Mom-Friendly Meals: Steel-Cut Oats

I leave before 7 a.m. for daycare dropoff and work, which means that I eat breakfast after I’m at my desk. There’s a deli on the ground floor of my building, so I’m able to buy breakfast and lunch there, but that adds up quickly.

In an effort to keep the complex mornings as simple as possible–and to keep costs down–I’ve started making a big batch of steel-cut oats and reheating a serving once I’m at work. I also take a small container of walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon to mix in.

Steel Cut Oats To Go

For a while, I was making the oats in the slow cooker, but I found that they wound up mushy. If you like mushy oats, then that technique will work well for you; I’m having better luck with the following method:

  • Stovetop
  • Saucepan
  • 3 parts unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 part steel cut oats

Put all of those together and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring several times. Cool and refrigerate.

If I start this process early enough, I set aside a portion for the next day. If I don’t, I do that in the morning. Once at the office, I transfer it to a microwave-friendly dish, heat it up, and stir in the toppings.

Someone will tell me I shouldn’t be boiling the almond milk. You can also use water.

Things I’m Loving

1) Hot Tot

Hot Tot brand shampoo and conditioner

This shampoo and conditioner combo continues to deliver for Baguette’s hair.

2) Parents

ParentsJuly2013_cover

The last few months, this magazine has had at least one article that has really spoken to us.

3) Steel-cut oats

John McCann's Steel Cut Oats

These things are amazing. Much better texture than the regular ones, although I suspect they won’t work as well for cookies.

4) And, of course, Baguette

I know I’m her mom and therefore biased, but she is cute as beans.

Photo of oats by urbanlatinfemale, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Meal Planning

I want to do it. I just have a lot of trouble finding the time to sit down and think about it.

Fortunately, last night we had friends over for dinner (afterward I realized that this was the first playdate we’ve hosted, and it went pretty well overall); we made pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw, Ranch Style Beans, mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

And when I say “made,” I mean that the only things we actually made ourselves were the potatoes and asparagus. Everything else came straight from the store or was assembled.

But we have lots of leftovers (except for asparagus), so there are a few meals there.

And I’ve got a Crock Pot full of steel-cut oats, so there are some breakfasts.

Really, I think we’ll be pretty set as long as I make one more dish today. So should I clear out some space in the freezer by making meatball and tortellini soup? Or should I have something hearty but light and make more curried lentils and brown rice?

Decisions, decisions.

Persistence Cooking

Baguette has a cold, which makes her both snuggly and querulous, sometimes in the same moment. Which means that it’s not necessarily easy to cook. But since I’m making an effort to use what I have, I’m soldiering on (not right now–clearly I’m typing right now, and also we’re curled up together in front of Sesame Street).

Sick weekend aside, I am managing to cook. Last night I made tortellini soup, and this morning I made multi-grain blueberry pancakes. I know, I’m fancy–but not really, because I used a mix. However, that means that in addition to today’s breakfast, Baguette will have pancakes to go with her eggs on school days. I just made small pancakes and packaged them into Baguette-sized servings for freezing.

My own breakfast is in the slow-cooker; I’m making more oatmeal, this time with regular milk instead of almond or coconut. Why? Because that’s what I had.

It’s not that I’m refusing to buy food until I’ve used everything up. That’s just crazy talk. Also, I need more Parmesan cheese. So we’ll probably be going to the store later this afternoon.

Oscars? What Oscars?

Cooking With Pinterest

I don’t believe in Pinterest guilt. Seriously, if you’re judging yourself by other people’s pins, then it’s time to step away from the computer and go play outside.

For me, Pinterest is primarily an inspiration board. I find things I like the look of, and I pin them. Easy.

But then, in my never-ending quest to streamline my day, I found a couple of recipes that seemed worth trying.

The Overnight Slow-Cooker Oatmeal seemed like a no-brainer. So easy! So oatmeal-y! So made in the slow-cooker!

It tastes just fine, but let me tell you, the cooking spray? Did nothing. I’m pretty sure there are oats welded to my slow cooker.

And the Egg Muffins?

Sure, they look harmless. And, after all, a friend did give me fresh chives. But again with the cooking spray #fail. I have no idea if I can return the pan to a usable condition. Also, they’re like rubber. I ate mine on the way to work; I can’t imagine that Baguette will eat hers. And I don’t blame her.

(And did I mention that I already knew that morning is not the time to experiment? But noooo, I’m going to make it work!)

Now I’m anxious about taking on other Pinterest cooking experiments–because while I really want to make this Chocolate Caramel Tart and these Nutter Butter Truffles (although I’m thinking about using dark chocolate), I can’t help but wonder whether I’ll feel mocked by the results.

What about you? Any Pinterest cooking failures? Or, more importantly, Pinterest cooking successes?