Friday, February 24, 2012

New Twist On An Old Favorite

I try to eat a healthy breakfast every work day and that includes a bowl of oatmeal at least three times a week.  My go to oatmeal is another Bob's Red Mill product from here in Oregon called 5 Grain Cereal. It is a wonderful combination of oats and other grains that makes a delicious hot cereal. 
If I think ahead the night before, I put 1/2 cup of cereal combined with 1 cup of skim milk to soak overnight in the fridge, then microwave in the morning with a handful of raisins or dried cranberries.  This makes a soft and luscious oatmeal.  Another variation I share with you today is something I recently discovered, chocolate oatmeal.  It takes oatmeal to a whole other level with very little additional calories.  With a few slices of bananas or just by itself, this is like eating dessert for breakfast.  I don't cook this with milk, just water and add a splash of milk after it's cooked.  If you remember enjoying Chocolate Malt-O-Meal as a kid, you will certainly enjoy this.

Chocolate Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashion oats
1 cup water
1 dash salt
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
Sugar or honey to taste

Combine oats, water and salt and stir. Microwave for 5 minutes.  Stir in cocoa and sugar.  Add a splash of milk if desired.  Enjoy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black Bottom Pie

A few weeks ago I made the most delicious fried chicken from Bon Appetit magazine which had an article celebrating The South and some of its iconic dishes.  Included with the recipe for the chicken was this equally fine recipe for another Southern classic, Black Bottom Pie.  It is basically a pudding pie, but oh so much more with both a chocolate and a decadent vanilla layer and the addition of mascarpone cheese. 

The original recipe called for a gingersnap crumb crust, but after discussing my dessert idea with The Husband, he felt that nothing would work but a chocolate crumb crust.  Since we'd already done our shopping and were on the way home, I pulled over to yet another store and off he trotted in to pick up some chocolate cookies.  A few minutes later he returned with something new and wonderful, chocolate graham crackers.  Who knew they made such a thing?  Like their paler cousins, original graham crackers, these chocolate ones made a perfect crust.  It's a delicious pie and something that will definitely be in my dessert rotation when I need to whip up something out of the ordinary.

P.S.  Recently my fried chicken was published on the Bon Appetit Magazine Blog as one of the best five readers Cook The Cover entries.  Here is the link if you're interested.   Bon Appetit Blog.  My entry is picture four of the five.

Black Bottom Pie
Chocolate Crumb Crust

6 ounces chocolate graham crackers (about 1 package) or 24 chocolate wafer cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon heavy cream


1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup mascarpone
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup hot espresso or strong coffee


1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
Grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

A 9"-diameter glass or ceramic pie dish
Prepare Crust
Preheat oven to 350°. Pulse cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Drizzle in butter and cream; pulse until well blended. Pour into prepared dish. Use the bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of dish. Bake until crust is set, 12–15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack; set aside.

Prepare Custard

Pour 2 Tbsp. water into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Heat milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until mixture just comes to a simmer.

Whisk egg yolks and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk egg mixture into milk mixture; whisk in gelatin. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until thick, about 5 minutes.

Remove vanilla custard from heat and stir in mascarpone. Place 1 cup custard in a medium bowl; add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in espresso. Pour chocolate custard into crust; smooth top. Chill pie until set, about 30 minutes. Let vanilla custard stand at room temperature.

Gently pour remaining vanilla custard over chilled chocolate layer (pour slowly so as not to disturb chocolate layer). Smooth top; chill until set, about 1 hour, or keep covered up to 1 day.

Using an electric mixer at medium-low speed, beat cream and sugar in a medium bowl until cream begins to thicken. Add rum and vanilla; increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream over custard. Dust with cocoa powder and garnish with grated chocolate and almonds. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill uncovered.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Back To The Well

So sorry. I know I just recently blogged about Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix but I must share the yummy chili I made on Super Bowl Sunday with this same product.  Following the recipe on the back of the bag, it was just about the most perfect bowl of chili to be had. 

Personally I had previously been of the chili con carne made with chunks of beef school. After making this though, I have been converted to the ground beef method.  I did make a few tweeks to the recipe such as adding ground cumin and cayenne pepper and increasing the amount of chili powder called for.  I also added one can of fire roasted diced tomatoes in place of one can of tomato sauce.  Below is the recipe with my adjustments.  It's a fine all around bowl of chili!
13 Bean Chili

1 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix
1 lb. ground beef
1 chopped medium onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 8 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Soak the beans overnight in cold water.  Drain and cover with water and simmer until tender (about 3 hours). 

Brown ground beef and drain off fat.

In a large pan add all of the ingredients together and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Garnish with chopped onions, shredded cheese, sour cream.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Treasured Gift

Over the holidays I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends who also happens to be one of my devoted "fans" of this blog.  Janet and I lived in the same apartment building in the big city of Seattle along with a couple of other 20-somethings in the early '80s. A few of us also worked in a big hospital together so we had that in common also.  It was always an adventure and very much an extension of the college dorm life I had recently left behind and still missed.
Unlike me, Janet had amazing homemaking skills. She kept her apartment immaculate, had a great flare for decorating, and was terribly crafty. She still has all of those skills and then some.  As an amazing gift for me this Christmas she made me the colorful quilted shawl in honor of my Pie-O-My blog.  I can't even imagine how people can sit in front of a sewing machine and create things. It makes my tummy hurt just thinking about it (bad home economics experience!) She is a truly talented quilter.  I am so touched by this gift and my dear friend's thoughtfulness.
Today I am sharing a much loved recipe Janet gave me in those early Seattle days for Banana Chocolate Chip Cake.  I have revised it over the years and no longer add chocolate as I am a purest when it comes to banana bread.  It is a tried and true recipe that never fails to please those who try it.  Today I baked them in three mini-loaves so I could share them with others.  I only wish I could run upstairs at the Cassel Crag Apts. right now, knock on my friend's door and share a loaf with her. Thanks Janet!!

(P.S. Photo credits to The Husband for the quilt pictures)

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed, ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 1-oz milk chocolate bars, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, cream butter/margarine with sugar.  Beat in the eggs, then the vanilla and mashed bananas.  Sift in the flour, salt and baking soda.  Beat into the banana mixture, then stir in the chocolate.  Turn batter into a greased and floured 9x5 loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.  Cool on a rack.  (If using mini-loaf pans, cook for 30 min.)