Strawberry Walnut Crunch

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I have a small family… Just the three of us. So it isn’t cost effective for us to have a Costco membership… All the food ends up going to waste. Often recipes are too large for the three of us, which is why I look forward to having family over to eat with us. I get to make large quantities lots of food and it doesn’t go to waste. Or there are some dishes that are my favorite but the work that is required for three people outweighs the “Yummy in my tummy” feeling I would get once I was able to sit down to eat.

Aside from spending time in the kitchen, I love spending time in the living room watching Food Network. While watching the Pioneer Woman she made these delicious appearing Strawberry Oat Bars. But the quantities would be far too much for the three of us, so the recipe below is halved… Also I added walnuts because I wanted to make sure it had a crunchy texture.

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 stick butter plus 6 tbsp., cut into pieces
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cups oats
1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz. strawberry preserves (My daughter went a little crazy with the preserves and it still turned out great!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your baking dish with non stick spray.

2. In a large bowl add the the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. I gave my daughter the 1/4 measuring cup and put those math skills to the test.

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3. Then have your little chef use a pastry cutter, mix all the ingredients so that it now resembles a crumble. Mixed in the chopped walnuts with a spoon or fork.

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4. Put half of the mixture into the bottom of your baking dish and press with the backside of the spoon. Now spoon and spread the preserves across the bottom layer. Put the remaining crumble mix on the top and gently press down.

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5. Put it in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

6. Enjoy! This is intended for breakfast but my husband and daughter could not wait until the morning and dug in after dinner.

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Mine may look different then what you make because I used Earth Balance which is a dairy free butter.

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Raisin Persimmon Cookies

Holy Moly! Holidays are done and boy were we busy. A house full a family, lots of cooking and baking, but I would not have it any other way. My daughter and I were able to spend lots of quality time in the kitchen but since I was basically running an assembly line for treats, there were very few pictures.

I mentioned before that we give baked goods for gifts at the holidays and this year we tried something new. Persimmon cookies! I made the most unbelievable mistake a few years ago when trying persimmons… I tried it raw. Yuck, Yuck, Yuck! Recently a co-worker brought them to work, from their tree, and told me I should try making them with my daughter. I began quizzing them about persimmons and told them about my horrid experience. The secret is baking soda! After the persimmons have been pulped put some baking soda in and mix that up let it sit for several minutes, the baking soda will neutralize the acidity in the persimmon pulp.

Excellence ensued once I got this recipe into my kitchen. And what type of work did I have my daughter do while I was running around like a crazy person? I had her pulp the persimmons! She is a country girl at heart who loves to get dirty, so giving her persimmons to pulp was right up her alley. She just squeezed until the inside till it plopped out, she wanted to be thorough so she also scooped any remaining pulp out. Below is the recipe we used which was really a combination of several recipes that I received from my co-workers and a picture of my daughter “pulping” the persimmons.

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1 1/4 cup persimmon pulp
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick, unsalted butter (room temp)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 slightly beaten egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup raisins (California… Of course!)
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. Mix the persimmon pulp with the baking soda, and let that sit for about 10 minutes before incorporating into the rest of the batter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat together the butter and sugars. Once they are well combined add in the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, egg, and vanilla.

3. Slowly beat in the flour… Adding a little at a time until each addition is fully incorporated.

4. Fold in the raisins and walnuts in until evenly mixed in. You can add more raisins and walnuts, which is what most of the recipes I received suggested, but my husband perfers his cookies not to be too crunchy.

5. Portion onto a lined cookie sheet and cook for 12 minutes. These cookies are very moist.

6. Enjoy!

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday and wish you all a very Happy New Year! I am focusing on making time for myself and my family. I will be competing in my first half marathon at Disneyland in a few days. I say competing very loosely as my goal is just to finish, I am not much of an athlete. So here is to a New Year and a new me!

BBQ Biscuits

This is a family favorite! My husband will ask for something this simple for his birthday. I would never complain about that not only do they enjoy being able to eat it but my daughter loves helping me cook it!

