Steel Cut Oatmeal

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It seems like I keep going on a “break” and then coming back again. I’ve decided that, if nothing else, I’d like to start blogging again as a mechanism of saving the recipes that I make all the time. Let’s be honest. It’s a good referene, especially when I can pull up a recipe while out and about (clarification: I’m at the store and completely forgot to check if I need any ingredients for the recipe I’m making). There may or may not be any frequency to my posts, but here’s hoping the ones that go up are our ‘keepers’.

Both of us start our jobs really early here. The hubbs goes in at 5:30. I start at 6:30. Considering neither one of us are the best morning people, you can imagine that this translates into both of us eat breakfast at work. Over the last few months, we both fell into the habit of grabbing a granola/protein bar for breakfast for convienence. One of the downsides (I realize there are many), I would be hungry again in a couple hours. Regardless of how you look at it, 9:00-9:30 is too early for lunch.

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In an effort to get back to more ‘real’ breakfast food, I decided to return to my old breakfast of choice, oatmeal. For years, I would make my own oats at home (usually microwaved) with cinnamon and unsweetened applesauce. I still do this on occasion, however I really enjoy it when I plan ahead enough to have a pot of these steel cut oats prepared.

They probably take 35-40 minutes from start to clean-up, however much of this is hands-off time. The trade-off for that time is that I get 4 servings of pre-prepared oatmeal that just has to be heated up in the microwave at 6:30 in the morning. Perfect. Most of the time, I just reheat, however you can add a splash of milk or water when reheating if you want more of a creamy texture. Top with blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen just add before heating) and/or a sliced banana, and I’m a happy (and full) girl!

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(Printable Recipe)

Steel Cut Oatmeal
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients: (about 4 servings)
1 cup steel cut oats
3-1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk or almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the steel cut oats and salt. Stir.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes. You will need to stir the pot occasionally or the oats will stick to the pan.

When the oats start to thicken. Add the milk, applesauce, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the oats thicken to your desired consistency.

You can serve immediately or measure out into 4 containers. If saving, refrigerate until use. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (can add a splash of milk or water if desired). Top as desired. Enjoy!

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Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole

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Last week we had a little “going away” breakfast party for a couple of the guys at work who were leaving us. I work with a pretty big group of people, so it is always fun to do a work potluck where I you to eat a little bit of a whole bunch of different foods!

There were already quite a few people signed up to bring breakfast ‘sweets’ – bagels, muffins, doughnuts. So I was looking for something on the savory side that would be easy to transport. The only caveat to this was due to dietary restrictions, it would be much easier to have the dish be vegetarian. Enter the idea for an egg casserole, except I needed a recipe. My dad has made one growing up, but it always contained Polish sausage and would be a bit plain without the meat.

In a recipe search, I came across this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that looked pretty customizable. Bonus in that it was make-ahead because let me be honest. I already had to bake this and be into work by 6:30 that morning. And I don’t function too well in the morning any earlier than that.

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I mostly used her recipe as a base, swapping and adding things where I thought it might be good. As mentioned above, I did not add any meat, thus I ended up adding some shredded hash browns to the cooked veggie mixture in an attempt to ‘heft’ the casserole up a touch. Other than no mushrooms, I largely followed her veggie list, adding only a jalapeño that happened to be in my fridge. I used normal sandwich bread for the bread in the recipe, although I’m sure any type of bakery loaf you may have would be awesome here as well. Just know that it can work with the bread you normally have in the house too 🙂

On the bake time, I will say to watch it closely. I also baked mine on the longer side, 53 minutes to be exact, as I was concerned about ensuring the middle was cooked (particularly as I had added the potatoes). The eggs themselves were not over baked, however the bottom of the casserole was more of a dark tan color. I might shave a few minutes off that next time and keep it closer to the 48-50min range. Keep in mind, if the casserole has a chance to cool off for a bit, it will seem to ‘set up’ more as well. I cannot speak to reheating as the casserole did not make it until lunch at work, but I have had success reheating egg bakes in the past. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 bell peppers of any color, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) pkg baby spinach
1/3 to 1/2 pkg frozen shredded hash browns
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of bread (any type desired), torn into bite-sized pieces
10 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Non-stick spray

Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. When warm, add the bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño and sauté for 4-5 mintues, or until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook until warmed through (this should help get out any extra water). Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the vegetables aside.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Add the torn bread in a (mostly) single layer over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Stir in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour half of the egg mixture over the bread. Top with the vegetables and cover with the remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.

