Lemon Blueberry Oatmeal

Steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and lemon curdI’m jumping back on the healthy eating bandwagon. One of my co-workers last week suggested we all do a sort of Biggest Loser competition/joint venture. We finally settled on individually keeping track of our fitness (at least 20 minutes of daily activity), our eating (by tracking calories), and our personal goal (measured by weight or inches) for the next 12 weeks. The contest starts tomorrow, and I’m working this weekend to find recipes and easy meal ideas so I can stay on track.

This particular recipe contains lemon curd, far from the healthiest of foods, but it actually comes with a lower calorie count than some of its counterparts (Orange Cranberry Oatmeal and Spiced Apple Oatmeal…recipes coming soon)  despite the added sugar and fat. The key here is portions.

I made Microwave Lemon Curd (recipe at the bottom) because I still haven’t gotten around to buying myself a double boiler and the recipe doesn’t require separating the eggs, which means less work and less waste; somehow I never get around to actually using the leftover egg whites.

Ingredients

1 1/4-1 1/2 C water

1/4 C steel cut oats**

2 Tbsp prepared lemon curd

1/4 C fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed)

1 tsp lemon zest, optional

 

Heat water in small saucepan to boiling, add oatmeal and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer  uncovered for 20 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Oatmeal will continue to thicken as it cools.

Combine oatmeal with lemon curd and blueberries. Top with lemon zest, and serve warm.

**I love steel cut oats, but if you don’t you can make it with any plain oatmeal. Substitute one serving of your favorite prepared oatmeal for the water and steel cut oats.

NutritionLabel

Microwave Lemon Curd

1/2 C butter, melted

1 C fresh lemon juice

3 large eggs

1 C granulated sugar

Zest of 1-3 lemons

 

Whisk together all ingredients in a large, microwave-safe bowl (7-8 cup size will prevent bubbling over). Microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring after each minute. Lemon curd is done when it coats the back of a spoon and mounds gently in the center of the bowl when stirring; this generally takes 4-10 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave.

Recipe makes approximately 2 cups. Lemon curd can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks or frozen for up to a year. If thawing from frozen, allow lemon curd to sit in the refrigerator at 40 degrees for 24 hours prior to using. Thawed curd will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

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How to Remove Strong Scents from Dishes and Tupperware

I sometimes find myself with dishes (usually plastic storage containers, but not always) that smell like the food they last contained, even after washing. Even worse, I occasionally have one that smells like mold after it takes a trip to Narnia…aka the back of the refrigerator.

I know that plastic storage containers are largely meant to be tossed out eventually, but I hate doing that unless I absolutely have no other choice. For one, it’s bad for the environment, and for two, I’m thrifty. I accidentally came upon this solution shortly after a nasty cold.

During cold and flu season, my household goes through a lot of lemons making Hot Lemonade. It’s our go-to drink for sore throats and horse voices. The drink uses a whole lemon cut up into eight pieces. The used lemons don’t have enough flavor to be used again in a drink, but they still have plenty of useful life. Once we’re done drinking our Hot Lemonade, the left over lemons go into a container in the refrigerator. They last that way for a few weeks.

Lemon Scent

To remove the scent from your dishes, place one or more lemon pieces into the smelly dish. Add a small amount of dish soap (I prefer Dawn), and fill with very hot water. Allow to soak until the water returns to room temperature.

My crock pot is currently undergoing this treatment to remove the scent of burnt chicken and pineapple.

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles (Refrigetator Method)

Almost Pickles

I’m way behind in my posts, and I feel horrible about it. I’ve been cooking up a storm, but haven’t had much time to assemble it all into useful blogging magic. I have a legitimate excuse, promise. I’ve been working nights in the Emergency Department of the local hospital to complete my Advanced EMT license. Saving lives is worth a little blogging delay, right???

Unfortunately, that means this pickle recipe is just a little bit out of season. A while back our CSA bag included both pickling cucumbers AND fresh dill in the same week! The obvious solution? Dill pickles! I searched far and wide for a decent recipe. I, personally, do not like sweet pickles. I won’t touch them. So many of the recipes I found suggested adding a small amount of sugar to the mix, but I don’t like even a hint of sweetness in my pickles so I was determined to avoid it. This recipe does the trick. When I finally cracked open the first jar, I ate the entire thing in about an hour. These are THAT good!

I strongly prefer to use fresh dill in my pickles, but I turn to dry dill in a pinch. This year, with the exception of the first batch, there was no fresh dill to be found at any of the grocery stores in town. It seems that lots of people around here pickle things and like their fresh dill. I made my second batch with dried dill, but that created its own unexpected problem. Dried dill floats and sticks to the pickles. I finally found the trick with the third batch…tea bags. I created my own little dried dill teabags and put them into the bottom of the jars with the rest of the spices.

Although some people boil their pickles in a water bath canner, I can survive without an apocalyptic supply of pickles so I stick to the refrigerator method. If you’d like to process yours to make them shelf stable, you can find instructions here.

Place your spices in the bottom of each jar.

Place your spices in the bottom of each jar.

Cut cucumbers and place into the jars. They should fit tightly but not be squashed.

Cut cucumbers and place into the jars. They should fit tightly but not be squashed.

After about 2 weeks, enjoy your pickles. The longer they sit, the better they taste!

After about 2 weeks, enjoy your pickles. The longer they sit, the better they taste!

Ingredients
2 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar (1/4 teaspoon per jar)
6-12 sprigs fresh dill (2-4 per jar), or 2-3 tsp dried dill per jar
1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns per jar (1/2 tsp per jar)

Wash the cucumbers, remove the ends, and cut them into spears no larger than 1 inch shorter than the height of the jar.

In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.

Arrange the jars on the counter and divide the spices between them. Pack the cucumber slices firmly into the jars, but not so tightly that they are bruised or damaged.

Pour the brine into the jar, leaving approximately ½ inch headspace.

Tap the jars gently on a table or counter to dislodge any trapped air bubbles.

Apply the lids and rings, and allow them to return to room temperature. When cool, place them in the refrigerator. Your pickles are ready to eat in about two weeks and will last up to six months in the refrigerator (if you can leave them alone that long

Adapted from Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles by Marisa Mcclellan.