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Oatmeal

High in fiber, lowers cholesterol, makes a meal, if you can handle it, I can't. As a cereal on the breakfast table I'll be the first one to run the other way.

But, find ways of adding it to other foods that you like, it becomes an ingredient that increases fiber, adds nutrients, crunch, and texture. Did you know that a gram of fiber cancels a gram of carbs when you're working on reducing your carb intake? Problem is, how many of us can think of anything other than oatmeal cookies?

I had to scratch my head when I decided that I wanted to add more oatmeal to my diet and have found a few recipes that I thought were pretty good, and a couple that I came up with on my own, and then found myself surprised when an old family favorite fit right in.

Below you'll find some desserts as well as some proper meals and things to get your body working better with some added fiber. Be prepared I tend to tell a bit of a story along with the recipe, can't help it, for me cooking is fun to do and fun to share, sharing involves stories!

Mind you, I'm not aiming for low-cal/diet foods here, just some foods that are tasty enough to look forward to and have an added benefit in that their fiber content has been kicked up a notch. By using these as part of a 'Mini-Meal' eating plan you come up with a healthier way of eating while still being part of the human race! hehehe

Topper (Linda)
aka ThyroGeek

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Desserts


Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Easy Oatmeal Muffins

Oatmeal Brownies

Topper's Potty Cupcakes (formerly known as Banana Oatmeal cupcakes)
No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Fruit Crisp with Oatmeal Crunch Topping

Meats

Topper's Oatmeal Crusted Pan Fried Chicken
Baked Tilapia with Oatmeal
Turkey (chicken) nuggets
Turkey Burger Salisbury Steak (can use any ground meat)
Turkey Burger Meatloaf or meatballs (can use any ground meat)

... and the other stuff

White Bread (rolls, buns, hoagies) with Oatmeal
Oatmeal Pancakes
Oatmeal Gravy

If you have some recipes that you'd like to share, please contact me... Divider Bar

Oatmeal Cookies
(traditional recipe)

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 /2 cup milk
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 cups oatmeal

Cream shortening, brown sugar and eggs.

Add milk, mix

Sift and add: Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mix

Add oatmeal.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, cool slightly, remove from pan.

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Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

(Got these from a friend, what can I say, chocolate is never a bad thing, is it? Besides, cocoa is good for us so why not add it to your oatmeal cookie? hehehehe)

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/4 cups butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
3 cups uncooked rolled oats

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa together; set aside.

Cream butter with extract; add sugar gradually, beating until fluffy.

Add the egg and beat well. Alternately add dry ingredients with water, mixing until blended after each addition. Add rolled oats gradually, stirring well. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2-inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. About 15 dozen cookies. Bake at 350 degrees F about 12 minutes.

Variations: If desired, after addition of rolled oats, mix in any one of the following: 1 cup chopped dark seedless raisins, 6 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces, 1 cup drained, chopped maraschino cherries, or 1/2 cup chopped candied cherries and 1/2 cup chopped candied pineapple

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Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

(I haven't tried these yet, but they are on my list of things to try!)

1/2 c. Crisco
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. rolled oats
1 c. coconut
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream shortening and sugars. Add egg, vanilla and beat. Sift 
flour, baking powder and soda. Mix all dry ingredients and coconut.
Stir into wet ingredients and mix well. Drop onto oiled cookie sheet. 
Bake 350º for 12 minutes, or a bit less for a softer cookie.

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Easy Oatmeal Muffins

(Another I haven't tried yet, but they do sound good)

A simple but delicious recipe for oatmeal muffins. Prep Time: approx. 15 Minutes. Cook Time: approx. 25 Minutes. 
Ready in: approx. 40 Minutes. Makes 1 dozen (12 servings).

1 cup milk
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a small bowl, combine milk and oats; let soak for 15 minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and oil; stir in oatmeal mixture. In a third bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients, just until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups until cups are 2/3 full.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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Oatmeal Brownies

(Found in an old cookbook while hunting for Oatmeal Goodies)

Oatmeal Brownies (oatmeal layer)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (quick oats will work, but rolled oats have more fiber)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (works okay with white sugar too)
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup melted butter


Preheat oven to 350 
Grease 9 X 13 pan

Mix together dry ingredients. Add melted butter and mix till all is moistened.

