“Quick” Steel Cut Oats

maple flavor and brown sugar

oatmeal with roasted walnuts

Quick steel cut oats? Sounds like a contradiction, right? I’ve found a painless way to have the best, yummiest oats in just a minute.
But you have to think about it the night before. Well, more than just thinking. A little bit of effort is required. Very little, I promise.

precooked oats

Why steel cut oats? In taste tests people seem to prefer their chewy texture. Even over old fashioned oats. Certainly over “quick oats” which I use only when I’m using oats raw, as in my peanut butter balls or no bake chocolate cookies.

Don’t get me started about “instant oats” which I consider pretend food. Honestly they look and taste more like food that someone has already chewed up and spit out. (Gross Clare!)

Easy to find

Steel cut oats are the natural oats before they have been flattened. Where can you find them? In grocery stores they are with the regular oats but they may be sold in bags. Health food stores may also have them available to measure out and weigh in whatever portion you like. But they are easy to find.

Ingredients for 4-6 servings of Steel Cut Oats
1 cup dry oats
4 cups water
1/8 tsp salt
maple or vanilla extract – optional but use one!

Bring the water and salt to a boil.
Add the oats. Stir and boil for two minutes.
Make sure they don’t boil over.
Turn off the stove top and leave the oats on the burner.
Add Maple extract.
Cover and leave overnight.

Splash of milk or cream

In the morning the oats will be done. If you want one serving, dish it up, put the bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute and you’re ready.

Oatmeal Garnish Options
Roasted walnuts (dry roast on a cookie sheet for 8 – 10 min at 325 degrees.) I keep a bag in the fridge ready.
Roasted pecans or almonds.
Blueberries, or strawberries
Brown sugar, honey, agave nectar or maple syrup
Splash of half and half or milk
Sprinkle of granola for texture. Check out my recipe for granola.

OK – so what if you are reading this in the morning and you want oatmeal for breakfast? Just let them cook 30 – 40 min on the stove and enjoy.

The most delicious oats with not a hint of wallpaper paste. Chewy, rich and – did I mention healthy? That’s a side benefit. Don’t tell the kids. They’ll never know.

Secrets of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are one of those veggies we’re supposed to squeeze into our diet at least one day a week. Right between the cookies and the chocolate.
I used to just steam Brussels sprouts for a few minutes and call it good. Then I started roasting them with onions and adding other flavors and I liked that. I’ve also had great luck sautéing them. The problem was there was often a bitter after taste.

So I’ve added a step and the results have been remarkable. It turns out that if you boil them just for two minutes before you sauté or roast them, it takes away that bitterness. Trust me! I learned it from Martha Stewart’s cooking show. I’ve been watching her every Saturday morning on public television as she instructs on everything from making your own fortune cookies to tackling tricky vegetables.

These Brussels sprouts make a great side dish and really are delicious.

1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 onion cut into chunks
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

sprouts and onions

Directions for fabulous Brussels sprouts
First cut off the stems of a pound of Brussels sprouts and then cut them in half – stem to stern.
Boil a pan full of water and plunge the sprouts (and leaves that have fallen off) into the boiling water for 2 minutes. Set the timer.
Take them off the heat and drain the Brussels sprouts.
Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sized frying pan.
Cut 1/2 of an onion into chunks.
Put the onions into the hot oil and cook until they wilt – 2-4 minutes.
Add the Brussels sprouts, and sprinkle with garlic salt.
Add 1 TBS of balsamic vinegar.
Sautee 1-2 minutes and you are done. Serve ‘em up!

Guilt free. But don’t expect me to remember how to make that ice cream cone.

Facial Recipe for Beautiful Skin

My sisters and parents

My Mother turns 85 next week and I think we are all feeling sentimental. This recipe is a throwback to my teen years.

I mixed a tablespoon of baking soda in my shampoo this morning and LOVED how clean my hair felt – once I washed it all out. A bit gritty going in, but as it rinsed out, I heard the squeaky clean sound. Bliss.
I got the idea from a Dr. Oz rerun about uses for baking soda. Great idea.
It also reminded me that we used to use a few tablespoons of vinegar in a cup of water as the final rinse for our hair. But that left a faint vinegar smell. The baking soda did not. It may keep flies away in the summer, but few of us really want to catch a whiff of vinegar when we shake our locks.

My mother used very few store bought cleaning products. Vinegar was used to clean the windows, bathroom and the carpet after a puppy “mess.” p.u.
Ammonia was the preferred cleanser for floors. We bleached the kitchen sinks, being careful never to let ammonia and bleach meet, as they will explode.

