Archive for Oats

Good ol’ oatmeal

Never underestimate the power of oats

As I am sure everyone knows by now, I am a breakfast woman at heart. Sure, there’s a lot of fancy things you can make to pull together a breakfast, but sometimes something as simple as oatmeal is best. For over a week now, I have been making myself a bowl of oatmeal before work, and I have yet to get sick of it. It’s hearty, highly versatile, tasty, and above all, warm and filling. It keeps my belly happy and insides warm for the walk to work, and the complex carbohydrates of the oats keeps me going until I can eat lunch. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not talking about the boxed and individually packaged, sugar-laden instant oatmeal here. I mean real, stove-top cooked oats, where one can use their imagine and add whatever their heart desires.

I always have raisins around the house, and I like to add them into the cut of water before I let it boil. It gives new life to the raisins, making them more plump and juicy. Once the water is boiling, I add in the 1/2 cup of oats, and reduce the heat. Next, I will generally add in a good amount of cinnamon, probably more than most people, because I REALLY love cinnamon. Then, depending how I am feeling that morning, I may throw in some nutmeg, a hint of salt, some allspice, and maybe the tiniest bit of cloves. If I am craving something sweet, I will add some brown sugar or maple syrup, but never more than a tablespoon. If I have an apple around, I will dice it up and add when the oats are still cooking as well, making the apples warm and just a little bit soft. Sometimes I will even add a tablespoon or two of applesauce, giving the oats extra sweetness and a nice apple flavor, which goes particularly well with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. When the oatmeal is just about done cooking, I will sometimes throw in chunks of banana, just enough to make the banana warm and soft, yet not too mushy.

I know it might not be as quick and easy as opening a package of instant oatmeal and zapping it in the microwave, but the extra couple of minutes and addition of real ingredients, without all the sugar, is really worth the effort. Your body and taste buds will enjoy it. And if that was not enough, it’s cheap!

Oatmeal Banana Raisin Waffles

Breakfast! My all time favorite. The Brunch section of Vegan with a Vengeance really is spectacular. The Oatmeal Banana Raisin waffles are so good they should be sinful. They seriously are one of the best breakfast foods I have ever made. They are super full of flavor, have one of the best consistencies ever, and smell so good.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (rolled) oats
  • 1 very ripe medium-size banana
  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • Extra sliced bananas (and/or strawberries) for the top
You will first want to preheat the waffle iron. Then, mix together the flour, baking powder and soda, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon. Once this is combined, add in the oats. Separate from this, mash the banana very well so there are no chunks left over. Then, add the soy milk, maple syrup and oil. Add the wet and dry ingredients together, and fold in the raisins. Let the waffle batter sit for about 2 minutes to let the oatmeal get moist and soft. Then – the fun part – make the waffles!
You will fall in love with these right away. They have a slightly chewy texture from the oats and the raisins, and are very filling. They taste awesome even without extra maple syrup on top, especially if you add bananas and strawberries for topping. I tried it with and without syrup, and I honestly think it was better without – they are just that good!

Apple Crisp Pie

More delicious than you could possibly imagine

Saturday night it was beyond cold in the apartment. After sealing all the storm windows and investing in thicker curtains, it was still chilly (putting plastic on the windows is a job lined up already for next weekend), and we are attempting to hold out turning on the heat until at least the start of November.  In an effort to warm the place up, I was in quite a baking mood. With a bag of apples sitting around, I knew I wanted to incorporate them into some kind of dessert, and after seeing the Apple Crisp on my cousin Beth’s blog, I knew instantly that I wanted to make that  as well. It just looked so great, and clearly easy to make vegan by replacing the butter with margarine/Earth Balance. I had my heart set on making apple pie from then on. I had a mental struggle for about two hours as to whether or not I really felt like I had it in me to make a crust that night. After much debate, and recalling the last time I tried to make a while wheat crust (which turned out horrible, dry, and frustrating), I decided to walk to the near by coop and by a pre-made one. I know that it is cheating, but I really wanted to pie and did not want all of the anger of crust-making that night. So after picking up a whole wheat vegan crust, I continued onward.

The first thing I did was slice up the apples and started to make the filling, and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

  • 6 medium apples (I used Gala apples), peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp apple cider
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of maple syrup (depending on how sweet you would like your filling, I only used 1/4)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 – 2 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)

After the apples were peeled and sliced, I boiled them and the 1/2 cup of raisins for about ten minutes, until the apples had just become soft, which also allowed the raisins to plump up a bit. I then drained them both, saving 1/4 of the cup of apple water for the pie mixture.

I then added the 1/4 cup of water, apple cider, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. After mixing this, I then added the cornstarch and flour to thicken up the mixture. When it was all thoroughly combined, I poured it into the pie crust and spread it out evenly.

Then, I started making the topping for the pie, following Beth’s recipe:

  • 2/3 to 2/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I ended up using whole wheat flour yet again)
  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of butter/margarine, softened

I mixed all of the ingredients together, and then began to slowly add in the butter (I used Wegman’s brand spread/margarine) until the mixture was crumbly (in the end I used slightly less than 1/3 of cup). I placed the topping on the apple pie filling, drizzled the smallest amount of maple syrup over the top, and put the pie in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top was golden brown.

First of all, the pie made the apartment smell fantastic. Between the boiled and baking apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, the place smelled like the embodiment of fall. Even after it was done baking, the mere presence of the pie on the kitchen island was fragrant enough to make you want to continuously eat it.

