Browsing Tag


Chocolate Revel Bars

June 11, 2010

No time for extra words today because after I post these Chocolate Revel Bars, I’ll be heading to a church kitchen a few miles away to spend the day baking. Baking 300 cupcakes and a two tiered wedding cake to be exact. Sure I’ve done this before, it seems that every time wedding season comes around I commit to at least a few weddings, but it never gets any less stressful. 
I play it cool and collected every time. But inside, I’m always freaking out!
I’ll be posting photos of the preparations and the actual event once the craziness of this weekend has begun to subside, but until then these Chocolate Revel Bars will have to do. And boy are they something. Everyone who has ever been to a church potluck in my neck of the woods has most likely eaten their fair share of these bars. 
Maybe it’s because they’re easy, or because they are delicious, or because they go well with milk and mix creamy chocolate filling with the crunch of an oatmeal cookie. Whatever the reason, they are pretty darn irresistible.
Chocolate Revel Bars
Recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens 
(Printable Recipe)
*1 cup butter, softened 
*2 cups packed brown sugar 
*1 teaspoon baking soda 
*2 eggs 
*2 teaspoons vanilla 
*2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
*3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats 
*1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces 
*1 14-ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk 
*1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 
*2 teaspoons vanilla 
1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the butter. In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the rolled oats.
2. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the reserved 2 tablespoons butter, the chocolate pieces, and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in the nuts and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
3. Press two-thirds (about 3 1/3 cups) of the rolled oats mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan or a 13×9-inch baking pan. Spread filling evenly over the oats mixture. Dot remaining rolled oats mixture on filling (see photo, below).
4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned (chocolate filling will still look moist). Cool pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. 
Happy Baking!

Pecan-Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

May 11, 2010

I am what you might consider one of those annoying people who likes getting up early, with the exception of some Saturday mornings when I sleep in until (gasp!) eight or nine, I’m usually up and at it around seven. And being a morning person, there is nothing I love more than a good breakfast or morning ritual. Sure, I have my own morning rituals at home, but it’s when I am up in Minneapolis/St. Paul visiting J. and my best friend, Emily, among others, that I take part in my favorite morning ritual of all – breakfast at The Good Earth.

Being a creature of habit, I order the same thing every time – ten grain hotcakes served with a side of peanut butter. And despite my best efforts, I have yet to find something similar here in Des Moines, or anywhere else for that matter. They are crunchy, dense, and fulfilling in a way regular pancakes could only dream of being, and while these pecan-cinnamon oatmeal pancakes aren’t a replacement for my ten grain hotcakes, they certainly are a step in the very-right direction.

This past weekend my mom commented on how much she loves pancakes, and thanks to the very timely Deb of The Smitten Kitchen, who posted a recipe for oatmeal pancakes just last week, I felt eager to put my own twist on the recipe for Mother’s Day breakfast. These little hotcakes are pure gold. Despite being made with whole wheat flour and oatmeal, they don’t seem overly dense, just enough to fill you up for hours to come, and the cinnamon, vanilla, and pecan flavors mask their underlying healthfulness. “Gosh these are filling,” said my mom. “You should let your readers know that they probably won’t be able to eat more than one!”

 My mom captured this candid moment, for those of you who ever wonder 
what blogging looks like behind the scenes at my apartment.

Pecan Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Deb of The Smitten Kitchen via Good to the Grain cookbook
*3/4 cup oat flour (you can make this by pulsing rolled oats into a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground; 1 cup of oats yielded 3/4 cup oat flour for me)
*1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat)
*2 tablespoons sugar
*2 teaspoon baking powder
*3/4 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra for the pan)
*1 1/4 cups whole milk
*1 cup cooked oatmeal (To make: 1/2 cup uncooked, microwaved for 2 minutes with 1 cup water)
*2 large eggs
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1 cup chopped pecans
(Fruit preserves or maple syrup, if desired) 

*Whisk the dry ingredients (oat flour, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) together in a large bowl.
*In a smaller bowl, whisk the butter, milk, cooked oatmeal, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon together until well combined.
*Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. It is okay, even good, if the batter is slightly lumpy.
*Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Lower to medium-low. (This helps pancakes cook evenly and avoid burning) Rub the pan generously with butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
*Working quickly, dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Sprinkle batter with some of the chopped pecans. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancake, flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total. Wipe the pan with a cloth before cooking the next pancake. Continue with the rest of the batter.
*Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet or keep them warm in a low oven. We also found these to reheat surprisingly well the next morning, again in a low oven.

Happy Cooking!


Peanut Butter and Jelly Oats

November 8, 2009

We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather here in Iowa. It’s November and today warmed into a lovely, sunny, 74 degree day. Winter can stay at bay for at least another month as far as I’m concerned, which is probably wishful thinking, but a girl can hope, right?

