this has gotta be a record

Morning #5 of oatmeal for breakfast.

This time: Citrus Steel-Cut Oats with Apricot and Cinnamon, from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals

I was on a mission this week to use up a sandwich baggie filled with steel-cut oats that I brought with us from OHIO!  Thankful oats don’t really go “bad”…

I used most of them in the baked oatmeal from the other day, and the last 1/2 C made two servings of oatmeal this morning.

I prepped the oats last night by par-boiling them with a cinnamon stick, then removing them from the heat and covering for an hour while they absorbed the water.  I refrigerated overnight, then all I had to do this morning was add milk, water, cut-up apricots and orange zest.

You can see the golden raisins (added last night) and apricots in my bowl.  Andrew is more of an oatmeal “purist,” so he wasn’t a huge fan.  Not to mention his aversion to apricots in general.  Oh well–more for me!  Up to this point, there wasn’t any sweetener at all in the oatmeal, so I sprinkled about a teaspoon of brown sugar along with some ginger maple syrup on mine.

Yum!  I paired the oatmeal with some plain yogurt and half a grapefruit.  This breakfast kept me full from about 7 – 11:30, when I was hungry after my workout.  I snacked on a couple honey wheat sticks and an orange while my brown rice cooked for my leftover Beef and Broccoli from Steamy Kitchen.  (Which was a HUGE hit by the way… Andrew loved it!)

After this it’s HOMEWORK CENTRAL for me!

BBB

Happy Saturday morning, all!  How I wanted to sleep-in, Hadrian nudged me awake at 5 (at least he made it that long!) and despite having Andrew take him out, I couldn’t really fall back asleep.  Knowing I have to fit a run in before I leave for my haircut a 9 (just a trim!) makes my brain start working…

Baklava Butter and Bran!  I’ve been meaning to get these photos and recipes out since I made them LAST weekend, and since it’s now the beginning of a new weekend…well, I did my best.

I’d purchased the ingredients for Good to the Grain’s Molasses Bran Muffins awhile ago, but never got around to actually making them.

In terms of actual product, they turned out quite well.  The texture was great and they were very moist.  However, they are featured in the Amaranth flour chapter, and Amaranth has a bit of a, well, “dirt-like” taste to it.  I mean, it’s not like you’re eating dirt or anything, but you definitely get a hint of the flavor of the flour, which is very earthy.  Quinoa flour is a lot like Amaranth.

While I think of Good to the Grain (GG) as one of my very favorite cookbook (reserved for the likes of Barefoot Contessa, Foster’s Market and King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking), I have to offer this HUGE disclaimer: Unless you are prepared to buy a gazillion small bags of different, hard-to-find types of flour, do not buy this book.  I’m definitely having a blast baking my way through it, (my goal is to make EVERYTHING) and a couple of the chapters are dedicated to widely available varieties, like whole wheat, buckwheat, spelt and rye.  However, the rest of the chapters cover kamut, millet, quinoa, teff, etc…  I ended up placing a huge Bob’s Red Mill order awhile back and all my small bags of flour take up the entire door of my freezer.

Anyway, I love the book but it’s definitely not for everyone.  I’ve really enjoyed reading it and getting to taste the nuances of the different flours and some of the recipes are absolutely fantastic.  This one, however, wasn’t all that great.  It’s not that there was anything wrong with it; I just don’t know how often I’ll be making bran muffins with Amaranth flour.

Back to the goodies…

PRUNE BUTTER!

The Molasses Bran Muffins called for homemade prune butter, which couldn’t be simpler.

Recipe:

1 C orange juice

1.5 C prunes

Warm juice, pour over prunes to soften (about 15-20 minutes), then puree in a blender or small chopper.

The recipe made about 3x what the muffins needed, so I (happily) ended up with some leftover to put in a jar.  I mixed a little with some goat cheese on a homemade bagel here.  If you’re afraid of prunes, don’t be.  They’re just dried plums (who doesn’t love plums?!) and they are awesome.  I think Sunkist (or Sunsweet?) makes a version that has “cherry essence” in them or something.  Not sure how natural those are, but they are like candy, let me tell you.

Baklava Butter!

OK, this one takes the cake for being the most awesome recipe EVER.  If you’re a nut butter lover (ahem, Emily and Susy, this is for both of you!), make this IMMEDIATELY.  You will not regret it.  It’s such a snazzed-up version of regular peanut or almond butter, and (surprisingly) has fewer calories!

Recipe:

2/3 C almonds, roasted

1/3 C pistachios, shelled

1/3 C cashews, roasted

1/4 C honey

1/4 C water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Just throw them all in the blender and pulse away!  Mine came out a bit “chunky” but they were tiny pieces and I kinda liked the texture.

The Baklava Butter was featured in the most recent issue of Cuisine at Home, and since some of you are into these, here are the stats:

Serving size: 2 Tbsp, 145 cal, 9g total fat (1g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 28mg sodium, 14g carb, 2g fiber, 4g protein

I love it on toast with some orange marmalade (or a little more honey–it’s a little dry) or with a banana.  Seriously incredible, people.  I WILL be making this a staple in the nut butter rotation.

While I’d LOVE to do more baking this weekend, I don’t know if our tummies can take it!  I just made a loaf of bread (it didn’t fall!) and I still have some muffins left over in the freezer, as well as a bunch of slices of the Honey Polenta Cornbread (from GG) that I made with beef stew last night.  Andrew wasn’t a huge fan (apparently he doesn’t really care for honey, who knew??), but it was basically like a brown cornbread with a thick, gummy honey layer mixed into the top.  Wonderful warm.  I had a piece for breakfast and it (along with some plain yogurt) kept me full til AFTER running an errand after school–WOW!

