Sunday, May 29, 2016

Breakfast So Easy a 5-Year-Old Can Do It!

The title of this post is not an exaggeration, and this recipe has become one of my 5-year-old's weeknight chores a couple days a week. He loves that he can contribute a meal all by himself.

Both of my kids love oatmeal, but this time of year it just feels wrong to eat hot cereal for breakfast. Enter this easy, cold oatmeal breakfast that you can make in under 5 minutes. I have been using the Finish rolled oats that are being packaged locally, and they work great for this recipe. The quantity here is enough to feed my two kids breakfast for two mornings.

Overnight Oatmeal
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt (sweetened variety)
2 mashed bananas
Other flavorings to taste: 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon, or 1-2 Tbs chocolate milk powder

Pour all the ingredients into a plastic tub and mix together. Add optional flavorings according to what you like. Refrigerate overnight and serve cold in the morning.

Now enjoy a little less stress in your morning!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I'm Back with Boiled Eggs!'s been a while (insert sheepish grin here). Life happens, doesn't it? Like a whole year of life! It's time for me to get back on the horse and begin sharing recipes that work well or adapt well for the kitchen here. I'll set the bar low with a couple recipes a month, and if I do more, then bravo!

Let's start with something so simple that I have found to be a game changer--boiled eggs! I like boiled eggs. I find them to be an easy breakfast if I've precooked some and stashed them in the fridge. One of my children also likes them, but those darn yolks can be so dry that you feel like you're choking them down. We've discovered that boiling them just under hard boiled (no jiggly stuff for me!) is the perfect happy medium. Now, I'm going to throw you a curve ball. Enter the pressure cooker. Perfectly boiled eggs that are easy to peel no matter how fresh the egg. What more could you want? Did I mention that perfectly cooked boiled eggs don't have that sulfury smell either? Yeah...that's a bonus.

Pressure Cooker Boiled Eggs

You'll need:
1 cup water
Pressure Cooker
Steamer basket, rack, or folded tea towel

First, you'll need to put your steamer basket, rack, or folded tea towel into the bottom of your pressure cooker. This is to keep the eggs off the direct heat. I'm not sure what would happen if you didn't, but I saw this somewhere so I use one of those collapsible steamer baskets. Place your eggs on top of the rack. Avoid any eggs with fine cracks as pressure cooking tends to break those open. Pour 1 cup water into the bottom of the cooker. If you're using a tea towel, add enough so that you've got at least 1-2 inches of water standing once the towel absorbs some. Lock down the cooker lid.

Turn on the heat to high. Once you reach full pressure (indicated by the big whistle here), switch the heat to low and set your timer as follows:

3 minutes - soft boiled
5 minutes - medium boiled (ideal, in my opinion)
6 minutes - hard boiled

When the timer rings, for soft or medium boiled you want to do the quick release method by running the pressure cooker under cold water and getting the eggs out immediately. For hard boiled, remove the cooker from the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally over 5 minutes then open. Rinse eggs under cold water or place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Enjoy your perfectly cooked eggs! I like to mark mine with an X when I put them in the fridge so there's no mixing them up with raw eggs.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Note to Clarify

In response to some of my previous posts, a friend messaged me something regarding "gluten free" posts that I should probably clarify. On many of the posts that contain oats, there is the label gluten-free. Regular oats are not gluten-free. However, in many developed countries, you can buy oats/porridge labeled "gluten free" off the shelf. If you live in my part of the world, you may not find such things. So, when I label these things "gluten free," I work under the assumption that if you are gluten-free, you will know which ones to buy and whether you can find them where you are. I have known people with gluten intolerance who seemed to be fine with the local oats and others who could not use them so be careful if you're trying to prepare something "gluten free" for a guest visiting you. Also, some other recipes with the label "gluten free" are labeled as such because they can be easily adapted by making sure you use gluten-free stock cubes (no MSG) or homemade stock or opting for a different variety of vinegar.

Just wanted to make sure that was clear and thankful to the person who brought it up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

One Pot Farmer's Market Pasta

I stumbled across this recipe recently while looking through a list of "one pot meals." I am often skeptical of one pot dishes. Usually one pot spaghetti dishes leave me feeling like something was not quite right, but this one does not disappoint. I pared it down considerably from the original from The View From Great Island just because I did not have access to all the vegetables, but this was incredibly easy and pretty delicious! And truly a one pot meal on top of it all--very "set it and forget it" as those infomercials would say. It is definitely worth giving a try with whatever vegetables are available in your neighborhood. Have a look at the original if you want to add some more veggies, too, but they do suggest you do not leave out the tomatoes or the cheese as they form the bulk of the “sauce” part. Another dinner—20 minutes or less—that is totally possible here. 

