Sunday, February 21

Big Bowl O’ Oats

For months now I have been eating a lot more oatmeal-usually instant for convenience in the mornings before work.  This morning we woke up bright and early to a lovely sunny day and I decided to pull out an old recipe for rolled oats.  Really they don’t take that much longer to cook than microwaving a bowl of instant oats.  There is just the pot to wash! 

Whipped Banana Oatmeal (KERF)

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup 1% or skim or soy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 a banana, sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vanilla, stirred in at end

Combine the rolled oats, water, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Slice a banana into VERY thin pieces, leaving just a few bigger chunks.  As the oatmeal heats and it begins to steam or bubble, stir vigorously at times to “whip” the banana into the oats. The oats will take about 5 minutes on medium heat from start to finish to fully absorb the liquid. They’re done when they reach your desired consistency! Then I stir in vanilla  and add any toppings you like, such as almond or peanut butter dollops, nuts, granola, coconut, crumbled granola bars, or trail mix – with dark chocolate chips! IMG_4322I  love doctoring up my oatmeal with fruit, nuts, spices, and especially peanut butters.  Right now we have 3 kinds of peanut butter in our pantry: Plain Natural, White Chocolate and Tropical Banana. 

Today’s toppings included:

  • Extra banana
  • Sprinkle of brown sugar
  • Pecans
  • Spoonful of White Chocolate Peanut ButterIMG_4323

Monday, February 1

A New Spin on Yogurt

It’s funny how it’s freezing outside and snow is on the ground, yet I crazy cold things like iced mochas, ice cream and smoothies.  Before becoming pregnant one of my favorite breakfasts was yogurt with granola and now it’s really not.  I don’t have an aversion to it -  I guess there are just so many other breakfast things I started to like more. 

On one of favorite baby message boards, I learned about these new Yoplait frozen smoothie mixes.  We used to buy a frozen smoothie kit from Target, but it was quite high in sugar and came with some weird, but delicious powdery stuff.  The Yoplait smoothie is 110 calories made with low-fat milk and only has fresh frozen fruit and yogurt added.  IMG_4224The calorie content is a little low for breakfast, so I added a whole banana.  One pouch makes 2 smoothies, so it was perfect to split with Ben.  For a little texture I added a sprinkle of granola too…perfection in a glass!

Another 5-Star Recipe

This is the last recipe I made over the snow weekend and it did not disappoint.  I’m not sure if I could say what my favorite from this weekend was, but this is high on the list considering the abundant leftovers.

I think Ben was a little skeptical of the butternut squash being the main ingredient with little bulk from a protein other than bacon.   However, it was a wonderful flavor.  Roasting the squash provided lots of sugars and lended a sweetness to the saltiness of the bacon. 

Again the theme of the weekend was not quick and easy, so this recipe does take a little time since the butternut squash needs to roast for 45 minutes.  But, it can easily be made ahead of time and baked when ready.  IMG_4215Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta (Cooking Light)

  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried rosemary
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 3  cups  (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • Cooking spray
  • 6  sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced shallots
  • 8  ounces  uncooked mini penne (tube-shaped pasta)
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
  • 1/3  cup  (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°.

Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Combine squash mixture, bacon, and shallots; set aside.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.

Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.IMG_4218

Better than the Cracker Barrel

One of Ben’s favorite dishes is Chicken and Dumplings.  When I was thinking of home-made dishes to make this weekend for the snow, many soups and stews crossed my mind.  But on, they had a compilation of 5-Star recipes and I stumbled across Southern Living’s Chicken & Dumplings.  Sure I’ve made this a few times in the crock pot…the “Semi-Homemade” way. However, this weekend I thought I’d tackle the real deal – cook the whole chicken, make my own broth and roll the dumplings. 

Other than it being a long process of letting the chicken cook for an hour, cooling it, shredding it and rolling the dumplings, it is not hard.  This recipe is definitely worthy of a special country cooked meal when you have a few hours of hanging around the house.  Ben gave it at 10, saying it was the best Chicken & Dumplings he’s ever had!

Chicken & Dumplings (Southern Living)

  • 1  (4-5-pound) whole chicken, cut up
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons  salt, divided
  • 3/4  teaspoon  pepper, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  chicken bouillon granules
  • 3  cups  self-rising flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon  poultry seasoning
  • 1/3  cup  shortening
  • 2  teaspoons  bacon drippings
  • 1  cup  milk

Cover chicken with water, and bring to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and next 3 ingredients; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Remove chicken, reserving broth in Dutch oven; cool chicken. Skim fat from broth; bring to a simmer.IMG_4177

Skin, bone, and coarsely chop chicken. Add chicken, bouillon, and remaining salt and pepper to broth. Return to simmer.

Combine flour and poultry seasoning in a bowl. Cut in shortening and bacon drippings with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.IMG_4194IMG_4197

Bring broth mixture to a boil. Drop dumplings, a few at a time, into boiling broth, stirring gently. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, for 25 minutes. IMG_4206IMG_4209