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Entries in oats (25)


Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars

Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes life saddles us with responsibilities we didn't ask for, never wanted, and couldn't anticipate. Big or small, these responsibilities become our own. Maybe they were never meant to be ours, but we can't help but make them into our own albatrosses to bear.

This morning while settling down on the couch to get some work done, I heard a chirp. At first, I wasn't sure exactly what I heard. It happened again. Chirp chirp. I looked towards the window to spot the bird, but the frame was empty.

Chirp Cheep.

The sound was coming from the fireplace. More specifically, it was echoing inside the flume. With my ear pressed up against the glass pane of the gas fireplace, I confirmed the worst. The little bird was trapped.

And I found myself with a sudden responsibility—to free her.

Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars

I quickly shut off the gas to the fireplace to prevent the heat from the pilot light burning her little feet. Then, I climbed out onto the roof to see how she found her way there in the first place. For whatever reason, the slats on the flume had opened and perched on top was another little bird—her mate—guarding her fiercely. As it turns out, the poor love birds had unfortunately discovered the flume was a terrible place to build a nest and home.

Listening to the desperate chirping of the little birds to one another, I too felt helpless. I wondered whether the bird had fallen and broken a wing; I pictured her singing sad melodies out from the echoing metal of the flume until she reached the end of her time.

The world can be so cruel sometimes.

Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars

I called my mother with the little bird's plight and she helped try to dismantle the gas fireplace so we could reach her. We didn't succeed. As we wondered what would become of her, I sat near the fireplace, as if my empathy could somehow reassure her. Instead, it was the sound of her irregular chirping that reassured me.

The proper people were called in to help rescue the bird. When the flume was finally opened, the living room scattered with pieces from a torn-apart fireplace, there was nothing to be found inside. It was empty. The little bird had managed to fly out from the flume, freeing herself on her own accord.

If I hadn't sat down on the couch, I never would have heard the sound of her small chirp. Her problems would never have become my own. If I hadn't sat down on the couch, her predicament would have remained undiscovered. Yet, the result would have been the same—freedom. The little bird's plight was never meant to be my albatross to bear but, because I turned it into my own, we were both able to revel in her victory.

May I never have to hear another chirp where it doesn't belong again.

Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars

Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars are sweet and chewy. The bars bake up soft from the strawberry jam, yet hold together well making them extremely portable. I loved them hot from the oven, where the strawberry jam was thick and warm. However, they are just as good the second day, tasting better than the boxed cereal bars of a similar nature. I used this strawberry balsamic jam and they were fantastic.

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Dark Chocolate Oatmeal

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal

Oatmeal is on my short list of comfort foods. While meat and potatoes or thick hearty stews are perfect for cold winter nights, I look to oatmeal to warm my body and keep me snug on frost covered mornings. The stick-to-your-ribs goodness makes me feel as if I'm wearing a wool sweater (without the inevitable "itch"). Oatmeal has an ease and grace that stands out among the breakfast cereals. It's warm and friendly, soft and approachable (and it's good for you too). It's always pleasant to know that an honest breakfast is just five minutes away.

If only all of my comfort foods were just five minutes away...

On second thought, that would actually be a terrible idea.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal

I typically sweeten my morning oatmeal with a sprinkling of brown sugar, a spoonful of maple syrup, or a handful of fruit. Occasionally, when I have the urge to become a little more adventurous, I cook up a batch of pumpkin spice or banana bread oatmeal. Despite the rare bowl of bold oats, I tend to stick with the classic hits in the oatmeal world.

While wandering the aisles of my local grocery store recently, I spotted something dangerous, something so utterly corrupting to my healthy New Year's resolutions I had to take a closer look. It was, for all intents and purposes, a mix for chocolate oatmeal. Chocolate Oatmeal. No wonder it stopped me in my tracks.

The four dollar price tag, however, kept my feet moving.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal

Nevertheless, the idea had been planted.

As I contemplated the best way to make this oatmeal happen, I looked to my cabinets for the right ingredients. I used cocoa powder to supply a chocolate base, a dash of sugar to offset the bitterness the cocoa powder lends, and a small handful of chocolate chips to give it that chocolate punch I was craving. I call this recipe an easy success—easy to make (and even easier to make disappear).

This dark chocolate oatmeal is so sinful it tastes like a rich full-fat chocolate pudding. You'll want to eat this for breakfast, but you really, really shouldn't. However, if you do indulge (like me), you can count on me to keep that information under lock and key.

Your secret is safe with me.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Oatmeal

This Dark Chocolate Oatmeal is the perfect snack to zap your chocolate cravings and keep you full until the next meal. Made with milk, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate chips, this oatmeal tastes more like a chocolate pudding than a breakfast staple (and trust me, that's a very good thing). This recipe serves two comfortably. If cooking for one, halve the recipe accordingly—it will be enough. Serve hot, with a splash of milk and a few extra chocolate chips scattered on top.

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Oatmeal Raisin Crisps

Oatmeal Raisin Crisps

This weekend has been about the balancing act of relaxation and productivity. It's a delicate harmony to achieve; so often the scale tips in one direction over the other. Either nothing gets done and guilt is felt the moment you turn away from the television or computer. Or, everything gets done but, with no detox from the stressors of the week before, Monday morning is definitely started off on the wrong foot.

At times this balance seems impossible to accomplish, especially if you happen to be like me.

Oatmeal Raisin Crisps Oatmeal Raisin Crisps

I woke up early on Saturday morning to go to the gym. Though I set my alarm for seven (two full hours later than I get up on weekdays), the sun hadn't yet thought about rising and the morning was darker than the dead of night. I struggled to pull myself out of bed and wipe the sleep from my tired eyes. It wasn't exactly the start to the day I imagined. Nevertheless there were muscles to be worked, so to the gym I went.

I juggled the rest of the day between working and falling asleep midway through episodes of reality TV. Sometimes I managed to do all three activities at the same time (does this make me good at multitasking?). Despite the spontaneous and unsatisfying naps, a lot more work (or stressing about doing work) was done than relaxing. Balance was not achieved.

Oatmeal Raisin Crisps

Today, thankfully, was a different story. I slept in until after the sun had said its hellos and, after a week of little sleep, it was exactly what I needed. I started off my morning with a honeycrisp apple and pumpkin spice latte. Even though several hours of work followed shortly thereafter, the day felt brighter. It was brighter.

And that made all the difference. Though I accomplished more today than I did yesterday (I even had time to make you a batch of cookies. It's true), I hardly feel like I spent more than a few moments surrounded by my endless to-do list. My attitude made all the difference. I think that just might be the secret to balance after all.

Well, that or caffeine...

Oatmeal Raisin Crisps Oatmeal Raisin Crisps

These Oatmeal Raisin Crisps have a dark depth of flavor. The cookies are made with heaps of oats, plenty of raisins, and extra molasses to bring out a deeper flavor. The cookies spread out quite a bit while baking, making them relatively flat and the edges crispy. If you are anything like me, you might just find yourself reaching for a second (or third) from the cookie jar.

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