Monday, February 28, 2011

Homemade Gourmet Instant Oatmeal Packets

Sugar and spice and everything...amazing! You won't, however, find these flavors in the pre-made packets from the store.

I try to do a post on how to cook with food storage and or whole grain, and turn those foods into convenient foods we can use everyday. Ironically, this oatmeal question came at a great time! Ace has been on an instant oatmeal kick for the last few weeks. My dear sister in law gave us a variety pack of 50 from a local Costco and ironically, we blew threw it in about a week and a half. Ace would eat 3 at a time. In an effort to not have all that extra stuff in the packets and to save money, I wanted to make some at home. These homemade packets we do are about double the size of the packets from the store...since that's about the portion Ace needs. Using the rolled oats, quick oats, sugar or powdered honey, and freeze dried fruits we had on hand, we made 20 double sized packets in about 20 minutes. The kids like to make the packets almost as much as they like to eat the contents! You can make the regular sized ones by simply cutting the recipes in half per packet. I use the regular zip sandwich bags for our double size packets. Snack size bags would work wonderfully for the regular single serving packets. Or...if you don't want to use can use whatever recycle-style containment system you want. I'm not checking any cupboards.
This is a spiced peaches and cream cobbler oatmeal mix...homemade. Doesn't it look awesome? Well...the taste is exactly like a warm peach cobbler.
I start by making 3 different varieties of flavored sugars since I do a variety of oatmeal flavors. I used vanilla bean paste, but you can also use any of the flavored oils or bakers emulsions. I prefer LorAnn. That being said, the flavor concentrates will work, but you will need to use more...and let the sugar dry completely before making your oatmeal packets.
For Spiced-Vanilla Sugar you will need:
1 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, and 1 T Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East Spice Blend, and 1/2 tsp dry lemon or orange zest.
Combine the vanilla bean paste with the sugar until well incorporated. Add the spices.
The second sugar I make is the base for my fruit and cream oatmeal mixes. I call it Bavarian Cream Sugar. You will need:
1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp princess cake and cookie emulsion, and 1/2 tsp Bavarian cream flavored LorAnn oil.
Combine the flavoring well with the sugar.

The last sugar I make or use is maple sugar. It can either be real maple sugar (available at most maple syrup retailers) or you can make the fake stuff using this...
Use 1 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp maple flavor and 1/2 tsp butter-vanilla baker's emulsion.
Once I had all three sugars made, I allowed them to dry completely for 2-3 hours. Then I made sure they were nice and spoonable for the packets.
Again, I make the larger packets because I have men around here who refer to the paper packets as "shot glass" portions of oatmeal. These make the equivalent of TWO regular instant packets. If you want to make the smaller portions, simple cut divide in half portions, and use half as much fruit, flavors, and liquid to prepare the oatmeal.

To make one plain packet you need:

2/3 cup organic quick oats
2T of oat bran or rolled oats run through a dry meat grinder

To prepare: Add 1 Cup boiling water and allow to sit for 3 minutes. Use more or less water depending on how thick or thin you like you oatmeal. The secret to super thick oatmeal...using the meat grinder "treated" oats.

Oh...and a pinch of salt. I use Redmond Real Salt. It's my favorite.

I usually make about 20 packets of plain oatmeal and then add my different flavor varieties to make it more interesting in the mornings. We keep a large variety of freeze dried fruit on hand in our pantry. It's very convenient...and crazy awesome in oatmeal. I love it a lot more than dehydrated fruit because it is 100% free of moisture, so the packets don't get lumpy and odd. The only thing that should be lumpy and an old lady's patootie. Did I just type that out loud? here's a few of the fruits I keep around:
Berries and Bavarian-lemon cream oatmeal packets:
add 3T freeze dried berries (I crush them up a bit before I measure them) to a packet along with 2T of the Bavarian Cream sugar and 1T Sour Cream Powder" , and 1/2 tsp dry lemon zest

Don't let the sound of the sour cream freak you out. It's amazing! Now if you don't want to use the powdered sour cream you can use non-dairy coffee creamer (any flavor). It works too...but it's not nearly as natural. Auntie Em used to use flavored instant pudding powder. Just remember that it won't be as sweet as the flavored sugar so you may need to add a little more sweetness.
To prepare the berries and cream oatmeal, add 1 1/3 cup boiling water and allow to sit for 3 minutes.

