It’s become an embarrassing pattern of mine to make a resolution every year to be better about eating breakfast. Each time, I start on the path towards healthy eating. However, as life becomes fuller and mornings more hectic, I find that eating a good breakfast often gets pushed to the side.
This year, I discovered how invaluable my slow cooker was in creating a beautiful, hot breakfast for my entire family that I could serve in the morning and enjoy for mornings to come. I could also serve it as a midday pick-me-up or as a healthy late- night snack. The discovery might seem a bit old-fashioned, but a batch of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. This isn’t just any old oatmeal though—this oatmeal is made from delicious steel cut oats.
What’s the difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats? Well, a part of it is their structure and the other part is the way that our body digests them. While both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.
The reason steel cut oats are so awesome is because they digest more slowly than rolled ones, leaving you fuller longer. Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel cut oats rank lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats. This just means that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down its conversion to sugar. For me, those highs and lows are some rough stuff, and I’ve found that a bowl of steel cut oats keeps my blood sugar much steadier.
I make a variety of different oatmeal recipes in my slow cooker and have found one thing to be consistent no matter what kind I make. Can I let you in on my little secret? I absolutely hate cleaning the slow cooker after making oatmeal. I also hate that the oats can get crusty pretty quickly on the edges, yielding a less than creamy bowl even when I have the perfect liquid ratios.
Let me share my secret that yields the most perfect and creamy bowl you can imagine and it is probably something you already have in your kitchen:
1. Find an oven-safe dish that fits inside of your slow cooker and fill that dish with all of your ingredients for your oatmeal.
2. Fill a measuring cup with water and pour the water around your dish, just to about the halfway point. This creates a warm water bath (a lot like those candles we made this summer) and helps your oatmeal to cook more evenly yet remain delightfully creamy.
3. Put a lid on the slow cooker (no need to double lid) and set it to cook for eight hours. It’s okay if your slow cooker switches to “warm” in the night. Thanks to your water bath, your oats will not get overcooked, but stay hot until you wake up!
Once you have that perfect bowl of oatmeal, you can add your favorite toppings to it or create a quick toppings bar of ingredients for the week. For this Creamy Coconut Oatmeal recipe, I found the taste of rich blackberries and toasty almonds to be a delightful way to top it!
This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I became a mom, I began to realize the beauty in one-handed snacks. When my babies were small, I had a hard time holding a baby and feeding myself so I created a basket of one-handed snacks that would keep me fueled throughout the day.
Now that my kids are older, you would think that I would have loads more time to care for myself. I have found though that although my children aren’t necessarily as demanding as they were, their activity schedule certainly is. I am still struggling to keep myself fueled as we run from activity to activity.
If you struggle with keeping yourself AND your kids fueled, I wanted to share with you a fun snack station we created to encourage ALL of us to grab healthy snacks more regularly. This diy snack station was made with a basic small bar cart and is fully stocked for our whole family.
DIY Snack Station Tutorial
I headed to my local superstore to gather up four metal pails that had chalkboard labels on front for our little diy snack station and found this sweet little bar cart on summer clearance for 75% off. This is the perfect time to stock up on this summer entertaining accessory and keep it on budget for your family.
We then headed on over to Kroger (check out the store locator to find one near you!) to grab some healthy options for our snack cart. The beauty in the chalkboard labeling is that you can switch snacks based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, or what you are craving that week. Have your kids be in charge of the labeling to work on mastering their spelling!
Our four pails had bananas (separated for easy grabbing), raisins/nut mixes, Jack Link’s in a few varieties, and crackers with peanut butter. On the bottom tier, I added apples and oranges, a variety of flavored waters, and some fun straws for sipping.
Snacks with lots of protein are my favorite because they stop the HANGRY from coming on.
Tell me that you know a little about hangry moments too please! I need to know I’m not alone in this!
As someone who fights low blood sugar (as do my children), I have found that protein keeps me from fighting those sugar highs and lows.
