Good Morning! Good Breakfast!: Baked Steel Cut Oats

Today I wanted to share something from the kitchen. This recipe has SO improved our mornings, especially my husband's. He is in an intense schooling program, that is both physically and mentally exhausting. He works full-time and is in school full-time. While breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, he simply doesn't have the time to have a decent one...


I discovered steel cut oats. (Yep. I said steel cut oats. Keep reading if you want to see how he has time for them in the morning.) They are healthy. They are high in fiber. They are minimally processed. They are a low-glycemic food (which means it takes the body a long time to absorb them, making you feel fuller longer, and giving you energy for longer). They are packed with carbohydrates to jumpstart a morning. They are chewy. (I know, the last item on my list of nutritional benefits doesn't seem to fit. But I do like things to taste good. And the chewier the oatmeal, the better... at least in my mouth).

By the way: feeling any weight from all those crunchy granola, steel-cut-oat women turning their nose up at you, the instant-oat woman. No need to! Steel cut oats are only slightly better for you. Really for me, it comes down to a flavor/texture preference and ... alright, a strange, crunchy-granola tendency to avoid over processed foods. But don't feel bad if you choose to stick to old-fashioned oats, the only extra process is rolling and steaming (and extra cutting if they are instant.) Oats--steel-cut, old fashioned or instant--are ALL so good for you! 

I have always had a thing for baked oatmeal. It's THE BEST way to have oatmeal. YUM-O! I found this recipe and adapted it to suit my family. Baked Oatmeal is SO tasty. I make it on Friday (our closest thing to a weekend at the moment) and serve it up with some eggs, bacon and fresh squeezed OJ. I package up all the leftovers and our little family has 4 days of leftover oatmeal squares that are super easy to reheat and take on the go... just in time for Michael's physically intense weekend.

Baked Steel Cut Oats. (Link will be provided at end of this post as well.)
And bonus for mommies with little ones: Baby Cereal Bars

1: Soak oatmeal overnight in water with tablespoon of plain yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir. This is not absolutely necessary, it's just a really good idea. Grains contains phytic acid, which prevent you from being able to absorb all of the grain's nutrition. Phytic acid also make grains harder to digest. I even read that soaking grains can help a person with a mild gluten allergy be able to eat some different types of grains.Yogurt, buttermilk and kefir all have natural enzymes that neutralize the phytic acid.
2. Drain oats in mesh collander. There is no need to rinse, just get rid of extra water. Put back in bowl.
3. Chop some nuts. I got almonds and pecans going in my concoction... mostly because that's what was available in my stash. (anyone else say AHH-monds and PEE-cans like I do???)
 3. Whisk it, and whisk it good. Whisk together the eggs, milk and maple syrup until nice and frothy. (This made me feel out of shape... my arm kept needing breaks... and by the way it takes less than 2 minutes to get to frothy... yeah, you really need to start working out again, Amanda.) If you can't afford maple syrup or don't feel like going to the store to get it, substitute brown sugar instead... same amount. Though I will say, everyone should make a way for maple syrup every now and again. It's GOOD :)
4. Add egg mixture to oats along with fruit. I have some blueberries and raspberries in this one from my frozen fruits stash. Add cinnamon and canola oil. You could add nuts here too (unless you are making baby cereal bars too), but I just sprinkle mine on top. (They get toasty this way... yummy)
Tip: I always keep at least a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer. Fruit is a healthy way to make a last minute dessert on the fly without adding too much sugar. Frozen fruit keeps for a really long time in the freezer, and its great to have a last minute dessert/sweetener on hand (pancakes, crepes, crisps... oh my!) Also, if fruit is on special and in season, I buy extra of it, rinse it, and store it in the freezer in freezer bags. Money saved. Happy tummies. Win!
 5. (Optional.) I have a little guy (10 months today!) who will eat just about anything (yep. broccoli, peas, carrots...) so long as he gets to be the one who puts it in his mouth. This has made me have to be creative in how I feed him. Since this has little sugar in it and is minimally processed, I decided to make him his own batch of cereal bars. I just pulled out a little bit, put it in the food processor (to make it easier to eat... he doesn't have many teeth to handle the chewy oats), didn't include the nuts, and put in a little mini bake dish. (Do double check with your baby's pediatrician if you have concerns about whether your baby can have this... My baby can, but all babies are different, the allergen advice keeps changing, and I am no doctor)
 6. Place mixture in oiled pans. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake in a 375 preheated oven for 20-40 minutes. It's done when a toothpick comes out clean. It's easy to tell when it's done: it will not have any liquid left. I used a 8x8, a 9x9 and a 3" circle (my little circle was done in 20 minutes and my two pans in 30 min. When I made this all in one pan and it was thick, it took 40 min). Side note: I am missing my big pan and have been for years now... I should probably get a new one. Ha!
 Hmmm... Hearty, Healthy, Wholesome, Hungry (alliterations for this creation... I know, I am a nerd)
Serve warm with eggs on a Saturday morning. Important: Drizzle oatmeal with maple syrup or a homemade fruit syrup like this one.)
 Big man approved. Little man approved too.
 For easy breakfast throughout the week: place each square on a piece of foil.
7. Wrap up. Store in fridge. Early each morning, pull out, unwrap (leaving it on the foil), place in toaster oven for 5ish minutes while you are finishing up getting ready for your day, wrap back up in foil, take with you, and eat on the go. So easy! Even my husband can do it! HA!
And in case you are unfamiliar with this math fact: toaster oven > microwave  :)
Husband LOVES his healthy, home-cooked breakfast each morning. I like not having to get up to make it for him.

