Eating : Pumpkin Oatmeal

November 4, 2011 05:52 by ehouston

Or, Halloween pumpkin oatmeal as I introduced it this past weekend.  Many, many years ago a co-worker introduced me to the world of pumpkin oatmeal and I have been hooked ever since.  Her recipe was cooked on a stove and called for lot’s of spices, and steps.  Since I am a lazy cook, when I can be, I modified it a bit.  First, I like to cook my oatmeal in the microwave and since The Mister will not partake, I usually make the following amount, which feeds me and the Little Guy two meals.  You will have to adjust the amounts according to the size of your brood.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

2 cups Regular Old Fashioned Oats (not the quick stuff)

3.25 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

Ground Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Ginger to your taste

Or,  Pumpkin Pie Spice (a readymade mix of the above spices) to your taste

Raisins (optional)

Large can Pumpkin Puree


Put all of this in a bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Stir and cook for 3 more minutes.  Usually this is enough time, but you know everyone’s appliances are a little different, so you may have to adjust the time.  Just cook it until the water is absorbed and the cereal has the texture you like.


Next I added three large dollops, about one third of a large can, of pumpkin puree to the oatmeal and stirred.


My Little Guy loves maple syrup almost more than I do, so I served it up with a swirl of the good stuff and enjoyed!


Mmm…. the perfect cool morning meal!

Kitsch Krafts

PS-Separate the leftover pumpkin puree into thirds, place them in a zipper bag and freeze for the next time you are in the mood for some punkin’ goodness.

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Eating : Junky Food

October 12, 2011 06:56 by ehouston

I have been on a fast food binge lately, or at least that’s how it seems.  The last few weeks have been so busy with day to day errands, etc. that I have found myself (and the Little Guy) ready to eat, with nothing easy to make at home…or an impending nap and no time to waste.  So, Wendy, the King and Panera have been stepping in to help a sista’ out.  I fear that my child is now addicted to chicken nuggets and hamburgers, but at least these places offer apples instead of fries as a side. 


(Panera, Car Picnic)

All this fast food gluttony has me thinking even more about getting my diet back in order and taking better charge of what goes into my body.  Several people I know are on high protein diets and The Mister has been pushing to move away from carbs altogether.  The thing is, I LOVE carbs.  Every time I begin meal planning I come around to the same process; meat, starch, veggie.   It’s how we ate growing up and how I have always thought of as proper diet.  After looking back and realizing every meal and snack for the day included breads and/or other carbs I know I have to do something about this way of thinking. 

For example:


Bacon Donuts


Sweet Italian loaf and the makings of French Toast Casserole.


Slow Cooker Carrot Cake


Refrigerator pastry Empanadas


Canned biscuit donuts


And, the Baconator!  Okay, this has a lot of protein, but I just had to throw it in there because it looked so good.  This was the result of Hurricane Irene and my quest to eat everything in the fridge before it went bad.

I just cannot imagine not eating breads.  Not only do I enjoy eating different types of breads, but I love making them too.  Right now we have three loaves of banana and two of prune bread in the freezer waiting to be thawed, toasted and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  Yep, that’s the other thing….adding sweetness to all those carbs.  AHHHH, okay, I need to pull it together.  Tomorrow.  Or, maybe next week.  We will get there sooner or later.

On another interesting note, I was lured to Popeye’s Chicken today after seeing their new ads about a hundred times over the weekend.  Of course, after driving across town to get the dipper chicken things that looked so good, they ended up being out of them.  Wha-?  So, I was forced (yeah, right!) into getting us some chicken strips with green beans meals, which I have to give them credit for having things like green beans on their menu.  The crazy thing was that they don’t offer milk with the kid’s meals.  Kids have to pick a drink from the regular line up of sodas and fruit punch.  Isn’t that weird?  Or, is it just me?

