Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Granola bars

It's no secret that I love granola.  Crunchy, crumbled, bars, nutty, fruity, spicy....I love it all.  My favorite granola recipes are here and here.  I was super excited to try this recipe that I saw on pinterest.

Granola Bars

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats {not rolled oats!}
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
1.  In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. 
2.  In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. 
3.  Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. 
4.  Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan {about 12x8x1} and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. {If your pan isn't small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together.} 
5.  Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Recipe Notes: If your granola bars don't seem to be staying together when you cut them, you may have not boiled the mixture long want it to make it just past the softball stage. OR you made them too thin or you didn't pack them in tight enough. Stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes and that should help keep them together. {Be sure not to keep them in there too long or else they'll become super hard!} The next time you make them, try boiling for an extra 15 seconds or so.

Get your honey/sugar/butter mixture warm and bubbly.  

Add the wet and dry ingredients.

Put the mixture in your dish.  Make sure you press down and pack it tight.  I used a spatula sprayed with coconut oil to pack it in.

Sprinkle with chocolate chips and flatten again.

Delish.  I love these and the minis did too.  I think adding the rice crispy cereal gives these the texture of store bought granola bars, which I know most kids prefer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trendsetting and Convenient?!?!

I was chatting with a good friend of mine the other day about our family's eating habits and my blog.  I was telling her that I am struggling to find the time to try new unprocessed recipes and while we are still trying our best to eat completely unprocessed, it has gotten much harder given our family's current situation.  And then my friend reminded me that giving up all processed foods was our 2012 resolution and this is 2013, so it's time to stop holding myself to 2012 standards and start thinking like a trendsetter and focus on 2013.  And that comment got me really excited  because I realized I could share with you a super convenient cooking sauce from Rick Bayless.

Even though this is a pre-package processed food, I was happy with the label:
INGREDIENTS: Water, roasted tomato, ancho chile, chicken base (oven roasted chicken with natural juices, salt, sugar, cornstarch, rendered chicken fat, yeast extract, natural flavors, onion powder, rice flour, maltodextrin [from corn], turmeric powder), dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, guajillo chile, garlic, salt, chipotle chile, sesame oil, paprika, vinegar and spices. ALL NATURAL. NO PRESERVATIVES. No gluten ingredients used.

I followed the directions on the back of the sauce, using a beef chuck roast.  

Brown all sides of the meat in a dutch oven (don't have one....had to use a skillet!)

Add sliced red onion, the sauce, and 1.5 cups of water.

Cook at 325, for about 2 hours.


Serve on tortillas with fresh shredded Mexican cheese, fresh cilantro, sour cream and your favorite toppings (mine are avocado, tomatoes, avocado, avocado, and more avocado).

Totally delish.  Totally easy.  Totally 2013.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Macedonian Feast (AKA Best Meal EVER!!!!!!)

Right now, I am very excited.  I have a meal that I have been dying to share with you, and I finally have a chance to sit down and type this out.  Here's what you need to know about this meal.

1.  It is hands-down the single-most delicious homemade meal I have ever eaten.
2.  I didn't cook it.
3.  My friend that did cook it calls garlic, "Macedonian Perfume."

Kofte (Macedonian Kebobs)

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 garlic head (or more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/c up bread crumbs (may need more for better consistency)
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil for frying
1.  Mix meat, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
2.  Remove crusts from bread slices and moisten in wine or water.
3.  Add bread and egg to meat. Knead mixture.
4.  Shape into 1-inch kabobs, and sauté in  oil. 
5.  When meatballs are cooked and browned on all sides, place immediately in covered casserole and keep warm until ready to serve.

Lebanese Spinach with Rice and Pine Nuts
  • 2 cup uncooked rice (I use Trader Joe's organic brown rice)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (or more)
  • 1/4 tsp black peper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1.  Simmer the rice in 4 cups of water until the water has been absorbed and rice is tender.
2.  In a medium pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil, and saute the pine nuts over medium heat until golden.  Set aside.
3.  In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and saute the chopped onion for 4 minutes.  Add the spinach, mustard, pepper and salt.  Saute over medium heat for 12 minutes.  
4.  In a large bowl, mix the rice, pine nuts, and the spinach mixture.  Sprinkle with the fresh lemon juice and serve hot.

Shopska Salad
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large cucumer, unpeeled and chopped
  • 4 green or red peppers, roasted or raw, chopped (Optional)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped, or 6 green onions, sliced (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I always add way more - I LOVE parsley)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil (or light tasting oil)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Bulgarian or feta cheese, shred the block of feta with a cheese grater
    (don't crumble it)
1.  Place tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion and parsley in a large bowl and toss.
2.  Place oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste in a screw-top jar. Cover and shake until well blended.
3.  Toss dressing with vegetables, turn into a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with crumbled cheese and portion on chilled plates.

My amazing-beautiful-garlic-loving friend also brought a cheese zelnik with ajvar.  I'm not going to share the ajvar recipe because I think it's a Macedonian family secret.  But you can google it and find your own recipe.

