Breakfast, Oatmeal, Recipes

Fantastical Food Fight: Everyday Stovetop Oatmeal

Everyday stovetop oatmeal… don’t settle for a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast. If you have 10 minutes, you can have a delicious, hot bowl of oatmeal. And it’s practically hands free, so you can make it while you’re getting the rest of your day in order. 

Everyday stovetop oatmeal... don't settle for a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast. If you have 10 minutes, you can have a delicious, hot bowl of oatmeal. And it's practically hands free, so you can make it while you're getting the rest of your day in order.  #FantasticalFoodFight

When I saw that the Fantastical Food Fight theme for January was oatmeal, I may have squealed. You see, I love oatmeal SO much. I agonized over what I was going to make for this fun event. A new baked oatmeal recipe? A new overnight oat recipe? Finally try my hand at savory oats (that my husband thinks sound disgusting)? But then I talked some sense into myself. Don’t make it complicated! Many days I just make a bowl of oatmeal on the stovetop. And I’ve never shared my method on the blog! Perfecttt!

Everyday stovetop oatmeal... don't settle for a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast. If you have 10 minutes, you can have a delicious, hot bowl of oatmeal. And it's practically hands free, so you can make it while you're getting the rest of your day in order.  #FantasticalFoodFight

I know you can make oatmeal in the microwave, or you can use those instant oat packets, or even use those fancy single serving tubs. There’s a time and a place for all of those (I keep instant oats at work for emergencies, for instance). But most days? I make a quick batch of my everyday stovetop oats for breakfast. My son LOVES oatmeal mornings and so do I. What I love about these oats is how easy they are–literally dump, stir, cook, forget it (set a timer)! I let these oats cook on my stove when I’m running around the house getting ready in the morning… and they are so simple and pretty much foolproof. I also love how creamy they are! Half milk, half water is my preferred liquid ratio for taste and creaminess. I also add some chia seeds and the consistency is so great! I know it’s weird to say oatmeal is luxurious, but these oats are! Lastly, I love how these oats are the perfect vehicle for your favorite toppings. You can find an ultimate list of oatmeal toppings in the recipe notes below, but for starters… here are some of my favorite combos. Fresh blueberries, sliced almonds, and a touch of brown sugar. S’mores. Peanut butter and strawberry jam. Sliced bananas, sliced almonds, toasted coconut, and maple syrup. Fresh strawberries, almond butter, and honey. The possibilities are endless! The toppings in the pictures are diced Bosc pear, sliced almonds, and dark brown sugar. SO good. Enjoy, friends! Hope you hop on my oatmeal bandwagon. 🙂

Everyday stovetop oatmeal... don't settle for a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast. If you have 10 minutes, you can have a delicious, hot bowl of oatmeal. And it's practically hands free, so you can make it while you're getting the rest of your day in order.  #FantasticalFoodFight

one year ago: Annette’s Layered Chicken Enchiladas
two years ago: Amish Cheeseburger Soup
three years ago: Healthy Tropical Banana Muffins
four years ago: Cranberry Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Pears
five years ago: Mexican Cornbread Pot Pie
six years ago: Lasagna Soup
seven years ago: Whole-Wheat Corn Bread

Find more oatmeal recipes at the link below!

Everyday Stovetop Oatmeal

  • Servings: 1
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds**
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • any desired toppings***

Directions:

Combine milk, water, oats, chia seeds, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir to combine.

Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes. Do NOT stir… resist the urge! Stir only when the oatmeal starts bubbling, usually about 6-7 minutes on my stove. Allow to cook until oatmeal reaches desired consistency.

Remove from heat and immediately transfer oatmeal to a bowl. Add desired toppings and enjoy!

Notes:

Recipe as written serves one adult. You can scale it up to serve more, or scale it down if the serving size is too big for you. When I’m making some for my toddler as well, I add an extra 2 tablespoons oats, 2 tablespoons milk, and 2 tablespoons water. It doesn’t sound like much but makes enough for him (and he probably gets a little of my portion as well).

*MILK… I usually have both dairy milk and almond milk in my fridge, so this oatmeal works with either. I usually use skim or 2% milk OR unsweetened regular or vanilla almond milk. Any kind of milk should be fine.

**CHIA…The chia seeds help thicken the oatmeal and give it a great consistency. A similar consistency can be achieved with flax or hemp seeds, but I wouldn’t substitute nuts in this step. But you can add them as a topping.