Baked Steel Cut Oats Recipe

Open Recipe in Google Document for easy printing (Just click link):
Baked Steel Cut Oats

3 cups Steel Cut Oats
1 TBS plain yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir
½ cup chopped nuts
3 eggs   
1 cup of milk                       
½ cup dried fruit or 1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit
1 TBS cinnamon
2 TBS canola oil
2 TBS maple syrup

  1. Soak oats overnight. Place oats in large bowl, fill with water till water is an inch over the oats, place a generous tablespoon of plain yogurt in bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Grease pans.
  3. Drain oats in colander and place back in bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and maple syrup until frothy.
  5. Add egg mixture to oats along with fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and oil. Fold until combined.
  6. Pour into pans.
  7. Bake for 20-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean or oatmeal has no liquid on top.
  8. Serve with maple syrup. 

Baby Oatmeal Bars: 

Prepare just like above, except omit nuts, and place in food processor before putting into baking dish. 

Oatmeal Bars on the go: 

Prepare as above. Cut into individual servings and store each serving wrapped in foil in the fridge. Unwrap and place in 375 toaster oven for 5 minutes before eating (or eat cold).

Some yummy variations:
blueberries and raspberries
can of peaches, drained and cut, and blueberries. Omit cinnamon. Add tsp of vanilla
Sprinkle toasted wheat germ on the top for some nutty nutrition
dried apricots and dried cranberries as suggests
your imagination: keep the oats, milk, egg and oil ratios the same and play around with the fruit, seasoning/flavoring, sweetener and nut combinations :)

Hope your Monday is Made!


It's All in the Details: "2 Minutes to Fabulousness Raspberry Syrup"

I sometimes wonder, if I were to die today, what would my kids, husband, and friends remember about me? Morbid thought, perhaps, but my legacy is important to me. I don't want them to remember the times my patience COMPLETELY ran out, or how if you get me a drink I can forget to be appreciative and instead get all anal-retentive about my ice-to-liquid ratio that varies depending on the beverage (I am quirky, what can I say?), or how sometimes I can be completely lazy when it comes to laundry (Not the cleaning-it or the folding-it part, for me, it's the putting-it-away part. Confession: Stacks of my folded laundry sometimes will sit on my dresser for 2-3 weeks at a time. Who needs drawers when you can just dig through a pile of clothes, right?). I want to be remembered for how I loved. A legacy of love--awe, *deep sigh*, sounds romantic and worth striving for. And, as I am sure is very apparent from this blog, one of the chief ways this girl expresses love is in her cooking.

Nothing says love quite like a Yummy Breakfast!

