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.

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Makin’ Whoopie

On occasion, and contrary to what I said the other day about moderation, I like to use a stupendous amount of butter. Yeah, that’s right. Stupendous.

Like 4 sticks in 1 recipe. Sure, that’s breakfast for Paula Deen, but over here those four sticks usually last a month or more.

It’s all a ploy to make new friends – that’s all. You won’t catch me making these sorta treats just for the two of us (okay, maybe, but not on the regular), but by golly I’ll fatten up new-found friends any day of the week. They rarely complain. And! I still get to eat some too, so I’m happy (but not “fat and happy” as the saying goes).

And so, these sorta treats come along to days at the bay when we’re shucking oysters and drinking Vino Verde, or Moscofilero, or Blue Moons with orange juice drizzled in (yeah, it sounded strange to me too – but it’s tasty).

They go nicely with other things too – like milk, or water, or coffee, or just plain ol’ saliva! And when I eat them, I get a slight twinge of nostalgia; I think of those oatmeal cream pies (with carrots!) from gramma’s house – soft, oaty, creamy, and yeah – buttery, for sure.

And like I said before – these carrot cake whoopie pies are good for making new friends too. I even traded one in for a barbeque sauce-laden rib that Chris was swooning over. Spreading the love is what these things are all about – yourself, friends, or strangers – pick one, or pick ’em all.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
adapted from Tasting Table, who adapted from Claire Twestern of Talula’s Garden; makes 18-24

time commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes active time, plus 6 hours inactive time dedicated to letting the dough chill

printable version

ingredients
Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 c light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
¾ t vanilla extract
2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t freshly grated nutmeg
½ T crystallized ginger, finely chopped
2 c old-fashioned oats
1½ c of peeled and grated carrots (from about 2 to 3 medium carrots)
1 c raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained

Cream Cheese Icing
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1¼ c powdered sugar
2 T honey
12 oz cream cheese, softened

instructions
Make the cookies: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar until lightened, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, beating the yolk of the first egg until it’s incorporated before adding the second egg. Stir in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet, then gently stir in the oats, carrots and raisins. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and set. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for a couple of minutes, then carefully move cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Make the icing: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in the honey and cream cheese until incorporated. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag (or fashion one out of a plastic bag and cut a hole in the corner) and pipe the frosting onto half of the cookies; place the other cookies on top to create sandwiches.

At the Carnival

Do you ever have those moments when you swear you hear circus music in the background? In other words, things around you are just so dang crazy you just stop and do a double-take, which turns into a triple-take, and then a quadruple take, and then a whatever looking 5 times is, and so on and so forth? And then your neck hurts, too?

You may have just heard that music, in fact. I’m going vegan for two days (yes, that’s exactly how long I can go without cheese AND meat AND honey). I’ll tell you why later (it isn’t all that exciting, so don’t get your hopes up). Regardless, I’m convinced that it has clouded my judgement.

I hear circus music a lot in San Francisco. Imagine that. Sure, Chicago had its eccentricities, but this place is a whole ‘nother planet, I’m convinced. It’s not bad, not bad at all; it’s just really different. And I’m not one to stare either, so if you are wearing something, or doing something that makes me stare, you are very talented. Or weird.

The other day, I saw a guy wearing pants only (tight ones, too), swinging on a pole (in a sexual way) on one of the main streets in the city. No lie. I see a whole lot of high-waisted shorts too, which probably isn’t weird and is probably in fashion and I just missed it. I’m ok with that. Yesterday, we saw a street sale (like a yard sale, but on the street) where a book called “All About Hepatitis C” was for sale. I didn’t check the price.

Okay, okay. It isn’t that weird, right? I mean, for realz – this guy hangs around Wicker Park in Chicago all the time. Now that should be in the circus, don’t ya think? At least, I’d pay to see him, but maybe that’s just me.

Then again, things would be a little bit boring around here if things were all the same, if things were all what we expected them to be, if boys didn’t hang from poles every now and then, wouldn’t they?

Take these cookies, for example. Initially, I sort of turned my nose up at the recipe. They’re weird – they’re made with oats and ground-up almonds and peanuts and – get this – popcorn!  They’re held together by bananas, for cryin’ out loud.

These cookies, comprised of all these seemingly random ingredients – they fit together, somehow. Though the recipe seems a little weird at first, and though they most certainly belong at the carnival, they make sense and damn, they even taste good. Not quite good enough to make me consider buying high-waisted shorts, but still – it’s a start.

