Cookies

All week I’ve been thinking about a King Cake. This photo is from the cakes I made in 2008.

King Cake

In about a month, I’ll make a King Cake and maybe one to send to work with Vince.  But, I still couldn’t get a King Cake out of my mind so I made Anise cookies and decorated them with my Mardi Gras sanding sugar.

Anise Cookies

Anise Cookies

Maybe I’ll call them Queen Cookies (instead of “King Cake”) and maybe they’ll become a tradition and 100 years from now, someone will read this story about how Queen Cookies came to be made about a month before Mardi Gras. Or . . maybe not!  :)

Meal Planning

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m way too anal with all my lists but I have the hardest time cooking unless I know exactly what we’re having for at least the next week, and how much there will be left over and when we’ll eat those leftovers. My meal planning is an evolving mission. It changes as our circumstances change. When Chad was in college, he came home to work on weekends and would go back to school on Sunday afternoon so Saturday was my big cooking day. Before Chad went to college, I did it on Monday. With Chad and his friends over on weekends, the fridge always got cleaned out. Teen aged boys will eat anything, for the most part.

Now that it’s just the two of us, my meal planning week begins on Wednesday. We end up either with leftovers from the weekend or, we’ll end up being in town and grabbing something when I hadn’t planned for us to eat out so the food I had had planned for us to have gets carried over to Monday or Tuesday.

Once my meal plan is decided, I head over to the freezers and bring back everything I’ll need for the week. We try to open the big freezers as little as possible so I can open them, grab out what I need for the week and be done.

Meal Plan

Meal Plan

Here’s what’s on the agenda for this week:

Tonight – Cincinnati Chili from the pressure cooker. That will use the package of ground meat I’ve already unwrapped and half of the one pound package on the far left. That’s grass fed beef we buy locally.

Thursday – Chili Colorado Smothered Burritos, Borracho Beans. The burritos will be made from one of the roasts in the big package in the back.

Friday – Grilled Steak, Baked Potatoes, Salad

Saturday – Hamburgers. These will be made from the ground pork and venison. Since there’s about 3+ pounds of meat there, I’ll shape all the extra patties and flash freeze them and they’ll be ready for our next grilled hamburger dinners.

Sunday – Spaghetti & meatballs. I don’t even now why we have jars of Ragu but we have about 4 jars and it’s time to use them. It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t like spaghetti sauce .. no matter who fixes it, but Vince loves it and he’s just as happy with Ragu as he is with homemade.

All of these, except the grilled steak, will provide plenty of leftovers for lunches.

It seems so easy to me to do it this way but . . that’s just me I suppose.

Ways We Love Oatmeal

There are so many good recipes or oatmeal so you don’t have to eat it just plain if you don’t like it . . though we do like plain oatmeal too. Here are a few ways I’ve mentioned on the blog before.

This is a post I did about this time last year and there’s a great, fairly quick recipe or rolled oats down a ways in the post.

This is another post, from 2013, comparing the different oatmeals.

In this post, I described placing all the ingredients in the rice cooker, and setting the timer and using the porridge setting, the steel cut oats are ready in the morning. I like this method better than using the slow cooker, though the slow cooker definitely is a good way to go.

There are a lot of recipes for putting oats in the fridge and leaving them overnight. This is my favorite recipe. It uses regular rolled oats instead of quick oats, which a lot of the recipes use.

There are recipes online for making “oatmeal pucks” where a good bit of oatmeal is made and then frozen in muffin tins, dumped and they’re wrapped and frozen. I’ve done it and it’s pretty easy but it isn’t my favorite way to have oatmeal.

My current favorite oatmeal recipe is my own version of Blueberry and Almond Baked Steel Cut Oats.

Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal

The oatmeal shown in this picture is from that same batch of oatmeal.

Breakfast

Breakfast

As Mel states, there are so many variations of this recipe. During fresh fruit season, we use figs, apricots, peaches, pears .. anything we can pick from our own trees. This time of year, I use whatever is in the freezer, which is mostly blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. In a pinch, I’ve used canned (drained) fruit. I have not used pineapple but might just try that this week.

The best thing about this recipe, besides the great taste and, except for when I put whipped cream on top, the health benefits is this: Make it, stick it in the fridge, scoop out what you want each morning, microwave it and it tastes just like fresh made oatmeal. A friend’s daughter was telling me that when she was pregnant, because she needed to eat breakfast before heading off to teach school, she made a big batch of this every Sunday night . . for 9 months . . and put it in the fridge and had a quick and delicious breakfast each morning. 

I’m not going to copy Mel’s recipe here but these are the changes I make:

  • I cannot tell much difference when I use plain, white sugar or brown sugar instead of the maple syrup. I believe the sugar addict in me loves my oatmeal a bit sweeter and 1/3 cup maple syrup doesn’t do it for me. Maple syrup is a bit outrageously high around here so I pretty much use brown sugar instead of maple syrup and I use about 3/4 cup of brown sugar. That makes it ok for Vince but I still add a little more sugar to my bowl. It all depends on which fruits I’m using too. If I use figs or really sweet peaches, I use less sugar than if I’m  using Granny Smith apples.
  • Because I like to taste the nutmeg a bit, I use at least 1/4 tsp.
  • I also use about 1/2 tsp. of salt.
  • The butter or coconut oil doesn’t seem to make a difference so I don’t use it at all. I butter the dish but don’t add any additional butter/oil.
  • I often use two kinds of fruits. For the batch in my photos, I used blueberries and Granny Smith Apples.

What’s not to love about such a great recipe that can be kept in the fridge for a week and heated up as needed? I wasn’t going to tell you this but if you end up with a hankering for something sweet and are really trying not to eat pie or cake, this is great to heat up and add a minimal . . say 3 big scoops . . of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream! How’s that for blowing a good, healthy recipe?  :)