But one can only be so fabulous.

Sometimes out of necessity, this is my motto. I could run myself into the ground "pouring love" into my cooking. But one can only be so fabulous.

Fortunately, I think one only needs to be so fabulous. Love is in the details. The little bit extra. It's the extra that has the most potential to be remembered (unless of course you managed to set your food on fire or seriously over-salted it; in which case, sorry, that's what's getting remembered! But on a positive note, those are precious, great-for-a-few-laughs moments that family members will cherish forever. Kids/Husband/Friends all want to know you are HUMAN and make mistakes every now and then!). For example, I think of the women's conference I went to: women left raving about the details--things like the pretty menu sticker on their boxed lunch that in scrolled writing said what was inside and the small amount of homemade dill-cream cheese spread for their relatively simple turkey sandwich.

Little details!

So this girl takes really simple things and does something a little extra. In this case, I make boring, simple and best of all EASY Bisquick pancakes for breakfast, but I make a raspberry syrup to serve over it. Instantly Special Bisquick Pancakes (almost an oxymoron) with only two minutes of extra work.

My raspberry syrup says "Family, I love you!"

So here's my 2 Minutes to Fabulousness Raspberry Syrup:

By the way, this is easy. REALLY EASY. So easy I am almost embarrassed to think its worth being posted on a blog. But, you know, I have learned and as this blog post points out, one should never underestimate the power of raspberry syrup or the power of just a little bit extra. So if you are some kind of sauce guru/kitchen ninja, it might embarrass me for you to read further. However, if you are still learning how to get fabulous in your kitchen, please keep reading...

Take about a cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen). Wash them and Toss them into a sauce pan.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. (This is really based on your tastebuds. I add very little because I like my raspberries tart and I like a little regular syrup on my pancakes too.)

Add about 1/4 tsp of lemon zest. (Once again, this is based on your tastebuds... I love lemon zest in my raspberries so I tend to be very generous in my zesting.)

Heat over medium heat until it is bubbling.  I let mine bubble for half a minute or so. The longer it bubbles the thicker it will get and the more broken down the raspberries will get. So, once again this can be done to your preferences. I happen to like some raspberry chunks in a thin sauce.

That's is! Boom! Your done! This can be served on your Pancakes, waffles, fresh toast, or whatever else might please you. It can be served immediately or it can cool down a bit if you happen to have timing issues like me and have yet to master the art of each part of your meal being ready to serve at the same time.

Bisquik pancakes, 2 minutes to Fabulousness Raspberry Syrup, a sprinkling of powdered sugar for prettiness's sake, scrambled eggs and sausage. Happy Husband. Happy Kids. So, of course, Happy Mom.

Happy Cooking! Happy Loving! Happy Fabulousness! All wishes for you :)

The recipe in printable format:

2 Minutes to Fabulousness Raspberry Syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
2-3 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp lemon zest

1. Put raspberries, sugar and lemon zest into a sauce pan on medium heat.
2. Stir occasionally.
3. Heat untill bubbling. Turn off heat after 30 seconds.
4. Serve

Serves 4.

Banana Blueberry Breakfast Muffin

I think it's important to set this muffin apart as a breakfast muffin. While I suppose all muffins are supposed to be for breakfast, as a former employee of Marie Callendar's, I'm sorry but a decadent lemon muffin topped with cream cheese frosting should better be classified as dessert (in fact, I think all their muffins should probably be considered dessert muffins... not that I am putting them down. Dessert muffins are good. Marie Callendar's are REALLY good). Point being, muffins are amazing, but not all muffins are packed with that wholesome nutrition (you know, high in fiber and packed with whole grains and vitamins) to start your day off right.

All muffins are not created equal.

I may have lost your attention at "high fiber" but let me tell you this muffin is tasty enough to eat for dessert (truly) but healthy enough to feel good about (and give to your muffin-loving kids for breakfast without worrying for their teacher's sanity during their Krusteaz Blueberry Muffin sugar high. As a former 5th/6th grade teacher, I feel very free to knock on the boxed muffin mixes... at least on schooldays).

Look at it. 

