Homemade Sweet Potato Fries

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It really pays to listen to your friends.  (Not all of them though, because if they’re encouraging you to do things that aren’t good for you, maybe you should consider getting new friends.)

Well where did that piece of parenting advice come from?

Anyway, I happen to have good friends, so I feel that it is okay to listen to them.  It just so happens that I had two friends in one week tell me that I was missing out by not adding sweet potatoes to my menus more often.  When the first friend said it, I kind of nodded and smiled.  But when a second friend mentioned it a few days later, I sort of wondered if God was trying to tell me something.

Okay, I’m pretty sure He is working in bigger ways in my life than sweet potato consumption encouragement.  But still.  I figured there might be something to this sweet potato thing since it came up twice in one week with two different people at two separate times.  (Am I making too much of this?  I mean, should I just get around to sharing the recipe already?)

Why have I not been eating or feeding my family sweet potatoes very often, as in, pretty much never?  It’s very simple really.  As a child, the only way I had been served sweet potatoes was in a casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows at Thanksgiving and I didn’t like it one bit.  If I’m going to eat something sweet, I want it to be a dessert – not as a side dish with my turkey.  But that’s just me.  I’m the one who needs chocolate with my sugar.  What can I say?

But, per my friends’ suggestions, I decided to try making sweet potato fries.  They looked and smelled great.  I ate one.  Hmmm, it was okay, I guess.  But I kept thinking about marshmallows, and couldn’t get past it.

By the way, I don’t like marshmallows.

But I’m a big girl, and all grown up, so I made myself eat a second sweet potato fry.  And then a third.  Oh wait.  They suddenly began to taste good to me.  Then, before I knew it, I had to tell myself to stop eating the sweet potato fries and save some for my family.  (I didn’t feel bad though, because usually it’s the other way around and I’m the one asking my family to save me some food before they inhale all of it.)

So it turns out that while I think my friends may have helped me become an addict in this regard, it does pay to give in to sweet potato peer pressure.

How to Make Sweet Potato Fries:

Scrub and cut sweet potatoes into wedges or fries – as thin as you like.  Toss them in olive oil or coconut oil (about 1 Tablespoon per sweet potato).  Place them in a single layer on a baking pan.  Sprinkle on sea salt and bake in a 400° oven for 30-40 minutes.

or

Deep fry the cut sweet potatoes in a fryer (we have this one, which works great) for 3-4 minutes, remove, salt, and eat.

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What is your relationship with sweet potatoes?  How do you like them cooked?  And while it’s completely irrelevant, I am curious.  Do you like marshmallows?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola

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I’m guessing that many of the greatest recipe ”inventions” have happened by accident.  Asa (our 15 year old) really didn’t mean to create this wonderful Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola.  His real intent was to make No-Bake Cookies for a mission trip fund-raising meal last Sunday.  But somehow the liquid ingredients got slightly overcooked, the oats made the mixture way too dry, and no way no how was a cookie going to be formed once it was all said and done.  I told him to press his mixture into a 9×13 inch pan and that we’d try cutting them into bars later.  While that was a brilliant idea, it didn’t work any better than forming the mixture into cookies.  We ended up with peanut butter chocolate oat crumbles instead.  Peanut butter chocolate oat crumbles that tasted really, really good.  :)

And so – we all just grabbed a bowl and a spoon and had at it.  (While planning a different dessert to take to the fund-raising meal.)

I’m calling this “granola” because that’s what it looks and feels like.  But I do have a hard time calling this a healthy breakfast or snack.  While it is made with real food ingredients, it is still more dessert-like, for sure.  In an effort to make this a little less sugary, and a bit more diverse for “stir-in” options, I’ve tweaked the ingredients from the original cookie recipe Asa used.  I’m pretty sure it will still taste awesome with less sugar than originally called for in the cookie recipe!

By the way – depending on how you make this, it can be completely dairy free if you wish.  :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup milk or coconut milk
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (we use homemade peanut butter)
1 cup sucanat or 1/2 cup honey
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes (optional)

Put butter, milk, peanut butter, sucanat, and cocoa into a medium sized saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Allow the mixture to boil for one minute.  Remove from heat.  Add vanila, oats, and coconut flakes.  If the mixture is too liquidy add a few more oats or coconut flakes until you reach desired consistency.

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Or shucks.  If you “mess up” this recipe and the mixture turns out to be nice and smooth instead of crumbly – go ahead and spoon it onto wax paper and make No-Bake Cookies.  ;)

 UPDATE:  If you do find your mixture too wet:  Add a few extra oats to soak up the liquid.  Then put it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and baked it at 250° for one hour, stirring occasionally. The granola should get nice and crispy!

Easy Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

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I’ve probably already written this sentence a time or three, but here it is again:  Cream cheese makes everything better!

