Pretzel Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars.

That title is a mouthful

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of delicious.

Sometimes, I expect myself to give lengthy, eloquent blog posts. Here’s a story, let’s have a laugh or poignant moment, now let me tie it into a baked good and tell you why you should bake and then consume it.

By “sometimes”, I mean “usually.” And by “usually,” I mean “always.”

I’ve never been very succinct.

I’m giving myself a break, a mental break. I know that if you’ve stumbled down the page this far, you’ll probably like the recipe. These bars are dense, thick, satisfying, comforting. Let them be a rainy-day treat, enjoyed with a cup of tea by an open window, or a sweet square to slow down your crazy mornings.

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Pretzel Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes an 8×8 pan

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup mini pretzels

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.
  3. Mix in flour, oats, salt, and baking soda. As the dough begins to come together, slowly add the milk and mix until the dough forms.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Press into the prepared baking dish. Arrange the pretzels on top of the dough, pressing in lightly. Bake for about 17-20 minutes, until edges are brown. Cool completely and cut into squares. Devour.

“I browned butter for you!” Or, Mini-Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups.

Doesn’t that sound like a line from a soap opera? Scene: Eleanor, finding the door to boyfriend Jonathan’s apartment unlocked, steps inside, only to find Jonathan making out with Alexandra. Alexandra having fled the scene, Eleanor confronts an embarrassed, red-faced Jonathan in his entirely unkempt kitchen.

Eleanor: A year of dating and this? That? You with that woman? My God, Jonathan, I’ve done all I could for you – sat with you as you wept over Jane Eyre, drove you to the bakery every morning when your car was in the shop so you wouldn’t have to live a day without Josie’s bagels, didn’t laugh at the stupid things you said after your wisdom teeth were taken out. I made puff pastry for you from scratch! I slaved over that eighteen-layer cake for your mother’s birthday! I browned butter for you, Jonathan. And there you were, with that tramp who can only make cookies from refrigerated cookie dough.

End scene.

use ii

Maybe I should be a writer.

Anyways. I’m still having a love affair with my mini muffin tin, because mini muffins and small cups of various baked goods are automatically 50 zillion times more delicious than any standard-sized or jumbo counterparts. Size matters. And what’s better than cookies baked in a mini-muffin tin? And what’s better than cookies covered in cinnamon and filled with caramel in a mini-muffin tin? (Your boyfriend eating them is even better, actually.)

I’m a big fan of this recipe…but I wanted cups. So I searched the internet and found a recipe for maple snickerdoodle cookie cups…but, the addition of maple was overwhelming. Brown butter? (Everyone says browned butter smells nutty. To me, it smells like pancakes.) Vanilla? Cinnamon? Caramel? And you want me to add maple? No. Can’t do it. Maybe next time, when my caramel fiend of a boyfriend won’t be around.

After tweaking with reckless abandon (sort of), the results are…delicious. And perfect. Also, delicious.

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#1 rule of baking: always “accidentally” add more vanilla extract than necessary. Oops, my hand slipped. Better let the overflow happen.

#2 rule of baking: there is no such thing as too much cinnamon.

Add the maple if you want. Fill with chocolate if you want. What-ever you want.

Go forth and enjoy. Before any significant others consume them before you get the chance.

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Mini Caramel-Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups
Recipe adapted from Beyond Frosting and inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For the cinnamon-sugar coating

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.
  2. Brown the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir constantly until it turns brown with a nutty aroma.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the browned butter with sugars and cinnamon. Set aside and allow the butter to cool.
  4. When butter/sugar mixture has cooled, beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  6. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter until well combined.
  7. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the coating in a small bowl. Roll about a tablespoon of dough in the cinnamon sugar and place into the mini muffin pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned.
  9. Allow the cookies to sit in the pan for 15-20 minutes before removing and cooling completely. Devour.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, revisited.

[PSA: Wordless Wednesdays has moved to currently unnamed Friday in honor of this recipe.]

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Hi, my name is Cakey, and I’m perpetually five years old.

I like to make messes. I like to play with the bubbles in the sink when I wash dishes. This weekend, I bought two coloring books. Last week, I ordered chicken strips for dinner with friends. When I was at a boy’s house, he asked what I wanted to drink – of course, I asked for a juice box. Part of me still wants to scream when I sit down in the dentist’s chair. A very large part of me.

Eventually, adult mode kicks in – flour is swept up, Anna Karenina is opened & read, and yes, please, I would like a side salad.

Oh, and packing for school happens.

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It’s that time of year again, when all my friends leave for college, leaving a week between me having friends and me heading back to campus. Thus, separation anxiety sets in, sadness ensues, and my oven mysteriously turns on.