Beef jerky can be a great protein-filled option and Jack Link’s is protein-packed with a whopping 12 grams of protein. I like that you don’t have to be limited to just one flavor because it comes in tons of varieties. From the soy and ginger combo in Teriyaki, to a layer of coarse pepper in their Peppered option, to the smoky mesquite flavoring of their Original turkey, to the bold and savory offerings of their Jack Link’s Original. We are big fans of these options for keeping the hangry at bay.
For a sweet and savory combo, pair your jerky with fresh fruit for a balanced snack. Bananas always offer a good bang for your buck, apples can be sliced for eating on-the-go, and easy-to-peel clementine’s are always a big favorite in our house. Be sure to look for fruit that is on season for the most affordable (and freshest) options.
We are also really big fans of flavored waters in our house. It makes drinking water a little bit more fun.
A pretty papered straw doesn’t hurt either. What can I say? I am a blogger and paper straws are kind of a requirement over here.
We hope this post inspires you to create a snack station for your own family! We are thankful to have one at our house as we head back to the grind of school and activities. It is so nice to know that one-handed snacks are on hand for life’s busy moments!
This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Have you ever wanted to tackle making a family cookbook with your kids? I’m so excited to show you how we made a scrapbook of our favorite foods and food traditions together. Making a cookbook with your kids is a fun activity that any family can do together and we are so excited to show you how we created ours.
If you know us, one thing that our family is big on is traditions created around the dinner table. Whether it is our pizza night on Fridays, our waffle tradition on Sundays, or the way we commemorate every little occasion in life, we somehow find a fun food tradition to surround the event. This creative project is a way to truly document those food traditions by creating a family cookbook with your kids that can be a fun project to create together as well as a legacy of your family traditions to pass down to future generations.
1) Begin by cutting out and assembling the items you would like on your page by laying them out and positioning them on each page. I like to cut my recipes out with zig-zag scissors to add a creative detail.
2) Once you figure out the placement of your items, mount pictures and recipes with double stick tape or photo stickers on the back and secure them to your page.
3) Have your children answer writing prompts on scrapbook labels or have them draw pictures of their favorite foods. Secure these additions with colorful washi tape. You can also add your own reflections on the pages to finish your pages.
4) Have kids finish the project by adding stickers to the pages or filling in sticker labels. Be creative with sticker placement, placing them even on the pictures and recipes themselves.
5) Finish by sliding the finished sheets into the sleeves of your scrapbook album. Repeat this same five step process with the rest of your sheets.
Here is how our family cookbook turned out- we are so proud of how it turned out and it was such a fun activity to do together!
If you are unsure about theme ideas for your pages, here are a few fun recommendations:
Family Food Traditions
Dad or Mom’s Favorite Dishes
Your Child’s Favorite Dish
Cool Food We Tried
Kids in the Kitchen
Back to School Traditions
Food Through the Generations (sharing those recipes from your extended family)
As a mom, this activity truly brought so much joy to me and to my kids. With everything digital, I have grown increasingly bad about printing pictures and handwritten documentation of my memories. This project truly served as a reminder how wonderful it is to see my children’s handwriting and pictures as well as how much it might mean to them to see their mother’s handwriting (as pitiful as it may be!).
I hope you consider this family activity as a way to preserve your family & food traditions for future generations. I promise that it will bring so much joy to your life and will be something that your kids will truly enjoy doing with you!
What are some of your family traditions – do they center around food like ours?
*this post contains affiliate links- thank you for your support!
Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.
Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?
Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.
Quinoa is one of my favorite summertime ingredients because it is filling and gluten-free. Have you had quinoa before? It couldn’t be easier to prepare or more delicious!
Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. It’s a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, and it contains B Vitamins and iron.
Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, becoming tender but chewy, and expelling spirals that boast the slightest crunch.
To add more flavor to my quinoa I love to cook it in veggie or chicken broth.
To make these salads portable, I layer the salads in jars. You want to layer the salads in a way that everything stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
For these salads, I start with a scoop of cooked quinoa and add a drizzle of olive oil and squirt of lemon. I then allow that all to cool completely and then start the layer of veggies. The tomatoes go in first and then I fill the jar up to the tippy top with as much spinach as possible. I learned a lot from all those episodes of Popeye as a kid!
Picnic in a Jar: Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes
Recipe type: Salads
Take these along on your next family outing for a filling, easy meal!