Save 3/4 cup of mixture and set aside, press the remaining into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for five.

Spread Brownie batter (I used cocoa brownies - recipe below) on top of baked layer. Crumble the reserved oatmeal mixture over the top of the batter. Bake according to instructions for brownies.

Cool thoroughly

Cocoa Brownies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


Cream Sugar and shortening, vanilla and eggs and remaining ingredients. Mix until blended, do not over mix. Spread over oatmeal layer. 

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until tooth pick in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

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Topper's Potty Cupcakes
(formerly known as Banana Oatmeal cupcakes)

(This is the first one I found when searching for Oatmeal Goodies, it was a pleasant surprise to find that just one cupcake in the morning, as part of a 'mini meal' made 'potty time' a much happier experience!)

Mix together

1 1/2 cup mashed banana
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup corn oil (veggie oil has soy in it)
2/3 cup butter milk (okay to use regular milk - put 1 Tbsp white vinegar in cup then fill to 2/3 with milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

In separate bowl mix together

1 1/3 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats (have more fiber than quick oats)
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until all is moist, do not over mix.

Preheat oven to 350. Divide batter between 24 cupcakes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until top of cupcake, when pressed feels slightly firm.

Eat one cupcake each morning to help with better bowel health. The combination of oatmeal, banana and cloves seems to really help the internal balance, easing constipation AND diarrhea.

Icing is not needed, these taste really well on their own and are moist.
They also freeze well.
After knocking them out of pan place on cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen they can be bagged and put back in the freezer. They can be warmed in the microwave or will thaw on the counter.

Also makes a great cake. Put batter in greased 9 X 13 pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Increase ingredients by 1/2 and then you can make two 9 inch rounds for a healthier layer cake to share.

>>> Did you know that you can freeze bananas? <<<

Yep... whenever you have some that have gotten a bit too ripe to eat but don't have enough for baking, just peal them and then freeze. 

I usually freeze them on a cookie sheet so that they aren't all clumped together, then toss in a bag. When I'm in the mood for baking I just take out what I need. They only take about an hour to defrost on the counter, depending on how warm the room is, or take them out the night before and leave in the fridge.

Trust me, freezing them in the peel still on is NOT fun, you have to get the peel off before they get soft or it's a real mess, and trying to pick the peel off the banana while it's still frozen solid is guaranteed to freezer your fingers!

Another good idea is to watch for your local store when they have a bunch of over ripe bananas an either put them on drastic discount or give them away for free. You can get a bunch then and freeze for when you need them.

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No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

(An old favorite for many, makes a great addition to a collection of 'sneaky fiber foods'. Fast and easy -- and no oven!)

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine the sugar, milk, butter and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir and mix well. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper, letting them stand for 30 minutes before serving.

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Fruit Crisp with Oatmeal Crunch Topping

(I fell in love with this recipe as a kid and always favored it over the crisps that other kid's mom's made)

4 cups peeled and sliced apples, can use peaches, strawberries, just about any fruit
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp water

Mix and place in 8 X 8 pan

3/4 cup rolled oats (have more fiber than quick oats)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soft (not melted) butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together with your fingers to make crumbly mixture

Crumble on top of apple mixture.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes.

Can be served warm or cold.

Plain, with ice cream or with whipped cream.

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Topper's Oatmeal Crusted Pan Fried Chicken

(came up with this concoction on my own and then later found others had been doing it too, I still call it 'my' recipe though)

I'm probably adding more instruction than many of you need...but some beginner cooks might have an easier time with the extra info.

Cut the chicken into pieces, right now I use four chicken hindquarters, the leg is separated from the thigh, I leave the back attached.

It's a three bowl coating station, the bowls I use are oval and not much bigger than my largest chicken pieces, saves on ingredients.

First station:

2/3 cup ground oatmeal (if you don't want to grind the oatmeal, use all flour)
2/3 cup flour
1/2 to 1 tsp each of: salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder. (I've made a change to this, click here to check the note below)

Mix thoroughly. I tend to make this in batches (usually double or triple what I listed above) and pour it out into the coating bowl as needed... so that what is left has not touched the chicken and I can use it the next time around.

