breakfast · Make-Ahead

(L)Oven Monday – Baked Oatmeal Cups

Oatmeal Cups 1

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday and Happy May 1st!  I hope you all had a great week last week.  I had a restful time away, but am happy to be back here with you today sharing another great recipe!

I’ve shared my recipe here for Baked Oatmeal – it’s a great do-ahead dish.  It’s nice to have on hand for a couple of days.  But there are times when I don’t have that made up and I need to eat something before heading out the door in the morning.  I’ve recently found a recipe for a Breakfast Oatmeal Cup that is a baked oatmeal made in muffin tins, creating the perfect single-serving size.  Once baked, they can be kept in the fridge for a several days, but what I’ve been doing is freezing them and popping one into the microwave for those busy mornings.  I put one into a bowl and add milk, just like I do with my other Baked Oatmeal.  It’s so delicious, and keeps me from getting that low-sugar drop later on.  This is so good, and lots better than regular oatmeal!  I love the texture of these as opposed to the traditional bowl of oats.

You could add any variety of fruits and nuts.  This recipe is one of my favorite combos – Strawberry-Banana.  So good!  Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Cups


  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2⅓ cup low-fat milk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup – you could use honey instead, if desired
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds or walnuts


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well until everything is combined.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and scoop oatmeal mixture in using a large ice cream scoop or a ¼ measuring cup. The mixture will be a little watery, so it’s important to mix well before each scoop to make sure you get an even combination of milk and oats.
  3. Bake oatmeal cups for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Keep in fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Oatmeal cups 2

To eat from frozen state, thaw overnight in fridge or in microwave, then warm for about 30 seconds.  Add milk and enjoy!

What do you keep on hand for breakfast on busy days?

Denise Signature 150 px





baking · cakes · dessert · hospitality · Make-Ahead

(L)Oven Monday – A Healthy, Yummy Dessert

Angel Food.jpg

Cooking Light has great recipes for Angel Food Cakes.  These cakes have no fat, making them a healthier dessert than most.  The nice thing about baking your own Angel Food cake is:

  1. They taste better
  2. You can add flavorings
  3. They cost pennies
  4. You can make it ahead of time and freeze it

This recipe  – Cafe’ au Lait Angel food has a coffee flavor and we love that!  Cafe’ au Lait means coffee with milk.  This recipe also has a custard-like sauce to serve with it,which gives the coffee flavor it’s “milk addition.  It takes regular old Angel Food to the next level, and certainly makes it company worthy!  Here’s the recipe:

Cafe’ au Lait Angel Food Cake


  • Cake:
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour – Don’t have any?  Try this – Take one level cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons, and then add two tablespoons of cornstarch back in. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it in your cake batter.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso granules or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sauce:
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur) –  I didn’t use this or substitute
  • Remaining ingredient:
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk, and set aside. Combine espresso and hot water, stirring until espresso dissolves; set aside.

  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

  4. Beat in espresso mixture and vanilla extract. Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg white mixture; fold in. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

  5. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate.

    I had to work just  a little to loosen my cake from the pan, but it did come out whole after a few little “tugs” with my metal spatula.

    I saw that eggs are on sale at Kroger this week for .79, so it’s a good time to make one of these cakes!  I’m going to attempt to upload a video  this Wednesday of how to make this cake.  You can see just how simple it really is!  It’s really fun to venture out a little a make something a little challenging.  I hope you’ll give this a try!  Plus it’s just fun to say – Cafe’ au Lait!

    Happy baking!

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    Dinner · entertaining · Family life · home · Home making · hospitality · main dish · Main entree · Make-Ahead · refreshment at home · Side dish

    (L)Oven Monday – Successful Sunday Dinner Finale

    Baked chicken 1.jpg

    Today is the last post for Successful Sunday dinner.  I will continue to share my recipes and what I served at my house, but as far as the 1,2,3’s, we’re going to wrap it up and get you ready to dive into that great Sunday meal for your family!