Here is the shopska salad.  I could have licked the bowl, it was so good.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I licked the bowl.

My minis loved the Lebanese rice.

Here's the kofte with the rice.  They were equally delish served cold the next day.  (For breakfast, I confess).

Like I said....hands down, the best homemade meal I have ever had.  I am hoping to recreate it myself very soon.  And you should too.  And after you eat it, you should go breath on your spouse and find out how much they really do love you.

Speaking of love, I thought I'd share this photo of my 3 loves.  You may notice something different about my oldest mini.  He got a haircut :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Monsanto, GMOs, and YOU!

I usually try to keep my blog very light-hearted and funny, but today I have to share with you some information that you must know about.  It is very frightening.....much scarier than people eating hard boiled eggs that have been soaked in food dyes and sitting around at room temperature for days.

Monsanto is now above the law in our country.  They can do whatever they want to our food supply and they will be protected.

"Using the deceptive title of Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735 of this bill actually grants Monsanto immunity from federal courts pending the review of any GM crop that is thought to be dangerous."--source 

This is scary scary business.  Basically, if 10 years from now we all have cancer from a GMO produced by Monsanto, our government will protect Monsanto.

What are GMOs?  Genetically Modified Organisms are plants in which their DNA has been altered in the laboratory so that they produce more desirable products.  I don't care if you believe in God or Mother Nature, that is scary stuff!!!!  Monsanto loves GMOs because they can make food that is more "sellable" to consumers and continue to increase their ridiculous yearly profits!!!!

I don't know about you, but I prefer an imperfect lumpy, bumpy garden tomato over a grocery store tomato that has been modified to keep it fresh over the 4 weeks of transport it undergoes from factory farm to the store.

GMO foods have not been proven to be safe.

What can you do?

Here's some more reading material.

Educate yourself.  Read labels.  Buy organic.  Plant a garden.  Don't put your head in the sand and pretend like this won't affect you and your family.  Put some time into learning about this to protect your health!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A decade of birthdays!!!

Today is my oldest mini's birthday!!!  Those of you that have been reading my blogs over the years know that on my oldest mini's birthday, I always like to write a little reflection about the day that I met him and first became a mom.  If you're interested in reading those reflections, you can find them here or here.

Today is an extra special birthdayday for me because it is my oldest mini's 10th birthday!  And ten years ago, when I was a new mom, I had a team of pediatric specialists sit me down and explain, in detail, all the things they had found wrong with my newborn mini.  From head to toe, they found deformities...his heart, his kidneys, his spine, his pelvis, hip, leg, knee, and foot.  We were at a large teaching hospital in a huge city, and these doctors were telling me they had never seen a baby born with such an odd mix of deformities.  They told me they didn't know what his quality of life would be, and their expectations for his physical, cognitive, and emotional development were very low.  

Today, I want to publicly thank that team of doctors.  Their words started me out on my journey as a mother with no expectations.....I had the freedom to accept my mini for who he was on that day, with no expectation for who he would become in the future.  And thank God I never held my mini to my expectations because he has far exceed anything I could have ever dreamed.  

My oldest mini has had more surgeries than I can count.  He had his first operation when he was 6 weeks old, his latest operation was 4 weeks ago.  When he was 6 years old, he endured 5 months of what has been described to us as the most excruciatingly painful process a human being can go through.  This past summer, my mini was given a gut-wrenching choice on another leg surgery he would need.  And he decided that he was done.  His leg was never going to be what he wanted it to be, and it was time to let it go.  

You could say that I didn't expected that.  

But what I really, truly would never have expected would be the sheer strength, grace, and courage in which my mini has endured these past 4 weeks.  He has not once ounce of self-pity, he has never asked, "why me?"  He graciously and lovingly accepts the body that he has been given by God and he dedicates himself to taking care of his body and pushing himself every single day.  He strives for independence, but willingly accepts help when he needs it.  He effortlessly puts everyone else at ease and he laughs.  In fact, he laughs a lot.

My oldest mini inspires me every single day.  He is the absolute rock of the McGhee family.  He keep our priorities in check and he brings more laughter to any one household than I could have ever imagined.  I am blessed to be by his side through his amazing journey.  

So, to my oldest mini.....Happy Birthday to the most amazing person I have ever met.  Everyone who knows  you is touched by your tenacity and strength.  You humble people everywhere you go.  You fill my life with tears of joy and tears of laughter.  You have been a gift that I could have never expected to receive.  And I am certain that you will fill the next 10 years with far greater things than I could ever expect.  So, I will let you write your own story...and I will happily love and cheer you on every (one-legged...for now!) step of the way.

And....because this is a cooking blog, I will share my oldest mini's favorite recipe.....baked tacos!  It is really so simple, you don't need a recipe.

