Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dr. Oats is in...

I'm the oatmeal Doctor. I just might hang a sign on my front door and start charging a hundred bucks a pop for an office visit. I love doctoring up my oatmeal, which sometimes makes it slightly (only slightly!) less healthy. But, it is still much healthier than the typical eggs and bacon American breakfast (Big Daddy!!).

So, I was craving carrot cake. Not just any carrot cake. My mother-in-laws homemade-from-scratch-weighs-at least-2-pounds carrot cake. It is the best carrot cake to ever grace my lips, and I could totally eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But, I think it would make a great breakfast, coupled with some hot java.

I got a great idea to "doctor" my oatmeal to mimic the flavor of this delicious cake. It could only mimic it, since nothing could really come very close to the wonderful taste and texture, and I just don't think it's acceptable to put a half cup of cream cheese icing atop my morning oatmeal... but I can at least give it a shot.

So, this morning, I made my bowl of oatmeal and added to it:

One shredded carrot (added to the boiling water with the oatmeal)

A few tbsp coconut

a few tbsp walnuts

a dab of smart balance buttery spread

a tbsp or 2 of brown sugar

2 tsp of blackstrap molasses

It was divine! It tasted similar to carrot cake, but it was really great oatmeal. As I ate it, I came up with some other add-ins I may use next time, including pineapple and raisins.

P.S. I have become acutely aware of my lack of skill in the food photography area. I will work on it!

Do you dress up your oatmeal? If so, tell me about it by posting here!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hurry up and slow down

The message has been loud and clear to me recently- SLOW DOWN. I am a serial multi-tasker. I talk on the phone while doing dishes, laundry, checking email...I text multiple conversations at the same time. I cook dinner, while emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and loading the dryer...at the same time. But, who doesn't?? There are only 24 hours in the day, and I need to get as much done in those hours as humanly possible. Right?

After hearing a sermon a few weeks ago about "single-tasking" and being more present in every moment, I have paid closer attention to what happens when I am multi-tasking. I have always been absent-minded, misplaced things, zoned out while people are talking to me, and I am notoriously distractable. Could this all be a result of my multi-tasking ways? Likely...

I can't say that I am yet a recovering multi-tasker. But, I am working on it. Baby steps.

I am aiming to stop forcing my family to join in my multi-tasking by being over-booked and not allowing down time. I mean, what kid wants to rush from school to home, to hurry up and rest up before a rigorous gymnastics class, after which we rush home and eat dinner (hurriedly), and then rush upstairs for bath and bedtime, before which we hurry through a book? "Stop the madness!", I am telling myself. I am trying to relax, because life is NOT a race.

So, ironically, I am bringing you the world's fastest healthy dinner recipe. I love this one because I can step away from the stove and have some down time with my family after dinner. Time for a game of Chutes and Ladders, a bike ride, playing at the park, swinging on the rope swing in the backyard...and I guess we will let the kids tag along too.

The world's quickest Chicken (or vegetarian) tortilla soup
(As always, my measurements are not exact. Adjust to your liking. You know, just eyeball it)

1 box chicken or veggie broth

1 serving cooked brown rice (I use instant)

1 can rotelle diced tomatoes and green chiles

1/2 can corn

1 cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes (or omit this, if making the vegetarian option)

4 oz. shredded cheddar, colby jack, or monterrey jack cheese

1 avocado, cut into small cubes (to garnish)

a palm full of cilantro, chopped (to garnish)

a few handfuls of tortilla chips

In a soup pot, combine all ingredients (except avocado and cilantro), and heat until cheese is melty. Before serving in soup bowls, crunch a handful of tortilla chips and fill bottom of bowls. Ladle soup over chips, garnish and serve.

Then, relax, since that whole process took only 10 minutes!

We did...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Doctor's orders

Last week, someone had a five year old check up. So, prepared for the worst (vaccinations), we went to our pediatrician. Turns out, someone did not have to get any vaccinations, but did get orders to eat more fruits and veggies.

