Oatmeal Squared

Knock Knock

Who’s there?

Orange

Orange who?

Orange you glad I made granola again?

 

If you are six years old or younger you might find this funny… at least my kids did.

The oatmeal saga continues here. If you are following us you know that I bought an enormous quantity of oatmeal at Costco last week (it was too good a deal to pass up!) and have been working hard to make a dent in it. Strangely, it seems to be multiplying instead of depleting. After several batches of muffins I still have a humongous amount in my pantry taunting me. Since my kids finally tired of my cheddar cheese muffins I thought I would try the obvious and make some granola.

Such an easy thing to create and I love that you can add lots of other ingredients to make it your own. Nuts, dried fruit, coconut, the list goes on and on. If you live within a five mile radius of us you might be getting a batch – we made A LOT.

Orange Granola

Ingredients

1 ½ tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. brown sugar

¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about ½ an orange)

½ tsp nutmeg

Pinch of salt

2 cups oats (old-fashioned, not instant)

½ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips

1 egg white, lightly beaten

¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)

1 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

 

Method

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted reduce heat and add oil, honey, brown sugar, orange juice, nutmeg, and salt. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, chocolate chips. Add in egg white and stir to combine well. (The egg white makes the oatmeal extra chunky. If you don’t want clusters you can omit the egg.) Pour the sugar mixture over the oat mixture and stir well to coat the oats.

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Spread the mixture on the baking sheet in one thin slab.

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Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned. The granola will crisp as it cools. Let cool completely and break into chunks.

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At this point, you can stir in some dried fruit. We love cranberries but raisins would work well too. Sprinkle granola on some Greek yogurt (we prefer Fage but please don’t ask me how to pronounce it!)

IMG_8353And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “I love it, is this chocolate?”

Liam (age 5): “Can I have more for dessert?”

Dylan (age 5): “It doesn’t taste orange”

 

We were excited to be featured this week in The Daily Voice (Mamaroneck & Larchmont) – “Larchmont Mom Shares Healthy, Kid-Friendly Recipes on Blog”

 

O Is For Oatmeal

Has this every happened to you? You’re shopping in Costco or BJ’s and you see something that you don’t need but the price is so good you can’t resist? So you flex your muscles, lift the 20lb bag, and dump it in your double wide shopping cart. For a split second you think “How will I ever use this all up?” but the thought is fleeting as you spy another amazing bargain!

On my last trip to Costco I had oatmeal on my mind since I had just used the last bit. Arriving at the cereal aisle I spotted an enormous box and calculated the savings of buying the bulk size vs. the small canister at our local market. The cost difference was huge, how could I pass it up? I hefted the box off the shelf and placed it my double wide, proud of my purchasing savvy.

Oatmeal is something we always have in our pantry; the 18oz canister from the supermarket lasts an average of six months in our house. I’ve tried to make breakfast oatmeal with all sorts of toppings but it’s a mutiny every time. So the canister usually sits in the cupboard until it’s needed for cookies or muffins.

Arriving home with my purchase I was faced with a dilemma – what to do with all of this oatmeal– there are only so many cookies a girl can make. I needed to think outside of the oatmeal box and come up with some new ideas. Starting with breakfast made sense so I combined oatmeal with a meal I know my kids love, cheesy eggs. And you know I am adding bacon to this one!

Cheesy Egg Oatmeal Muffins (recipe yields: 16 small muffins)

Ingredients

2 ½ cups oats (not instant)

1 ½ cup whole or 2% milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 bacon strips, cooked and finely diced, divided

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp black pepper

 

Method

Place oats and milk in medium mixing bowl. Combine and cover with plastic wrap. Soak the oats overnight in the refrigerator. (See note below on soaking oats)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups, non-stick cooking oil, or some butter.

Add eggs, cheddar cheese, half of the bacon, salt and pepper to the oatmeal mixture. Mix until well combined. Fill muffin tins to top (the muffins are not going to rise). Add the remaining bacon on the top.

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Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until muffins are crispy on top and spring back when you touch them. I used a small muffin tin, you will need to adjust cooking time for larger muffins. Serve warm.

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Note about soaking oats: “Soaking” whole grains can make them more digestible and help your system obtain all the nutrients in the food. However, there are lots of people who believe you should and just as many people who say it’s a waste of time. I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t say one way or another. I chose to soak the oats in milk overnight because our muffins came out moister, with better flavor and texture, than without soaking them.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “You’re the best muffin omelet maker ever!”

Liam (age 5): “I want the one with the most bacon”

Dylan (age 5): “It’s too hot, but really good”

I made four batches of these and barely put a dent in my oatmeal supply. Anyone have any oatmeal recipes to share!? Please!