Second station:

Is lightly beaten eggs, 3 eggs does the eight pieces nicely.

Third station:

Is the rolled oats. I'd guess I use about 3 cups?? for the 8 pieces... I pour some in the coating bowl and more into a cup... if I need to add more to the coating bowl I can pour from the cup.. that way there is none wasted and the cup handle is much easier to clean from handling with my dirty chicken fingers than the cardboard carton the oatmeal comes in.

Set up the skillet:

To heat so that it's ready when you are. I use a ten inch skillet, put a scant 1/4 inch of corn oil (it's the only oil that I've found that is soy free, olive oil burns). Set heat to medium. When a wooden spoon (or wooden knife handle works too) touched to the bottom of the pan shows bubbles, the pan is hot enough. You don't want it too hot.. or the outside of the chicken burns and the inside stays raw. Not hot enough and the chicken won't cook through, the coating is gummy and soaks up the oil.

Roll the chicken pieces...

one at a time in the seasoned ground oatmeal and flour (can also shake in a bag), cover completely, shake off excess coating. This allows the egg to stick to the chicken.

Dip and thoroughly coat the chicken pieces...

in the egg, shake off the excess, gently - not all over the room!!! hehehehehe It's the egg that allows the oatmeal to stick to the chicken.

Dip and roll and press the chicken pieces...

into the rolled oats. Cover all the way around, top, bottom, sides.. everywhere!! stick as much on as will stick, the more oats the more crunch

Set each piece of chicken on a baking sheet...

until you have all pieces coated, single layer, not touching. This allows the coating to soak up the egg and stick to the meat better.

It's time to start frying:

Start with the first pieces coated. I set two thighs and two legs in the pan for each batch. Gently lay the thighs, skin side down, opposite each other in the pan, the legs on either side. (to paint a picture, thighs are at twelve and six o'clock, legs are at 3 and 9 o'clock). It makes the pan heat distribute more evenly that way. Use a tongs, don't pierce with fork. Gently set them in the pan, don't drop them, the oil will splatter and it's hot. If you don't wear clothes around the house... at least wear a shirt when frying.. trust me on this one, I'm not going into details!

Pause here to finish laughing.. then continue reading *wink*

How long to cook?

Cook for exactly 12 minutes, do not turn, or peak or wiggle or move or anything, in the pan... when the timer goes off turn the pieces of chicken carefully with a pair of tongs, don't pierce them with a fork. Cook for exactly 12 minutes on the second side. Place them on a cooling rack placed on plate or baking sheet for at least 10 minutes. The excess oil will drip off, the steam from the hot meat helps to push the oil out. The steam escapes from the chicken all the way around because it's on the rack and it ends up being crispy all the way around. The interior of the chicken continues to cook during that ten minutes so don't try to rush it, it's still plenty hot to eat when the ten minutes is up.

Now the other four pieces go in... same arrangement, skin side down on the thighs. Cook for 12 minutes, flip, cook for 12 minutes. Put pieces on cooling rack for 10 minutes.

No peaking, wiggling, moving.. nothing.. I mean with the chicken pieces!!! heheheheh Let them just sit and cook.. it keeps the coating on the chicken that way, less falls off. If it smells like it's too hot/burning it probably is, turn down the heat, you may have to check to see if it's getting too dark... but only if you have to.

To store in fridge:

I arrange the chicken pieces in a glass bowl and leave uncovered so that it doesn't get soggy... It's great eaten hot, or cold from the fridge... Nukes nicely, too. I've not tried freezing it... so I can't say how it would work... I usually do chicken on Fridays and have it for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, two meals each day.

Notes and handy stuff to know:

The outside should look like a darkish golden brown oatmeal cookie.... if it's darker than that the heat was too high, if it's paler than that the heat was too low and the chicken may not be cooked all the way through... If you flip it to cook the second side and the first side is too light... turn the heat up just a bit and continue cooking the second side... if you try to flip it back you'll lose all the yummy coating. After the second side has had it's twelve minutes flip it back to the first side for a few more minutes to darken it up a bit.

This works with skinless meat too... in which case it doesn't matter which side goes down first.