One of my all time favorite oatmeal packet flavors is my Spiced Peaches and Cream Cobbler. It reminds me so much of those Sunday night peach cobblers my mom would make when I was a kid.
To each plain packet you will need to add:
1/3 cup freeze dried peaches (diced rather than the sliced ones)
2T Bavarian Cream Sugar
2 tsp spiced vanilla sugar
1T Sour Cream Powder"
Just to tease you a little...this is what it looks like before you add the boiling water. I add 1 1/2 cups boiling water and let it sit for 3 minutes.

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Packet:
One plain packet
3T maple sugar
3T chopped toasted pecans

Add 1 cup boiling water and allow to sit 3 minutes.

Cinnamon vanilla-orange roll Oatmeal Packet:

One plain packet

2T spiced vanilla sugar

1 tsp dry orange zest (or 1/4 tsp dry orange crystal light)

Add 1 Cup boiling water and allow to sit 3 minutes

There you go. Make some oatmeal packets.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sugar Syrup and Master Bakers (Bread of Life Section)

Sunday is the day of my soul. I must's been a rough week. Many things have happened that I don't fully understand. I'm not complaining...ever. I'm just saying that sometimes I wonder if the Lord looks into the pot of boiling sugar syrup that is my life and smiles. He knows what it will be but I'm just a novice Baker's Apprentice next to the Master. It's my first day on the job...and I've never seen this before. I don't know what He knows. I can't see what he sees. And yet...He gives me ideas. He gives me insight as the syrup is boiling. He adds heat when I think it should stop. However, unlike mortal Master Bakers...He holds my hand. He doesn't rant when I mess up. He doesn't expect absolute perfection. He does however expect I make an honest effort and that I work. He does expect that I use pure ingredients from his Master baker approved sources. He does expect I seek out the best in all my baker and non-baker friends. I know he wants me to teach others what I know and build up his baker kingdom. When the time finally comes for me to leave this life...
It will all be clear. I'm excited to see what He really sees in me.

In the meantime, I'm going to just pay close attention to what He has to say. I'm not certain I will ever know it fact, that may be the point. Yes. That is the point.

"Remember that you are entitled to our Father’s blessings in this work. He did not call you to your privileged post to walk alone, without guidance, trusting to luck. On the contrary, He knows your skill, He realizes your devotion, and He will convert your supposed inadequacies to recognized strengths. He has promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up”--Thomas S. Monson

There it is.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How to make Homemade Pita bread and Hummus

One of our favorite dips and foods is Hummus.

Friday with the Bakereoose (our kids cooking class) we will be making the classic Pita Bread with Hummus. I thought I'd share it here too. It's a great way to get kids thinking outside of the peanut butter sandwich.
How to Make Pita Pocket Bread

T dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine flour and salt in large bowl.
Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.
Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.
Place dough on floured surface and knead for 4-minutes.
When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.
Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated. Cover bowl.
Allow to sit in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet.
Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.
Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.
Hummus 101
I explained this to the kids, but it's something a lot of adults don't know. Hummus is a dip or spread made from chickpeas. Hummus is in fact the Arabic word for chickpea. Hummus has been eaten since ancient Egyptian times. Over 7,000 years ago. In almost every culture the use of mashed beans in some form are used.They are an excellent form of protein. Coupled with pita bread they provide all the essential components of a complete protein. Many people around the world don't eat meat to get their protein. The combine grains and legumes (beans and grains) to get all that their bodies need. It's a wonderful way to eat. There are not any set in stone recipes for hummus. When you don't have tahini, you may use sesame oil or sometimes we use sesame seeds. Tahini is a paste made from toasted sesame seeds. It's very strongly smoky flavored from the sesame.

