May 302016
 

My bff Rachel surprised me with an amazing gift recently! Since she lives in Seattle and couldn’t bring us food when Logan was first born, she decided to gift us with a house cleaner instead! It was so sweet of her to think of doing something like that and I couldn’t have been more excited.

I was beyond ecstatic. I’ve been able to keep up with the minimal house cleaning since Logan arrived but it’s definitely not up to my usual standards and deep cleaning…? That hasn’t happened in awhile. A long while…

For local Portland people: I highly recommend the services of Double Duty Cleaning Services. Email: doubledutyclean@gmail.com. Phone: 503-933-1933.

DeNae and her assistant came over one day and cleaned our entire house from top to bottom. They even did stuff I never think of doing (and will try to keep up with in the future!) like dusting light bulbs and cleaning air vents. They even cleaned inside the microwave!

They were efficient and thorough. They used green products for most of it and then used heavy duty hospital-grade type cleaner (that kills stuff like MRSA) for certain areas. It was nice to know that the house was going to be super clean and sanitary. Especially considering our little guy is getting bigger and will be on the move soon.

Michael came home and said our house “sparkles”. It looked AMAZING. I was really happy with the results and hope to hire them again in the future when I need the deep cleaning again. 🙂

I just can’t get over how clean everything is!

In other news, we’ve been a bit more social lately. We went to a friend’s housewarming party and Logan was a little trooper. He slept through most of it. Their yard:

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Love it!

We’ve been out to dinner with him a few times, which was nice. Logan did great and I think the ambient noise of restaurants helped him just sleep through most of it so we could catch up with friends.

This weekend we had some friends over for a BBQ.

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Michael did up his awesome ribs, friends brought over spicy guacamole and some corn on the cob. I made coleslaw for the first time.

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I used this recipe:

Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe

From: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/06/vinegar-coleslaw-recipe.html

Ingredients

  • For the Dressing:
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • For the Slaw:
  • 1 large head green cabbage (about 3 1/2 pounds), finely shredded on a mandoline or by hand
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced on a mandoline or by hand
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt

Instructions

  1. For the Dressing: Whisk together vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, black pepper, and celery seeds in small bowl.
  2. For the Slaw: Combine cabbage, carrot, and onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and salt and toss to combine. Let stand five minutes, then transfer to a large colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
  3. Transfer vegetables to a salad spinner and spin dry. Alternatively, transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and blot mixture dry with more towels. Return to large bowl.
  4. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and/or sugar.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=50247

Michael and I both prefer vinegar-based coleslaws over mayo. I tried to find a recipe to try for my first time and it was actually kind of hard to find vinegar slaws! I found a few that sounded good.

This recipe was really good and everyone was a fan. My one complaint was that it was a little on the sweet side (and holy cow, 1 cup of sugar?!?!). I made the dressing as is and then tasted it and it was way too sweet for my liking. In the end I added a little more vinegar, doubled the garlic, and add some more salt. Then it was pretty good!

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In the bad news department: an hour before our guests arrived we discovered our air conditioner was broken. JUST IN TIME for the coming heat wave that will be in Portland soon. UGH! Hopefully we can survive the next few days before the guy comes out (and most likely replaces the entire thing…womp womp). But we sat outside for the BBQ so it wasn’t too bad.

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In Logan news: twice last week he slept through the night! He went to sleep at 10pm and then I woke up at 4:45am like WTF IS HAPPENING?!? Completely dazed and confused, unsure of what time it was and kind of freaked out. Then I realized he was ok, he was just still asleep! So instead of getting up at 2am to feed him and pump, I was able to get a solid stretch of sleep! The first time it happened I figured it was a fluke. But when it happened again I started to wonder if maybe he was slowly growing into a “he might sleep all night” routine!

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The only downside for me is going that long in between pumping or feeding is kind of a bad idea. But hopefully it will be okay and my body will get used to that and I won’t have issues. It sure would be nice to just sleep all night!

Sunday was book club. And as usual there was tons of really delicious food:

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Greek Orzo salad, caprese, BBQ’d veggies, homemade bread and this asparagus tart:

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The asparagus tart was amazing! I’ve seen this on pinterest a million times and have wanted to try doing it. Now that I’ve eaten one I know I can make it so I will be trying that soon.

Dessert:

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Fruit tart with chocolate and Bavarian cream. Holy cow was this amazing! I seriously could have eaten so much of it (but didn’t). So delicious!

Lots of good food, hung out with friends, sort of talked about this month’s book (but really ended up just catching up on stuff!) and then it was time for me to head home to feed the baby. It was nice to get out of the house and be social solo, though.