1 lb. ground beef
1 can buttermilk biscuits
1 cup cheese, I use whatever is in the fridge, shhhh!
1 1/2 ketchup
4 tbsp BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays for the win)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat oven based on what your biscuit container says.

2. Cook your ground beef all the way through. While I am doing that I have my daughter roll out the biscuits. And putting them into greased muffin tins.

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3. I have my daughter make the BBQ sauce by measuring and whisking together the ketchup, BBQ sauce, chili powder, and brown sugar. Pour this over the cooked ground beef until the meat is evenly coated.

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4. I have my daughter spoon the meat into the “biscuit cups”. Once all of them are filled, they will be over flowing, sprinkle them with cheese.

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5. Pop in the oven for whatever the suggested cooking time is for the biscuit, for mine it was 15 minutes.

6. Enjoy!

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We have tons of variations on this, that I will share in the future, but this is a great weeknight meal! After a long day of work for me to just brown ground beef and pawn the rest of the work off on my all too excited daughter, I am a happy Momma!

BBQ Pizza

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I love pizza, more than I care to admit. When our family ordered pizza I would look forward to eating it for breakfast the next morning! But recently I developed was cursed with a milk allergy! As an adult that means I know all of the great foods I am missing out on: cheese, Hot Cheetos, ice cream, the ease of purchasing bread at a store, etc. But I digress. Back to the pizza, I am no longer able to call up my local pizzeria and get my pizza. So we have a great alternative… we make our own, and it is fantastic!

My daughter loves making pizza and each person in the family gets to customize their pizza. So my husband and daughter are still able to enjoy the melty and heavenly mozzarella and I get a great dairy free pizza with no fear of anaphylaxis. Some days if I am feeling very adventurous I’ll even make it vegan.

Pizza Dough Recipe
Makes 2 medium or four small individual pizzas
1/2 cup water, warm
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast or one individual package
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 tbsp. olive oil, more to coat

1. Start by putting the warm water in a small bowl or cup, sprinkle the sugar in and stir until it has dissolved. Now sprinkle the yeast into the sugar-water mixture. Let sit for 19-15 to allow yeast to activate. After 10-15 minutes the mixture should have a foam on top. You can omit the sugar, but the sugar causes the mixture to foam. The foam shows that the yeast activated, I’ve been burned far to many times by yeast that was a dud. Lesson learned and solution found. Add the room temperature water and oil to the yeast water mixture.

2. Now in a large bowl combine the salt and flour stir to blend together. Slowly incorporate the water into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. This is where the kids get involved! Have them continue to mix using the wooden spoon, while they are doing that flour the surface.

3. Knead on a floured surface until smooth, the kiddos can do this or you can. Coat a bowl in the olive oil and put the dough in the bowl and cover, let it rest for about an hour.

4.This is my daughter’s favorite part, punching down the dough. We call this Hulk Smash, on a side note we are complete nerds at my house!

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5.Divide into two medium or four small dough balls. Let rest for 10 minutes.

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6. My daughter loves using her very own rolling-pin and rolling out her own crust. They may not be perfect but they are delicious.

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7. At this point you can bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. But since I am a California girl and I love my grill, I like to take it to the patio…

8. Does that sound scary to you? It shouldn’t be, I was frightened for so long but now it is a family favorite. Just turn on half the burners on high, allow it to pre-heat. Grease the grill. Put the dough (sans toppings) down after about thirty seconds to one minute it will start to puff up, let it puff for thirty more seconds and flip. Cook the uncooked side for one minute to a minute and a half and it will be all done.

9. Now put the toppings of your choice. Some suggestions: artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, pepperoni, sausage, and whatever else tickles your fancy. I like to put a store-bought pizza sauce on mine, but some days when I’m feeling feisty I’ll opt for an infused olive oil. Once you have your toppings put them on the side that wasn’t lit, close lid and let the toppings warm. For those of you lucky enough to enjoy cheese, let it sit until it’s nice and melty.

10. Enjoy!!!

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It is such an easy thing and we run it like a buffet so while I’m at the grill my daughter and husband are getting their toppings ready. We have done this when we have family over for dinner and it goes over smashingly… Or should I say Hulk Smashingly