breakfast

Five Months (and Crockpot Steel-cut Oats)

I disappeared again! On Monday, Baby Something will be five months old. It was a busy, tiring, wonderful summer full of drool, pee, baby smiles, and eating things with one hand. 

I was never a breakfast person; I’d eat something around 10am, but early morning food was never appealing. Let me tell you, breastfeeding steals all of your food and puts it into your boobs or something. GIVE ME ALL THE MORNING FOOD. 

Oats are supposed to be good for milk production, and at the very least they’re filling and easy to zazz up so you don’t get bored. These crockpot oats reheat nicely throughout the week so you can quickly shove nutrition in your mouth and resume kissing that baby’s sweet toes. 

Crockpot Steel-cut Oats

  • 1.25C uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 1C canned coconut milk
  • 3C water
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Dash of vanilla extract 
  • Dash of salt 

Combine in a crockpot. Cook on low. The bigger the crock the less time it needs to cook. Mine were done in 4.5 hours in my giant crockpot, but they can take up to 9 hours. You can put these on to cook overnight but make sure your crockpot is the right size first!

I serve these with more coconut milk, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, almonds, chia seeds, and honey. 

Chocolate Banana Date Smoothie 

I was at Costco the other day, as you do, and picked up a giant bag of dates. I’d eaten a date exactly once before, at which time I thought, “This is not fruit, this is tree candy. It’s weird and I hate it.”

But eating dried dates by themselves is not the ideal way to use dates, Past Me. Dates are little weird sugar pods that happen to also grow on trees. Use them as sugar. 

This smoothie might change your life, not to put too fine a point on it. It’s not too sweet, super chocolatey, and full of healthy crap. I have not tested this, but you might be able to trick small children into thinking it’s terrible for them. 

Note: I have the world’s crappiest blender. I manage to make this smoothie by running it for about twelve years. If your blender is better than garbage, you’ll have an easier, faster time. 

Oh! And this could be vegan if you substituted something vegan for the dairy yogurt. 

Chocolate Banana Date Smoothie 

  • 2T chia seeds 
  • 4T water

Mix these in the blender pitcher and let sit for 5-10 minutes. It’ll turn into a creepy-looking gel. This is what we’re going for. 

  • 4 dried dates, finely chopped (oil your knife so they don’t get stuck)
  • 1T coconut oil 
  • 1C cashew milk (or coconut, or almond, or cow)
  • 1/4C plain yogurt

Add to blender pitcher and blend. Blend the living hell out of this. Blend until you can’t see any date chunks. 

  • 2T cocoa powder 
  • 1t vanilla extract 
  • sprinkle of wheat germ
  • dash of cinnamon 
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 banana (frozen or fresh)

Add to pitcher and blend until smooth. Serve. Love. Enjoy. 

Breakfast Coconut Rice 

I finished a bowl of this not even five minutes ago and I needed to tell you about it. This is a super easy rice cooker breakfast (I know, that’s weird). Make it if you love coconut, rice pudding, or delicious things. 

It’s also vegan if you use a non-animal sweetener!

Breakfast Coconut Rice

Adapted from Coconut Lover’s Cookbook by Bruce Fife

  • One rice cooker cup of brown rice (it’s really around 3/4C)
  • Water up to the 2 line of your cooker
  • 1/2C shredded coconut 
  • 2T raisins 
  • 2T honey (or vegan sweetener)
  • 1/4t ground cardamom
  • 1t ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1T chia seeds
  • 1t vanilla extract 
  • 1T coconut oil
  • Coconut milk (I used canned full fat)
  • Slivered almonds 

Combine rice, water, coconut, raisins, honey, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, chia seeds, vanilla, and coconut oil in rice cooker. Set on cook. (I have an Aroma Simply Stainless.) When done, scoop some into a bowl and pour coconut milk over. Add almonds. This makes about two servings. 

You could also make this in a pot on the stove; just make the rice as usual, but with the raisins, etc. added in. I am awful at making stovetop rice so the rice cooker is my best friend. 