Anyways, that was my weekend!

May 102016
 

When I first started reading blogs they talked a lot about something called “oats in a jar” and “overnight oats.” I admit, I didn’t get it. At all. But it seemed like all the rage on every blog.

Fast forward a few years…I recently bought some steel cut oatmeal and one morning, while Logan was fussy and not really making it easy for me to fix myself breakfast, I realized that the oatmeal I bought took 30 MINUTES to make! What?! I love oatmeal and I’ve tried all different kinds out there, but this was the first time trying this particular kind.

I was frustrated with myself that I bought something that was supposed to make my life a little easier–and ended up with something time consuming. Grrrr. I complained on Twitter and a few people suggested I do overnight oats. So I did some googling and found some recipes.

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This was the first recipe I tried.

Flax and blueberry vanilla overnight oats

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1

Calories per serving: 295

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled oats OR quick oats
  • 2 /3 cup water
  • ½ cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon flaxmeal
  • 1 baby pinch of salt
  • blueberries, pecans, brown sugar, and other goodies for topping

Instructions

  1. In an individual food storage container, add the ingredients in the order listed (except for toppings). Do not stir. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. In the morning, stir up the mixture; it should be thick and the oats should be completely soft. Add the toppings of your choice. Repeat forever.
  3. The different varieties of oats affect the texture, so if you like a thicker, chewier texture go for rolled oats and if you prefer something softer and creamier, go for quick cooking oats.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=50083

I used the recipe as a jumping off point. I did:

1/2 cup of steel cut oats

2/3 cup water

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

pinch of salt

handful of frozen blueberries

Then I put it all in the fridge overnight and mixed it up in the morning. I topped the mixture with some slivered almonds and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Honestly probably didn’t need the brown sugar since the blueberries were sweet enough but since I used plain Greek yogurt instead of vanilla yogurt, I thought it might lack flavor. Next time I know it doesn’t need the sugar.

It was really tasty. I liked the flavors a lot. The blueberries were sweet enough that it make the dish delicious but not overly sweet. The texture was a little weird. The steel cut oats were really chewy. Not too chewy but chewier than I think regular oatmeal would be. But the upside to that, it wasn’t a bunch of mush like I think regular oatmeal would be. I was also worried that eating cold oatmeal would be gross. It wasn’t.

It was super easy and fast. It was easy to eat while taking care of the baby. It was easy to clean up and not a ton of calories. I liked the convenience of it. I like that I didn’t have to spend 30 minutes cooking the steel cut oats. I think it would be a good breakfast for mornings when I go back to work–either eating at home or taking to work with me to eat it after dropping Logan off at daycare.

I wanted to experiment though and see if I could find the perfect recipe or create my own. I found another recipe and decided to use it as a base to tweak what I did originally. Here is that recipe: OVERNIGHT STEEL CUT OATMEAL (PLUS MIX-IN IDEAS)  (Author: Lovely Little Kitchen.)

Attempt #2

I changed it up a little bit the second time. Here is what I did:

1/2 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

pinch of salt

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/4 cup water

handful of frozen blueberries

This time I mixed the liquid with the steel cut oats before adding the other ingredients. Let it sit overnight, mixed it all together and added some slivered almonds to the top for texture.

Verdict: I liked the texture a little better with more liquid and mixing it in before refrigerating it.

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Flavor was still great. I don’t know that I noticed a different flavor using almond milk. To save calories I may just stick with water.

Attempt #3

I realized that I was eating more than one serving. 1/4 cup of steel cut oats is actually a serving, not 1/2 cup like several recipes I saw used. The upside to eating more, I didn’t need a snack mid-morning. But I didn’t want that to become a habit. So this time I made a little bit less to make sure that I was eating one serving and keeping my calories in the right range.

I looked around for other recipes. This one sounded delicious to me.

1/4 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

1 tablespoon peanut butter

The above was 314 calories. Then I topped it with sliced banana and a little agave and slivered almonds the next day. That added around 125 calories more.

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Verdict: I think I figured out the right portions of everything! The oats were the perfect chewiness and everything tasted great. I will try this “recipe” with the blueberries. I liked the peanut butter and banana flavor–it was very rich, but it was also higher in calories and tasted a bit decadent. Peanut butter is just a little too much for me I think.

I like the addition of the almonds–I think it adds texture that a dish like this needs (same with the blueberries). I’m glad I spent the time practicing and figuring out the right recipe for this. It will be a great option for breakfasts going forward, at least a few days a week.

Do you have an overnight oats recipe that you love? Link it here!