Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oodles of Oatmeal: a brakfast mission

 Hey guys!
Pretty much every morning after making my lunch at 5:25am (gotta love waking up for school :P ) I sit myself down to a hot bowl of oatmeal and a mug of tea. Until recently, like 2 days ago, I had really only used Quaker instant prepackaged oats. I haven't yet moved to steel cut (soon I hope) because I have to finish what lives in my cabinet, but I do have a huge container of quick-one minute oats screaming to be eaten. I plan to find as many great toppings and ways of preparing my morning pick me up as I can, hence the mission.

 Why?
 For one thing, when you make your own flavored you control what goes in it, there is no need for one pack of oats to have 11% of your daily sodium, and not be enough for a good sized breakfast (most important meal you know). Secondly, you can't get bored of what's always changing. Finally oats are good for you, and of you can keep them from tasting like paste (why I stuck with the packs for so long) using easy to find pantry items, why not??? With that I start my mission. Here is what I have found to be the best basic oatmeal prep. I do not like an unpleasant golly pasty oatmeal, so I adjust the directions on the back of the box. This is also, in my opinion, a perfect amount of oats, and more than what is in the packets, so you stay full for more than an hour.

  Plain oatmeal using Quick-One min oats (if you like it plain, kudos to you, I think it tastes too bland and must be topped):

 1/3 cup oats
 Mug of water
(your morning tea ready to go)
 Heat the mug in microwave for 2 min to get the water hot. Pour your oats into your bowl. (if using "heat in toppings" mix in now, or after water added) Take hot water and pour until just barely covering the oats. Put back in the microwave for 30-sec to 1-min (if you like your oatmeal runnnnny like my mom, no goop just slightly thickened, use a touch less water and let sit for a minute or so before eating and go crazy) Adjust heating time to change thickness of oats (short=runny. Long=thick)

 -If you drink tea, this method is great because you just top off the mug add your tea bag and reheat. (mic. Steeping is faster)

 1/3 cup dry oats= 100 cal
1/2 cup = 150 cal

 Have fun with toppings! Be creative! And check back to see what I found works (and doesn't) together we can change breakfast.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spectacularly Easy Tart Cranberry-Orange Sauce

The title says it all. What's more this is a mix it up and do something else recipe. It requires so little effort is is laughable. Just mix, bake, and chill.
This Recipe is going to get a permanent spot on out Thanksgiving table. My mom asked me to make more for the Turkey after I whipped up a batch for my Cranberry Orange Cheesecake! It is that good. My family likes hings a little on the tart side, so if that is not your style, add a bit more sugar.

Recipe (adjusted from My Recipes):

One package (12 oz) fresh Cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest (remember if your zesting an orange, just juice it too and use the fresh squeezed)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Rinse berries and pick out any squishy fruit
  3. In a 9 in square baking pan mix all ingredients with spoon
  4. Bake in oven for ~hour. Mixing with spoon every 20 min or so.
  5. Cool and refrigerate
That's it! No endless stirring at the stove top. Just pop it in and out. And I promise, it is worth the oven space. I have been enjoying it on my turkey sandwiches I've been taking to school, and on my cheesecake, and couldn't be more thrilled!


Enjoy!

Guiltless Yogurt Cheese Cheesecake (Cranberry-Orange)

Guiltless Yogurt Cheese Cheesecake

If your a cheesecake lover, you are probably also ware of the staggering amount of calories and saturated fat packed in each heavenly piece. Well I'm here to tell you it does not have to be this way! Introducing Yogurt Cheese. Yogurt cheese is a cream cheese textured cheese made by draining the whey from nonfat, low fat, or whole yogurt. Although for the healthy conscious, nonfat or low fat yogurt are best for yogurt cheese, whole yogurt is still light years better than cream cheese. 
You can use yogurt cheese in equal amounts to replace cream cheese in any recipe, including cheesecake! 

I edited this Cranberry Orange Cheesecake Recipe from My Recipes and was left with a delectable pie, worthy of its place at the Thanksgiving table. 

