Baked Oatmeal with Berries

baked oatmeal

Gotta love when you make a recipe, just knowing that your kiddo will love it. And then, rejection. Wouldn’t even give it a try.

My Clare is a huge fruit fan so I was so confident that she’d love this baked oatmeal with berries and we’d enjoy it together for breakfast all week. Easy, mostly healthy, colorful – just what a mom wants to make for her kid. But then you end up eating the whole dish yourself because they refuse to even taste and see. Ah well, the best laid breakfast plans…

This recipe is super simple to toss together and pop in the oven. Even though Clare isn’t a fan, I’ve continued to make a pan for my own breakfast since it’s quick and easy to reheat some in a bowl each morning. I like to add a splash of milk to make it extra moist and creamy. So delicious, especially right now when berries are plentiful and cheap.

This version is layered with fresh strawberries and blueberries but you can totally mix it up with other fruit and berries that are in season or that you prefer. Or you can even make it plain and jazz it up separately if wanted. I like to throw in some extra healthy additions sometimes like a handful of chia seeds or almonds. So go ahead and get creative!

Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal with Berries

Ingredients: 
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh berries (strawberries sliced)

Yield: 6-8 servings

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter/grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

Combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Place half of the oat mixture in the baking dish, top it with half of the berries, then top with the remaining oat mixture.

Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, and melted butter. Pour over the oats. Gently shake the baking dish back and forth from side to side to allow the wet mixture to get down into the oats. Top the oats with the remaining berries.

Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, until oats are tender, and the mixture is set. Serve immediately with a splash of milk, or let it cool, then cover and refrigerate to reheat later.

Source:  So Fab Food

Monday Morsels #25

Hi yall! Well, life has certainly changed since my last family update! Without wasting any time, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

clare 2nd bday

My sweet firstborn turned two! Goodness gracious, how the time flies. We started the day with her two year check up which thankfully didn’t include any shots. Then we stopped to get a Birthday donut, went to the neighborhood pond to feed the “quack quacks”, and played at the park. We had one of her favorite meals for dinner plus cake of course. As much as I wanted to have a big celebration for her, I loved our simple day together and honestly, at 40 weeks pregnant, I couldn’t have handled much more!

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Then two days later…our precious daughter Catherine was born! Things happened pretty quickly and labor went as smoothly as possible. We are totally in love with this little lady! Life has been full of visits from family/friends, meals delivered, and adjusting to being a family of 4 (most adjusting from a certain toddler) and while we’re tired, life is beautiful. I actually hope to finally write a birth story for both girls soon, so stay posted for more info besides “hey! we had a baby!” if you’re into that sort of blog post.

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Then 9 days later, little Catherine was baptized and brought into the Church. It was sort of last minute since we weren’t totally sure when she’d arrive but worked out just perfectly and also happened to be the feast of Pentecost. So fitting! Our sweet little saint smelled of chrism and peacefully slept through the whole thing. Who could ask for more?

ordination

Then besides the everyday crazy life in new baby land, we’ve been right in the middle of busy event season and trying to attend what celebrations we can manage. First off was the ordination of our friend, now Father Joseph Keating. I have to get used to calling him that! We became friends during my college years and it’s been just beautiful seeing his vocation unfold. When we met, he was a vibrant youth minister, then entered the seminary, was sent to the NAC in Rome for his studies (we even got to visit him there while traveling!), had the honor to sing the Gospel at the Easter mass at St. Peter’s this past Easter, and now is officially a priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Congrats to you, Fr. Joe, and I can’t wait to see where God takes you next on your journey!

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One of the youth from our former parish invited us to her graduation party which was also a blast. I was her confirmation sponsor a few years ago and got to know her really well during our time there. I’m so proud of her accomplishments and know she’ll do great things at Benedictine College. The party was full of yummy BBQ, cake, and a fun photo area with props. We got to catch up with some old parish friends and Clare wore herself out with an inflatable ball. Good times all around!

