There are myriad ways to serve up this skillet full of versatile goodness. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I’m one of those people who starts my day with a hot bowl of long-cooked oatmeal. However, there are times when I have to skip my morning routine for various reasons beyond my control. That’s when I partake of one of these soft oatmeal bars with my morning coffee.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

For the recipe, any type of milk can be used and the sugar or other sweetener can be adjusted or substituted according to your taste. Try adding diced apples, berries, bananas or dried fruit to the batter.

The Everything Bowl is my go-to when I’m starving and want to fill up on a quick, flavorful meal. I most often use ground beef for this, but turkey, pork or sausage are also yummy. I’ve taste-tested them all.

This versatile mixture is wonderful on its own, but it can also be punched up with a slathering of hoisin sauce and a sprinkle of crunchy chow mein noodles and/or toasted sesame seeds. This combo has also been known to either fill egg roll wrappers that are then quickly deep-fried, be served over rice or buckwheat noodles, be stuffed into split and prebaked winter squash or be co-mingled with savory broth and soba noodles, sometimes with an egg on top.

Italian Orange Cookies are what you need if you have the urge for an afternoon tea party or want to gift someone with something special. These cookies are a quick way to brighten up a dreary February afternoon.

Soft Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with buttered parchment paper. In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients until well combined. In a separate large bowl, beat together brown sugar and butter with an electric mixer until mixture is light and creamy (about two minutes on medium speed). Beat in egg and vanilla. Add half the dry mixture and beat briefly on low speed, just until combined. Add milk and beat briefly again until smooth. Add the remainder of the dry mixture and beat until combined. Stir walnuts and coconut into batter. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Allow the bars to cool and then cut into nine pieces. These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for five to six days or in the freezer. Yield: 9 servings

Everything Bowl

1 pound ground meat
4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 colored pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, minced
1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour a bit of olive oil in a large, deep skillet or wok set over medium heat. Add meat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add all other ingredients to the pan except bean sprouts, soy and Worcestershire sauces. Continue to cook and stir until meat is completely done and vegetables are soft and tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir in bean sprouts and sauces, cover and cook for another minute or two. Yield: 4-6 servings

Orange Italian Cookies

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for one minute until well combined. Turn mixer to medium-low speed and add egg, beating until smooth. Beat in orange juice, zest and almond extract for about 30 more seconds. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture and mix together on medium speed until combined. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-13 minutes until just barely golden brown on the edges. Remove and allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before icing.

Icing
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon softened cream cheese

Place sugar, orange juice, zest, melted butter and cream cheese in a small bowl. Dip the top of the cookies in the icing then sprinkle with extra zest and place back on wire rack to allow icing to harden. Garnish with zest. Yield: 14-16 cookies.

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