Tags: brown sugar, First Love, fruit, Greek Yogurt, Heavy Cream, Jam, Jelly, Milk, Overnight Oatmeal, Overnight Oats, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Oatmeal, Preserves, vanilla
I don’t usually go for fads, trends or follow rules when it comes to food. In fact, I don’t abide by any rules when it comes to food. I’ve been known to bake pumpkin pies in June, and I know some people may argue this, but there is NO discernible difference between using fresh roasted pumpkin puree and canned. I’ve tested it many times over the years..and no one..I mean NO ONE, could tell the difference between the pumpkin pie using canned pumpkin and the pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin. As long as the canned pumpkin is pure, with no additives, it’s fine.
There..I said it, and I didn’t want to wait until Fall to say it.
By the way, did you know most canned pumpkin puree is actually Butternut or Hubbard squash. or a variety of squash, not named pumpkin? Yes, this includes the one that starts with L.
Back to trends and fads in the food blogosphere. I have seen overnight oats all over the place for months now. Normally, I’d steer clear, because, again, I’m not a trendy person. However, I need quick breakfasts because I don’t eat breakfast anywhere near as often as I should, and I’m sick of cheerios, toast or smoothies, when I do.
After seeing Barbara’s (of Barbara Bakes) overnight oatmeal with berries, I decided I really needed to give this a shot. I also decided to blog it because I didn’t bake or cook anything for the KA Stand Mixer winner announcement, and Part 13…ummm…13A. I don’t like putting up posts without something tasty and visual in them.
This is a food blog..well, food/story journal, you know.
I can’t believe I put this photo up. Yeah, I know what it looks like. In fact, artificial light is most definitely not kind to oatmeal in photography. But, a jar tipped over throwing up oatmeal is pretty shitty food styling.
That said, no pretty jars for these overnight oats, because you will be using up the peanut butter at the bottom and around the sides of an almost empty peanut butter jar so everything goes into the almost empty peanut butter jar. If you want to make it look nice for serving to someone(s), spoon it into pretty glasses or bowls..like I did for photos. BUT, off of my blog, it’s getting eaten straight from the jar, then bye-bye jar – into the recycle bin.
Below are a few ways to serve it, some outside the breakfast box.
Double Chocolate Oatmeal with melting chocolate shards
With Cocoa Nibs
On top of soft chocolate ganache 2
Swirled, or mottled, rather, with raspberry jam
This is not a completely healthy version, but if you want to add protein powder, flax, chia seed. hemp, swamp goo, motor oil..or whatever, go ahead – no rules. You can also cut down the calories and make it healthier by choosing the Greek yogurt option and skim milk.
Well, there is one rule, but it’s a general rule to get the right consistency..and that rule is 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid, plus extras of your choice. If you want it thicker, add more oats.
Here’s my version.
Overnight Refrigerator Peanut Butter – Brown Sugar Oatmeal with Jelly or Chocolate
About 2 servings
1 almost empty jar of peanut butter (about 1/4 cup peanut butter left in jar)
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (I tried both and preferred the quick oats, but if you like more ‘chew’, choose the old-fashioned oats)
2 to 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or any milk you prefer (skim, soy, rice, almond etc)
1/2 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt or 1/2 cup heavy cream steeped with vanilla bean scrapings and pod (pod removed after steeping, of course)
fruit or jam/jelly/preserves of your choice and/or chocolate chips, chunks (optional). I even added chocolate ganache to the bottom of one glass. No rules! You can go healthy or decadent, or both!
1. Dump the oats in the almost empty peanut butter jar. Sprinkle the dark brown sugar evenly on top of the oats. Stir together the milk and yogurt or steeped cream, then pour on top of the oats and dark brown sugar. If you’re adding chocolate chips or chunks, add now. Put the cover back on the peanut butter jar, tightly, and shake it vigorously. You’ll be stirring it come morning, so this is just a preliminary ‘shake’ to get the oats soaked and dissolve the brown sugar.
2. Put the covered jar in the fridge overnight, The next morning, open up the jar and stir it all together, digging the peanut butter up from the bottom and around the sides. Stir in fruit if you like – raspberries would be great, or swirl your favorite jam, jelly or preserves into it. If you prefer your oatmeal warm, give it a nuke in the microwave for a minute or two. Grab a spoon and dig in! Throw out the jar when you’re done..my favorite part next to eating it.
Note - I stirred extra peanut butter into the oats after they soaked overnight, only because I’m a peanut butter freak. It doesn’t need extra, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re a freak too. Also, I topped it off with some fresh, whipped cream and chocolate. If you want it topped, but healthier, use Greek yogurt.
Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (I tried both and preferred the quick oats, but if you like more ‘chew’, choose the old-fashioned oats)
1 to 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (taste)
1 cup whole milk or any milk you prefer (skim, soy, rice, almond etc)
1 tablespoon dark cocoa
1/4 cup chopped chocolate
1. Stir together milk and cocoa powder until uniform.
2.In an empty jar..like a mason jar, dump in oats, dark brown sugar, chocolate milk and chopped chocolate. Shake the jar vigorously and set in fridge overnight.
3. Eat right out of jar. I like to microwave it for a few seconds to melt some of the chopped chocolate. Enjoy!
KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer! I really wish I could give everyone who entered one of these mixers. I promise, there will be more great giveaways coming soon! Thank you all for entering!
The Random Number Generator decided that Candace, who’s comment is #224, is the winner!
Congratulations, Candace! I will be sending you an email so you can choose a color and give me your mailing info. As soon as I get it, it will be sent out to you ASAP. If there is no response from you within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.
One more thing – I’d like to thank Bonnie, of Bonnie Banters, for nominating me for a Food Stories Award! Again, I’m incredibly flattered! Since I was nominated late last month, and have already passed on 5 nominations…I’ll throw in another random fact about me.
When I was a child..having had the luxury of seeing several Broadway shows and listening to my father’s collection of Broadway soundtracks..I decided I wanted to be a Broadway singer. I used to stand on my front door step and belt out tunes like Tomorrow, Memory, One etc. There was one small problem, I couldn’t sing. My poor neighbors.
Tags: BUTTER, Cheddar Cheese, Cream, Mac N Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, Milk, roux, Sriracha, Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese, Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
I know, three posts in a little over week. Every three days, I’ve had a post up. It feels like an assembly line of mediocrity (the Ego Lights haven’t been throwing me a cookie or two as of late). That said, I like to let each post I put up marinate a little before putting up a new one, so that’s part of the reason why I don’t post a few times a week, but, in this case.. I had a lot of catching up to do.
It won’t remain this way because I need a break for a few days. It probably takes me like 8 hours to get a post up because without natural light, each photo needs a lot of post processing, not to mention, I shoot hundreds of photos to increase my chances of getting a few that make it past auditions. Then I need to go over them with whoever is in the mood to help me sift through identical photos with a fine-toothed comb, and find one that looks just a little better than the others, namely, my masculine counterpart.
“OK, which one out of these 40 photos, that are almost identical, looks the sharpest? Which one really showcases the food the best?”
“Lisa, they all look the same, seriously”
“NO, the piece of chive, all the way to the left, in back, in that one, isn’t as sharp as the piece of chive in this one! Can’t you see that??”
That, in itself, is a two-hour ordeal.
Then, writing the post – I don’t think I have to elaborate on that. When I’m adding one of my BBFL memoirs, add another day, or week, plus an hour or two, to the 8 – unless I hit the deep zone. The deep zone is where I sort of astral-project myself back to those teen and young adult years, and I’m reliving it – in it, as I type it. As you would expect, I prefer to write about it in that zone. It’s a zone I cannot be broken out of until I’m finished. Hard to hit that zone very often with work and life in the way – hence the stories being weeks apart most of the time.
It’s funny, for someone who is still using free wordpress.com with the same theme I chose in 2008, and the same ugly header I’ve also used from the start, I’m sure picky about every other detail, huh?
I will be self-hosting and redesigning my blog at some point, but for now, I’m kind of comfy in my old, worn jammies.
Of course you can make it without the Sriracha. It’s delicious either way.
Speaking of comfy, For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. I think every word in that title is the antithesis of my blog. BUT, I loved her blog, especially a section called ‘Better Than The Box’ which basically means your favorite boxed foods like JELL-O or cookies, made from scratch. Once I saw this Mac ‘n Cheese, it was all over for me. Comfort food at it’s best.
At first, I was eyeing these sweet potato peel fries, in her Food Waste Fridays post (love all the cool ideas, sections, and tips she has) using the flesh of the sweet potato to make her sweet potato rice pudding, from one of her Secret Recipe Club assignments. A great way to use the whole sweet potato – BUT, again, once I saw the Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese – it was love at first sight, and you can’t ignore love at first sight, even if it is only food and food probably won’t be sending you flowers or spooning you in bed. However, you will be spooning it…. into your mouth – or forking, whatever.