***TOPPINGS…

  • Fruit: I prefer fresh fruit instead of frozen in my oatmeal. Frozen blueberries or cranberries are the exception–just add them at the beginning of the cooking time. My favorite fruits for oatmeal include: any berries, sliced bananas, diced peaches, diced pears, and grated apples. Sauteed apples are good too, but usually too time consuming for busy mornings.
  • Dried fruit: Any kind! Soak them in the cooked oatmeal before eating. It’ll change your life!!
  • Jam: Any kind! Usually when I add jam I find I don’t need other sweetener.
  • Nuts: Any kind! Sliced almonds are my go-to.
  • Nut butter: Lots of people love nut butter in oatmeal… I personally am a little iffy on it because it feels too heavy. I can occasionally do a little peanut or almond butter with sliced bananas, or with jam for a pb&j twist.
  • Coconut: Bonus points if it’s toasted… sometimes I toast extra for a recipe so I can have some on hand for oatmeal.
  • Chocolate chips: A fun indulgence… usually means I don’t need any other sweetener, or just a tiny bit.
  • Sweetener: I like about 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup in my oatmeal. My husband uses more like a tablespoon, and I don’t give our toddler any most days. You do you!

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Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 
Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious!

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 

There’s something magical about making homemade chicken stock. Or broth. Turns out they are actually different things. For better or for worse, I use broth and stock interchangeably. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter. It might just look like some liquid in a jar, but guys…? It’s much, much, more than that. You’re making SOMETHING out of (practically) nothing. Or nothing edible anymore, anyways.

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 

In my opinion, homemade chicken stock is one of the easiest things you can make. All it takes is chicken bones and/or a carcass, vegetables and/or vegetable scraps, water, and a crock pot. And time! Let this simmer for as long as you can. Everything used for this homemade chicken stock is something I would otherwise be throwing away so this recipe is also crazy frugal. That’s all well and good, but the deliciousness of this homemade stock is something that cannot be understated. It’s wayyy better than anything you could buy at the store. It’s absolutely delicious. Whether you use it as the base for soup, for adding flavor to rice, in sauces, or even just sipping by itself (yup!), this homemade chicken stock is the BEST.

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 

Please start saving your veggie scraps (I just save mine in a gallon size ziptop bag in the freezer) so you can try this recipe asap! Then, when your bag is full, just roast a chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken so you can make your own homemade chicken stock. It’s one of my freezer essentials and I use it alllll the time. Enjoy!!

one year ago: Simple Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
two years ago: Apple Cranberry Relish Salad
three years ago: Chewy Ginger Cookies
four years ago: Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac
five years ago: Chicken Tinga Tacos
six years ago: Crock Pot Cran-Apple Sauce
seven years ago: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Easy Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Servings: 12-13 cups stock
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • bones and carcass from 1 roasted chicken (homemade or store-bought rotisserie)
    • note: for food safety reasons, carve the chicken before serving… do not use bones that have been on a plate in your stock
  • 1 gallon-sized bag full of vegetable scraps, saved over time in the freezer… basically the stuff you would otherwise throw away such as:
    • carrot ends and peels
    • onion ends and skins
    • garlic skin
    • celery ends and leaves
    • bell pepper pieces
    • stems or ends of herbs, green onions, or mushrooms
    • apple cores
    • citrus rinds
    • don’t include: lettuces/greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts) or anything dirty or moldy… but veggies past their prime are totally fine!
  • water
  • splash of vinegar
  • freshly ground pepper and salt
  • dried herbs as desired: parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, bay leaves, etc.

Directions:

Place chicken bones and carcass at the bottom of a large crockpot. Cover with veggie scraps. Add a splash of vinegar, a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and salt, and some dried herbs if desired. Fill crockpot nearly to the top with water, then cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours, preferably 12 or more.

At the end of the cooking time, unplug and remove lid. Allow to cool briefly, then skim off any film or foam. Use a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl or liquid measuring cup to strain out solids to discard. You can strain again with cheesecloth for clearer stock, if desired.

At this point, you have two options:

  1. Divide into desired portion-sized containers – I like using half pint and pint mason jars – allow to cool completely, then refrigerate or freeze. If freezing stock, be sure to leave head space so the jars don’t break. With this method, each jar will have a layer of thickened chicken fat on top that you can use or discard when you use the stock. The jars may also have some residue or grittiness at the bottom of them, as well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate bowl(s) of stock overnight. Scrape the thickened chicken fat off the stock and discard/save as desired, then divide into desired portion-sized containers and freeze. This method eliminates most of the excess fat and residue or grittiness, as most of it rises or falls and can be discarded before freezing.

Notes:

Stock can be frozen indefinitely, but should be used within a week if refrigerated.

There are lots of ideas online for alternate freezing methods based on your cooking needs, freezer space, etc. such as: in plastic ziptop bags, ice cube trays, or muffin tins (maybe even try the silicone ones!).

To defrost half pint or pint sized glass jars of stock, it is easiest to defrost in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours before use. If you need it sooner, submerge in a bowl of cold water (hot can make frozen containers crack!) until you can defrost it enough to transfer to your pot to melt all the way. Or remove lid and microwave jar on 50% power until you can pour it out.