Sleep, You Elusive Jerk (and Overnight Oats)

Oh, sleep. I miss you. You haven’t been easy to come by for two years or so, and now you’re even more difficult to find. My nose is constantly clogged, a delightful symptom of pregnancy, and I have never peed more in my life. 
(I know you have good intentions, friends and readers, but please spare your “Just you wait!” and “You think you’re tired now!” comments. Guys, I know. But you can’t store sleep away in a jar for later, so I’d really like to get it while the getting is good. And being pregnant is really tiring because there is a person living inside me stealing all of my nutrients and fluids.)

So. In addition to being super tired, I am super hungry. All. The. Damn. Time. (Nutrient stealer.) I’ve tried many things to stave off hunger and keep me filled up, but I think I just found my favorite thing. I even bought some cute pint Ball jars expressly for this recipe. I make my own fun. 

Overnight Oats for One

  • 3/4C old-fashioned oats (not quick oats!)
  • 1/2C coconut milk (the kind in a carton; or any kind of milk)
  • 1/4C plain yogurt
  • a glug of real maple syrup 
  • a teeny splash of almond or vanilla extract 
  • a pinch of salt
  • a small handful of dried cranberries
  • pinches of cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a pint jar. Leave in fridge overnight. In the morning, add fresh berries, sliced banana, diced apple, etc. 

Give Me Almonds and Give Me Granola (Almond, Coconut, and Cranberry Granola)

I need almonds. I need almond flavor, that sweet, hard-to-pin-down floral quality that you either love or hate. I love it. Love love love. I bought some almond extract the other day for bath bombs and spent at least five minutes huffing the bottle.

I have a great granola recipe (over here), and recently I’ve tweaked it to satiate my almond-loving palate. It replaces the vegetable oil from my standby recipe with coconut oil, another product I adore. You can substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil in that recipe if you aren’t fond of almonds or want to mix it up. This particular granola is not too sweet and packed with good fat. Sprinkle on ice cream (chocolate is a good choice; it’d be like an Almond Joy), stir into yogurt, or just stuff large handfuls into your gaping maw.

Note: my previous granola recipe calls for 8 cups of oats, but it makes a ridiculous amount of granola. You can double or halve as desired.

Almond, Coconut, and Cranberry Granola

  • 4C rolled oats (“old-fashioned,” not quick)
  • 1/2C dry roasted almonds (preferably salted), chopped fine
  • 1/4C unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4C honey
  • 1/8C blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2C coconut oil
  • 1/2T cinnamon
  • 1/2T almond extract
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine oats, almonds, and coconut in a big bowl. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, molasses, coconut oil, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt. Bring to a boil, then pour over oat mixture. Stir until coated and spread evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir, then bake for 10 more minutes. When you take the granola out after 20 minutes, it won’t look like granola. It’ll be squishy. You didn’t mess it up. Leave it alone for about 10-15 minutes, then chunk it up with a spatula. Cool, and mix with dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag.

It Really Never Ends (and Wendy’s Wonderful Quiche)

This housework nonsense never, ever ends. Painting, mowing, laundry, dishes (when did we stop eating directly out of containers? Sometime after college? Let’s go back to that, please), MORE LAUNDRY (this insistence on clean clothes is ridiculous), animal care, electrical issues, garage door malfunctions, tree trimming, cooking, grocery shopping, neighbor-placating, etc. etc. etc. The et ceteras could go on forever. And really, I love our house, I ADORE our house, but could it just cool it for a while? I am tired and cannot wait to get to the point where I step back and say, “Okay, that’s good enough for now.”

Which brings me to this quiche. Oh, this quiche. My amazing, lovely, gorgeous, talented, strong-as-hell maid of honor, Wendy, gave me this recipe a few years ago so I could make it and bring it to brunch. It is simple, delicious, and best of all, it’s really amenable to change. You can leave out the onions (or forget them, like I did last time), you can substitute broccoli for spinach, or add ham, or do whatever. This is a quiche that goes with the flow. It’s relaxed. And it’s delicious.