One thing that caught my eye was the use of honey mustard in lieu of dijon or regular mustard, which is usually the norm. I call this the ‘secret’ ingredient that really makes it pop. An underlying bit of sweetness that doesn’t affect the macaroni cheese flavor you’re used to, but makes you ponder it;
“Hmmm..what is it that’s making this taste even better?”
Not to mention, this is one creamy Mac n’ Cheese (I call it better than Boston Market, K or Annie’s O mac ‘n cheese)..and so quick to make, I doubt any of you who try it will go back to the boxed version as much as you usually do..the one we’ve all grown up eating at some point – although it stopped tasting like cheese a long time ago, at least for me.
I call the boxed versions yellow or orange macaroni snackies. No discernible flavor, but somehow, it still elicits the occasional craving.
Seriously, do any of you taste cheese in the K or Annie box of Mac N’ Cheese? I just taste a weird, artificial flavor that isn’t cheesy, yet, sometimes, in a pinch..I need to eat it…I don’t know why.
Of course I doctor it up with Sriracha and a handful of whatever real cheese I have on hand. I always have a box of Annie’s O or K on hand. It’s like a strange macaroni OCD, if I don’t have the purple or blue boxes in my cupboard, my cupboard seems naked. Now that I’ve discovered this recipe..I may be able to part with it forever – but then again, as mentioned, I don’t consider it macaroni and cheese, just a yellow or orange macaroni snack.
I highly recommend you try this, especially if you’re a fan of the purple or blue boxed yellow or orange macaroni snack or the Boston Market version. Add to it, if you like. Bacon is always phenomenal, as well as chicken, peas, ham, diced, hot peppers, etc..would be. Be daring, try a little minced ghost pepper in it! A little less heat, you say? How about a bit of habanero? A lot less? Serrano, chipotle, jalapeno etc..? As you can tell, I like a good kick to my Mac N’ Cheese.
I added Sriracha Sauce – love the stuff. You get cheesy, spicy heat, and that little ‘thing’ from honey mustard that makes you go ‘Hmmmm’ and then ‘Mmmmm’. Oh, I also added an extra cup of cheese to the sauce. That’s ok, right? ;D
I love hot and spicy food ..which is kind of weird since I couldn’t handle hot and spicy anything until my late 20’s. Before that, I remember ordering nachos, at Mexican Restaurants, on many occasions. My key phrase was “No jalapenos, please”. They added them anyway, and I’d have to pick them out one by one, because I didn’t want to send it back and risk a lugie in my guacamole. I think they enjoyed effin’ with me, or they were just hard of hearing. Now I ask for extra jalapenos, and barely get any.
When you have a few moments, check out Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. So many inexpensive, healthy alternatives to the fatty stuff we all love…plus ways to not waste food via making a treat with what you’d usually throw out, and much more!
By the way..I’m making THIS chicken salad from her blog. next – with a few twists.
Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, who adapted it from Taste of Home, with my revisions
About 4 servings
1/2 lb small sturdy pasta (such as Macaroni, Rotini or the like) I used Rotelli, which is larger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1/4 cup Sriracha Sauce (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
A large pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups really good mild, medium, or sharp shredded cheddar cheese (or a combination of your favorite cheeses) Try 4 cups, if you want it even cheesier! I did…and helloooo, I’m hooked forever.
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions – a little on the al dente side. While it’s boiling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, and stir and cook until it’s well blended (this is your roux).
2. Cook the butter and flour, still stirring, about a minute or so, to make sure the flour is thoroughly cooked and there’s no raw flour taste.
3. Combine the milk, cream and chicken broth in a liquid measuring cup, and slowly pour into the flour mixture, stirring all the while to combine it thoroughly. Continue stirring mixture until it is smooth and well blended. Stir until bubbles start to appear, this is when it will start to thicken, and it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened to the right consistency (think Elmer’s Glue, but a little looser – if you drag a finger across the back of a spoon dipped in the sauce, and the line stays crisp and clear – it should be ready).
4. Stir in the black pepper, kosher salt, Sriracha, and honey mustard. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is thoroughly melted, and you have a creamy sauce. Taste and season the sauce more if it needs it.
5. Drain the pasta and put back into the pot you cooked it in. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Cover with the lid of the saucepan and allow it to sit for a few minutes to absorb the sauce. Serve in bowls topped with some chopped parsley or chives, a little more black pepper and pass the Sriracha for those who want more.
Click on the little blue frog below to see what the other SRC Group A bloggers made from their blog assignments.
