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Top 10 Posts of 2012

It’s hard for me to believe that 2013 will mark three years since I started blogging here at Simplify, Live, Love. My style has changed a lot these last couple of years and I am really excited for 2013. I’m working hard to improve my posts and I hope it shows!

It’s that time of year again to reflect on the most popular posts on my blog. Knowing what you you all enjoy most helps me focus my efforts better! So I was really interested to look up this information a couple days ago.

And here are the top viewed posts on Simplify, Live, Love in 2012, starting with the 10th most viewed post and working down to the post that’s been read the most! Did you read all of these?

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#10. Homemade 9 Grain Bread

One of my most favorite breads of all time to make – it’s crunchy, delicious, and nutritious! 

blank#9. Overnight French Toast Breakfast Casserole

This is a relatively recent post of mine, and it’s gone crazy the last few months with the many holidays! It’s the perfect breakfast to make for company!!

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#8. What to Eat When the Pantry’s Empty

I wrote this post, partly in jest, when I saw someone found my blog by googling “What to eat when the pantry’s empty.” What I know about my own pantry is that it’s never really empty – it just contains the less popular items… Apparently, a lot of people face the same thing.

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#7. Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips in Toddlers

This post contains a lot of links and information about dealing with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips. I’m always sad when when people find this page because I hate the thought of other families going through what we went through. But I’m glad they found it, too, because I know it’s helpful!

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#6. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Canning Crushed Tomatoes

If you can tomatoes, this is a how-to for a really easy way to get the most out of your bounty!

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#5. Top 10 Tips to Save $$ ~ At the Grocery Store

Even if you don’t coupon, there are a lot of tricks to saving money on groceries. Here are my top 10 tips.

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#4. My Gutter Salad Garden

My husband built me this gutter salad garden last year! It didn’t yield anything for me…but I haven’t given up! I’ll be planting lettuce and spinach in a couple of months.

blank#3. Keeping a Low Grocery Budget by Shopping from Amish

We’re lucky to have Amish Bulk food stores not too far away, and I find lots of goodies there!

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#2. Happy Birthday Fruit Cake ~ A Tutorial

One of my all time favorite posts – a tutorial for making a fruit cake!

blank#1. How to Freeze Avocados

And my most popular post of 2012 – how to freeze avocados!

Is your favorite post among the top viewed posts on my blog? If not, I’d love to hear if you have an all time favorite post on Simplify, Live, Love!

Yogurt Parfaits & 3 More Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas

blankLooking for breakfast inspiration for the holidays? Look no further! Here is a recipe for Yogurt Parfaits with Berries & Better Oats and links for three more make-ahead breakfasts to simplify Christmas morning!

Better Oatsrecently sent me a sampler package of their Instant oatmeal. We’re not huge warm oatmeal fans at my house {and I call myself a crunchy mama…}, but I was very intrigued by their Organic RAW products. Highlights of the Raw Pomegranate Oatmeal include:

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  • Real Pomegranate
  • Made with 5 Organic, Whole Rolled Grains for a Thick & Hearty Texture
  • Good source of Protein and Fiber
  • Good source of ALA-Omega 3
  • 32 grams of Whole Grain per serving

Better Oats offers 23 delicious flavors in several lines, including RAW Pure & Simple?, Oat Revolution?, and MMM…Muffins?.

RAW Pure & Simple: RAW Pure & Simple is a better way to eat. We start with the finest quality 100% organic, whole grain oats blended with organic whole grains and seeds, like flax, barley and quinoa, for a wonderfully wholesome and nutritious breakfast. You’ll love all four thick, hearty multigrain texture and natural, robust flavors. RAW Pure & Simple is naturally good, straight from Mother Earth.

Oat Revolution: Raise your spoon and join us for an Oat Revolution! It starts with all natural 100% whole grain oats. We then add antioxidants and flax, a good source of Omega-3, and top it all off with a bold shot of flavor. All combine to create delicious oatmeal that keeps its rich, robust flavor all the way to your bowl. Take one bite and start your Oat Revolution!

MMM…Muffins: Everyone loves waking up to hot, fresh muffins for breakfast.
MMM…Muffins gives you that same delicious muffin taste you crave in healthy and nutritious 100% whole grain oatmeal. Our thick and hearty oatmeal is also a good source of fiber and omega-3, so it’s better than good, it’s good for you. Start your day off right with the indulgent taste of real muffin flavor in every bite…mmm.


Since I have a problem with mushy oatmeal texture, but love the health benefits oatmeal offers, I decided to see how else we could eat this wonderful sounding concoction. So, I got out my cute parfait glasses, bought some really nice Greek Yogurt and berries, and came up with these wonderful Yogurt Parfaits! The kids ate them up! My husband was a little concerned about “uncooked” oatmeal, but I grew up in Germany eating Muesli and that’s essentially what this is. I thought they were fantastic!

To make your own Yogurt Parfaits – all you have to do is layer yogurt, berries, and uncooked oatmeal. We gobbled ours right up as soon as I made them, but if you would like to soften up the oats a bit, refrigerate over night and eat in the morning!

