Granola Bars, Violet-Style.



This is a recipe that I haven’t made in EONS, but my friend Kat asked if I had a recipe, so I figured I’d post it for my own future use. My kids really love it, so I should probably make it again at some point, right?

Homemade Granola Bars Violet-style.

3 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup high-fibre, crunchy cereal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup melted margarine (or butter)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 cups of chocolate chips (or raisins, coconut, peanuts, etc.)
1 cup of honey (approx.)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray 11×13 pan with non-stick spray or grease with butter/margarine if you prefer.

2. Melt butter/margarine in microwave.

3. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, melted butter, brown sugar.

4. One things are well-mixed, add in chocolate chips (or nuts, raisins,etc) Then add as much honey as required to make everything sticky (usually about 3/4 of a cup – but it depends on your dry ingredients)

5. Firmly press ingredients into the pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. The bars will puff up around the edges a bit and the middle will still be soft. They will firm-up as they cool.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. Cut into bars and let cool fully in the pan before removing.



You can add all sorts of good things to these bars. When one of my kids had a health issue that necessitated extra fibre, we added some of that powder stuff you can dissolve in juice. If I want to send these to school with the kids, I leave out anything nut-related (since the schools around here are nut-free).  I have no idea how long these will last in storage because they usually don’t last more than a few days in our house.

Smoked Pork Ribs on the Kamado Joe.

Our BBQ has been on its last legs for a while now. Parts started disintegrating, rusting, or just falling off altogether. My husband replaced some of them and some parts we couldn’t find a match with which to replace.

I did a little informal poll on Facebook to ask how long people’s grills normally last – the range was pretty much 5-8 years with a few outliers on either side (3 years and 14 years). Ours had lasted about 7 years.

My friend Lena suggested that I look into a Big Green Egg. I did, and discovered that it was totally out of my price range once we factored in the various accessories we’d want for it. From there, however, I learnt about kamados and, from there, I discovered Kamado Joes. After a bit of research, we hopped in the car and picked one of the Classics up. I will spare you the big sales pitch, but I think they’re a good deal.

The first thing cooked on the new grill was.. frozen burgers. Easy, inexpensive, and I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they didn’t turn out beautifully – but they turned out well and we happily ate them.

Today I smoked pork ribs – a much, much, much longer process. But oh, man, the results were fantastic (if I do say so myself). I love to eat meat – but I am generally not fond of cooking it (because I’m always convinced that I’m going to kill everyone by undercooking it, so I compensate by burning the shit out of it).

But these ribs.. my goddess, they were heavenly. Just amazing.

The ribs that I bought were labelled “pork ribs” which, after some online research, I determined were St Louis cut. This was good because it meant that I didn’t have to do much clean-up on them to get them ready.

First, I took the ribs and removed the excess fat and the weird membrane. Then I brushed the ribs all over with a very light coating of cheap-o yellow mustard.

I whipped up a batch of this dry rub and coated the mustardy ribs in the rub. They then looked like this:


Dry rub on!

Dry rub on!

I left them to sit while I started up the Kamado Joe. I’m still learning (obviously) how to regulate the temperature, but I knew that I needed to do them “low and slow” – though various recipes called from temperatures ranging from 225 to 275. I went with 250F to keep it simple.

The 3-2-1 method that I found here seemed easy enough for me to follow – nothing complicated.

So, I tossed the ribs onto the pre-heated grill and set the timer for 3 hours… only to discover that I could not keep the temperature of the grill from going up and up and up. It didn’t help that the wireless digital thermometer I was using kept crapping out on me (and telling me that the temperature in the grill was about 40 degrees higher than what the thermometer on my grill said!)

I spent a lot of time running in and out of the house.

At the end of the 3 hours, however, things looked pretty good:


3 hours down, 3 to go?

3 hours down, 3 to go?


I took each chunk of ribs off of the grill and coated both sides liberally in honey and brown sugar (mmmm!) before wrapping them into little packages. No photo of this, sadly. While wrapping, I noted that the ribs looked more ‘done’ than I would have expected, so I decided to adjust the cooking time slightly.

I put the packets of meat back on the grill and set my timer for 40 minutes (instead of 2 hours). When the timer went off, I checked the internal temperature of the meat and found it was already at 190F. Eeep!

I unwrapped the meat, brushed both sides with a 50/50 mix of BBQ sauce and honey, and put them back on the grill for a total of 30 minutes (flipping them once after 10 minutes).

The 3-2-1 method became the 3-1-.5 method!

To be honest, I was pretty convinced that they would be overcooked – possibly dried out – given how dark the outside of the meat was. I was mentally making adjustments in my head, checking out some info on the Kamado Guru forums, and plotting how I’d do all of this differently for the next batch.

But when we sat down to eat… oh, holy heck, they were amazing. And not just the amazing that comes from spending 5 hours cooking something, either.