Tags: Egg Cream, First Love, Milk, Raspberry Egg Cream, Raspberry Syrup, Seltzer, Soda
Have you ever tried an Egg Cream? I’m guessing most of you have if you live in the Northeast, but for those who have not, and possibly have not even heard of one, I’ll start by saying it has neither eggs nor cream in it. The best way to describe one would be an ice cream soda minus the ice cream. Believe it or not, this is not a bad thing, it’s a really good thing, because it’s much lower in calories and fat, although I don’t think that was the original intent when it was first created. However, I did cheat a little and added a bit of light whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top – but trust me, it doesn’t need it, it was mainly for photos.
Since I’m lazy, I’m going to send you HERE to read about it. They did a great job tracing the history and describing it, along with a recipe for an authentic chocolate egg cream.
I made two egg creams, one to taste and one for photos then taste. Of course I forgot to stir the one for photos while pouring the seltzer. It should be creamy and uniform, not mottled like that, although it does look kind of cool.
Here’s the difference between mine and that one. Remember that awesome, vibrant pink, fresh raspberry buttercream, made using a raspberry reduction syrup I filled a Valentine’s cake with in February? The raspberry reduction syrup is exactly like chocolate syrup in texture and viscosity, so I could not stop thinking about how well it might work if I used some of that syrup to make a Raspberry Egg Cream. The only change I made to the original syrup recipe was the addition of sugar, since there’s nothing else that’s sweet in an egg cream.
It worked, except for the fact that I forgot to stir the milk/raspberry syrup combination as I poured in the seltzer, so the mottled look you see in some of the photos is because of that. The key to a perfect egg cream is rapid stirring as you pour the seltzer. I’d planned this one for a while and I forgot the most important part – go figure!
The first time I ever had an egg cream was not when we lived in the city..it was when we first moved to the town I grew up in NJ. One of my first new friends was a brilliant girl, a brilliant girl who looked 9-years old, but had the maturity and intelligence of someone much older. I loved going to her house after school because there was always something new and exciting to experience – her mind was an ocean of creativity and adventure.
Well, one of the ‘adventures’ was something we shouldn’t have done. Her mother worked, so we were on our own until 6pm. That gave us plenty of time to do this something we shouldn’t do – walk 3 miles to another town, a dangerous part of that town no less, where she wanted me to try the ‘best egg cream ever’. This ‘best egg cream ever’ lived in a small luncheonette/candy store that had an old-fashioned soda fountain counter with swivel stools, and it WAS the best egg cream I ever had, even though it was my first. It remains the best to this day, and I thank W for introducing me to the egg cream.
By the way, our egg cream venture became a regular trek when I went to her house after school, and we never got caught.
So, whether you grew up with egg creams or not, I highly recommend you give it a shot with the raspberry syrup..or, how about a mix of raspberry and chocolate syrup? I’m going to have to try that one myself!
Now to the Winner of the $50 Visa card and Peanut Butter! Random.Org chose…
Susan Smith, who loves Peanut Butter on an English Muffin for Breakfast. Congrats, Susan, you will be receiving an email ASAP. If I don’t hear back from Susan within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen, so stay tuned!
Raspberry Egg Cream
Recipe adapted from What’s Cooking America via Bonni Lee Brown, with my revisions and a different technique
Yields: One Egg Cream
About a scant 1/2 cup cold whole milk*
2 to 3 tablespoons raspberry syrup (recipe follows)
* skim or low -fat milk doesn’t as foam well, but will still taste good. Try soy or almond milk, if you like.
Fresh Raspberry Reduction Syrup
Adapted from Making Life Delicious
Makes enough syrup for about 4 egg creams
24 ounces fresh raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
1. Make Fresh Raspberry Reduction Syrup. In a medium to large saucepan, cook down the raspberries with sugar until they’ve broken down and released their juices..they will be floating in their own liquid – super saucy. If you use frozen, this will take longer. Strain cooked down, sweetened raspberries in a fine meshed sieve into a bowl, pressing down on them to get every bit of liquid out. You should have about 1 cup raspberry juice. Place this back in a clean saucepan, and cook down until reduced to 1/2 cup. It should be thick – like chocolate syrup, and will be dark blood red. Set aside until completely cool.
2. Make Raspberry Egg Cream. Pour the whole milk into a tall soda fountain like glass (about 16 oz). Stir in 2 tablespoons of raspberry syrup until uniform. IMPORTANT PART – keep stirring the raspberry syrup – milk mixture, rapidly, as you pour in the seltzer. A perfect egg cream should have 1 to 2 inches of foam on top. Add an extra tablespoon of raspberry syrup, if not sweet enough.
