Overnight Oats; A Love Story

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don’t know who “They” are, but I’m almost habitual when it comes to skipping breakfast during the week, because way I’m too busy hitting the snooze button leaving me in a frantic state when it’s actually time to get ready.

The sad truth is, I need more sleep so I wake feeling refreshed and ready to conquer my day because breakfast actually IS the most important meal of the day. It improves your brain function, kick-starts your metabolism, and gives you the actual energy needed to conquer your day.

This still doesn’t help me get to my daily dilemma of there’s never enough time, and I don’t even have kids! (I have plants, which are sometimes just as fussy!)

This was all until I recently was speaking with a friend who was panic-stricken because her daughter had been diagnosed with having a gluten allergy. She sought my help because ‘Everything’ I make is not from a box, but she’s short on time. I told her not to panic, and that eggs or fruit take minutes to prepare. I told her I’d get back to her with a few more ideas.

I empathize with children who have sensitivities to certain foods. While I am not allergic, I’m fascinated by clean eating and do notice that I actually feel better when I’m eating clean foods, and making conscious lifestyle choices.

Her mother told me that she loves oatmeal. Technically, oatmeal isn’t gluten-free, even though it’s not wheat. There’s too much room for cross-contamination as wheat and oats are usually planted side-by-side. Ariannna… points if you get the reference. 😛

I stumbled across this crazy method of preparing oatmeal that has literally changed my morning routine. Overnight Oats.

It’s exactly what it says. Oats that ‘Cook’ overnight, except they don’t cook. They may break down with some of the fruit juice acids or cultures in the recipes, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

I’m a go-go-go kind of person. Once my day starts, who knows when it will end. The benefit of this recipe is that it’s a sure sign of the end of your day. Which to me, cooking and preparing food is very therapeutic. It’s a way to simmer down the stress of the day, and time to take a little “You” time. Also, I have excess energy at the end of the day. This is probably due to my addiction to cold brewed coffee, but I’m mentally stimulated and have a good idea of what I’m doing which is probably a good time for me to prep meals for the next day.

Overnight Oats is super easy to prepare. You can get very elaborate or you can make it hella easy. You’ll need a mason jar with a lid and a good small spatula to stir your ingredients.

I’ve tried a few recipes and I’m at a point now where I just experiment with different flavors.

The method is this,

1/4 cup of gluten-free (doesn’t have to be though) quick-cooking oats.

and 2/3 cup of a nut or grain milk of your choice. I prefer almond.

Alternatively you can mix in some Greek yogurt if you like. This is going to make your oats creamy and delicious.

Finally, if you want some added good-for-you texture add in a tablespoon or two of Chia seeds.

Now we get those creative juices flowing and talk about your add-ins, the toppings, and the overall mood of your overnight oats.

Most of the food we eat gets described as sweet or savory, and the same is true for these oats. You can go bold or you can be a little subtle and bright with your flavor palette. And the saying, “A little goes a long way,” is so true for these. You’re flavoring your oats, so it’s not the time to get crazy, it’s just a hint of flavor, so we’re talking a 1/8 of a teaspoon to 1/4 of a teaspoon.

For Bright Flavors consider adding,

  • Citrus Zest (1 tsp)
  • Vanilla (1 tsp)
  • Maple Syrup (1 tsp)
  • Honey (1 tsp)
  • Toasted Coconut Flakes (1 Tbsp)
  • Toasted Slivered Almonds (1 Tbsp)
  • Fresh Citrus Juice (1 Tbsp)
  • Fresh Blueberries
  • Banana slices
  • White Raisins

For Bolder Flavors consider adding,

  • Cocoa Powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Carob Powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Vanilla (1 tsp)
  • Honey (1 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/8 to 1/4 tsp)
  • Fresh Orange Juice (1 Tbsp)
  • Dried Cherries
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dark Raisins

Once you’ve added your selected toppings, stir the ingredients until they’re mixed together, and close the lid. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or overnight. 😛

These aren’t recipes, they’re suggestions as add-ins. You can mimic a key lime pie version by using lime zest and coconut flakes, or you can go bold and sexy with doing a version a la chocolate covered cherries. I’m anxious to try a few this fall with some add-ins like Pumpkin and Ginger!