    Remember that if it’s your desire to make Sunday dinner special at your house, it’s going to take some intentional effort and planning. Here were the three crucial steps before getting the meal going:

    1. Ponder the needs –

    2. Plan the menu 

    3. Prepare ahead

    • Ponder the needs -Consider any allergies or health concerns, like diabetes.
    • Plan the menu around those needs, your time and budget.  Typically if I’m making a main dish or a bread that requires lots of time, I’ll make another part of the meal easier to prepare.
    • Prepare ahead by doing everything you can on Saturday (or before).  It will lessen your stress level!
      • Set the table
      • Chop all veggies
      • Marinate meat
      • Prepare the salad
      • Prepare the dessert
      • Get the side dishes started

    Let me give you a little rundown on how my week may look when I’m hosting a typical Sunday dinner…


    Early in the week – 

    Wednesday – 

    • Make Rolls and freeze
    • Check to see if tablecloth or napkins need ironing

    Saturday – 

    • Prep chicken dish and  go ahead and bake it.  All it needs on Sunday is to be warmed up. I wouldn’t leave this dish in the oven during church – it would dry out.
    • Peel potatoes and place in water overnight
    • Cut up apples for salad and place in lemon juice/water mixture overnight
    • Make Vinaigrette for salad
    • Wash and slice strawberries
    • Make tea
    • Set table
    • Set out serving dishes

    Sunday – Before church

    • Mix salad ingredients, except dressing
    • Put potatoes in crock pot, turn on high
    • Set rolls out to rise

    Sunday – After church

    • Set out a light snack for guests, if needed
    • Warm chicken either in a large pan on the stove or in the microwave on a med setting.
    • Prep asparagus for roasting
    • Mash potatoes and keep warm
    • Bake rolls – Keep warm
    • Roast asparagus
    • Put into serving dishes

    Enjoy the meal!!!

    Serve dessert and then pray someone volunteers to help with the dishes!

    I hope this series has helped you to see that you CAN make Sunday dinner something special and memorable.  Start out small and work your way into more complicated menus.  Do what you feel comfortable with and keep trying to improve your game plan.


    Remember that the most important ingredient of any meal is THE PEOPLE!  Don’t make it about you and your inadequacies.  Make them feel welcome and important and they will love their time around your Sunday dinner table!

    Is there an unanswered question that you have?  I’d be happy to address it!  Leave me a comment here and I promise to answer you!

    Let’s eat!

    Denise Signature 150 px




    Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · Home making · main dish · Make-Ahead · Sunday Dinner

    (L)Oven Monday 30-Minute Meals for Sunday

    Happy Monday and Post #4 about Successful Sunday  Dinners!

    I’m posting late today because I got home from Michigan very late last night and couldn’t finish this post until today!  I can’t wait to tell you about my special weekend, but let’s move on with Sunday dinner!

    Today I’m going to give you some 30-minute meal ideas for Sunday’s. Sometimes having a meal in the oven or crock pot isn’t feasible, so these menus are a great option!

    Things to remember when making 30-minute meals:

    • As with any other menu, you should still prep anything ahead of time that you can. You may even reduce the time to under 30 minutes!
      • Marinate meat
      • Chop veggies
      • Get ingredients together so you can grab them easily
    • Set the table ahead of time.
    • Find make-ahead sides
    • Make a dessert before-hand, if that’s part of the menu

    Here are some ideas to get you thinking…

    Stir Fry – Stir-fry is cooked very quickly, making it great any time you’re in a hurry. This recipe for Orange Chicken was new to me and we loved it! I used her Original recipe she mentions, because I wanted lots of orange flavor!  It was super good! This picture does NOT do it justice, so please try it anyway!!!

    Recipe from The Gunny Sack
    • Brunch foods
      • Waffles – How about making these waffles up ahead and freezing them.  Then after church, toast as many as needed and having all kinds of fruit toppings for them!  Add a side of bacon and you have a great meal!
        waffles 1
    • German Pancakes – These are a nice twist on regular pancakes and they are soooo good!

    So, step out of the traditional Sunday dinner mold and fix a new kind of menu for your family after church.  This could become a family tradition that everyone prefers!  It’s certainly one they’ll all enjoy! Who doesn’t love waffles and pancakes?!

    I hope these dinner ideas are helpful for you.  Let me know if I’m aiding your abilities, or if I still need to address other areas for Successful Sunday dinner!


    Denise Signature 150 pxf

    Crock Pot · Dinner · main dish · Make-Ahead

    (L)Oven Monday – Successful Sunday Dinner with Delicious Sides!

