Secret Recipe Club: Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

Who am I trying to kid? Once I get something stuck in my head, there's just no convincing me otherwise. For the last couple of weeks I have tried not to think about the upcoming fall season. I have really tried to enjoy the last precious few weeks of summer, and not think about fall, but I'm fighting a losing battle. I am ready for fall. To me the beginning of September and Labor Day weekend will always be the unofficial beginning of  the fall season. That's how it was for the first 26 years of my life that I lived in the US, and it's still the same way now that I'm about to turn 40 and have been living in Mexico for almost 14 years. I want apples, pumpkins (I bought my first pumpkin of the season on Friday), rich spices, cooler days and warm bevvies. So, when trying to decide which recipe to make this month for The Secret Recipe ClubI was looking for something fall inspired.

My blog assignment this month was Food Ramblings, written by Elizabeth, who loves to cook, travel, and eat. (A woman after my own heart!) Elizabeth's blog has plenty of fall inspired recipes to choose from like Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Pumpkin Apple Muffins, and Pumpkin Butter Swirled Blondies (swoon!). Ultimately I ended up choosing to make her Oatmeal Craisin Cookies, because I thought not only would they taste like fall, but they'd also make for a great lunchbox treat for my kiddies. And because Jack, my youngest, absolutely LOVES dried cranberries.

I was not disappointed. I've always loved the combination of oats and cinnamon, and the ruby red dried cranberries added a slight tartness that made these Oatmeal Cranberry Bars hard to resist. My kiddies requested these in their lunch boxes every day last week. And on Saturday, my girls and I whipped up another batch for the coming week, but they disappeared before the end of the day. And I'm pretty sure that

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars -

Bacon Fried Rice {She Made/Ella Hace}

If you like bacon, then you are going to LOVE what girlichef (my foodie BFF) and I have cooked up for you in this month's installment of She Made/Ella Hace. Because everybody knows that bacon makes everything better!

The hardest part for me this month was deciding on what to make. I mean, really, the possibilities are endless. Did I want to make something sweet, try something new, or make one of the mouthwatering bacon recipes Heather (girlichef) has been sharing this month for #BaconMonth (hosted by Julie from White Lights on Wednesday)? (Hello, Flourless Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies!)

Then I got to thinking about what my grandparents used to make that had bacon in it, and I remembered this Bacon Fried Rice that Gramm only made on those rare occasions when she'd prepare a can of Chun King chicken chow mein for dinner. (Does anyone remember Chun King? Or am I just that old?!) Unlike traditional fried rice, Gramm didn't use cooked white rice. She'd actually make her Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice) and just add veggies, some scrambled eggs, and lots and lots of crisp, crumbly bacon. I made a few changes to Gramm's recipe, like omitting the chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, but the flavor was just as I remembered it. And I'm pretty sure Hubby, the kiddies, and even my suegro (father-in-law) liked it, because they all asked for seconds.

Thank you, Heather, for suggesting bacon as our theme this month because it reminded me of this childhood favorite. I can't wait to see your Black Bean and Bacon Flautas

Arroz Frito/Bacon Fried Rice -

Peanut Butter & Jelly Paletas (Popsicles) #SundaySupper

It's still summer... It's still summer... It's still summer... I have been repeating these words to
myself all week because in my mind it's already fall. The leaves are falling off the tree outside my bedroom window. I'm already dreaming about making all sorts of delicious fall goodies. Just yesterday I cooked 3 kilos (like 6 pounds) of Camotes Enmielados (Candied Sweet Potatoes in Piloncillo Syrup), which made my house smell like one of those Bath & Body Works fall candles. And my kiddies all go back to school tomorrow.

But as excited as I am about fall, a part of me isn't ready to let go of summer just yet. It's probably because the kiddies' summer break was only 5 weeks long this year, which has to be the shortest. summer. break. EVER! Thankfully Hubby kindly reminded me that just because school starts tomorrow doesn't mean that summer season is officially over. My calendar clearly marks that we still have one whole month of summer to enjoy. So with that in mind and because peanut butter and jelly is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of back-to-school lunches, I made the kiddies these PB&J Paletas (popsicles) as a cool (and delicious) afterschool snack to help beat the heat of the dog days of summer.

One bite of these Peanut Butter & Jelly Paletas and I'm sure you'll agree that they taste like a pb&j sandwich on a stick. Only way cooler!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Popsicles -

Secret Recipe Club: Homemade Fig Jam

When it comes to deciding on which recipe to choose for the Secret Recipe Club each month it usually takes me a couple of days, because I like to look through each and every recipe my assignments have posted to see what catches my attention. Then I ask Hubby and the kiddies to help me narrow down my long list of recipes to just one. But this month, I did things a little differently... (I'll explain how in just a minute.)

My Secret Recipe Club assignment this month was The Keenan Cookbook, a blog by husband and wife team Chris and Rachel. Chris does the cooking and writing, while Rachel is the one responsible for the gorgeous photography. And they have two very cute little boys.

The month of July was pretty much all about figs in our casita. Our friendly neighborhood ice cream man has been bringing us large bags of figs once or twice a week. We are major fig lovers so the figs usually don't last very long to use them in any recipes, even though I have quite a few fig recipes on my never-ending list of recipes to try.

On the day I sat down to start perusing The Keenan Cookbook blog, one of the first recipes on the breakfast recipes index was Fresh Fig Refrigerator Jam. I looked over at the huge bag that our ice cream man had just delivered with like 6 pounds of fresh figs and knew that I had found THE recipe. Five minutes later, I was in my father-in-law's kitchen cooking my very first batch of homemade fig jam. And now homemade fig jam is my favorite jam ever. It's delicious on toast, freshly baked biscuits, peanut butter & jelly burritos, pancakes, and it's even great on savory sandwiches too. (I'll be sharing one such recipe very soon, so stay tuned!) I haven't bought or made any other kind of jam since. It's that good!

If you have an abundance of figs and aren't sure what to do with them, this is the recipe for you. And don't forget to check out The Keenan Cookbook for more mouth-watering recipes like Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad, Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, and Grilled Marinated Salmon.

Homemade Fresh Fig Jam -