Renee’s “Getcha Outta Bed!” Baked Oatmeal

Shortly after I began working for RSVP three years ago, I met one of my former college professors for dinner during a trip back to my alma mater in Indiana. I spent the evening catching up with him and his wife, and naturally our chat turned to my new job. “I really like it there,” I told them, “but I don’t think I will ever be a morning person.” You see, RSVP was my first ever “real,” Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 (well, 8-to-4:30) job, and that meant I had to get up at the then-unheard of hour of 6:00 a.m. if I wanted to be showered, fed, and in the office on time. My friends laughed, and assured me that a regular early-to-rise schedule would eventually make a morning person of me.

They were wrong.

Getting me out of bed before 9 or 10 a.m. requires either some sort of dire emergency, or an especially obnoxious alarm (or an especially obnoxious and hungry cat – but I repeat myself). Since emergency awakenings are (thankfully) few and far between, I am usually roused by a persistently howling alarm (or a persistently howling cat…or both), and the rousing is not pleasant; in fact, it’s often grumbly and disoriented.

At least until I remember that I have this waiting on me for breakfast.

oatmeal

That is my reason for getting out of bed before my body and mind are ready. It’s a delicious concoction I call my “Getcha Outta Bed!” baked oatmeal, and it is not only yummy, but also packed full of healthy, good-for-you ingredients, like bananas, blueberries, and whole-grain oats. It has the ooey-gooey texture of a decadent cake, and is satisfyingly sweet without being too cloying. The recipe is simple, yet versatile, and it’s easy to make ahead for a quick breakfast on the go – but also just as delightful when part of a hearty, unhurried weekend brunch. The bottom line is: if you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, then this is the breakfast for you. You can find step-by-step directions & pictures below, as well as a downloadable & printable recipe at the end of this blog. Good mornings are guaranteed!

To make your own Getcha Outta Bed! baked oatmeal, you will need the following delicious ingredients:

oatmeal ingredients

From L to R: raw honey, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ripe-ish bananas, cinnamon, quick 1-minute oats, pure vanilla extract, baking powder, frozen blueberries, salt, and eggs.

As well as the following bowls, dishes, and utensils:

oatmeal hardware

From L to R: a mid-sized baking dish, a large mixing bowl with a large spoon, a rubber spatula, a smaller bowl with a fork, measuring spoons (1 tsp, 1/2 tsp, & 1/4 tsp), a medium-to-large mixing bowl with a whisk, and measuring cups (1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, & 1/4 cup)

Preheat your oven to 350°, then grease your baking dish with a teeny bit of butter. Yes, butter. Don’t be afraid. You don’t need to use much; I usually use 1/2 tablespoon or less. It’s just enough to give the inside of the dish a little of a sheen, and prevent your oatmeal from sticking to the sides.

oatmeal preheat and grease

Yes, that is the dish post-buttering. It really doesn't take much!

Measure 1.5 cups of oats into your largest bowl, and combine with 1 level teaspoon of baking powder, a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside, and take a moment to imagine how much better your mornings are going to be now that you will have this breakfast on hand.

oatmeal dry

SPOILER: Your mornings are going to be GREAT!

Next, grab your medium mixing bowl & whisk together 1 cup of almond milk, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Once those are well-blended, add 1/4 cup of honey and whisk again until the mixture is slightly golden and lightly frothy. This can take some elbow grease, depending upon the thickness of your honey. Be sure to use your rubber spatula to scrape every last drop of that sweet stuff out of your measuring cup!

oatmeal wet

For added fun, use honey from a bear-shaped jar or bottle.

Set your sweetened milk mixture aside for the moment. Peel your bananas and break each into quarters, then mash the quarters using your fork and small bowl. It's OK if there are some lumps after mashing, but the bananas should be mostly smooth and creamy once you’ve finished.

oatmeal mashed bananas

It may remind you of baby food. Don't be grossed out; just go with it.

Add the mashed bananas to the rest of your wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Once they are well-blended, pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together.

oatmeal wet and dry

I should warn you: the mix smells amazing at this point, but DON'T EAT IT YET!

Gently fold in approximately 1 cup of frozen blueberries to the batter, then pour the mix into your greased baking dish. I like to use my 1/3 cup measuring cup for scooping the blueberries out of the bag; I find it is easier and less messy than trying to pour them into a cup. Once your batter is in the baking dish, you may need to scoot blueberries around to ensure an even distribution throughout.

oatmeal blueberries

Bake for 30 minutes at 350°, then turn the oven off and allow the oatmeal to rest inside, undisturbed, for 15 minutes longer. Remove, allow to cool for 10-20 minutes, then cut into 6 equal portions. You may serve the oatmeal immediately, or store it in a tightly sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. Feel free to experiment with how you eat it! Some like it cold, while others warm it up; some put it in a bowl with a little milk, while others eat it dry. A friend of mine likes his with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt on top - sort of like a breakfast bar a la mode! Me? I like to warm mine up at 50% power in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, then melt a tiny sliver of butter on top for added richness. I enjoy it with a couple of boiled or scrambled egg whites, a small banana, and the occasional cup of coffee or ounce of cubed cheese.

oatmeal serving 2

Be sure to download or print the recipe below, and don't be afraid to try using different types of milks, sweeteners, or even fruits! For a delicious fall breakfast, substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, replace the mashed bananas with 1/2 cup - 1 cup of pumpkin puree, and use frozen cranberries instead of blueberries. The possibilities are endless, and you're sure to find a combination that will Getcha Outta Bed! each morning.