This BREAKFAST Muffin is BEAUTIFUL. Think Banana-nut bread married to a blueberry muffin. YUM!

I originally got this recipe from Chicita Banana (and made some changes) in an effort to find a place to put the bananas that my husband asked for but failed to eat. Pet Peeves: 1. brown bananas on my counter and 2. throwing uneaten fruit away. Sometimes I think he doesn't eat his bananas on purpose, just so I will bake something with them. That's okay, sweetheart, I do like baking.

Banana Blueberry Breakfast Muffins:


The Muffin:
2-3 whole Bananas (brown)  
1 large Egg, beaten
3/4 cup low-fat Buttermilk
1 cup Flour (or 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup of wheat germ***)
1 cup rolled Oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking will work too)
3/4 cup (packed) Brown sugar
1 tsp. Baking soda 
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 cup Fresh Blueberries (or fully thawed frozen blueberries)

The Topping:
1/4 cup Rolled Oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking work too)
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. (packed) Brown sugar 
 1Tbsp. Butter, melted

1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with foil liners

2. Combine all topping ingredients except butter in a small bowl. Add melted butter to oats mixture and toss with a fork till well coated. Set Aside.

3. Mash bananas in a medium bowl. For a quick mash, try using your potato masher. Add in egg and buttermilk. No buttermilk on hand, no problem. Make sour milk. 3/4 Tbs of vinegar into measuring cup and fill the rest with milk until 3/4 cup line.
4. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the muffin ingredients except for the blueberries.

5. Add banana mixture to large bowl. Stir until just combined. Don't overstir. Overstirring causes muffins to be tough.

6. Fold in Blueberries.

7. Spoon mixture into muffin tins. Add topping to the top. Place in middle rack of your preheated, 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

This tasty batter is ready to go into the oven and make my house smell yummy.

It's my picky preschooler approved!

A perfect pairing for preschoolers: Brainfood muffins and Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Moose a Muffin.

Why I Love Wheat Germ:
***I need to take a moment to tell you about the wonderfulness that is wheat germ. Sounds gross, like, hello, we try our best to keep our kids germ free! But seriously, name aside, this stuff is awesome.  Wheat germ is the reproductive part of wheat kernel (hence the germ in the name: think germinate, not bacteria). It has a subtle sweet and nutty flavor (even more pronounced and wonderful when toasted), and its packed full of protein, folates, vitamin E, potassium and iron. It is healthy that tastes better! Best part is, I can sneak in some nutrition on my green-food fearing daughter (nutrition that tastes like it belongs there... yep, I have so tried to hide green beans in her bites of mashed potatoes... fail!) I find wheat germ in the flour/baking section of my grocery store, but some carry it in the health foods section.  You can substitute 1/2 cup of wheat germ for 1/2 cup of flour in any bread recipe. Try it!!!

Chiquita Banana has tons of other delicious and healthy places to put your extra bananas on their website

Saturday Mornings...

I love to cook. I love to cook for people. It makes me happy making people happy. Fortunately for me, I married a man that loves to eat. He feels loved when I create in the kitchen. We are a winning combo if I do say so myself.

So, enter Saturday mornings... Husband worked hard all week, I had the kids to myself save but those few glorious moments of shower time when Mike read Addy her bedtime story and Jed slept. We had high moments--Addy learned to count a little higher, Jed made precious sleep smiles, Dad got an extra job put on his route and therefore made more money. We've had low moments-- Addy's potty training accidents, Jed's irregular feeding schedule, not getting a minute to myself, or Daddy working late. Saturday morning is REDEMPTION. The chance to do things as I wish I could always do them. The chance to not run out of patience, the chance to enjoy my kids with my parenting partner and best-support-a-girl-could-ask-for present, the chance to not set the food on fire because Addy had an accident on the carpet, Dad was working really late, and Jed needed to eat all at the same time (yes, i have so been there, but don't worry, if you are taking cooking tips from me I don't ALWAYS set the food on fire. haha) Had Adam and Eve not sinned, this is what I imagine every morning would look like.