The chicken should be completely defrosted and not refrigerator cold. The colder the chicken the more likely that meat won't cook through. DO NOT leave the chicken out on the counter for hours!!! But do take it out as you start setting up your coating station and heating the pan. If doing more than one or two pans worth at a time, put the other 'batches' in the fridge and take them out as you put the batch before it in the pan. That will get the chill off it so that it cooks through and even.

If you use boneless meat the cooking time will be less... but the cooking time for chicken breast with bone would be the same as the thighs/backs with bone. My best chicken prices right now are hindquarters at Aldi's so that's what I use most of the time. When I have boneless thighs available I do them the same way but reduce cooking time to six minutes per side.

Spices, you need a bit more than you think you would, the oatmeal can take it.... 

If you use the right amount of oil, after the second batch is fried you can take out the excess, leaving just a couple tablespoons behind and what is left in the pan makes a pretty good pan gravy. Remember, just a scant 1/4 inch is all you need when you start.. it's not deep fry. If you used too much oil there is still lots in the pan, scooping out the excess takes out too much of the goodies the chicken left behind and the gravy isn't as flavorful.. to me anyway.

The cooler the temp the more oil the food absorbs. The heat, at the right temp, causes the food to steam which helps keep the oil from being absorbed.

It takes a bit of practice but it's an awesome way to get the extra fiber and such from the oatmeal.... And I'm gonna say it's healthier than all flour, and for sure healthier that 'shake n bake' and I love the crunch! I tried with all ground oatmeal, omitting the flour completely, but the spices don't stick with the ground oatmeal so well and it ended up being too bland, the spices stayed in the bowl.

 *** I have to amend this. Since I first set up this page I've made a bit of a change. I season the chicken pieces, all the way around, and use plain ground oatmeal, with no flour... and do the rest of the recipe the same. I've been able to omit the flour, going with all oatmeal, and the seasoning is working out just fine. You still need to use a bit more seasoning than you think, again the oatmeal can take it. Don't go over board your first time though, try it and then add more seasoning in your next batch if you find that you need it.  Click here to go back up to the ingredient list.

Oh... mini meal portions using this chicken....

For my plan, I can have only two chicken dinners a day... one piece per meal. I have the thigh piece earlier in the day and the leg piece later in the day (higher calorie meals should be earlier in the day) I usually have it with some veggie or fruit... and sometimes with a mini bun.... 

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Baked Tilapia with Oatmeal

I put my 'oatmeal challenge' to a friend and this is her contribution, derived from a recipe that we'd been enjoying for our fish lunches, it turned out to be a version that we liked even better!)

Turns out that the end result of this dish is only loosely based on the original recipe but I still love it. We made a version of it today, versions vary by how we end up making the 'breading'. In these pictures it was made with 1/2 home made bread crumbs and 1/2 ground oatmeal.

I'll give both recipes, the original, and our variation.

The original Recipe for Parmesan Tilapia

6 Tilapia Fillets
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 cup prepared bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rinse and dry Tilapia Fillets.

Mix 2 eggs with water in bowl.

Combine butter with bread crumbs, grated Parmesan and paprika, set aside.

Dip tilapia fillets in egg wash and then lightly coat with bread crumb mixture.

Place in greased glass pan, bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes, until just done. Do not over cook.

We haven't made the original version yet. So I can't say how well they keep in the fridge or how well they freeze. I would suspect that they'd lose their 'crispness'.

******

Ruth's Baked Parmesan Tilapia Fillets

bulkbag.jpg (12780 bytes)6 Tilapia Fillets (one package from Aldi's, our favorite store! 24 oz per bag, so 4 oz per serving)

1/3 to 1/2 cup milk (more or less depending on the size of your baking dish)

1 stick butter, melted

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/2 cup prepared bread crumbs
(we make this in all sorts of combos using any of the following, in any combinations or a single ingredient to total 1/2 cup: Oatmeal, ground oatmeal, bread crumbs (fine or coarse), crushed soda crackers, commercial bread crumbs, corn flake crumbs. We mostly do oatmeal most of the time... at lease half of a mixture will be oatmeal)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
(have also used the stuff in the green shaker can... and the Ramano that comes in the red shaker can)

6 slices of onion, any variety you like
(if you end up with more than six fillets cut more onion slices... The bags we get from Aldi have anywhere from six to eight fillets)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rinse and dry Tilapia Fillets.

