Five-second oatmeal mix-ins

oatmealOatmeal is one of my favorite foods.  I especially love the Quaker Instant flavored packets of oatmeal.  Late last year, B bought a giant box of them from Costco, ate two packets, and they’ve been sitting in our pantry ever since.  As much as I love them, I try not to eat them too often.  Although delicious, they’re loaded with sugar and I’ve been going through a phase of eating oatmeal every day, so I’ve been trying to keep it a little healthier.

If you frequent Pinterest like I do (sigh), you’ve seen a billion and a half “recipes” for really exciting oatmeal concoctions.  Like “Healthy Blueberry Cheesecake Oatmeal” and “Vanilla Cake Batter Oatmeal.”  Um, I’m drooling just reading those names, but with a 12-week-old baby, I’ve got about two minutes to make my oatmeal.  When I purchase a tub of quick-cooking oats, I hardly imagine extending that cook time to 20 minutes just to make it taste like a delicious slab of cheesecake.

So what do I do?  I find whatever I can in my fridge or pantry to toss into my oatmeal and give it a little instant flavor without TONS of sugar.  Below are my top choices, plus two I wish I never would have tried.

  1. Brown sugar and cinnamon. Even just a nice, packed teaspoon of brown sugar in one serving of oatmeal gives it a nice syrupy sweetness.  The cinnamon I use VERY sparingly.
  2. Jam or jelly. I use about half a tablespoon.  I have to stir for a minute or so to thoroughly mix it in, but it’s tasty.
  3. Alpine Spiced Apple Cider mix. NOT a whole packet—usually 1/4 to 1/3 of a packet mixed into one serving of oatmeal.  This is probably my favorite of all the mix-ins I’ve tried.
  4. Hot cocoa mix. Again, not a whole packet—about 1/4 does the trick.  The kind I’ve used has been Starbucks cinnamon dolce, but I’m sure any hot cocoa would taste pretty good.
  5. Honey. It doesn’t take much since honey is so sweet.

Two things I mixed into my oatmeal that were just awful are applesauce and peanut butter (separately, of course).  Considering that I am addicted to peanut butter and eat it EVERY day, this is saying a lot.  I even tried to salvage it by adding some hot cocoa (because nothing is better than peanut butter except for peanut butter and chocolate together), and it still ended up in the trash.

What about you?  Do you mix anything into your oatmeal?

A tale of unfolded baby clothes

When I was pregnant with E, I worked hard on the organization in her nursery.  I carefully planned out where every little thing would live and I arranged and rearranged until everything felt perfect.  I even went so far as to Google how to properly fold her baby clothes because I meant business.

One night I went into the nursery with my laptop, put on some music, and spent nearly an hour folding E’s little sleepers and onesies and teeny-tiny little pants.  My belly was huge by then and I’d spent so long hunched over on the floor that I had a hard time getting back up.  But I was PROUD of my handiwork.  When I told my husband and my mom about it, they both gave me this odd smirk and claimed I would never keep it up.  And I laughed at them.  Why wouldn’t I keep it up?  What was I going to do, just toss everything into the drawers and call it good?

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Yep.  Yes, that’s exactly what I did.

The fancy, folded baby clothes lasted until the third time I washed a load of E’s laundry.  For the first two rounds, I would ask my husband to entertain E while I sneaked away to fold her clothes and put them away nicely in her drawers.  Both times I knew I was wasting my time because these days I can’t even get my damn bathroom clean, but I had been so hell-bent on proving my mom and husband wrong that I was going to stick with it.  HA!

By the third load of baby laundry, I wondered what it would feel like if I just tossed everything in the drawers and walked away.

It was LIBERATING.

I have not folded a single item of baby clothing since.  E’s drawers look like a hot mess and I don’t care.  It’s worth the extra 15 minutes a day.

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Now that I know how it feels, I just have to be careful not to do it with my own clothing…

Be honest, new moms:  do you fold your baby’s clothes?

Frank’s Red Hot ruined my breakfast

I have the same thing for breakfast every day:  egg whites on toast with a banana and coffee.  Even though it never changes, I love my breakfast.  Maybe that’s WHY it never changes.

But sometimes I do wonder if it’s a little boring.  For a few weeks I added cheese to my egg whites and that was fun and all, but it wasn’t conducive to my postpartum weight loss plan.

Suddenly it clicked: I’ve heard from a lot of people that Frank’s Red Hot is great on everything.  I’ve also been told it’s phenomenal on eggs.  So it was decided: today I would try Frank’s Red Hot on my egg whites.  I like Frank’s Red Hot.  I like egg whites.  How could this go wrong?

…….

Yeah, it went wrong.  I shouldn’t have listened to that “lot of people” who said the sauce was great on everything.  I’ve also heard from a lot of people that sushi is delicious, but I hate sushi and you couldn’t pay me to eat it.

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Nope.

I didn’t care for Frank’s Red Hot on my eggs.  I still ate it because a) I’m breastfeeding and need the food, but b) I was too lazy to scramble another pan of eggs.  But I won’t be doing it again and I won’t be getting experimental with my bottle of Frank’s Red Hot.  If it’s good on everything, “everything” must mean just chicken.

Forgive me, Father…

For I have sinned.  It has been roughly 30 days since my last bathroom cleaning.

