Summer vacation is here in Central Pennsylvania, woot woot! Unfortunately, this does not mean that I will be spending the next 2 1/2 months lounging by the pool or sleeping in because I have a job in an office and summer is a busy time of year for us. Despite the fact that my personal schedule remains largely unchanged, I fully celebrate the fact that we have a few months off from arguing about homework and take home folders and launching full expeditions throughout the house in search of someone’s misplaced glasses – which always happens 5 minutes before we need to leave the house to catch the bus. So in celebration of said summer vacation, we’re having S’mores Baked Oatmeal for breakfast!
I think of a recipe as something that requires measurements and specific amounts of this and that, but since this sandwich is absolved from all of that fussiness, I guess you would actually call it a non-recipe. I list below about how much of each component I use for reference but the beauty of this non-recipe is that you can use as much of each ingredient that you think looks good.
I love frozen waffles; they are so inexplicably tasty. They fall into the category of Things I Wish I Didn’t Like But I Really Do, like Doritos. Don’t even get me started on those. It is due to my great love of frozen waffles that I am so super excited about these Blueberry Ricotta Toaster Waffles. They are ideal for freezing and popping in the toaster so I can make up a batch and then have them any time I want. Best of all, I feel good about eating them because they don’t have any ingredients in them that can’t be pronounced by my 6 year old.
The other reason I’m super excited about these waffles is because waffles in general make me think of my very special friend, Pam. I’ve had Pam on the brain even more than usual because a few weekends ago I was supposed to see her but Winter Storm Jonas put the kibosh to that, and I was totally bummed. So bummed in fact, that I ate half of a giant stromboli, seemingly under the impression that all of the gluten in the dough would somehow glue together my broken heart.
In the end, the stromboli was insufficient in making me forget my very great disappointment about my trip being thwarted by snow, so I did what I always do when my plans go to hell in a hand basket — I retreated to the kitchen.
And made waffles.
Can we just take a step back from the flavored yogurt craziness that has completely taken over the dairy aisle? It has gotten a tad out of hand. This week I found several varieties that had over 25 grams of sugar per serving, which for comparison purposes, is about the equivalent of a package of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets. I’m convinced that the yogurt aisle is part of a conspiracy by the grocery industry to make people eat dessert that is packaged to look like health food.
I have started bypassing all of the premixed flavors, no matter how tasty and healthy they sound, and stick with the big tubs of plain yogurt so I can flavor it myself. Right now, I’m loving this cranberry raspberry puree. I make it in big batches (shocker) and freeze it in smaller one cup containers (of course). It’s a solid plan because you’re getting all of the benefits of the fruit you choose, but none of the extra stuff you don’t need. I make it a bit on the less sweet side, because then we can control how sweet we’re going to make it, usually by drizzling a bit of extra honey on top, if at all.
The holidays are over friends. OVER. And thank God for it. You know every year I tell myself that I’m going to do better; I’m going to retain some microscopic bit of self-control so I can avoid diving headfirst into the bottomless cookie tray for the duration of the season. Inevitably, I fail. Partly because I simply love cookies and all of the other treats that go along with the holidays, partly because work is always busy and our family is always sick for the month of December which is a bad combo, because I then self-soothe with said holiday goodies.
I used to beat myself up about it, but I’m working on bringing an end to that nonsense. Instead, I spend my time looking forward and trying to get back on track with eating healthy and taking better care of myself. No more watching Hallmark movies until way too late so I’m too tired to get up and do my workout in the morning. No more stress-eating sugar cookies, even if they are really pretty. Why is it that bad habits develop in the blink of an eye, but undoing them is painfully slow process?
I’ve always been a girl that loves sprinkles. Get me a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles and I was good to go. I spent my high school years working at our local Dairy Queen and we had a giant plastic container full of rainbow sprinkles. It was pretty great, if you like your sugar to come in several artificial colors.
I consider granola to be a more grown up substitute for rainbow sprinkles and while I put it on ice cream (No I’m not kidding. No, it doesn’t make ice cream healthy. Yes, it is very tasty.), I get much more mileage out of my granola than I ever could with my beloved rainbow sprinkles. A pretty firm exception here is sprinkles on top of cookies and cupcakes. Granola is not a good substitute there! A little bit tossed on top of my oatmeal or layered with fruit and yogurt are my favorite, but recently I even put some on top of my mom’s leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving which was also delicious.
Whole grain breakfast bake with ginger and pears that you prep the night before. It sounds like a win to me! I originally made something like this with apples and cinnamon and I decided that the same concept would work just as well with pears and ginger. It turns out I may actually like this variation even better.
Baked oatmeal is a great breakfast when you have guests around the holidays (or any time for that matter!) because you can get it ready the night before and pop it in the oven the next morning. That way you don’t have to get your butt out of bed super early to cook them breakfast, and they don’t come into the kitchen in search of coffee only to find you slaving over the stove, which in turn makes them feel obligated to help. Let’s be honest, they don’t want to help. Chances are they didn’t sleep well because they aren’t in their own bed, or not in a bed at all, and all they want is some caffeine in an extra large mug to help get them motivated to face whatever their day will bring. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there.
I love making frittatas. They are the answer to every single food serving conundrum:
What do I feed our out of town guests?
Eek! It’s the end of the month and my refrigerator is practically empty!
Where else can I attempt to hide this excess of zucchini?
Making a frittata is as easy as making scrambled eggs. You move the eggs around a bit but before they are cooked through entirely, you sprinkle some cheese on top and put the whole pan under the broiler. The cheese gets all melty and the whole thing puffs up and it looks ten times more appetizing than a pan of scrambled eggs. Since you finish cooking the egg mixture under the broiler, it all comes together enough that you can cut neat little wedges to serve it instead of heaping a glob of eggs on your plate. Even if you’re only making it for yourself with end of the month leftovers, it’s still nice if your food actually looks like you want to eat it, don’t you think?
If you’re not already on the quinoa cup train, hop on board! I first pinned these from Iowa Girl Eats and let them languish on my Breakfast board for several months before I finally gave them a try. I make little egg fritattas in muffin pans all of the time but despite putting quinoa in just about everything else, I was skeptical about adding it to eggs. In the end, I’m so very glad I tried them because they have become a staple in my weekly meal plans.
I am perpetually mystified by those people that do not eat breakfast. Or the folks that have a piece of toast and a cup of coffee and go on their way, inexplicably full despite eating what I would consider little more than a bowl of air. I wake up HUNGRY. If I don’t eat, then watch out because I am unhappy, very cranky, and even more short-tempered than usual. Suffice it to say, breakfast for me has to be substantial. A bowl of cold cereal just isn’t going to get the job done. Give me a bowl of oatmeal or a giant smoothie that requires a quart size mason jar to serve it and then I’m happy.
I understand that mornings are busy. Ours are definitely busy, which is why I make lots of baked oatmeal. It’s delicious, it freezes well; it’s a perfect make ahead breakfast. The other week, I was lamenting over the fact that I was out of my regular oats and I discovered that I apparently went on a bulgur bender over the past few months because I have enough bulgur in my pantry to feed the entire populace of Turkey. I did some experimenting and I now have a new favorite hot breakfast that combines cooked bulgur and quick cooking steel cut oats. The bulgur makes it extra chewy and the apples and raisins give it some sweetness without adding lots of extra sugar. An added bonus is that bulgur has a similar nutritional profile to oats, but with twice the fiber.