Baked Oatmeal

Here’s the thing. Two things actually:

1. Oatmeal is really good for you

2. I hate oatmeal

On a mission to somehow learn to like it, I have discovered the answer: BAKED oatmeal. This comes out as a cross between oatmeal cookie and some kind of oatmeal crisp topping. And it’s for breakfast, people!

 

 

I started out with two different recipes from Allrecipes.com and kind of picked what I liked from each and reduced the sugar a bit (still tastes plenty sweet); here’s my final result:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup Craisins

Plus:

  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

To make:

  1. Beat oil, 1/2 cup brown sugar and eggs
  2. Add milk, salt, baking powder, oats and fruit and stir together
  3. Pour mixture into a greased pie plate and top with 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and cinnamon
  4. Bake at 350F for about half an hour; swerve warm with any combination of butter, maple syrup, milk and extra cinnamon

This was SO good and so healthy! Score!

Baked Oatmeal

Here’s the thing. Two things actually:

1. Oatmeal is really good for you

2. I hate oatmeal

On a mission to somehow learn to like it, I have discovered the answer: BAKED oatmeal. This comes out as a cross between oatmeal cookie and some kind of oatmeal crisp topping. And it’s for breakfast, people!

I started out with two different recipes from Allrecipes.com and kind of picked what I liked from each and reduced the sugar a bit (still tastes plenty sweet); here’s my final result:

Beat into submission:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

Add and mix:

  • 1 cup milk – I use whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup Craisins, raisins or other dried fruit

Pour all this into a pie plate, baking dish or muffin tin — but whatever you use, grease it. This stuff is like glue on a pan otherwise (I heard).

Now mix together and sprinkle on top:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

I baked this at 350 for about half an hour, then served warm with choices of butter, maple syrup, milk and extra cinnamon. This was SO good and so healthy! Score!

What to do when your thermometer probe stops working

Here is my thermometer one morning on yogurt making day; this is a day during which I desperately needed my thermometer to work. See this? img01634 That is my thermometer registering 103 degrees. Please to notice the probe is sitting on the counter. This. Is. Not. Good. After a lot of quality time with Google, I came to the conclusion that the likely problem was water in the probe; completely immersing the probe in water to wash it gets water in places it’s not meant to be. The solutions suggested were either boiling the probe in peanut oil for half an hour, or baking it in the oven at 300 degrees for half an hour, either of which should theoretically evaporate any water in the probe and render it useful again. The oven appearing to be the safest, least smoky option, I baked it. Slapped it right on the rack in the toaster oven at 300 degrees and let it cook for about half an hour. Voila, problem solved!

Update: a month later this is still working great. This is definitely a fix.

Cultural divide Casserole

It’s cold here. Yes, it’s the South and I am a big baby about cold but I swear: it’s actually cold.

And cold, of course = comfort food.

This is where the cultural divide comes in. One of my favorite comfort foods is a dish my mother used to make:
~ ground beef, browned and drained
~ cooked pasta, usually elbow macaroni
~ red sauce, pretty spicy with lots of garlic and Worcestershire sauce
~ cheese, usually mozzarella and Parmesan

Everything is mixed together in a casserole dish and baked at 350 for about 40 minutes with a little extra cheese melted on top at the very end of the cooking. My mom called this Italian casserole.

My husband, The Yankee, calls this goulash.

Say what?

Goulash in my house involved runny-nigh-onto-watery tomato sauce with whole tomatoes and it involved egg noodles. Yeech.

So, my Italian casserole — what would you call it?

Epic muffin fail: a lesson in bakeware

I had some frozen bananas to use, so I pulled up the recipe for Aunt Mickey’s Famous Banana Bread from Rumble in the Kitchen. This recipe is brilliant! So quick and easy.  My crap bakeware and I take full responsibility for the partial failure of these muffins.

I wanted to make mini muffins with the batter because The Kiddo loves all things mini, and is more likely to eat a muffin than a slice of bread. I’m all about sneaking in fruits and veggies anywhere I can, so that was my game plan. I have a lovely 24-muffin mini pan by Wilton, and a 12-muffin size, a cheapo one I picked up at Home Goods sometime last year. Since I had plenty of batter I used both. And then some.

First, my bananas were frozen. I cut the ends off, then sliced it in quarters; from there I could pretty easily get the peel off. I dropped them, still pretty frozen, into the work bowl of Barbie’s Dream Mixer. Within just a few minutes they were on their way to lovely mush. I added in the sugar and remaining wet ingredients and mixed, and had a gorgeous light yellow batter in no time.

