Archive for January, 2014

January 24, 2014

Perfect Steel Cut Oats

IMG_4631Steel cut oats and I have a love/hate relationship.  I absolutely love them whenever anybody cooks them but me.  For some reason, whenever I cook them they are gluey and pretty much subpar.  I have tried probably 5 recipes over the last 5 years and thought I would just give up and stick with my beloved oat bran.  Which, as a side note, I think everybody should try–it is faster to cook, has the same amount of protein, and has more fiber than steel cut oats.  But I digress…I have discovered that steel cut oats have a nutty flavor and a wonderful texture if cooked correctly.  Since all of my previous attempts involved a crock pot, I wanted to try something else.  I knew I wanted an overnight option because I would never find the time to cook them in the morning since they take roughly 30 minutes to cook.  Then I found this recipe at christinasadventures.com and my heart is all aflutter.  I am in love with this recipe!  You actually toast the steel cut oats in coconut oil before adding water!

I did, however, add a few ingredients that I think really add to this recipe.  I have a dear friend who grew up in Guyana and ate ‘porridge’ almost every day.  She was kind enough to let me try her recipe, and it was delicious.  She adds dried fruit.  That day she had dried apricots and raisins in her porridge.  It was wonderful!  I added those to this recipe as well, but you can add any dried fruit that sounds good to you.  Also, I toasted some nuts in just a little bit of maple syrup before serving.  This recipe makes a big batch, but it stays good for a week and is a great option for packing your breakfast for work.

2 cups steel cut oats
2 T coconut oil
5 cups water
1 t cinnamon
1-1.5 cups dried fruit (I added raisins and chopped dried apricots; other options are Craisins, dried apples, dried mango, currants, prunes, etc.)
1-2 cups milk

Nuts, maple syrup, and fresh fruit (optional)

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot or skillet that has a tight-fitting lid.  Once it has melted, add the steel cut oats and stir them around until they are toasted.  This will take a few minutes and they will look and smell, you guessed it, toasted.  As you are stirring, make sure to get the 5 cups of water ready to add.   That way you can quickly add the water when the oats are toasted to avoid having burning them.  Once you add the water, bring it all to a boil.  Then add the cinnamon and dried fruit.  Stir it all around.  Place the lid on the skillet or pot and leave until morning.  Turn off the heat. Your house will smell heavenly.

When you wake up in the morning, add 1-2 cups of milk as you warm the oats until they are the consistency you like.  Don’t be alarmed if the oats are stuck together as you pour in the milk.  Just break them up with a wooden spoon.  As you are warming the oats, you can toast some nuts (I prefer pecans or walnuts) in a skillet with a drizzle of maple syrup to coat them.  You can dump some directly on your perfect steel cut oats, and cool the rest on parchment paper.  Once they have cooled, put them in an airtight container and you will have them to serve on your oats for future breakfasts that week.  If you like, you can also add a little more milk, fresh berries of fruit, brown sugar, or more maple syrup.

January 6, 2014

Making Enjoyable New Year’s Resolutions

Parker 11 cropI think I am old enough and have seen enough New Year’s resolutions come and go to realize they simply don’t work.  I’m taking a different spin on things this year.  I could easily make workout goals, eating goals, and goals for dealing with poor behavior in my children.  And I’m not saying I should not work on all those things, but I just don’t think the New Year is the time to do that.  I think the New Year is about celebrating the past year and looking forward to the year to come.

Instead of asking myself what I need to do better, I’m asking what I enjoyed doing and should do more of.  And this is what I came up with.  For my baby boy, I want to make sure that I read a book to him every day.  For my six-year-old who really loves to be cuddled,  I want to take time to put her on my lap and cuddle her each day.  For my nine-year-old who is bursting with thoughts and ideas, I want to make sure and stop what I am doing and really listen to her at least once each day.  For my husband who is taking on more hours each day so that he can have an extra day off every other week, I want to really enjoy that day with him with a date.  And for me, I want to allow myself to have a treat whenever I darn well feel like it.  And that, my friends, is how I think one should make a New Year’s Resolution.  Let’s enjoy more of the good things.

Have a blessed and enjoyable 2014!