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We also got together on my side of the family to celebrate the May birthdays in the family. Which is my mom, Clare, and now Catherine too! So it’s basically now a party for grandma and her granddaughters, which I know she loves. We had tons of delicious food as always, a variety of desserts, gifts, and great company. Clare had a cookie cake that grandma made especially for her, since she’s a total frosting and cookie girl. (which baffles her cake loving mother) Catherine got to meet most of the rest of her Texas family and it’s such a blast having more littles in the family now, running around and playing during our gatherings, plus plenty of arms wanting to hold the babies. It’s a beautiful thing!

Dear Lord, I’m Turning Into My Mother…

Photo from pixabay.com Wording added by Vita Dulcis

Let’s start with a little story about iced tea. I drink it unsweetened, which is how I was raised by my northern parents. Growing up, I never realized that there was any other way. Such a naive little Texan I was. Then one day, I was playing at my friend’s house next door and her mom offered me a glass of iced tea. I took a big gulp, assuming it was made like my mom’s, and had to politely swallow it while internally thinking, “What in the world was that?! That’s not iced tea!” My first introduction to sweet tea. No offense to my fellow southerners, but I just can’t do it.

My mom has always kept a big pitcher of iced tea in the fridge and enjoys at least one glass a day. It’s her go-to drink plus a little caffeine fix and always makes me think of her. I love to order iced tea when I go out and usually have a glass when visiting home, but until recently, I never made it myself for whatever reason. But now, as of a few weeks ago, I consistently keep a pitcher in the fridge.

Dear Lord, I’m turning into my mother.

You hear women fret the fact that they start to resemble their mom as they grow older, especially when they get married and have kids. Many ladies view and say it as a negative. For me, it’s mainly been drinking iced tea, catching myself saying things like she does, and mothering like I often remember her doing.

Dear Lord, I’m turning into my mother.

…thank you.

Because turning into my mother means so many wonderful things. Sure, we’ve had our challenges and disagreements over the years like any normal mother and daughter duo. But…

My mom has been a wife for 33 years. She has been an example of fidelity in a culture that calls it quits when relationships aren’t easy or fun. And as a wife of 7 years so far, I’ve quickly learned that marriage isn’t always easy and fun, so I am extremely thankful for a mother who doesn’t give up on her husband or family when the going gets tough.

My mom raised three kids. Pretty awesome ones, if I say so myself. She gave all of us so much of her time and attention over the years. Diaper changes, making countless meals, cleaning up after us with no gripes, doing all the day in and day out tasks that motherhood involves and usually with little appreciation. As a mother myself, I get how hard that is now and wish I could come close to saying thank you enough.

My mom is a daughter and sister. She’s always been quick to lend a helping hand to my grandparents over the years. She continues to visit and help take care of so much for my grandmother when I know she’s exhausted after a long day at work. She’s not only a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but is also a totally fun person to be around with a great sense of humor and playful personality. She opens up her heart and her home and would give her right arm to those who needed it.

My mom is a breast cancer survivor. A few years ago, she got an unexpected, serious, and rare diagnosis then proceeded to handle it with strength, perseverance, and hope. Sitting with her during a chemo session and visiting her after surgery seemed to be harder on me than her. She has kept her positivity and genuine faith in God’s plan during the whole journey and has since been cancer free and in good health.

On top of all that, my mom has taught me many things over the years. She’s a great baker which I insist is where I get my cookie decorating skills. She instilled the importance of making church a priority in life. She hasn’t lived a showy life and has taught me how to shop a good sale, be frugal, and clip coupons. Because of her, I understand the awesomeness of secondhand stores and learned how to find treasures. She’s shown me how to be grateful for your blessings, be a generous giver, and use your time, talents, and treasures for the good of God and others.

So dear Lord, if I am turning into my mother, I thank you for it. I’ve sure been given a good one.

Happy Mother’s Day mom – I love you and appreciate all that you’ve done and continue to do for me and our whole family.

