Friday, April 24, 2015

Baked Oatmeal (and I've been gone a long time)

You know what? I don't like it when things don't go the way I planned.
And, I don't like surprises that derail everything.
Finally, when life slaps me in the face, I can get a bit bummed out.

Well, YES to all of these things in the past two years except I got more than bummed out. What a funk I've been muddling through! Bless my family for tolerating me through it all. It has been an incredibly difficult time for me, but I'm gaining some perspective and trying to finally bounce back.

I've still been cooking and baking and canning - mostly on the weekends - and mostly stuff that I already know. Adventure has taken a back-seat to finances and nourishment. The boys are less adventuresome than ever - I think it's the age (6-8). It doesn't matter how much fun the food is for me to make and experiment with if they won't eat it, right? And, finances have been incredibly tight, so I can't really go out and buy new and crazy ingredients all of the time. So, it's back to the basics (and, even then, the boys might not eat it - like this AWESOME baked oatmeal recipe).

I've tried quite a few baked oatmeal recipes over the past year.
Baked because Bub thinks that oatmeal prepared in the regular way tastes like gruel and looks like paste. She may be right on the "looks" part. So, I've taken to throwing together something based on what I find online. The problem is that I can never remember which recipe I used the last time and end up using something else the next time, and it's been inconsistent. But, last weekend, I fell in love with this one, so I just HAD to get it written down!
I found this recipe here, and then Meatball and I added a couple of things to it. You can see that it gets great reviews from others who have made it.
So yummy!

3 cups oatmeal (we used quick cook even though I know that you're not supposed to - it turned out just fine)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3-ish cup fresh blueberries
1 medium banana (pretty ripe - getting brown spots and needed to be used)
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Mix dry ingredients.
Add in wet ingredients.
Stir in fruit(s).
Bake at 350*.

Ours was very moist due to the fresh fruit, so the middle was still pretty wet and goopy while the outsides were done. We just dished up from the outsides and put the whole dish back into the oven so that the middle could finish baking.
This could also be because I put the lid on the casserole dish for the first part of the baking...
Either way, it was delicious and healthy (minus the brown sugar). It was even excellent as a leftover that I took to work as breakfast for the next four days. Yes. It makes a lot. Perfect for a family of 4-6 OR perfect for that time everyone keeps warning me about when my boys will eat all of the time. I've been waiting for this to happen for almost 8 years.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 food challenge - Yum. Yum! YUM!

Ok. So the VX4 challenge ended in a total fizzle, but let's be honest..... The holidays are hard and stressful and crazy and who has time for vegetables anyway?

So, here's the thing. 2013 has started with, well, shitty news on four different fronts ( house re-fi, job, car, plumbing), and January isn't even over yet!

So, what's a food lover to do? Well, make dessert, of course! Yes. I know. It's not healthy to stress eat. It's not good to drown your emotions in food. It's just eff-Ed up to eat instead of deal.
Well, I AM dealing. I am coping. I am doing the best I can, and I deserve a treat or two. Or, three to be exact.

It's not like this is going to just be a free for all. There are some rules. I'm lost if I don't have a rule or two to keep me in line, dontcha know...

So, enter the 2013 Yum. Yum! YUM! Challenge.
Each month, I will make three desserts:
One vegan
One with only whole ingredients
One sugar free

See? Told you that it would be a challenge!

And, yes. I realize that January is almost over. What of it? You think I can't eat three desserts in one week?

P'shaw... Do you not know me at all? (plus, I'm having foot surgery in two days. I'll need something to eat while I'm laying around for two days.)

2013's got nothing on me.
When the going gets tough, the tough eat dessert!
AND, they don't give two shits who knows it!
Bring it, 2013. I'll throw a friggin' vegan pie in your face!

Friday, December 28, 2012


So, the boys wanted to make some cookies. But, drop cookies wouldn’t cut it, and we didn’t have all of the necessary accoutrements for “shape” (sugar) cookies. Yes. Mommy actually ran out of sprinkles, sparkles, and doo-dads. All we had was food coloring.

