Blueberry & Lemon Oat Bars

The blueberries in my backyard are still in full force, but there has been a recent battle with the crows on who gets to consume them.  So while the creepy crows were away, I snuck in to pick some.  Side note: Did you know crows  possess a human facial recognition ability?…creepy.

I decided I wanted to go the route of a blueberry oat bar, because I figured you can’t really go wrong with that combo.  I also wanted a little zing to these so I added in some lemon for a pop.

Watch out for this blueberry mixture….it stains…I really have to start wearing my apron. 

And Voila! These taste great just as they are, but I also really liked them after they had sat in the fridge for a little while 

Blueberry & Lemon Oat Bars

1½ cups all purpose flour

1¾ cups rolled oats

¾ cups packed brown sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

¾ butter – cold and sliced

filling:

3 cups blueberries

1 lemon

2 tbsp cornstarch

½ cup granulated sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 375º.  In a bowl mix flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and baking soda.  Cut in butter and mix till crumbly.  Set aside 2 cups of mixture for topping.  Take remainder and press into a greased 9×13 pan.

2.  In a saucepan, stir in blueberries, juice of the lemon, cornstarch, and granulated sugar.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.  Spread blueberry mixture over the crust in pan.  Then sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over top and lightly press into blueberry layer.

3.  Bake 25-30 mins or until golden brown.  Let them cool in pan before cutting into.

Makes about 24

Per Serving

Calories 130      Fat 6g      Carbs 18g      Protein 1.5g

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Everyone Loves a Sale

Ok, time to take a little bit of a break from the cooking and visit my other addiction, shopping!
Since I’ve had a baby I discovered how ridiculously expensive everything can be and how very fast all the little things add up ,so I have spent a bit of time researching how to get some bargains on the most sought after baby and mama gear.
This bargain hunting was initially brought about when I was introduced to a website called Baby Steals on a Facebook mama group that I’m part of and I thought to myself that there must be some competition out there, and there was. Below are the bargain websites that I have compiled for you with the links and I have listed some their highlights.  To get the best deals, you have to check everyday as the products they carry are usually sold on a first come first serve basis.  My suggestion would be just to bookmark them and take a quick gander each day with your morning coffee….if you actually are granted that moment ;).  Also, for all my Canadian friends, these particular sites I have listed do ship to Canada.

1.  Baby Steals   www.babysteals.com 

  • 2 deals a day at 9am & 9pm MDT
  • Both baby and maternity products
  • 40%-80% off till sold out
  • Great brand names – Ergobaby, Babylegs and Mooshu just to name a few

2. Green Baby Bargains  www.greenbabybargains.com  
  • Deals at 9am CST Mon-Fri
  • Have products for parents, babies and children up to the age of 5
  • Use eco-conscious vendors and offer a minimum of 40% off
  • Have a points rewards system “My Rewards” for every dollar you spend
3. Mamabargains  www.mamabargains.com
  • Have 2-10 deals a day – within a 24 hour period
  • It is on a first come, first serve basis, so this site requires a more frequent check throughout the day
  • 40%-80% off baby and maternity products
4.  Eco Baby Buys  www.ecobabybuys.com      
  • Deal every day at 9am EST, first come first serve
  • Offers eco-friendly and organic products which are always at least 40% off
  • Make sure to check their blog as they have a lot of contests and giveaways
5. Baby Half Off  www.babyhalfoff.com  
  • 1 Deal a day at 50% off or more
  • Products that don’t sell out that day get put into the archives, which you can browse and buy from
  • Products for babies, parents and children 10 & under
Update:  
Found a couple of more sites to add onto this list

www.momandtotdeals.com
www.funkytricycle.com

Bacon Burger Soup

Here is another super easy slow cooker creation for you, Bacon Burger Soup! Don’t hesitate to double up this recipe, as you can store the extra portions in the fridge or freezer for later consumption.  I played around with some of the ingredients to make a little more friendly to the waistline, but it still provides a great flavour and will leave you with a full and satisfied belly.

I garnished my bowl of soup with ¼ of a whole wheat pita which I cut into strips and toasted in the oven.  Minimal calories, and a great alternative to crackers.

Bacon Burger Soup

1 lb extra lean ground beef

4 slices turkey bacon

2½ cups low sodium beef broth

1 can diced tomatoes

½ cup carrots – diced

4 stalks of celery – diced

1 tbsp dehydrated onion (or 1 tsp onion powder)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a saucepan, cook ground beef till brown and crumbly.

2.  Cook bacon in a pan or microwave to a medium crisp.  Crumble or dice into bits.

3.  Put all ingredients into slow cooker and stir.  Turn on low heat for 6-8 hours, or turn on high heat for 3-4 hours.

Makes 4 servings

Per Serving:

Calories 265      Fat 8g      Carbs 9.5g      Protein 35g

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

These Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies are thin little chewy treats.  To get these right, keep a close eye on them as they bake, as there is a fine line where they cross over from chewy to crispy and either way they taste good, but chewy is just better.  The peanut butter in them will still be really soft when you remove them from the oven and make you think they are not done, but they will set as they cool.  I found 12 mins to be just enough in my oven.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies 

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 cups rolled oats

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1.  Preheat oven to  375°.  Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg.  Stir in vanilla extract and peanut butter.