The outside was crispy and had some chewiness to it (from the honey/brown sugar) and there was a hint of a smoke ring on the inside, and the meat just fell off of the bone as we ate it.

So good. So very good.

So good. So very good.

It took 5 hours to make and about 10 minutes to eat them all. Totally worth it.

Next time I’m going to work on keeping my temperature a lot lower – I need to get used to the air flow and the vents and how they work together – but I would not be the slightest bit sad if the next batch turned out exactly like these did.

I’m so glad that I’ve got another package of ribs waiting in the fridge for next time.

Underpants Are Fun-derpants!

This blog has been pretty heavy on the food-related stuff, so it’s time to toss in a post about something else!

In an attempt to improve my sewing skills to the point that I can actually sew some of the bigger projects I’m holding onto, I decided to tackle a relatively easy pattern – underpants. I’ve had a bunch of instructions sitting on Pinterest FOREVER – but I ended up going with this instructional because it felt the most friendly to me.

First, I used one of my most comfortable pairs and created a pattern by pinning the existing pair to some kraft paper, sketching around each part, and then adding a seam allowance.

Then I pinned it to some fabric and cut it out.

I got out my sewing machine, put Oz on the TV in the bedroom, and painstakingly sewed everything together. My machine has three speeds and I spent a lot of time on medium.

The first pair was too tight. I had realized, while sewing, that I was using a bigger seam allowance than I had planned. Oops. But the bigger seam was easier to sew than a smaller one!

I retraced my pattern and added an extra inch to the side seams. Re-cut. Sewed all over again.

Played with elastic a bit (easier than expected to sew onto the fabric!) and .. shazam, I had a pair of lovely pink and purple underpants. I washed and dried them, and they still fit, so I’m considering that experiment a success.

I bought some lovely lime green fabric with which to make a few more pairs. If I start feeling fancy I might use some of my rubber stamps and some fabric paint to decorate a pair or two. As long as all goes well, I should be ready to start sewing dresses in, oh, a year or two.



So, the question – why sew underpants? A big part of it is because they require some degree of precision in cutting and sewing but also had a decent amount of forgiveness to them. I got to do some straight-line sewing, some curves, and attach elastic. I also got to use multiple type of stitches from my machine – a good experiment.

In theory, if I were faster at sewing, the cost to make my own would be less than it costs to buy underpants in the store – since I’m plus-sized, I generally don’t find my size at Walmart (especially since I prefer thongs over any other style) which means I often pay about $10 per pair (or I can shell out $25 for 5 pairs) at a minimum when I go to Addition-Elle. The cost of fabric and elastic, per homemade pair, comes to about $2 – not including the “cost” of my time.

At any rate, it’s fun and useful. Two things I like in my learnin’.

Banana-y Banana Bread.


Bananay Banana Bread!



There are probably 990 kabillion banana bread recipes on the internet and in every grandmother’s cookbook. The problem, according to my husband, is that none of those recipes contain enough bananas.  A lot of them tell you to use an overly ripe banana, or maybe two, but depending on the size of your bananas, this one can take as many as 6.

It should not surprise you that this is really banana-y banana bread.

Bananay Banana Bread.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas 


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture – stir just until moistened.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.


This banana bread is dense and .. well, there are a lot of bananas in it. You can adjust the cinnamon to your preference – we often use closer to a tablespoon because it compliments the banana flavour (and because we like cinnamon).

Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake!

This carrot cake would have tasted better if I had pulled together a home made frosting for it – but, instead, I used some “cream cheese flavour” frosting from a can. I’m not going to lie – even with subpar frosting, this cake totally hit the spot.  It’s SO carrot-y that it’s a bizarre shade of orange and brown (from the cinnamon and nutmeg) and so incredibly moist!

Carrot Cake


2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4.5 cups grated carrots


  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a 9”x 13” sheet pan (or two 9″ pans) with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl (or in your stand mixer bowl) mix together eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until well-combined.
  5. Stir in the grated carrots.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Cake is done when a skewer in the middle is not goopy.
  8. Cool fully before frosting.


You could add a cup of nuts and/or a cup of raisins to this if you felt like getting crazy with things. I am not a huge fan of raisins and was totally not surprised when I discovered that mine had expired a year ago – and decided not to use them.

This cake is really, really moist because it is full of oil. If you’re the sort of person who prefers to eat a bit lighter in the calorie department, consider swapping out some of the oil for some applesauce.




For some reason, this recipe didn’t make it here – so I am posting it now, even though there are no delicious éclairs in my kitchen right now.  I wish there were, and I would definitely be making some now if I had the ingredients handy, but it is ridiculous cold outside and I can’t bring myself to put on pants.

From my notes:

SO EASY! It was like magic watching them puff up. They really DO seem super-duper fancy and they really ARE super-duper easy to make. This looks like a really complicated recipe, given all the ingredients and steps, but it’s way easy.  For real. Trust me.

Chocolate Éclairs

Makes about 10 éclairs.


