Fresh Mamas Cooking Club Week 4

Welcome to FMCC Week 4! We changed things up a bit this week in order to accommodate some members who can't make it to our usual meet up day/time. This day didn't coincide with our CSA delivery, so we decided to focus on pantry basics -- items most people buy at the store, but can easily make themselves.  We made Chewy Granola Bars, Whole Grain Pancake Mix, and Homemade Hamburger Helper Mix.

I have to say, we had so much fun today! With only one item that required the stove, we spent most of the time measuring,  mixing, stirring, and LAUGHING! I was so thankful to have all these ladies here to work with me -- doing things that I normally do by myself and enjoying it so much more. Food prep is definitely more fun with friends!
making granola bars (and laughing!)
making homemade hamburger helper is so easy, you can do it with a toddler on your hip!
Homemade Hamburger Helper Seasoning
First make a bulk batch of seasoning with:
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
-- Mix all seasoning ingredients in small bowl or pint mason jar and mix thoroughly. This makes 5 servings of seasoning--
Homemade Hamburger Helper (Printable version)
1 pound ground beef
1 cup hot water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups elbow or small shell macaroni
3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Brown ground beef in large skillet
2. Add hot water, milk, and seasoning
3. Add macaroni
4. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low 10-12 minutes until pasta is tender.
5. Once pasta is cooked through, add cheddar cheese and stir well
Keep the ingredients for Homemade Hamburger Helper on hand and I guarantee it will save your day (or dinner) one day!
*adapted from Chickens in the Road
Whole Grain Oatmeal Pancake Mix (Printable version)
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
5 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1. Grind the oats in a food processor until mostly a flour consistency
2. Mix oats and remaining dry ingredients in stand mixer on low speed (or by hand), slowly pour the oil into the bowl while mixing. Once all the oil has been incorporated, stop mixing and squeeze a clump of the mix in your hand. If it stays together, you are done, if it is crumbly, add oil one tablespoon at a time until it is correct. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or indefinitely in the fridge or freezer. I like to fill a quart mason jar for the pantry and freeze the remainder in a ziplock bag.
Pancake Recipe
2 cups pancake mix
3/4 -1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1. Preheat greased (I use coconut oil) griddle to 350 degrees (or skillet on medium-high heat)
2. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook about 2-3 minutes first side, 1-2 minutes second side.
*If you do not have buttermilk on hand take a 1 cup liquid measuring cup and pour 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice in the cup, fill remainder of 1 cup with milk. I do this all the time and it works perfectly!
This recipe quickly earned a spot on the "Mama Love" list in all the FMCC households. Easy, healthy, and delicious!
*Update 2/2/2014
Thank you to Fresh Mama follower, Lisa K. for doing a little experimenting at home and coming up with this whole grain biscuit recipe using the pancake mix!
Whole Grain Biscuits 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2 cups mix
2/3 cup buttermilk or regular milk (soured with 2 teaspoons white vinegar)
1. Mix pancake mix with buttermilk or milk, stir until well combined.
2. Using an ice cream scoop, drop onto baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Could not be easier!
Thank you Lisa, for the recipe and the photo!

I originally found the pancake mix recipe on the fabulous Mel's Kitchen Café!
the amazingly easy and delicious chewy granola bars!
Chewy Granola Bars (Printable version)
*These bars are a "must" make recipe. Especially if you have any family members with nut allergies. Homemade means YOU control the ingredients! I'm told commercially prepared "nut-free" granola bars are hard to find and very expensive. The homemade bars price out at under $2 per recipe and you get waaay more bars than what comes in a commercial package! I promise, once you try them, you will be making them again and again*
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats (you MUST use quick oats or they will be crumbly)
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate chips, flaked coconut, raisins or nuts for toppings (1/4 cup total)
-Lightly coat a 9x13 baking sheet with cooking spray (coconut oil or vegetable oil)
1. Stir oats and rice cereal together.
2. Melt butter, honey, and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat.
3. Once mixture become hot an bubbly, allow to simmer for 2 minutes more.
4. Add the vanilla and remove from heat.
5. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly coated.
6. Dump mixture onto baking sheet and spread out with a spatula.
7. Take a sheet of waxed paper and press down firmly on mixture. We used a smaller sized baking sheet to press the bars evenly.
8. Once bars are pressed firmly, add the toppings and gently press into top of bars.
9. Cover bars with wax paper and allow to set at room temperature for at least 2 hours. I find they harden even more overnight.
This post has been linked to Thrifty Thursdays
* Another recipe from Mel's Kitchen Café!
A post-cooking photo! We are missing 2 of the ladies in this photo, we had a total of 10, plus one neighbor who came by to see what we were up to. Look how nice and clean the kitchen is -- again, many hands make light work! Everyone took home a recipe of pancake mix (10 cups worth), 5 servings of hamburger helper seasoning, and a LARGE tray of granola bars.
This post has been linked to Live Well, Spend Less Thrifty Thursdays


  1. Fresh Mama -- The granola bars were delicious! So simple to make that my 3.5 year olds helped out! They are soft so I recommend letting them set overnight! I cut them and put them in the fridge which keeps them firmer as well! Love it!

  2. The granola bars look yummy. Pinning now
    Thanks for sharing,

  3. Awesome Granola bars. Both kids (9 and 6) devoured them and hubby as well. 2nd batch made today. I agree on letting them sit overnight and cutting them in a container.


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