Homemade Granola Bars

I’m not a health nut, I don’t stand in the grocery store aisles comparing the amount of calories, fat, and sugar from one brand to another. Everything I buy is not organic and on the nights that we have macaroni and cheese, it’s most likely out of a box. Homemade, organic everything just isn’t practical for everyone. However, one of my goals is to make these things more practical for me. I feel so much better about eating something that I made myself instead of something prepackaged because I KNOW what I put in it.

Homemade Granola Bars - Sweet Ellagance

Store bought granola bars have more ingredients than I care to count. I realize that the ingredients in store bought granola bars are necessary in order for them to have a longer shelf life. Store bough granola bars will most likely last in your pantry for months, where the granola bars I made last in your refrigerator for a week. I know, I know, who would rather go through the trouble of making your own granola bars when you can swing by the grocery store on the way home from work. I would prefer to spend a little extra time in the kitchen and enjoy something much more delicious AND know what all went into it but like I said, it’s not practical for everyone. I’m just striving to find ways to make it practical for me. I must say that I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I spend a little extra time to make things homemade. Having a sense of accomplishment gives you a positive attitude and having a positive attitude helps you achieve more, mentally and physically. At least it does for me! Make these granola bars, you won’t be sorry!

Homemade Granola Bars - Sweet Ellagance

As I strive to change my eating habits by eating cleaner, fewer processed foods, and making as much as I can in my own kitchen with fresh ingredients, I hope that I will improve my health. I hope with a cleaner diet and regular exercise, I can reach my goal of being fit and lean. Now, don’t get my wrong, my goal isn’t to be stick-thin and for my scales to show a certain number, for me, it’s all about being healthy and fit! Healthy doesn’t have a number, happy doesn’t have a number!

Homemade Granola Bars

Slightly Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Cut out a 7 x 11 inch square of parchment paper. Place the parchment paper in the bottom of a 7 x 11 inch baking pan.

2. In a large sauce pan, add butter, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture starts to bubble. Once bubbling, cook for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Stir in the oats and crispy rice cereal. Stir until well coated. Pour into the prepared pan. Press the mixture evenly into the pan.

4. Place the bars in the refrigerator and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Cut into bars, melt chocolate chips and drizzle over the cut granola bars.

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Lemon Crinkle Cookies & A Surprise In My Mailbox!

I received an email earlier in the week that I would be receiving another shipment from Influenster! Woo hoo!! I was really excited!

Palmolive Fresh Infusions from Influenster

I knew it was going to be dish soap but what I didn’t know was that it was going to be 3 full-size dish soaps! I definitely won’t be needing new dish soap for a little while! I really like the Lemon-Thyme and the Lime-Basil so I am going to give my Momma the Ginger & White Tea scented one. The citrus scented ones smell so fresh and clean! I’m not a big fan of floral scents but I sure do love a fresh. lemon-y smelling kitchen.

Palmolive Fresh Infusions from Influenster

Influenster also sent 5 coupons for $1.50 off! Palmolive Fresh Infusions is currently $2.96 at Walmart so with the coupon, it will be a little over half off! Who doesn’t love a good coupon?

Anyway, speaking of loving lemon-y scented stuff, I made these awesome cookies today!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies - Sweet Ellagance

They are super delicious and super easy! I’m all about taking shortcuts in the kitchen if they produce results like this! I’m talking four ingredients people! They taste like lemon bars in cookie form! So dense, chewy, and lemon-y!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies - Sweet Ellagance

These cookies are basically just a cake mix! I know everyone is probably aware that you can make cookies out of a cake mix but I didn’t know it was possible until my junior year of high school, which wasn’t really that long ago. One of my favorite classes was Early Childhood Education. We baked a lot. I loved that class mainly because I love helping kiddos learn but the baking was the icing on the cake! Basically everyday we were in the classroom, we baked something. That’s my kind of class!