Lightly grease glass baking dish and add enough milk to make about 1/4 inch layer in the bottom of the dish.

Combine butter with bread crumb mixture, grated Parmesan and paprika, set aside.

readytobake.jpg (12194 bytes)Place Tilapia Fillets in a single layer in the baking dish. Crumble bread crumb mixture evenly over the top of the fillets. Place an onion slice over each Fillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

baked.jpg (11994 bytes)Bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes, until just done. Do not over cook.

 

The milk, seasonings and melted butter have made a yummy sauce that you can pour over the fish or use for pasta, rice or potatoes to serve with the fish.

We portion this to make six meals, three for each of us. I don't like the onion, so the slices are pulled off of my meals and put on Ruth's after it comes out of the oven. For me, the onion flavor is okay.. but I don't want to eat the onions! hehehehe

We serve the rice with mac and cheese or cheesy rice, herbed rice, veggies or salad... whatever rings our bell when we do the meals. In the pics that I've included here we had herbed garlic rice and used the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to pour over the flavored rice... happens that we didn't do veggies this time, just a larger portion of rice.

sixpack.jpg (13391 bytes)rdywait.jpg (15481 bytes)On the left, we have the six meals portioned out, 3 with onion slices and 3 without.
On the right are the four meals that we'll be tossing in the freezer for next time, wrapped in plastic and ready and waiting for us!

The other two... made an excellent lunch!! hehehehe A BIG meal for a mini mealer but we all need a treat once in a while!

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White Bread (rolls, buns, hoagies) with Oatmeal

(I prefer my own home baked bread over anything I've ever found in a store. Decided one day that I'd 'oatmealize' it and really liked the result, then, as usual, found other recipes quite similar. One day I'll learn to look for the recipe instead of experimenting, might save me some time! hehehehe)

Baking bread is really not at all hard. I'll run through some stuff after the recipes if you're a beginner.... There are several variations.

Single Batch

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp shortening
1 Tbsp instant dry yeast, or 1 of the little packets
1 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F.

If using instant yeast

(I get this at SAM's in bulk for a buck and a half a pound).

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the warm water. Mix until it's all gloppy then let rest for about 10 minutes, this allows the flour and oats to absorb the water and the yeast to get started.

If using the little packets

Put the yeast in a cup, add the warm water and the sugar. Let rest a few minutes until it gets frothy, while it's doing it's thing measure out the other ingredients. Add the yeasty water to the dry ingredients and mix until it's all gloppy, let it rest for about 10 minutes to allow the flour and oats to absorb the water.

For both

Generously flour a counter or table, sturdy enough for you to be able to knead the bread. Dump the dough out onto the floured surface, use your fingers or a spoon to get it all out.

Sprinkle some more flour on the top of the dough, enough so that your hands don't get all stuck in it...  Knead the dough about 10 minutes (I'll add at the bottom how to knead, for those that don't know)

Grease a bowl that is at least double the size of your dough ball. Now put your dough ball in the greased bowl and then turn it over, greased side up. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and put it in a warmish, draft free spot to rise, it will take about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how warm the room is.

When the dough has doubled in size. Take your fist and punch the dough down, don't get crazy about it and put your fist through the bottom of the bowl or anything, your just punching it to get a bunch of the air that the yeast have made to whoosh out.  Flip the dough over, cover with the damp towel, and let rise a second time. That should go faster than the first rise..... more like 45 minutes to an hour.

When the dough has doubled again, it's time to shape it. Cover with damp paper towel to keep the growing dough from forming a crust and not being able to rise up nice and fluffy.

This batch will make 1 small loaf in a loaf pan, 2 small french bread shaped loaves, 4 hoagie/sub sized buns, 8 brat/hot dog sized buns, or 32 mini meal buns. You can brush melted butter on the tops of the shapes before you set them to rise and/or brush with melted butter when you take them out of the oven.

Double Batch

3 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp shortening
2 Tbsp instant dry yeast, or 1 of the little packets
2 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F.

Follow mixing, resting, kneading, rising instructions above.

