Baking with steel-cut oats, two ways

Strawberry steel-cut oatmeal muffins

Steel-cut oats are a revelation. They’re like super-duper power oatmeal. And apparently, they’re even more nutritious than rolled oats. They take a little longer to cook, but on the bright side, they make fantastic leftovers (as do regular rolled oats, in fact, when baked), so you can make a big batch and easily enjoy until it runs out.

Yesterday morning, I consulted my copy of Not Your Mother’s Casserole, and then mixed some steel-cut oats with milk and salt in a baking dish, let sit in the fridge all day while I was at work, then popped in the oven for about 35 minutes after I got home. I then let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to finish thickening up (it comes out a bit soupy at first), then served with some chopped-up veggie bacon and a poached egg. Healthy breakfast for dinner! And I now have basic cooked oats to enjoy for a few more days.

I was on a roll, so I decided to make a Bay Area Bites recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for awhile: Low-fat Steel-Cut Oat Muffins with Cherry Jam Inside. The results are not big, fluffy traditional muffins – they’re more like sweet mini oatmeal cakes. Perfect as a healthy snack between meals, with coffee or tea. I only had strawberry jam, however, so here’s what I ended up with:

Strawberry Steel-Cut Oatmeal Muffins
adapted from Bay Area Bites

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats, cooked
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice – let mixture stand for 10 minutes for using)
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam (any fruit jam will work – I just happened to have Trader Joe’s reduced-sugar strawberry jam on hand)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the first five ingredients in a medium bowl (flour through salt). Using a food processor or just your fingers, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes pebbly butter flour.

Pour the mixture from the food processor back into the first bowl, and gently mix in the cooked oats with a wooden spoon until incorporated.

Beat your egg in with your buttermilk/milk in a separate bowl, then add to the flour/oat mixture and stir it all together.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin (or any muffin tin – just know that this recipe should yield 12 muffins) with cooking spray. Spoon batter evenly into each cup.

Make a teaspoon-sized hole in the top of each cup of muffin batter, and spoon 1 teaspoon of jam into each hole. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Note: my muffins didn’t turn as brown as I expected, so they didn’t look done to me at first – I may have overcooked them by about 5 minutes. Be sure to check the muffins right at the 20 minute mark, or even before that, depending on the state of your oven (mine tends to take longer to bake things).

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Whole Wheat English Muffins

I love English muffins. I eat them quite often. Usually toasted, with a poached egg on top. Or maybe some strawberry jam. They freeze and defrost easily. I have my favorite kind at Trader Joe’s. These are all good things.

I subscribe to FoodPress, a WordPress subsidiary that features various recipes and photos as posted on WordPress (since there happen to be a lot of food-related blogs hosted on WP). A recipe for Homemade English Muffins made with (mostly) whole wheat flour popped up in my Reader one day, and I just had to try it.

The end result was really, really good. Great, in fact. I ended up with 19 muffins (as opposed to 10-12, as noted in the above recipe) – I’m guessing my English muffin rounds were a bit smaller than Channeling Contessa’s, or my dough rose more/differently, or whatever. Either way, I can’t argue with extra English muffins.

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Almond-cranberry granola

Adapted (once again) from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. So tasty with plain yogurt.

Almond-cranberry granola

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4-1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I ground up 2-3 tablespoons of whole seeds in my coffee grinder)
1 cup whole or chopped almonds
4 tablespoons almond butter (I used the natural kind from Trader Joe’s)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 – 1 cup dried cranberries (I used unsweetened)

Mix together oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, and almonds in a big bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up the almond butter, oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar over medium-high heat until all melted together. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. Spread into a large baking sheet or glass pan coated in cooking spray (I used a glass pan – easier to stir and transport into tupperware afterward) and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until toasty and dry, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time (when there’s about 5 or so minutes left), stir in cranberries. Store in tightly lidded containers.

Granola as a new obsession

Granola

Granola gets a bad rap … because the stuff you buy at the store is full of oil and sweeteners and preservatives and sugar-crusted dried fruit. Even the organic/all natural kinds tend to have a lot of oil and sugar.

But when you make your own, the granola can have as much healthy and unhealthy stuff as you please. And either way, it will be delicious, cheap (especially if you buy from bulk bins), and will last you at least a week, if not two. I didn’t have the time to make granola at home this past Sunday night and craved it all day Monday.

The concoction I’m munching on right now (with plain organic yogurt) is “no fail granola” from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. The recipe provides a handful of suggestions of what to include with the standard rolled oats, flax seeds and wheat germ – I chose raw almonds, sunflower seeds and a mixture of unsweetened dried apples and cranberries. I also chose real maple syrup as my sweetener and substituted applesauce for the vegetable oil (adding less than a tablespoon of oil, since the mixture wasn’t quite wet enough).

The result is lightly sweet, satisfyingly crunchy and quite filling. For reference, I’ve pasted the recipe fromEverybody Likes Sandwiches below, but everyone should check out her various granola recipes, since they all look delicious.

“No Fail Granola”

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds

Plus 3 cups of any of the following as you choose (I chose almonds, sunflower seeds, and 1/2 cup each of cranberries and apples):

Walnuts
Almonds
Sunflower Seeds
Hazelnuts
Sesame Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Grated Coconut
Raisins
Dried Cranberries
Dried Cherries
Dried Apricots
Dried Apples

Mix all of the grains and nuts together and add spice (I used cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and mace, since I didn’t have cardamom):

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

In a large measuring cup, mix together the following:

1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup sweetener (honey, brown sugar, molasses, or maple syrup – I used maple syrup)

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well with a wooden spoon until everything is well coated.  Add a little bit of vegetable oil if necessary. Pour onto a cookie sheet or large rectangular pan coated with cooking spray and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so until mostly dry. Remove and cool, then store in tight lidded container(s).