Apple Cider Oatmeal with Pecans from All You Magazine, February 2014

Apple Cider Oatmeal with Pecans | Taking On Magazines | www.takingonmagazines | Made with apple cider instead of water (or milk) gives this oatmeal a very different kind of flavor.

Three people in a house, three different ways to make oatmeal, and each believes their way is the only way.

Dudette’s method is the easiest. Open a packet of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (maple and brown sugar is her favorite), pour it in a bowl, add milk, microwave for one minute, eat.

As with most of us, Hubby makes his oatmeal the same way his mom made it for him when he was growing up. He heats water in a pan, adds the oats, cooks them until the water is absorbed, pours them into a bowl, adds brown sugar and a lot of milk.

I make oatmeal the same way my mom did too, the correct way. I heat milk in a pan, add the oats, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of sugar and a quarter cup or so of golden raisins. I pour it into a bowl, add little brown sugar and enjoy the perfect bowl of oatmeal.

This isn’t that bowl.

The Process

I thought that using apple cider in place of the normal milk or water would be a genius idea, which was why I was anxious to give it a go for breakfast this morning.

The process takes less than ten minutes from when the cider starts boiling to topping the oatmeal with perfectly toasted pecans.

The Verdict

I’m sorry to say that this did not go over well with the family. Dudette spit out the one spoonful she took. Hubby tried to eat it, but could only eat half his bowl before he threw the rest away. I only had a couple of bites before the tang of the apple cider made me push the bowl away as well.

When served exactly as the recipe is written, the oatmeal is too tangy and lacks any kind of sweetness. Two tablespoons isn’t enough to smooth the sharpness out at all.

So, we tried to doctor our bowls up. Hubby added more milk (a lot more milk) and brown sugar. It helped a little, but not enough. The sharpness of the tangy apple cider still shone through too much.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d make the oatmeal my normal way, and while it’s simmering, I’d reduce a quarter cup of apple cider down to a couple of tablespoons in another pan, which I would then add to the oatmeal for flavoring.

Apple Cider Oatmeal with Pecans from All You Magazine, February 2014
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Bring cider, ¼ cup water and salt to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Place pecans in a small, dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Remove pan with oatmeal from heat; stir in milk. Spoon oatmeal into a bowl, top with pecans and serve.
Notes
I'd make the oatmeal my normal way, and while it's simmering, I'd reduce a quarter cup of oatmeal down to a couple of tablespoons, which I would then add to the oatmeal for flavoring.


Baked Ziti with Turkey and Pesto from All You Magazine, February 2014

Baked Ziti with Turkey and Pesto | Taking On Magazines | www.takingonmagazines.com | Consider this lasagna made easy. Layers of pasta, cheese and meat sauce make it pure comfort food.

I have been trying hard to transfer my love of storms to Dudette, but it’s not working very well (yet).  Sadly, while I’m in a state of unbridled glee when thunder rattles the house, she is scared, imagining  that the sound will be enough to bring the safe walls around her tumbling down.

Even when I was her age, I loved staying up late into the night, forcing my eyes to stay open so I could watch the lightning turn my room into day, then counting the seconds away until the thunder rumbled so I knew how far away the storm was.

The only time I didn’t like thunderstorms was if a strong one swept in while I was at school.  I knew that my siblings and I were together, safe and sound in a big brick building, so we were fine. It was my mom that I thought about. She was home, all by herself. It worried me and made me sad that there was no one with her if something happened.

I’m on the other side of the the storms now and now I realize that no matter how much I worried about Mom, it was nothing compared to how concerned she was about us when alerts and warnings were announced while we were at school.

We’re moving into the stormy season of spring now; there’s thunder rumbling, heavy rain falling and strong gusts blowing little twigs off the trees right now.

I call that casserole weather.

Baked Ziti with Turkey and Pesto | Taking On Magazines | www.takingonmagazines.com | Consider this lasagna made easy. Layers of pasta, cheese and meat sauce make it pure comfort food.

The Process

As the days start warming up, I begin to move away from the soups and stews that need to sit simmering on the stove for hours on end and look towards casseroles. I consider them one of the ultimate comfort foods; a full meal in one dish that doesn’t take long to make. This is one of those.

I had to clean up two pots after we finished eating; one for cooking the pasta and the skillet for the sauce.

Prep isn’t difficult and will take under twenty minutes unless you do as I did and grate your cheese instead of buying it pre-grated. Doing that pushed me above the 20-minute mark.

As I was making this, I was tempted to add a few more herbs to the sauce, but I had forgotten the pesto that gets mixed in to the cheese so I resisted.

The Verdict

Considering how quickly dinner was inhaled, I’d consider this a success. I’m usually not a ricotta fan because the grainy texture doesn’t really appeal, but I didn’t mind it in this. Maybe that’s because of the amount of Mozzarella that was added to it.

Dudette was the one that surprised me. She said that she liked the sauce and cheese, even with the green pesto in it. What she didn’t like were the bits of pasta at the top of the casserole dish that got dried out and crunchy in the oven. I can handle that.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d add a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce for a little zing.

Baked Ziti with Turkey and Pesto from All You Magazine, February 2014
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ziti (about 2⅔ cups)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces ground turkey
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella (8 oz.)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup pesto
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F; grease an 8-inch square dish. Cook ziti in boiling, salted water until almost al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in turkey and sauté 1 minute. Mix in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring, until thick, about 10 minutes.
  3. Combine ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, ¼ cup Parmesan and pesto in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spread ½ of ziti in dish; top with ⅓ of sauce. Spread with ricotta mixture and cover with remaining ziti and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Notes
I'd add a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce for a little zing.


Do you find yourself transitioning from one kind of meal to another with the changing season? I know summer’s an easy one as grill covers come off and light salads rule the dinner table, but spring is a little different, isn’t it.