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FEATURES Oct 23 2012 8:23PM

Mom is On the Go and the Kids Have to Eat

I am a very busy, traveling mom. As I am writing this, I am on a plane for the fifth time in less than a week. My husband and I have learned to figure out ways to feed our brood quickly and deliciously. My husband and I both love to cook and these are a few of our family recipes that we go to when time is of the essence and Daddy can't be Emeril and Mommy can't be Martha.

Lisa's Steel-Cut Oats

Oats are an excellent breakfast and have endless possibilities on what you can add to them. I am a huge fan of steel-cut oats, also known as Irish Oatmeal. A steel-cut oat is an oat groat that is cut versus being rolled out into an oat flake. You get a much richer porridge with steel-cut oats.

My trick is to prepare a week's worth in advance so that in the morning all we need to do is heat up our individual portions and add whatever toppings we'd like to our bowl. I have two teenagers and a six-year-old. So, except for the youngest one, everyone can fend for themselves.

I like to use a slow cooker for mine because I can toss everything in and basically walk away and it cooks itself. To cook on top of the stove follow this recipe, this is good for my family of five for a week. Not everyone eats it every single day, but it is always the right amount for those who do choose to partake. You can feel free to cut this recipe in half, if it is too much for your household.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, add to it 1 tsp. salt.

Once the water has come to a boil, add 1/2 stick if butter and lower the flame.

Then stir in two cups of steel-cut oats, stirring as you pour.

With the flame still medium-to-low, you want to cover the oats so that they can swell and turn into a nice thick porridge. You may need to tilt the lid a bit so as not to have it spill over and you should check it often during the simmering process so that it doesn't stick to the pot. (This is why I opt for the slow cooker.)

While your oats are simmering, if you know your family will like the taste of cinnamon and vanilla, you can go ahead and add that now to save time every morning when individual bowls are being made. You will add, 1 tblsp. of vanilla extract and 1-2 tblsp. of cinnamon. I LOVE cinnamon so, I add a bit more. You add to your liking.

Once all liquid is cooked away, turn off the flame. This is when I like to add some milk, about a cup or 2, depending on how you like your oats. You can use whatever kind of milk you wish. I have made mine with everything from skim milk to soy to coconut milk. You can also opt to not put milk in it at all and let each person add the milk when they heat up their bowl each morning. You can also, at this point, take the liberty of adding your sweetener. I suggest honey or brown sugar for the best taste. However, when I make mine I leave it unsweetened. I usually use fruit to sweeten my bowl and this way I am not adding extra calories.

Keep toppings available in the kitchen. We have jars of nuts, raisins, grated coconut, etc. to add to our bowls and of course you can add fresh fruit like berries, bananas, peaches and even mangoes.

Delicious and healthy breakfast that you make once a week. Yummy!

Carol's Franks and Beans

My mom was a stay-at-home mom up until I was about 11 and then she went back to work. Mommy was an amazing cook and could make just about anything taste special and delicious. Her franks and beans were no exception. When Mommy made this dish for me and my brothers and sisters, throughout the years, she always used turkey franks. She stopped preparing beef and pork in our house when I was about eight years old. My husband, Gordon, loves a good beef frankfurter like Hebrew National and that is what my children prefer as well. So, this I one I make for them. For mine, I just eat the beans and skip the franks - still delicious.

Before I tell you how to prepare the franks and beans, let me start off by telling you that you will need rice. I am of Trinidadian descent and my husband is proficient in Asian cuisine, so, we always have rice. We have a rice cooker and we make a lot of rice at one time and use it accordingly throughout the week. It is a great time saver. Fall back option - we live in an urban city, so there is a Chinese good store on the corner. We can get a quart of steamed rice for about two dollars and on less than five minutes.

Get a large, deep skillet. You want to heat up some peanut oil or canola oil. Enough to cover the pan, but not so much as to cause any pooling of the oil. Add to the oil one chopped onion, and 1 chopped green pepper. Let that simmer until the onions are translucent.

Now you will add your franks. You will need to cut these up. For my family, there are five of us, I use about 8 franks. Add the franks to your pot, cover and let them cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring periodically.

While they are cooking, you can get your beans ready. I always use, because Mommy always used them...vegetarian beans. I use 2 regular size cans or one large, depending on what is in my cabinet.

Stir your franks, onions and peppers and add your beans. To this mix, as it simmers, add 2 tblsp. of brown sugar, 1 tblsp. of mustard, 2 tsp. of cinnamon, and 1 tblsp. of maple syrup. This is what I have come up with over the years because Mommy never cooked from a recipe. She would shake a bit of something in there, taste, stir and decide what she wanted to add next. So, feel free to put your own spin on this.

Allow your franks and beans to simmer on a low light for another seven minutes and then it should be ready to be served over your rice. Easy, delicious, the kids will love it and it's one pot. And, if there's any leftovers, it makes a great lunch the next day.

Options - this dish can be made with soy franks.  Or, if you're like me and you just want the beans over rice, you can prepare the beans separately.

Turkey in Delicious Sauce

This is a recipe that my husband, Gordon came up with. The children named it "Turkey in Delicious Sauce" because that is exactly what it is. This dish is also served over rice or you can add the rice to the ground turkey mixture when you are cooking it. Again, another reason to have a rice cooker. :)

What you need:

Package of ground turkey - about a pound (doesn't even have to be defrosted)

I package, small of frozen veggies, if you don't already have some leftovers in your fridge that you can toss in. You can use any of the following, alone or mixed:  green beans, corn, or carrots.

1 container of sauce - need to get exact brand name

Cooked rice

Get out that large deep skillet that will allow you to prepare an entire meal in it. You will start by browning your turkey in some peanut oil or canola oil.

Side note: If your meat is frozen, you can defrost as you cook by lowering the flame and keeping the lid on. I have done this so many times after rushing in from work. I can get this from the freezer to the table in about 30 minutes, unless I also have to do homework.

Brown your ground turkey evenly all around. Add your sauce.

Side note: Most places that sell this sauce sell the smaller container, which is usually just the right amount for a one-pound package of turkey. Sometimes, I will add more sauce, if I have more turkey, or I will add a can of chickpeas or red kidney beans to the mixture and possibly get lunch leftovers out of this. But typically, without the additions, this is a one-night meal. They devour it.

Once you have stirred in the sauce you can add your vegetables. This just needs to simmer for about 7-8 minutes. Everything is already cooked, you are just allowing your flavors to mingle.

This is now ready to be served over rice, or you can do what my husband does, add the cooked rice to the sauce. This is truly delicious because the sauce is so well made and well-flavored. It will taste like you spent hours preparing it versus minutes.


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