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Baked Oatmeal

12 Jul

My mom eats oatmeal every morning.  You know, she’s one of those  people who can eat the same thing day in and day out.  For breakfast, her choice is oatmeal. 

    

Me?  Well, I’m more of a dabbler.  Some mornings I like toast.  Some mornings I want oatmeal.  Some mornings I crave cold cereal.  I know.  I’m simply wild and crazy. 

With school starting, I needed something I could easily take with me.  I came across this recipe and have to say – it’s the best of both world.  Mom gets oatmeal.  I get a breakfast that can easily be changed up from week to week.  

     

Plus, I still live on the edge.  I eat regular cereal on Fridays.

Baked Oatmeal
Makes 6 Servings

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2 cups fruit of your choice, more or less depending on taste*
3 cups Old Fashioned oats
1 ½ heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 cups milk
⅓ cup maple syrup (a bit more if you like your oatmeal sweeter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped (or preferred nut)

*I have used blueberries, strawberries, peaches and blackberries.  All have been excellent.  You can use fresh or frozen.

Directions…

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place the mason jars in a baking dish.  Divide the fruit between the bottoms of the six jars, reserving some fruit for the top.

Mix the oats, cinnamon and baking powder in a small bowl.  Divide between the jars, about ½ a cup per jar.

Mix the milk, maple syrup and vanilla together.  As evenly as possible, pour the mixture over the oats, letting it soak through to the bottom.  Top with the remainder of the fruit.  

Place in the oven and bake until the liquid is absorbed, tops are just browned but the oats are still a bit moist.  If you are eating immediately, this should take about 30 minutes.  If you are making ahead and plan to reheat, slightly under cook the oatmeal by 5 – 8 minutes (I find 22 minutes is usually perfect).

Top with chopped almonds and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Sprouted Kitchen, originally from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

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Summer Caprese Salad

29 Jun

Summer brings so many great things – fireflies, watermelon, beach days, sun tea, thunderstorms and…

juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes.  Is there anything better?

I wait all winter long for them… for the traditional Fierstein cheese and tomato sandwich (Grandma makes it best), for homemade pico de gallo, for cherry tomato snacks.

One of my favorite ways to eat them, though, is in a simple caprese salad.  For this one, I used yellow heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil (grown in the backyard, of course.  Okay, that’s Mom.  We all know I’m not a gardener).  A little drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few cracks of pepper.

The end result is an appetizer (or, sometimes dinner) that is the essence of summer.

And don’t forget the bread.  You want to soak up that deliciousness!

What’s your favorite summer dish?

Canning Season has Begun!

31 May

First up?  Strawberry jam.  And, I have to say, for our first go at strawberry jam, we nailed it.  Er, canned it.  Anyway, the jam is not too sweet, great consistency and tons of strawberry pieces.  Just the way I like it!

Now, we did spend almost 3 hours in the car for an hour of strawberry picking, but what else would you expect with DC traffic?

And who knew two people could pick more than 22 pounds of strawberries in less than an hour.  Have I ever mentioned Mom and I have a bit of a competitive side?  She says it’s with nature, I say it’s with each other.  You decide.  

In any event, we have a dozen jars (okay, there were 14, but we already opened one and gave another one to the g-rents… we couldn’t resist) and plenty of strawberries for the coming months.  Who knew 22 pounds would go so far?!

So, ask us to come stay for a weekend.  We’ll bring you jam… and some bread too.  Oh, right, and a sweet treat too!

 

3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce

14 Apr

My grandma is half Italian, half Irish.  But, truthfully, she really only identifies with her Italian side.  She’ll deny this, but we all know it’s true.

The upside of this allegiance?  I grew up eating really, really, good Italian food.  Stuffed shells, meatballs, spaghetti.  The list goes on.  And everything, of course, is covered in homemade sauce.

Ah, Grandma’s treasured homemade sauce.  She spends hours making it.  And there is no exact recipe.  You add a little of this, a bit of that, a pinch of this and finally a dash of that.  And when she offers you a frozen container, you take it.  And hide it.  Then savor it on some cold night or after a bad day.