Hummus with Tahini
1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil


Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans (15 oz
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup -3/4 cup roasted red peppers (depending on taste)
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Sun Dried Tomato Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (15 oz.), drained
3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 teaspoons parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice


In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. If too thick, add 1 tablespoon water until desired consistency.

thank you to for the useful hummus recipes in this post:

Friday, February 25, 2011

This week's Freezer Meal shopping list and menu

This is a new idea. How about I post the menu and shopping list I'll be either using for myself or for my clients here on the blog for everyone to enjoy?! Why have I not done that before? I do it every few weeks and I'm sure everyone could use all the brain work done for them. So. I thought I'd kick it off with this week's adventure. Does everyone remember this lovely lady? Well...the one on the left anyway. I know you remember me.
I'm doing a freezer meal session with one of my all time favorite clients named Lisa Schumacher this week. Lisa is the owner and founder of Lily&Co. It's an amazing skin care company.
So you know I love doing meals with her. It means I get to spend time with a true Christian in action. Not only that, I really enjoy her as a person. Here's her menu, shopping list, and break down of the recipes. I hope this will give you some great freezer meals this week! Well...nine freezer meals to be exact. Lisa's kids don't like anything too spicy (sound familiar?). So, there's enough here for two weeks if you only use them as Monday-Friday meals and allow weekends off. Isn't that cool? We'll be cooking these at Lisa's this upcoming Monday. Oh my gosh. Her kitchen is fantastic. I can't wait!

Lisa's Freezer Meals (family of 4)

All items are organic unless otherwise stated

1 Lemon glazed french onion Meatloaf,
1 Enchilada Tortilla Skillet Casserole (no peppers),
1 Chili,
2 Broccoli cheese & rice casserole with chicken,
2 spaghetti pies,
2 Mexican pork & pinto beans filler

Shopping list
Fresh produce:
3 onions
1 bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 package (10 oz) frozen organic broccoli
5 medium chopped carrots
1 bunch celery
7 cloves minced garlic (1 head or small jar of minced)
2 oz. sauteed sliced mushrooms
1 bunch Fresh parsley
1 bunch Fresh cilantro
Pantry/on hand items:
8 oz olive oil
12 oz spaghetti noodles
2T chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dry oregano
Black pepper
1T steak sauce
1/2 cups rolled oats
homemade taco seasoning (1/4 cup)
homemade onion soup mix (1/4 cup)
pickle relish (1T)
Chef Tess All Purpose seasoning
4 cups broken baked organic tortilla chips
1 T chile powder or fajita seasoning
6 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
Canned goods:
1 can organic black beans
1 1/2 cups organic salsa
10 oz cream of mushroom soup (or homemade)
1 can evaporated milk
2 cans cooked pinto beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 16 oz can organic chili beans in sauce, undrained
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted organic diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 6 oz can organic tomato paste
2 15 oz can diced Italian Tomatoes, drained
1 cup Parmesan cheese
7 eggs
4T butter
8 oz cream cheese
16 oz sharp cheddar
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 cup (4 oz) organic shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese blend
4lbs lean ground beef or turkey
16 oz chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1 (3-4 lb) boneless pork loin roast, cut into chunks (may use chicken instead of pork if desired)

Spaghetti Pie
12 oz spaghetti noodles
4T butter or olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
16 oz ground beef or Italian Turkey Sausage
1 cup chopped onion
2 15 oz can diced Italian Tomatoes, drained
2 tsp oregano
2 clove mince garlic
2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook Spaghetti noodles, Drain. Stir in olive oil or butter. Stir in Parmesan ad eggs. Divide the pasta in half and form pasta mixture into a crust shape in 2 buttered 9 inch pie plate. In a skillet, cook the beef or sausage and onions until meat is browned. Add tomatoes garlic, oregano and heat through. Spread ricotta cheese over spaghetti crust. Top with tomato-meat mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover and freeze. When ready to eat, defrost.
Bake covered 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove cover and bake for 5 minutes until lightly browned. (Yield 2 spaghetti pies)

Enchilada Tortilla Skillet Casserole
1 poblano* pepper, (or bell pepper works too.)
1 onion, chopped
1 lb hamburger, very lean (or well seasoned ground turkey or chicken)
1 can organic(15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups organic thick and chunky salsa, (roasted variety has more flavor)
4 cups broken baked organic tortilla chips 1 cup
(4 oz) organic shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese blend (for a lower fat version, try using only a 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar!)
Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)
Taco toppings like: fat free Sour cream, chopped avocados, fresh tomatoes and black olives (optional--but a must have around my house!)