My friend’s daughter tried this and made a few of these herself, she’s 11! She is hooked and loves them. Recipes like this are super easy, and it helps kids use their imagination as it teaches them experimenting with flavor. Did I mention it teaches some science too?! The breakdown of oats is usually accredited to heat and liquid, but in this recipes; It’s time, liquid, and the citric or lactic acids found in Greek yogurt or in the citrus you’re using.

It’s not bullshit I promise. Ceviche, a popular Peruvian dish, uses Citric acids to lightly ‘Cook’ raw fish, sort of like Peruvian Sushi. Citric acid is powerful stuff, and it’s packed with good-for-you vitamin C to help conquer your day!

 

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An Asian-Persuasion One Pan Wonder

I’m a straight up fiend, like crack-addicted fiend, when someone mentions Chinese food. Think rabid dogs…

I will literally twitch with the anticipation of Lo-Mein and General Tso anything hitting my mouth. So the thought of doing a night of “Take-In” Take-Out made me even more excited.

I’m all about food that’s both good and good-for-you, so I was trying to invent ways to mimic Asian flavors at home. 

The combination I came up with was pretty stellar, and using those spiralized zucchini noodles in place of lo-mein means that I can have my “Fat Kid Friday” any day of the week! 

In a wok, heat up some olive oil, and to that add some sliced mushrooms. I just did button mushrooms, but y’all can get fancy and use oyster or shiitake. 

Let those bad boys sweat! Meaning it’s releasing its moisture while they sauté to a gorgeous brown caramelized color. 

Then, add some broccoli rabe, snow peas, a red or yellow pepper, and let that steam/cook. This is going to brighten the flavors of your dish. 

Now the fun begins (and your almost done!) Add your spiralized zucchini and carrots! I used 2 zucchini and 2 spiralized carrots. Toss them into your wok with tongs. They don’t require a ton of cooking, a couple to a few minutes at most. 

Remove your pan from the heat. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of Tamari, and about a 1 1/2 tsp of toasted sesame oil. I also dashed in a few splashes of rice vinegar to liven up the flavors and give it a probiotic kick. 

You can get fancy and add some heat like Chinese chili flakes or add mirin or hoisin, but I went straight basic Asian persuasion and it was amazing! 

Better than take-out, and way better for you! 

Pair it with a saké, and pretend you’re Lucy Liu!

B

Oh, Hello… and yes, it’s been a while

It’s crazy that I just ‘Celebrated’ 6 years of blogging. I use the term ‘blogging,’ loosely as I’m more of an instant blogger. Whether it’s Tweeting out political jabs at the current administration, or filming Snapchat stories devoted to dinner. I instagram and then share to Facebook, and still call myself a ‘blogger.’ It’s actual total bullshit. 

In truth, and speaking candidly, I love to live life and live it well. Yes, not much has changed. I still love to bake, cook, and garden. I still love trying new things in and around the home, and I look forward to giving you all more ideas to try and enrich our lives; For you, your friends, and your family. 

In the past few years, while I wasn’t busy trying to derail America from fucking itself (which it did anyway,) I’ve discovered a love for modern wellness. Some say it’s hope in a jar, but I truly believe, and have preached for years that you are what you eat and what you do! Quality is key in everything we do. I strive to source the best-for-you ingredients, and recipes that will give us a dinner that’s quick and easy and most of all, fun! 

On a personal note, which is what blogs are… I fell in love this past year with the most amazing man! We’re ridiculously cute, and you’ll be insanely jealous. It’s totally cool! 😜 

Also huge life change, I’m moving to Dallas, Texas later this Summer!! This small town guy from PA is going to be a Dallasite, and I’m so effing excited, y’all! 

I can’t promise I’ll blog regularly, and I can’t promise that I won’t blog all the time. With the move, and the new set of challenges that brings… I’m looking forward to blogging about everything I have before AKA “Domesticated bliss,” as well as some thoughts I have in passing, on absolutely whatever. It may be political or something physical, and it may be about some amazing place I stayed at on vacation. That may turn you off from the blog and me altogether, but that’s really unfortunate and sort of impossible because I have pretty amazing skin. (It’s the monk fruit I add to everything! We’ll talk about that later!) 