Anyway, with all of our leftovers (and a hubby who doesn’t like to “finish things off” so as not to waste food–so unlike the father of my childhood), I don’t know that I can justify another batch of anything for at least a few days.  My recipe-finding is exponentially faster than my recipe-making…sigh.

homemade bagels

A couple months ago I found a recipe for “real bagels” in Cooking Light and immediately thought of my sweet hubby and his affinity for everything bagels.  (I hate them; they may have a great savory flavor, but the onion and garlic are just way too strong!)

Obviously, this was a weekend activity, so I pencilled it in for two weekends ago.  Well, that weekend came and went without the making of any bagels, so I was even more determined to cross it off this weekend!

I had intended this to be a pseudo-together project with Andrew; I was, after all, making them mainly for him.  I like a good bagel as much as the next person, but try to limit my intake of simple carbs that come in the form of GIANT breads.  Rule of thumb: go halfsies. NO EXCEPTIONS.

It being a Sunday afternoon, Andrew was all but passing out on the couch when I called to him in need of his photography skills…  (I might have guilted him, a little.)  The truth is, our kitchen right now just isn’t really big enough for two to be working, and I’ll be honest, I like to be the only cook in the kitchen.  It’s my territory.  Hands off!

(Plus, Andrew is a way better picture-taker than I am; with our atrocious lighting situation here in the kitchen and dining room, it’s all I can do to take a decent picture, let alone one that actually shows the real color of my subject.)

I halved the recipe (how in the world would the two of us be able to eat 12 bagels before they got stale?) and put the ingredients into the bowl of my mixer.

The recipe calls for barley malt syrup, which is a natural sweetener found in lots of bread recipes.  It’s similar to thins like agave nectar, brown rice syrup and maple syrup and it is more mild, so it doesn’t raise your blood sugar as quickly as other sweeteners.  I couldn’t find it anywhere in Ohio (it’s the kind of thing you find in the ‘crunchiest’ of natural grocery stores) and had to purchase it when Andrew and I were at King Arthur Flour during the fall of 2010.  I have, however, seen it in the ‘nature’s marketplace’ at Wegmans–hurray!

After a 6-minute go-around in the mixer, you knead the dough by hand for just a minute or two.

(Seriously, how to food bloggers do it??  I would never be able to photograph and work with messy hands; I’m way too much of a neat-freak and OCD about equipment.  Andrew would KILL me if I got food on his camera!  That, and I’d never get anywhere since it would take twice as long to make everything if I was taking pictures, and it already takes me a long time since I’m so fastidious about cleaning as I go and measuring and things.)

After a 30-minute rise, you divide the dough into equal portions…

…and, using your fingers, poke a hole through them and stretch it out a little.  They rise again for a few minutes on a tray while you get your water boiling.

I’m a HUGE King Arthur Flour fan and order WAY too much from them (they have such cool stuff!) and one of the things I got last time was this bag of everything bagel topping.  Andrew was in heaven when we saw it.

Traditional bagels are boiled before being baked, which creates a ‘doughy’ texture, and is what the recipe calls for.  We’ve had bagels in Montreal (which are only baked) and NYC (which are boiled) and you can really tell a good bagel from a mediocre one.  I love Panera as much as the next person, but their bagels are NOTHING compared to a fresh, puffy, boiled bagel from a Jewish hole-in-the-wall place in the city.

Side note: Andrew’s favorite place to get bagels, interestingly enough, is a place called Buck’s Bagels, located just down the road from my parents’ house outside Philadelphia.  I guess the interesting (and sad) part is that my family didn’t really ever frequent the establishment much!  We had no idea such a gem was just a mile away!  I remember my dad going there a couple times, but that was it.  So, so, SO sad.

Side-side note: That is one of my dreams: to be a ‘regular’ somewhere.  I think it stems from such a transient childhood; all I want now is to have a home and be known there and have a routine and be an actual ‘part’ of the community.  (I have to admit, between being involved in the co-op and writing for the paper, I think I’m on my way!)

After a 30-second boil (I wasn’t clear on whether or not you were supposed to flip them or not), you place them on a grate to drain and sprinkle with topping, if desired.

I made four everything and kept two plain, for me.

(BTW, I’m eating half of one of my plain bagels RIGHT NOW for breakfast!)

I joke that Andrew is so picky that I can pull a hot cookie out of the oven for him and he’d refuse it (no lie, but in his defense, he isn’t very big on chocolate-chip); not so with bagels!  It was all he could do to wait until they were cool enough to touch after baking before grabbing one of his everything bagels and chomping it down!

I, of course, wasn’t about to inhale one of mine (we had dinner plans with friends in just a few short hours!), but I wanted to taste my creation so I had a bite of his, with a little butter.  YUM!  Absolutely perfect texture!

I know I’m a little ambitious in the ‘make-everything-from-scratch’ category, but these really are pretty simple.  With their short rise and boil times, you could feasibly make these on a Saturday morning and enjoy hot bagels for breakfast–not something you can say about cinnamon rolls without a TON of prep the night before.

Speaking of making things from scratch…  I hinted at my weekend projects in yesterday morning’s post; be looking for that soon, too!  Also, I’ve done TWO blogs for the co-op recently: kale and grapefruit!  Next up: a promo for an upcoming event and more citrus!  After that, I’m looking forward to non-produce posts, like yogurt-making and baking (it is winter, after all), which will include my banana bread!  Stay tuned!