We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? In my family, mornings are very often busy and chaotic, so squeezing breakfast in is sometimes a challenge. I’m great at making sure the kids get something good in their bellies before they head out the door, but I’m not always as conscience of getting my own day going in a healthy way. This homemade instant oatmeal has been a perfect solution for me. I absolutely love it and the flexibility of being able to add-in anything I’m in the mood for keeps it from getting boring. It takes just a couple minutes to mix everything up and transfer it to a big container, and then I have breakfast at my fingertips. Once you taste the difference, you’ll never go back to those store-bought packets again.
Recipe: DIY Instant Oatmeal
(adapted from One Good Thing by Jillee)
10 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
1 cup non-dairy powdered creamer
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (If you prefer a sweeter bowl of oatmeal, you can use more sugar to suit your taste.)
2 tsp. kosher salt
Place 8 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats to a large bowl. In a blender, blend 2 cups of oats until powdery, then add to the other oats. Stir in powdered creamer, brown sugar, and salt until well mixed. Transfer to large container for storage.
To make a bowl of oatmeal, scoop 1/2 cup of the instant oatmeal mixture into a bowl. Heat 3/4 cup of water to boiling (I use the microwave.) and pour over oatmeal. Let oatmeal sit for 1-2 minutes. Add whatever dried fruits and/or nuts you enjoy.
Ever since my first visit to Chipotle, it’s become my favorite place to eat out. It’s a good thing it’s not too local for me or I’d want to go on a weekly basis. Since I can’t, I’ve had to figure out how to bring those flavors into my own kitchen instead. Jim actually says this version is far better than Chipotle’s. It’s definitely nice to be able to eat the leftovers for a day or two.
The pork literally falls apart after cooking in the crock pot while we’re at work, and I really take a shortcut with the rice, so it’s a quick and easy weeknight meal. Ever seen those microwaveable bags of rice? You can buy brown rice that cooks in 90 seconds. I make a couple bags of that, add some minced red onion, lime juice from one whole lime, some salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro and I’ve got a tasty base to start our rice bowls. Next, we add the pork, some shredded lettuce, fresh tomato salsa, corn salsa (I follow this recipe exactly and it’s perfect), guacamole, greek yogurt (or sour cream), and some chopped chives or green onions on top. Jim adds (rinsed, canned) black beans to his too. I’m craving a rice bowl just writing about it. That’s how good it is.
Recipe: Pork Carnitas
(adapted from Shared Appetite)
8-10 lb. pork shoulder (bone in) or 6-8 lb boneless pork shoulder
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. chili powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
Cut the pork shoulder into big chunks and rub with kosher salt. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and add pork pieces. Turn to brown on all sides. Once pork is browned, transfer pieces to crock pot. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and stir to scrape up the brown bits in the bottom. Add the rest of the ingredients along with a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir to combine. Pour mixture over the pork in the crock pot. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours. When pork is cooked, shred with 2 forks and return to sauce in the crock pot until ready to serve.
My tomato plants have been absolutely gigantic this year! We have a deck that’s one story above the ground and my two tomato plants have literally reached the deck. They have grown voraciously all summer and they are just crazy to see.
This fresh salsa has been the perfect way to use all those tomatoes and it’s delicious to boot. It’s great for dipping, but my favorite way to eat it is piled high on my homemade version of a rice bowl from Chipotle. Yum and Yum!
Let’s call this post the first of my homemade Chipotle trilogy. I’ll share the corn salsa and the pork carnitas that go into it too. It is all delish!!
Recipe: Fresh Summer Salsa
(from A Pair of Pears)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
Chop everything to your desired size and gently stir. Enjoy!!
Who knew that panini press sitting in my pantry could make a little bitty cake? Just look at this tiny layer cake – absolutely adorable and just right for two to share. Claudia and I made this just as we were saying goodbye to summer vacation and getting ready to head back to school. It always makes us sad, so we needed a treat to make the transition back to school a little sweeter.