This stock is not concentrated per se, but I do find it to be more flavorful than store-bought broth or stock. So I often will use a little less in recipes and make up the difference with water. Experiment to find what works for you!

How I Eat

How I Eat: Cooking for One as a Police Officer by Day, Self-Taught Baker by Night

Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Kelly: Cooking for One with a Police Officer by Day, Self-Taught Baker by Night

Today’s feature on How I Eat is Kelly of Kelly Lynn’s Sweets and Treats. Kelly describes the kitchen as her happy place, and she loves baking from scratch as well as incorporating new products or ingredients into recipes. She also loves sharing her cooking and baking with family, friends and coworkers. 🙂 Me too, girl! As you probably gleaned from the title, Kelly is a police officer by day–that’s awesome! Thank you for all you do.

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I work 10-12 hour days so I have to meal prep for the week before I go back to work. When I get home from work, I need something I can just re-heat because I do not have the energy to cook a full meal. I cook only for myself and live alone. I cook and eat clean and dairy-free.

What meals do you plan?

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 19-20: I eat out once or twice a week.

What is your basic meal planning method?

Grilling chicken for dinners for the week, making soup and pre-portioning it out in servings.

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

How I Eat, Kelly: Cooking for One with a Police Officer by Day, Self-Taught Baker by Night

Easy and Healthy Seasoned Grilled Chicken Breasts

Marinated and seasoned grilled chicken breasts, so full of flavor, you won’t even notice they are healthy! This marinade recipe I am sharing today is the recipe I use to marinate and season the chicken breasts I grill every week for meal prep. Because after working 10-plus hour work days, who wants to come home and make dinner? I’ve even included several side dish ideas to go with these grilled chicken breasts too, so you are covered for dinner for the whole week!

If you know me then you know that I eat grilled chicken salads for dinner.  Every night.  And I never get tired of it. And I HATE salad dressing (it’s a texture thing for me), so my salad consists of a mix of butter lettuces and romaine lettuce, a few croutons and a grilled chicken breast. With how flavorful this chicken is, you don’t even need salad dressing anyways!

How I Eat, Kelly: Cooking for One with a Police Officer by Day, Self-Taught Baker by Night

Grilled Pork Tenderloin 

Who says you need red meat to have a yummy steak house dinner? Not me!!

How I Eat, Kelly: Cooking for One with a Police Officer by Day, Self-Taught Baker by Night

Healthy Two Ingredient Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, smothered in chunky salsa, seasoned with your desired spices and cooked in the Crockpot. Makes for a versatile, yummy and healthy dinner that is too easy not to try! This is an amazing recipe that I know you will fall in love with. Besides the recipe, I am also including some ideas on meal plans using this Salsa Chicken, so make sure you read this whole post!

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

Breakfast for dinner!

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

Freezer or batch cooking.

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

Be organized and make a grocery shopping list. Having plenty of single serving containers are also helpful. After grocery shopping, spend time cleaning and prepping veggies and fruits, so snacks are easy and ready to be eaten.

Anything else you want to add?

Meal prep saves me from hitting a drive thru or making poor nutritional dinner choices on those late nights I get home from work when I am too tired to cook.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your meal planning expertise with us! I love how you make sure a protein is available for your dinners after a long day at work. Having some pre-cooked meat on hand is always useful for adding to a salad or wrap. It sounds like being organized with your grocery list, time, and even containers is a lifesaver for you! That’s great advice for anyone, actually, regardless of whether they cook for one or six.

Connect with Kelly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest for more inspiration.

How I Eat, Camilla: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates
How I Eat

How I Eat: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates

Welcome to the first installment of How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this new series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.

How I Eat, Camilla: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates

Up today on How I Eat is Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. I’ve been a follower of Camilla’s blog for many years now and love her Instagram bio (from which I derived this post’s title): Writer. Photographer. Blogger. Jewelry maker. Book devourer. Passionate cook. Wife. Mom trying to raise conscientious kids with fearless palates.

How I Eat, Camilla: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates

Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?

I cook daily for my husband plus our two ravenous teenage boys. Once a month, or so, I have a dinner party with our best friends (2 other couples with 2 kids each) that is usually a themed, multi-course menu with wine pairings. I work full-time and the kids have activities, so sometimes dinner is late…like after 7pm. Lunch is usually just whatever is leftover from dinner the night before.

What meals do you plan?

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks, Dessert, etc.

In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.

  • 21: I make all my own food and very rarely eat out.

What is your basic meal planning method?

I belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) and a CSF (community supported fishery), so many of our meals are planned from whatever it is I’m getting that week. This year I did purchase two nano shares of a pig and a quarter of a lamb. Also, a friend slaughtered one of his cows so I had about 25 pounds of ground beef in my freezer. Between those and the farmers’ markets – we’re lucky to have them all year round here on California’s central coast – I get most of my meals planned.

How I Eat, Camilla: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates

What are your favorite weeknight meals?

Chicken Thighs (bone-in, skin-on) are my easiest hands off meals. You can either make them in the oven or on the stovetop.

Skillet pizza is another favorite! When I’m in a rush I use pre-made dough, sauce, and pre-grated cheese. Can’t be easier!

What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?

Pasta. I always have pasta in my cupboard and I usually have some jarred tomato sauce that I put up during tomato season. My favorite is Roasted Tomato Sauce because I don’t even peel the tomatoes! So cooked pasta + sauce + grated cheese = easiest dinner ever!

How I Eat, Camilla: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates

Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?

My calendar/planner that’s not just dedicated to meals but is my life. I’m lost without that.

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?

I used to plan distinct meals for each day that didn’t have any carry over of ingredients. That can get pricey. For instance, if I know that I’m getting a glut of beans, I might plan steamed beans one night and ground meat with beans in a stir-fry two nights later. Or if I am roasting a whole chicken on the weekend, then I use the carcass to make stock and plan a soup the following week.

How I Eat, Camilla: Passionate Cook Trying to Raise Conscientious Kids with Fearless Palates

Anything else you want to add?

It’s easy to double recipes, so make enough for dinner AND lunch the following day. And, when I’m putting leftovers away, I already portion them out in containers for easy lunch-packing the next day.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Thank you, Camilla, for sharing your meal planning expertise with us! You are such a creative cook and I love your last two pieces of advice: about carrying over ingredients and doubling recipes. Such a time saver! It’s also fun to see how you involve your kids in the kitchen. My son can’t do too much yet, but he loves to push a chair over to the counter and stir things for me or sprinkle cheese (while eating huge handfuls, of course!).

Connect with Camilla on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest for more inspiration.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!
How I Eat, Menu Plans

Introducing… How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People

Happy 2018, friends! I’m so excited to be back with you this year. Christmas was fun BUT I’m a little ready to get back into a more normal routine. Whatever normal means. 🙂 I have some yummy recipes on tap to share this winter but first I wanted to pop in to introduce a new series that will debut on Friday!

Introducing…  How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People!

Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy. Meal planning is the best way for me to accomplish this as a full-time working mom and wife. This seems to be the consensus for many of my friends as well, no matter their current life stage (working/staying at home, single/married, kids/no kids, etc.). I think most people–especially foodies (and that includes YOU if you’re reading this!)–have heard all the benefits of meal planning. It saves time. It saves money. It helps prevent food waste. Blah blah blah. But how do you do it? In my unscientific research (e.g., conversations with friends or my own experience), it’s the how that causes trouble.

How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People - a new series on thepajamachef.com inspiring YOU in the weekly routine of meal planning!

Back in the day (aka pre-baby) I could easily, easily, EASILY do a quick meal plan as I was writing a grocery list. I’d have a couple grocery store ads handy, along with a cookbook and my computer to pull up recipes online. I knew our favorite meals and always had a few ideas I wanted to try. It was easy to choose recipes since I didn’t have any time constraints or concerns about who would eat what. To be fair, our little guy is a great eater at 20 months, but there are some things that are hard for him to eat (soup, fresh veggies, etc.) so I have to work around that. I also could do this free of distraction so I didn’t accidentally leave a key ingredient off the grocery list. Just ask me how often that’s happened in recent months. Why does everything take longer/become more difficult when kids are around? Ha!

This year, like many others, I’m looking for a little more organization in life… and a little more inspiration in the kitchen, particularly in the meal planning department. Evenings are always a challenge, no matter your season of life. I feel like getting a real dinner on the table sets the stage for the rest of the week, since we rely on leftovers for hectic nights and work lunches.

So, I devised this fun little weekly series called How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. I’ve interviewed a variety of friends–both bloggers and non-bloggers for a variety of opinions, methods, and strategies for meal planning. Some approach meal planning in a methodical fashion or use a meal planning service, while others are more spontaneous. Some cook for one, while others are cooking for a whole family. Some make 21 meals at home each week while others just focus on getting a homemade dinner on the table each night.

These interviews have inspired me and I hope they do the same for you! I am so grateful to all my friends online and in real life for taking the time to contribute to this project. There are others on my list to interview at a later time as well (if you are interested in joining me in this project, please comment below or contact me via email or social media). So be sure to come back tomorrow for my first How I Eat interview! In the meantime, feel free to browse through my history of meal plans for inspiration and check out this article on The Kitchn about meal planning tips. 🙂