1 pound spinach
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups cooked quinoa (follow the instructions for preparation on the packaging)
Salt and pepper
Prepare quinoa as directed on package (it’s just like rice with a 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid ratio- veggie broth, chicken broth, or water all work in this one). Season with salt and pepper.
Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl.
Once the quinoa is done, scoop it into equal amounts into four jars. Squirt the juice of your lemons on top of the quinoa and add a light drizzle of olive oil to each one. Allow these to cool fully before adding the rest of your ingredients.
Next layer on your tomatoes and then add your layer of spinach.
Lid your jar and store in your fridge for up to five days. Eat directly out of the jar or pour into a bowl for an easy picnic feast!
For a sweet little picnic touch, use a little twine to tie on forks or tape a plastic fork with washi tape on your lids. You now have the makings for the perfect summertime lunch wherever your summer adventures might take you!
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite sleepovers ever included a beautiful breakfast buffet for us in the morning. The parents got up early to make stacks of waffles and laid out a variety of toppings to make our own waffle creation. It was the stuff that little girl’s dreams are made of, piled high with whipped cream, strawberries, and unlimited syrup.
I want to be that mom who rises early and makes these sleepover dreams come true, but often I am the mom dragging her tail out of bed after telling the kids to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE, GO TO SLEEP IT IS THREE IN THE MORNING mom.
Are you her too?
That’s why I wanted to create a REALISTIC buffet that can be made in advance so you can just stumble into kitchen, put everything on the table, and curl up with a cup of coffee in bed with a little sweet silence.
Today I am partnering with Florida Department of Citrus to show you how to make this fun make-ahead sleepover breakfast buffet table complete with glasses of FLOJ for everyone at the party. Although waffle parties are fun, I wanted to create a healthy breakfast complete with a glass of Florida Orange Juice that provides 5 amazing nutrients in every glass for our guests. Not only are we loading our table with fresh fruit, but we are also getting, in just one single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice, our daily recommended serving of fruit! Winning!
Instead of spending your morning flipping pancakes, take a peek at my make-ahead recipe for breakfast burritos. This recipe yields eighteen delicious burritos and you can even make them gluten-free with the use of a gluten-free wrap. They are filled with eggs, turkey sausage, spiced potatoes, and cheese- yum!
Make these ahead and tuck them in your fridge or use these instructions for popping them in the freezer until the morning. The beauty in this one is that no matter what time they rise, each person can have a hot breakfast!
I made a simple breakfast bar with burrito toppings like olives, sour cream tomatoes, avocado, salsa, and sriracha. You can just chop and set this in the fridge on a cookie sheet for the big morning.
After warming their burritos, they can fill it with all of their favorites or simply put the toppings on top and dig in with a knife and fork.
Putting this spread together took me under an hour, even with all the chopping, and the best part is that I got to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even with a house full of kids. WINNING!
Thank you so much to Florida Department of Citrus for letting us share a make-ahead buffet with you. Be sure to kick back a glass of FLOJ for us and may your bedhead game be as strong as your coffee.
This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!
This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
I am raising a big fan of the Star Darlings series and we are so excited to giveaway an amazing prize pack today for a tween girl in your life. Today’s craft is to show you how to make a mini star cakes that you can prepare out of just 3 items from the grocery store. These cakes are easy enough that your kid can put these together and impressive enough to share with your friends.
Emily’s fangirl status of the Star Darlings series is truly legit because the #1 gift she wants to share with her friends are these books. They also are the books she has been taking to school each day to read during her reading free time. Is it just me or do you struggle with finding tween books that you can really get behind? These books are positive and minus the sass. I am all about girl power and positivity so I am thrilled that these have been such a hit in our house. I am also so happy she is sharing the same message with her friends.
As you may recall, we shared a really fun dreamcatcher we made together in honor of the first six books! Today we are sharing an easy craft your daughter can do together after she has read the books. Did you know that books 6-9 are out on store shelves now? Yay!
