Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal 9I modified this recipe from Babble and made a great easy breakfast that can easily be played with and served in many ways. If you like the idea of an easy hot breakfast these little baked oatmeal squares are going to be a new staple for you. Plus you can reheat the squares later on for breakfast on the go. Feel free to play with the sugar amount if you want to take this dish from a breakfast to a nice dessert with ice cream! Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and butter up an 8″ x 8″ baking dish. In a bowl, mix together 3 cups rolled oats (not instant), 1/2 cup sugar1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and the zest of 1 lemon. Baked Oatmeal 1

In another bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter, 2 cups milk, and 2 eggs.

Baked Oatmeal 2Spread half the oat mixture into the bottom of your dish. Spread 1 cup berries or fruit of your choice, fresh or frozen (I used 1 cup frozen service berries) over the oat mixture. Baked Oatmeal 4

Spread on the other half of the oat mixture, and then an additional 1 cup berries. Press the berries into the mix a little.

Baked Oatmeal 5Pour the milk mixture over the oats and berries and pop it in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the centre is set and everything is starting to get lovely and golden. Baked Oatmeal 6

Let it rest for about ten minutes before you scoop out a piece and eat it because it will be molten.

Baked Oatmeal 7I bet these would be good with butter and maple syrup … Baked Oatmeal 8

Peanut Butter Porridge

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The inspiration for this delightful twist on the classic parritch recipe comes from the ever-brilliant Foodess and it’s a new favourite in this house. You can use any kind of oats you want for this dish. I prefer the steel-cut oats because they have a nice texture for oatmeal, though they take longer to cook than old-fashioned oats. The measurements below serve two for a nice warm breakfast on a very cold day. You can easily expand the recipe: just remember that the ratio of oats to liquid is 1:2. If you like to add extra ingredients like coconut or dried fruit to the porridge before cooking, just add a few extra splashes of water to compensate.

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Plop 2/3 cup oats into a smallish pot with 1 1/3 cup water (or milk, if you want to be extra luxurious, or coconut milk or soy milk or rice milk or unicorn milk or whatever). Add in about 1/3 cup shredded dried coconut as well, if you like.

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Tip in as well 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or almond butter or sunbutter or whatever kind of that sort of thing you like) and let that melt into the mess.

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Bring to a low simmer, stirring often, until it gets all thick and glutinous. If you get it so thick that your spurtle (that’s the wooden stir stick thingy) stands up in the centre then it’s thick enough for your average Highlander but you might want to take it off the heat before that point for your own personal taste.

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Scoop the porridge into two bowls (soak the bottom of your pot with water while you eat so you can clean it more easily later). Sprinkle with brown sugar and decorate with slices from a banana.

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Serve with a little bit of milk to cool it down and add a bit of liquidity.

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Plain ol’ Porridge

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When we were growing up, porridge was a warm breakfast treat in the mornings that my mother could whip up in no time at all.  We weren’t limited in the amount of raisins we could apply to the steaming cereal.  It was heaven.  When I met the Pie I learned that HE had been allowed to put brown sugar on his porridge in addition to raisins, and this level of indulgence is my favourite to this day.

Some people don’t like porridge (or oatmeal, as you Americans seem to call it), and that’s fine.  I remember reading somewhere that Scots can take anything horrible and turn it into a practical virtue, and eating porridge was one of those things.

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Because porridge is so easy to make, though, it always kind of blew my mind to see the varieties of “instant” breakfast oatmeals available at the grocery store.  When I tried them, they always tasted gluey and artificial.  And really, two minutes in the microwave is not that much faster than five minutes on the stove.  Granted, you have to remember to soak your pot afterwards, but that’s not really a big deal.

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Let’s get to it, shall we, so I can show you how easy it is?  I tend to add all sorts of other grains to my oats to jazz them up, but today (and because we just moved and I haven’t restocked my pantry yet), I’m just doing regular plain porridge.  For this, you will need rolled oats (I’m using quick oats here but I don’t find them much faster-cooking than regular ones), water, and a pot.

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Oh, and a spurtle.  If you don’t have a spurtle (basically a glorified stick), you can use a spoon for stirring but you will find it less satisfying.

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The magic ratio for porridge is the same as it is for making basic rice: two parts water to one part grain.  The magic serving size for the Pie and myself is about 1/3 cup each uncooked.  Once cooked of course the oats expand considerably.  So for a serving for two, start with about 2/3 cup rolled oats.

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Plop those in a pot and then pour over that 1 1/3 cups water.

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Heat on medium, stirring frequently, until the porridge begins to thicken and bubble (this can take between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on what kind of oats you have and how many you are making — for quick oats it’s about 5 minutes).  Make sure to keep stirring or the whole mess will stick horribly to the bottom of the pot.

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Serve in bowls, garnished with a bit of milk or cream, and a sprinkling of brown sugar.  We topped ours with fresh raspberries because we don’t yet have any raisins.  Some people like their porridge buttered and salty, but I prefer mine sweet.  I also like to toss dried coconut and fruit into the pot when I’m cooking the oats (just add a little extra water), together with some ground flax and cinnamon.  Yum!

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Oatmeal Scotchies

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Every two weeks we have a team meeting that requires me to actually shower and change into real clothes physically attend at the office.  More often than not, when I do, I bring baked goods.  Obviously it’s a nasty habit I picked up as a law librarian.

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I hauled a package of butterscotch chips out of a box a few weeks back, so this formed the inspiration.  The recipe comes from Hershey’s Kitchens and might be a new favourite around the office.

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Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

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Look! I have a kitchen table for the first time in EONS!

Start with 3/4 cup softened butter, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar and chuck all that in a bowl.