Five-Second Rule

Last night at dinner one of my kids dropped some food on the floor and promptly picked it up and ate it. He was obviously applying the five-second rule: If you drop food on the floor, you have five seconds to pick it up and eat it before it gets the cooties.

I would say he picked it up in about 2 seconds, not long enough for me to even to stop him. Although I am happy to report he gave it a quick wipe on his shirt just to make sure it was really “clean”. My kids are not in the habit of eating off the floor. Usually whatever food accumulates during dinner tends to stay where it lands until I clean it, so this was an exception to the rule.

You must be wondering what delicious morsel of food prompted such an action. None other than chicken nuggets. What is it about chicken nuggets? My kids absolutely LOVE them. The funniest thing is they’ll say they love MacDonald’s chicken nuggets and they’ve never even eaten at MacDonald’s.

I did some research into McNuggets and discovered they contain 38 ingredients! 44% of them account for actual chicken or chicken products. The other 56% are corn based and some include chemicals you might find under your kitchen sink (you know, the type you lock up so your kids DON’T ingest them.) One more reason to avoid eating at MacDonalds! The whole chicken nugget thing is a mystery to me. And it’s not only my kids, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like them.

Obviously, I don’t advocate eating off the floor, but I will admit I was secretly happy that my kid liked his dinner so much he was willing to go the extra mile to eat it. Ironically, the “chicken” nuggets I had made weren’t even chicken, they were turkey. It was April Fool’s Day after all…

Fool’s Nuggets

Ingredients

1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp black pepper

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 Tbsp ketchup

1 lb. ground turkey or chicken

 

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

In a shallow dish mix the breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper.

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Remove 1/2 cup of the breadcrumb mixture and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and ketchup to the breadcrumbs, mix until combined. Then add the turkey or chicken and mix until well combined. The best way to do this is using your hands, messy but it is the best way to get the job done!

Form 1” meatballs and roll them in the breadcrumbs, pressing gently down to form a nugget shape.

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Coat both sides of the “nugget” and place on the baking sheet.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes until crispy. Turn them once halfway through cooking. Serve with favorite dipping sauce!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “These are the healthy ones, right?”

Liam (five days from 5): “Are they better than the ones at McDonald’s?”

Dylan (five days from 5): “Not as good as McDonalds’s Liam but I love these…”

Not as good as McNuggets but still a meal worthy of eating off the floor!

 

 

A Macaroon A Day…

… keeps the doctor away?

Yes, it’s true, as long as you add dark chocolate chips to them! (Note: this is the author’s own conclusion, not a proven medical fact)

Have you heard the great news about cocoa? For years it’s been known that dark chocolate had health benefits but doctors never knew exactly how the process occurred. They have recently discovered it’s all due to our gut bacteria breaking down the cocoa, releasing heart-healthy compounds into our system – sounds appetizing doesn’t it? Well, if a doctor says I should be eating chocolate every day for its anti-inflammatory benefits who am I to argue?

In the next few weeks there’ll be an abundance of chocolate in all shapes and sizes showing up in our house. Since we celebrate both Easter and Passover there will be Easter eggs, marshmallow Peeps, chocolate bunnies, jelly rings and macaroons. I never met a Peep I didn’t like but I might just leave those to the kids and have some “medicine” instead, in the form of macaroons.

I’ve been working on this recipe for weeks and think I finally hit the right combo. I’m going to amp up the health factor by adding dried fruit and almonds; more antioxidants and healthy fats never hurt anyone. I started these early in the season because I know once those chocolate bunnies show up, my macaroons will ultimately be ignored by my little guys. But for now they’re still excited to try each batch as I experiment.

Fruit & Nut Macaroons

Ingredients

¼ cup dried cranberries (unsweetened)

½ cup almonds

2 cups of sweetened coconut flakes (about 7oz)

3 egg whites

¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips

 

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place cranberries and almonds in a food processor until finely ground.

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Add coconut and egg whites to the cranberry/almond mix and then combine in processor for several minutes until the mixture is the consistency of a paste. Scrape down the sides of the processor as needed. Add the chips at the end and just pulse a few times to combine the chips with the coconut mixture. You don’t want to break up the chips too much, just combine them.

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Place mixture in a bowl and using a tablespoon measure out small mounds on the baking sheet.

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If the mixture is sticking to the spoon simply dip the spoon in warm water between each spoonful.

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Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes until edges are browned and crispy. Let cool and enjoy!

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Recipe yields about 15 macaroons. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “This batch is the best yet, can we stop now?”

Liam (age 4 11/12): “What’s a macaroon? I like the chips only”

Dylan (age 4 11/12): “It’s deeelightful”

Move over Manischewitz!

And if you like your macaroons with the chocolate on the outside instead of inside, check out this recipe from fellow blogger, The Hungry Mum, it’s a good one.