Then into the pans, as mentioned. I had a little batter left over even after filling those two pans, so I poured the rest into a ramekin. Maybe I’d end up with a little personal bowl of something like banana cake?

Baking time went by fast with two 2 year olds running around the kitchen. Verdict: USE A GOOD PAN. Here are the muffins in the cheapo mini pan:

ACK! What IS that? What happened? Two of them wouldn’t even come out of the pan, despite a generous greasing with butter before baking.

A study in contrast — the Wilton pan muffins on the left, the cheapo pan muffins on the right:

The ramekin was an utter failure. It looked lovely, but was still batter inside. I think if it had cooked more the top would have burned, so I pulled the plug on that part of the experiment.

After a purely professional taste test (I was hungry), I can tell you the ones on the left are divine! I’ll definitely make these again. When these cool I’ll freeze about 3/4 of the batch and pull them out for breakfast as needed. I think for the next batch I’ll throw some chocolate chips in, too. Breakfast of champions!

Healthy chicken nuggets

The Kiddo loves him some chicken nuggets. Don’t most kids? Although he would prefer they always be from Chick Fil A, I thought we’d branch out and try them at home.

I started out with just one chicken breast, boneless and skinless. I cut it into bite-sized nuggets, and got myself all set up:img_4516

That’s melted butter on the left, cornmeal and wheat germ in the middle (trying to sneak in some healthy stuff). I dipped the chicken in the butter, then dredged in the wheat germ/cornmeal mix, and let it sit while I warmed up oil in the pan. I used half olive oil, half canola oil (was worried the flavor of olive oil alone would be “different” enough that it would throw off The Kiddo).

Next, fry ‘em up!

img_4518I cut them so small that the frying itself was very quick. By the time they were browned on all sides, they were cooked through.

Draining and cooling:

img_45201

I used chopsticks for frying because I didn’t have any non-metal tongs and didn’t want to scratch up the pan.

Verdict: success! The Kiddo liked them. And I thought they were pretty tasty too!

Yogurt: it’s what’s for breakfast. And lunch. And supper.

The Kiddo has a nearly unholy love for yogurt. It is his failsafe, will-eat-anytime food even when he won’t eat anything else. I make it myself for two reasons:
1. It’s SO much cheaper. A quart of organic milk to make my own yogurt costs me $1.50. A quart of organic yogurt in the store costs me $3.59 (and the YoBaby packs are even more expensive than that).
2. MY yogurt has vitamin D in it; store bought organic does not. I absolutely could not find whole milk yogurt with vitamin D. At all. And since The Kiddo doesn’t eat much else, he needs all the fat for his growing little brain.

So, in a nutshell, here’s my method, adapted from Alton Brown’s method. It’s long but not as complicated as it looks. Tweak according to what supplies you have on hand.

I start with a 4-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup. I add 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup dry milk powder (the added protein thickens the yogurt), and a splash of vanilla or maple syrup.

Microwave it for three minutes at a time, stirring at the end of each 3 minutes to dissolve the milk and sugar. After two cycles, check the temp; you want it to get to 180 degrees. Add a third cycle if needed to hit 180.

Now it sits until it’s down to 119 degrees (120 is the temp that kills yogurt bacteria and cultures; this is bad). While it’s cooling, set out 2 Tbsp. of yogurt from your last batch of yogurt, or of store bought yogurt; just make sure the label says it contains live active cultures. Cultures are your friends.

Also take this time to set up your incubation system. I put a heating pad in the bottom of my gigantosaurus 6.75 quart Le Creuset oven, and put four glasses (just regular drinking glasses, but big ones) on top of the heating pad. Go ahead and turn the heating pad on to medium to be warming the glasses and pan so as not to shock the milk when you pour it in.

When the milk in the Pyrex is cooled to 1119, take a spoonful of milk at a time and stir it (gently!) into your 2 Tbsp. of milk till it’s thinned enough to be pourable. Then pour it all back into the Pyrex and stir well (gently, still).

Pour this mixture into your warmed cups and put the lid on the French oven. Drop a thermometer probe into one of the cups so you can monitor the temperature. Around 108-115 is ideal. 120 is death to yogurt, so set the temp alarm (if you have one) to 118 so you have warning and can change the temp if needed before all your work is lost.

Now you wait! The longer it incubates, the tarter it will be. Since it’s for The Kiddo and he likes it sweet, I only incubate for about three or four hours. After three hours I gently tip one of the glasses a bit and see if it’s mostly set up. If it is, great! Gently (do you see a theme here?) move it to the fridge and let it sit overnight to finish setting up. In the morning: voila! Yogurt. And it is SO good. I eat it with granola, The Kiddo eats it plain.img_4477

Enjoy!