INFAMOUS OATMEAL

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This is a forty  year walk down memory lane for me. When my children were smaller, my husband and I left them with a sitter in our home overnight,  while we attended a function. When I arrived home, our usual babysitter, Valerie,  stated , ” I made them oatmeal but none of them ate breakfast.”  The children looked nervous, as if  they knew they were in trouble. (Lol. ) I apologized to her and paid her and she left.
The bowls of oatmeal were still on the table and warm. My middle son asked,” Are we punished? ” and all began protesting. I asked, ” Were you disrespectful to Valerie?”. They said,  ” No.  But Mom, it’s disgusting, it’s not like yours. Valerie can’t make it right”. I looked at the bowls of clumpy oatmeal. This was the kind my mom used to make,  that I hated and always got yelled at for because I took so long to eat it. The kind that sticks to a spoon when the spoon is upside down.
Three smiles appeared as I said, ” No, you’re not punished. This IS disgusting.” and promptly threw it away and made more.  Three happy children sat and ate all their oatmeal . 🙂 I have taken care of numerous children in my life and have never had a child not eat their oatmeal.  So, if your child wont eat their oatmeal, I hope you will try this recipe.This is how I make it.

You will need:

Dried oats ( I use Quaker, but not the 1 minute kind, though that would work fine too.)
Milk
Cinnamon
Sugar
Vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. Instead of boiling water, I use milk. ( if I’m low on milk, I have used half water and half milk and bring to just before the point of boiling.

2. Add your oats , stir, and lower heat to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. If it starts to get thick, add more milk till it is a creamy consistency, almost like a thick soup.

4. Turn off heat and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and sugar to taste.

5. Serve hot and enjoy.

VARIATIONS: I have experimented with other pure extracts like almond and orange and recently, half water and half coconut milk. All were great! However, you will need less sugar if using coconut milk.

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KITCHEN SINK SOUP

Funny name I know. However, I call it that because it seems like everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown in. Ever wonder what to do with your leftover veggies n pasta or rice? Americans waste a lot of food in comparison to other countries around the world. I was brought up being told I must finish everything on my plate, regardless if I were full or not, because kids were starving in places around the world. Now, people know that’s not a good idea and can lead to childhood obesity. With that said, it’s ok to have leftovers and you don’t have to discard them . Just toss them together and make a soup. I’ll tell you what usually winds up in mine but know that you can use any veggie cut into bite sized pieces. Any small macaroni or rice.

YOU WILL NEED:

Four quarts of chicken broth

Diced boneless chicken

Green beans cut in half or thirds

1 cup of rice or macaroni

One large carrot diced

Half of small onion minced

1 can of beans ( chickpeas, kidney, cannellini, navy or whatever kind you like)

1 ccelery stalk sliced small

Pepper and salt to taste

VARIATIONS: substitute beef broth for chicken broth and use tiny, already fried meatballs or steak sliced in place of chicken. Add diced potatoes and above vegetables.

For a vegetable type soup use water instead of broth but decrease water to two quarts and add 1-16 oz bottle of V-8 tomato juice and a cup of diced seeded tomatoes. You can add corn or any other vegetables you like.

DIRECTIONS: Throw everything in a large pot and bring to a boil and simmer twenty min or till macaroni is done. FAST and EASY.

HOMEMADE ITALIAN SAUCE

Once you see how easy  it is to make your own spaghetti sauce, you will never buy it in a jar again. The taste is excellent. And, you know what’s in it. No surprise, harmful ingredients. Just good, healthy food! Enjoy.

YOU WILL NEED:

2-  35 oz cans of of Cento tomatoes ( these are non-GMO)

Olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Salt

Dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon of Dried basil or 2 teaspoons of fresh basil cut chiffonade style

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1/2 of a medium sweet onion finely chopped

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 medium- sized onion diced

Heavy bottomed sauce pan

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Put olive oil in bottom of your pot, just enough to coat the center.

2. Place both cans of peeled tomatoes ( one at a time) in blender with 1/2 of the garlic and oregano, parsley and basil and puree . Then set aside.

3.  Take diced  onions and begin to brown on medium high heat. When they are just beginning to turn translucent, add the rest of the garlic, and salt , stirring constantly , taking care not to let the garlic burn.