Wendy’s Wonderful Quiche

Preheat your oven to 350F.

  • 1 deep dish pie crust (just get the frozen kind that comes with two crusts–you can bake from frozen and your guests will think you worked super hard to impress them)

Mix together:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1C half & half
  • 1/2C mayonnaise
  • 2T flour
  • dash of salt and garlic powder (or whatever spices you want; this quiche is laid-back, after all)

Fill pie crust with:

  • 1/2C chopped onions
  • 8oz shredded cheese of your choice
  • 1 package chopped spinach, drained (or 1C [or so] broccoli, chopped, or whatever you want)
  • optional: ham, turkey, bacon, sausage, etc.

Mix that around so everything is evenly distributed, then carefully (CAREFULLY) pour the egg mixture over the cheese mixture.

Bake 45-60 minutes (depending on your oven; up here at altitude, I baked mine for around 50-55 minutes), or until it’s browned and not super jiggly. There might be some oil on top when you take it out, which you can blot with a paper towel. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing up.

 

Thank you, Wendy!!

Crafting, Anxiety, and Granola

This article on CNN Health yesterday really hit home for me. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which basically means my brain overthinks everything and I’m always worried. I could be on the beach, sipping a margarita, and I’d still be worried about something. It doesn’t even matter what I’m worried about; it’s usually something that most people would think of as insignificant. My overactive brain makes relaxing pretty much impossible. But new studies show that crafting, whether it’s knitting, scrapbooking, glass etching (more on that tomorrow), or decoupage, can help anxious and depressed people calm their minds. Focusing on a craft project can bring your mind to a state of flow, where you become so engrossed in something that it’s hard to think about anything else. Crafting has definitely done this for me; I find that when I craft, I become relaxed and, as a bonus, have a sense of pride in my accomplishment. I feel the same way when I cook. So get out to the craft store, get some glitter, and calm your brain. This morning, I made granola, something I’d attempted before, but never successfully. This is delicious, easy, and multi-purpose; it’s great in yogurt, with milk, or just in dry handfuls stuffed in your mouth.

Fruit & Nut Granola

  • 8C rolled oats
  • 1.5C oat bran
  • 1C chopped almonds
  • 1C chopped walnuts
  • 1.5t salt
  • 1/2C brown sugar
  • 1/2C honey
  • 1/4C molasses
  • 1C vegetable oil
  • 1T cinnamon
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 2C dried cranberries (or pineapple, or raisins, or mango, or whatever)

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine oats, bran, and nuts in a really big bowl. Combine salt, brown sugar, honey, molasses, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir until it’s all coated. Spread evenly over two baking sheets. (I didn’t line mine and it worked perfectly). Bake for 20 minutes; stir at the 10-minute mark. When you take the granola out, it will look like you messed it up; it won’t be crunchy or anything. Don’t worry! Once it’s cooled, it will transform, and you can take a spatula and chunk it up. After it’s cooled, mix the dried fruit in with the granola. Store in an airtight container.

Raspberry Jeans (and Raspberry Scones)

I love baking, but Mr. Something has Type 1 Diabetes, so I try not to do it that often. Here’s the other thing: I don’t even like sweets that much. I’d rather have an extra helping of dinner than have dessert (that’s a lie; I’d rather have extra dinner and dessert and then more dinner). However, I really enjoy the process of baking, and I can usually find a friend or two to take some cookies or whatever. Thank you, friends, for taking that great burden off of my shoulders.

This morning, after I had a ridiculous number of clementines for breakfast, I wanted something more. I wanted butter and sugar and flour, and sure, throw some fruit in there just so I don’t feel too bad about it. So I made scones. Scones are wonderful because they aren’t too sweet and they make a nice breakfast or a good snack with tea at the end of the day. (I love food.)

