“At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” Ephesians 5:20
So I have, through the years, developed some strategies for coping with the thanksgiving morning crazies, especially the ones that require cooking. Not that I always do these things. Notice I did say they are strategies….not actual events. But I do try to accomplish as many of them as possible.
We are a breakfast family. By that I mean we all love to eat breakfast but no one actually likes to make it. And, being the mom of the clan of chaos, I am the one expected to produce food for the masses. I of course only require a pot of coffee to get going. However, since the majority of the guests are small children and giving them coffee in the morning is frowned upon in polite society, I have to come up with things they will eat. The adults say ridiculous things like “oh just make me some toast and I will be fine” or “I’ll just eat cereal”. HaHaHa. That’s a good one. Do you know how much cereal costs these days? And how many boxes you must have to make everyone happy? I don’t know when cereal reached the point of having an aisle all to itself but you can lose your mind trying to pick out a “family friendly” box of cereal. In my day (when milk was delivered by a milkman so yes I am old) we had cheerios. If we were lucky we could also have shredded wheat. (insert sarcasm) Have you ever convince a 3 year old that shredded wheat is something they should indulge in?
And while we are on the subject….when did the price of a box of cereal start to resemble a day’s wages? Just saying.
After the holidays I am usually left with a dozen half eaten boxes of varying cereals that I would never ever even contemplate putting in my mouth or, the more appropriate scenario, that I shouldn’t put into my mouth. Am I the only one whose mouth goes numb if I eat an entire box of Captain Crunch with Crunchberries? Just one of those random questions I think of occasionally.
Anyway I should probably get back on the original subject which was to share with you some cooking strategies. Today I am going to share one of my favorite make ahead breakfast recipes. And nowhere in this blog am I even pretending to say that they are low calorie although you can tweak them if you would like to make them low calorie. In fact, truth be told, I usually end up taking something healthy and adding so much to it that it becomes a complete shadow of itself. My excuse is that I am cooking for children and they need more calories. Hey! It’s my family and that’s my reasoning. You can make it as healthy as you need it to be for yours.
One of my favorite make ahead breakfasts is homemade instant oatmeal packets. I detest the sawdusty (I know…not a word) taste of the boxed instant oatmeal. That and I am sort of a crunchy grandma (the new way of saying that I don’t like processed foods, plastic, and most of my grocery shopping is organic). While I was messing around (as sweetheart likes to say) on Pinterest (the biggest time sucking site ever created) I found a recipe for making my own little versions of instant oatmeal. Thanks to Monica at The Yummy Life, I am now able to make my own! You can follow her recipe exactly if you would like (also check out her refrigerator oatmeal) but I am the ultimate re creator when it comes to food. Plus I like all kinds of fruits, nuts, and flax type things in my oatmeal. Plus butter, plus sugar, plus cream. Yeah. It’s not about low calorie remember?
Now let me start off by saying that I am completely hypocritical when it comes to the all natural part of this recipe. I had to put it in plastic baggies (which I abhor) because we have a tile floor kitchen. Glass jars (my favorite method of storing instant oatmeal packs) and small child hands along with tile floors do not end well. Just saying. But other than that, it is a healthy alternative to processed oatmeal packs.
Instant Oatmeal Packs
½ cup of quick or instant oats (not old fashioned whole oats)
1 teaspoon of ground flax
1 tsp of wheat germ
½ tsp of cinnamon (or pumpkin pie blend, apple pie blend, or combination of your favorite spice flavors)
Pinch of salt
1-3 Tbl of your favorite sweetener. I use dark brown sugar because I love molasses but sweetheart likes light brown sugar. As long as it’s a dry sweetener you can add it.
Add a small handful of any kind of dried fruit such as cranberries, cherries, raisins, etc. along with your favorite nuts if you so desire. The amount is changeable based upon your flavor preference. I like almonds just in case you were wondering. You don’t have to add dried fruit at all if you don’t want to. You can add fresh fruit after it cools a bit.
Some people add powdered milk to the mix but I just add milk after I make it. The milk cools it down for the kiddos so they don’t have to wait (and so I don’t have to spend time blowing on their food)
Add all the ingredients together in a snack size baggie (or regular baggie if you don’t have the smaller ones) and presto! Instant oatmeal packs. I take a sharpie and write “add ¾ cup boiling water” on the outside just in case my brain isn’t working and I can’t remember how much water to add. I might also write the type of fruit that’s in it if a lot of people are coming and they are crazy enough to not like raisins. When ready to eat, pour the baggie out into a bowl and add 3/4 cup of boiling water (or 3/4 cup water and cook for 1 minute 30 seconds in the microwave).
A small container of oatmeal makes about 8 baggies. The kids think it’s cool and they love “making their own breakfast”. Of course someone has to boil the water for them and pour it into the bowl so it’s not entirely without the need for a grown up. But they can choose their packet and dump it into the bowl which makes them feel like they helped.