Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banana-Cran-Almond Baked Oats

Can I confess something?  I suck at making oatmeal.  I have no patience when it's time for breakfast so I go the microwave route for oats and it ends up overflowing and making a huge mess.  So I throw it away and have cereal or toast in the end anyways.

However, one of my favorite Iowa bloggers has a plethora of baked oatmeal recipes on her site.  I took a few notes from this recipe and doubled it - because if I’m spending this much time making breakfast, it had better last for a couple meals.

I also suck at eating bananas in time for the still-partly-green form that I prefer, so it gave me an excuse to use a couple of these guys:


  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (a.k.a. old-fashioned oats)
  • 2/3 cup milk (any kind… I used 1%)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • handful dried cranberries
  • dash vanilla extract
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash salt
For the topping:
  •  handful sliced almonds
  • sprinkle brown sugar

Turn the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together the first ingredients, through the salt.  At this point I was a little nervous because it seemed like way too much liquid:

Pop it in the oven for 25 minutes (without the topping at this point).  When you take it out after 25 minutes, it will be set up a little better so you can put the topping on.   Look what my brown sugar looked like when I took it out of the box!

I just bought it the other day.  The dry Nevada air must have gotten to it.  Per the instructions on the box, I wrapped the sugar brick in a damp paper towel, stuck it in a paper bag and microwaved it for 2 minutes.  It was scorching hot but crumbled easily at that point.  5 more minutes under the broiler and my oats looked like this:


In conclusion, I still suck at cooking oats.  Maybe I’ll buy a torch for my next stab at brulee.  Refusing to throw away my hard-earned oats, I scraped off the burnt parts and can happily report that what lies beneath was still delicious:

Rated:  fail - redeemed!

An Introduction

It seems blasphemous to be eating Velveeta Shells & Cheese on the evening that this endeavor first reared its head, but it’s all we have here at 4 in the morning.  I work best at the most spontaneous, ridiculous hours of the day (night, too).  So here we are: me and my food blog. 

Trials and Tribulations of the Uprooted Cook

I've been crafting my own food adventures since I was tall enough to reach the counter - prior to that, relinquished to banging on pots and pans on the kitchen floor (and still once in a blue moon).  I want this blog to be a place to start keeping track of some of those inventions - I ran out of room in my recipe box a long time ago. I remember adding a couple veggies to my mom’s Hamburger Helper to give it more volume and make it (by southern Iowa standards) healthy, years later creating the whole shebang from scratch.   It’s not as hard as it sounds.  I’ve found that cooking from whole, fresh ingredients and trying new food experiments is rewarding in and of itself.  I’m not much a writer, but I hope that my passion for improvisation comes through somehow. 

Of course, no single recipe could ever be the best for everyone.  Half of the fun is in trying new things and being comfortable with creativity in the kitchen.  I’m a bit of a kitchen sink cook anyways, i.e. “everything but the kitchen sink” may go in a recipe depending what’s on hand that day.  I'll try to include some of the substitutions and variations I think of along with the recipes, in case anyone is playing along at home.

I draw inspiration from a shelf full of cookbooks, my grandmas’ recipes, friends, Mom’s recipes, friends of friends, magazines, moms and grandmas of friends, largely... the internet.  Such a vast source of mostly useless ideas, but if you have the patience to sift through it – it’s a gold mine. 

Before we go too far, let me give you a little background. 

Boyfriend and I uprooted ourselves to Nevada, he working toward his doctorate, and me along for the ride.  He and our housemate eat largely pescatarian diets.  An Iowa girl myself (read: meat and potatoes at most every meal), I conformed to make tasty meals for two not-particularly-picky eaters (besides the vegetarian thing) and myself.  Never before had I eaten tofu, had I gone weeks on end without beef, had I eaten rice noodles…   Every new meal is an adventure and I love that, and I want to share that.  There’s so much tasty food to be had.

Accountant by day, creative cook by night.  These are my trials and tribulations.