Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crazy for Oats

I have developed a bit of a reputation in my family for being a little oat crazy.  I was overjoyed when I saw the Costco had 10 lb boxes of them for sale.  Why do I love oats?  They're cheap, healthy, comforting, and hearty.  But it's more than all that, they just have a special quality that I can't even explain.  (If you want, you can imagine a bowl of oats with sparkles in the air surrounding it just for fun.)  I'll wait while you do that....

My son took this pic of me and my Quaker boyfriend -

Photo: 10 lbs of oats!  Did I mention that I eat an abnormal amount of these each day?  That is why my coat is so shiny and why my hooves are in tip top shape. 
So some folks have asked for recipes and wonder, "Hey, Crazy Pants, what do you do with all those oats?"  You asked, I answer:

Favorite Oatmeal Add-ins (I've made up goofy names for some combos so I can trick my sons into eating oatmeal instead of cereal in the morning.)

Funky Monkey - sliced banana and chocolate chips
Almond Joy - almonds, coconut, and chocolate chips
Raisinet - raisins and chocolate chips
I've got to stop eating so many chocolate chips - raisins, walnuts and cardamom
Tutti Fruity - raisins, chopped apricots, chopped figs, dried cranberries or whatever is in the pantry
Berry Awesome - blueberries, raspberries, you get the idea

Throw some chia seeds or ground flax in for good measure! : )

 Sweeteners (if you haven't already loaded your bowl with fruit and/ or chocolate)
Agave nectar
Maple Syrup
Peanut butter
Cocoa powder

Favorite Oatmeal Spices (but not all at once)
Nutmeg (freshly grated if you've got it)
Apple Pie Spice
Pumpkin Pie Spice
All spice

Take any basic granola recipe and tweak it according to what you're hungry for and what you have in your pantry.  I constantly change the dried fruits and nuts depending on what I have available.  I normally use coconut oil and for the sweetener I use agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup.

 I've been making this 'recipe' lately.  I use that term loosely b/c I just throw things in a bowl.  If you try it, just know that the measurements are approximate, so tweak it to make it how you like it.

Coconut Chocolate Granola Recipe
4 c old fashioned oats
1/4 c unsweetened coconut 
4T coconut oil
4 T agave nectar
2-3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
10 shakes of cinnamon
freshly ground nutmeg to taste

Mix ingredients together and pour onto 1 -2 cookie sheets. Heat in a 275 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  The granola will look darker than usual because of the cocoa powder.  I usually bake it until the oats feel dry. (For goodness sakes, be careful and don't burn your fingers!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Snow Ice Cream

Cabin fever has set in after a week of my kiddos having the cold.  Luckily, this suggestion for making snow ice cream was in my oldest son's homeschool lesson for the day.  Their recipe said to add sweetened condensed milk or cream and powdered sugar, but we had neither of those, so I just added chocolate milk.  The boys reported that it tasted like a Frosty.  Eat it up right away because it doesn't keep in the freezer : )

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Crouton Plan

Remember on the TV show Friends when Monica was trying to get over her ex-boyfriend Richard?  She became obsessed with making jam.  She called it her "jam plan for getting over her man". 

Thankfully all is well here on the home front, but we have some stressors that have made me a little weird about....croutons.  I find making them relaxing.  Yes, I am SUPER weird.  I also hate wasting the heels on a loaf of bread. 

  Every few days, I cut up the heels, stir in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, mix in about 1/2 T. herbs de Provence (you could use garlic salt, seasoned salt, etc.) and then throw them in the oven for 10 minutes or so, stirring every few minutes.  If the big oven isn't heated up for something else, I just broil them in my toaster oven to save on energy.  There you have it, folks!  Stress reducing croutons!!!!

Mocha Minus Dairy

  I tweaked this recipe from a mocha containing almond milk (which I don't like).  I miss my hot chocolates and mochas made with milk, but after limiting dairy while nursing, my tummy doesn't like the lactose anymore (boo!).  So here's my version of a dairy free mocha:

1 c. coconut milk (I prefer plain, not vanilla flavored)
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. agave nectar, honey OR sugar
1 cup coffee

Warm coconut milk and whisk in cocoa and sweetener.  Don't let the coconut milk boil, otherwise it gets funny tasting.  Add in coffee and serve.

This would be great with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of vanilla.  I might also try this with Cafix (a coffee substitute that I'm obsessed with) instead of regular coffee.  You can find Cafix at Amazon.com or at health food stores.

Juice Fever

I've noticed an big increase in interest in juicers lately.  In fact, I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal about juicing this morning.  Check it out here.  It seems like many of you are making good on your 2013 resolution to eat more fresh fruits and veggies.  Good job!  If you're interested in finding out more, check out the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  (No, I have not done a juice fast!)  The man featured in the movie's website is Reboot with Joe.  You can find a number of juice recipes there.

I have a juicer that I admittedly don't use as much as I should, but when I do get it out, my kids and I really enjoy the process and the fruits (and veg) of our labor.  I have an Omega Juicer (model 8003).  I purchased it because I heard it had a heavy duty motor that would last a really long time.  I wish the feeding tube was a bit wider so I didn't have to cut up my produce into narrow strips, but other than that, it works great.

My favorite book of juice recipes is The Juicing Bible 2nd ed. by Pat Crocker.  It has an extensive listing of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs and their uses and benefits.  It also lists conditions that can be helped by certain juices.  (I did not see any recipes recommended for "mom of 3 boys", but it has everything else imaginable.) The rest of the book is full of juice and smoothie recipes.
Happy juicing!!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Quickie Candy Cane Project

I love a project that contains ingredients that you already have on hand.  This is a great way to remind kids that Christmas is about the birth of Christ!  

 Before we started our work in the kitchen, we read The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg.  It went over the characteristics of the candy and what they represent.
  • The "J" shape that stands for Jesus
  • The shape (when upright) is a shepherd's staff, the first people to find out about the birth of Jesus.
  • The red representing that "by His stripes we are healed".
  • The white representing how Christ can wash us clean from sin.
  • How, like the candy, the story of Christ's birth and redemptive work should be shared with everyone.

We melted a 1/2 c of chocolate chips in the microwave.  (I checked their progress every 30 seconds until they were melted.)  Dip your candy in, tap off the excess chocolate, decorate, and enjoy with cocoa once the chocolate sets.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cranberry Corn Bread

I got the general idea for this bread from a recipe on my go-to website for recipes (www.tasteofhome.com), but modified it quite a bit because I didn't want to add a cup of white sugar and a ton of butter!  The bread came out almost like a dessert.  It was very moist.  If you wanted it more "crumby" (totally not a word) I would try reducing the amount of milk by a few more tablespoons.  Remember, you need to make some other adjustments to your recipe if you're going to substitute oil for butter or agave nectar for sugar.  www.ehow.com has good guidelines for these types of substitutions.  Here's my recipe with the modifications already made for you:

1/4 c butter, softened
2 1/2 Tbs oil
2/3 c agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c cornmeal
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1 c cranberries, halved

In a bowl, mix together the butter, oil and agave nectar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the agave nectar mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Fold in cranberries.  Transfer to a greased 9-in square baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Serve warm.  Yield: 9-12 servings.