For the choux pastry:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs

For the custard filling:

1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

For the mocha frosting:

1 stick butter, softened
2.5 cups icing sugar (make it in your blender!)
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strong coffee, cooled


Make the pastry:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Place a silpat mat on a large cookie sheet and grease lightly.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until butter is melted.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough. Remove from heat and move into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly so the eggs don’t cook before they’re mixed in!
  5. With a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, pipe the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips that are approximately 1.5 inches wide and about 4 inches long.
  6. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake for another 20 minutes. They’re ready when they’re puffy and golden and sound hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom.
  7. Remove them from the oven and immediately push a butter knife through the end, almost all the way through. This will let out steam and moisture – it’s also where you’ll be piping the custard in, so make sure the hole is large enough for that.
  8. Let cool completely.

Make the filling:

  1. Combine pudding and milk and mix according to package directions (easy!).
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Beat in 1/4 cup of icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding.
  5. Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip – you may need to enlarge the holes in the éclairs to fit the tip.
  6. Pipe the filling mixture into the éclairs until each one is full. You will likely have filling left over.

Make the frosting:

  1. Combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
  2. Mix until slightly combined, then add 1/4 cup of the coffee.
  3. Whip until the icing is light and fluffy.
  4. Smear onto the top of the eclairs. Or, if you’re fancy, do something fancy with a piping bag or, y’know, whatever.


Store in the fridge. These get soggy after a day, though, so don’t expect to be able to make them too far in advance of eating (which sucks, because once people try them they really want you to make them for all occasions!) Even though the recipe makes about 10, they will disappear really quickly.

Sriracha Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings.

Oh god yeah.

Oh god yeah.

My friend Kevin is gleefully married to Brenna (who bakes). Together, they make all sorts of delicious foods. When Kevin posted a photo of this recipe on Facebook, I kind of lost my mind and immediately asked my husband (who was out grocery shopping) to please bring home some onions and some bacon.

The original recipe called for Vidalia onions – which, for those unaware, are a trademarked onion. This is why it’s hard to find them at some stores, or at various points in the year. Whenever you see a recipe that specifies Vidalias, you can pretty much always substitute a “sweet onion” (of whatever type).  The only caveat is that Vidalias are usually very large, so you may need to pick up an extra sweet onion to compensate for them being smaller.

Enough talking, let’s make these delicious onion rings!

Sriracha Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings.


2 large sweet onions
3 tablespoons sriracha garlic sauce
1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar
16 slices of bacon (thin cut – NOT thick)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil, place a cooling rack on top, and lightly spray the cooling rack with non-stick spray.
  2. Peel the onions and cut them into 1/2 inch rings. Do not separate the rings. Set aside.
  3. Place the brown sugar in a shallow pan (pie plate, brownie pan) and break up any chunks.
  4. Place the Sriracha in a bowl. Find a basting brush. If you’re an organized person, you’ll know where that brush is. For everyone else, look through all of your drawers until you find one shoved into the back behind the turkey baster.
  5. Separate the onion rings into double slices (two rings that fit together). Keep only the larger sizes of rings – you can use the smaller rings For this dish you want the larger rings. The smaller, inner rings you can set aside and use in another dish or compost or put in your sandwich. Whatever works for you.
  6. Take 2 strips of bacon and dredge them through the brown sugar, making sure to coat both sides. Here’s hint number one: the more brown sugar, the sweeter and gooey these will be – and the more likely your oven will start to billow smoke halfway through cooking. We all make choices and we live with them.
  7. Using your basting brush, paint the sriracha sauce all over the onion ring. Make sure you’re still keeping the two rings together – no need to get between them with the sriracha!
  8. Wrap the bacon around the onion – overlap slightly and keep it snug (but not too tight). The bacon will shrink a bit during cooking. It will take two slices to go around the ring fully. Don’t overlap too much because the bacon underneath won’t cook as well if you layer it.
  9. Set each wrapped-up onion onto the rack. Space them out nicely. Admire them. Note how they look a lot like bacon-wrapped donuts. Appreciate that fact.
  10. Place the tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When the timer dings, gently flip each ring over.
  11. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. You know how bacon looks when it’s cooked perfectly? That’s how you’ll know when these are ready to come out of the oven.
  12. When they’re ready, take them off of the trays and put them onto a plate. They will be super soft and gooey (very gooey, if you used a lot of brown sugar). The bacon will get crispier as it sits, assuming you don’t just burn the hell out of your hands and mouth by eating these as soon as they hit the plate.


We basically created a room full of smoke by using a pretty substantial amount of brown sugar (that subsequently dripped down onto the tray and burned). To prevent this, you can either use less brown sugar (what?!) or you could switch out the lower tray for a clean one after the first 20 minutes of cooking.

Here’s a photo of my husband in our smoke-filled kitchen.

A teensy bit of smoke. No biggie.

A teensy bit of smoke. No biggie.