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Eating : French Toast Casserole

July 25, 2011 07:39 by ehouston

If I could live off bread and pastries without becoming gigantic, I absolutely would.  I LOVE pancakes, French toast, bagels and cream cheese, crusty quiche, heck even simple toast with cinnamon sugar sends me to heaven!  Seems I cannot get enough of the sugary carbs.  If only The Mister shared my love we could be 350 pounds together!  ;o)  Since I am not so lucky (or, actually I AM) I only allow myself to indulge in the above mentioned bakery treats once in a while.  Last year I decided to try out a French toast casserole, not only to indulge my sweet lovin’ palate, but to save time in the morning as well.  I had heard that Mrs. Dean had a recipe, but it was almost sickening sweet so I decided to just Google it.  There are so many varieties of this casserole out there that you can definitely find one that meets the needs of your particular taste.  I decided to make things easy and just create a recipe as if I was about to make traditional French toast on the griddle top, but put the ingredients into a baking dish instead.  After lots of trial and error this is what seems to work best for us:

French Toast Casserole, Retro Style

1 1/2 loaves of Italian sweet bread (I find mine on the day old, super cheap rack in the Kroger bakery and freeze them for later use.  ‘Cause I’m cheap, I mean frugal!)

6-8 eggs

1 tsp cinnamon (mmmmmm……)

1 Tbl sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk  (We usually have whole milk around here since we are growing an active toddler, so it’s nice and creamy.)

1/4 tsp salt

Optional Extras:  Thinly sliced bananas, chopped nuts, brown sugar, butter


Start by deciding how big you want this thing to be.  I have been taking things down a notch and using loaf pans so that we don’t eat this casserole for days on end.  Sometimes just a taste is really all you need to get past the cravings, am I right?  Butter up that dish and set it aside.  Slice your bread no wider than 1/2 inch each. 


OPTIONAL EXTRAS: If you decide to enhance the gooey-ooeyness of this casserole lay down a layer of thinly sliced bananas on the bottom, along with a mixture of chopped nuts, brown sugar, more cinnamon, and a little butter. Now, proceed to the next step. (This will melt together and make a nice topping to your inverted loaf once the baking is complete.)





Place the bread slices in overlapping layers, cutting to fit the space of the dish, until you have filled the pan to within about 1/2 inch of the lip. You don’t have to stuff the pan tightly, just don’t leave really big gaps in the layers.



Mix your remaining ingredients and whisk until slightly foamy. Pour over the bread, but do not fill to the top. This amount of liquid mixture should be enough for two loaf style or one 9” X 13” inch pan. The key to the whole process is that the dish must sit in the refrigerator overnight so the bread can soak up the liquid. If you use too much it won’t set up in the oven before burning or drying out the top layer.



The next morning, remove your dish from the refrigerator and let stand on the counter while preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.  (Take the second loaf and place in the freezer for another time.  Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed the next morning.)  As soon as the oven is ready, put in your foil covered dish and set the timer for 30 minutes (20 for the loaf pans).  After the timer goes off, remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes or until brown on top.  Because ovens are different you will want to also check for doneness by giving the whole thing a little shake.  If it wiggles a bit, the egg mixture has not set up yet.  Just keep giving it a few more minutes (maybe 3-5 at a time) until it is done. 

When cooked through, remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


(OPTIONAL EXTRAS, sans the nuts, pictured above.  MMMmmmmm……)


Kitsch Krafts

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Eating : Zucchini Bread

July 20, 2011 00:42 by ehouston

The one thing I did not plant, but love to eat at this time of year is zucchini.  I certainly regret that planting decision, but when you live with two folks that really don’t share that love you have to compromise.  Or, like me, you end up eating a LOT of zucchini.  The last time my mom came for a visit she was kind enough to bring some from her garden.  Between what she brought and the couple I bought locally I was able to make up a couple of loaves of something I like even more than just eating the stuff grilled or fried.  I was able to bake zucchini bread, which equals = YUM!  It also helps me get some of the zucchini off my plate and into the mouths of the guys around here, which equals = YEAH!  Here is the recipe I put together.  I actually use the pumpkin bread recipe from  The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, by Marion Cunningham but add zucchini instead or the pumpkin puree.  So, it comes out with a nice spicy flavor.

