steel cut oatmeal, part doux

After making oatmeal in the crockpot, I had a large amount left over, way too much to just throw away. I had read several places that it reheated well in the microwave, so I put all of the left overs into the fridge. My  super  picky daughter would pull some out, and re-heat it before breakfast… and after several days I used up the last of it by making Oatmeal Waffle. Best waffles ever.

Yesterday morning my super picky 7-year-old asked if there was any oatmeal left. I told her no, but I would make some for her, for today. So last night I started the crockpot, and instead of adding brown sugar to the oats, I dumped in some honey. Now I only use local honey, as it helps my husband and kids with pollen allergies, so we are killing two birds with one stone here. This morning, one child said it was sweet enough the other wanted just a small amount of brown sugar in hers (it does have specific flavor that I think she was after) and they both added a bit of cinnamon, since I didn’t add too much of that because of picky husband man.

Long story short, I will be definitely be looking for a cheaper source for steel cut oatmeal, as the $7 can had about 4 .5 C of oats and I have  emptied it already. This has made a wonderful addition to our staple foods, plus, it stores longer, when in a sealed container, than rolled oats, so you can keep a larger amount on hand, assuming you have storage space, of course.


Chinese Food on a budget

We are prevented from take-out Chinese for two reasons: 1)all Chinese food from restaurants is cross contaminated with tree-nuts (cashews usually, our #1 allergen), and 2)cost. I do like the Asian flavors, though, so I’ve worked to create a budget friendly Asian-inspired dish at home that all the kids like, but is still flavorful enough for the adults.  Everything for this dish is available at WalMart and this dish takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.


  • 1 bag Deluxe Stir Fry – defrosted and drained
  • 2 large chicken breasts – semi thawed, cut into small pieces
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (I have never used fresh)
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 cups Instant white rice
  • 2 cups water

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger & soy sauce, stir. Add little pieces of chicken, stir-fry for a few minutes. While chicken is cooking, put rice and water in a bowl and cook in microwave for 5 minutes. Add frozen vegetable mix to pan. Stir-fry until vegetables are done. Serve stir-fry over rice, season with additional soy sauce if needed.

Texas Hash Casserole – one skillet!

This one was a win for the adults and the smaller three children. My 10 year old thinks it is too spicy, but he tends to have reflux which might explain his aversion. My 1 year old loved this so much she ate it for breakfast 3 times after we had it for dinner.

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced finely
  • 5-6 medium potatoes skinned & diced (or you can use little reds with skin on)
  • 1 can of corn drained (frozen would probably work)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 oz Velveeta cheese
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper

Add ground beef, potatoes and onions to a large skillet. Fry over medium-high heat until beef is throughly cooked, break up large pieces while cooking – it’s okay if some of the potatoes get mashed. Drain grease. Add corn, water & spices. Stir. Cover with cheese, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Irish Oatmeal

I have recently heard about the benefits of Irish Oatmeal, also known as Steel Cut Oatmeal, or Pinhead  Oats. They are higher in protein and fiber than the traditional (in the US) rolled oats, a different texture, and slightly different, slightly nuttier flavor. They do take longer too cook, but for the Crockpot this is a good thing. Rolled oats, when cooked overnight in the crockpot, turn out rubbery. With Irish oatmeal, you use less, because it cooks up and expands more, but you use more water…

Last night I put 3 1/2 C water, 1 C irish oats, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 2 tbsp of brown sugar into the crockpot, and left it on warm all night long. After about 9 hrs, when I got up this morning, it was done. I really liked it… sticky but not really gummy, and once I added a small amount of milk (like 1tsp  to my bowl) it was creamy and not gummy at all.) I offered my girls, who get served a free breakfast at school, the option of having some, and still eating at school, my oldest just said yes… but my younger daughter, who has recently started refusing all oatmeal, tasted her sisters, and opted for a bowl herself. I sprinkled about half a tsp of brown sugar on each, and a little more cinnamon, and they both devoured it. I ended up having two bowls, and super picky Mr. Man(my husband) had a bowl, he didn’t add anything to his but milk, he  is a low flavor kind of person.

Now Irish Oatmeal was not cheap when I bought it, I only found it at Albertsons and a 24oz can was $7.50 I am looking for it cheaper, I have been told that places like whole foods have it in bulk bins, and in packages cheaper, I have to find one of those in my wannabe city. I may have to resort to online ordering.. I know I can find it cheaper that way.

This  is going to become a regular around here. It was GOOD, and can be flavored with any number of add ins from dried fruit, to fresh fruit, to nuts, honey, maple syrup, etc. basically,  your imagination is your only limit. Once I find a cheaper supply I am going to attempt oatmeal cookies with it, why not take advantage of the health properties if at all possible?

Meatballs – Tested and Approved in Tara’s Kitchen

No way you can go wrong with this tasty treat! Added bonus – super cheap to make! I bought the hamburger for $1.69/lb in bulk at the local grocery, the stuffing mix and egg noodles for $1.00/each at a stock up sale and the gravy packets were $0.33/each. All in all, I fed my family last night for about $6.00 TOTAL, and we fed 6 people with leftovers!

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 1 pkg chicken stuffing mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 pkgs brown gravy mix
  • 1 bag of egg noodles

Preheat oven to 400. Use no-stick spray to spray 2 cookie sheets. Take off your wedding ring. Add hamburger, stuffing mix, eggs and water into a large bowl. Mix with your hands until everything looks evenly distributed. Use a melon ball maker or ice-cream scoop (or if you are cheap like me, a small spoon from the silverware) so you can have somewhat same sized balls. Scoop, roll, place onto cookie sheet. I got about 40-45 balls. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil some water, add your egg nooodles and cook to desired doneness.

At the same time, prepare 3 pkts gravy according to directions.

When the balls are done, serve them over noodles and smother with gravy.

You know you want some Whities, but they just aren’t in the budget

What to do, what to do?  You want the White Castle Crave Case, you really do, but holy cow they are getting pricier by the day. Try this tasty alternative made at home, in your kitchen, where you control the contents and the price!

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 pkg dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup
  • 4 oz Velveeta (the kind from Aldi works just fine)
  • 1 pkg Hawaiian rolls (or for less sweet, cut hotdog buns up into halves)
  • dill pickles
  • ketchup & mustard

Brown the beef. Drop the soup mix, cream of soup, browned burger & velveeta into the crockpot and cook until it’s nice and bubbly….about 4-6 hours on low should do the trick. Serve on buns with pickles, ketchup & mustard.

Yes, this looks vile. But oh, wow, close your eyes and you’ll swear you are at the Castle! An added bonus is that your car doesn’t hold the aroma for days to come 🙂 Enjoy!

Oatmeal Waffles

My kids were hounding me the other day for waffles, but I had gotten tired of the old standby of waffles from a mix, so I went looking for recipes. I found one that sounded promising but it called for one minute oats, which I detest, I won’t have them in my house. So I adapted. The kids LOVED it, and begged for more when they were gone. Here is the recipe I used.

  • 1 C old fashioned oats cooked (I used the microwave) with 1 1/2 C water.
  • 1 1/2 C  Flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tps salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/12 C Milk
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  1. in large mixing bowl mix flour, baking powder , cinnamon and salt.
  2. add to cooked oatmeal, eggs, butter, milk and brown sugar, mix until well blended,
  3. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until well mixed, there will be lumps, from the oatmeal.
  4. spoon into your waffle iron (I spray mine once, for the first waffle, then it doesn’t require more) and bake until done.