This batch will make 2 small loaves or 1 large loaf in a loaf pan, 4 small french bread shaped loaves, 8 hoagie/sub sized buns, 16 brat/hot dog sized buns, or 64 mini meal buns.

Let the shape you choose rise until doubled, usually 20 to 30 minutes, then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. 30 to 35 minutes if you're using a loaf pan. 25 to 30 minutes if doing shapes on cookie sheets.

You can bake the buns/loaves on two regular size cookie sheets or a half sheet (industrial baking sheet)

Quadruple Batch

6 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
2 tsp salt
4 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp shortening
2 Tbsp instant dry yeast, or 1 of the little packets
4 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F.

This size batch is easier to do if you add half the dry ingredients to the liquid first.. So, mix up the flour and oatmeal, then set aside about half of it. Add the liquid to the first half and mix, then let rest for maybe five minutes.. then work in the remaining four cups of dry, then follow the same resting, kneading, rising instructions above, 

This batch will make 4 small loaves or 2 large loaves in a loaf pan,  8 small french bread shaped loaf, 16 hoagie/sub sized buns, 32 brat/hot dog sized buns, or 128 mini meal buns.

Let the shape you choose rise until doubled, usually 20 to 30 minutes, then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. 30 to 35 minutes if you're using a loaf pan. 25 to 30 minutes if doing shapes on cookie sheets.

You can bake the buns/loaves on four regular size cookie sheets or two half sheets (industrial baking sheet)

The big batch allows you to do several shapes, you could do part as loaves, part as brat buns, part as mini meal buns. The smaller shapes tend to rise a bit faster so bake in stages.

Kneading bread dough

This is actually pretty cool. Kneading bread correctly gives you a better texture to your bread, allows it to stay moist longer and develops more gluten allowing it to be lighter/fluffier and higher in protein.

When you have the dough out on the counter in front of you and have some flour added over the top to keep it from sticking to your hands it's time to get started.

Gather the dough in from the sides, closer to you, imagine the 8 and 4 on the face of the clock, pickup/push the dough folding it over the other half of the dough, it's still pretty sticky at this stage be patient. Now turn it a quarter turn and repeat. Sprinkle on more flour if needed to keep it from sticking to you or the counter. Turn it a quarter turn and fold it again, continue doing this, quarter run then fold until it firms up a bit and isn't so sticky.

Now as you do the quarter turn and fold it push against the folded dough with the heals of your hand(s), the smaller batch takes only one hand... 

So it's a quarter turn, fold, push to stretch it into the upper half. Give it a quarter turn, fold bottom half over upper half, push and stretch with the heals of your hands. Quarter turn, fold bottom over top, push and stretch. Add a sprinkle of flour, as needed to keep it from sticking to the board. The dough is ready when it's all stretch and forms a nice smooth ball. 

Add ONLY the flour needed to keep it from sticking. If you add too much flour you head up with a heavy dry bread.

When your dough ball is ready, put it in the greased bowl, flip and cover.

Storing, using, freezing bread

Now, a trick. Take a metal spatula (pancake flipper) and use it to scrape/scoop the stuff off the counter. The bits of dough, the left over flour all that stuff. Then use a damp wash cloth to clean up the rest. If you clean it up right away its a LOT easier to do then if you let it dry. Same with the bowl that you mixed the dough in. Using a paper towel and hot soapy water will let you clean it up quickly with not much work, then toss away the paper towel with all the little bits of dough that you washed out of the bowl away. If you use your regular dish cloth it's a mess to get all the wet gooey bits of dough off the cloth.

I bake bread just about every week. I very rarely buy bread. This type of bread freezes nicely. I let the shapes cool and air dry for a few hours, this develops a bit of a crust on the bread, flip it over when you are letting it cool so that the bottom can dry, then it can be wrapped for storage. If you bag it without letting it dry for the few hours (I'm talking two to three) it will get clammy in the bag and molds too quickly - remember no preservatives in this bread!

I lay it out on the cookie sheets and let the buns and rolls freeze, then bulk bag them. That allows me to take out just what I need and not be committed to taking what ever stuck together when it froze.

Increasing nutritional content

When I want to kick up the protein content of the bread, when planning on using it for a meal foundation, I make a couple of changes:

Add egg. For the double and quadruple batches you can add egg as part of the liquid. Use one egg as part of two cups of liquid. 