Spray the bottom of a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove and allow to come to room temperature prior to baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the top is golden, the edges are crispy, and the middle appears to be set or about 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool as desired (will ‘set up’ slightly more as it cools).

Lightened-up Almond Granola

lighter summer granola with blueberries

Well, the hubbs has finally joined the Greek yogurt club. The bad news about that was he didn’t forecast this decision. A fridge void of Chobani when that is one of your go-to work breakfast options definitely starts the day off on a sad note. I think it was that night he told me, “Those Chobanis are good. I had 2 the other day!” 🙂

We do tend to go through quite a bit of granola with our morning yogurt. This is one of those recipes that I cannot believe I haven’t shared. This granola is a workhorse in our breakfast rotation, and I have no idea how many times I have made it. Enough that I now essentially have the recipe memorized.

lightened-up granola finished

This recipe is originally from Oh She Glows, and the base of the recipe is still pretty similar to Angela’s although I’ve made a few adaptations to make it fit our tastes. Largely reducing the amount of brown sugar called for in the dry ingredients. We usually like things sweet here, but I promise you won’t notice a difference. As with most granolas, it is pretty easy. Especially so, as the “sauce” portion of this one doesn’t need to be cooked on the stove. The bake time is an estimate of 20-25 minutes, and I find this is true for me as well. Each batch varies just a bit in the time it needs in the oven. Just watch the pieces of oats and almonds. When you see them browning, it is done. The pieces may still seem a little soft, but it will crisp as it cools.

With some Greek yogurt and berries, I could absolutely see this as an addition to Easter Brunch. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Lightened-up Almond Granola
Adapted from Oh She Glows

Ingredients:
6 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup uncooked millet
6 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 to 2 tsp. Kosher salt
6 heaping Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a couple large sheet pans with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (oats through salt). Mix well.

In a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl, mix the applesauce, honey, and almond butter. Microwave, for 30 seconds at a time, and stir until the mixture is uniform and smooth. Let cool slightly and add the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until all the oat mixture appears to be coated with the almond butter mixture. Divide between the prepared pans spreading the granola in a single, even layer in the pan. I usually have to use 3 pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove the granola when the pieces begin to brown. It will go from brown to burnt quickly (especially on the edges) so watch it closely. The granola will crisp as it cools.

Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes

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It’s Monday… I know you didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. Me either. I am not sure I’ll ever understand those people who are willing to jump out of their perfectly maneuvered blanket cocoon into the chilly darkness of the early morning, although on most mornings, I could use some of their enthusiasm!

While these aren’t an everyday type of breakfast, I could certainly roll myself out of bed most mornings for these. Maybe they’ll make your morning better as well? These cinnamon streusel pancakes have been on my “To Make” list since I saw them over a year ago on Maria’s blog Two Peas and Their Pod. For me, streusel is one of those things that doesn’t necessarily need a vehicle (read: cake, muffin, cooked fruit), so pile it on top of a pancake, and I am game.

The pancakes themselves come together pretty easily. The intent here is to make large pancakes (think 1 per serving). As written, the recipe states it should make 6 pancakes, but using the indicated amount of batter per pancake, my yield was 3. This wasn’t a big deal in our house, as I am only feeding the two of us, but if you are feeding a larger crowd, you may want to keep that in mind. As a note, I have taken to keeping powdered buttermilk in the pantry as we rarely keep real buttermilk in the house, although in a pinch you can always add a little lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for a couple minutes.

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I will fully admit that I am usually a drench your pancakes/waffles in syrup type of gal, but with the streusel, these really only needed a touch of butter and syrup. The streusel that ends up on the bottom side of the pancake crisps up a little as it cooks and creates a great “crust” to the pancakes. These were definitely a hit, although I now we have a pancake divide at our house. These are my new favorite, but the hubbs is still a fan of the cinnamon roll pancakes. Guess we’ll have to keep testing 🙂

(Printable Recipe)

Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes
From Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
non-stick cooking spray

Cinnamon Streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter

For the streusel, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well. Cut in the butter and mix with your hands or a fork until the mixture begins to hold together into crumbs. Set aside.

For the pancakes, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Stir until the mixture is just combined. It is okay if there are lumps or small pieces of flour.