Carnival Cookies
from Super Natural Every Day; makes 24

time commitment: 45 minutes (25 minutes active)

printable version

ingredients
3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 c)
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 c coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid
1 1/2 c rolled oats (gluten-free available)
1/2 c almond meal (you can make your own by grinding up almonds very finely)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t fine grain sea salt
2/3 c shelled whole peanuts
1 c dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar, chopped
1 1/2 c popcorn, popped

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate, then the peanuts, and then the popcorn. The dough is looser than a standard cookie dough, but they’ll cook up just fine. Ball about 1 Tablespoon of dough into your hands and place, an inch apart from one another, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet.

Bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Carefully remove from sheet and cool cookies completely on a wire rack.

Is There Rehab for Rhubarb?

rhubarb crisp
You’ll hear most people, including myself, get pretty excited about various Spring seasonals such as strawberries, asparagus, and even ramps. Yes, I’ve talked (or typed, or typed and talked, rather) about all of those in previous posts. And why shouldn’t I, right? They’re all sublime in their own way. Why, right this second, if you asked me, I could name at least 20 things to make with each of the above. And whether that’s true or not, you’ll never know because you are reading what I’ve already typed, rather than talking directly to me. So there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

rhubarb


Speaking of smoking, I can think of one thing I’m totally cracked-out on. Well, one thing for today at least, as every day brings about a new addiction (in food terms only, most definitely. Although..now that I think about it, I am also addicted to things like vacations, sunshine, blogging and so on). And today that one thing is rhubarb. Yup, I said it. Rhu-barb. Oh yummers. If I hadn’t already cooked with it for two weekends straight, I’d re-consider it as the secret ingredient for the upcoming Iron Chef Battle. But I’ve already got that under wraps, and I’m not changin’ it no matter what. Plus, I like having these little nuggets to myself (or at least, for the two of us). Next time, I’ll buy more and freeze them. I’ve recently eliminated freezer space by eating the rest of some tasty pulled pork this week that a special someone sent me for my birthday. Move over piggies, it’s time for rhubarb!!


The first time I ever bought rhubarb was last year around this time. Kris & Jon came to visit for the weekend, and we stayed in for dinner one night. And while I can’t for the life of me remember what we had for dinner, I know I made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp that we all ate on for the whole night. Meaning, between each hand of spades, hearts, or whatever card game we were playing, one of us was in the kitchen wolfing down a bite of that crisp while the others shuffled and dealt. What I also remember was Chris turning his nose up and whining, “I don’t liiiiike rhu-baaaaaaarb.” Well, that crisp sure shut him up! Now if only I could get him to like cucumbers. I also vaguely recall a rhubarb-maple fool that I made for the in-laws’ visit. But before I knew it, rhubarb season was over. I somehow felt cheated – as if I were punished for discovering rhubarb 28 years into my life. Better late than never, right? I mean, give a girl a break! That being said, I’ve been waiting for it [the new rhubarb season] ever since.


crisp mixture

And so this time, I’ve made a point to buy these pretty in pink rods during both weekend trips to the Green City Market. The strawberries were slim pickin’s by the time we made it there last week, so instead I made a crisp with rhubarb & apple which was super scrumptitious. The apples were nice and crunchy and the rhubarb just melted in your mouth. I don’t know that I’d pair rhubarb with granny smiths, but most any other apple variety will probably do – just not the tart ones unless you enjoy that scrunched up look on your face. I don’t.


For my bunch o’ rhubarb from this past weekend, I did have strawberries and whipped up some strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt. Next week though, I just don’t know what I’m gonna make. I’m thinking I might get some jars and stock up on preserves, or maybe make a tart although I’m a little tart-ed out, which should come as no surprise.


What do you think? Ya got any bright ideas over there?!


Rhubarb-Apple Crisp
Liberally adapted from various crisp recipes; Serves 6


printable recipe

ingredients
Filling
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
2 Fuji apples, cored and diced
3 T tapioca
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 T orange zest
2 T orange juice

Topping
2/3 c all purpose flour*
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c regular oats*
1/2 t cinnamon
dash of salt
6 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes**

instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients for filling into medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes. Pour into 13×9 baking dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. Combine all ingredients for topping except butter. Cut in butter (with hands or pastry blender) until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over filling.
  4. Bake ~30 minutes. Let sit 10 before serving.


*You can easily turn this into a gluten-free dessert by using gluten-free oats and gluten-free flour. Since you’re not using the flour to develop gluten, you won’t need other additives such as guar gum or xantham gum. Most Whole Foods stores stock both of these products, but they can also be ordered online.

**You can also make this as a dairy-free dessert by using margarine (many brands are dairy-free) or the Smart Balance spreads. I’d recommend the Smart Balance Lite over margarine any day. I’ve also heard Earth Balance brand is a good non-dairy substitute.