There was a lot of fun factor with this cake too. Our only other panini dessert attempt ended in disaster, so this was more like an experiment than anything. Happily for us, it worked and we got to enjoy the results.
Recipe: Panini Press Layer Cake
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 heaping tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. milk
Preheat the panini grill to 350°F or medium-high. Spray two 6-ounce ramekins with baking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and sugar together until they are combined. Stir in the vanilla and melted butter. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt until the batter is combined and smooth. Stir in the milk. Divide the batter equally between the two ramekins, ideally filling each about halfway. Set the ramekins on the panini grill and close the lid so that the upper grates make contact with the upper edges of the ramekins. Bake the cakes until they are set and spring back when touched in the center, about 17 to 19 minutes. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes in the ramekins, then invert them onto a rack to cool completely. Assemble the layers and frost.
My dabbling with quinoa in dessert recipes didn’t quite work out for me, so I’ve gone back to savory quinoa dishes instead. This is a very healthy salad and it makes a huge amount, so it’s great to know you have a go-to lunch all week. This salad has taken the top spot in Jim’s go-to lunch rotation. It’s easy enough to make and it really does feed him all week. It’s filling and flavorful, though I’m such a lightweight when it comes to heat, that it’s actually a little much for me. If I were making the salad just for me, I’d have to cut back on the hot sauce a bit, but Jim thinks it’s great just the way it is.
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
(adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
3 c. cooked quinoa
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 – 2 c. fresh spinach, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
1 c. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/3 c. olive oil
1 c. crumbled blue cheese
Cook quinoa according to package directions and cool. Cook chicken breasts and cut them into bite-sized pieces when cool. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, chicken, most of the green onions, and celery. In a separate bowl, whisk together Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and olive oil. Pour hot sauce mixture over quinoa mixture and stir to combine. Stir in most of the blue cheese. If you’re not serving the salad right away, refrigerate it at this point. Just before serving, stir in the chiffonade of spinach. Sprinkle the top of the salad with the reserved green onions and crumbled blue cheese.
Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t even put into words my complete love and adoration for this dip. It is THAT GOOD. The kind of good that makes you want to pay homage to it with a poem… or a love song… or a limerick. Something. But you can’t, because you’re too busy holding your graham cracker in one hand and your spoon in the other, just trying to decide which way you like eating it the best. And since you still can’t choose, even after you’ve eaten your weight in dip, you’ll just have to find a reason to make it again. Soon. Really, really soon.
Recipe: Cake Batter Dip
(slightly adapted from Mommy’s Menu)
1 boxed cake mix (any flavor – I chose yellow butter cake mix)
1 1/2 c. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 c. Cool Whip (I used light Cool Whip and would like to try fat-free next time.)
lots of sprinkles/jimmies
graham crackers, animal crackers, pretzels, (or a spoon) for dipping
Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Transfer to serving dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use, at least one hour.
(I also think this would make an excellent cupcake frosting!! Just be sure to refrigerate them, since you’re using dairy products.)
The heat wave that clobbered us last week has gone as quickly as it arrived. We’ve had a couple beautiful warm days and have even been able to turn off the a/c and throw the windows open. But when we were in the midst of 100+ temps, the kids were screaming for ice cream. This was a great recipe to make with them because all you do is stir it up and pour it into the ice cream maker for about 15 minutes. That is literally it. Quick and easy and a cold treat in minutes.
Recipe: Hot Cocoa Frozen Yogurt
(adapted from kitchenability)
2 ½ cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup and 2 tbsp. instant hot cocoa mix
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. marshmallow fluff
2-3 Tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2-3 Tbsp. Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Bits* (These come in chocolate or vanilla flavored. We used chocolate.)
Stir Greek yogurt and hot cocoa mix together until combined. Add the vanilla extract and marshmallow fluff and stir again until mixed. Stir in mini chocolate chips and marshmallow bits until everything is fully incorporated. Transfer to ice cream maker until your desired consistency is achieved. (It doesn’t take long to reach a soft-serve consistency, so keep an eye on it.)
(If you don’t have an ice cream machine, just pour your mixture into a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze overnight.)