Heat a griddle or large skillet to low-medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1 cup of batter onto the pan. Top with approximately 2 tablespoons of streusel. Cook until the bubbles that pop stay “open” in the batter or until the underside is slightly brown. Flip the pancake over and top generously with streusel. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until slightly brown on the other side. Continue for the remaining batter. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Baked Oatmeal To Go

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Anyone have any good tips on how to consistently work out in the morning? With the new job, I’m working longer days, so I’d love to knock my workout out in the morning before work. My problem – this involves being at the gym to workout at 4:30 AM. Doable in my world if I have to do it once. Four times a week… going to be a struggle.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, most mornings, even if I’m not trying to get to the gym before work, there is not much of a chance that I am going to have time to actually cook something. I tend to get out of bed at the last possible minute to give me enough time to get out the door, so grab and go is a great philosophy in this house. With my much earlier mornings in mind, I pulled this recipe out for some make-ahead breakfasts and was surprised to realize that I had yet to blog on it.

baked oatmeal to go in pan

baked oatmeal to go

The recipe is from Leanne of Healthful Pursuit, and I have already lost count of how many times I have made these. They bake in a muffin pan to allow for individual servings, and at 2 “muffins” a morning, one recipe lasts most of my week. They keep well in the refrigerator, and I just reheat them after I get to work in the mornings. They smell great coming out of the microwave due to the cinnamon, and I often get comments asking what I am eating. One thing to note, the texture of these is going to be different from a traditional muffin. With oats, little fat, and no flour, you will not get a traditional crumb. The other thing about these is the batter. It will seem a little runny. Do not worry. They will bake together. I use an ice cream scoop to spoon it into the muffin liners and fill them as full as I’d like my muffins to be. No need to worry about the 1/2 to 2/3 full rule here. As far as add-ins, one of my favorite things to add into these are blueberries. I add them to the batter rather than just as a topping, and I have had success using both fresh and frozen berries.

I made a batch of these this morning for work Friday and this weekend, so we will see if I get any comments at my new place. Maybe looking forward to breakfast will actually get me to the gym at 4:30 on Friday morning? Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Baked Oatmeal To Go
Adapted from Healthful Pursuit

Ingredients:
1 egg or 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax seed mixed with 2 Tbsp. warm water, sit for 5 minutes)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 over-ripe banana
1-1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (could use any milk)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (or other desired mix-ins)
muffin liners

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners. Set aside.

Place the egg/flax egg, applesauce, banana, milk, maple syrup, and vanilla in blender or food processor. Blend until just combined.

Place the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries or other mix-ins. Spoon into the muffin liners using an ice cream scoop. It is okay to fill the liners pretty full. The muffins will only rise slightly while baking. There should be enough batter for 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Eat warm or cool completely and store in the refrigerator until needed. To reheat: remove the liner and rewarm in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Rhubarb Berry Baked Oatmeal

rhubarb berry baked oatmeal after baking

Things have been a little quite around here. If anyone reads (or tries) to read this little blog with any regularity, I do apologize. I had a job opportunity that presented itself prior to the completion of my residency, so I am doing double duty right now. Residency during the day, job #2 on nights and weekends. I am telling you this not as an excuse, but more as a statement of fact. There hasn’t been much for cooking around here, and what is accomplished is being made by the hubs!

So what do you do when you find yourself needing to pack a day’s worth of food before you set off in the morning. Plan. Plan. Make things that travel well, and plan some more. I have talked about liking baked oatmeal due to it’s portability before. It keeps well, reheats well, and has definitely made for some oohs and aahs at work. 

rhubarb berry baked oatmeal fruit

This recipe adapted from Nutmegs, seven was born out of the necessity to use some of the rhubarb that had been living in my freezer for quite some time. I knew it would work well for my portable breakfast, but I really had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I did. Now if anyone will send me some of the rhubarb they have overtaking their backyard, I’ll be forever grateful. I have a month’s worth of breakfasts left to pack before I’m done, and rhubarb is almost impossible to find down here! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Rhubarb Berry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Nutmegs, seven

Ingredients:
400gm of rhubarb, thawed if frozen
1 pint blueberries
2 Tbsp. honey
200 gm old-fashioned oats
15 gm sliced almonds
15 gm chopped pecans
60 gm brown sugar 
1 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
475 mL (2 cups) unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or skim milk)
1 large egg
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. 
Spread the rhubarb and half the pint of blueberries over the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with the honey. Set aside.