All my best,

B

The Coven Party

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! The air is getting crispier, the leaves are rustling, and not so far off in the distance you can hear a witch cackle after she sips her brew!

I’ve always wanted to have a witch-themed party. My favorite Wizard of Oz character was the wicked witch of the west. I loved Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic growing up. I may have (or still) dabble in a little harmless trickery now and then… 😉

So I decided, in July, that this years theme would be “A Coven Party.” I only wanted to invite the women in my family to the event. 13, to be exact.

A ‘Coven’ is defined as a group or gathering of witches who meet regularly. (Thanks Google)

This was the perfect unifying theme for my Halloween party. An evening full of mysticism, great food, and laughter. We scheduled the evening to transpire during the Blood Moon in October.

What a magical night! We were faced with some challenges like heavy rains and wind, but after a spell (okay, and a few prayers) the rain cleared and our party was all set to take center stage.

The menu for the evening consisted of an autumn harvest theme starting with a Caramelized Shallot Soup with sautéed chestnuts and Gruyere cheese. We then served roasted fall vegetables and wild rice with balsamic mushrooms. The main course was a roasted pork loin with roasted persimmons and mustard greens. Everyone loved it!

The decorations were planned and made for weeks leading up to the party! The living room was our tribute to the witch of folk tales with spiders on the walls and ceiling. Ghastly curtains and upholstery covered the windows and furniture.

The dining room was centered as our practicing witch tribute. The dining room table served as an alter with straw, snakes, green eggs, and frogs. Also served as the place where all of our appetizers and desserts would be served. Witch sugar cookies, pumpkin breads, apples, and pumpkin Whoopie pies were all enjoyed after the feast while devilish eggs, cheeses, hummus, and assorted toasts were served prior to the meal.

Since we did the meal outside by our pool, we wanted to make a whimsical and magical environment for the evening, but keeping safety in check so no one fell in the pool. We took the prunings from our trees and bushes and placed them in large planters. We then took holiday lights and wrapped them around the clippings.

The centerpiece of our dinner table were two L Brackets drilled to a plywood base and then two somewhat large pruned branches were drilled into the L bracket to stand on their own. We put faux birds in the tree and laid pumpkins on the base, green of course. Glittered bugs, snakes, and spiders were all over the table with lots of Spanish moss.

The tablescape, the decor, and the food all made this night a smashing success! I hope you all find some inspiring ideas on here to go out and create your own Halloween party!

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I hope you enjoyed our Coven festivities! Happy Halloween!!

A Ghoul’s Night Out

Halloween is almost here!! Well not almost, but will be here before you know it!

I’ve teamed up with Liz Bell, host of ‘Mornings with Liz Bell,’ on the new Warm 103.3 to provide you with a party full of cocktails and crafts to keep the “Ghoul’s Night Out” a tradition that lasts for years to come!

Send me your creations on Instagram @morbidhomemaker, I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

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Bloody Scary Cocktail and Bloody Mary Mix (serves 8)

4 cups tomato juice
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot sauce
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
Celery (for garnish)
Radish eyeballs (recipe follows)

Mix all ingredients, and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

To make the Bloody Scary cocktail, fill a tall skinny glass with ice. Pour 1 1/2oz of icy cold vodka and 6oz of your homemade Bloody Mary mix over the ice and stir. Garnish with a stalk of celery and/or a radish eyeball on a skewer if you dare.

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Radish Eyeball garnish

8 Radishes
8 Green Stuffed Olives
8 Black Whole Peppercorns (optional)

Wash, lightly scrub, and dry your radishes. Peel the radishes leaving small strips of the skin on the radish to mimic broken blood vessels.

Take a small melon baller or paring knife and cut a small circular hole in the radish.

Place the olive inside the cut hole of the radish, and stuff a black peppercorn in the center of the red pimento in the olive.

Place your radish eyeballs in a small dish or on skewers to stir a bloody scary cocktail! These also make an awesome, show stopping garnish to a martini, or more appropriately, a “Boo-Tini.”