The doctor instructed my little someone to eat her fruit or veggies FIRST, before even her meat or protein. I was so happy to hear this advice, that I jumped on the bandwagon immediately, and instituted a new household rule. Now, we all have to eat our fruit or veggies first, and it seems to be an easy rule to follow.

On the way out the pediatricians door, I was reminded by two little someones that I had bribed, ahem, promised to reward them with a trip to the ice cream shop if they were quiet and well behaved while mommy talked with the doctor. And, they had certainly earned it. They had been perfect little angels...

So, after a stop by the house to eat lunch (veggies first, of course), we went to the ice cream shop down the street.
Someone ordered strawberry ice cream, commenting to the girl serving the cone, "the doctor said I need to eat more fruit."

We sat out by the lake, enjoying the beautiful sunny day. I enjoyed the entertainment as Addie sang on her "microphone" to the construction workers behind us. Apparently she thought it was their birthday...or that's one of the only songs she can remember all the words to, besides Silent Night. All the while her ice cream melted in the sun.

That's $4.50 down the drain. I guess I was paying for the entertainment.

All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon, and a great way to spend one of our spring break days.

"Look, mom. I ate all my fruit!"

I will let the doctor know right away.

Mac and Balls

Kaley: "Mom, can we go out to eat for lunch today?"

Me: "Where would you like to go?"

Kaley: "The buffet"

Me: "Daddy doesn't like the buffet"

Kaley: "Why not? They have cookies AND candy!"

David: "Because the quality of food there is.......junk" (Good save.)

I had to think fast, so I offered an old favorite, mommy's "famous" mac-n-cheese. Famous? Well, at least to my family. And, it's not made from a boxed mix of orange powder, laced with fake food ingredients.

"Yeah!" (Yells from the backseat.)

"Can we have a dessert too?"

"Sure, why not"

Mommy's "Famous" super simple, but wholesome Mac-n-cheese:

  • Elbow macaroni pasta of your choice (prepared according to box instructions)

  • Two tablespoons of Earth Balance Vegan Margarine or Smart Balance Buttery spread
(both are made with much healthier plant oils instead of butter, but taste buttery.)

  • A few tablespoons flour (you'll have to eyeball this)

  • Milk (added to desired thickness)

  • 8 oz. pkg of shredded cheddar cheese (I've used sharp cheddar and regular)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package instructions. For cheese sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. When completely melted, add a few tablespoons of flour and stir, stir, stir. It will be lumpy, but that's ok. Add milk. I usually start with about a cup and this is when you'll really need to keep stirring, or it will burn on the bottom. (I use a stainless steel saucepan, so that I can use a metal whip.) Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken. Add milk to give you the desired amount of sauce, and take it off the heat as soon as the sauce begins to thicken. Add desired amount of cheese (I usually use almost the entire package), and salt and pepper to taste (It will need to be a bit salitier than you like because the pasta will even out the salty flavor). The cheese will melt into the sauce and the whole mixture will get creamy. Pour the sauce over cooked and drained pasta and stir. And, that's it!


The whole process takes maybe 15 minutes. Super simple, but super yummy! I chop uncooked broccoli and carrots and add it to mine, in order to mix in some fiber and vitamins. I keep the chopped veggies on the side for the kids, since they don't like the crunchy texture in their pasta. Big Daddy would prefer a side of bacon, but he gets veggies or a salad anyway. Then, we enjoy.

Our lunches are always peppered with questions and comments like, "Do I look like a ballerina in this swimsuit?", and "Our dogs poop A LOT", and " Can we live in Hawaii someday? PLEASE?", and "I have a toot. Never mind, I don't anymore." I wish it could stay this way forever. Food, family, flatulence.

Well, I could totally live without that last part. But, the rest is priceless! And so are my balls. Cookie dough balls, people. Geeeeez!

You can find this recipe for these PB Chocolate chip cookie dough balls on www.Peasandthankyou.com, filed under the "recipeas" tab. Then, you too can have wonderful balls. ;)