Oh man… it’s been a while since I’ve done this. As with many new obsessions, it’s easy to explode out of the gate only to lose the race down the road. My last post was before Christmas and originally I guess I made the excuse that the holidays got the better of me. For several weeks I was perfecting a gingersnap bark recipe that would be perfect for packing into Christmas tins. Obviously I didn’t get that done, but I’ll look on the bright side – I now have another 7 months until Christmas to get the recipe just right!
I still cook all of the time. I still plate and photograph my food. I import the recipes into myfitnesspal’s recipe builder to get nutritional information. You’d think with this much work out of the way that it would be pretty easy to write something up to share with the few people that check my little ol’ blog. Unfortunately it’s all of this stuff (imagine me gesturing at these words on my monitor) that doesn’t come so easily to me. A lot of bloggers have a way of effortlessly weaving stories into their recipe posts. They talk about remembering the smells of their grandmother’s kitchen as she baked dinner rolls. Maybe they recall their recent visit to the farmers market where they found beautiful fresh cut sunflowers and the first perfect strawberries of the season. You see, I don’t have these types of stories to share with readers. I’m just a gal that cooks and eats. Ever so often I cook (and eat) something that really stands out, in this case enough to make me… could it be? Write a blog post about it??
Inspiration struck me one morning when my sweet tooth demanded pancakes… more specifically the oatmeal “Cory cakes” available at the Dallas coffee shop Legal Grounds. They make them with oatmeal, which lends a slightly nutty flavor and subtle texture to the cakes. They are delicious. In addition to that craving I realized that oatmeal pancakes always seem to call for rolled oats, but I’m a steel cut oats kind of gal. Add in the overripe bananas I had sitting on my counter and you have all of the ingredients (HAHA INGREDIENTS! FOOD PUN!) for the sort of cooking experimentation that I love.
Well here it is folks – the pancakes that reawakened the dormant food blogger within me. My maple muse. When I first made these they were such a big hit that I made them again a few days later. Then I made them yet again this morning, this time opting to try out my vegan substitutions just to ensure the quality didn’t suffer in the process. That first photo up there is of the vegan version by the way – I guarantee you nobody would know it either. The original version (shown in the other two photos) was made with a small amount of sour cream. If you find yourself with time to make a special weekend breakfast, I highly recommend giving these a try. They are some of the best pancakes I’ve ever made!
Banana Rum Steel Cut Oat Pancakes
Sweet, fluffy, and hearty – these pancakes are definitely a favorite.
- 1/4 cup dry steel cut oats
- 2 tablespoons flax meal (see notes for substitution)
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- 1 cup of milk (I used unsweetened flax milk – but use what you have around)
- 2 tablespoons of sour cream or yogurt (2 more tablespoons of nondairy milk if vegan)
- 1 tablespoon spiced rum
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Cook the oats according to package instructions. I used a quick cooking variety that takes less time and uses less water. When it’s finished remove from heat and stir in the flax meal. Set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
- In another bowl combine the oatmeal with all of the wet ingredients.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. With a gentle hand slowly stir until just moistened. Do not over mix or your pancakes might be tough. This isn’t the kind of runny batter you get out of a squeeze bottle in a store. It will be pretty thick.
- Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the pancakes onto a medium hot skillet. You can lightly coax it into a circular shape, but work quickly. When the edges of the pancake start to look dry, flip to the other side and cook a few more minutes. Makes about 10.
- I don’t cook with eggs, which is why I add the flax meal. I know this is an unusual ingredient. You can try leaving it out and just adding an egg into the liquid ingredients. The batter would be a little thinner but they should still work just fine.
- If you don’t have any rum on hand, you could use a bit of vanilla extract in its place.
- For a lower calorie alternative you can use a sugar free substitute in the pancakes and skip the maple topping, which adds about 100 calories per serving. Some light whipped cream with sliced bananas could be a healthier option.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Recipe: Maple Banana Rum Topping
Summary: Liven up the maple syrup with fresh banana and a splash of rum.
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- 3/4 cup maple syrup, warmed
- Splash of rum, to taste
- Stir it all together and serve over pancakes. Easy!
Preparation time: 2 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
If you’re like a lot of Americans, it’s likely that you’ve yet to be introduced to the glory of the Tim Tam. If you’re Australian then you’re probably sleeping on a Tim Tam mattress at night in your knitted Tim Tam footsie pajamas. I happen to know that most of the people that visit my blog are from the states though (thanks Google Analytics!), so I’ll tell you a bit about this delightful little cookie… or biscuit as it’s more appropriately called. Actually, I’ll just let Wikipedia do the work for me:
“A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.”