One Pot Farmer’s Market Pasta
12 oz spaghetti, broken in half
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 cups small local tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 handfuls leafy greens, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 ½ cups water (or vegetable/chicken stock)
1 stock cube (omit if using stock as liquid)
1 Tablespoon vinegar (white/red wine, cider)
1 cup hard salty cheese, grated (parmesan, aged local variety)

Put all the ingredients except the cheese into the pot. Stir just to combine everything. Cover and bring the pot up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, uncover and stir again. Allow the pot to boil uncovered for 7-9 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Stir the pasta occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the pasta is al dente, remove the pasta from heat. There should still be a little liquid in the bottom of the pan. If there is too much, let it boil off for another minute or so. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Serve with some fresh tomatoes or herbs sprinkled on top. 

Note: The vinegar in this recipe may dull the color of certain leafy greens. If that bothers you, try omitting the vinegar until the very end of cooking. 

Egg Roll In a Bowl

This one I have come to love since discovering it a few months ago. It has joined our regular rotation, and because of my thrifty use of pork in the recipe, I can have ½ pound of minced pork sausage ready for another meal. Mostly Homemade Mom comes through again on this one with a few minor adaptations for living here. We like to eat ours with rice rather than just as is. I can confidently say that if you cook your rice in a pressure cooker just as you start the cooking for the egg roll part, you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes start to finish. Those are seriously hard to come by when you live in the developing world!

Egg Roll in a Bowl
500g pork mince, turned into sausage (omit herbs)
½ large head or 1 small head cabbage, sliced into ribbons
2 cups carrots, julienned
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ - 1/3 cup good quality soy sauce (more if lower quality)
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Green onions, tops only, sliced

Mix the dried ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Heat a wok over high heat. Fry half the sausage mixture with a small splash of soy sauce until browned. Save the rest of the sausage in the fridge for breakfast or another meal. Remove the browned sausage from the pan. If the pan is still shiny from the fat in the sausage, just toss the garlic directly in. Otherwise, add a little oil. Stir continuously just until the garlic begins to look golden. Quickly toss in the remaining vegetables and the soy sauce mixture. Fry, stirring continuously, until the vegetables begin to wilt. Return the sausage to the pan and cook until vegetables are tender but still have a bite. Sprinkle over the green onions and add soy sauce as needed for seasoning. Remove from heat and serve over rice or as is.


Pinterest…that brilliant mixture of feeling like a failure and feeling inspired. Despite my love/hate relationship with it, I do often find amazing recipes through Pinterest, and I’m grateful for having that tool at my fingertips. This Beef-a-Roni from Mostly Homemade Mom is one of my lucky finds. Now, if you’re not American, you might be saying “What on earth is Beef-a-Roni?” Yeah…exactly. What is Beef-a-Roni? Really, it’s just a pasta bolognese with cheese on top. This recipe made enough for my family with 2 younger kiddos to have one 9x9 pan for dinner and save one for later.

1 lb./16 oz shell pasta or elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
500g ground beef/buff
2 cans tomato puree (or 1 large can)
1 Tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups shredded cheese

Sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add the ground beef to the pan over medium heat and sauté until meat is browned. To the ground beef and onions, add all the remaining ingredients except the pasta and cheese. Simmer covered for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Taste and adjust sauce seasonings accordingly. Remove from heat and toss the cooked pasta into the sauce. In a baking dish, layer half of the pasta mixture with half of the cheese. Repeat. Bake in a 170C/350F oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

If you’re wanting to save some for later, split the pasta/cheese between two pans and freeze one before baking. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw and then bake according to recipe instructions. Pat yourself on the back for preparing something for your future self, just when you needed a quick meal.

Morning Sanity Saver: Oatmeal/Porridge Cakes

My kids (and I) love these things. I found them while perusing Eating Well’s quick, healthy breakfast round up. Trying to get off to school in the morning with no major hiccups is an obstacle in our house. It can often make or break our day. I think breakfast can also be an indicator of how the day will go for homeschooling families. If things start off well, it can set a positive tone for the day. We all know what can happen if the day starts off rotten… These are a great change from boxed cereals and work well for children who aren’t into traditional oatmeal/porridge breakfasts. I make 2 batches of these to keep in the freezer. On school mornings when I have power, I pop them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. When I don’t have power, I take them out the night before and then heat them up in the Miracle Oven on the stove top in morning.

Oatmeal/Porridge Cakes
2½ cups oats
1½ cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar
2 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup fresh fruit, chopped (apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries)

Combine the oats and milk in a large bowl. Once mixed, allow to rest 20-30 minutes so the oats can soak up the milk. After the milk has mostly soaked into the oats, add the remaining ingredients and gently stir to combine. You could also opt to put a tablespoon of the fruit on top if you don’t want to mix it in. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with papers if you’re lazy like me. Pour ¼ cup of mixture into each muffin cup. Bake in a 190C oven for 25 to 30 minutes until they spring back like a cake when you poke them. Cool and freeze or refrigerate for future use.

Note: Use porridge specifically labeled as "gluten free" if you need that option. Regular oats cannot be assumed to be gluten-free.