Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cream Pies


I’m a big fan of oatmeal cream pies. Always have been. Growing up, I got the famous Little Debbie snack maybe once every few years. I would always ask for them at the grocery store, but my mom was never one to buy cookies – if my family got baked cookies, they were always homemade.

And now I understand why… I mean, have you ever read the list of ingredients on the back of a Little Debbie box?

But that doesn’t stop my occasional craving for them! So instead of buying a box, I take the time to make my own! And I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like them.

This treat consists of two chewy and buttery oatmeal cookies sandwiched with a creamier version of my favorite buttercream frosting!

And since it’s fall, I decided to make these cookies festive and fill them with a pumpkin buttercream! Mmmm in my opinion, everything is better with pumpkin!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cream Pies
Yield: Makes about 10 cream pies

For the Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 and 2/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (258.75 grams)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Pumpkin Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Directions
For the Oatmeal Cookies
  1. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In another bowl, cream the brown sugar and butter.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract until to the bowl and mix until well-combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – do not overmix.
  5. Chill the dough for at least one hour (or up to 1 day) in the refrigerator. Cookies will be very flat if the dough is not cold -- so don't skip this step.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll 2 teaspoons of dough into a ball and place onto prepared sheet. 
  7. Bake for 8 minutes and let cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack.
For the Pumpkin Buttercream
  1. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the buttercream.
  2. Beat the softened butter for 2 minutes.
  3. Add pumpkin puree and beat again.
  4. Add pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract and mix again.
  5. Slowly add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. You can always add more powdered sugar to the buttercream if it is not firm enough.
Assembly
  1. Spread a generous amount of pumpkin buttercream to the underside of a cooled cookie.
  2. Sandwich another cookie on top.
  3. Store cookie in airtight container in refrigerator.
Oatmeal cookie recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.




Friday, September 25, 2015

Celebrate National Breakfast Month with Overnight Oats


September is National Breakfast month! By now, everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it sets the tone for how you’ll feel and the food choices you make the rest of the day.

And I really think there’s truth to that!

Personally, when I don’t eat breakfast I get a headache, and I can’t concentrate. But I know a lot of people feel like they don’t have enough time in the morning to make breakfast. And then sit down to eat it.

So I’m going to focus this post on “make-ahead breakfasts!” Make your breakfast several days ahead of time and have your breakfast ready for the entire work week!







First off, the latest internet sensation – overnight oats!

I love eating oatmeal for breakfast. I grew up with my mom making me homemade oatmeal on the stove every morning before I went off to school (and even now when I visit home).  It’s kind of like breakfast comfort food – warm and filling.

But a lot of people don’t set out time in the morning to make oats over the stove. And that’s okay because you can get the same creamy results with “overnight oats.”

Overnight oats are simply oats that have been soaked in milk overnight. Once again, the purpose of soaking them overnight is to achieve the same creamy results that you get when you cook them low and slow over the stove.

You might be saying, “Hey Kylee, why don’t you jut make instant oatmeal?” Well first of all, no instant oatmeal will ever taste as good as homemade oatmeal. And secondly, when you make the oatmeal yourself, you can control everything that goes in it. You can make it gluten-free, you can make it sugar-free, you can make it nut free… you get the picture.

Also the cute little mason jars are easily portable, and they heat up well in the microwave (you must take off the lid of course!)

Since overnight oats are easily customizable, I’m going to list the essential ingredients and steps as well as add-in possibilities.

Step 1: Pour your oats and liquid into a jar. Your oats to liquid ratio should be 1:2. I typically use 1/4 cup quick oats and 1/2 cup skim milk. But you can really use any liquid – dairy milk, almond milk, soy milk, yogurt, or juice.

Step 2: Stir in your favorite flavor combinations and sweetener. If I’m keeping it simple, I just add 1 teaspoon Splenda and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. I also like to add a tablespoon of raisins or craisins or other dried fruit. And fresh fruit is especially good – add half a banana or apple or 1/4 cup blueberries or strawberries or even some pineapple! Also, chia seeds and flax seeds are a great, healthy addition to your oats.

Step 3: Cover your jar and let sit in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 3 hours).

Step 4: In the morning, open the jar and stir oats. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute (technically, you can eat them cold, but I prefer to heat them up). Top with more fresh fruit or any crunchy stuff you might want – like granola, pecans, walnuts, or almonds.

TIP: Make several of these on Sunday so they’ll be ready to go throughout the workweek. They keep for up to 5 days.

Since it is officially fall, I thought I’d share my recipe for pumpkin overnight oats!

Pumpkin Overnight Oats
Serves: 1

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin granola
Instructions
  1. In an 8-ounce size mason jar combine milk, oats, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and maple syrup.
  2. Mix until completely combined.
  3. Put lid on mason jar and store in refrigerator overnight.
  4. Stir and heat in microwave for 1 minute.
  5. Add granola on top and enjoy!


