Friday, July 25, 2014

Baked Oatmeal as Muffins and Other Great Breakfast Options

Baked Oatmeal as Muffins
Sometimes, when you think your kids are never listening and will never listen, they surprise you!   I had one of those moments this week. 

I've always been the kind of mom who worked really hard to offer the best choices for meals, packed lunches, breakfasts.  I started out slow like most young cooks.  I haven't always made Homemade Sandwich Bread - I stocked up at the local bread outlet store just like everybody else.  I haven't always made Homemade Hot Pockets- I bought the ones in the frozen foods section of my local grocery store.  But I have always encouraged my kids to eat at home over eating out; to eat the least sugared breakfasts they can reasonably enjoy; to drink less soda, stuff like that.  Now have they always embraced my choices for them?  Big FAT NO!

My older child used to rail on me when she was in middle school because so & so's mom let them eat McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken for their suppers instead of MAKING them eat the Homemade Chicken & Dumplings like I was fixing.  (Oh the horrors, right?  ;) She would have rather eaten Cheese-Its for breakfast instead of Homemade Blueberry Muffins.  She used to tell me, "Mom!  Why can't we just BUY our Chocolate Syrup like everyone else?"

Poor kid.... Ha!

I continued as I got older to incorporate more and more homemade things into our menus.  I'm so glad I did!  Of course, we didn't have blogging in the 80's & 90's so I didn't have access to such terrific recipes for homemade things.  And since my kids grew up with a mix of homemade and store bought things, and since their friends were mostly eating all of the things I encouraged them NOT to eat LOL, I never thought they would totally embrace this cooking style of mine.  It is more work, I know.  I just hoped that eventually they would see that ours is more delicious than anything they could ever buy - and that their bodies FEEL differently when they eat something made at home.

Fast forward to July, 2014.  This same child I was mentioning above lives in her own home, she works a full time job, mows her own yard.  I think I can officially call her "all grown up".  I can especially say that since she has recently discovered that if she eats a "heartier"  (homemade) breakfast (rather than boxed cheese crackers), she is less starving between breakfast and lunch.  Go Rebecca!  

Rebecca now loves my Baked Oatmeal, which by the way she would NEVER have stuck in her mouth as a little girl.  She loves it baked with nuts, no fruit or chocolate chips.  Pecans to be exact.  Rebecca bought herself a large size muffin tin and baked these beautiful Pecan Baked Oatmeal muffins for her breakfasts this week.  Proud mama that I am, I just HAD to take a picture and blog about it!  She texted me Monday to tell me how excited she was to get to work to eat her homemade muffins for breakfast Monday morning.  Of all things, her work had provided Caseys Breakfast Pizza that morning, which she said smelled so wonderful.  She ate the breakfast pizza instead of her muffins ... and then felt gross all morning.  

She should know now that momma always knows best!  :)

So... in all of my wordiness of this post, remember that even though your kids don't embrace the homemade things you make right now, (kids normally just want to be like their friends and most of them aren't eating homeade), when they grow up they WILL have the skills and the appreciation for the best food in life - the homemade muffins, homemade breads, biscuits, homemade snacks and great homemade suppers.  Both of my daughters cook.  They eat out and love to eat out.  But they CAN and DO cook!  I am so very proud of them both! It was worth it!  They WERE listening! 

Here's a small selection of homemade breakfasts.  Ditch the boxed cereal, poptarts, Cocoa Puffs, and cheese crackers (if you are MY child) and dive into something homemade.  Your body will thank you - I promise!


(So much Better than your favorite drive thru)

Buttermilk Biscuits

(Add your own eggs, cheese, ham, or just jelly is great!)

Vanilla Scones

(Just like your favorite Coffee Shop)

Donuts - Small Batch-Homemade

(I paid $8 for donuts & drinks for my husband and I the other day at the donut shop - never again!  These are so much cheaper!)

Toaster French Toast (for the freezer)

(These pop in the toaster just as easy as toaster pastries.)

and... Rebecca's favorite Baked Oatmeal:

Baked Oatmeal - baked in a muffin tin

Make them however you like them, with
chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, bananas - Mmmm!