The topping was probably just as good as the pie itself. It was sweet, crunchy, and the sugar in it played well with the apple filling, which on its own was not too sweet. The raisins were delicious in the filling, adding a bit of a chew and sweetness to every bite. The filling turned out perfect: not too dry and not too moist. The crust, while I cannot take credit for it, was great as well.

The ever-tempting pie

If I really wanted to, I could have ate this pie in one sitting. After the first piece, while it was still room, I had to remove myself from the apartment so I would not eat any more. The smell of the pie from our room was so strong that we had to cover it with a plate as to not see or get a delicious scent of it after brushing our teeth before bed. I would say it was one of the better things I have baked in a long time.

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

If fall had a smell, it would be these cookies

The weather turning colder, particularly the nights, really put me in the mood to make a batch of oatmeal cookies. The smell of them always fills the house, and baking helps to make it just slightly bit warmer at night. I threw in some dried cranberries because they were laying around the pantry, and they seemed to embrace the fall spirit better than raisins, at least in my opinion.

Here’s the recipe I concocted (after one batch that turned out too dry!):

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 (or more) tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 -2 tbsp (Depending on consistency) soy milk or water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

First, preheat your oven to 350. Then mix your dry ingredients together thoroughly, and then your wet ingredients. Combine those and mix well, and then gently fold in the cranberries (if you want the cranberries to plump up a little before, soak them in a cup of warm water for about 5 minutes). Roll into inch size balls and place on your silpat (which I love!) or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges just barely start to turn golden brown.

This will make about a dozen or so cookies, depending on how large you make them. These cookies turn out incredibly plump and soft, which is exactly how I like them. They could be the tiniest bit more chewy, but that is easily remedied. My sister tried them and like them as well, which I consider a success. The are just the right amount of sweet, and the cranberries add a nice burst of flavor to the cookie. In reality, they aren’t too bad for you either. I tried to cut down on the sugar and oil, and obviously there is no butter in here either. I would make these again in a second, and I considered it, only to find out I was out of cranberries…

A great start

I cannot help but find cereal one of the most boring ways to start the day. It just seems too cold and impersonal. I never feel energized or ready to conquer the day after eating a bowl – usually just still hungry and unmoved (the only exception being Wegman’s Maple Pecan cereal – that stuff is great). A whole grain bagel with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and a baked apple? Yes, please!

Delicious!

The bagel is a Thomas’ hearty grain 100% whole wheat bagel (because white bread is gross). They are extremely delicious, have 10 grams of protein, and are mildly sweet. There’s also no high fructose corn syrup in them, which I love. I have been making a conscious effort to try and avoid foods which contain it. The baked apple however, is the star of breakfast. The Lexington Coop having AMAZING Crispin apples made it the perfect time to make this.

Baked Apple Breakfast:

  • 1 medium – large Crispin apple
  • 1 1/2 tbsp frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 4-5 dried banana chips
  • brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Then, remove the apple core and hollow the inside of the apple out, leaving around 1/2 inch from the bottom (I ate some of the tasty insides…).  I did it by hand, without a corer, and it can be done! Mix the frozen blueberries with the rolled oats, and then add the banana chips. Coat this mixture with cinnamon, and place inside the hollow apple.  Once the apple is on/in the baking pan, pour your maple syrup over it. If you wish, add a very shallow layer of water to the pan, and this way when juices escape from the apple, you can pour the tasty water over it once it is done cooking in the oven, which should take around 30-40 minutes. Of course, if you are so inclined and do not have hatred for microwaves, these can be placed in a covered bowl and zapped for about 3 to 5 minutes.

The baked apple was so delicious! The rolled oats were somewhat nontraditional, but added a nice chew to the apple. The lack of butter and sugar make it a better breakfast choice than sugar-laden cereals or prepackaged oatmeal. The banana chips softened a lot from both the maple syrup and the moisture from the frozen blueberries, adding yet another level of flavor to the apple. I think the blueberries, banana and apple went together extremely well. The bottom of the apple was so soft and coated in the fruit juice and maple syrup, how could you not love it?

Baking Quest 1!

After staring at the My Sweet Vegan cook book, by Hannah Kaminsky, I decided that I wanted to bake my way through the entire thing. Everything looks absolutely delicious in it, and I have a love for baked goods like you would not believe. Baking is the ultimate stress reliever for me, and who needs retail therapy when you can bake your way to happiness? I realize this will take time and effort, and I am totally fine with that.

I love breakfast. So much. There’s a reason why it is the best and most important meal of the day. In this mindset, I decided to start in the sweet starts section, beginning with the Better Banana Nut Muffin. I followed the directions/ingredients exactly, except for the fact that I made it nut-less. At this point in time I was looking for a muffin without a crunch but that was brimming with bananas, and this was the recipe, as it uses both dried and mashed bananas.

Fresh out of the oven

Everyone in the house loved them, and I even got my father to eat them (he usually will never knowingly eat vegan food)! They truly lasted less than a day, probably because they were the perfect amount of crunchy from the oats, yet soft from the bananas. The addition of the dried bananas really took these muffins to the next level.

While there were some left....

I even ate some for breakfast, and then took one to work with me….

The final one

I would easily make them again. They were not all that time consuming, and they were well worth any invested effort anyhow. Perhaps next time I would even add the nuts, as there is nothing about the recipe I would change now regardless. Better banana muffin? I think so.