Zucchini Bread (adapted from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook recipe for pumpkin bread)

1 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp of salt

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp of baking soda

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I skip this ingredient because my son has nut allergies, but have used them in the past to excellent results!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Mix the zucchini, oil, eggs, water and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly.  Stir in the nuts, if using.  Pour into well-buttered/oiled loaf pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes until a straw comes out clean.  Turn out of the pan and cool on a rack.


For more information on the bread warming bag pictured above, please see my sewing and craft site, Chic Tweaks, or click here.


Kitsch Krafts

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Eating - A Peachy Day

June 20, 2011 06:36 by ehouston

This day started out rather dreary and I have spent most of the early part listening to a version of “out” that only a toddler can come up with, repeated at regular intervals every half hour.  I know it was with exasperation in my tone when I repeated back for what seemed like the millionth time, “We can’t go out today.  It’s cold and really rainy.  Going out would not be any fun”.  Somehow he knows it would only be a bad thing for me, since I would have to perform the hose down after prying him away from the mud puddles all around the yard.  At one point I managed to divert his attention to snack time, which started his usual mantra of “nana”, which he repeated in much the same way as “out”.  After explaining that he had already eaten the last banana, but we have a peach, he started that chant until I got it cleaned up and him dressed for the whole eating process.  This is the scene that ensued:


All geared up and ready to go.  This is no easy feat!


Mmmmmm…….oops.  Uh-oh!


Wha-?  There is something hard in there.  Pit, pit, pit, pit….


Grrrr, pit be dammed!


Running out of peach to hold…..


Another growl.


A little peach pit slurping.


One last suck to get all the sweet, peachy goodness.  heeheee….


And a growl and a whine as he realized the fun was over.

Oh, Thank God, the sun is coming out again.

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March 7, 2011 06:03 by ehouston

If you haven’t taken advantage of the citrus season yet, you should.   Grapefruit

Last week we grabbed a bag of ruby red grapefruit after gobbling up all the clementines we could get our hands on the week before.


However, we discovered that they are not as quick a snack as we seem to need around here.  So, I finally broke down and just sliced them all up so we could scoop and eat as we wanted. 


Since doing so, we have pretty much gorged ourselves again.


(We have learned (the hard way) that he has to see you applying the condiment or it doesn’t count and he continues to ask for more, more, MORE!)

Kitsch Krafts

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Eating–Penne “Lasagna”

February 24, 2011 01:13 by ehouston

Okay, so this is not going to be a new recipe that changes your life or anything.  In fact, it’s been done before.  But, I thought I would share one of our latest eating experiments with all of you.  All, three of you. 

After a recent visit to Sam’s Club yielded three enormous bags of pasta I have been racking my brain to come up with different, easy recipes so we don’t eat the same penne bake, mac & cheese and mushroom gravy over egg noodles meal over and over again.  Well, truthfully we have so much pasta that I fear we WILL be eating those and any other recipes I can come up with for a long, long time.  Why I ever thought we needed 50 pounds of uncooked noodles is beyond me.  But, I digress…

This is what I came up with in order to use penne pasta in place of the large flat noodles used in traditional lasagna.  It’s a recipe with pictures, or as I like to call them, my personal CSI documentation (since my shots always resemble those from a crime scene).

First, you have to gather the evidence some ingredients.


The basics include a jar of sauce, 4 cups of uncooked penne and a tub of cheese.  In this instance I used part skim ricotta cheese, but I have used low fat cottage cheese before too.  These three items are the basis for this one dish meal and would be fine on their own.  However, I like to add spices, meats, veggies…you name it…to make things different and exciting!  Yeah, as exciting as a one dish pasta dinner can get.

So, once I poured the uncooked noodles into the big pot of boiling water, I got started on making the other ingredients a bit more interesting and tasty. 