I had only made these once since high school, until now! And boy am I glad I did! We used to make the using Funfetti cake mix in ECE and I made them using Red Velvet cake mix the Christmas before last but never using Lemon cake mix. It’s almost like summer in your mouth! These would be perfect for a cook-out!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies - Sweet Ellagance

What you’ll need:¬† Lemon Cake Mix, 2 Eggs, 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil, 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

Lemon Crinkle Cookies - Sweet Ellagance

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from Food.com

  • 1 Box Lemon Cake Mix (You can use whatever flavor you prefer. )
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar, for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs together. The mixture will be thick.
  3. Scoop out by the tablespoon, roll each scoop in the powdered sugar.
  4. Place on baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, leaving a few inches in between.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes. (I only left mine in for 8 minutes, they appeared slightly under-baked but that allowed for a chewy center.) Time varies, depending on your oven.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool for a couple minutes before moving them to cooling racks.
  7. Enjoy!

Oh, and have one of these as soon as they come out of the oven. They just fall apart and melt in your mouth. Just be careful not to burn your tongue!

 

 

Disclaimer: I received the Palmolive Fresh Infusions from Influenster, complimentary for testing purposes.

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup - Sweet Ellagance

 

I never cared much for school lunch. The lunches always consisted of rectangle slices of pizza or chicken. Every single form of processed chicken.

Chicken Nuggets. Chicken Sticks. Chicken Tenders. Chicken Rings. Chicken Patties. Seriously.

Can’t say I didn’t have my fair share of these processed chicken lunches and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy them from time to time but my favorite day in the cafeteria was by far Vegetable Beef Soup Day. I don’t know if it was canned or if they threw together leftovers and called it soup but it was GOOD! That and Southwest Soup, but that’s an experiment for another day.

As much as I loved the school cafeteria’s vegetable beef soup, this soup is SO much better! With green beans and potatoes from my in-law’s garden, it’s just delightful! I look forward to making this again with more fresh ingredients from their garden and less from store bought, canned products. Oh, the perks of having in-laws with a garden. ūüėČ Did I mention they’re great?

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup - Sweet Ellagance

What you’ll need:¬† Ground Beef, Chopped Onion, Diced Potatoes, Green Beans, Olive Oil, Sweet Peas, Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes, Beef Broth, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup - Sweet Ellagance

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Tsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped
  • 2-3 Medium Sized Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
  • Tomato Sauce (15 oz)
  • Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • Beef Broth (14.5 oz)
  • Sweet Peas (8.5 oz), Drained
  • 1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt, Pepper To Taste

You can also add other vegetables if you prefer. I personally like to add corn, just be sure to drain the juice if you use canned.

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add chopped onions and cook until golden-brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef to sauteed onions and brown, drain any excess grease.
  3. While the ground beef is browning, boil potatoes until soft, drain the excess water.
  4. Add the drained ground beef, onions, and potatoes to a stock pot along with the rest of the remaining ingredients.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  6. Enjoy!

 

The Best Chocolate Cake? & A Hunt for The Perfect Frosting.

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My very first blog post that includes a recipe y’all! EXCITING! And what better way recipe to start our with than a chocolate cake that has been labeled by many as “The Best Chocolate Cake”?!? The. Best. Chocolate. Cake. How could I resist? Let me tell you, this cake definitely deserves it’s name. It was perfectly rich and moist, and oh so delicious! I have seen the recipe for this cake in several places as well as Hershey’s website, which I am assuming is where it originated. My favorite thing about this fabulous cake besides the fact that it is chocolate-cake-perfection, is that it is SO EASY!