Do I have to tell you how awesome it is that the word chocolate is listed in the description three times? Nope? Alright then, because we’ll be much better friends if you appreciate chocolate in the way that I do – Inception style. Chocolate within chocolate within chocolate. So why not take this awesome store-bought treat and I don’t know… cover it with more chocolate, some dulce de leche, a chewy oatmeal crumble, and salty chopped pretzels? The amount of win in these bars is out of control, man.
Tim Tams haven’t always been easy to get in the U.S. and I’d go on to say that they still aren’t easy to find, but since Pepperidge Farm started making them it’s become a lot easier. The true brand is called Arnotts, and I’m able to find them at the local World Markets in the Dallas area. The Pepperidge Farm version is a pretty good knock off – slightly different than the original – but still a suitable replacement. I haven’t actually tried them in this recipe but I see no reason why they wouldn’t work just as well. I’ve been able to find them at Target. I suggest you try to get your hands on two packages. One for the unforgettable (and absolutely required) Tim Tam Slam experience, and the second for making these addictive dessert bars.
Tim Tam Caramel Crumble Bars
An addictive dessert bar that is chewy, sweet, rich, and a little salty.
- 1 package of Tim Tams
- 5 tablespoons butter, chopped into cubes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, chopped into cubes
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup salted pretzels, chopped
- 3/4 cup of dulce de leche (up it to 1 cup for a thicker caramel layer)
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350F and butter an 8×8 inch baking dish.
- In your food processor pulse together the Tim Tams, 5 tablespoons of butter, and 1 tablespoon of sugar until crumbly. Press into bottom of your baking dish. Spread 1/4 cup of the dulce de leche over the top – it will be a very thin layer.
- Go back to your food processor and combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, 1/2 cup of butter, and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly and scatter half of it over the top of the dulce de leche. Press lightly into place and bake for 10 minutes.
- While that is baking pulse the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk and the chopped pretzels into the rest of the oatmeal mixture.
- Remove pan from the oven and while still warm, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Drizzle remaining 1/2 cup of dulce de leche over the chocolate chips (I found microwaving the dulce de leche for a few seconds helped make this part easier). Using the back of a spoon very gently level out this layer. You don’t want it mixed, you just want the melting chips to meld with the caramel sauce a little and to have the layer be even.
- Scatter the remaining oatmeal and pretzel mixture over the top. Press gently to pack the layer down slightly and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes.
- This next step is the most important: Let the bars cool completely before cutting. I actually think they do better if you let them cool, transfer them to the fridge to chill, and then cut them. You want that chocolate to be completely firm or you’ll have a gooey mess on your hands. I know that sounds delicious and tempting, but trust me when I say it’s worth the wait to do it right! Slice into 16 squares and serve.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
I attend an exercise boot camp three days a week. Whenever I get home I try to make it a point to eat something, even though I’m usually too worn out to want to prepare anything. Smoothies and shakes are an easy go-to fix for those mornings, but I’ve always been one to prefer savory breakfasts over sweet ones. While I have never been a fan of oatmeal, after I was introduced to steel cut oats I developed more of a tolerance for them. And that’s really all it was – a tolerance. Many mornings I would whip up a batch of sweet oatmeal with cinnamon and bananas, but it’s not really my thing. Then savory oatmeal came into my life and changed everything. I can honestly say I LOVE oatmeal when it’s prepared this way, and I never would have thought I’d say that I love oatmeal. The way I prepare it makes just enough for myself and has the good things I want after a workout, like protein and whole grain. Not to mention that it’s under 350 calories and is as easy to prepare as measure, stir, wait, and stir. Honestly this stuff is pretty fool proof and makes you feel like you’re eating a fancy pants risotto. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
Savory Steel Cut Oats For One
Oatmeal with sausage and smoked cheese makes for a filling and simple breakfast.
- 1/4 cup steel cut oats
- 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (depending on how thick you like your oatmeal)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 vegetarian sausage patty, cooked and chopped
- 1 oz smoked gouda, shredded
- 1/2-1 cup arugula or spinach
- Bring stock to a boil then stir in oats and spices. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
- Stir in chopped sausage, shredded cheese, and greens. Salt and pepper to taste then enjoy!
- You could use rolled oats in this recipe to dramatically cut down on the cooking time, but I think the steel cut oats provide a less “mushy” texture.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/