Or was I talking about butter when I said that?  Actually, maybe it was cream?  Well, the same is true for cream cheese, butter, and cream.  (Although I will draw the line at adding any of the above to my lettuce salad.)

This recipe includes both cream and cream cheese.  And homemade vanilla.  (Or store bought vanilla, but homemade is so YUM.)  And then there is just a bit of maple syrup to make it sweet.  Last but not least – you’ll add a shot of lemon or lime juice.  Here are the specifics:

Easy Fruit Dip

1/2 cup cream (heavy whipping cream)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice (fresh or bottled)

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.  In a separate bowl, cream together the cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon or lime juice.  Fold cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream.  Chill until ready to serve, or serve right away. 

Tastes great with strawberries, grapes, and apples.  Makes about two cups of dip.

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 Have to eat dairy free?  This wasn’t a winner of a post for you then, was it?!  I’ll try to make it up to you next time.  :)  Everyone else – multiple choice question:

Everything is better with:
a) butter
b) cream cheese
c) cream
d) all of the above

I’d love to hear your opinion on this one!

Breakfast Pizza {Real Food Dollar Menu}

Our boys discovered that you can use my Whole Wheat Pizza Crust to make an awesome Breakfast Pizza. They also discovered that if you work ahead in your math book, you will finish ahead of schedule. On the contrary, if you avoid doing math some days, you will have to do double the lessons on the days you’d really rather go outside and play with your brothers on the trampoline.

But back to the pizza.

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Make it just like you would a regular homemade pizza, using this crust recipe.  Top it with salsa, scrambled eggs, cheese, and any other toppings of choice - like veggies and meat.  Homemade Turkey Sausage is great on this pizza!

Bake it as directed.  Serve with fruit.

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Without adding meat, I found that it cost about $4.52 to make this meal, which filled my family of six.  That’s about 75¢ per person, for a meal that actually sticks with them for several hours!

Easy, delicious, filling, versatile, inexpensive, and healthy.  What more could you want?  (Except maybe to be finished with math lessons for the year.)

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

Simple Almond Flour Muffins

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This was my first time to “play” with almond flour.  Wow, is it awesome to work with!

I had ordered a package from Vitacost to experiement with.  It is not an inexpensive ingredient by any means.  But I know that using alternative flours occasionally to give my family variety is a healthy choice.  Plus, I’d heard that almond flour is awesome.  It is so true!

These simple muffins went together quickly, and the end result was amazing!  The muffins taste like a cupcake – super light, sweet, and airy.

You can make your own almond flour if you prefer.  Simply grind almonds in your food processor until a fine flour has formed.  Just be sure you don’t grind them too long, or you’ll end up with almond butter!

Simple Almond Flour Muffins

2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together almond flour, baking powder, and sea salt.  Add eggs, melted butter, honey, water, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.  Spoon batter into 12-15 paper-lined muffin cups.  Bake in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

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Have you done much baking with almond flour?  What are your favorite recipes using this fun ingredient?

Breakfast Cake Muffins

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One reader, Kim, left a comment months ago sharing that she’d made my Breakfast Cake recipe into muffins instead of baking the batter into a cake.  It sounded so good that I decided to try it right away!

And then I forgot.  For months.

I think it’s actually been well over a year since she left that comment.  That’s practically like trying the idea right away, right?  Yeah, well…

Turns out these are an easy, yummy, freezable, on-the-go breakfast muffin that is hearty enough to keep us satisfied until lunchtime.  Thanks for the idea, Kim!  Next time you share a great idea like this one, I’ll try to get around to trying it before thirteen months go by.  Sheesh.

Breakfast Cake Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups whole rolled oats
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, melted
¾ cup buttermilk or milk
¾ cup honey or 1 cup sucanat
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, raisins, or other dried fruit  (We like Enjoy Life Soy Free Chocolate Chips)

Stir together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Add butter, buttermilk, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips, raisins, or other dried fruit.

Spoon batter into 18 paper lined muffin tins.  Bake in a 400° oven for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Give these a try.  Don’t wait a year like I did.  :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins


Have a recipe you’d like me to try and make over?
Submit your recipes on this Real Food Recipe Makeover Submission Page.

This recipe looked too good to pass up – and it was super easy to makeover with healthier ingredients.  We all loved the results.  (Except for Malachi, who didn’t try them because he doesn’t like peanut butter.  He’s missing out!)

