Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Baked Cranberry Almond Oatmeal

We polished off our week of baked oatmeal with this recipe from Real Simple that my friend, Patricia, tried first and said was a must.  It was, indeed, real simple, as most baked oatmeal recipes are!  It was also real good, thanks mostly to the butter and, in my opinion, mixing the almonds in with the oats.  This one got both my son's and my husband's votes for top pick.  It'd be a great way to start your Thanksgiving weekend!

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped (I didn't toast mine and used sliced almonds - still good!)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
heavy cream or milk for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter or grease a 2-quart baking dish.  

Combine the oats, almonds, cranberries, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the melted butter, milk eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Mix well and spread evenly in the prepared dish.  At this point, I covered my dish with foil and put it in the fridge until the morning.  

Bake in preheated oven until golden and the center is firm, 35 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm, drizzled with cream or milk, if desired.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

This recipe came on Day Four of our Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Week.  My husband's favorite dessert is carrot cake, so I knew it would be a favorite for him, but it ended up being a favorite for the entire family!  This was actually my number one vote at the end of the week.  The carrots gave the oatmeal a more interesting texture, and I liked the raisins and walnuts on top way more than I thought I would.

2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups lightly packed shredded carrots
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or try ½ tsp ground ginger)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  I used an 8x8 square pyrex.

In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt (plus ground ginger if not using fresh).  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: shredded carrot, egg, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and fresh ginger.

Add the wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until combined.  Pour mixture into prepared dish and smooth out until evenly distributed. Press down on the oatmeal with a spoon to ensure the oats sink into the milk. If preparing the night before, cover with foil and put in refrigerator until morning.  Then continue on with remaining steps.

Sprinkle walnuts and raisins on top.  Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.  The oatmeal might still look a bit soft or wet in some spots when you take it out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.

Let the oatmeal cool for about 10 minutes before serving with milk, cream, or whipped cream for a special treat!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

My family loves baked oatmeal.  It's the perfect breakfast for us.  It's nutritious, filling, easy to make (I always make it the night before, no matter what recipe I'm using), and everyone is happy coming to the breakfast table when I'm serving baked oatmeal.  So I decided we would do a week of baked oatmeal, trying out a different recipe each day and then voting on our favorite.  If you ask me, breakfast is already the best meal of the day.  But it was especially good during our Baked Oatmeal week!

For Day One, I made our tried and true Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal.  It's been on our breakfast table about once a week for a couple years running, so why not start with what you know you like?

On Day Two, I made Coconut Cream Baked Oatmeal.  This is another recipe I'd already tried and knew we all liked.  

Then on Day Three of our baked oatmeal week, I used an idea from my daughter to create this Apple Pie version.  My middle gingersnap suggested one morning several months ago, "What if we put apples on the bottom instead of bananas?"  Great idea!  A few other additions and it was delicious!  

2 apples, cored, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks - I used my corer/peeler/slicer and then cut the slices into smaller chunks
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp apple pie spice
2 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups almond milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease square baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Spread apple chunks evenly on bottom of the dish.  Using about 2 Tbsp butter total, distribute butter into smaller bits over the apples.  Sprinkle with apple pie spice and 1 Tbsp brown sugar.

In medium bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Mix thoroughly and pour evenly on top of apples.

In the same bowl, throughly mix milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour evenly over the oat mixture.  Use a spoon or spatula to press down, ensuring there aren't any dry oats left.

At this point, you can cover the dish with foil and store in the refrigerator overnight, making this an easy breakfast the next morning.

When ready to bake, sprinkle pecans on top and place in oven, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, or until pecans are nicely toasted and oats are golden on top.  Serve with milk and maple syrup as a treat!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pumpkin Challa

My kids and I had been learning about the Jewish calendar and certain Jewish festivals in school, so one of our projects for the week was to make Challa bread.  Challah is a braided bread made with eggs that is traditionally eaten on the Sabbath or certain holidays.  Since we are also enjoying Fall, I decided to make a less traditional Challah bread and use pumpkin!  We followed this recipe exactly, and used this video as our tutorial to do a six-strand braid for our loaves.  The bread was especially delicious toasted with butter and honey on top!

As we started to roll out the dough to make our strands for the braid, I quickly realized we had an excess of dough.  The recipe says you can make one six-stranded loaf or two smaller three-stranded loaves.  But I divided the dough and we had plenty to make two six-stranded loaves.  If you make that change as I did, be sure to reduce the baking time to about 35 minutes.    

1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
3/4 cup eggs and egg yolks (I used 7 yolks and 2 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk for the egg wash
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
7-8 cups flour (bread flour, if you can find it), plus more for rolling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine water and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbles start coming to the surface. With the mixer on low, add in eggs, sugar, syrup, butter, salt, spices, and pumpkin. Slowly add in 2 cups of flour.

Switch to the dough hook, and slowly add most of the remaining flour until a nice, slightly sticky dough is formed. Add the rest of the flour, if needed. Cover bowl with a towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down and let rest for ten minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and braid into 1 large loaf with the 6 strand method, or make 2 smaller loaves with the normal 3 strand method. (see my note above about making two loaves) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and let sit in a warm place for one hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together an extra egg yolk and a teaspoon of water. Brush over the top of the loaf. Place in the oven and toss a handful of ice cubes on the bottom of the oven (optional). Close oven door and bake for 1 hour.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Potato Cream Cheese Soup

Winter is setting in and this soup from Maryana Vollstedt's Big Book of Soups and Stews hit the spot on a cold evening.  It's easy to make, and everyone had fun adding the toppings of their choice.  I served the soup with hard-boiled eggs, chopped peanuts, crumbled bacon, and green onions.  We all enjoyed this creamy soup.

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups milk
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp celery salt (I used onion salt)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Toppings (we used the first four):
chopped hard-cooked eggs
chopped green onions
cooked, crumbled bacon bits
chopped peanuts
chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded and drained
diced cucumbers
small shrimp

In a large soup pot over high heat, combine potatoes, onion, and stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.  Transfer half of the mixture to food processor and puree.  Return to the pot.  Add remaining ingredients except toppings and stir until cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add more milk if too thick.  Ladle into bowls and pass the toppings separately.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lemon Chicken with Leeks and Croutons

My friend, Patricia, passed on this recipe and I'm so glad she did!  It reminded me of the lemon and chicken dish we all loved so much, but this dinner was much easier to put together.  And I liked the leeks!  I've noted below the changes I made.  This is yummy stuff!

1/2-1 pound sourdough bread, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 10 cups)
4 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch lengths, white and light green parts only
3 lemons, quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper
3 1/2 - 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and thighs

*Between the lemons and the sourdough bread, the flavor was a tad bitter.  My husband and I thought it was still delicious, but the kids probably would have preferred either just 2 lemons, or french bread instead.

Heat oven to 425 F.  Combine the bread, leeks, and lemons in a large bowl.  Drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil and toss until everything is evenly coated.  Add in one teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss again to season.  Dump the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish (an extra deep dish is even better).  Then pick out almost all of the bread chunks and return them to the bowl.  This step was not in the original recipe, but I'd recommend it.  Adding this extra step will prevent the majority of your bread from becoming a soggy mush underneath the chicken.  Some gooey bread is tasty!  But you want to make sure you get plenty of toasted croutons for the top!

Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the baking dish.  Stuff the reserved bread chunks around the chicken.

Bake until the bread is toasted, the leeks are tender, and the chicken is lightly browned.  An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece should register 165 F.  It took my dish about one hour.  Some of the croutons were pretty charred on top, so if you want to tent your dish with some foil half-way through to prevent burning, go for it.  Enjoy!

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