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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Refrigerator Oatmeal

Hi, everyone!  Sorry for the lack of posts.  I finally had my surgery two weeks ago, and I'm feeling much better.  I start back to work on Monday, and I'm very excited to be making more than just sick pay once again.  I can now eat crunchy foods without worrying about damaging my jaw, although it is still a little painful.  I go back in three months for more Botox and physical therapy, and I have to see an E.N.T. for possible chronic sinusitis.  Anyway, I've found myself talking to just about everyone when I go out in public, because I've been so isolated these past 9 months.  Yup, I'm totally "that person."

Anyway, on with the real reason I am writing a blog post:  Refrigerator oatmeal!  I found this on Pinterest, which led me to this blog post.  After making it myself and going through the process, I modified the recipe to a more healthy and frugal method, not to mention a tiny bit more convenient (in my opinion).  Here it goes:


Old-Fashioned Oatmeal (not instant)
Unsweetened Applesauce
Vanilla Greek Yogurt (it does have to be Greek, but if you only have regular yogurt, just omit all or most of the milk and I think you'll be fine)
Milk (I used 1%, the recipe called for skim, just use what's in the fridge--you'll be fine, I promise.)

***Update Dec 2014:  I now omit milk from this recipe altogether when I make it, because the applesauce is usually plenty for a good amount of moisture, and I prefer my oatmeal a little thicker.***

***UPDATE:  I have stopped using Dannon yogurt, as it is not true Greek yogurt.  Do a little research and look for good brands. I like Fage, but that's just me.  Nobody paid me to say that, I promise. :-) ****

1/4 cup and 1/3 cup measuring cups
1/4 tsp measuring spoon
small rubber spatula
butter knife (optional, but we all have them)
Rubbermaid containers in 1.25 cup size, or any container with a lid that will hold 8 ounces with a little room
Standard cereal bowl (optional)

To start, get out your tupperware/rubbermaid containers (I used five, one for each work day).  You are going to be mixing these individually in each container. It's easier than it sounds.

Add 1/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal to each container.  Follow with 1/3 cup milk, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  I used the butter knife to level off the yogurt in the measuring cup for accuracy, and I used the spatula to scrape it out of the measuring cup into the dish.  I also used this method for the applesauce.  You can take it or leave it.  I was feeling especially OCD today, but that is definitely an optional step.

The original recipe calls for double the cinnamon, the addition if chia seeds, and it also requires one to mix these ingredients before adding the applesauce.  I didn't do that.  I added the applesauce after I took this photo, and then I just stirred it all with the spatula. The only reason I left out the chia seeds is because I'm too lazy to find them and spend money on them, plus I think this recipe has enough fiber in it already.  The cinnamon reduction was simply because I saw how much 1/4 tsp of cinnamon really is, and I didn't want to add more and turn this recipe into a cinnamon challenge.

Another edit to the original recipe was to omit the sweetener (1 tsp honey or sugar).  Why add sweetener to something that's already so naturally sweet?  The applesauce is fine by itself, the yogurt has enough sugar already in it, and all of these ingredients make for a rather sweet breakfast food--before adding any sugar.  It may seem frivolous, but that's almost 20 calories I'm eliminating from this recipe, and that adds up if you eat this every morning.

To add the applesauce to the dishes, I realized that my measuring cup would not fit into the jar.  I just poured some applesauce into a cereal bowl (like my Bloomingdale's bowls?  I got them for 2 bucks apiece a TJ Maxx) and scooped the applesauce from there.  After I added this final ingredient, I stirred each container with the spatula.  

As you can see, it's got a very thin, soupy consistency.  From what I have read, this is supposed to substantially thicken overnight.  The final step is to put the lids on and pop these babies in the refrigerator overnight.  The original recipe says these last up to two days, but as someone with a lot of former restaurant experience and some logic, I think this is wrong.  None of these ingredients expire in two days.  My milk is good for at least 2 weeks, as is my yogurt.  There is nothing in this recipe that would act as a "catalyst" and speed up the spoilage of this oatmeal.  I think my version is safe for up to six days.  If I find this to be untrue, I will update immediately.  However, I am pretty sure the original version of this recipe called for only two days shelf life, because the other flavors in their post are made with fresh fruit.  I can see how fresh fruit would get all mushy and gross in this oatmeal after a few days.  Since this is made with applesauce, however, I'm giving this a six-day shelf life with refrigeration, which is the standard used in the foodservice industry.

***2 Hours Later***

Okay, I was hungry and curious.  I opened one of my containers to find that the oatmeal had already substantially thickened, so I decided to try it.  

Have you ever had apple pie with vanilla ice cream?   This tastes EXACTLY the same.  I may have discovered my breakfast for the rest of my life.

