All you mamas already know I'm a tightwad with my money...especially at the grocery store. I'm totally floored by the price of most dry cereals, especially granola! What's the deal? I mean, if granola promised me I could grow a cup size in my bra or that my kids would all go to bed on time, then sure, maybe I would fork over the big bucks...maybe. But, it's cereal, for cryin' out loud! And it's SO easy to make it yourself at home. I save even more money by ordering my organic rolled oats in bulk from my local health food store (it's also a great workout to lift and haul a 50-pound bag of rolled oats!).

Granola is one of those recipes that you can just have fun with. If you don't have one ingredient, just leave it out. If you have something to stick in there, go ahead and stick it in. The only thing it must have is a large base of oats. I've even left out the wheat germ, grape-nuts, and flax meal, and it was just fine. Just aim for about 10 cups of dry stuff for every 2 cups of sugar/oil/honey mixture and you'll be a-okay.

7 cups rolled oats
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup grape-nuts cereal
1/2 cup flax meal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar (or natural cane sugar)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Cherry Quilt Pie

The magic of this pie is not when you cut into it, but when you gaze at it's glory and marvel at the detail. My mama used to paint a quilt pie for my sister's birthday, because she loved cherry pie. Being the awesome woman that she is, she wanted to make it extra special, so she painted a design on top of the pie with egg white and food coloring. She spent such a long time making it look beautiful. She even designed it to look like a quilt with different designs on each block. It was so hard to cut in to that amazing pie! But, somehow, we managed. 1

My youngest daughter, Kenna, wanted a cherry pie for her sixth birthday so I decided to take after my mama and make a quilt pie. However, because of sheer number, I knew a single pie would never do the trick, so I multiplied the dough recipe by 2.5 (I doubled it and then added enough ingredients to make a single crust) and made a double-crust pie in my 9 1/5 x 13 cooking dish. It turned out beautiful and delicious!!

First, I made the recipe for the pie crust. I modified one of Martha Stewart's that she calls Pate Brisee, which is just fancy talk for pie crust. Sorry, Martha, I don't do fancy. I do pie.

Baked Vegetable Campanelli

You probably already know that when I cook, I COOK! I wanted to come up with a new vegetable lasagna, but I was way too lazy to do the layering. So, I decided to just dump everything in one big bowl and dish it out. It turned out to be fabu-tastic (and I don't just go throwing around a word like THAT!). If you have a hankering for white vegetable lasagna, try out this recipe.2

Now, remember, when you make a casserole or any main dish like this, you should consider doubling, tripling, or even...dare I say it?...quadrupling the recipe. You can just freeze the extra meals to eat later.

I made four 9" x 13" pans--one to eat that night and three more for the freezer.

Homemade Hash Browns

Sure, you an buy frozen hash browns at the grocery store. But have you read those ingredients lately? There's a whole lot more than potatoes in that bag! Also, why not hold onto your hard-earned money and make them yourself? Seriously, it's not that difficult!3

First of all, there is one trick to crispy hash browns. You've got to GET THE MOISTURE OUT! I don't care how you do it. You can squeeze the grated potatoes with some paper towels. You can use a rice crisper. Or you can put them on the roof of your car and take a two-hour drive through the desert. Okay, maybe not that last one. But, get those taters dried out!

Homemade Hash Browns:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and grated
Montreal Steak Seasoning (or just plain old salt and pepper)

Power-Packed Protein Bars

I was going to pick up some protein bars at Sam's Club the other day, and was frozen in mid-reach when I saw how much they cost. Are you kidding me? They were about fifty cents a piece! And that's cheap! When you pick them up at the grocery or convenience store, they can be up to $1 each. I don't know about you, but that's a mighty hefty price for protein!4

I decided to roll up my sleeves and make my own protein bars. I got in the kitchen and added some of this, a little of this, a lot of that. Before I knew it, I had four dozen protein bars at a tiny little fraction of the cost. Now, before you get in the kitchen and make up some of your own, I need to give you a warning.

I'm a big fan of fiber.

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