2.  Mix together dry ingredients and stir into wet ingredients.

3.  Shape into small balls and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet, they will expand quite a bit so leave room.  Bake for 12-15 mins.

Makes about 3 dozen

Strawberry Cupcakes

I was invited to a potluck style party and my first initial thought of what to bring was my go-to potluck dish, a Caprese Salad.  But I have been trying to challenge myself lately and didn’t want to just rely on my go-to, and since I had been on a roll with baking lately I decided to give cupcakes a go.  I wanted a fresh flavour since the party was falling on a hot summer day, so I chose strawberries as the star.  I have never made cupcakes before, but they turned out pretty good and I got to use an electric hand mixer, so it was winning all around.

Fresh out of the oven!

The best part, licking the beaters :).  For these cupcakes, I made a buttercream icing and then last minute decided to toss in some diced strawberries, yum.

The finished product! I don’t own any fancy icing stuff, so these just have icing slapped on top with a spatula, but I’m not picky.

Strawberry Cupcakes

½ cup unsalted butter – softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup lowfat vanilla yogurt (or whichever flavour you fancy)

1½ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup strawberries – diced

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

½ cup unsalted butter – softened

2 cups of icing sugar

2 egg yolks – beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp milk

1/8 cup strawberries – diced

1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Line muffin tin with liners.

2.  With an electric hand mixer, beat  butter and sugar until it is fluffy.  Beat in egg, yogurt and vanilla until mixture is smooth.

3. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then blend them into the wet mixture until smooth.  Fold diced strawberries in.

4.  Fill liners with mixture, it should fill each one up about halfway.  Bake for about 20-25 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Move to a cooling rack.

5.  For the icing, cream butter till soft with an electric hand mixer.  Gradually add half of the icing sugar, beating till fluffy and smooth.  Add egg yolks, vanilla and salt, blend well.  Add the rest of the sugar and milk, beat till smooth.  Add strawberries, blend in till mixture is a nice light pink and strawberries are distributed throughout.  Place in fridge for about 15 minutes.

6.  Once icing has set, and cupcakes have cooled, ice them as you please and enjoy

Makes 12 cupcakes

Low Carb Noodle Stir Fry

I have been trying to cut down alot of the carbs out of my diet in my attempts to shed some of these oh so stubborn preggo pounds, so when I came across Shirataki Noodles I was very intrigued.  Shirataki Noodles are noodles made out of tofu and come in different sizes (spaghetti, angel hair, linguine etc.).  I was skeptical of how good these could actually be, but they were significantly less in the categories of calories, fat and carbs in comparison to regular noodles, so I gave it a go.

I was impressed with the results of using it with a stir fry.  It says on the package that you can substitute it in pasta dishes as well, but I don’t think I can go there with these just yet….or ever :), but they work great in asian inspired dishes.

  Low Carb Noodle  Stir Fry

10-12 large prawns

½ tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic – minced

1 cup green beans

½ zucchini – chopped

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp teriyaki sauce

1 pkg of Tofu Shirataki Noodles

1.  In a large saucepan or wok heat olive oil, and add garlic.  After a minute stir in Prawns,  green beans and zucchini.  Cook until prawns are pink throughout and veg are tender. Add soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.

2.  While stirfry is cooking, drain liquid out of shiratki noodles and rinse well.  Boil in water for 2-3 minutes, drain and rinse.

3.  Pour stirfry over bed of noodles and enjoy.

Makes 2 servings

Per Serving:

Calories 133     Fat 2.5g      Carbs 11.5g      Protein 13g 

Cheeseburger Muffins

Yup, Cheeseburger Muffins.  Ok, I will admit this experiment started out with the intention to be Meatloaf Muffins, but I made several substitutions to make these healthier and as a result the texture was more burger than meatloaf….So yay for Cheeseburger Muffins!  The great thing about these are that they provide you with some portion control and whatever you have left can be tossed in the freezer and reheated when needed, so make extra.

Cheeseburger Muffins

1lb extra lean ground beef

¼ cup onions – caramelized and finely diced

3 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp skim milk

1 large egg

3 tsp worcestershire sauce

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

12 small cubes of low fat cheddar cheese

Topping:

1 tbsp ketchup

1 tsp yellow mustard

½ tbsp cider vinegar

3 tsp brown sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.  Mix all ingredients except the cheese and topping in a bowl.  You can use a fork, but your hands will work best.

2.  Fill 12 muffin tins with the mixture.  Push cubes of cheese into the centers of each muffin.

3.  Place muffin tin in oven.  While the muffins are baking, mix all ingredients of the topping in a small bowl, set aside.

4.  Remove muffin tin after 15 mins, brush topping over each and then return to oven for another 10-15 mins.

Makes 12

Per muffin:

Calories 108      Fat 4.5g      Carbs 7.5g      Protein 12.5g