We also had our own recipe for a facial…to clean our pores and refresh our complexions. At least we thought it did the job. If several of us were home on a Saturday night, we gave each other make-overs and facials. There were (are) eight of us sisters, so plenty of estrogen to go around. (My father always said he felt as if he was living in a convent.)

Get a buddy and try this facial. It makes enough for two or three, but it doesn’t keep well, so use it up right away.

Ingredients for Facial
1 egg white
1/2 cup quick oats
1 tsp honey

Beat the egg white until firm.
Add the other ingredients and stir together.
Use your hand to spread this on your face. (You did pull your hair back, right?)
Lie down for best results.
Leave this on for 20 or 30 minutes. If you start laughing, chunks will come flying off, so don’t look in the mirror.
Wash off with a washcloth.
Splash face with cold water when done to close the pores.

Sorry, no selfies on this one. Some things are best left to the imagination.

Chocolate Cake with Fudgy Glaze – flourless (GF)

Flourless chocolate cake

Flour is the new food villain. Not just gluten, but all flour is now being thrown under the bus. Sigh… For years the food czars have harped on us to use only whole grains. My cupboard is filled with whole wheat, rye, whole wheat pastry, graham flour and a warehouse of other foods that are now betraying me.
Although I love whole grains – and they love me and cling to me- we are all being told to trim all flours and glutens from our diets. Zip – nada – none.
Apparently the flours are responsible for the odd shapes we have all become.

almond meal is used instead of flour

And I always thought it was sugar….or fat…..or salt….or cantaloupe. No, it’s never the fruit’s fault. Or lettuce. Rarely are we told to cut back on our lettuce input – except when there are those nasty e-coli out breaks in national-chain restaurants. But that’s just a surprise outbreak now and then – like playing Russian roulette with lettuce as the blast.

chocolate batter

So let’s set aside our fear of butter and sugar for a few moments and see if we can create a flourless chocolate cake so rich even I will ask for “just a sliver.” Scarlett O’Hara would be proud. Of course she wouldn’t see me going back for another “sliver.” And another. Just a sliver.
You can make the cake without the glaze, but why would you? If you’re going for rich, this glaze – which is really a genache -is a must. I took pictures before it set up, but it did eventually turn more fudgy and less saucy. But I tried it before the metamorphous and it was chocolate heaven.

whip egg whites

fold in egg whites

Also, this is really a torte. But because most Americans aren’t sure what a torte is (It’s a rich flourless cake) we call it a cake so those looking for rich and yummy will know this is the place. A torte is typically heavier than a cake and more dense. True here. The only leavening is egg whites. So handle them carefully. No, I’m kidding. You cannot ruin this even if you are a bit clumsy with the egg whites. Fold away.
If you must swap out the butter – use coconut oil.
If you must swap out the sugar, try coconut palm sugar. But I didn’t swap either. Did I mention this is rich?

baked cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake Ingredients
8 oz. dark chocolate chips
1 3/4 sticks of butter (That’s 2 Tbsp. shy of a cup.)
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
5 eggs – separated
3 TBS almond meal
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

pour glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a spring form pan or a tall 8″ round cake pan.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave bowl – 30 seconds at a time. Stir until smooth.
Meanwhile separate the 5 eggs and put the whites in a glass or metal bowl.
Beat the egg whites until they can hold a shape. Set aside.
When the chocolate has melted, add the sugar, almond meal, salt, vanilla and egg yolks. Whisk until smooth.
Gently fold in the egg whites. They will look messy at first, but will eventually blend in and resemble a batter that you would gladly eat raw – if there weren’t five raw eggs in it.
Pour the batter in the pan and bake about 40 minutes. There should be cracks on top.
Cool the cake on a rack 10 – 15 minutes and then turn it out onto a plate to finish cooling.

Fudgy Glaze Ingredients
½ cup whipping cream
3 Tbsp butter
8 oz dark chocolate chips
Dash salt
1 tsp vanilla

Directions for Glaze
In a saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a simmer. Reduce heat and add the chocolate.
Stir until smooth.
Let it cool about 20 minutes. Pour over the cake – warm or cool.
It will set up in about 2 hours, but by then most if it will be gone. Have at it. Life is short.
If there is any left, store in the fridge.

just a sliver

Quickly, devour it before they tell us we can’t eat chocolate!