I wake up (usually when the munchkin has found her way into my bed and keeps asking "'Wake, Mom?" Seriously, Addy, if I answer you, I AM awake). I enter the kitchen and make breakfast, Addy watches her favorite movie or helps me stir stuff. My husband wakes up, usually to the smell of food. My Saturday mornings are very normal.

Sometimes normal is good. Very good.

Saturday mornings, I pour out my love for my family into blueberry pancake batter and crackling bacon... the LOVE that I wish I had shown that time that I yelled at my daughter, the FOCUS that I wish I could give my newborn even when his older sister needs a lot of attention, the WARMTH that I wish my husband got from me when he was trying to be romantic and I was too exhausted from pouring out to our kids to feel I had anything left to give. I cook away the week, make food we all like, all can take part in the making and definitely can take part in the eating. And, ah, as the gorgeous berry butter is melting on my lemon-zested pugliese french toast sprinkled with powdered sugar (I feel my waistline increasing just writing the description!), so I can feel the trials of the past week just melt away. I get a moment to savor life and thank God for my many blessings.

I LOVE Saturday mornings! (big sigh) So, dear family of mine, please know I love you with all my heart and am thankful for you EVERYday of the week (Sunday through Friday included).

My breakfast favorites:
  • Orange Juice: too expensive to buy for everyday consumption, but great for a once a week treat. 
  • Good ol' fashioned Bisquick pancakes with fresh or frozen blueberries added
  • BACON (Hey it's Saturday!)
  • French Toast as only the Pioneer Woman can do it... Had it for the first time and it is heaven here on earth
  • Egg Scramble: I throw 4 eggs, some milk... like 1/4 cup, a tsp or so of Mediterranean seasoning blend from McCormick, and dice up whatever lunch meat my husband has left from his week of sandwiches (usually ham or turkey) into a bowl, wisk it a little and put into a medium heat pan. After the eggs are just about cooked through I add some shredded monterrey jack cheese and flip it all around to distribute the cheese and melt it. Yummy. Lots of room for yummy variations with scrambled eggs and a great place to put left-over meat.
  • Quiche: I like mine with Fresh Basil, portobello mushrooms, onions... I will have to pull out that recipe and post it. It is yummy!
  • Breakfast Burrito: I do scrambled eggs, a bag of frozen potatoes o'brien, bacon (or whatever I have on hand), monterey jack cheese, and taco sauce. 
So, since my camera apparently never works on Saturday mornings, here is a picture of breakfast from Addy's 3rd birthday. Nothing quite like Pancakes, bacon and eggs! (Notice the not-very-dinosauresque t-rex pancake. Addy loved it even though you probably can't tell what it is!)

    Make it FUN for your Picky Preschooler:
    • Dinosaur sandwich cut-out: It's just a sandwich-sized piece of plastic that cuts dinosaurs into my dinosaur-loving child's sandwiches. I found it in the grocery store and thought it could be the stupidest and most useless kitchen tool I ever buy or it could be one of the best. It was one of the best. Never under-estimate how much children love FUN looking food. It is how I get Addy to eat a healthy tuna on whole wheat during the week and how i get her to eat a very fancy-looking and tasting french toast.
    • Loosen up Momma and let your preschooler help you. And, usually, if they made it, they will at least try it. You may have a mess to clean up afterwards, but, hey, its saturday! Making messes is FUN!... even if cleaning them is not. (And if you are anything like me, you make a mess in the kitchen anyways)
    • Let your child tell you what shape pancake he/she wants. You may not be an artist especially with a large spoon and batter, but fortunately for you, your child has an imagination bigger than your lack of ability to make a t-rex shaped pancake. They will see it anyways.
    • Burrito Power: I have found that if I stick it in a burrito, Addy will eat it. She doesn't even look inside unless I get bold and stick something she really hates in it. (I apply this rule to fish taco night too, adults have tacos, while addy's soft taco is rolled like a burrito... Yep! She eats the fish!)
    • Um... and as for kid-ified quiche, I am not sure quiche can be made kid-friendly??? At least I haven't figured that one out. Bacon helps though, bacon always help make something good. Let me know if you know a way to make kids love quiche!

    Here's to Saturday, Friends! And here's to you having a blessed one!