As we were flipping through the cookie book (which is AWESOME), Meatball saw some pinwheel cookies. They were red and white and very holiday with some artificial cinnamon flavoring. Well, Bub is allergic to that flavoring, so that part was out, and we didn’t even have red food coloring, so we couldn’t do that, either. But, we did have green and blue food coloring, and those are the boys’ favorite colors, AND our football teams were playing each other that day. (Eagles/Cowboys – Eagles lost. Boo-hoo – too bad for me and Meatball.)

So, these were what we picked. Little did mommy know that these would be the most time consuming cookies on the planet. First, you’ve got to make and color the dough and let it set up in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then, you flatten them with a rolling pin and place them on top of each other and roll them up – pinwheel them together – and let it set up on the fridge for another couple of hours. Then, you take them out and cut the cookies off of the big roll and finally bake them. However, you’re now baking them in the MIDDLE OF THE STINKING FOOTBALL GAME, so you forget what you’re doing, and YOU EFF-ING **BURN** THEM. Yup. I burned them. There were about 18 cookies total, and I overcooked every last damn one of them.

I wish I could say that this picture was just poorly lit, but it’s not. Sonofa….
They would have been awesome, too. The flavor – minus the burned sugar cookie thing – was really good. Grrrr…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

This is such a no brainer, especially when you have both leeks and potatoes that need to be eaten. The leeks were from my garden, and (I think I’ve talked about this) were small. They were more like mild green onions than the leeks that I see in the store. I want to figure out how to fix this for next year because they flourished in our garden, and I would love to try them again. The potatoes were from my dad’s garden. Every year, he plants about 8427 plants, and every year, his wife and I give him grief. Then, at harvest time, they spend an incredible amount of time bottling them. Again, I give him a hard time. But, they have just enough to last them the entire year until the next harvest. Me? I’ve never planted them. They are so cheap that I don’t bother. I would rather spend my valuable summer water on things that aren’t easy/cheap to find in our stores.

Regardless, I made this soup last night. Man, that was a long intro to get to the part where I make the soup, wasn’t it?

3 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 small bushes of leeks, chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 quart turkey broth
1 quart veggie broth
1 package Knorr’s Potato Leek soup mix
Some extra onion powder and some garlic powder (not much)
½ cup milk (the recipe called for half and half, but we didn’t have any, of course)
2 T sour cream (part of the substitution for the half and half)

Peel/slice leeks. Sautee them in some of the broth in the soup pot.
Once they are tender, dump everything else in except for the cream/milk.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Simmer until potatoes are very tender.
Puree with blender or immersion blender.
Add milk/half and half at the end of the blending.

And, by “serve,” I mean call the two five year olds in to have a little taste. Watch them pull faces and act like they are going to die a painful death. Rejoice as they say “Ewwwww, yuck. Wait! I like that!” Parenthood success. (Of course, they didn’t actually eat their soup. They just weren’t hungry UNTIL it was bedtime, naturally. I gave them a banana and some milk and reminded them that they wouldn’t be hungry if they just would have eaten the soup that I had slaved over. What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t add a bit of guilt to every meal?)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Made Granola

I love granola. I add it to my yogurt. I add it to waffles and pancakes. If it weren’t so high in calories, I would eat it for breakfast every darn day. But, it’s really, really high in calories! So, I decided to make it for myself using a recipe that I found in my Sunset Brunch cookbook (which I live by on the weekends – especially the pancake/waffle section!).

I did not, however, look at the ingredients and add up the calories before making it. You can see where this is going, right?

3 cups oatmeal
1 cup wheat flour
½ cup corn meal
½ cup rye flour
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut
½ cut peanut butter
½ cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS: mix it all together and bake it at a low temperature until nice and crunchy.