Not only have the next four books hit the shelves, but they also released StarDarlings Collection Volume #1 which is a brand new bind up book that includes the first three books in the StarDarlings series. You can learn lots more about the Star Darlings series on their webpage. They have also expanded their line to include a doll series and even an app to continue the positive messaging for tween girls. Cassie Comes Through, Piper’s Perfect Dream, Astra’s Mixed Up Mission, & Tessa’s Lost & Found are the new books keeping my daugher up late at night reading.
In honor of these sweet books, Emily & I have created an easy 3-ingredient star cake.
1 frozen prepared pound cake
2 tubs of frosting (you should only need one, but we offer the advice of two for heavy pourers- wink, wink!)
Star Cookie Cutter
Directions for Mini Star Cakes
1. Allow your pound cake to thaw for a few minutes and then, using a serrated knife, trim the top to level the cake. Slice the cake in half lengthwise. (I did this for my daughter, but she was able to do the rest on her own).
2. Using a cookie cutter, carefully cut out your star shapes and place them on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the frosting avalanche.
3. Divide your icing into two microwave safe bowls and tint to your desired colors. Place the frosting in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir the frosting and then place back in the microwave for another 10 seconds (or until the icing looks pourable).
4. Pour icing over the stars and finish with sprinkles. Allow these to harden and then eat your masterpiece.
There are a few great gifts I give myself in the morning. The first, is to rise an hour earlier than necessary to get in an uninterrupted hour of reading (BLISS!). The second is to always program my coffeemaker the night before so I wake up to a fresh brew (HEAVEN!). The third? Packing my freezer with smoothie packets that make creating a morning smoothie filled with greens and fruits incredibly easy and practically effortless (WINNING AT LIFE).
I posted about my make-ahead smoothie packets on Instagram and got a lot of questions about it. Something I have come to think of as a weekly routine really sparked a lot of questions about my recipe, what the smoothie looked like, and what to do for fruit substitutions. I thought it deserved its own little post because it has become a very vital part of my morning routines and sets a good foundation for healthy eating the rest of the day.
Not only does this strategy save you time in the morning, but it also puts ripe fruit to work and is a great way to utilize spinach before it goes bad making the most of every grocery dollar. I never waste a banana in our house or any greens anymore because they always have a home. If I have run out of frozen berries, I just add the rest of these ingredients into a packet and get them ready for my next grocery day when I can get the frozen fruit to add to it. As someone trying to reduce their food waste, this has been an awesome use for those often tossed items.
Also, if you buy smoothies regularly, you know they are not cheap. A typical smoothie around these parts (said in my best Midwest accent) is around $4-6. Even if bought weekly, that can add up fast!
Here were a few of your questions for me!
Do you store these packets in the freezer and for how long?
Yup, I recommend freezing in quart-sized freezer storage bags and making sure to push out any air in the bags to keep these ingredients as fresh as possible. I would recommend using these in one month for optimum flavor.
How many smoothies do these packets make?
I drink an enormous smoothie in the morning (24 ounces) and my daughter has the size I am showing you in the cup below and this packet with my recipe I have listed makes enough for that. For “normal” people, maybe it might make three, but this is my breakfast, people, and I’m a big eater. I got one of these for me to help make toting these in the car a little easier since I drink these on the way to the gym in the morning. I also have this giant water bottle from the same company and it has improved how much water I intake as well as my healthy smoothie habit for breakfast. I have been happy how they have held up (over a year now!) compared to some other insulated cups I have tried.
Do you blend these with milk or use a milk substitution?
My stomach can’t process a lot of dairy so I use unsweetened almond milk in mine. I do use Greek yogurt though (either vanilla or unsweetened) and that doesn’t seem to bother me. You can definitely use milk, soy milk, or coconut milk if you would prefer. I’m a big fan of the flavor of the almond milk!
Can I make these without spinach? I don’t think my kids will drink these if they are green!
I just want to show you how very slightly these are tinged with green when you only add a cup or so of spinach to them. Additionally, if I am really concerned an extra handful of frozen blueberries cancels out all other colors so sometimes if I am really generous with the blueberries, these look more blue.
Are you using frozen spinach? Frozen berries? What does the spinach look like when it is frozen?