It probably goes without saying that these muffins taste awesome with a glass of milk.  They are easy to make ahead of time and serve the following day.  (Although they really do taste best right out of the oven.  Doesn’t everything?!)  These muffins freeze well.  They make a great snack.  I love recipes like this!  It doesn’t get any easier!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I use homemade peanut butter)
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour made from hard white wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup sucanat
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips
In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and the peanut butter.  Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sucanat.  Add melted butter and peanut butter, eggs, and milk.  Stir until well combined, then fold in the chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into 18-24 paper lined muffin cups.  Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.
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Are you a chocolate/peanut butter fan?

Chili Mac ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

I have a love-hate relationship with leftovers.

Most of the time, I really do love them.  On the days I have way too many items on my to-do list and just don’t have time to cook – it’s great to just pull out leftovers to warm up and eat.  But on the other hand, having a fridge full of little tid-bits of this and that?  It makes my fridge look cluttered, which kinda makes me feel annoyed.

This, my friends, is what we call a ”first world problem.”  Too many leftovers?  So much food in my fridge that I can’t find what I’m looking for?  So many people around the world long to have the “problems” I have.

When I have to slide all sorts of bowls and jars around in my fridge, just to find the peanut butter stuffed way in the back?  It’s a waste of a good thirty seconds of my life.

Ooh, and you know what’s really annoying?  When I make enough peas for each of us to have a nice serving.  And then the last person leaves about 13 peas in the pan.  Why?  Just take the rest of the peas, for goodness sake!  I do not want to find a little container for 13 leftover peas, and then put them into the fridge so that I can slide them all around when I’m looking for peanut butter.  Likely, they’ll become forgotten and fuzzy because really?  Who wants to take the time to re-heat 13 peas?

Oh to have the luxury of complaining about “all” the food in my refrigerator.  I truly am thankful for all of the food on my shelves - even the container of 13 forgotten peas.  I promise to always be grateful for the cluttery tid-bits.

(But really, if you are the last one to serve yourself at my house, and there are a few peas floating at the bottom of the pan, please, for the love of my sanity as I search for peanut butter, just put them on your plate and eat them already.)

And now for a real food recipe that costs a very small amount of money and uses up some of the leftovers that are taking up space in your fridge.

Chili Mac

6 cups (give or take) leftover chili
2 cups water
4 cups whole wheat or rice pasta (any shape)
Sea salt to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, bring chili and water to a boil.  Add uncooked pasta.  Cover and cook on medium heat until pasta is tender.  Sprinkle in salt, according to your taste.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

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Estimated cost of this meal?  About 65¢ per person.  And that includes the peas.  All of them - even the last 13.

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

If you are sick of chili, and don’t want to eat your leftovers immediately – simply spread this Chili Mac mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish, top with cheese, cover, and freeze.  Reheat another day.

I am happy to report that the day recently when I served Chili Mac, there were no leftover peas.  But just in case, maybe I should come up with a recipe that uses 13 peas…

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

Are you a fan of leftovers?  Do you sometimes find a few straggly uneaten peas in the pan? 

Whole Wheat Quick Mix Biscuits

Here’s another promised Whole Wheat Quick Mix recipe!  When you have the Quick Mix put together and ready to go, it is so easy to throw these biscuits into the oven.  And if you want, you can make Sausage Gravy to go with them.  My family cheers when I make gravy for our biscuits!

Whole Wheat Quick Mix Biscuits

2 cups Whole Wheat Quick Mix
2/3 cup milk

Mix ingredients together, adding additional whole wheat flour if necessary to form a nice bisuit dough that will roll out well.

Press or roll dough onto a well-floured surface.  Cut with a biscuit cutter or round glass to shape biscuits.  Place biscuits onto a baking stone or a well-buttered baking pan.  Bake in a 450° oven for 10-12 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Makes 10 small biscuits.

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Here are other recipes you can make with Whole Wheat Quick Mix:

More Quick Mix Recipes found in the Oh For Real book:

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Easy Fruit Cobbler
  • Garlic Cheese Drop Biscuits (like those you get at Red Lobster!)
  • More!

Have you ordered a copy of Oh, For Real: Real Food, Real Family, Real Easy yet?  You’ll find all these recipes in the book – plus many more recipes and tips that will make your life easier as you work to feed your family a diet of real, whole foods!

I’m curious:  What’s your favorite way to eat a biscuit?  Dripping with butter and honey?  With gravy poured all over them?  Slathered with jelly?  Can you guess my favorite way to eat a biscuit?!  :)

Whole Wheat Quick Mix Honey Cinnamon Muffins

Simple.  Tasty.  Fast.  Isn’t that what we want in all of our recipes?  This muffin recipe is all of that and healthy too!

See?  I told you this Whole Wheat Quick Mix has been a life saver!

Quick Mix Honey Cinnamon Muffins

2 cups Quick Mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup honey
½ cup milk
1 egg

Mix all ingredients until just combined.  (Do not over-stir.)  Scoop batter into 9 paper lined muffin cups.  Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

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