So, you can imagine, I was reluctant (to say the least) when I heard about this sauce.  Just three ingredients and one hour.  Seriously, it can’t possibly be that good.

Surprise!  It is that good.

So good in fact, we’ve made it at least three times in as many weeks.  And I may have also made it in Vermont.

Needless to say, this is now a go-to dinner.  Try it.  Let me know what you think.

And don’t worry, Grandma’s still reigns.  But it’s nice to have a back-up when your frozen container is empty.


3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce
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28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (best bet are San Marzano)
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion (any color will do), peeled and cut in half
salt to taste

Directions…
In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven (2.5 or 3 quart size will be perfect), combine the tomatoes, onion and butter over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.

Remove from the heat.  Remove the onion*, add salt to taste (I’ve never needed to add salt, but depending on your tomatoes, you might need to).  Pour over your prepared pasta or use how you wish.

*Save the onion!  I like (okay, love) to make the following, delicious breakfast – toasted bread (or biscuit, even better), onion, sunny-side up egg and a little grate of cheese… oh, boy!

Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

Goat Cheese Cakes

6 Apr

I love cheese.  Cheddar, havarti, ricotta, brie, gorgonzola, feta.  Can you tell, any kind will do?  Yum.

But, if I had to pick (which, thank heavens, I don’t), goat cheese would be top three.  Easily.  It’s creamy, tangy and pairs with just about anything.

So, I was excited (obvi) when Jess showed me how to make warm goat cheese cakes during my Vermont visit a couple of weeks ago.  She learned during a cooking class at Cafe Provence, a wonderful restaurant in Brandon, Vermont.  And while these seem fancy, shmancy, turns out they are pretty easy.

All you need is goat cheese and some herbs.

A simple batter station – flour, beaten egg and panko (or bread crumbs, they’ll work just as well).

And a place to cook them.  Honestly, it’s that easy.

Once they are ready, put them on top of a simple salad.  Or on a sandwich.  It’s up to you.  The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you choose, sit back and enjoy.  It’s going to be pretty darn amazing.

Warm Goat Cheese Cakes
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Goat cheese*
Garlic powder
Parsley (or other herb you like)
Salt
Pepper
Flour
Egg
Panko (or bread crumbs)
Olive oil

Directions…

In a small bowl, mix together the goat cheese, garlic powder (to taste) and salt and pepper (to taste).  Chop parsley (again, to taste!).  Add and mix well.  Form into patties.

Set up your dipping station – the first bowl with flour, the second with a beaten egg and the third with the panko.  Using your left hand (trust me here), dip a patty into the flour and cover and then place in the egg and flip to cover.  Using your right hand, pull the patty out of the egg and dip into the panko until covered.  Place on a plate.  Repeat with all of the patties.

In a saute pan, heat up a little olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the patties in a single layer until golden brown on eat side, 3-5 minutes per side.

Eat as desired.  Especially delicious over a mesclun mix drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

* You can also use herbed goat cheese, in which case omit the garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper.

Source: adapated from Chef Robert from Cafe Provence


Hang Tight, My Friends

31 Mar

I know, I know.  I did such a good job last week.  I scheduled posts.  Even checked-in one day.

This week?  Back to my old ways.  BUT, I have a good reason.  Reasons, really.

First, I had to leave this adorable little guy.  Terrible, right?

Second, I got off the plane and (almost) immediately turned around to go to a 30th/60th birthday party for my bf (and former roomie), Kate, and her wonderful dad (yes, they were born on the same day).  There was some wine, numerous beers and a full night of dancing.  As you are probably guessing, Sunday was more or less a lost day!

And the third reason?  I’ve been studying for a test.  While not as fun, probably the most time consuming.  Happy to report I took the test this morning (and passed, phew!), so more sweet treats and even some dinners will be coming your way.  Soon.  Very soon.

Here’s a sneak peak…

Grilled Goat Cheese Salad (I’ve already made this once since I’ve been home!)

