Homemade Instant Oatmeal

I don’t know about you, but I can be grumpy all day if my morning starts off wrong. When my kids are demanding cookies (yes, cookies) the second their feet hit the floor, and the dishes from last night are still on the counter, sometimes I just want to surrender. At 7:00am.

It really helps to have a quick breakfast ready to go. That’s one less decision to make. And if I’m serving instant oats, I don’t even get any extra dishes dirty!

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Quick Breakfast Porridge

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So far, the biggest challenge I’ve faced in giving up refined sugar has been figuring out what to eat for breakfast. (Surprise!)

You see, I’ve been eating Frosted Mini Wheats almost daily for years. I love the chewy wheatiness and the fact that the sweet, frosted side isn’t overwhelming and does not dissolve into the milk in the bowl. I love that if I have to step away from my bowl (to, say, clean up something my son has strewn on the floor), the mini wheats do not turn into mush or breakfast cement in my brief absence.

But, as I’m sure you have guessed, Frosted Mini Wheats are not on the menu anymore. They aren’t as bad as most sugary cereals, but they certainly aren’t skimping in the sugar department.

So I decided, given that it’s the middle of a freezing winter, that instead of making eggs every morning or finding another cold cereal that has less sugar, I would turn to oatmeal.

This is a healthy, filling breakfast; it’s tasty, it takes very little effort to prepare, and I can really feel good about eating it!

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Cookie Mix Jars

Cookies and Mix Jars

Have you ever met someone who says they don’t bake because they don’t like to measure?

(Are you that person?)

I have several friends who have confessed that or similar hang-ups about baking. But here’s how I see it: it’s Christmas! Everyone deserves fresh baked cookies, whether or not they wake up in the morning thinking about creaming butter and sugar!

That’s why this year, I am giving the gift of baking. Err…cookies.

This is a great gift, even for people who do love to bake. It’s sweet and inexpensive—I love finding little ways to tell someone I thought about them without breaking the bank or obligating them to give anything in return. It took me about 1 hour to put together 8 jars, and the cookies themselves are delicious! They are full of oats, spices, chocolate, toasted nuts, and cranberries. (Although I admit I subbed coconut for the cranberries in the batch I baked myself. That, too, was stupendous!)

You should go get some jars and make these cookies for your friends, too!

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Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I never understood the distaste most of my childhood friends had for oatmeal cookies. The oatmeal cookies that came out of my mom’s kitchen were always chewy and delicious! Yet somehow my friends preferred those rock-hard Chips-Ahoy cookies to anything baked from scratch. Silly friends.

I love oatmeal cookies. My favorite combination is with butterscotch chips, and I think the bright, intense flavor of butterscotch is perfect for Fall. But no matter whether you prefer your cookies filled with ridiculously sweet butterscotch or (ahem…) raisins (…not my fave), this recipe will bring joy to your church potlucks, visiting friends, and your tastebuds. Yum.

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Camp Hanover Fudgies

When I was younger, I went to summer camp. I was a summer camp expert: I climbed the ranks of the YMCA swimming tier (though..not very far, I must admit…), I slid down mudslides and went tubing on lakes, I grew into a four-square master, I learned how to gently de-hook fish, I became a seasoned canooer and archer, and I could write a mean group skit.

I also began a love affair with peanut butter at summer camp. For obvious reasons, I was never a peanut butter and jelly kind of girl, but one summer at Camp Hanover, which is probably the best sleepaway camp in the world, I learned about the real best friend of peanut butter: chocolate. And it is about time I shared with you my favorite cookout treat, since this is grilling season.

I will always associate these cookies with my childhood camp experiences. Every week, my group would gather next to the tether ball poles and anxiously discuss cookout plans: hoagies or hamburgers? Red bug juice (er…Kool-Aid) or orange? S’mores or FUDGIES!? The kitchen would send us a box full of supplies and we would hurry to our campsite and unload our goodies. You have no idea how delighted we were if we discovered our request for fudgies had been granted. And after our main meal, after cleaning our plates off with dirt (ah, those were the days) we’d get to enjoy our dessert. Let me tell you, those things disappeared quickly.

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