Contributed by Renee Pugh.

ReneeWeb

How to Turn a “Dirty Job” Into a Clean Sweep

You’ve probably seen or heard of the television show Dirty Jobs.  In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the premise of the show was that the host, Mike Rowe, would work a so-called “dirty” or unusual job - such as that of, say, a shark-repellent tester - for a day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM0YTlbx1qg

The show was wildly popular, and a staple on the Discovery Channel for 7 years; you can still catch it in reruns today. Dirty Jobs provided an interesting insight into some of the jobs that Americans do on a daily basis – and it could help you strengthen your business by developing deeper ties with your clients (you won’t even have to swim in shark-infested waters to do it!).

All you need to do is offer to work a day with your client, doing what he or she does on a daily basis. The benefits of spending time working with your client in his or her business are numerous.  First of all, your customer gets an extra employee for free, and who wouldn’t love that?  It also makes you and your business indispensable to your client by strengthening your bond. You will have a distinct advantage over your competitors now that you’ve positioned yourself on the inside of your client’s business - and left the competition on the outside looking in.

You will learn more about your client’s business than any lunch meeting you might have with them because you have the opportunity to talk with them about anything - from business challenges and triumphs to personal anecdotes and advice. Try to learn as much as you can about your client on a personal level. In fact, you’ll probably find that you’ll talk more personal than business, which is fine! It will lead to much shorter and smoother negotiations, as well as a more satisfying outcome for both you and your client, and give you a lot to talk about during future meetings. Additionally, this information and experience will help you understand how to best meet your client’s needs.  Your client, and even his or her employees, will no longer see you as an outsider, but as a person with similar interests as their own.

This isn’t just a theory of mine, either - I’ve done it myself, and I can assure you that it accomplishes many things for you and your business that the usual client relationship can’t touch! So what “dirty job” did I do recently when working with a client? I helped him and five of his employees plant several 30-foot trees for one of his customers. Even though his employees laughed because I was wearing a suit while installing the trees, my client appreciated my help, and the experience gave me invaluable insight into my client’s work.


Contributed by Jeff Vice.
Jeff

 

Families & Communication Breakdowns

Am I the only one who asks my child, "What happened at school today?" only to get a disinterested "Nothing" in response?  Or have a spouse who responds to "How was your day?" with "Fine," or "It was OK"?

Doesn't it seem like everyone around us is always rushing off to their myriad of electronic devices: TVs, Play Stations, and smartphones?

We all lead busy lives, and the snippets of conversation we do manage to have - before and after school, or wedged in between activities and homework, or during mealtimes -  can suffer from the halfhearted participation and inattentiveness of all parties. What can we do to rebuild our broken communication systems? How can we make good old-fashioned conversation more appealing than the constant distractions that surround us?

I've asked a few friends and colleagues.  They admit that they are facing the same communication hurdles in their own families. Who can we turn to when we can't find the answers we need?

© 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

Ah, yes. Of course! © 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

When all else fails: Google it.

If the volume of expert advice out there is any indication, my family must not be the only one struggling with a communication problem! I found some great suggestions, and here is what our family has implemented:

art of manliness

  • But what do you say once you're gathered around the dinner table? Aha! Parenting suggests asking nonjudgmental questions that require real answers. Questions such as “What was the best thing about school today?,” “Do the kids at school ever talk about boyfriends and girlfriends?,” “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” or “How did the soccer game go at recess?” will get you a lot further than “What happened at school today?”
  • Parents Magazine suggests some other conversation starters, as well as helpful do's and don'ts, such as: "Do allow your child to say he just doesn't feel like talking, but don't let him get away with ignoring you...Don't barrage your child with questions if you notice she's getting anxious or seems distressed." Following these tips will help prevent communication shut-downs.
  • Who doesn't love a compliment?  Feeling trusted and appreciated helps everyone feel more open to talk.  Every night, our family plays a little game we made up called "What We Love About Each Other." Each family member takes a turn complimenting another. While these comments are admittedly superficial at times, there are also heartfelt thanks peppered throughout. Sometimes it will be simple - "I love your shirt!" - and other times it will be deeply emotional, like when someone recognizes a sweet gesture or little act of service that happened to them that day. This little activity makes us want to do more nice things for one another!
  • Our son is just 5 years old, and I live in terror of the day I wake up to a teenager. I can only imagine the struggle conversation becomes with teenagers. Yet, talking is never more necessary and the topics never more urgent than during the teen years: friends and peer pressure, driving and responsibility, dating and boundaries, college and independence, drugs and drinking. As a parent, you never want to see your kids in trouble or suffering - but one or the other (and sometimes both!) will happen to our teens. The best way to prevent or minimize this pain - for both you and your teen - is simply by engaging in open and honest communication with them. Check out this list of 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids From Doing Dumb Things, and offer your teen the support he or she needs to make good decisions.

I hope that our family is setting a good foundation for open, healthy conversations - and I hope that perhaps a few of these tips will start similar conversations in your house, too.


Google logo © 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.
Ronald Reagan picture & quote from http://content.artofmanliness.com/uploads//2014/04/ReaganQuote.jpg

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.
Heather