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Beat the crap out of it until it’s fluffy, then add in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

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In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

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Gradually add the flour to the butter mixture and beat until well-combined.

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Stir in 3 cups rolled oats, and then a whole package (or about 1 3/4 cups) butterscotch chips.

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Drop tablespoons of the dough onto your baking sheet (I ended up with just over three dozen cookies) and bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the centres of the cookies are just set the edges are starting to brown.  My oven seems to cook a little hotter so I ended up baking mine for only 6 minutes.

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Let those rest on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.  I may have enjoyed a few with my morning coffee (after a complete and nutritious breakfast, of course).

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Coconut Lime Oat-y Cookies

Happy birthday to Stef and to Thidz!Lime Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies 14

Papa John and Mrs. Nice are staying with us for a couple of weeks and Papa John is a cookie fiend so I figured I’d whip up a batch of something a little bit different to keep him occupied for a while.  This recipe is adapted from one I found in Everyday Food.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1 cup butter with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar.

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Beat them for about 4 minutes, until fluffy and pale.

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Slide in 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons vanilla, and 1 250g package plain cream cheese (at room temperature) and beat that up as well.

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Beat in the flour mixture gradually, then mix in 1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut (you can toast this ahead of time if you wish — I didn’t).

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And 2 tablespoons freshly grated lime zest.

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Aaaand 1 1/2 cups rolled oats.

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Get that all combined.

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Use a soup spoon to dollop quantities of dough onto your baking sheet.  They won’t spread too much but leave lots of space around them in any case.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 12-14 minutes.

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Leave on the pan for a few minutes after removing from the oven so the cookies can solidify, then carefully scoop them onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Seal in an airtight container to maintain freshness.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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So my washing machine has been broken for about a month now.  My landlord didn’t like the first repair quote we got so we had to get a second opinion and now it turns out that the part we need is pretty much not available anymore.  While we wait, I do some laundry by hand in the bathtub (so not as fun as it sounds) and some I do downstairs in Fussellette’s machine (which is identical to and yet works so much better than ours).  So in recompense for being a pain in her butt while I wash my unmentionables in her house, I made her some cookies yesterday.  These puppies (adapted from this recipe) are soft and chewy and you can’t even tell that they are gluten-free.  I asked the Pie how many cookies he wanted and all he did was extend his arms to their fullest, which I took to mean “this many,” so I doubled my batch, but a single batch here makes 18-24 large cookies.

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Preheat your oven to 375°F and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

If you can find oat flour for this then you’re gold.  If you can’t, take a heaping cup of rolled oats and plop it in your food processor.  Give that a go for a few minutes until you have fine crumbs.

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Plop that in a bowl together with 1 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, 1 teaspoon fine salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda and stir that up.

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In the bowl of a mixer, add together 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  Pour 1 cup melted butter on top and mix it up.

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While that’s on the go, add in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

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Now slowly add in your bowl’s worth of dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.  Looks kind of runny but don’t fret.

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Now slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.  That looks more like it, eh?

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I used a soup spoon to scoop plops of dough onto the baking sheets.

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Bake for 10-13 minutes, rotating your sheets halfway through, until the edges of the cookie turn a nice brown.  The centre will not look set, but again, don’t fret.  Let the cookies set on the pan for another 2-3 minutes after removing them from the oven.

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Then you can put them on a rack to cool completely.  Or you can eat them right away.  I think the choice is obvious.

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You can see how well my lettuce is doing, too.

I love me some Granola

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My morning meal usually consists of coffee, juice, yogurt, and granola.  Like I could eat that stuff every single day.

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Until now, I’ve been buying our granola, but it’s quite expensive for the amount you get and it’s full of all sorts of weird additives and the like that I don’t really want to put in my system.

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My mother used to make granola for us sometimes when we were kids, so I figured that I could probably do it myself if I tried.  And it’s easy.  And you can use what you’ve got in your cupboards, or what you can scoop up at the bulk food store.  Which means you can customize each batch.

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So preheat your oven to 350°F and get out a large rimmed baking sheet.  I took the precaution of lining mine with parchment paper, so stuff wouldn’t stick.

The majority of granolas start with a base of oats, about 4 cups.  I used four double handfuls, because I measured my tiny hands once and put together that’s about what they hold.  And thus ends my list of measurements for this recipe.  Because you can do whatever you want.  So what else have I got going on here?  In addition to the oats, I have bran, ground flax, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, lavender flowers (yes), and then a selection of dried fruits: apricots, mango, and raisins.

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Take all your happy dry ingredients (minus the fruits) and plop them in a bowl.

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Mix ’em up.

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In another bowl, add about 1/2 cup runny honey,

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about 1/2 cup maple syrup,

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and about 1/2 cup melted butter.

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*** EDIT: If you’d like granola that forms clumps (and that’s my favourite kind), whisk 1 or 2 egg whites into a froth and add them to the mixture as well.  The protein in the whites will stick everything together during the baking process.  Just use caution when stirring mid-bake, as the amount you stir will affect the size of the clumps you create. ***

Pour that golden loveliness into the dry mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated.

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Spread that stuff out on your baking sheet and chuck that in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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Make sure to stir with a spatula every 10-15 minutes or so to keep the stuff on the bottom from burning.

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While that’s on the go, get your dried fruit ready. I chopped up the apricots and mango slices a little to make them easier to get on a spoon.

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Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan, stirring it occasionally to break up the chunks.  The finer grained your ingredients are, and the more sticky wet ingredients you use, the chunkier your granola will be.

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While it’s still a little warm, stir in your dried fruit.

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Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, and enjoy whenever you want!

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