So for a double batch...  dump one egg in the bottom of your measuring cup and scramble just enough to break the yolk, then add warm water to make two cups of liquid.

For a quadruple batch... dump two eggs in the bottom of the measuring cup, scramble just enough to break the yolks, and then add warm water to make four cups of liquid.

Adding egg to the recipe makes the bread a bit softer.

Add milk. A quick and simple way that doesn't require any scalding or cooling is to add about 1/4 cup of powdered milk for every 2 cups of flour/oatmeal, this will make the bread a bit softer.

Need some pictures, right? I use 'half sheets' if you've ever seen a baker's full sheet.... Sheet cakes and half sheet cakes... those are the same pan sizes. So I'm likely using a larger baking sheet than you, just keep that in mind looking at the pics. I try to use 12 oz soda cans in the shots to give a sense of perspective.

bun5.jpg (258732 bytes)   bun3.jpg (35850 bytes)   bun1.jpg (245540 bytes)

Above, left to right. Mini buns getting ready to rise, the sheet in front was done first, you can see that it's already risen quite a bit. In the center pic the rear sheet is still rising, the front sheet is baked. On the right.... both sheets are baked... the rear one came out of the oven first and you can see that we had to sample to be sure that they were worthy of freezing! 

baking day 2.jpg (251981 bytes)Here, on the left is a shot of the 'french' loaves that I make with this recipe. These particular loaves are plain white, not oatmeal, but I wanted you to get an idea as to size and shape. It was a busy baking day for me, sharing the shot is a lemon meringue pie that I did for my dad's b-day, it's a 9 incher.

 

wrapsnbred.JPG (25749 bytes)Here's a shot of some wraps that I did that same day. Simple to do, roll the dough, between the palms of your hands, into long ropes.  then spiral the ropes of dough around the sausages, brats, hot dogs, which are at room temp. If you wrap the dough on chilled or frozen meat it will take FOREVER for the dough to rise. Place so that the ends of the rope are under the sausage when you place them on the sheet and then let the dough rise to double. Bake as you do any of the other bread variations. About the same time, watch until the bread is starting to turn golden. Oh.. poke the sausage a couple of times with a fork before wrapping so that they don't explode! Use this technique ONLY with sausages, brats, or hotdogs that are already cooked. They won't be in the oven long enough for raw meat to cook and you'll end up spending the next week... um.... well, in that little room down the hall.. with a can of air freshener in one hand and a bucket between your knees!

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Oatmeal Pancakes

(I'll be the first to admit that I might be carrying this a bit too far, but it worked and gives me yet another way to get more fiber, tried this last week for the first time and won't hesitate to do it again and again. Really only a modification of a recipe that I'd been using for some time.)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
3 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk (can use powdered milk, 1/3 cup powder then fill with water to make 1 cup)
2 Tbsp corn oil

Sift together dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients.

Add dry mixture to wet mixture. Stir until flour is moistened, do not over stir, batter will be lumpy.

Cook on griddle, medium heat. Flip when bubbles are popping on surface and edges are slightly tanned. Makes 12 dollar size or 8 four-inch pancakes.

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Oatmeal Gravy

(No one laugh, this was a 'wonder what would happen if' experiment that actually turned out very nice. It gives a just a bare hint of a 'nut taste' in the background, and sneak that little bit more fiber into your body)

This is more of a concept than a recipe. By adding some ground oatmeal to the mix you get to kick up the fiber content of your gravy.

Make the rue as you normally would, when it's almost to the point where you add the water or broth add some ground oatmeal and let it cook as you stir for just a minute or so.

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Turkey (chicken) nuggets

(Another variation of a recipe idea that I'd been using for years, this works with any meat nugget, chicken, turkey, pork or beef, might work with fish but I've not tried it yet)

**coming soon**

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Turkey Burger Salisbury Steak

(The recipe was first shown me using ground beef. Since I use ground turkey as my staple meat I thought I'd give it a try and it turned out better than the relationship with the guy that showed it to me!)

This is a ratio thing. I'll give you the basics, based on one pound of meat.. then just increase the ingredients in proportion to the amount of meat that you are using.  Feel free to play around with the seasonings to suit your tastes, your mood, or what is in the pantry!