    Yankee pot roast a.jpg

    Welcome back to the Successful Sunday dinner series!  Today I want to address two more questions/problems people mentioned in regards to Sunday dinner –

    1. How can I have everything done at the same time?
    2. What sides can you make that will be ready for a Sunday meal after church?
    •  An easy way to answer both of those issues is to make a dish where the meat and the veggies are one dish in themselves. They are baked/roasted together, so they’re finished at the same time.  That doesn’t mean it has to be a casserole!   Here are a few suggestions of those kinds of meals:
      • Lemon Greek Chicken – Chicken, Potato wedges and Red onions make up this delicious meal – all in one dish!
      • Baked Chicken Fajitas – No grilling needed – the chicken, peppers and onions are all cooked together and are ready to get wrapped in a tortilla shell!
      • Yankee Pot Roast – What would a Sunday menu be without  a Pot Roast recipe?  This one is so delicious with not only vegetables, but also a gravy that is effortless!
      • Short Ribs and Limas – Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!  I don’t like limas unless they’re in this dish!  There’s a scrumptious gravy that covers the meat and the beans, making it so savory!

    The main idea with the recipes above, and ones like them, is that all you need to add is a salad and perhaps bread.  If the salad is made ahead of time, your meal is ready within minutes of your arrival home!

    If you have a meat in the oven, but also need a potato, you could make your baked potatoes in the crock pot.  Here’s how:

    • Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.  Clean potatoes really well, rub with olive oil and then coat with kosher salt.  Place in slow cooker.  Cook on high for about 4-6 hours.

    Another suggestion I would make is, find a couple recipes like these that you can master.  Stick with them until you get the hang of getting it all ready ahead of time, then move on to more challenging menus.  Find one your family loves and that you do well.  It will be your signature dish!

    If you missed any of the other posts for Successful Sunday Dinner, you can find them here and here.

    My menu yesterday was:

    Beef Enchiladas ( All done the night before and baked once I got home),
    Refried Beans – Done in the crock pot during church
    Banana – Pineapple Salad

    Who’s attempting Sunday dinner?  I’d love to hear what you made yesterday!

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px


    Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · Make-Ahead · Sunday Dinner

    (L)Oven Monday – Three Steps to a Successful Sunday Dinner

    Sunday dinner table 1.jpg

    Happy Monday, friends, and welcome to the beginning of the posts to help get you ready to prepare a  Sunday dinner that provides for the needs of your guests, is delicious, and ready in a hurry! Thank you to so many of you who shared your Sunday dinner struggles with me!  I’m going to try to help you solve those difficulties as we touch on this subject for the next several Monday’s.

    Today I want to lay out the three steps that are crucial for your Sunday meal to be a success.  What constitutes success? I believe it’s the three things listed in the previous paragraph – a meal that

    meets needs,

    is delicious,

    and on the table quickly.

    But that doesn’t happen all by itself, of course! I need to start by saying, anything that is worth doing, is going to take effort and it’s going to take being intentional.  There is work involved, but it’s so worth the efforts!  Here are the three crucial things you need to consider so that your Sunday dinner will be a success:

    1. Ponder the needs – That simply means that you must consider what the needs of the day are, your budget and what your guests will need.
      1. Is there a time constraint?
      2. Do you only have xxx amount of dollars to feed a crowd?
      3. Is there a dietary need – ie. Gluten-free?

        Consider whatever needs are necessary – A baby that will need to be fed, a child will need a nap very soon, someone with low-blood sugar will be shaky at this point, etc.  Then, considering those needs, you move to #2.

    2. Plan the menu – Considering your needs, you can now pull out this blog’s Recipe page, your Pinterest boards, your cookbooks – whatever will help you find a menu to meet those needs.
      Determine how extensive you want the menu for Sunday to be.  If you’re not into the routine of fixing a fresh meal for Sunday, I’d encourage you to start with a simple menu – a Taco Soup in the crock pot, some tortilla chips, and a dessert like the pie linked here, or go with something super easy like a purchased Angel food cake and fresh strawberries.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Take baby steps. 
      My recipe page has a list of 30-Minute meals, but if you wait until you get home from church to even prep those things, you are going to be frustrated, so stay tuned for #3.