  • hard taco shells
  • cooked taco meat (I used ground beef with our favorite taco seasoning)
  • shredded cheese (I used chihuahua)
  • favorite taco seasoning (lettuce, olives, peppers, onion, sour cream, guacamole, salsa)
1.  Preheat oven to 400F.
2.  Line up taco shells in a 13 x 9 pan.
3.  Fill shells with meat and then cheese.
4.  Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
5.  Top with your favorite toppings.

These are totally delish, and, for some reason, make the tacos easier and less messy to eat?!?!

We were celebrating my oldest mini's birthday, so I served my tacos with St. Patrick's Day munch.  "What is St. Patrick's Day munch?" you ask.  I am afraid to post that recipe here, for fear that I will lose readers.  St. Patrick's Day munch is a glorious mix of Lucky Charms cereal, peanuts, pretzels, and m&m's, coated with melted white chocolate.

My other side dish was rainbow jello.

OK, so maybe I'm not as proud of that birthday meal as I am of the birthday boy!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back in business

I'm back!!!!  Thank you all for checking in on me during my time away.  And thank you so much for coming back and joining me again!

I told you that my oldest mini had surgery.  I am not going to go into details today, but I will say that my oldest mini had a life-altering operation.  He has faced a huge loss, both physical and emotional, that was (and is) very painful.  As his mom, I have been (and will be) by his side through every moment.  He is doing ah-may-zing.  He is flying through recovery and is anxious to get started on his rehab.  And in the moments where most people would give up and cry, he has pushed through and found something to laugh about.  I feel like he's kind of the best person in the whole wide world.  

So what I am trying to say, is that I am coming back to this blog a different person than I was a month ago.  This blog will still be filled with my favorite yummy recipes.  This blog will still be filled with funny stories of my crazy minis (my oldest mini's operation has supplied me with tons of new material).  And this blog will still  serve to encourage you to take care of your health and to love and respect the body that you have.  But I don't think you go through what we have gone through and not come out a changed person.  So, just a heads up....I may more sensitive and emotional that I used to be. 

Today, I want to do something a little different.  I want to talk about how you can support someone when they are going through a difficult time.  The McGhees were overwhelmed by the support we received from our family, friends, and community this past month.  Like, way way way overwhelmed...many times to the point of being uncomfortable by how much other people wanted to help us out.  I know personally whenever I hear someone has suffered a loss or is going through a rough time, I always want to do something to help, but I never know what to do.  This is what I've learned.....

Do something.

If you are a gifted letter-writer, write them a letter.
If you are a gifted cook, make them a dinner.
If you are a gifted fitness expert, come to their house and help them workout.
If you own a shovel, shovel their driveway.
If you can hold hands and listen, hold their hand and listen.
If you are a gifted shopper, send them a gift.
If you can drive, help transport children.
If you can walk a dog, walk their dog (and lie when they ask how she did on the walk).
If you are a gifted beer-drinker, bring over a case 6-pack of beer and drink it with them.

Get my point?  When people are going through a tough time, reach out to them.  They'll never forget what you did.

One thing that people did for us was set up a meal train.  It was incredible.  For three weeks, I had someone deliver dinner to my family every single night.  Talk about a gift!  We appreciated every single meal and some of the dinners have become our new family favorites.  I will try and share as many of those recipes that I can get my hand on.  Today, I am sharing one that I loved, Emeril's Vegetarian Chili.

Emeril's Vegetarian Chili


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 to 3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced, depending upon taste
  • 1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespooon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, or canned beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, or water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sour cream or strained plain yogurt, garnish
  • Diced avocado, garnish
  • Essence, recipe follows, garnish
  • Chopped green onions, garnish
1.  In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. 
2.  Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. 
3.  Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
4.  Add the tomatoes and stir well. 
5.  Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. 
6.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and spoonful of avocado. Sprinkle with Essence and green onions and serve.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

My favorite corn bread recipe would be perfect to serve with this chili.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup milk

1.  Cream together the butter and sugar in a medium bowl.  

2.  Add the eggs and beat well.  
3.  Combine the dry ingredients and alternately add the dry ingredients and milk. 
4.  Pour into a greased 9-inch square pan.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until center tests done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Temporarily Closing the Kitchen

The processed kitchen is going to be temporarily closed for a few weeks.  My oldest mini will be having surgery next week and we have been blessed with wonderful friends that have set up a meal train for us.  It is typically very unusual for me to ask or accept for help (or to relinquish control over what my family eats), but how could I say no to dinner being delivered to my family every night for a few weeks?  

In the past, I have blogged about the surgeries my oldest mini has been through.  I will not be doing that this time.  He is about to begin an amazing chapter in the already-incredible book of his life.  He is old enough now, that he is journaling himself now.  And I have decided that this is going to be his story to tell.  

But, please hold my oldest mini in your thoughts and prayers.  We are praying for minimal amounts of pain and for him to emotionally adjust to all the changes he will be going through over the next few months.

And, PLEASE, remember.....the unprocessed kitchen is not closing, just taking a little break.  If you sign up to follow my blog (on the right hand side of the screen), you can get email notifications of when I return.  Or, leave a comment or email me, and I will make sure to let you know when I am back up and running.