was constantly closing food containers and folding down cereal bags because my children are not used to food being softened by humidity.  That also got me on earth would I have a food storage room here?!?!?!  Everything would have to have some kind of vapor barrier to guard against the moisture.  I concluded that keeping  long-term food in a humid area would be very different then where I live. 

I have a sister that lives in Louisiana and I have listened to her complain about her food storage going bad because of the humidity, but I didn't really understand.  I feel for her now and I have been thinking of how food would need to be sealed to keep the moisture out.  Below are some of my ideas on how to store food in a humid area.  I am not an expert, nor do I live in a humid area, so please leave comments with your ideas too!!

#1 Idea- The FoodSaver

 -Using a foodsaver would eliminate all air and therefore moisture too.  You could seal jars and bags and then keep them in buckets (the bags not jars), which would also need a gamma lid to seal the bags up tight. (and yes, I seal up candy every Halloween =)  You may also need to watch the rims and lids of the mason jars for rust, but this would be a simple way to keep food dry.

Image credit:

#2 Idea- Mylar Bags and Buckets

-Many types of food can be sealed in mylar bags and then sealed in buckets.  The lack of air=no humidity!  Emergency Essentials sells food sealed in mylar bags and buckets.  It does cost a little more, but if it saves your storage, it is worth it.  This would work great for flours, pastas, oats, cereals, and dehydrated fruits and veggies.  Sugars should not be stored with oxygen absorbers but they do work great in a mason jar sealed with the foodsaver.  Here is a link to Emergency Essentials mylar bucket liners.

#3 Idea- Canned Food

-Sealing food in cans (home canned or commercial) will definitely help keep food away from humidity.  The only problem would be rust.  You might have to keep tabs on your cans, if you live in a humid area, and watch for rust.  The shelf life of canned foods in a humid area will be less than in a dry area.  Discard any cans that are bulging or are leaking. 

#4 Idea- Use a Dehumidifier

-If all else fails and you have no dry space to store your food...use a dehumidifier.  My mom always had one running in our basement right by the food storage.  I grew up in Ohio and it was so humid and sticky hot.  She saved her food for many years and I don't remember it spoiling.  Also, keep cans, jars, and buckets away from concrete walls and floors.  The humidity lives in the cement.  So even though the basement is the best place to have your storage, try to keep food on shelves and off the floor.  And use the dehumidifier too!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Bagels

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A big part of food storage and preparedness is making everyday grocery store food at home from scratch.  I love the challenge of making something that I would normally just buy at the store. Most of the time it works but there are the few times my family gives me funny looks. I decided to try bagels because my whole family loves them.  I have tried them several times over that past few years but I hadn't found a recipe that was simple, and also edible, until I found a great preparedness blog.   The recipe for bagels, I found at, was simple and tasted so good! I couldn't wait to try them and when they were done and everyone ate them, I knew I found a keeper. 

This is the link to Jamie's bagel recipe.  Click HERE.

I started off by adding water, yeast, sugar, flour and salt into my mixer.  I added the flour until the dough started to pull away from the edge of the bowl.  It then kneaded for 8 minutes.  In the picture above I put the cover on and let it rise in the bowl for 20 minutes.

Next, divide the dough into 16 pieces and form into balls.  Take each ball and form into a bagel shape.  Make a hole in the middle with your thumb.

 Stretch the bagels a little as you make the holes and let them rise on a baking sheet for 20 minutes.

I didn't use a baking sheet, I just left them on the counter to rise. 

Bring a pot of water (big enough to hold a few bagels at a time) with 3 T of sugar.  Boil each bagel for 30 seconds on each side and let them drain on a dish towel.  Place the bagels onto a baking sheet and mix 1 egg white with 1 t water and brush each bagel. Bake the bagels and enjoy!!!

Homemade Bagels
3 C warm water
2 T yeast
1/3 C sugar
3 C flour (I used half wheat/half white)
4 t salt

Mix the water through salt in a mixer and mix one minute.  Add 3-4 cups more flour, until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl.  Knead for 8 minutes.  Cover and let rise 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 16 balls and using your thumb, poke a hole while slightly stretching the dough.  Place on baking sheet and let rise 20 more minutes.  

Boil a pot of water with 3 T sugar and boil each bagel for 30 second on each side.  Drain on paper towel or dish towel.  (now would be the time to add toppings like poppy seeds or sesame seeds) Place on a baking sheet.  Mix 1 egg white with 1-2 T water and brush bagels.  Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes.

There are so many different variations that you could do to change these bagels up!  And when you look at the ingredients I can't believe I have wasted so much money at the bagel shop!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blog Vacation

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I wanted to let you all know that I am spending some time with the family and I will start posting again next week! Have a fun week!
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