    3. Prepare ahead – I can’t tell you how important this step is!  As early in the week as possible, start preparing.  The earlier you start, the less stressful it will be!  Consider doing these things ahead of time:

    1. Prepare the table.  Set the table – The family will know that something good is on the way!  Even if you can only do it after breakfast on Sunday, do it before you leave for church.  If everyone can eat breakfast at the kitchen island, set the table on Saturday night.
    2. Prepare Foods.  Make ahead anything that can be made ahead of time!
      1. Salad – I love frozen salads for this purpose, also green salads without the dressing can be made the day before.
      2. Dessert – If you were serving Angel Food cake and berries, make the sure the berries are washed, sliced and ready ( or thawed from their frozen state) on Saturday night.
      3.  Vegetables – Peeling potatoes and putting them in water overnight will make them ready for the crock pot.  If you’ll need onions, get them sliced and put into a ziplock bag.
      4. Dishes and pans – On Saturday night, set out the crock pot you’ll need, or the pan for the roast chicken.  Have them out on the counter and ready.
    3. Prepare an hors d’oevre – Make something ahead of time that everyone can snack (lightly) on as soon as you get home.  This is especially wise if you have little children that are fussy and need something to eat right away!  Make life easier for you and them and make something they can munch on while you get dinner on the table.  It could be something as simple as crackers and peanut butter, celery and peanut butter, apple slices, tortilla chips and salsa.  Set out little plates and limit the little ones, so they’ll be ready to eat dinner, of course, but this will make them much happier while they wait.

    So, there you have it – Ponder the needs, Plan the menu and Prepare ahead.  These three steps will get you on your way to Sunday dinner success!

    Can I give you a challenge for next Sunday?  Do one thing ahead of time – perhaps set the table, or prepare an hors d’oevre, or get the vegetables prepped on Saturday, and see how much smoother Sunday dinner is next week!

    Next Monday we’ll talk about some specific meals that are doable for prepping ahead and eating very soon after getting home!  This will include Crock Pot entree’s and sides!  Be sure to come back so you don’t miss any tips!

    Which of these three steps of success is the most difficult for you?

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    baking · dessert · entertaining · Make-Ahead

    (L)Oven Monday – Cutie Pies!

    Okay, so the title for these recipe Monday’s came into my head last week when I was writing my  husband a note about his breakfast being in the (L)oven! You do get it, right, or is it just my crazy mind?  I love to bake and cook, so I thought an appropriate title would be “(L)Oven Monday”  =)  My mind works words over like that.  You can vote yes or no at the end of this post!

    Anyway, while I was in the kitchen last week getting ready for my Apples of Gold ladies to come, I came across the adorable idea of baking pies in Mason Jar lids. How genius is that?

    mason jar pie.jpg

    They make individual pies that are so stinking cute!  It’s the perfect size and they are so easy to put together.  It’s much less intimidating to  make a three-inch crust than an eight or ten inch one!  You could make any number of fillings, of course.  I made apple and Kentucky Derby pies with mine.

    Here’s the Derby pie getting ready for the oven.  How good does this look…


    Here’s the baked pie…


    The Mason jar lids make a little spring form pan!  After they’re baked, you simply push up on the bottom of the lid and they pop right out.  Like I said – GENIUS!

    Here’s a picture tutorial on how I made them:

    My Pampered Chef Crimper is a little larger than the lid, which is what you want.  Find a bowl or glass that’s about a half inch bigger than the lids and cut circles in your crust.  I made mine, but you could also purchase dough.


    I sprayed the lids with cooking spray to ensure they’d pop out easily.  Don’t over-fill the pie – two or three tablespoons of filling will do, especially if you top it with crumb topping or dough.  I also sprinkle sugar over the crust to make it pretty and delicious!

    These would be great for Thanksgiving!  No need to slice pie!  Everyone can help themselves to their own individual pie.  Pumpkin, apple, peach – whatever kind you want – just portion the filling into the crusts.

    I made up extras and put them in the freezer.  All I have to do is take it out and bake it when I need a dessert.  I also freeze my large pie crusts in Ziploc bags.


    I cover the crust with Syran wrap, then put it into the freezer bags.

    I hope you’ll make up a whole bunch of these Cutie Pies for your Thanksgiving dinner.  I think everyone will be talking about them and copying your idea!!!  Bake up a cute little treat from your (L)oven!

    What do you think…do you like”(L)Oven Monday” for these Monday posts?  Or is it like, Huh???????????????????????

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px