Homemade Granola Bars

I’ve been wanting to learn to make homemade granola bars for a while now. They are the easiest thing to grab while you are running out the door but I figured they must have a lot of steps and ingredients. When I was given this recipe from the family I nanny for I figured okay, maybe I can try this. But then when the 12-year-old whipped this out in about 20 minutes I figured this is something I have to try! Enjoy this simple and easy recipe.

2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
½ cup wheat germ
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ cup dates, chopped and pitted
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350⁰. Butter baking dish and line with Parchment Paper.
2. Cover Paper with almonds and oatmeal and bake 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally.
3. Transfer mixture into large mixing bowl and add wheat germ.
4. Reduce heat to 300⁰.
5. Place butter, honey, sugar, vanilla and salt into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
6. Pour over oatmeal mixture and stir together. Stir in fruits.
7. Bake 25-30 minutes.
8. Let cool 2-3 hours before serving at room temperature.

Honey Glazed Carrots

This is my all time favorite carrot recipe. I am not too sure where it came from, I’m sure it’s a variation of some recipe I found online once and of course changes, because, well that’s what I do. It’s pretty simple and doesn’t take too long to whip up. It’s great for big dinner parties because you can fit a ton of carrots into a skillet at once. Enjoy, I know I will.

Honey Glazed Carrots

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs carrots
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth, or water
½ cup honey
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Heat oil on high in a skillet and add carrots.
2. Cook for 2 minutes and then add broth, honey, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper.
3. Bring carrots to a boil and lower heat to medium.
4. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Uncover and let cook for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until honey has completely glazed carrots.


Pan Fried Pork Chop with Caramelized Apple and Onion Glaze

2 Tbsp olive oil
5 Pork Cops
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion
1 shallot
2 Fuji apples
1 tsp sugar

1. Place pork chops on plate and season with desired amount of salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic on one side.
2. Let sit 15-20 minutes to bring to room temperature. This will help with even cooking.
3. Oil the bottom of a frying pan and cook the pork chops on medium for 4-5 minutes each side. When you flip to cook the second side of the chop season again and allow the seasoning to sit on top of the meat.
4. After meat is cooked remove from pan and cover.
5. Add another 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add sugar, apples, shallots and onions. Sautee on medium while constantly stirring to ensure nothing burns.
6. When finished onions will be translucent and the apples will be golden.
7. Turn heat off and place chops back into the pan. Cover and let sit a few minutes to get the temperature of the pork back up.
8. Serve with apples and onions over the pork. No apple sauce needed.


Penne Ala Vodka

In Italian families sauce is a very important thing. Every family has their own recipes that get passed on for generations and generations. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, families actually share recipes with friends. At my high school graduation party my mom made four batches of vodka sauce and everyone loved it. Let me tell you, an Italian women hearing that someone loves her sauce is like a baseball player winning the World Series. But when my friend, whose mother is from Italy, told my mom her vodka sauce was better than his mom’s, I thought she died and went to heaven. Below is her recipe which came to her via a family friend.

¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 shallots, sliced
3 scallions, chopped
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
½ cup fresh basil
½ cup vodka
1.2 cup grated cheese
1 can crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes

1. Saute garlic, shallots and scallion in olive oil on medium-high heat.
2. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes stirring often.
3. Add vodka and seasonings, simmer for 15 minutes covered.
4. Slowly add heavy cream and then grated cheese and let cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Once sauce is cooled, place in a covered Tupperware container and let sit in refrigerator overnight.
6. Heat in saucepan and serve over pasta the next day.

Why I Gave Up My Disneyland Annual Pass

A big perk for me moving out to Los Angeles was the proximity to Disneyland. No, no, it wasn’t a reason I moved but yes it was an amazing plus. The friends I had when I moved out here all had Disneyland Annual Passports, or APs, and we took the hour drive regularly. Whether it was to spend the entire day or just catch a show or grab dinner, it always seemed worth the drive.

A pass holder is definitely one of a kind. We are Disney fanatics, from loving the movies, rides and shows, to knowing exactly how to time getting from one end of the park to the other, right in the middle of a parade. More often than not, we end up driving for hours (LA traffic), to go on a ride or two and turn around and come back.

Three and a half years ago when I first moved to LA I decided it was worth it to drop just under $200 to go to the park 170 company-selected days out of the year. Okay, okay, I think in that first year I went 18 times, not 170, but that still means each trip only cost $11.11 for admission. Then in 2012, just when they opened the 12-acre Car’s Land (based on the Pixar movie with the same name) AP holders around Southern California were up in arms. They were raising our ticket prices at an average of 30%.

At this point I had upgraded a time or two and was paying for the Deluxe Pass with only 50 blackout days a year and 10% off a certain retailers and restaurants on the property. The new cost of my ticket would be $469.

Currently APs range from $279 a year all the way to $669 for no blackout dates after the second price hike in June of this year.

Yeah, you heard… err, read me right. $669 a year to go to Disneyland. Now if I was a teenager, with no job, who was home schooled, and did my schooling on the drive to Disney, then yeah I can see paying close to $700 a year on admission alone. But as a 20-something, with a job (or three) and a social life that doesn’t always consist of the mouse, I just can’t do it.

Chris and I both did not renew our passes this year, along with a couple other friends. It’s nothing against the company, I get it, they need to keep their lights on too… umm yeah, but I need to keep my lights on as well and a $34 payment (with a $92 initial deposit) is not something I am looking to pay each month.

Instead this money has been redirected toward paying off my debt and living just a little more comfortably. Yeah I know, $34 a month isn’t outrageous to pay but when I am so far in debt to begin with, I have no right spending money on such an unnecessary expense.

This article sites prices from the Orange County Register and the Disneyland Annual Passport Web site.