Happy weather calls for even happier food. Familiar favorites that make you smile and want to linger at the table for just a few more minutes. Since breakfast is my ‘stay-and-linger’ meal of choice, there’s no better meal than Peanut Butter and Jelly Oats, for breakfast, or any time of the day.

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup water
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon jelly or jam (I used red raspberry)
Walnuts or pecans (optional)

*Mix together oats and water. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stirring at 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir in peanut butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Top with jelly and nuts.

Happy cooking!


Steel Cut Oats

September 9, 2009

This post, due to a crazy schedule, will be a bit shorter than most, but I wanted to take time to pay tribute to my mom’s favorite breakfast food. While not a blogger herself, she did seem to think she should have input into the editorial content of THIS blog. Photo credits on this post even go to her, because in her enthusiasm for me to post about her beloved steel cut oatmeal, she took photos of her own breakfast.

Now, as a disclaimer on my end, I am not a huge consumer of steel cut oatmeal. Not because I have any complaints about flavor or texture, in fact I enjoy both quite a bit, but because of the time it takes to make them properly. When I reach for a bowl of oatmeal, it’s usually the regular rolled oats, made in the microwave. But when I am home, my mom always seems to have a pot of steel cut oatmeal on the stove, usually enough for leftovers as well. In my opinion, that’s they only way to make them because they take about 30 minutes of stovetop cooking before they are ready, and leftovers save time on busy days.

What makes this particular version different than other types of oats, like quick cooking or rolled oats, is the taste and texture. In my estimation, it’s a texture much closer to cooked barley than traditional oatmeal. Hearty and with a bit of a crunch, it makes a small amount of oatmeal somehow feel like more. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the taste. When you cook steel cut oats, it’s often recommended that a bit of salt is added. This gives them an undeniably delicious nutty flavor.

My favorite traditional way to eat oatmeal of any time is to cook up a serving, about 1/2 cup dry, and once cooked, add in a teaspoon of brown sugar, a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, a splash of milk, and a tablespoon of peanut butter (preferably the natural kind). The peanut butter is your secret weapon to creamy and delicious oatmeal every time.

While traditionalists may argue that sweet is the only way to go, I would contend that steel cut oats make a perfect platform for a savory breakfast as well. Add in a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese, some chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil, a dash of salt, and a touch of butter and you have the perfect dish to serve with bacon, sausage, or eggs. I wouldn’t recommend this version for regular oats. Something about the texture would just seem wrong, but that’s the beauty of nutty steel cut oats.

Here’s to breakfast any time of the day!


Cinnamon Spiced Oatmeal Pancakes

September 4, 2009

More often than not, the best recipe ideas come to me when I am laying in bed, waiting to fall asleep. The longer it takes, the more developed the recipes become. Sometimes the excitement over my new idea, usually a breakfast item because of its proximity to waking up, becomes so great that falling asleep becomes a challenge. Of course this leaves me too tired the next day to get much done, let alone have the motivation to cook something new for breakfast. Not even coffee has the power to overcome my sleepy state.

But of course, I am not writing to tell you about my sleeping habits, but rather, Cinnamon Spiced Oatmeal Pancakes. They were the product of one such sleep-deprived night and a couple of days of thinking while sitting in class.

Every now and again I enjoy a good stack of pancakes….as long as I don’t have to wear anything besides sweat pants the rest of the day! Usually the caloric crater they put in my day is enough to keep me away for a couple of months at a time. But when that craving strikes for days upon days, it’s hard to set aside. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to take healthier grains, like rolled oats and whole wheat flour, and make a pancake that tastes just as good, if not better, than the original. Mission accomplished!

Don’t let this picture fool you, they really are to die for. It was about half way through them that I finally remembered to take a photo to share with you all, which is why my fork decided to make a starring role in this picture.

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (all-purpose will also work)
2 tsp. baking powder

*Mix together the oats and water. Microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, until oats start to boil over. Remove from microwave and transfer to large mixing bowl.

*Meanwhile, heat large skillet or electric skillet to medium heat. While skillet is heating, add remaining ingredients to cooked oats and stir well.

*Grease skillet with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Drop oat mixture by half cups onto greased skillet (mixture will be thick, you may want to spread it slightly with a spatula). Cook 3-4 minutes. Gently loosen pancakes and flip. Cook 3-4 minutes on opposite side. Transfer to a serving platter and cook remaining batter. Yields 6-8 depending on how big you make them.

Since we didn’t have syrup, I topped mine with a few teaspoons of blackberry preserves and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Any jam, syrup, or fruit chutney would be delicious!


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