Monsters University and Steel Cut Oats three ways

Tomorrow is a very big day at our house.

It’s Hal’s first day of school. After 10 years with UPS, he officially retired and is returning to college full time. He’s currently planning on majoring in Computer Science and completing his core classes at Dalton State before transferring to a larger school like Kennesaw State or UTC to finish his degree.

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I surprised him with Monsters University this weekend to celebrate the new chapter. We couldn’t help but laugh at Don calling himself a “mature student” or the part where he talked about being sweaty. Hal definitely relates, especially after attending new student orientation earlier this week. (Sidenote: If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great movie whether you’re getting ready to go to college or not!)

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It’s certainly a season of transition here on the homestead – wonderful, weird and something we’re all trying to get used to. The dogs have no idea what’s going on, but they’re loving the extra snuggles.

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One specific change for us is living on one income. It’s something we haven’t done before and it’s taken a lot of conversations about where we were and weren’t willing to make compromises with our budget. Since we decided that good haircuts, fancy dog food and vacations were non-negotiable, our “eating out” and “grocery” funds have taken significant hits.

The good news is that I transitioned to a mostly-plant based diet at the end of 2017. In case you don’t already know, produce, beans and rice are some of the cheapest ingredients out there, which makes this lifestyle perfect for a budget. And since I’ve got a somewhat reluctant partner on this part of the journey, you know we’re not making anything too weird over here.

I got an Instant Pot back in November thinking we could save money by cooking our own beans instead of buying canned ones. We’ve been trying out recipes, so this morning I decided to share an oatmeal win on my Instagram story. I was truly shocked at how many people watched the story and even more by the response I got from people saying they would be interested in seeing more food and food prep tips.

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I kind of feel like food blogs are a dime a dozen, but I’m already doing the work, so why not share what we’re up to?

Since Monday is Hal’s long day, Sundays will be a pretty chill day for us to do meal prep and get ready for the week. My plan is to share what was good from the week before and any tips on what I’d do differently in the future. I’ll have a record of what worked and anybody reading will have some first-hand knowledge on what may be worth trying.

Every New Year I saw I’m going to actually keep up a blog, and it doesn’t usually pan out. Here’s to 2019! Maybe having a spouse who has to do homework will help. 😛

Below I’m sharing the oatmeal I posted on my insta story with one addition. Each recipe makes enough for two servings, but I’m pretty sure you could double, triple or possibly quadruple if you’re trying to make enough for the week.

The basic ingredients and process are all the same, so freestyle if you feel inspired. I know I’ll eventually try out a berry, peach and pumpkin varieties too. Let me know if you beat me to it. I’d love to hear how it turns out.

Steel Cut Oats Three Ways:

Pear Cardamom Oats (Slightly modified from The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot):

  • 1 pear cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice to taste (I used brown sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • Sprinkle or two of groud cinnamon
  • Toasted almonds for topping (optional)

Apple Cinnamon Oats:

  • 1 apple cut into small pieces (I used Honeycrisp and it was perfect)
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 1 ½ cup of water
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice to taste (I used leftover cinnamon sugar)
  • Sprinkle or two of ground cinnamon
  • Sprinkle or two of All Spice
  • Toasted walnuts for topping (optional)

Banana Bread Oats:

  • 2/3 banana cut into small pieces (eat the other 1/3 or give it to your dog(s))
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 3/4 cup almond or other non-dairy milk (Use water if you don’t have non-dairy milk. Haven’t tried dairy milk in the instant pot, so no idea if it works.)
  • 3/4cup water
  • Sweetener to taste* (I used leftover cinnamon sugar, but honey, brown sugar, agave, etc. should all work just fine.)
  • Cinnamon to taste*
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice
  • Toasted walnuts for topping (optional but highly recommended)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into Instant Pot and stir.
  2. Set Instant Pot to “pressure cook” for 4 minutes
  3. Release pressure manually or naturally. Not sure if it’s safe, but we just stick a dish towel over the release valve and open it.
  4. Taste to see if you want to add more spices or sweetener. Top with nuts and/or fresh or dried fruit. Enjoy!

*If you’re nervous about sweetening or spicing to taste, be conservative with just a sprinkle or two. You can always add more after your oats are finished.

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