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One Pot - Garden Vege Creamy Pasta

I tried a recipe that I found on Pinterest that really caught my attention.  It is called One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta.  I had to try it.  I'll share the link HERE because this blogger has an actual recipe on that blog post.  I am SO GLAD I saw this pin.  It's fantastic!  Impressive to say the least!  And the pictures just reel you in.  Mmmmm!   

I'm just going to tell you how I did it since I love the method to making this dish.  I never thought of cooking the pasta AND the vegetables together in one pot!  Talk about a "duh" moment!  

I LOVE recipes that I can make my own.  I especially love when I can use whatever I have on hand in my garden or in my pantry to come up with something delicious to eat.  This is one of those kind of recipes.  You can use whatever vegetables you have and whatever kind of pasta you have, and have something really, really delicious!

Basically you cook the chopped vegetables and the pasta in salted water all together in one pot.  Then you dump off a little of the water (not all of the water), add some cream and some parmesan, stir well, and put a lid on it.  There it sits to thicken as the pasta absorbs some of the liquids still left in the pot. 

The greatest part about this recipe is that you can use whatever pasta you have at home and whatever vegetables you have at home, and ... well... make something to eat!  How wonderful is that?  It tastes fresh and yet light and wonderfully creamy.  I was completely shocked at how just a little bit of cream and a little bit of parmesan cheese (and I used the kind in the green can for heaven's sake!) can turn out a dish grand enough to serve to company.  I'm sure you could use a little bit of fresh cheese, like cheddar, mozerella, or even (eek) that strange processed orange "cheese" in the box, if that's all you have.

I would think this would be a great way to encourage little ones to eat their vegetables.  What little kid doesn't want to dive into macaroni & cheese?  So... maybe the mac & cheese has a "few" extras in there.  What's such a big deal about that?? LOL  -  (My kid, personally would have freaked, but probably if I had started her younger - say two years old, she might not have been so freaked out about seeing veges in her mac & cheese.)

OK... enough la - de - dah... here's how I made One Pot Garden Vege Creamy Pasta AT HOME MY WAY:

One Pot - Garden Vege Creamy Pasta

  •  Chopped fresh vegetables (I used some frozen peas and they were great), such as zucchini, asparagus, carrots, green beans (not canned), green pepper, yellow squash, mushrooms
  • Boxed pasta (spaghetti, ziti, penne, shell pasta, bow tie pasta, whatever you have) (You don't have to use much.  I just used a small bundle of spaghetti a little bigger than a quarter.  If using small pasta like macaroni, penne, - 1 cup of pasta would suffice.)
  • Cream, milk, or half & half (I used cream, which at the store they call "whipping cream") (Less than 1/4 cup will be needed.)
  • Salt
  • Water


Place the chopped vegetables in a pot.  I was serving my dish as a side so I used a small/med saucepan.  Feel free to use as many vegetables as you want.

Cover with water enough that you will be able to add pasta to the pot, and so that the pasta will be able to float freely in the water swimming around comfortably in there.  I covered my vegetables with a good 2 inches of  HOT water.

Heat the water to boiling.  Salt the water (making sure to get enough salt) and add the pasta:

Stir a few times as the pasta starts to cook and comes to a boil so that it doesn't sink to the bottom or all stick together in one big gob.

Lightly simmer/boil for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is just cooked done - not super duper soft.  (Take a taste of the pasta halfway through the cooking process to see if you have enough salt.  If not, add a little more salt.)  Remove from the stove, turn off the burner.

Dump off some of the water.  I used a cracked lid so that I didn't lose any pasta/vegetables as I drained off some water.  Dump off the water until it is just below the surface of the cooked pasta/vegetables.  Do not drain all the water off.  Leave some water in there.

Add some cream or milk.  How much will be relative to how much pasta/vegetables you are cooking.  I used less than 1/4 cup.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Stir. 

Place the lid on, making the sure burner is off, and let sit for about 10 minutes or until the pasta has absorbed all of the water.

Stir occasionally.

Serve with additional parmesan cheese.

(My ratio of vegetables to pasta is a little off.  I would have liked more vegetables but I didn't know just how to do it the first time.  The meal was STELLAR though!  Definitely going to make this often!)




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