So, duh. Coconut, oil, peanut butter, brown sugar…. Could I choose higher calorie ingredients? These are common ingredients for commercially made granola, so that explains a lot. It certainly explains the 483 calories per one cup serving!

BUT – this is so yummy! And, it doesn’t have that stale or chemical taste that so many store bought granolas have.

I’ve had to use this sparingly, but I will continue to make it at home instead of buying it. This way I know what it contains, and I can tinker with the ingredients to find things that are less calorie laden while still maintaining the overall granola integrity. (Does granola have integrity? Do you have to stick to some core ingredients to still make a granola? If you stray too far from traditional granola, what does it become? Deep questions for a Monday. I think that I need more brain food. Good thing I have some fresh granola!)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Peas and Leeks

Why have I never had this before? So easy and tasty.

The boys, of course, hated it. A foreign substance in their veggies? Seriously! Don’t take that wrong. I’m SO happy that they will even EAT their veggies. I guess I shouldn’t bellyache when they don’t want an onion/leek.

Yup – that’s it.

Slice leeks. Saute in broth. Add frozen peas and maybe a bit more broth. Simmer until peas are hot throughout (just a couple of minutes).

That’s it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cherry Cake - Um, YUM!

I have a cookbook called The Neighborhood Cookbook. My ex bought it from work - one of those do-it-yourself cookbooks that wards, churches, or tight knit communities puts together. I think that she bought it from a friend who had a recipe featured in it. I didn't give it to her when we split because she never used it. At this point (17 years later?), I know absolutely NOBODY in it, but I use it all the time for the worlds greatest banana bread. (No, I'm not kidding.)

Anyway, the boys wanted to make a cake. I'm tired, and I don't get home from work until 6pm on most nights anymore. The time between getting home and getting to bed is spent trying to make them actually eat dinner, doing dishes, getting bath time over with, reading stories, putting them in bed about 50 times, and so forth. My point: I don't have a ton of time.

But, they wanted to bake a cake. We didn't have any boxed cake mixes! What?!?! The world's easiest treat for busy parents, and I don't have any? FAIL!

On top of that, Meatball wanted to make a strawberry cake, and Peanut wanted to make a blueberry cake. Well, it's not the season for either of those berries (or any other, for that matter), and I'm not about to pay off-season prices to eat something that is utterly tasteless. So, I talked them into making a cherry cake since we have quarts and quarts in the pantry. Of course, I did this before I realized that I didn't have any mixes. I was just going to bake a regular cake and throw some cherries in the frosting which would make me look like super-mom without all of the trouble.

So, great. Here I have them all amped up to bake a dang cherry cake, no time, and none of the fixins.

Out came The Neighborhood Cookbook. This thing was made in Utah, so SOMEONE has had this problem before, right? SOMEONE has got to have an easy recipe for cherry cake, right? YES! Hallelujah!

And, guess what? It's super moist, the spices aren't overpowering, it's sweet enough that we didn't frost it (see also: no time), and it's already halfway gone in one night (OK, I had two big pieces). Oh, we'll be making this again, for sure.

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 quart drained cherries (reserve the liquid)

Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs.
Add the dry ingredients.
Add the drained cherries.
Add necessary reserved cherry juice to get the batter to the right consistency.
Dump into greased cake pan.
Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Calories: 249 (based on 15 pieces per 9x13 pan)

Here's something else that I love: It's moist enough that you can totally substitute the all-purpose flour with whole wheat, and if drained, you could add ANY fruit that you have in the pantry. Success on many levels!

Finally, you can do a lot with the remaining cherry juice:
1) drink it up or add it to other juice that you already have in the fridge
2) substitute it for the cooking oil that you would normally put into your pancake/waffle recipe this weekend
3) freeze it into home made juice popcicles
4) add it to your morning smoothie
5) add it to champagne for an interesting twist on the traditional mimosa
In other words, NEVER dump this stuff (or any other juice) down the drain.