Mix the oats, nuts, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg, applesauce, and extracts. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the rhubarb. Pour the egg mixture over the oats, making sure the pan is equally covered with the liquid. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries on top. Bake for 40 minutes or until the oat mixture has set and turned a little crunchy on the top. If saving for future meals, cool completely before packaging. This makes 6 breakfasts for me. Otherwise, serve warm.

SRC: Summer Vegetable Torta

summer vegetable torta

Just in case you don’t remember, there might be a special holiday coming up this Sunday. One that you might not want to forget. Sunday is Mother’s Day. I am not a mother myself (unless you count 4-leggged children), so I’d like to say a big thanks to both of our mothers!

My blog assignment this month for the Secret Recipe Club was Carolyn from All Day I Dream About Food. Carolyn’s site is a great reference for some delicious but healthy eats and many of her recipes are low-carbohydrate, gluten-free, or both. I have visited Carolyn’s site prior to this assignment, and it actually did not take me too long to pick out a recipe because I have had this egg bake saved to make for almost a year. Guess this group was the push I needed to (finally) make it! Does anyone else have the experience where they wait forever to make a recipe and then after they finally do, wonder why they waited so long! That was exactly what happened here. We loved this meal!

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summer vegetable torta after cooking

While it is not labor intensive, this torta does take awhile to make as it needs to bake for approximately 90 minutes. I adapted it a little bit to our tastes, and by swapping in some lower-fat dairy products. It turned out well, so they seem to have worked okay. My advice would be to pop this torta in the oven when you’ve got something else to do around the house. Your house will smell amazing and it will be done before you know it! Better yet, get up a little early on Sunday and surprise Mom with this for breakfast/brunch. It would certainly be a great way to say, “I love you!” 

(Printable Recipe)

Summer Vegetable Torta
Adapted from All Day I Dream About Food

Ingredients: 
Non-stick spray
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced about 1/4-inch thick (could swap some summer squash in too)
1 (12oz) jar roasted red peppers (or 2 fresh peppers), cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 pkg (8oz) 1/3-less fat cream cheese, cubed
6 large eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
8oz. Swiss cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray and saute zucchini and onions (and fresh peppers if using) until softened, about 10 minutes (my peppers are in this picture – that was an oops).

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and milk together with a whisk. Add the basil, garlic salt, pepper, and cubed cream cheese. Mix. The cream cheese will not completely incorporate. It will soften after you add the hot vegetables. Use a slotted spoon to drain off any extra fluid from the vegetable mixture and add to the eggs. Add roasted red peppers if necessary. Mix. Add shredded cheese. Mix well. 

Pour into the prepared springform pan and bake for about 80-90 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the mixture no longer jiggles when you gently shake the pan. It make take more or less time in your oven (mine was in for 90 minutes and may have been just a little too long). Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the egg bake, and gently remove the outer rim of the pan. Slice and serve.

Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Bananas

banana-berry baked oatmeal after cooking

It will not be a surprise to anyone that knows me well to hear me say that morning and I are not great friends. My dad has a quote that he’s seen 4:00AM more often from the night side than the morning side, and my natural tendencies lie much more on his night owl side of life. Unfortunately, in being a resident, I’ve learned that alarms set before 5:00AM are much more common than I prefer.

I tell you that to set the scene for my morning route. Basically everything from my lunch to my gym bag needs to be grab and go. This includes breakfast as there is a slim to none chance that I am going to have time to cook anything in the morning. Out of all the quick breakfast choices I plan, this baked oatmeal from Skinny Taste is one of my favorites. It’s highly adaptable – I’ve made it with different berries, different nuts, different sweeteners, and even different milks and it always turns out great. Better yet, it keeps well in the refrigerator, allowing me to make it ahead and have single serving breakfast options ready to go in the refrigerator.

banana-berry baked oatmeal clsoe
banana-berry baked oatmeal

A minute or so in the microwave at work, and I have a healthy, delicious, warm breakfast. Can’t beat that for so little work. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Bananas
Adapted from Skinny Taste

Ingredients:
2 over-ripe bananas, sliced (can use frozen bananas that have been thawed)
1-1/2 cups blueberries (or any combination of berries)
1/4 cup honey, divided
1 cup uncooked quick oats
1/4 cup chopped or sliced nuts (I like almonds)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup fat-free milk or unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Arrange the banana slices in a single layer over the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half the berries over the bananas. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, remaining 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and salt. Mix well. In a separate small bowl, mix the milk, egg, and vanilla together. When the banana mixture has finished baking, spread the oat mixture evenly over the top of the bananas. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats, covering the entire surface of the dry mixture. Sprinkle the remaining berries and nuts over the top. Bake the oatmeal for about 30 minutes or until the top of the oatmeal has set.

Keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Makes 6 servings. Can reheat oatmeal squares in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Fruit and Nut Granola

For breakfast, I am typically an oatmeal girl. Give me a container of oats, applesauce and cinnamon, and I am a happy girl. Better yet if I can add some sliced bananas on top. The hubbs, not so much. He really is not a picky guy, but oatmeal is not his thing. He tells me it’s a texture issue more than anything.

Since he’s not as happy with that container of dry oats as I am, I am constantly on the lookout for quick, homemade breakfast ideas for him. If my description of my oatmeal above tells you one thing, mornings and I are not the best of friends. If it is going to take me longer than 5 minutes to make in the morning, I am not going to have time to do it, making eggs and really anything that needs to be cooked out of the question.

Enter homemade granola. Something that can be made at home, can be made ahead of time to be a quick meal in the morning, and something that he enjoys. Sounds like it meets all the requirements! 

Granola is something that I have actually made before. I have a great pumpkin granola recipe that I make again and again throughout the fall, but I really wanted to find a recipe that was less seasonal and more universal. In looking through the recipes that I have saved from other blogs, I realized I have had this recipe from Natalie at Oven Love saved for almost a year. Her description of the granola sounded great – full of chunks, low in oil/butter, and using nuts and flaxseed to boost the nutritional value. One note on the flaxseeds – if you want to get the nutritional benefits, they need to be ground. Overall, I am happy to report that this recipe was a hit. Now if I can just keep up with making it! Enjoy!
(Printable Recipe)

Fruit and Nut Granola
Adapted from Oven Love (originally from Chocolate and Carrots and Gourmande in the Kitchen)

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2-1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1-1/2 cups puffed rice/wheat cereal
2-3 Tbsp. ground flaxseed 

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups mix of nuts, chopped
1 cup dried fruit (mix of raisins and cranberries, or whatever you’d like)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 large, flat baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed cereal, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. 

Pour the granola on the baking sheets, splitting evenly between the two sheets. With your hands, squeeze or pinch the oats together into small/medium clumps leaving space on the baking sheet between the clumps. Bake for 20 minutes. 

While the granola is baking, chop the nuts and mix together in a small bowl. When the granola is finished baking, flip it with a large spatula and split the nuts between the baking pans. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until completely dry and brown. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheets. Once cool, add the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.

Mom’s Banana Apple Bread

Continuing on with my topic of types of food we have way too much of… browned bananas. At last count, the number of too brown bananas hanging out in my freezer was north of 15, and I haven’t counted recently 🙂

In all seriousness, bananas are something we almost always keep in the house as I’ll eat them everyday for breakfast when we have them. My problem? I like them green. As long as I can get the peel off, I’ll eat them. One spot and they’re sitting on the shelf waiting for banana bread, and one thing that I have learned since moving is that bananas ripen much faster here!

I have had my eye on this banana bread in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book since before I joined the baking group. The group made it before I was a member, and I remember thinking that this was a recipe that I definitely needed to make to “catch up.” The opportunity presented itself to make this bread over the holidays while my in-laws were here, so I finally got to using up (at least a couple) of those bananas.

This banana bread recipe takes the twist of first caramelizing a couple chopped apples in brown sugar and butter before mixing them into the batter. I feel like we didn’t necessary taste the apples themselves in the finished loaf, but they definitely helped keep the loaf really moist, even for a couple of days. Banana bread is one of those things where I can’t seem to commit to a recipe, making a different one almost every time, but this is a recipe I’m sure we’ll make again. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Mom’s Apple Banana Bread
From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Ingredients:
For the apples:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the banana bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1-1/2 quart loaf pan. Set aside.

To make the apples, preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and saute until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

For the banana bread, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and vanilla. 

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined. Then stir in the reserved apples.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan to cool on the rack further.