 

(Photo from pixabay.com, Wording added by Vita Dulcis)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

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I love a good scone and have made all sorts of flavors. This is one of my absolute favorite recipes and is perfect if you happen to have some leftover coconut milk to use up. The chocolate/coconut combo makes it taste like a Mounds bar and the texture is perfect – nice and soft on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

Now, these are mighty delicious without the glaze, but I definitely recommend adding it for some extra sweetness and indulgence. I love using my favorite scone pan to make them into cute triangles but you can totally just use an ice cream scoop and make little round scones instead.

Hope that you enjoy – these would be SO perfect for an upcoming Mother’s Day brunch!

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup or more chocolate chips (I used mini ones)

For the glaze:
2 Tbsp coconut milk
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Yield: 1 dozen scones

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet OR prepare your scone pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and shredded coconut in a bowl. Beat in the butter with a mixer on low speed, then raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is in coarse crumbles.

Whisk the coconut milk, eggs, and coconut extract in another bowl, then stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips; do not overmix!

Scoop 2-3 inch mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (a large ice cream scoop works well for this) OR divide the dough into the scone pan. Warning, the dough is a bit sticky so to make it easier to work with, I recommend spraying your hands/utensils with non-stick cooking spray. Bake the scones until golden brown, 15-17 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk the coconut milk, coconut and vanilla extracts, and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the scones while still slightly warm.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network

Monday Morsels #24

Hey everyone! Hope that you’re all doing well this spring – life has continued to be busy on our end but I certainly can’t complain! Here’s some of what we’ve been up to lately:

ordination

Photo cred – Diocese of Fort Worth

We were blessed to be able to attend the ordination to the diaconate for two amazing men, Stephen and John, both of whom we got to know at our former parish where they served at different times. Ordinations are awesome in general, but when you know the people, it’s extremely powerful and beautiful. Congratulations to them on this huge step towards their vocation to the priesthood. Our diocese is blessed to have you both!

wyd meet and greet

Photo cred – Jeanette Houle

That same weekend we went to the final meet and greet for the upcoming World Youth Day pilgrimage. It’s hard to believe that we leave in less than 100 days! I’m beyond excited to travel with this group and still hoping that traveling overseas with a toddler and baby isn’t too nuts!

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We got some tickets to a recent Texas Rangers game and had an amazing time. It was Clare’s first game and she even got a cute commemorative certificate. She was fascinated by all the people, chants, music, and of course the food. Especially the nacho cheese!

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There have been a lot of celebrations in our lives lately! Several of our friends have kiddos turning two so we’ve had a blast celebrating these little ones. Also, Jason’s grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and we had a nice family dinner out. What a huge accomplishment that is and a beautiful example to our family and others!

cookies april

In cookie news, I’ve kept busy lately with Birthday cookies for several kids along with a “family tree” set for the 60th anniversary party. I’ve decided to take off the whole month of May with baby Catherine’s arrival soon. It’s definitely been hard turning away business but I know it’s for the best and would be way overwhelming otherwise. But what a blessing to be my own boss and have that option! I’m looking ahead at June with graduations and Father’s Day (and my 30th Birthday, whoop!!) but will honestly just play it all by ear once I see what I’m able to handle.

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In miscellaneous news, we’ve had some fun play dates, an old friend over for dinner, and my ladies book club finished “All The Light We Cannot See” and loved it! I’ve been having my weekly birth center appointments and all looks good on the baby front. My due date is now anywhere from May 5th to the 11th so we’ll see what little miss Catherine has in mind! I’ve been nesting like crazy, wanting to clean and organize ALL the things, plus trying to soak up all the snuggles and one on one time with Clare that I can get before life changes.

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We’ve also finally transitioned Clare to her “big girl room” upstairs which is going ok – some nights are better than others! We did cosleeping when she was a baby and then since the master bedroom is downstairs and the others are all the way upstairs, she’s slept on a bed in our room after that. With Catherine soon taking that spot in our room, we decided to move Clare up there before baby comes so she doesn’t feel replaced or kicked out. It’s hard to believe our big girl will be 2 this week but it’s super exciting and we’re thrilled to see her be in big sister mode soon. So stay tuned, because the next update will likely have baby photos galore!