Optional – Top with a little whipped cream (or coconut whipped cream for healthy), raspberries and chocolate, but it’s really not needed. Stick in a straw and enjoy!
Tags: Cream, Homemade Ricotta Cheese, Lemon Juice, Milk, Ricotta, Ricotta from Scratch, Salt, Whey
Last Friday, I was babysitting my amazing and adorable 10-month old nephew. I love this kid like crazy, so I look forward to being able spend time with him, especially since I have all the time in the world at this juncture! Naturally, the best part of being with him is cuddling him, playing with him, and hell, the diaper changes are no big whoop at all because nothing ‘baby Zach’ is gross to me. One game he really loves I call ‘Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo’. I lie on my back and lift him up and down – bringing him all the way to my face so we touch noses, then all the way back up so he can ‘fly’.
While we do this, I repeat “BOUNCY BOUNCY BOO BOO” sporadically, in a silly voice, which makes him laugh hysterically. His sweet and goofy laughter just fills my heart and makes it impossible not to smile so wide that my cheeks hurt. Well, he got into such a fit of laughter during Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo last Friday, that when I brought him back down to touch noses, my gaping grin so wide that you could probably see my wisdom teeth from a mile away, he suddenly dropped his head full force – right onto my right front tooth – PAIN plus a CRACKY like noise, then numbness. It felt like an anvil had crashed through my roof and onto that tooth.
Of course, my first concern was him, but he was fine, still laughing – the babe has one hard head! After checking his head, looking into his eyes, and panicking briefly, I afforded myself a nano-second to examine my tooth. A little blood, and boy did it hurt, but of most concern, after him, was the fact that it felt a little loose. OH NO! *stereotype alert* Is it time to pack me off to Appalachia with a case of pork rinds and a banjo??
Just my luck, my dentist wasn’t going to be back in the office until Wednesday for evening hours, but I was told that if it’s only slight mobility, the tooth will tighten up on its own within a few days to a week – just stay away from hard foods like apples, hard pretzels etc. Well, it has tightened up a little, and the pain has subsided, but it still feels weird, so I’m setting up an appointment for Tuesday or Wednesday, just to be safe.
Because of this, I’ve been existing on soup for the past week. I don’t want to take ANY chance of a chunk of even soft fruit in yogurt jostling that tooth. What a perfect time to try homemade ricotta cheese! It’s soft, no biting down..no gaping hole smile.
Technically, this isn’t how ricotta cheese is made, but it tastes exactly like (but better) the ricotta cheese we’re all used to and it IS ricotta cheese. Ricotta (meaning recooked) is usually made out of whey, the liquid separated out from the curds when cheese is made, like mozzarella, and recooked. In this recipe, you’re using the whole milk plus acid to make the ricotta and discarding the whey (although you can use it in homemade breads, or other preparations which I can’t conjure up at this moment). This is the perfect time to ask, Can anyone think of any good uses for the liquid whey outside of watering the garden? I have this weird obsession with waste.
Not only is this easy with just 4 ingredients and a super rapid cooking time, but the results are well worth it. You’ll never want to eat store bought again, although it does take quite a bit of milk – as in 8 cups of milk plus 1 cup of cream for a yield of about 1 1/2 to 2 cups ricotta, OK, maybe you shouldn’t completely rule out store bought, but trust me – this is well worth tackling every so often, and the fresh, creamy result is to die for.
By the way, it didn’t jostle my tooth, so I may not have to relocate after all. This is a good thing *stereotype alert #2* as demanding that someone bend over and “squeal like a pig!!” is not something I ever aspired to do, not even in a kinky way.
Finally, there is another reason I made this, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out *don’t you hate when people do that?* I know I’ve said this before and not come through (I accidentally deleted the photos of what I did with the all dark chocolate Valentino *I paired it with spiced, Frangelico poached pears, hazelnuts and creme fraiche*- and the supposedly soon coming post on the A-Rod deal), but this time it’s for real – I SUHwear.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese pilfered from Brooklyn Farmouse
-Large Mixing Bowl
8 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. Line a large strainer or sieve with cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl.
2. In a large pot or saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep milk mixture from scorching.
3. Add all the lemon juice, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring gently once or twice, for 2 minutes. The mixture will curdle immediately.
4. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let drain for an hour or two. Discard the liquid whey (Can be used in bread baking!) and refrigerate the ricotta or use immediately. If you want it really dry, wrap it back up with the cheesecloth, leave it in the strainer over the bowl, weight it down with something heavy, and refrigerate overnight.
Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh ricotta.