Homemade Instant Maple Oatmeal with Chia Seed

Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot, nine days old. And so goes the ditty about porridge.

Our family happens to like our oatmeal hot, especially when we’ve just crawled out of a tent in the middle of the forest. Sometimes I like to go all out with my campfire breakfast, but most days we’re looking for something quick and comforting.

Instant maple oatmeal is a simple breakfast my children beg for both at home and at the campsite – and I’m not talking about the packaged variety. This homemade version of a grocery staple is a recipe to keep in your back pocket year round. It yields a tasty breakfast that is easy to prepare and replaces a popular supermarket item with something much more nourishing.

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What do oatmeal and Jamie Oliver have in common?

I‘m not so good at beginning new things in life. I worry about failing and not meeting standards; I tend to circle projects for a while, observing, and yes, dragging my feet.

Because I know this about myself, I was eager to get my first post for Jamie Oliver published and behind me. I have plenty to say on the subject of kids in the kitchen and, once started, should have no trouble making myself at home in my new digs.

It would have been far too easy to obsess over a topic for that first blog post, so I enlisted Noah to help me come to a quick decision together: Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal. It’s a hot breakfast that we love, and he can prepare it nearly all by himself, so it was perfect for kicking off a series on cooking with family.

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Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce

Fall in Virginia is in full swing, as evidenced by the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground. I’ve been spending my afternoons outside with Clara, watching her toddler feet crunch the leaves as she squeals excitedly.

After burning so much energy playing outside, she’s almost always ready for a snack when we come in. We try to keep our snacks healthy, usually opting for fruit, cheese and crackers, or vegetables and hummus, but after walking in to the fragrant smell of this Bundt cake cooling, I couldn’t resist sharing some of it with her (and having a slice myself).

Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel SaucePhoto by Courtney Champion

This was a snack that, while not her typical variety, I still felt good giving Clara. I reduced the amount of sugar in the cake and swapped out raw cane sugar for the granulated sugar called for in the original recipe. This Bundt cake is full of pumpkin flavor that isn’t drowned out by sweetness.

The combination of oats and pumpkin is a new favorite of mine, and, in this recipe, the oats add a delicate texture that differentiates it from other cakes I’ve made.

While powdered sugar is the standard topping for many a Bundt cake, I decided to make a maple caramel sauce to top this one, turning it into a decadent treat. Toasted, salted pumpkin seeds add crunch and just the right amount of saltiness to balance the caramel. [Read more…]

Travel snacks and an easy Chocolate-Oat Cereal Bar recipe

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I‘m looking at suitcase on the floor, overflowing with light and airy garments with flower prints on them, white sandals, and a stack of Danny’s T-shirts. Just above, a window looks out on to our snowbound backyard, frosted white like a slicked sheet cake. Something does not quite compute.

BUT. Our flights are booked and an enormous villa is rented on a quiet beach near a remote fishing town on Mexico’s West Coast. Yes, we’re headed South! My three siblings and I are finally pulling off a tropical getaway that we’ve only been talking about for, oh, five or six years. Together with our families, we’re flying into Mexico from all over North America for a ten-days vacation together, Wimbush-style.

Here’s what we’re leaving behind…

snow collage

I’m so excited to bring my children back to the beach and just let them run. It will all be worth the massive effort required to coordinate such a trip for a family of five. Ugh. Toiletries in Ziplock? Not so much, but packing travel snacks is my specialty.

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Oatmeal Applesauce Bread

There is nothing more comforting to me than a loaf of homemade bread fresh from the oven.

Just the smell of hot bread baking takes me back to my childhood, to Grandma in her faded apron, to after school snacks and my brother’s “famous sandwiches.”

I hope someday my own kids will catch a whiff of hot bread and think of home and happiness, which is why I carry on the labor of love and make bread from scratch.

With Autumn at our doorstep and cooler days just around the corner, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  Somehow the seasonal business of canning applesauce coincided with a sudden shortage of sandwich bread and I decided to get creative.
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