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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal

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I like keeping things simple and easy at meal time, especially breakfast, so when I discovered how much Joshua enjoys baked oatmeal, I decided to make more of it.  A pan lasts several days and it’s so nice to be able to just take out a square and heat it in the microwave. Bam. Breakfast is done. He takes care of the rest.

I made this in an attempt to make a baked oatmeal that really would be reminiscent of cookie dough, since the pumpkin didn’t really have that feel to me (granted, I may have over baked it a tad, as I tend to do a lot these days). And wow, you guys, I nailed it.  *pats self on shoulder* ;) This stuff is warm and gooey and melty and soft and creamy and really, a lot like a thick, warm cookie dough. Dennis even ate it for dessert after dinner one day, with some whipped cream on top. It’s that good. And low in sugar, or sugar-free if you want to leave the chocolate chips out. You would never guess, it’s just so good, but feel free to use sugar if you prefer. This one is definitely worth a try.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Oatmeal

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups quick-cooking oats
4 packets stevia*
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup milk
1 (4 oz) snack cup of unsweetened applesauce (heaping 1/3 cup)
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup chocolate chips, plus more for top if desired

Mix all ingredients together well until blended. Pour batter into an 8×8 pan sprayed with oil. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

*If you want to use sugar, I’d recommend brown sugar for a more cookie dough-like flavor. I’m not certain on the amount, but I’d try 1/3 cup and add more to your taste if needed.

***

I have to show you guys what this looks like with the flash – the photo is cheaper-looking but this really shows off how cookie dough-like it is. It’s soooo soft and I just couldn’t capture that gooey softness as well with natural light. Honestly, sometimes the flash is the only way to show the true colors & textures. Amateur photographer problems. :)

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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My friend, Lynn, shared this recipe with me in the early fall when my grass was still green, and as you can see from the green in my photos, I made it immediately.  I’m so glad I’m finally getting around to sharing it before winter squash and hot comfort meals are forgotten in favor of salads and meals that can be cooked without turning the oven on.  This is definitely one to try before winter gives way to spring.

Lynn said she makes it every fall, and sometimes adds Italian sausage and caramelized onions to hers. Well, those additions didn’t sound optional to me and I’m so glad I found the time to add them.  This is a rather involved recipe but definitely worth the time. Utter deliciousness! Slightly sweet & creamy squash, gooey cheese, with layers of flavor from the onions and sausage…a big winner with our whole family.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/2- to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 lb. Italian sausage
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the cubed squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet, cover, and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the squash to a mixing bowl or food processor and mash. Season the squash purée to taste with more salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions slowly turn brown and caramelized, adding additional oil if necessary, about 30-40 minutes. Stir into the squash.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet over medium heat, breaking it up and crumbling it with a spatula until cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 13×9 glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom of pan with one layer of lasagna noodles. Spread half of the squash purée over the noodle, then half of the sausage. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the cheese. Repeat layering once more, finishing with a layer of noodles covered only by white sauce.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna and continue baking until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Recipe source: Mother Earth News with adaptation by Lynn S.

More squashy favorites…

Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Pie – yes, you can have your breakfast casserole without all the carbs! A creation of my own that I’m pretty proud of. Seriously yum.

Garlic Chicken & Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo – I don’t like pasta alfredo, but this…is heaven.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew…seriously one of my top favorite things I’ve eaten in the history of ever.

Cookie Dough Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted recipes regularly, or even at all, and I’m hoping to start changing that. I’ve just gotten out of the habit of blogging as this active little boy in my life has taken over it almost completely.  So here’s the first recipe of hopefully many more to come this year. :)

Don’t mind the hair, he has bedhead twice a day. :)

Have you ever baked oatmeal? I haven’t been feeling traditional oats for quite a while, but I saw this recipe on Marsha’s blog, The Better Baker (her last name is Baker and she loves to bake – how cute is that?), and it sounded really yummy to me.  I baked it the minute I saw it and we enjoyed it for lunch when Joshua woke from his nap.  I wouldn’t say it’s like eating cookie dough, but it’s more like cookie dough than other baked oatmeal recipes so I’ll keep the title. :) It’s more dry and dense than traditional oats and can be eaten in hand if you don’t mind a few chocolate smears.  I found it especially good topped with some peanut butter, but my little man was really happy to eat it as is!  He and I ate the entire pan ourselves over the course of several days.

Cookie Dough Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt, scant
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice OR additional cinnamon
4 packets stevia or 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1-1/3 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup milk of choice (cut back to 1/3 cup if using maple syrup)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, butter, or or more milk of choice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, plus more for the top if desired

Grease an 8″ x 8″ square pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 380*F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together all dry ingredients, then add all remaining ingredients. Smooth evenly into the prepared pan, sprinkle chips on top if desired, and press down with a spoon. Bake 24 minutes, then let sit in a closed oven 20 minutes with the heat turned off. Top with syrup, or coconut or nut butter.

Recipe source: Chocolate Covered Katie, as seen on The Better Baker

Other oatmeal favorites:

Banana Oatmeal Bake – this is probably my favorite baked oatmeal dish.

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal – it’s even baked in a pie dish! :)

Savory Oatmeal – onions, cheddar, bacon, and an egg turn the classic breakfast on its head.