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What you’ll need for the cake:¬† All-Purpose Flour, Sugar, Unsweetened Cocoa, Vegetable Oil, Strong Brewed Coffee, Buttermilk, Baking Powder, Baking, Soda, Vanilla, Salt, and Eggs

Black Magic Cake

Recipe from Hershey’s Kitchen

  • 2¬†cups sugar
  • 1-3/4¬†cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4¬†cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 2¬†teaspoons baking soda
  • 1¬†teaspoon baking powder
  • 1¬†teaspoon salt
  • 2¬† eggs
  • 1¬†cup buttermilk
  • 1¬†cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2¬†cup vegetable oil
  • 1¬†teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Heat oven to 350¬įF. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. 2 Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  3. 3 Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick
    inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool
    completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

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Searching for The Perfect Frosting

I love the classic American Buttercream. It’s teeth-hurting sweet and the perfect compliment the any cake or cupcake, OR if you’re anything like me, eating it by the spoonful is perfectly acceptable. My husband, however, can’t stand it. So, I am trying to find the perfect frosting. I just want a stable frosting that can be decorated with but is also not as sweet as traditional buttercream. Who knew that was so hard to find. I like whipped cream frosting (heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla), and cream cheese frosting but neither of them are stable enough to decorate with and hold up nicely for more than a day.

HERSHEY'S Black Magic Cake with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting - Sweet Ellagance

I read reviews about Swiss Meringue Buttercream and they were really mixed reviews. Some people like it and some people don’t. Since I’m on a mission to find the perfect frosting, I had to give it a shot. It’s definitely not our perfect frosting. That is just MY opinion, I’m sure others enjoy it, I just don’t. I read a review that said it tasted like a stick of butter… Hit the nail on the head. I flavored my SMBC strawberry, so it tasted like a stick of strawberry-flavored unsalted butter when I bit into it. After I¬† took the first bite and it melted in my mouth, it tasted kind of like strawberry milk but I couldn’t get over the strong butter-like texture as soon as I bit into it. The SMBC holds flavor really well, so it can be flavored really easily, which is a great thing. It also pipes onto the cake nicely. It has several good things going for it, I’m just not a fan of the texture. For those of you with curious taste buds, it’s worth a shot!

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For the Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:  Sugar, Salt, Egg Whites, Unsalted Butter, Strawberry Extract (Vanilla Extract is shown)

Sweetapolita’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I halved this recipe)

  • 10 large, fresh egg whites (300 g)
  • 2-1/2 cups (500 g) sugar
  • 3 cups (680 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (20 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160¬įF, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  2. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  3. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  4. Add additional flavours, purees, as desired.

For those of you who KNOW you won’t like the SMBC, HERSHEY’S has several frosting recipes the would go well with this cake or you could use one of your own tried and true frostings! Happy Chocolate Cake Eating!

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

Bath & Body Works Forever Red

I have been an avid Bath & Body Works shopper for what seems like forever! I started out loving the lotions and then when I moved into a place of my own, I swayed more towards the home fragrances. They have the BEST candles and room sprays! I like their wallflowers as well but I am definitely a candle person! I am obsessed with one of their new candle scents from the White Barn Collection, it’s called French Baguette! Oh, it is heavenly! Who doesn’t want their kitchen smelling like you just pulled a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven?!

Even though I am obviously infatuated with the entire home fragrance collection, I still love the body and bath products. I love that they have kept their timeless and classic scents around such as Warm Vanilla Sugar, Cucumber Melon and especially their holiday scents but it is also nice that they are continuously coming out with new scents. I love to try new things! Here lately they have came out with some really great scents such as Cashmere Glow, which is the latest lotion that I have added to my collection and their newest, which is Forever Red. If you haven’t tried it, you most definitely should! I received the sample size in my Cosmo VoxBox from Influenster and have absolutely fell in love with it. I love rich, sensual fragrances and this fragrance really hits the nail on the head. It’s perfect for date night, or a night out but can also be worn as an everyday fragrance. It’s perfect and so very versatile. It is classified as one of Bath & Body Works Signature Collections but it runs a little higher in price. The products aren’t in the standard Signature Collection bottle, the bottles are a little fancier, hence the higher price. The prices run from $15.00 up to $44.50. The cheapest being lip gloss and most expensive being the perfume. I say the perfume is well worth the price and I will definitely be buying more when my sample size runs out! Once a Bath & Body Works lover, always a Bath & Body Works lover!