Garlic Basil Pizza Dough

garlic basil pizza dough

One of our family food traditions is Friday night homemade pizza night. Growing up, we had pizza for dinner on Fridays too so I love carrying on this tradition in my own family. When I was first married and didn’t really know how to cook yet, I totally went the frozen pizza route. But then when I learned more about the art of homemade bread and pizza dough, I was hooked. (dough hook pun intended)

I used a different dough recipe for the longest time then tried this Garlic Bread Pizza Crust recipe once and loved it. I tweaked and simplified it a bit along the way and now it’s my go-to pizza dough recipe every week. If you’re new to homemade dough and using yeast, please don’t be intimidated! If you just make sure to keep the warm water at the right temperature, there’s not much that can go wrong with this recipe. (knock on wood) It’s pretty resilient!

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One major plus for this recipe is that it makes enough dough for two pizzas. Score!! Right now, I just use half of it for a full round pizza that Jason and I share and then I use a little portion to make a tiny pizza for Clare on a mini cast iron skillet. This is a huge advantage because then I just have to make the dough every other week and simply freeze the other half. Then as our family grows or if we have company over, I don’t have to double the recipe. At least not yet!

To freeze the dough for later use, simply put it in a Ziplock bag that’s been sprayed with a little non-stick spray on the inside to keep it from sticking. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, set out the bag at room temperature for about 4-5 hours or keep it overnight in the refrigerator to defrost. Since I’m home during the day, I always just take it out of the freezer during Clare’s nap time, set it on the counter, and it’s back to life in time for dinner!

Also, I love the added garlic and basil flavor in the dough but if that’s not your thing, you can totally keep it simple and leave them out. Or add other herbs/flavors if you want to mix it up!

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Another tip is that you can use the same dough recipe to make homemade stromboli. Again, just use half of the dough and spread it out into a rectangle on a prepared baking sheet. Top it with any sort of meat/cheese/veggies you like. My usual is turkey deli meat and/or pepperoni, sliced mozzarella or provolone, then a sprinkle of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Roll it up and keep it seam down on the pan. Pinch the ends with a fork or your fingers, sprinkle a little more Italian seasoning on top, and prick a few holes on the top with a fork to let the air out while it cooks. Bake it at 375 degrees F for the same 22-25 minutes until it’s crisp and brown on the outside. Let it sit and cool for a few minutes then slice it with a knife or pizza cutter and serve with some pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.

I hope that yall enjoy this recipe and maybe make Friday night homemade pizzas a thing in your home too!

Garlic Basil Pizza Dough

Ingredients:
1 1/8 cups warm water (100-105 degrees F)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
Whatever pizza sauce and toppings you want!

Yield: 2 pizzas

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil. Mix it with a spoon, then let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt, garlic powder, and dried basil. Mix it with a dough hook (preferred), stir with a spoon, or mix with your hands until the dough comes together. It should be smooth, not sticky. Spray the same bowl with non-stick spray then place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with a light towel and place it in a warm place to rise for at least 1 1/2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. After the dough has risen, using a rolling pin or your hands, form it into your desired shape on a greased pizza/baking pan. Place the towel back over the dough and let it sit in the warm place for 10 more minutes before topping.

Continue to make the pizza with your desired sauce and toppings. Bake the pizza for 22-25 minutes or until the crust and cheese are both golden. Let the pizza set for a minute, then slice and serve! (see above for stromboli directions)

Source: Adapted from How Sweet Eats

CWBN Texas 2016

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This time last week, I was heading down to Fredericksburg, TX for the first ever Catholic Women Blogging Network (CWBN) Texas conference. After months and months of planning, it was hard to believe that the weekend had finally arrived. We were actually supposed to have the event last October, but then crazy Texas hurricane weather throughout the state deterred our plans and we decided to reschedule for the spring. As much of a bummer as that was (I seriously had my car loaded when we made the call to cancel – womp womp womp) I felt at peace with the decision and just knew that it was God’s will that we postpone the event.