We used this nice Pomegranate flavor, Honey Vanilla Greek Yogurt, blackberries, and raspberries. DE-LISH!

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If you’d like more information about Better Oats, connect with them on Facebook and Youtube.

If Yogurt Parfaits aren’t your thing, here are three more make-ahead breakfast ideas to help simplify your Christmas morning!!

1. Egg Casserole that’s Not Mushy

2. Overnight French Toast Casserole

3. Homemade Monkey Bread

What do you plan to eat on Christmas morning?

Chewy Granola Bars

I’m always on the prowl for easy, semi-healthy ideas for snacks and breakfasts. A couple weeks ago, when cleaning off my bookshelf, I found an old Christmas Cookies 2007 magazine from Better Homes and Gardens that I forgot I had. I found so many delicious ideas in it. This recipe for Chewy Granola Bars caught my attention immediately, and they were as good as expected. And pretty easy to make, too!

Chewy Granola Balls

Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups wheat and rice cereal flakes {I used non- GMO Kashi Strawberry Fields}
  • 2 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit bits {I used pineapple, mango, apricots - craisins would also be great!}
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light-color corn syrup {Wholesome Sweetners Organic Light Corn Syrup is supposed to be GMO free}
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter {I used creamy, but I think crunchy would be better}
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Instructions

  1. Line 2 large cookie sheets with waxed paper.
  2. Toast nuts by spreading them in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until they are slightly golden brown. Stir once or twice during baking.
  3. Mix cereal, oats, dried fruit, and almonds in a large bowl.
  4. Combine brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and almond extract. Mix until combined. Then add to cereal mixture and toss to coat.
  5. Shape cereal mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. {You may need to mix the cereal mixture with your hands to get it nicely coated}. Place balls on cookie sheet and let them stand at room temperature for an hour or for as long as you can stand it.
  6. Yields about 3 dozen granola balls.

Chewy Granola Balls

These yummy little balls were a huge hit – perfect for a quick snack or breakfast, and I think they will be a great addition to the Christmas Cookie Platter.

Overnight French Toast Breakfast Casserole

You’ll love this delicious French Toast Breakfast Casserole. It’s a great way to use up bread that’s past its prime, it comes together in a snap, and it’s a HUGE hit with my family. Overnight French Toast Breakfast Casserole

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site.*

Overnight French Toast Breakfast Casserole

This is overnight French Toast Breakfast Casserole recipe is so great! Throw it together the at night before you go to bed, pop it the oven when you roll out of bread, and a half hour later, breakfast is served! You’re welcome.

The other day, I cooked a double batch of artisan bread and it didn’t turn out that great. I didn’t want to throw it out, so instead, I turned part of it into yummy garlic bread, fed some to my kids {who don’t know better…}, and then used the rest to make this delicious French Toast Breakfast Casserole!

If you have bread to use up too, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s quick, easy, and really tasty. It’s not that nutritious, but everything in moderation right?! I adapted the recipe I found here.

delicious overnight French Toast Casserole

Let’s make this Overnight French Toast Breakfast Casserole

The great thing about this casserole is that you can either bake it immediately after assembly, or you can cover and refrigerate over the night. Both options have their merit. If you’re organized the evening before, assembling at night is a great way to simplify busy mornings.

But if you want to make it and cook it right away in the morning, that works too! Totally your call.

cut the bread into thick slices for overnight french toast casserole

To start, slice up a loaf of old bread into thick slices – around 1″ thick. Stale bread really works best in this recipe. It might sound strange, but I promise it’s the truth.

melt butter and add sugar
Melt butter and add sugar, then put the butter/sugar mix on the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. place the bread in the pan on top of the butter.

dredge bread in egg mixture
Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Then pour egg mixture over bread and make sure to dredge the bread through the mixture. Now you can do one of two things. You can bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Or, you can cover and refrigerate overnight then bake in the morning.


Looking for more yummy breakfast ideas? Try these!

Bacon Wrapped Egg, Spinach, & Cheese Muffins (freeze very well!)

Eggy Breakfast Muffins (these also freeze very well!)

15 Slow Cooker Breakfast Ideas to Simplify Busy Mornings

Green Smoothies for the Freezer

Here’s the printable recipe for this delicious French Toast Breakfast Casserole

Yield: 8 servings

French Toast Breakfast Casserole

French Toast Breakfast Casserole

A delicious make-ahead breakfast casserole recipe perfect for the weekend or any special occasion.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar {I use raw sugar}
  • 1 loaf old bread, cut into 1" thick pieces {I used homemade whole wheat artisan bread}
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk, or your choice of percent
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Combine butter and brown sugar and pour it in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Layer the bread on top, overlapping if necessary.
  3. Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon and pour over the bread.
  4. Sprinkle nuts on top.
  5. Cover the baking dish and chill overnight.
  6. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until bubbly and brown.
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Serve with maple sugar or favorite syrup {if you'd like - I thought it was great as is, but my hubs and kids liked the extra syrup}.
  10. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 398mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 4gSugar: 16gProtein: 13g

Nutritional information is not always right.

This french toast breakfast casserole is absolutely delicious! Assemble it at night before you go to bed and pop it in the oven in the morning! YUM!!