4. Stir for three to five minutes then add your puréed tomato mixture to the pan.

5 . Cook  on medium high heat until it starts to bubble. Then stir and turn  the heat to  low , 3 on an electric stove , and cover with the lid slightly ajar. IF YOU HAVE PREPARED MY STEAMED MEATBALLS, this would be the time to add them and spoon sauce over the tops. After about five minutes you would turn the meatballs over and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1-1/2 to two hours.

6. After thirty minutes or so, stir in the sugar. The sugar will cut the acid in the sauce. For those of you with acid reflux disorders, this is great! Just don’t be too vigorous with the stirring if you have meatballs inside, as they will be soft and can easily fall apart. If you want just a meat sauce, you can break the meatballs apart.

Note: Each time you stir, before stirring , you can take a large spoon and carefully remove the oil at the top of the sauce.  I, personally, don’t  like too much oil. When you take  the ajar lid off to stir, if sauce is too watery, then just leave lid off and remain simmering .  If you think it is getting too thick, just put the lid on again, leaving slightly ajar.

JEANETTE’S FRUIT COCKTAIL

Clock photo to enlarge
Clock photo to enlarge

I don’t care for pears so I really don’t care for canned or jarred fruit cocktail. I do love fruit though, so when the children were small I decided to invent my own fruit cocktail so they wouldn’t have to eat pears either. Now that I’m older, I realize that just because I don’t like something didn’t mean they wouldn’t have. However, I think mine tastes better. You be the judge. It’s a literal ” Dump it all in” easy recipe. Perfect for barbecues  and days you have no desserts in the house or just feel like some fruit. Aside from slicing the peach slices into thirds and the maraschino cherries in half there’s really nothing else to do. Of course if you like pears you can throw a can in. 🙂

YOU WILL NEED:

1 -16 oz. can of sliced peaches in heavy syrup ( I do cut each into thirds so they are easy to eat with a spoon)

1-20 oz can of pineapple chunks (Packed in pineapple juice)

1-10 oz. jar of maraschino cherries. Cut cherries in half and add to bowl.

Add about 20-25 seedless green or red grapes or both

1-15 oz can or jar of mandarin oranges

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Place all juice from peaches into  a large bowl

2. Cut peach slices  in thirds or fourths  and add to bowl.

3. Put entire can of pineapple chunks into bowl .

4. Add as many grapes as you want. Usually 20-25 is good. You don’t really need to count them. Use the smaller ones of the bunch or can cut big ones in half.

5. Take cherries out of their juice. Cut cherries in half and put in bowl. If you don’t mind red fruit cocktail you can put that juice in there too.

6. Put entire can of mandarin oranges in and stir.

7. Chill well and serve.

VARIATIONS: I  have add diced bananas , melon or cantaloupe cubes if I have these in the house and they are getting overly ripened. If you choose to make this for a party , skip the bananas. Many  children are allergic to bananas. And of course, those of you who like pears can dump a can of pears in the mix.  Whatever you have, really, if you like it, by all means, add it. Enjoy!

STEAMED MEATBALLS

Steamed Meatballs
Click photo to enlarge

YOU WILL NEED:

1  to 1 and a half pounds of ground beef ( do not use extra lean type)

1/2 cup of Progresso Italian flavored bread crumbs

I tablespoon of Minced garlic or 1 level teaspoon of dried garlic powder ( not garlic salt)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of dried basil

I teaspoon of dried oregano 2 heaping tablespoons of dried parsley

Water

A heavy bottomed or nonstick pot

I heaping teaspoon of Sugar ( this cuts the acidity of the sauce)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix all ingredients except water in a large mixing bowl

2. After thoroughly mixed add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water and stir into the mixture. (This is the secret to a softer meatball. It moistens the bread crumbs sufficiently)

3. Form your meatballs

4. Place meatballs into your spaghetti  sauce being sure meatballs are covered and heat is medium low. Setting number 4 on electric stove.

5. Cover with a slight opening to the lid. This can be achieved by placing a wooden spoon between pot and lid.

6. When sauce is boiling, uncover and turn meatballs, again being sure they are covered with sauce , add and stir in sugar and lower heat to 3 on electric stove.

7. Leaving pot lid off, simmer for about thirty minutes turning occasionally. If you notice sauce reducing too quickly you can again place the lid on pot with a wooden spoon, keeping it ajar slightly for five to ten minutes.

Please see my recipe for my Homemade sauce

Once you see how easy, flavorful and  economical is is to make,  I can almost guarantee you’ll never buy a jarred sauce again.