Oatmeal.

I don’t have too much to say other than it’s high time we had some more oatmeal-type recipes on this site.

Isn’t that introduction enough?

I probably eat oatmeal at least 4 days out of 7 each week. It’s a bit of a combination of 1) it’s easy and 2) it’s healthy. Most days though, I dig into the store-bought packets, but every once and a while I like to make a nice batch of small-sized oatmeals because let’s face it – anything you make at home just tastes better. Oatmeal isn’t any different. Plus, a recipe for oatmeal is sorta like a recipe for granola bars – you can modify it almost any way you want and it will still taste good, so that way you never get bored with the same ol’ thing every single morning.

I get that some of you just don’t like oatmeal. That’s fine, I suppose, but I’ve always been an oatmeal-kinda person. For some, the texture is just too gooey, which never makes sense, because those same people seem to just love grits. For others, it just isn’t their thing. But for me? Breakfast is one of those times that I really just can’t be bothered to whip up fancy stuff.

Plus, I like to start my day eating decent ingredients, even if I end it by shoving a bowl of ramen into my face.

In my land, that’s called balance. And last time I checked, a little balance in life is never a bad thing.

Baked Fruit & Nut Oatmeal
adapted from Inquiring Chef via Pinterest; makes 8 individual servings

time commitment: 45 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1 & 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c nuts, coarsely chopped (I’ve used walnuts and almonds)
1 & 1/2 c fresh or frozen fruit (I’ve used frozen blueberries and fresh strawberries)
1 & 1/2 c milk (any type; I’ve used soy and almond milk with good results)
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
2 T honey or any other sweetener
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl combine the oatmeal, nuts, and fruit. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, honey, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.

Fill 8 small oven-safe containers (or an 8×8 baking dish) evenly with the oatmeal mixture. Pour the liquid evenly over the oats in each of the containers.

Place the containers on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the oats are crisp and golden.

Allow the oatmeal to cool slightly and serve warm.

Straight from Bombay

My good friend, Cheryl, used to have a boyfriend. He was (still is) of Indian descent, and he was one pretty cool guy. He liked hip-hop music and Escalades (neither of those necessarily made him cool, and I’m not sure why I keep saying these things in the past-tense, because I’m sure he still likes hip-hop and Escalades). What was my favorite thing about him, you might ask? I’d be hard-pressed to decide between his dance skillz and his ability to make a killer masala chai.

Oh, Lordy-me-oh-my, that stuff was good enough to make you consider selling your first-born child for a lifetime supply of it. Though he’s not around anymore, I’m willing to bet he could be found through a simple Facebook search, and if I do find him, I might ask him if he’d like to have an “ultra-white” blue-eyed, blonde-haired raggamuffin. But then, if he said yes, I’d have to give up wine for 9 months, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that, especially with a trip to the west coast in my near future (!!), and a hopeful excursion to “the boot” next year (!!!).

Now before I go on waxing poetic about this guy (actually, I was finished), let me say that Cheryl’s new (if you consider new to mean almost 3 years old) squeeze is way more awesome, and I’m not just saying that just because he reads my blog. I’m saying that because he has a motorcyle. And a boat. And, he let Hubs borrow his “De-troits” when we visited them a couple of weeks ago. Also, he has mad photo skillz (to make up for what I would assume to be lackluster dance skillz, although I can’t say I’ve ever seen him cut a rug, or try to, even – it’s just a hunch) and he can make a Mediterranean pizza that might just make me consider trading in my second-born for a constant supply of that. I get the impression that I’d have to up the ante though, cause I doubt Cheryl wants a lil’ Wetzel running around her house, and quite frankly, I’d prefer our bedroom there to be free of mobiles, onesies, and poo.

Back to this chai business. I seem to be losing focus today, don’t I? I’m gonna try to push through, because I do want to talk about this lovely concoction you see here. My breakfast rotation was starting to become a bit stale, if you will, and let me tell ya – I heart the granola bar, I do. But I was in need of a change, actually just a slight variation, you see. I wanted something a little less chewy, but not lacking in flavor or texture otherwise. I wanted to make it myself, because I do adore homemade breakfasts. I wanted there to be oats, and fruit, and nuts (oh, my!), and distinct flavors that wake me up in the morning, sans caffeine.

So quite clearly, what I wanted was granola spiced with all those Indian flavors that you find in a masala chai, those flavors that remind me of those few times the ex-boyfriend-of-my-friend-and-still-Indian-guy-with-the-dance-skillz made when he was visiting.

And since, at some point during the process of contemplating this recipe, I’ve decided that I would probably like to keep my first- (and possibly second-) born children, when and if I have them, I figured it best to make my own spice mix, and that I did. I’m guessing, no I’m quite certain, that you can buy what they call “chai spice” mix from your local spice store, but making it really is just as easy if you’ve got a few seconds. You can do like I did and use ground spices as a short-cut, or you can really keep it real by using whole spices.

Either way, when you do make it, and when you get your hands into that bowl of fresh-made chai-spiced granola, thank those folks from South Asia for their lovely spices. Or me, really – the one phrase I learned during my one German class was, ironically, “Ich komme aus Bombay“.

ps – Happy Birthday Cheryl – this one’s for you!

Vanilla-Chai Spiced Granola
makes ~20 servings (1/2 c each)

okay, this probably seems like a lot of granola – you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that. but here’s the thing: it keeps for weeks, so why not make a boat-load of it?! store in the fridge for weeks, give to friends, or eat it by the handful over a weekend. Your choice. and if you choose to not make this much, it easily halves.

by the way, this granola is awesome with plain yogurt, or with a little milk poured over it. or by the handful, as previously suggested.

printable version

ingredients
6 c rolled oats*
2 c coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans and hazelnuts)
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
5 T packed brown sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
1 T ‘chai’ spice blend (recipe below)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/3 c agave nectar
1/3 c blackstrap molasses
4 T vegetable oil
1 c dried fruit (I used blueberries and golden raisins)

instructions
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line two standard-sized baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix oats through vanilla. Combine oil, agave nectar, and molasses in a small saucepan and heat until mixed thorougly and just-boiling. Remove from heat and pour over granola mixture.

Spread 1/2 of mixture on one baking sheet and the remaining half on the other. Bake for ~ 40 minutes, stirring mixture and rotating pans every 10 minutes. Remove and cool granola in the baking sheets on a wire rack. When cooled, mix in dried fruit.

*gluten-free oats if needed.

Chai Spice Mixture
makes ~3 tablespoons

there are dozens of similar recipes out there, so use this or use whatever you find. or buy it, if you don’t have all the spices on hand and don’t want to buy all of them!

printable version (spice only)

ingredients
1 T g. ginger
1/2 T g. cinnamon
1 t g. cloves
1 t g. cardamom
1 t g. nutmeg
1 t g. allspice
1/2 t g. pepper

instructions
isn’t this obvious? mix them together!