Cosmo VoxBox 2012

I received my first VoxBox from Infuenster!!! I am SO excited!

Cosmo VoxBox 2012

For those of you who are wondering what in the world Influenster and VoxBoxes are, you can find out all about it HERE! I have been a member since August and I just qualified for my first box. It take patience but it’s worth it; being about to try out products and give your feedback is really fun!

Like I said, I have been a member since August and since they have relaunched. They relaunched in September so I didn’t spend much time on the old site but I did notice that the site is easier to navigate. There are also a lot more features and activities to do. I really like how interactive it is.

The VoxBox that I received is called the Cosmo VoxBox. The box was filled with some really good stuff!

Venus Razor, Refill, & Coupon

Venus Embrace Razor & Venus Olay Refill: I have used Venus Razors before but I usually just buy what is on sale. That’s me, always looking for a sale! I am excited though to try out the Venus & Olay refill blade. I also got a coupon for $2 off refills, which is awesome and a card that said any Venus blade refill fits any Venus razor handle! How cool is that? I may be the only who didn’t know that but I was really excited to hear that. I have thrown away a lot of those!

Ghirardelli Sea Salt Escape

Ghirardelli Sea Salt Escape:¬† I admit it, my husband and I have already indulged in some of this! OH. MY. GOODNESS! I am a lover of anything sweet and salty but this really took it to another level of delicious. The milk chocolate was so smooth and creamy and the bits of almond and flecks of sea salt complemented it just perfectly. My husband, who doesn’t like the sweet and salty combo even asked for a square! I definitely recommend giving this a try!

FriXion by Pilot Pen

FriXion by Pilot Pen:  These pens ROCK! I am a perfectionist in certain ways. If I am writing something and one of my letters is lopsided, I erase the whole word and write it again. These pens erase really well. They write REALLY smooth and they erase completely by friction, hence the name of the pen, FriXion. I received the pink and the black colors and am excited to use these everyday!

Bath and Body Works Forever Red Perfume

Bath and Body Works Forever Red Perfume:¬† I am a Bath and Body Works lover, I mainly love their home fragrances and candles but their other products are great too. I saw this a month or two ago before it had came out and they only had this size (.25 fl oz) but I didn’t ever smell of it. The description on Bath and Body Works is pretty accurate:

  • Top Notes: Fiery Pomegranate, Rare French Peach, Luminous Apple
  • Mid Notes: Red Peony, Night Marigold, Red Osmanthus
  • Dry Notes: Rich Vanilla Rum, Velvety Marshmallow, Oak Wood

I personally don’t smell the pomegranate very much but that’s OK by me since I am not a big fan of the scent. I haven’t actually put it on but the way it smells in the bottle is wonderful.

All items from Cosmo VoxBox

Well, that sums up everything I got in my VoxBox. I am very pleased with the products in the box and I hope I qualify for another VoxBox soon!

Disclaimer:  I received all products shown complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Finding Your God-given Talents

I have a HUGE sweet tooth. I mean, we are talking HUGE. I’ve always loved all things sweet and I’m absolutely positive that I always will. Another thing I love is shopping, who doesn’t? (My husband, that’s who! Fortunately, I love him enough to let that slide.) Basically, I love lots of things and I am excited to share my love with you guys!

I always liked being in the kitchen but I never thought I would end up pursuing it. I always thought I would end with a career in the health sciences or a degree in teaching but God has a way of showing you where you are supposed to be. Growing up, on the days that school was out, I stayed with my Granny and I LOVED scouring her plethora of cookbooks and looking at all the recipes. Of course, the first place I flipped was the dessert section. Who needs a main course when you can have dessert? Having such a sweet tooth, it wasn’t much of a surprise when I really fell in love with baking. That happened during my junior year in high school when I first met my now husband. I think I was just trying to impress him by baking awesome desserts and cooking delicious meals but looking back now, I realize that he helped me find one of my God-given talents. You find out who you are and what you are meant to do when you are least expecting it. I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I ended up exactly where God wanted me to be.