Here is a packet that has been frozen for three weeks and this is what it looks like. The spinach is fresh spinach (I don’t want to hassle with the frozen stuff- personal preference), the berries are frozen, and the bananas are fresh. I like to cut the bananas in half to help them break down a little easier in the blender. As you can see, the spinach looks almost the same as it did when I threw it in there.
The bananas may brown over time, but they will still taste the same. As rapidly as we go through these though, I have rarely even seen that happen.
By freezing these fruits and veggies, you eliminate the need for ice in your smoothie which creates a much creamier consistency and a smoothie that holds together longer. Sometimes I will make these in the morning and pop one in the fridge for my daughter for her afternoon snack. It always looks just like I had just made it. When I add water or ice, it tends to separate and grosses her out.
Should I flash freeze any of the ingredients?
If you aren’t familiar with flash freezing, I do this a lot with foods for our freezer. Typically, I fan whatever I am freezing out on an open parchment paper lined cookie sheet, freeze just until frozen, and then toss in a bag.
I experimented with this and here is what I will say about that. You can cut the bananas in half and flash freeze and they will stay separated, making it easier to pour into your blender and it is really great. It’s an extra step though. My lazy freezer routine is to cut them in half right in the bag, freeze (where they tend to fuse back together) and then smack the bag as hard as I can on the counter until they loosen from each other while I listen to the political crap insight on NPR. It’s kind of like a therapy session. You can do it whichever way fits your lifestyle best.
What kind of protein powder do you use? What can I use if I am vegan or dairy-free?
When I was dairy-free, I experimented with a lot of terrible protein powders so I can honestly tell you this is the only brand that I really liked that was plant-based. Now that I’m not dairy-free, I just purchase the store brand protein powder at our local grocery store in a vanilla flavor. Like I said, we had to try a few before we found the ones we liked best and I always try to keep my eyes peeled for a sale to maximize the savings. The goal is to keep this as a frugal routine for us.
What kind of blender do you have?
I have had the same blender for probably eight years or so and, unfortunately, they don’t make mine anymore. When mine bites the bullet, I will probably invest in this one because I have heard they last forever. In order to blend up these fruits, you really need to have a high powered blender though. If you have a $20 blender, it will burn out your motor. I say this because I did it. Twice. Invest in a good blender and it will more than pay for itself, I promise you!
I can’t eat bananas. Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for my smoothie?
Do your kids really like these? My kids are really picky!
They really do and so do I. My daughter was a terrible breakfast eater, like her mother, and I worried a lot that she wasn’t eating enough to be fueled for her day at school. This is what she “eats” and she stays full until lunchtime. If she is running late, it is something that can be finished while she waits for her bus. Fun straws are always a great addition to this morning treat especially when first pitching this idea to your kids. She says it tastes like a milkshake.
For me, it’s been an incredible way to get fueled before I workout. Working out on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea for someone with low blood sugar. Eating something too heavy made me feel like I was going to be sick. These smoothies are a great option to be fueled without a lot of heaviness in my stomach. Sometimes I drink half and pop it in the fridge until I get done exercising and finish the other half when I’m done.
I hope these tips are helpful and I hope you love these as much as our family does!
As our schedules become busier with activities, I have found that I have been gravitating more and more towards sheet pan meals to feed our family. The beauty of a sheet pan meal is that, when lined with foil or parchment paper, these meals of meats and veggies prepared on a cookie sheet not only hold the power to be prepared with minimal effort, but they also are prepared with minimum clean-up too. I am not the only one loving sheet pan meals though, as I noticed at our local library that this sheet pan suppers cookbook was out on the shelves this winter and I can’t wait to check it out and dive into some of those recipes in our own kitchen. Who knew sheet pan meals were so trendy this year?
Today’s sheet pan dish features Ranch Pork Chops with Vegetables and has already been eaten a record four times this month. I am a big fan of these pre-cut parchment paper squares for easy clean-up and I can find all of these ingredients for this meal at ALDI, which is a bonus since I hate shopping at multiple grocery stores. Although the ingredients couldn’t be more simple, this recipe is packed full of flavor thanks to the convenience of a ranch dressing packet. If you are avoiding those for any reason (like sodium), you can also make your own DIY Ranch Dressing Mix to cut down on the salt.