Recipe for 1 pound ground meat

1 pound ground turkey
(you can also use, beef, pork, chicken or a combo. A fun thing I like to do on occasion is take a brat and squeeze the meat out of the casing and mix it with the meat for my burger mixes. Fewer calories than eating a brat but that great yummy flavor through the turkey burger!) 

1 cup oatmeal
1 egg

Seasonings:

1 to 2 tsps each of any combo of the following: sage, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, Italian seasoning, use your imagination and make it as 'safe' or 'exciting' as you want.

Mix with your hands or a mixture until JUST blended. Over mixing changes the texture of the meat. 

Divide the mixture according to the portions sizes you use. For mini meal portions I make 10 patties per pound. First 'ball' the portion with your hands and then flatten so that it's about 1/2 inch thick, use your hands to 'round' the patty if it's irregular, and then press it a bit more so that it's about 1/2 inch thick.

To pan fry in oil..  put enough oil in the bottom of the pan to keep from sticking. On medium heat cook the patties on one side until browned, time varies depending on the size of the patties and how many are in the pan. Then flip and cook the other side until browned. Set aside. 

Make your gravy, either a pan gravy from the goodies still in the pan or use a packaged gravy mix. I use the pan drippings. Once the gravy is made place the patties back in the gravy and cook for a bit longer. This finishes cooking the meat through and infuses the gravy a bit into the meat.

Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or pasta with the gravy ladled over and add a veggie and you have a meal. 

These freeze nice. For mini meal portions I use standard muffin tins. One mini patty per cup then add 1/3 cup of the gravy. Freeze. Once frozen I heat the sides of each cup with hot water to knock out the frozen cube. If you heat the bottom of the cup a vacuum forms and they are tough to get out. If you run hot water all over the bottom some of the chunks will fall out, some will thaw too much and either get stuck in the cups or SPLAT when they fall out. It's a bit of a trick to get used to, but once you get the hang of it it's a great way to freeze a lot of foods for mini meal portions... and for quick meals of any kind. The frozen chunks can then be bulk bagged. Just grab a chunk and add  a veggie with bread, potato, pasta or rice and you have a great meal.

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Turkey Burger Meatloaf (or meatballs)

(Actually a take off on the Salisbury Steak Recipe above, gives you an idea of what can be done with a bit of imagination when you take an existing recipe and just alter how you shape it.)

Meatloaf

This is a concept thing. Take the basic recipe for the Salisbury Steak and instead of making individual patties make a meatloaf. Fill the loaf pan(s) with the meat mixture, don't fill them all the way to the top. Use a spatula to slide between the meat and the sides of the pan and make a gap. Not really big... about a third of an inch wide at the top, it will be narrower at the bottom. You'll want to do that all the way around. Then you can be a bit fancy and round the top a bit, if you want. The reason for the gap around the sides is so that the grease that renders out of the meat while baking has a place to go. Some folks will pour off that hot grease 15 minutes or so before the end of baking so that the sides of the loaf will crust a bit. It's a personal preference thing.

Baking time is 45 minutes to an hour at 350 F. The top will be browned. One loaf cooks faster than several at the same time. Smaller loaves cook faster than larger loaves. 

The juices will be clear. If you slice it there should be no pink, it should be evenly cooked all the way through.

You can use that collected grease to make a pan gravy. Pork and beef release a lot more grease than turkey or chicken.

Meatballs

Same meat mixture technique. But I make meatballs. I cheat. I use a small cookie scoop to portion the meatballs so that they are all the same size, then use my hands to make them nice and round. I place them on a greased baking sheet and press just a wee bit to make the bottom a bit flat, to keep them from rolling. Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes. 

You can use them right away... or freeze some for later. To freeze. Take the cooled meatballs off the baking sheet and put them on another (clean) one, then put them in the freezer. When frozen you can take the off the sheet and bulk bag them. 

You can use these anywhere you'd use a regular meatball... spaghetti, stew, soup, sandwich, BBQ sauce with a toothpick on a party tray, pizza, hot dish/casserole.... use your imagination. I've used them as a quick protein/fiber snack when away from home. You can eat them hot or cold. They microwave great.

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