Instant Oatmeal Packets

Oct 19, 2013

homemade instant oatmeal packs

Not all of Fly guy's hotels serve breakfast.  With his cooler already packed to the max, muffins and the like are not an option for his long trips.  The last few weeks I've been tossing in homemade 'instant oatmeal' packets.

These are so customizable. Just add some hot water from the hotel coffee pot and you are set.  Apparently he said hot tap water worked fine also.  I don't know, maybe sleep deprivation makes tap water oatmeal seem tasty? 

We like the texture of whole rolled oats, but if you like a finer texture you may try instant oats.  My kids ate this exact recipe for breakfast leaving them begging for seconds.  Begging for oatmeal?  Oh yes, super mom moment. 

homemade instant oatmeal packs

Instant Oatmeal Packets
serves 1

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup mix ins (I chose dates and pecans)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
optional: 1-2 tsp brown sugar

Right before serving add in approximately 2/3 cups almost boiling water.  Let sit a few moments to allow the water to absorb.

Oven Baked Apple Chips

Oct 17, 2013

oven baked apple chipsSo I was out in the rain doing a little photoshoot when Fly Guy wandered off and came back eating a large shiny red apple.  "Hey, where did that come from?  I thought you were just peeing in the bushes!"  Apparently several feet from a pecan tree we discovered there is also a tree loaded with delicious apples.  This is the best Fall ever!

Now what to do with all our apples?  And how to incorporate them in brown bag lunches?

Apple chips!  Crunchy, sweet, crinkly chips.  As a bonus they make your house smell like Christmas while baking.

oven baked apple chips

Now there are several recipes for these chips but you just have to play with cooking times.  Different apples have different amounts of moisture.  I discovered this when I baked two kinds at once and one variety burned.  My final chips are almost identical to the Italian Dish's Apple Chips.  Check out how she gifted hers instead of just stuffing her face when she was done.

You don't have to add any flavor.  My apples were not sweet or tart when I baked them plain but still tasty.  The unflavored ones also seem to cook faster (or it could be my imagination).  My kids like the sugar spice variety best. 

Several cooks claim to cut these apples by hand.  Eh, not for me.  I use a mandoline slicer very similiar to this.  Easy peasy.
oven baked apple chips
Oven Baked Apple Chips 

A few thinly sliced apples  (5 for me)
A handful of brown or white sugar (1/3 cup brown)
A few teaspoons of spices  (1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves)

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper (I baked 3 pans at once).  Mix you sugar and spices in a small bowl then lightly dip one side of each apple slice before laying then on prepared baking sheets.  You can lay them close, but don't overlap.

Bake between 200 and 225 for 2 to 2.5 hours flipping once after the first hour.  The chips will be a little crunchy when done and further harden as they cool.  If they do not seem to be crisping up as desired you can turn off the oven after the initial 2 hours and leave the pans in for the slices to dry out.

Cheesy Thermos Pasta - Vegan

Sep 23, 2013

thermos mac n cheese vegan

This is the most sought after lunch choice in our home lately.   Who doesn't love a little homemade mac n cheese? Except this recipe doesn't have any cheese...  So you can please the vegans, the lactose intolerant, and the kids all at once!   One step closer to world peace.

So you all want to know how cheesy no-cheese pasta can be right?  Well, not exactly like mac n cheese.  A taste hybrid between cheese and alfredo sauce.  Really creamy alfredo sauce.  It's all about the sauce.  My friend makes it but replaces the pasta with rice which has her kids clamoring for "cheesy rice".

The original recipe I found over at VegNews.  I've made just a few alterations to make it more straightforward and I've doubled it.   The recipe is versatle.  I've added less cashews, more potatoes, or forgotten the oil and it still works great.

 thermos mac n cheese vegan

Cheesy Thermos Pasta
Adapted from VegNews
Serves 10


2 shallots
2 large or 3 medium red or yellow potatoes (not russet)
2 carrots
1 yellow onion
2 cups water

1/2 cup raw cashews, preferably pre-soaked and drained*
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TB extra virgin olive oil**
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB salt
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 16 oz package small shell pasta

* The cashews do not have to be soaked but it does aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.  Simply soak the cashews in room temperature water for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

** Non-vegans can replace the oil with butter for a richer taste if desired.  I like it both ways.


Peel and chop shallots, potatoes, carrots, and onion.  Place in a covered saucepan with the 2 cups water and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool slightly.

While vegetables cool cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth adding some of the liquid from the cooked vegetables as needed.  Finally, add in the vegetables with the remaining water and blend until smooth.  Pay close attention not to burn yourself if the vegetables are still hot.  Depending on the size of you blender you may need to process the sauce in batches.

Pour sauce over cooked pasta.  Stir and serve.

Serving suggestions:  This recipe fills a 9X13 pan.  If you are having company over put it in a pan and bake it at 350 until bubbly.    If it's just you and a couple kids, put half in an 8X8 pan to bake that night for dinner and save the other half for tomorrow's lunch thermoses.  The pasta does not have to be baked.  It's just more casserole like that way.   I don't bake it for the thermoses.  I just heat and pack.  Furthermore, if you are ultra picky about leftovers you could make the sauce ahead of time and cook the pasta fresh in the morning.  I think it tastes great leftover though.

Lentil Salad with Roasted Carrots

Sep 21, 2013

lentil roasted carrot arugula salad Here is my beef with salads. I can't handle mass amounts of raw veggies.  It just makes me feel like a gross bloated cow.  Except cows have like 7 stomachs to deal with the digestion part.  I prefer my veggies roasted.  Smooth, sweet and rich.  Something that feels like a meal and less like a starving person feasting on grass and bark.

Yesterday I packed a few of these lentil salads for Fly Guy.  The lentils give it some 'meat' the carrots add depth, the dressing is sweet and the arugula fresh and peppery.  For a more savory version cut down on the honey and add in some onion.

Lentil Salad With Roasted Carrots
Fills two pint jars when layered as directed

2/3 cups brown lentils picked through and rinsed
3 large peeled carrots
2 tsp honey
3 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil  plus extra for drizzling carrots
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper
a few handfuls of fresh aruguala


Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Cut carrots in thin sticks or rounds of fairly even size.  Toss with a few teaspoons olive oil and a little salt.  Spread carrots evenly on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 8-15 minutes or until they start to caramelize a bit.

Meanwhile add the lentils to rapidly boiling pot of salted water or broth.  Cook 18-20 minutes or until soft yet still holding their shape.  Drain.

Whisk the honey, mustard, oil, and vinegar together and pour over cooked and drained lentils.Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If transporting for a lunch or picnic layer the lentils, then carrots followed by arugula on top in a pint size mason jar.  Serve room temperature or cold.

Air travel, car travel, down the street to the park travel. Healthy food to pack no matter how you picnic.

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