Although we loved this dish enough for it to be repeated four times, the main reason why I tested it so much was because I wanted to get the right level of doneness to both the potatoes and the meat. I found that by giving the potatoes a 10-12 minute head start, I got better consistency on the potatoes while not drying out the meat and green beans in the process. Throwing the potatoes in the oven first also gave me that ten minutes to prep the rest of the ingredients while they were cooking. Basically, as soon as that timer goes off, I’m ready to throw on the next layer. I rely on center cut pork chops, on the bone, for a flavorful chop that consistently is done within 30 minutes. Resting this chops on top help add moisture and flavor to the veggies nestled underneath.
A fresh sprinkle of parsley adds a beautiful fresh flavor to this dish and some affordable color to the top.
Not only is this a great weeknight winner, but it also reheats beautifully, saving us on money spent on lunches out. I try to package a couple of meals up for my husband and I when cleaning up.
Did I mention less dishes when cleaning up?
Now you REALLY know why we have already eaten this four times.
I hope you love this sheet pan meal as much as we do!
A practically effortless pork chop sheet pan meal that feeds six people!
6 (8-ounce) pork chops, bone-in, ¾-inch to 1-inch thick
1 pound yellow or red baby potatoes, quartered
1 pound green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1-ounce) package Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix
5 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Quarter potatoes and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ of the Ranch dressing packet, and two minced cloves of garlic in a large bowl. Pour in an even layer on sheet pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile trim green beans and place in the bowl you used for tossing the potatoes. Toss the green beans with ¼ of the Ranch dressing packet, one tablespoon of the olive oil, and one clove of minced garlic.
Remove potatoes from the oven and pour prepared green beans on top. Add pork chops and drizzle lightly with olive oil and finish by sprinkling with the Ranch packet. Season with salt and pepper.
Place into oven and roast until the pork is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 140 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes. You can finish by broiling for two to three minutes, if you desire a more charred flavoring to your meal.
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.
Do you love sheet pan meals too? Let me know what your favorite sheet pan dishes are in your kitchen!
This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love- pinky promise!
I have tried and tried and tried to create a delicious gluten-free meatloaf, but have failed on countless occasions. We have had hard-as-a-rock meatloaves and runny meatloaves and gummy meatloaves and dense meatloaves, but nothing has ever been delicious…until now.
When all else fails (oatmeal, gluten-free breadcrumbs, no breadcrumbs at all, fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs, etc..), you just have to go to the experts. To me, there is no better resource than America’s Test Kitchen and The How Can It Be Gluten-Free cookbook had a meatloaf recipe in it that had a really unusual binding agent that yields a fluffy and delicious meatloaf without the gluten. You know what makes it even better? It is just a standard ingredient you would find at a standard grocery store that you might even have in your pantry. You mean, no fancy pants gluten-free ingredients that cost an arm and a leg? Well, heck, sign me up!
If you don’t have meatloaf pan like this, they offer an affordable alternative to create a loaf that isn’t swimming in grease. Simply place a standard cooling rack on top of your cookie sheet and then tear pieces of foil, roughly the size of a loaf pan) to lay on top of your cooling rack. Spray with cooking spray and then use a skewer to poke holes to drain the grease from the loaf. All the grease then goes to the cooking sheet, helping the loaf to hold its shape.
Once you have shaped your meatloaf, you can cover it in half the sauce you have made. This sauce is sweet and I have discovered my family prefers just a can of tomato sauce on top with a little shake of garlic salt for a more Italian flavoring. You can do either, but I definitely found that this sweet sauce hugged and set well on this meatloaf, even when reheated later for delicious meatloaf sandwiches.
This meatloaf is so light and who would ever have guessed that instant mashed potatoes is what keeps it so light and fluffy? It’s an incredible loaf that holds its shape and is full of flavor thanks to the delicious sauce that compliments this fluffy loaf perfectly. We served this dish with a big helping of oven roasted brussels sprouts, a side that has grown to be a family favorite!