Hi, MCYOD readers.  Long time no see?  Well, that’s what happens when you have a  baby!

My daughter E was born in February and motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I. Love. This. Girl.

But it’s no lie when you hear about how hard it is to cook, clean, and exercise when you have a newborn.  E is ten weeks old and I have cleaned my bathroom ONCE since she evacuated my uterus.

Somehow I still manage to cook, which is good news coming from the woman whose blog’s name contains the word “cook.”  Most of the time it’s nothing fancy, like tacos or spaghetti, but every so often I get ambitious (like last night) and I make mashed potatoes.  If you think mashed potatoes aren’t fancy, you must be new here.  Potatoes are my arch nemesis.

Now that E is starting to have some identifiable nap time, I figured it’s a good time to make my way back here.  I’ve missed you all.  I hope you’ve missed me.

(And if you’re asking why I’m not using E’s nap time to clean my bathroom:  don’t.  When I can clean my bathroom sitting on my butt on the couch, then we’ll talk.)

Chasers: Or, How to Conquer a Dose of DayQuil

I’ve always been that person who absolutely MUST have a chaser to follow a shot of liquor.  It makes no difference if it’s top shelf, root beer-flavored, or paired with a cute little lime wedge and a dollop of salt; a chaser is an absolute necessity.  Soda, orange juice, V8 juice…I don’t care what it is, as long as it masks the taste of the alcohol.

After spending the week with a nasty head cold, I can say with certainty that the same applies to liquid cold medicine.  I’ve always been more of a pill girl, but this time around I decided to give the syrup a try.  Not only does the liquid require a chaser, but it also involves a lengthy pre-swallow pep talk and a post-chaser handful of cereal for good measure.  It’s too bad the liquid works a million* times better than the pills do.

*Rough estimate.

Cooking Wisdom: My Favorite Quotes

Happy Saturday!  I’m a big fan of quotes, because they offer a quick way to regain focus on a concept that otherwise toys with your emotions and leaves you a little scatterbrained.  As I am going to tackle homemade ravioli for the second time ever tonight, I figured this is a good day to share some of my favorite tidbits of advice and random humorous thoughts on cooking.  Feel free to share your own in the comments!

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“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.  In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  -Julia Child

“A home cook who relies too much on a recipe is sort of like a pilot who reads the plane’s instruction manual while flying.”  -Alton Brown

“If you’re cooking and not making mistake, you’re not playing outside your safety zone.  I don’t expect it all to be good.  I have fat dogs because I scrap that stuff out the back door.”  -Guy Fieri

“I don’t like ‘gourmet’ cooking or ‘this’ cooking or ‘that’ cooking.  I like good cooking.”  -James Beard

“Once a dish is fouled up, anything added to save it only makes it worse.”  -Second Law of Kitchen Confusion

“Cooking is not difficult.  Everyone has taste, even if they don’t realize it.  Even if you’re not a great chef, there’s nothing to stop you understanding the difference between what tastes good and what doesn’t.”  -Gerard Depardieu

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“Zip it, kiddo.  Don’t ever admit you know a thing about cooking, or it’ll be used against you later in life.”  -Rebecca Wells in Little Altars Everywhere

“I don’t like food that’s too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking.  If I wanted a picture, I’d buy a painting.”  -Andy Rooney

“That’s the trouble with cookbooks. Like sex education and nuclear physics, they are founded on an illusion. They bespeak order, but they end in tears.”  -Anthony Lane

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“I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.”  -Madam Benoit

“Cookery is not chemistry.  It is an art.  It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”  -Marcel Boulestin

“No one who cooks, cooks alone.  Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”  -Laurie Colwin

Cooking Zone of Familiarity: Missions for 2015

juliachildNo matter how much I improve in my cooking skills, I still have a list of dishes I’d really like to take a stab at, yet I am terrified to attempt. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to explain why I’m afraid of making them. Included in this list are:

  • Baby back ribs
  • Any kind of roast
  • A whole chicken or turkey
  • Anything “fried”
  • Lasagna
  • Homemade marinara sauce
  • Pie

I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m trapped inside my comfort zone. I have no problem trying something new as long as it’s within the confines of what is already familiar to me. Well, that needs to change! There was a day when I was petrified of cooking chicken breasts, yet today I cook so much chicken I’m surprised my husband and I haven’t sprouted feathers. All I have to do is try. I might fail. I mean, it’s me we’re talking about—there is a good chance my first attempt will be humiliating and inedible. But once I’ve tried, that particular dish will have migrated into my Zone of Familiarity, and that’s when I can try again and improve.

The list above isn’t all-inclusive, but in 2015, I will attempt ALL of the items at least twice—once to become familiar with it, and twice to apply what I learned during my first attempt.

I’m starting with baby back ribs; they’re on my list for my trip to the grocery store today, and I already have my recipe picked out. Be on the lookout for a post in the next week or so!

For the rest of the items on my list, feel free to share your favorite recipes with me in the comments! I am going to OWN my kitchen in 2015!

One last thing, and I promise it’s the only time I’ll push it: I just started up a Facebook page for my blog, and every single follower means a lot to me. I’ll be sharing recipes, articles, and other miscellaneous cooking humor, so please take a peek. 🙂