I seem to be on the “auto-ship” plan for a lot of publishers thanks to Go Dairy Free, so random diet books and cookbooks often appear on my doorstep without warning. Last week, The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase arrived. I confess, this one is not really up my alley. The recipes are very, very easy and have short ingredient lists … two things I love … but, there are a many pre-packaged short-cut ingredients used, lots of sugars, and the recipes are almost a bit too basic for our tastes. This cookbook really belongs in the homes of small families with little kids and even littler time.
Also, please note that this cookbook is not dairy-free or free-from in any fashion, not by a long shot. But the recipes are simple enough that some who are free-from and willing to use quite a few store-bought alternatives may find it quite useful.
That all said, I can’t resist looking through cookbooks, and a few recipes intrigued me. I ended up making two of the recipes before passing this cookbook onto my sister (who has a big family, but with small girls and on a budget), and both were a success.
First up was the Lemon & Dill Tuna Pasta Salad …
I actually made this gluten-free, as I was testing out Goldbaum’s Brown Rice Pasta. Two thumbs up on the pasta. It was tender and delicious, and the spirals held up even when I let the pasta salad chill overnight! Most gluten-free pastas seem to break quite a bit if slightly overcooked or when stored overnight.
The pasta salad itself had a nice fresh taste (though it still uses some mayo! Just a heads up for you purists), and filled us up for lunch. I did double the tuna and the peas, and I added a grated carrot (keeping the dressing and pasta amounts the same). If I had made the recipe as is, it would have been a bit too carb-rich for us and I think our motors might have run out within an hour or so.
The next day, I decided to give her Overnight Granola a go …
Making granola is so easy, that I literally haven’t bought a box at the store in over three years. But this recipe … this recipe takes easy to a whole new level. I love Erin’s concept to simply “set it and forget it” with the granola, and the fact that she keeps the recipe so basic (just oats) leaves a lot of room for experimentation.
Though you could enjoy it as cereal, topped with fresh fruit and doused with some almond milk, I opted to saute up some apples and dates, and use the granola as a topping. It was a delicious sweet breakfast treat that my husband and I both loved!
Like the original recipe, I kept it simple, but did make a few modifications for taste and texture preferences and to make it dairy-free. I also tested it as a daytime recipe … and as it turns out, just a couple of hours will do …
Super-Simple Spiced “Overnight” Granola
Recipe adapted from The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook by Erin Chase. Erin recommends using a mixture of rolled oats and quick oats as it helps the granola clump a bit … and she was right! I changed the ratio, using more rolled oats, but it still clumped nicely.
This recipe is Vegan / Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Wheat-Free and optionally Gluten-Free (with the use of certified gluten-free oats).
- 1/4 Cup Oil (I used melted coconut oil)
- 1/4 Cup Honey (can sub agave nectar for vegan)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cups Rolled Oats
- 1 Cup Quick Oats (not instant)
Preheat your oven to 300ºF (check to make sure your oven doesn’t run hot!).
Combine the oil, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt in a small dish and stir to combine. Place the oats in a large bowl and stir to mix the two kinds up, then add the liquid ingredients and stir until all those little oats are nicely coated. Spread the oat mixture out on a baking sheet (preferably one with rimmed sides so the granola doesn’t slide off the sheet!) or large jelly roll pan.
Place the oats in the oven and allow them to bake for just 10 minutes, not a minute more, then turn off the oven and leave the granola inside to finish baking. Don’t peak! You can leave them there while you run errands, go to bed, etc. But I found that they were done (as in the oven was cold and the granola was golden) after about 2.5 hours. So 2 to 3 hours is plenty if you are awake and remember them. Stir to declump a bit and store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature.
Makes 6 servings