I hope you will enjoy this recipe in your house as much as we had and now that I know what a great binder instant mashed potatoes are, this will be a pantry staple for our family! Thank you, America’s Test Kitchen, for making our family so darn happy!
A perfectly light meatloaf with the most surprising binding agent! Try substituting the sweet sauce with tomato sauce for an Italian kick!
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
2 large eggs
½ cup milk of choice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
⅓ cup potato flakes
⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
1 pound ground pork
1 pound (85 percent lean) ground beef
Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Fold heavy-duty aluminum foil to form a 9x5-inch rectangle. Center foil on a wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes in the foil with a skewer (about ½ inch apart). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
Stir ketchup, sugar and vinegar together in a bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
Whisk in eggs, milk, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Stir in potato flakes and parsley. Add pork and knead with hands until thoroughly combined. Add beef and continue to knead until uniform.
Transfer meat mixture to foil rectangle and shape into 9x5-inch loaf. Brush half of ketchup mixture over meatloaf. Bake meatloaf in preheated oven 40 minutes.
Brush meatloaf with remaining ketchup mixture and continue to bake until center of loaf registers 160°F, 30 to 35 minutes. Let meatloaf cool 15 minutes before slicing.
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Sloppy Joes are nothing fancy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love them. When my husband and I were in high school, we would hit a local deli each week where he would enjoy a good old-fashioned sloppy joe sandwich and I would indulge in a flaky spinach & feta croissant as a special treat. When you have been with your partner as long as I have, almost every memory, every dish, and every life moment is laced with each other. I always think of those lunches when I make this dish for him, these high school moments that later shaped my life and family.
We have held steady and true to this classic sandwich over the years, but this week I’m partnering up with Lingham’s Hot Sauce and thought it would be fun to switch up this classic comfort food in their honor. My husband, a lover of traditions when it comes to the classics, was not too sure about my Sloppy Buffalo Joes idea, but after one bite of these delicious sandwiches, we all agreed that this was just as good as the classic version and a fun gourmet twist on a cafeteria staple.
Lingham’s Hot Sauces were new to me, but have actually been around since 1908! They come in a variety of flavors from garlic to ginger and they offer an extra hot variety for those of you that like your hot sauce with an extra kick. Their original hot sauce is absolutely divine and the closest I have tasted to homemade from the supermarket. It has a complex flavor on the tongue that at first tastes sweet and then the heat travels through, just like an experience that you get with a good glass of wine.
The sauce is thick and requires a good shake before you use it since they don’t use any bulking agents, something the brand really is proud of. The best part for this gluten-free gal is not only is it gluten free is that it is 100% all natural, verified non GMO, Halal and Kosher…
Oh, and did I mention you can find it at Walmart stores nationwide? Yay!
Sloppy Buffalo Joes are a healthier take on a big plate of buffalo wings as we get back to more balanced eating in the new year. This sloppy joe mixture consists all white ground chicken meat, garlic, diced onions, diced celery, and diced carrots. Next is a spicy sauce layer with our Lingham’s Hot Sauce (feel free to go Extra Hot on this one!), tomato sauce, chicken broth, and a worcestershire sauce finish. Once this cooks down together, it has that perfect balance of sweet and spicy, just like the hot sauce we added and I love that there is a healthy serving of veggies in these for my kids!
The thing that really brings this whole thing together on this sandwich are those finishing touches. Blue Cheese crumbles are sprinkled on top and the addition of a toasty bun completes this deliciously sloppy joe treat. The creaminess of that blue cheese really adds balance to the spicy sauce on this.
I usually avoid the gluten-free buns, but have discovered that a gluten-free bun slathered with a tiny bit of butter and then toasted on a hot cast iron skillet improves the flavor of these 100% for me. Of course, you could also serve this delicious filling stuffed in a sweet potato or over a big pile of brown rice.
The true test if a dish is a success is if the leftovers are eaten in our house. Not only did our whole family love this, but they begged to eat those leftovers the next day. This one is going into our regular meal rotation and I have a feeling if you try it, it will go into yours too. What a fun spin on an old classic!
Be sure to pick up some Lingham’s Hot Sauce to add that perfect balance of sweet and spicy to your dishes!