Grilled Banana and Nutella Crepes (okay, so maybe we ate this twice)

Simple Tomato Sauce

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-apart Bread (I couldn’t stop eating this – in fact, I want a piece right now)

Homemade Cheese Crackers (big hit with the little one)

Not pictured: feta and fresh herb mac and cheese, 2 rounds of cinnamon rolls, homemade brioche buns, coconut macaroons, chicken gyros and Greek salad, fondant covered mint cupcakes

And, yes, this was all made last week while I was in Vermont.  Jess and I can pack some cooking and baking into a week. No wonder I’ve needed sleep since I’ve been home.

Anyway, stay tuned!

Pizza Pizza

17 Feb

Sooo, I bet you thought I forgot.  No, no.  Well, maybe.  But then I remembered again.

I promised to tell you about my best pizza to date and the day has arrived.  Just in the nick of time for tomorrow’s Friday Night Pizza.  Phew.

Since you already have your dough made, let’s get started on making those caramelized onions.  I know, I thought the same thing.  They must be so difficult to make, since they are so gourmet, so delicious.  Well, folks, I’m here to tell ya – not so!

Making caramelized onions just takes some time and some patience.  Don’t have any?  Well, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and learn to sit back and let these onions do their thing.

Okay, first, you need to thinly slice the onions.  How many is up to you.  Since they do take a bit of time, I usually caramelize two onions in a batch – then I have leftovers for meals for the week.  As for the type of onion – whatever you have on hand will work.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  I usually do a teaspoon, give or take, for each onion.  Remember, you can always add but you can’t take away!

Now add all of your onions.  You want to be sure that the pan isn’t overcrowded.  I probably should have used our larger saute pan, but it was probably dirty.  OR I was too lazy to get it out (hey, it’s very heavy).

Lightly toss the onions so they are all coated in the oil.  And let them start cooking.  Now you can officially sit back and relax.

Stir occasionally.

The onions will start browning.  If it’s uneven or too brown, you can lower the heat a tad and/or add a bit more oil.  Don’t panic.  They’ll still be delicious.

See how much they cook down?  After about 10 minutes or so, add a bit of salt.  Again, let’s remember – you can always add, you can’t take away.

Side note – are you impressed that I remembered to take so many step-by-step pictures?  I am!

I decided to add a bit of balsamic vinegar – about a tablespoon or so.  This just adds a bit of sweetness and a little depth to the onions.  You can absolutely leave this out.  Another option is to add a bit of sugar (about 1/2 teaspoon per 2 onions), if you want.

Stir and continue to let the onions cook…

until perfectly golden brown and delicious.  You can use these for just about anything – in pasta, on quinoa, in an omelet or…

on pizza!

Now, roll the dough out – a circle or square is just fine – on parchment paper or a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal.

Brush with a bit of olive oil and slide into a preheated oven.  The oven needs to be hot.  Really hot.  Around 500F.  Shocking, I know.  But it works.

Now, don’t bake it all the way.  You are essentially par-baking the dough.  I found this keeps the dough from being gooey in the center.  No one wants wet, gooey pizza.

Now it’s time to start adding those ingredients.  Here’s my creation…

a layer of pesto…

add those (delicious) caramelized onions.  Don’t be skimpy!

Now some fresh spinach.  You could wilt it if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary at all.

Add a few sun dried (er, oven dried in this case) tomatoes.

Now the cheese!  A layer of mozzarella…

and some goat cheese!  And now, now it is ready for the final bake.

Another 12 – 15 minutes more in that hot oven and…

voila!  Let it sit for a few minutes before you slice into it – just so the cheese doesn’t ooze every where, but rather sticks to the slice.

And finally… finally!… it is time to eat.

This pizza reminds me a bit of Amy’s No Cheese Roasted Vegetable pizza.  If you haven’t tried it, you should.  But good luck finding it (nearly impossible these days).

On second thought, just make some caramelized onions and layer some veggies.  This is really our new favorite pizza around here.

What’s your favorite Friday night pizza?

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