That being said, I was curious as to what the calorie count is for this little meal.  I went to SparkRecipes, a website with a free nutrition facts calculator.  Here are the results below.  One serving is considered one container of oatmeal:


Nutrition Facts

Ashley's Refrigerator Oatmeal
  1 Serving
Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat2.3 g
     Saturated Fat0.5 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.5 g
     Monounsaturated Fat0.7 g
  Cholesterol3.7 mg
  Sodium53.6 mg
  Potassium231.8 mg
  Total Carbohydrate28.5 g
     Dietary Fiber3.0 g
     Sugars14.1 g
  Protein10.1 g
  Vitamin A3.3 %
  Vitamin B-128.7 %
  Vitamin B-62.9 %
  Vitamin C1.5 %
  Vitamin D9.5 %
  Vitamin E0.2 %
  Calcium16.3 %
  Copper1.2 %
  Folate1.1 %
  Iron6.7 %
  Magnesium3.9 %
  Manganese7.2 %
  Niacin0.9 %
  Pantothenic Acid    5.2 %
  Phosphorus    14.1 %
  Riboflavin16.6 %
  Selenium3.7 %
  Thiamin7.9 %
  Zinc2.2 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

172 calories, that's awesome!  The sugar is a little high for my preference, but that's why I left out the added stuff.  It's definitely a lot healthier than it tastes.  Perhaps, in the future, I will experiment with other flavors.  In order for me to eat healthily while working 50 hours per week (and not have a house that's completely trashed), I have to do a lot of preparation the night before, since I have to get up at 5:15am for work, and I'm definitely not a morning person.

Oops, I almost forgot to give you the cost!  Here:

Applesauce 50 ounces: $2.19 = about 4 cents per ounce
Oatmeal 18 ounces: $2.19 = about 12 cents per ounce
Milk 128 ounces: $2.79 = about 2 cents per ounce
Yogurt 32 ounces: $3.99 =  about 12 cents per ounce

Cinnamon: on hand (I'm going to assume everyone already has this, because you should.): Free

This stuff only costs 62 cents per serving.

How awesome is that?  After purchasing all the ingredients, I had enough to make about fifteen servings of this stuff.

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I did!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Toaster Oven "Hard-Boiled" Eggs

Today, I made the greatest discovery in history:  You can make "hard-boiled" eggs in a toaster oven!  For those of you who don't know me personally, I have been known to have eggs explode in the kitchen from trying to hard-boil them in the past, when I decided it was undercooked and I put it in the microwave to finish it (by the way, NEVER do that).  To make the perfect hard-boiled egg, all you need is an oven (or, in my case, a toaster oven).  My toaster oven cooks much more evenly than my standard oven, so I use it for small items.

Turn on your toaster oven to 325 degrees.  Put 3-5 eggs directly on the toaster oven rack.  Place them parallel to the rack, so they don't roll around.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Take the eggs out of the oven and immediately immerse them in ice water.  Leave them to soak for approximately 15 minutes, or until they are cold.

These things are so easy to peel!  However, you can see that this one was a bit scorched on the inside.  It didn't affect the taste whatsoever.

These are the oven rack marks:

I was a bit worried from the scorching, but you can see that, once I sliced it, it is perfectly cooked on the inside.  Now I can make hard-boiled eggs without having to worry about explosions in my kitchen, and so can you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DIY Aftershave Treatment for Razor Bumps

I have very sensitive skin.  Because of this (and much to my husband's disappointment) , I rarely shave my legs.  It's just easier than dealing with the inevitable ingrown hair, and then trying to get rid of it before it gets to the point at which I need antibiotics (which has happened multiple times).  I am allergic to many antibiotics, so I can't take them very often anyway, for fear that I will become immune to the ones that I can take.

There is one product, which will remain nameless, that I have used with much success.  You can probably figure out what I'm talking about, but I am not posting the name because I'm basically giving away their recipe.  I got a free sample of it with some makeup I ordered from Sephora.  It's a wonderful product, and it allows me to shave my legs without getting ingrown hairs.  However, the price tag is pretty shocking:  For an 8-ounce bottle, it's $35.00!  Someday, when I have a better-paying job and thus disposable income, I will totally buy this stuff.  However, until then, I found a recipe to make my own version.  It's not exactly the same, but the active ingredients are the same. Mainly, that's aspirin.  I found a recipe on an online forum, the website it linked to was long gone, but luckily she put the full recipe in the post.  I modified it slightly, just to make it easier to make.  Here's how I made it:

Ingredients:  5.5 ounces rubbing alcohol, 2.5 ounces witch hazel (I eyeballed the measurements), 8 uncoated aspirin tablets (available at the dollar store), crushed in a mortar and pestle.  You will also need an old bottle to put the product in, at least 8 ounces in size.  I used an old 12-ounce astringent bottle that I washed out with hot water.  It has a nice spout in the lid that will work well for this application.

First, I poured the alcohol and witch hazel into the bottle.

Next, I put 8 uncoated aspirin in my mortar and pestle.  I crushed up the aspirin as finely as possible, as shown below:

I made a funnel out of a piece of paper and dumped the crushed aspirin into the bottle.  Most of the aspirin dissolved immediately, and only a little bit was left in the bottom of the bottle.  I shook it up to mix the ingredients. That's it:  8 ounces of after-shave skin treatment for less than three bucks.  Just shake the bottle well before each use.  Apply liberally to any freshly-shaven area with a cotton ball, and enjoy never having ingrown hairs again!