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Devilish Eggs
(Served 8 to 10)

10 hard boiled eggs
1 roasted red pepper
3Tbsp mayonnaise
3tsp Dijon mustard
1-2tsp hot sauce
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Poppy seeds (optional)

Slice the hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise and place the egg yolks into a food processor. Set egg whites to the side. Add remaining ingredients and put on high speed until combined and puréed, about 30-45 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the egg white halves onto a serving platter. Transfer the roasted red pepper yolk mixture to a heavy duty ziploc bag. Close the bag, and snip a bottom corner of the bag, allowing you to pour the mixture into your egg halves without making a mess.

Garnish with poppy seeds. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until guests arrive, but no more than 3 hours. Enjoy this spooky snack with a bloody scary cocktail!

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Découpage Pumpkins

Découpage is one of my favorite ways to embellish pumpkins during the Autumn months. I like black lace on an orange or white pumpkin because it mimics an intricately spun spiderweb. Feel free to make this craft extend well into Autumn by using fern fronds or other small greenery to découpage on a pumpkin instead of lace. This makes a great centerpiece or decoration for the Thanksgiving table.

You will need:
Mod Podge, or other découpage adhesive
Craft Paint Brush
Scissors
1 yard of black lace
2 White or Orange pumpkins and/or funkins, small and medium sized.
Decorative Ribbon (optional)

To make the small pumpkin:

Apply a thin layer of Découpage glue with your craft paint brush around the top of the pumpkin, ideally where you’d like the lace to set.

Using the scissors, cut the lace into triangular pieces, and arrange around the pumpkin with the sharp point of the triangle facing downwards. Apply more glue to the adhered lace to secure it to the pumpkin. Continue arranging the lace pieces around the pumpkin until your desired pattern is achieved. Let dry. You may tie a bow in black ribbon and tie it to the stem of the pumpkin, if desired.

To make the large pumpkin:

Apply a thin layer of Découpage glue with your craft paint brush around the top of the pumpkin, ideally where you’d like the lace to set.

Using the scissors, remove any thick wired border that may be attached on your lace, and trim, if needed, to fit around the pumpkin.

Start laying the lace onto the pumpkin, brushing with glue as you go. You will need to curve the lace to create a circle of lace around the pumpkin, so make small pleats in your lace as you work your way around the top of the pumpkin. The Glue will hold your lace into place. Continue working your way around the pumpkin, pleating the lace as needed until the ends of the lace meet each other. Brush with more glue as needed. Let dry.

**Tip: if you’ve never worked with Découpage glue, remember this… It goes on white and dries clear. Don’t fret if your lace looks like it’s saturated with glue. In about an hour or two, the glue will dry and your pumpkins will be ready for those trick-or-treaters! Now go get that candy…

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Have a happy Halloween and a great start to your Autumn season!

Don’t forget to send me your autumn creations and Halloween party tips and tricks on Instagram @morbidhomemaker. Can’t wait to see what you are brewing up this Halloween!

– b –

Spring into Summer: Lentil Soup

Lentils are a staple in a vegan or vegetarian diet. Typically I cook lentils in the fall and use easy to cook grains like couscous or quinoa in the summer.

I was out in the garden yesterday harvesting our peas, and decided that I would make a soup for lunches this week. Trying to eat as clean as possible which builds up a strong immune system and allows more fun in the sun!

Red Lentil Soup with Snow Peas and Shitake Mushrooms

Ingredients

1Tbsp Olive Oil
1 white onion, chopped
4 cups of low sodium Chicken Stock
2 cups Water
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed well
2 cups fresh or frozen snow peas
1- 1 1/2cups of Shitake Mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 tsp Madras Curry
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Red wine vinegar (optional)

In a large Dutch oven heat oil over medium low. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add broth, water, lentils, peas, mushrooms, curry, salt, pepper, basil leaves, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar to taste.

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Sunday Dinner: One Pan Pasta

Who likes to clean up?!? A dinner after an exhausting workday is tiresome and often the reason why two-thirds of this country eat out instead of in.

This One Pan Pasta is exactly why you should consider eating in and not out. A meal cooked from start to finish with basic ingredients and all in one pan. Clean up couldn’t be easier.

I came across this recipe from last June’s “Martha Stewart Living,” when they did an article on ‘Kitchen Wisdom,’ and let me tell you this is by far the best pasta dish that I’ve had in quite some time!

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