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Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bars

Here's a delicious recipe my daughters and I absolutely LOVE. And it's so easy to make. Enjoy! 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup whole cashews
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup honey
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a large baking sheet, spread out rolled oats and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Please oats in large mixing bowl. Line an 8x8" baking pan with waxed paper. In a food processor, grind almonds, cashews, and pecans for about 10-15 seconds, leaving some large chunks. Add nuts to the bowl, along with chocolate chips, wheat germ, cranberries, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together. 

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey and peanut butter. Stir this until it melts and turns smooth. Pour over oat mixture and mix well. Scoop mixture into prepared baking pan and press down, using a spatula to make it smooth and even. Place in freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and cut into 16 bars. Store in plastic wrap or container for 2 weeks--but they probably won't last that long! Makes 16 bars.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Pickled Beets

For anyone who likes homemade pickled beets but doesn't want to harvest them from the garden, here is the recipe for you.

 2 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 cups beet juice
1 teaspoon whole pickling spice
4 cans (16 oz) sliced beets, drained

Place sugar, vinegar, beet juice and pickling spice in a large saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Strain to remove pickling spice. Place sliced beets in saucepan with pickling juice and boil 2 minutes. Fill sterilized canning jars 1/2 - 1 inch from rim and cover with sterilized lids and rims. Tighten rims. Cool away from draft and cover jars with towel. Makes 4 pint jars or 2 quarts.
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Cookbook Preview ~ Martha Stewart's Appetizers

Martha Stewart's Appetizers

Snacks, Starters, Small Plates, Stylish Bites, and Sips
Hors d’oeuvres made modern: Today’s style of entertaining calls for fuss-free party foods that are easy to make and just as delicious as ever. With more than 200 recipes for tasty pre-dinner bites, substantial small plates, special-occasion finger foods, and quick snacks to enjoy with drinks, Martha Stewart’s Appetizers is the new go-to guide for any type of get-together. Buy the cookbook HERE. 

Martha Stewart is the author of dozens of bestselling books on cooking, entertaining, homekeeping, gardening, weddings, and decorating. She is the host of The Martha Stewart Show, the Emmy-winning daily syndicated television program, and founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which publishes several magazines, including Martha Stewart Living; produces Martha Stewart Living Radio; and provides a wealth of ideas and information on her website HERE. 

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Our middle daughter adores Sweet Potato Fries. Here's a nice version to bake for your family! 

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
3 tablespoons olive oil
Seasoned salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with oil and season with seasoned salt and pepper. Place on two lightly greased baking sheets, spreading to a single layer of chips on each pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning potatoes halfway through, until crisp and golden. Serves 4-6.
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Stir Fry Vegetables with Orzo

Here's a recipe I like to make in the summer using my fresh garden vegetables. Goes well with steak or pork chops. Enjoy!

1/2 pound orzo
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In medium saucepan cook orzo in boiling water according to package instructions. Drain. Meanwhile, in large skillet, saute vegetables in olive oil for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Add cooked orzo and mix well. Serves 4-6. 
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Back to School Tea Party

My daughters and I enjoy a good tea party, and a Back-to-School Tea Party is one your kids will love. In years past, I might surprise our daughters when they get off the bus, or I'd send cute invitations asking them to invite a special friend, even if it's a doll or teddy bear. Here are a few tea party ideas if you get the itch for a party.

Old-Fashioned Custard Pie

Here's a delicious recipe that we used to make when I was a girl. Enjoy! 

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup cold water

Custard Filling:
4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In small bowl, mix together flour and salt. Cut in shortening until resembles small coarse crumbs. Add half water, mix dough, and then add remaining water and mix until dough forms a ball. Roll out pie dough onto floured surface the size of your pie plate. Transfer to plate and crimp edges. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add half and half and milk and mix well. Pour into prepared pastry. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake on lowest rack (to ensure a nice brown bottom crust) for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 10-15 minutes until knife in center comes out clean. Center may be a little soft. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serves 8. 
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Frozen Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Here's a delightful cool recipe to serve on hot summer days. Enjoy! 

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, finely crushed
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/3 cup melted butter

1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 container whipped topping, thawed and divided
2 cups Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Candies, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and baking cocoa. Add melted butter and stir until all is combined. Press firmly along sides and bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Bake crush for 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in mixing bowl, whisk together chocolate pudding mix, milk, and peanut butter. Stir until thickened. Add half of whipped topping and fold into pudding until thoroughly combined. Stir in 1 cup chopped candies. Pour into cooled graham cracker crust. Spread remaining whipped cream over top. Sprinkle with remaining chopped candies. Freeze overnight or at least 6 hours before serving. Serves 8.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe. 

Sarah Loudin Thomas' Apple Crumb Pie

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first series is wrapping up with book #3, A Tapestry of Secrets, in August 2016. Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina where she is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading. Learn more about Sarah and her books HERE.

Sarah's Latest Book Release - 

For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she's prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long? Enter for a chance to win Sarah's books HERE. 

Sarah's Recipe for Marilyn's Apple Crumb Pie "The Family Recipe"

Readers often tell me my stories make them hungry. I have a hard time letting characters sit down to a meal without describing exactly what's on the table! In A Tapestry of Secrets my heroine, Ella, isn't much of a cook, but she's blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who are superb country cooks--many of them members of Laurel Mountain Church. So I thought I'd share a recipe from one of my "church lady" friends whose apple pie was SO much better than mine I begged for the recipe. Turns out the secret is Pillsbury pie crusts. Now that's a trick I can get behind! I'm sharing the recipe just as Marilyn wrote it out for me. She assumed I knew the basic techniques!

Crust: Pillsbury Crusts - red box, dairy aisle. Use single crust--put into pie plate, trim, flute.
Filling: Apples - cut, pared, sliced (Granny Smith is the best)
Sprinkle: 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 t. cinnamon
Topping: 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup butter
Bake: 400 degrees - 40 minutes (sometimes longer)

County Fair Funnel Cakes

Nothing stirs memories of the county fair more than Funnel Cakes, Corn Dogs, and Orange Julius. Here's an easy recipe to try at home when you get a hankering for one of these tasty cakes coated with powdered sugar deliciousness.

1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar
Canola Oil

In small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add milk, egg, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Heat oil to 375 degrees in large electric skillet, fill to 1 1/2 inches. Pour batter through funnel in a spiral motion to create a cake. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on plates lined with paper towels. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Makes 4-6 cakes. 
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.