Merry Christmas!


Sweet Potato Cookies


I was assigned to Saundra’s blog, Famished Fish, Finicky Shark, for the Secret Recipe Club’s Cookie Carnival. I found her recipe for Sweet Potato Cookies just after having bought a bunch of sweet potatoes on sale. I adore sweet potatoes and love baking with them (and eating them baked, and in stew, and in a casserole, and even raw cut into sticks….try it before you make that face). So sweet potato cookies – I was all over it.

What impressed me about this recipe is not only does it have sweet potatoes, which is totally unique and fun, but Saundra came up with this recipe herself.  There was no link to credit her recipe elsewhere, and I have to admit, I was skeptical. Seriously, who makes a recipe for something like sweet potato cookies and gets it right the first time?! Did she really just say “oh, I’ll throw this butter in here and add some sugars and flour and sweet potato and other sundry and various awesomnesses,” and then shazam! There was magic? Apparently so, because I went a-Googling and could find no recipe like hers anywhere. Um, Saundra? You’s be amazin’.  If I tried to do some shazam’ing like you did, there would have been a big sha-THUD and  no zam to be found.

So I should have left well enough alone because as we already know, Saundra is the amazing one, but I didn’t have enough butterscotch chips so I did some tinkering.  I will say I LOVED this base cookie recipe sans chips. So much love.  I could have just eaten the entire batch of dough by itself. Like wow.  It’s soft and tender and not very cakey like I’d expected.  Perhaps because I didn’t make her recipe according the original ingredients, I would have preferred this without any chips at all and just the glaze.  Both of them made it too sweet.  So make your choice, I would either go with her original recipe, or make mine with the glaze but leave out the chips.

I sent these to some friends in the mail along with my award winning chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies, and one friend’s husband chose these as his favorite of all three so even being oversweet, they are pretty darn good to outrank two of the best things I make!  Thanks for sharing this fun and delicious recipe, Saundra!

Sweet Potato Cookies

1 ½ cups sweet potato puree
¾ cup unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butterscotch chips (optional)
2/3 cup cinnamon chips (optional)

Glaze
¼ cup unsalted butter
Two dashes of salt (I forgot this so I added some salt flakes on top)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats; set aside.

To make the sweet potato puree, peel a large sweet potato or two medium and cut into chunks. Cover with water in a saucepan and boil until very tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain and measure out 1 ½ cups- if you have extra, set it aside for another use. Mash with a fork in a mixing bowl along with the butter to melt it into the potatoes.

Add the salt, pumpkin pie spice, and the sugars. Beat for several minutes until lightened and fluffy. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla, beating until well combined. Ad the flour and stir it in. When nearly mixed, add the chips and stir until incorporated.

Using a small cookie scoop, place the cookies evenly spaced apart on prepared cookie sheet and press down with fingers to flatten slightly. Bake for 8 minutes, or until they are starting to puff but still look ever so slightly underdone. Allow to cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely-they will be very soft. Repeat with remaining dough.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the solids separate and turn a deep brown and the butter turns golden. Stir in the sugar and vanilla until as mixed as you can get it, smashing out lumps, then add cream a teaspoon at a time until you get your desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies or put in a Ziploc bag, snip the corner, and squeeze over the cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Recipe source: Famished Fish, Finicky Shark

Be sure to check out the other Cookie Carnival cookies for some Christmas baking inspirations – just click the linky frog below!

Joshua’s First Year

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Everyone says that time flies when you have kids, and it’s oh so true. I can’t believe Joshua is already one year old! My newborn baby that seemed unaware of everything around him, that stayed in one place and slept and ate and pooped and cried all the time, is now the happiest walking, baby-talking, little boy with a personality and sense of humor.  He has started getting so tickled about things like Jessie jumping up to catch treats mid-air, Mommy doing things like trying to crawl through a tunnel, and those crazy little belly laughs are just. The best.

I spent a lot of time compiling short clips of his first year into a short video for you guys and those of you who know about his special number (three) will be tickled to know that without me planning it or noticing until I had saved it, the movie turned out to be three minutes and thirty three seconds long. Go figure. :)

I probably had about 5 hours worth of video footage so you can imagine the work I put into this to cut it down to just three and a half minutes. Oh yes, and I used my own voice for the song. :)  I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I hope you enjoy it.  This little boy is just the light of our lives.

Love, V

Look who’s turning 1!


We went to Portrait Innovations for Joshua’s 1-year photos. Can you believe he’ll be one November 23rd? Me neither!


This little guy is officially a toddler. He started walking a month ago and is now pretty good with it and walks about 90% of the time.

This one is my favorite. I think. It’s so hard to pick one!

I just love his laughing face!!

I entered this photo into Gerber’s Photo Search. I would be SO grateful if you guys would vote for my little dude. Once you click here, you’ll have to enter your birthday, your email address, and your name and type some numbers to verify you’re a human, then you’ll see his pic and be able to vote for him. You can vote once a day so if you are awesome enough to return, the second time will be easier as you won’t have to write your name or verify you’re a human, just your birthday and email. if you don’t want to get Gerber emails, just don’t click the box to sign up for My Gerber. If you’re willing to vote daily, just say so in the comments and I’ll send you a daily email reminder. Thanks so much you guys!

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