1. Remove stem and seeds from poblano pepper, chop. Combine hamburger, onion, peppers and seasoning mix in a large skillet (12 inch or larger with a lid). Cook over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until peppers are soft and meat is no longer pink. 2. Drain and rinse black beans. 3. Stir beans and salsa into hamburger mixture. Gently stir in tortilla chips. Grate cheese over casserole. Cover 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted everything is hot. If desired, snip cilantro; sprinkle over casserole. Yield: 6 servings *Poblano peppers are dark green chilies with a rich flavor that varies from mild to slightly spicy. Poblanos are about 2 1/2 in. wide and 4-5 in. long, forming a triangular shape.

For a freezer meal: Put in a freezer safe casserole dish. Combine all ingredients according to recipe until you get to the last cooking time. Don't cook. Cover, label, and freeze. To cook, heat in microwave 15-20 minutes from frozen or 5-7 minutes if defrosted. For solar oven/conventional oven baking: Bake 1 hour from frozen, or 30 minutes if defrosted. Allow an extra 15 minutes of baking for every time you open a solar oven.

Broccoli Rice and Chicken Casserole
1 small onion, chopped
16 oz chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 package (10 oz) frozen organic broccoli
1T butter
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sharp cheddar
10 oz cream of mushroom soup (scratch)
1 can evaporated milk
6 cups cooked brown rice or quinoae
In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, celery and broccoli in butter for 3 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese, soup and milk. Mix until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in sharp cheddar and chicken. Divide rice between two 9 inch round casseroles. Pour cheese mixture over rice in a casserole. Do not stir. Cover with foil and Freeze.

To serve, defrost, Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until hot. Yield 8-10 servings. Yield 2 casseroles

Mexican Pork and Pinto Beans
2 cans cooked pinto beans
1 (3-4 lb) boneless pork loin roast, cut into chunks (may use chicken instead of pork if desired)
1 can stewed tomatoes
5 medium chopped carrots
4 chopped celery ribs
4 cloves minced garlic
2T chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dry oregano
Black pepper
Brown pork loin on high eat until seared. Put it along with all remaining ingredients in a crock pot. Cook 3 hours on low until pork is cooked through and tender. Shred meat with a fork.
Divide between two quart bags. Chill. Freeze. Label clearly. Defrost. Heat through microwave safe dish 5-7 minutes. Serve Mexican Pork and pinto beans over crushed tortilla chips or in a burrito with your choice of shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and toppings. Yield 10 servings

Lemon glazed French Onion Meat loaf
Meatloaf ingredients:
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1T steak sauce
1/2 cups rolled oats
2 oz. sauteed sliced mushrooms
1T homemade onion soup mix
1T sweet pickle relish
2T fresh minced parsley
1 tsp fresh pressed garlic
1/4 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning
1 lb lean ground beef or Turkey Sausage
Lemon tomato glaze:
2T chef Tess homemade organic tomato catchup
1/2 tsp micro grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf. Form into a free standing loaf and place in a roaster pan. Glaze with lemon glaze. Cover and bake 350 degrees 1/2 hour. Uncover and bake 10 minutes. Meat should read 165 degrees when cooked through. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Slice and place in freezer bags. Chill, then freeze. Label clearly with cooking instructions:
To heat: Defrost in fridge or microwave out of bag. Heat in over 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes from defrosted. Or Microwave 7-10 minutes until heated through. Serve with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles of your choice.

Mild Smoky Beef Chili
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 clove garlic
1 16 oz can organic chili beans in sauce, undrained
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted organic diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 6 oz can organic tomato paste
1 T chile powder or fajita seasoning
Brown the meat and onions in a large skillet. Add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking. After beef is cooked, combine all remaining ingredients in a freezer safe gallon size bag. Label clearly with cooking instructions.
Defrost out of freezer bag in microwave safe dish for 8-10 minutes on 30% power or 24 hours in fridge. Once defrosted, pour into a gallon pot and simmer 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve over baked potatoes or with cornbread.

There you go!