To the ricotta cheese I added the following:

1 1/2 tsps of dried basil

1 tsp of dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

Really, you can add whatever you prefer and change the amounts accordingly.

After thoroughly mixing these ingredients I then added a leftover 1/2 back of frozen chopped spinach.


I did allow it to thaw and I poured off most of the liquid, but not all.  It was roughly 6 ounces of leftover chopped spinach that I stirred into the cheese.


Next I poured the cheapo, no frills, store brand sauce into a bowl, using my handy-dandy jar squeegee to get every last drop out.  I was also sure to make a mess down the side of the bowl and onto my unforgiving white laminate countertops.  Did I ever tell you all how much I dislike having white laminate countertops?  They never, and I mean NEVER look clean.  And, for all of those people out there that tell me to “just use bleach”, I would like to not-so-politely let you know what you can do with your “bleach”.  That doesn’t work either!  Okay, back to what I was talking about.  Oh yeah, pasta, right?  I have enough of it around here, so I need to be talking about it, if I’m not.

Now is the time to get crazy wid it!  This is the opportunity to sneak in all those things that you want your family to eat, but you don’t dare mention for fear they will run screaming, hands waving in the air, from your kitchen straight to Mickey D’s.  You can also add things like cooked meat to your sauce at this point, but I was going for a cheese and veggie only meal for something different around here. 


Also, I just happened to come across some pureed home made baby food hiding in the back of the freezer.  Yep, right after making a TON of this stuff the Little Guy promptly stopped eating anything mushy and soggy.  In the following months I managed to empty most of what was leftover into other dishes, but these had escaped my sight for some time.  (Don’t try to do any math here, it will probably just gross you out.)  I found two green beans and a carrot.  The latter is something I normally add to my sauce when I make it from scratch, so this was not totally off base for our palates.  I mixed it all up, gave it a taste and decided once this was cooked, no one would be the wiser.


After spraying my lovely disposable tin pan with cooking spray I swirled a healthy spoonful of sauce across the bottom.  BTW- Although this is a disposable pan, my frugal nature will have me carefully cleaning and reusing this thing until it literally falls apart.

Next, I put down a layer of the now fully cooked penne pasta.


See, there it is up there.  In the colander and in the pan.  hee!


So, then I start to alternate the layers of sauce, pasta and then the cheese mixture.  This is where things get tricky for me.  It’s always an extreme one way or the other, with there being either too much leftover ingredients or too little, with it rarely working out in the end.


It’s a fine line, really.  In your head you are saying, “is there gonna be enough?  Oh God, what if there’s too much cheese on one layer?  What if I don’t have enough sauce?”, but you just have to take a deep breath and keep working through each layer, eyeballing it as you go.  Okay, so now that I have pep-talked you through this step…ah-hem…just know it’s pretty common to have about three layers.  So, if you have four it’s totally wrong and you should probably throw it out.  Joking!  The main thing I want to stress during the layering process is to push the sauce to the edges and over the noodles.  Otherwise, they may dry out during baking and you could end up deciding you have to throw the whole thing out anyway.  Joking again!  Eat the middle, dummy!

Okay, so after all the layers are in place this is what it should look like.


If I am going to eat this right away, I would sprinkle the top with parmesan or mozzarella cheese and bake it in a 350 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes.  But, I am going to freeze this for a night when I am wiped out and don’t want food prep involving anything more than unwrapping and turning on an oven.


I always lay down a piece of wax paper before covering the pan with aluminum foil.  It just seems to help keep it fresh and prevent sticking.


And, don’t forget your label.  I use a Sharpie on an old post-it pad and a little tape for extra measure.


Not only do you want to list the contents of an otherwise mysterious package, you should also add the baking info; taking into consideration that this will be a frozen brick, so adjust the time accordingly.  (All you FISI Madison Alumni can insert your giggle here.  Yes, those are post-its from beyond!)

So, there you have it.  A fast, but semi-homemade meal in about 20 minutes prep time to eat right away, or to freeze.  I hope you all enjoy your faux lasagna.

Kitsch Krafts

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