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Special cookies for the swag bags!

And as awesome as the fall conference would’ve been I’m sure, as I drove into town last weekend, I knew that it was meant to be at this place and time. Fredericksburg in the spring is amazing, y’all. I headed down from Fort Worth and picked up Haley at the farm on my way. I may have had a brief fan girl moment as she’s one of my fave bloggers but Haley, you are so easy and fun to talk with and I had a great time with you as my copilot! And hey, I can proudly say that I used the infamous compost toilet. It wasn’t bad, I promise! 😉

We took winding back roads and got to see the gorgeous terrain of the Lone Star State along the way. As we entered Fredericksburg, we saw tons of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes plus found out that F-burg is home to lots of beautiful vineyards and is famous for their peaches. After running a few quick errands, we met up with a small group of ladies who were also already in town for dinner at Hondo’s, enjoyed some mighty delicious burgers, and started getting to know each other. Afterwards, we walked down quaint Main Street and chatted, checked out an art gallery, then met up with Erin and Katie who made it safely from Louisiana.

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Haley kicking off the day with her talk!

On Saturday, we heard amazing talks from Haley, Erin, and Kathryn and had some great discussions about topics ranging from being an authentic writer, finding your voice as a writer, social media, time management, and online privacy issues. We had some free time for lunch and shopping in the afternoon then after wrapping up the final talk and discussion, enjoyed a quick happy hour then headed to a phenomenal dinner at the Farm Haus Bistro. On Sunday, those of us still in town went to mass together at the beautiful St. Mary’s and then had brunch at Vaudeville (best crab & asparagus quiche, btw) before heading our separate ways.

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The beautiful St. Mary’s on Divine Mercy Sunday

Needless to say, like most of you who’ve hosted events before can understand, my attention was a bit torn. I put so much work into planning and running the event and wanted it to succeed so badly, that I found myself working to balance Mary and Martha mode the whole time. I wondering if I should take notes during the talk and discussion like most everyone else was or just try to soak it all in. Then I checked my phone to make sure we were on time with our schedule for the day. Then I was thinking about our budget. Then I found myself going through my mental to-do list for the next thing on the docket. Then my attention was back to the speaker and the words of wisdom she shared.

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Erin’s captivating talk about humility

Along the way with planning, gearing up for the big weekend, and even while I was there, people were asking me why I took on this big task, especially in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. (35 weeks now, wow!) At times, I honestly doubted my ability to successfully pull it off with everything else already on my plate and felt a little nervous about being in charge of things for such an awesome group of bloggers. But the whole experience was a true lesson in using the talents that God has given you and taking a leap of faith.

 

 

Before becoming a stay at home mom last year, I worked for many years in the hospitality industry and helped plan tons of events at various venues along the way. So when this conference was in the beginning stages and a call for help was issued, I felt moved to raise my hand. God was totally nudging me toward this great opportunity to use my experience and skills. While it was a lot of work, I’m so glad that I trusted God to use me and my talents in this little way for the benefit of others. Now if only I could say “yes” without hesitation to what Christ asks of me all the time! Baby steps, right?

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Kathryn discussing her love of sweet tea & Dr Pepper…among other things 😉

 

Thankfully the event ran really smoothly – the only negative was that I wish we had more time together! To all the ladies that attended, I truly appreciate your kind and easy going attitudes. It was a pleasure to meet and connect with all of you and I hope to do it again! And to Kate, my partner in crime during this whole thing, thank you for the teamwork and help with getting this all together. You’re a rock star!

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What a wonderful & beautiful group! (Photo cred – Kathryn Whitaker)

If you’re interested, here are the blogs of the ladies that attended. Check them out!

The Rhodes Log
Erring on the Side of Love
Cajun Texas Mom
The Salt Stories
Humble Handmaid
Team Whitaker
The Littlest Way
Re-Visions
The Catholic Wife
Making History Today
Carrots for Michaelmas

PS: Huge shout out and thanks to our sponsors for the event! Charity Mobile and eCatholic