Of course, I wanted to eat one of these when they came out of the oven. When I was done savoring its buttery, crumbly texture (i.e., shoving it down my gullet), I noticed I’d dropped two whole raspberries on my jeans and smeared them in like fingerpaint. So now I’m doing laundry.

Raspberry Scones

Adapted from La Petite Brioche

  • 2C flour
  • 1/2C sugar
  • 1T baking powder
  • 1t salt
  • 1T orange zest (I used clementine zest, because I’m obsessed with them, and got about 2t out of two clementines)
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into chunks (I used salted, since that’s what I had–I think it worked well)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2C heavy cream
  • 1C frozen raspberries (peaches would be delicious, too)
  • some more heavy cream for the tops
  • some extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In your stand mixer bowl (with the paddle attachment), put flour, 1/2C sugar, baking powder, zest, and salt. Whir that around on the lowest speed til its mixed, then throw in the cold butter. Add the heavy cream and egg. Mix til it looks lumpy and just blended. Add raspberries and mix.

Flour your counter and knead the dough into a ball. Squish it down so its 3/4″ thick. Cut into eight triangles. I am bad at this, so I accidentally cut mine into twelfths. There’s a reason I’m not a mathematician.

Brush with more cream, sprinkle with sugar, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The tops should be brown and the scones should be firm when you poke them.

So my scones sort of decided to spread out more than I think they should have, which probably means my butter wasn’t cold enough. Next time I’ll cut up the butter and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes before adding it to the flour.

Spread out or not, they are super, super good.

Finally Mrs. Something (and Tomato Cream Cheese Toast)

Changing your name when you get married is a personal choice, and one I always knew I was going to make. My maiden name is long and hyphenated. Yep, I’m one of those ’80s kids whose name was hyphenated since birth. I’ve never liked it, and personally, I don’t think it’s a great idea to hyphenate your kids’ names. It creates confusion with schools, doctors, the USPS, the DMV, etc., and it always made me feel disconnected from my family. We weren’t the “OneName” Family; we were the “Mom’s Name,” “Dad’s Name,” and “My Name” family. I could never get one of those signs for above the fireplace that said “The OneNames.” (I always wanted one of those signs.) People would ask, “Which name do you use?” and “When did your parents get divorced?” and (when I got older) “How long have you been married?” (In order: “It’s hyphenated, so it’s technically one name, and it’s hyphenated on my birth certificate.” [Some people would respond, “I’ll just call you ‘Amanda “Mom’s Name.”‘ “Piss off.”] “They’ve been married since the early ’80s.” “You think I would do this to myself?”)

I knew from a young age that when I got married, I would change my name. I feel great about my decision, and I’ve gotten to the point where seeing my maiden name on junk mail is weird.

The process of changing one’s name isn’t that complicated; it’s just really annoying. You have to get a copy of your marriage license, go to the Social Security office (which I swear is in an alternate dimension where old people go to drink free crappy coffee and watch daytime TV), wait for your new card to come, go to the DMV to get your new license, and then go to the bank to change your name on your accounts. Additionally, you have to change your name on subscriptions, email, etc. I was pretty excited to tell Playboy about my name change, mostly because I’m a strange person.

I finally got my new debit cards from the bank, which marks the last official thing I needed to change to be Mrs. Something. Once we have a fireplace (and a house) later this year, I think I’ll get one of those signs I always coveted: “The Somethings, est. 2014.”

 

This isn’t really a recipe, but it’s a delicious thing that I’ve been eating for breakfast lately. I can’t get a good bagel here to save my life, so I’ve given up on sad bagels and moved on to toast with tomato and cream cheese.

Tomato Cream Cheese Toast

  • whole wheat bread
  • cream cheese (go on, use full-fat; it’s so yummy)
  • thinly sliced Roma tomatoes (I use about 1 tomato for two slices of bread)
  • salt & pepper

Toast the bread until it’s pretty brown, then spread with cream cheese. Slap those tomatoes on there in an even layer, and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. Chomp. It’s weirdly good and wonderfully simple.