Recipe:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 tbs of orange juice (if you have orange flavored liqueur all the better)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups yogurt cheese
1 cup sugar
3 whole eggs + 2 egg whites (the original recipe called for 4 eggs, but it is fine to replace one egg with
                                                2 egg whites. Use whichever combo you wish. I would say you could 
                                                replace 2 of the whole eggs [of 4] but any more may affect quality
                                                too much. If you decide to go with 2 eggs+4 whites tell me how it goes)

1 Spectacularly Easy Tart Cranberry-Orange Sauce recipe (if making cranberry-orange cheesecake, otherwise just top with your favorites) 


Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a tall 9 inch spring-form pan (at least 1 3/4 in tall, mine is 2 in tall) use some of the melted butter to grease the sides with your hands, then mix together the graham cracker crumbs and the rest of the melted butter. Press evenly along the bottom and about 1/2 in up the sides, I used the bottom of a cup to do this because my hands were to awkward in the pan.  
  3. Bake crust until a slightly darker brown (about 9 to 11 minutes)
  4. In a small pan (or in a bowl destined for the microwave) mix the gelatin with 2 Tbs cold water. Stir over medium heat until dissolved. (or Nuke it for ~30 seconds and stir, going in intervals until dissolved) Remove from heat and add in orange juice (or liqueur) and vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer on medium speed to smooth the yogurt cheese. Then beat in the sugar and gelatin mixture until smooth and combined. Slowly beat in eggs one at a time (2 white count as 1) until smoothly blended. Try not to over-beat once eggs are added, eggs incorporate air that can create cracking down the road, not that it really matters if you are smothering the cake with a topping.
  6. Bake at 325 (yes that is cooler than before) for about 45 min to an hour, when center jiggles only slightly when lightly shaken. If you need to bake longer, don't take it out! Also remember while cooling the cheesecake will continue to cook a bit, hence the slight jiggle. 
  7. Cool with pan on cake/cookie rack for about 30 minutes (or until cool). Then refrigerate in pan, uncovered to allow excess moisture to escape.
  8. Blot lightly with paper towels before serving, and top!  If you plan on putting the cheesecake back in the fridge, it may be better to serve the topping on the side. Then put un-topped cheesecake back in fridge, collar back on but not tightened and covered in plastic wrap, this keeps the cake from getting soggy. Also, then everyone can put on their fav topping! You could make a cheesecake bar!

Enjoy!

As you can see, my friends and family approve!

And remember, be creative! use whatever cheesecake recipes you want! Mix some cocoa powder in and get chocolate, or swirl in preserves to get a swirl cheesecake! This is the first yogurt cheese cheesecake recipe I have tried, so I will keep you posted if I find an even better one.

And be sure to comment and share your experiences!

Aloha! Thanks for reading!

!!!!!UPDATE!!!!! I ran out of the cranberry sauce so I topped it with sliced strawberries and a stripe of chocolate whipped cream.... I would make this again just to eat it like this. It was sensational!!!! I can't emphasize how good it was. Here's a picture so you can see:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The BEST! Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (healthy too)

For the longest time I have been trying to find a delicious oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that did not call for 2 sticks of butter. Next to snicker-doodles they are my favorite cookie, and I was determined to track down a recipe that was just as good or better than the cookies on the Quaker oats lid that was healthy(...er it is a cookie after all) too. Well lo and behold, where there's a will, there's a way. THANK YOU WORLD!!!!!
The cinnamon makes this cookie, and if you like chocolate see the note below. You wouldn't even suspect these cookies use less butter and whole wheat flour, Girl Scouts honor.

Don't ask me how these cookies stay moist and delicious, they just do. Trust and ye shall receive.

Personally I can't wait to make a double batch (one just never seems to be enough in my house) and use some broken into vanilla-cinnamon frozen yogurt. Yum!

(Picture to be posted, I don't believe in stealing from the internet, and I have too much residual Thanksgiving dessert right now to make them)

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/3 C butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1/3 C white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 C oats
3/4 cup raisins*
       *(if you are like my family and don't believe in desert without chocolate, then use a little more than 1/2 cup raisins and a little less than 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Vary quantities according to preference, keeping close to the 3/4 C measure. I like to measure most of the 3/4 cup in the measuring cup, then just fill the rest with the chocolate. I add just enough so there are wonderful treasures every once and a while :)  )

Preheat oven to 350
Beat butter and sugars in a mixing bowl until smooth, then beat in egg and vanilla.
In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Gently stir flour into sugar mixture until just combined. (I use a spatula and do it by hand to keep to much gluten from making a less than perfect cookie, we should strive for perfection!)
Stir in raisins (and choc. chips if using)

Roll into walnut sized balls and bake 10 - 12 min (when you can see the oat's texture, and it looks like an oatmeal raisin cookie)

Let stand for ~2 minutes then cool on wire rack.

EAT!!!!! (not all at once though, or you will be sad)

Makes ~25 cookies