If you’re not an oatmeal fan but you still want to try out some healthy make-ahead breakfasts, here are three other options!







Monday, September 14, 2015

The science behind the best guacamole ever


Why is guacamole the best thing ever? Seriously, smother that stuff on anything and I would eat it.

Heck, I would even use guacamole as a face mask – annnnnd then eat chips off my face.

I think a big part of what makes guacamole so delicious is all the fresh ingredients that go into it. There’s nothing processed about it – just straight from the good earth ingredients.

Guacamole is really easy to make. But I do have a few tips for taking it from “delicious” to “holy cow I can’t imagine life without this.”



  • First of all, it is important to know that all avocados are NOT created equal. When making guacamole, you must use HAAS avocados. Haas avocados are small avocados with dark, pebbly skins. You may also see another variety of avocados at the grocery store called Florida avocados. Florida avocados are much larger than the haas variety, But DO NOT buy them. Florida avocados are very watery and bland, and they do not make for good guacamole.
  • Secondly, it’s important to use ripe avocados. The avocado should “give” a little when you press it in your hand, and when you peel back the small stem cap at the top the rind underneath should be green. If it’s brown, it’s too ripe. If it doesn’t pull away easily, it’s not ripe enough.
  • Also, you need an acid in your guacamole like lemon juice or lime juice. The acid helps cut through the fattiness of the fruit and makes it creamier.
  • Adding a little bit of spice (courtesy of a fresh jalapeño pepper) really gives your guacamole a flavor boost. Even if you don’t like spicy foods, it’s necessary to at least add 1/4 of a pepper – seeds and all.
  • Cilantro haters, this guacamole isn’t for you. Fresh herbs are 100% necessary for making superior guacamole. You just need a little bit!
  • Don’t over mix your guacamole. Just mix it enough so everything has been combined. One of the best parts of guacamole is all the different textures, and if you over mix it you’ll miss out on that.
  • And lastly, don’t let your guacamole turn brown. Just don’t do it! So this is the issue – the avocado is the guacamole turns brown when it’s exposed to oxygen. So in order to prevent it from turning brown, you need to cut off it’s oxygen supply. I’ve tried a lot of tricks, but this is the best one: first, press a layer of plastic wrap onto the top of your guacamole container. Then add a half-inch of water on top of the guacamole before putting it in the fridge.  The water won't soak in. So when you're ready to eat your guacamole, just pour off the water and remove the plastic wrap. It'll stay green for quite a while that way!

Now that you’re prepared with the science of making the best guacamole, it’s time to get straight to the point and eat it!

Best Guacamole Recipe Ever 
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 jalapeño, including seeds and finely chopped
Directions
  1. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits
  2. Scoop the flesh of the avocados out of the rind and place in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour lime juice and salt in bowl with avocados.
  4. Mash it all together until just combined (don’t over mix!)
  5. Fold in the red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño and mix well.
  6. Taste the guacamole and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Recipe adapted from Chipotle



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Berry Banana Oat Bars


Fun fact about me: I have a very high heat tolerance. So in the summer I generally don’t turn my air on because I’m completely comfortable in an 82-degree apartment. Seriously.

Unfortunately, the bananas I buy do not feel the same way. I’ve noticed they become overripe significantly faster in the hotter environment.

So I have to get creative with using up my overripe bananas so they don’t go to waste!

As you may recall, I’ve posted recipes on my blog before that use up mushy bananas.

Have you seen my Three-Ingredient Banana Pancake recipe? No flour – just banana and egg.

And my favorite Two-Ingredient Cookies are just banana and oats.

Well these Berry Banana Oat Bars incorporate the same concept – just bananas, oats, a little honey, and spices.

Top the bars with fresh or frozen berries and they become sweet enough to be dessert, but they’re also wholesome enough to be breakfast.

In fact, I’ve eaten these for breakfast the past two weeks.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I suggest storing these bars in the refrigerator because if you leave them on the counter in an 82-degree apartment they will start to mold.

Berry Banana Oat Bars
Yield: Makes about 16 bars

Ingredients
For berry topping
  • 2 cups blueberries, finely minced strawberries, or other berry assortment (You can use frozen, but you must thaw first)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
For banana oat bars
  • 2 cups uncooked quick oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
 Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine berries with 1 tablespoon honey and lemon juice. Toss with a spoon until well combined. Set mixture aside.
  3. Combine quick oats with mashed banana, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and honey in medium-sized bowl. Mix until well-combined.
  4. Line an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  5. Add the banana-oat mixture to the dish and press down so it’s compact and forms a crust.
  6. Add the berry mixture on top of the banana-oat mixture and spread so it’s in a single layer.
  7. Bake the bars for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove and cool before cutting them into bars.






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