I went back to the start to revisit one of my very first recipes. Kathryn & I baked it with the idea of sending some of it to a boy. Strangely enough, I baked it again this time with the same intention, for the same boy who is once again going to be six hours away from me for a few months. C’est la vie.

At least this time he’s fully aware of the intention behind the banana bread. I’m twice as alluring when I’m holding a freshly baked loaf of one of his favorite foods.

Feminine wiles, indeed.

Enough of the romance mush. Allow me to turn your attention to banana mush instead.

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I made a few more tweaks from the recipe I originally adapted from the great Joy the Baker, although very few. There seem to be varying opinions on the addition of vanilla extract to banana bread – this time, I added it to deepen the sweetness of the bananas. Self-control is null and void when it comes to vanilla.

Happy accident! My four pound Nestle chocolate chip bag (finally) ran out, leaving me with no choice but to chop up some dark chocolate sitting in my fridge. Chopped chocolate is, to me, more aesthetically pleasing than

This has become an all-butter/no oil recipe. A lot of bakers like using oil in breads and muffins to keep them moist (hold up, I hate that word with a passion. Unfortunately, it’s the only one that conveys what I’m trying to say), but then you miss out on the flavor the butter gives.

Finally, I added a crumble. Banana bread covered in sugar, oatmeal, and walnuts makes it a little more special.

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It’s as spectacular as it was before, only better. Do I contradict myself? (Very well, then I contradict myself.) This is probably the best banana bread you’ll ever eat – the perfect balance of sweet banana, smooth peanut butter, and just enough chocolate to round it out.

I’m still five years old when I make this bread, considering I had to taste-test it. Several times. This might’ve fueled my recent child-like spontaneity.

Embrace your inner child.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (printable recipe here)
makes 1 loaf pan (can use a cake pan or muffin tin)
originally from Joy the Baker
adapted from yours truly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 4 medium) mashed oh-so-very ripe* bananas
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Optional oat-nut topping

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combing flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, and melted butter.
  4. Beat in eggs, then sugars, until mixture is smooth.
  5. Barely fold the wet ingredients into the dry, until the mixture is mostly combined but a few flour streaks still remain. Fold in chocolate and nuts.
  6. If desired, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, walnuts, and oats for oat-nut topping. Set aside.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking pan; sprinkle with oat-nut topping or brown sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Invert loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely. Devour.

*NOTE: If your bananas aren’t yet ripe but you’re craving banana bread anyways, place them (skins still ON) on a baking sheet and stick them in a 350 degree F oven for about 35 minutes. The peels will turn black, but the inside will be ripe and sweet (and very easy to mash). Proceed with recipe.

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Black banana peels, mmmmm.

 

Related articles

Hey, you! Yes, you! What do you think of my tweaks – unnecessary or delicious? Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe or add-in of your own?

Mini Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups.

Guess who got off work two hours earlier than planned? This girl. Thus, a celebratory blog post. This one’s been sitting in my drafts for a while – now, voila.

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I’ve noticed I do a lot of things in life “just because”. My lips don’t need a reason to be coated in red lipstick. Why am I driving barefoot? Because I can. I’ll go through chapters of a book reading upside down; I’ve been known to buy random gifts for people months away from their birthday or any holidays simply because.

That’s how most of my baking seems to be – just because. Because it’s Tuesday. Because the sun is shining. Because I need to use up this bag of coconut coconut. Because I have a few hours to kill.

So on & so forth.

When I was browning the butter for these, my father walked in the kitchen and asked what I was doing.

“Browning butter,” I replied. Obviously.

He paused for a minute, looking into my pan, and said, “Oh, you mean, burning it. Cool.”

Burning butter? I guess so.

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Hypothetical conversation:

“What are these?”

“Burned butter cookie cups! Here, try one!”

“Ohh…um…no thanks. I’m allergic to…um…burned things.”

“No, they’re good, I swear!”

Right. There’s a reason it’s called browned butter.

This was my first time browning butter. I’ve heard a lot of fuss about it but never got around to doing it, mostly for fear of ruining it. Yet, for as many times I’ve used the stove, I’ve never burned down a building, so I tried it. Goodness, browning the butter makes these cookie cups sing! Photographing them was horrendous; with my face hovering directly over the cups, it took all my self-control (what little I possess) to not stuff every single one of them into my mouth.

It’s smooth sailing after the butter is browned. Don’t be intimidated by this “browned butter” talk, by the way (isn’t that fun to say? Browned butter, browned butter, browned butter!). Browning butter is nothing more than leaving the butter in the pan on the stove longer than you usually would if you were merely melting it, which causes it to turn brown and smell nutty and fragrant. And beautiful.

Hey, you don’t even need to tablespoon out the dough! Muffin pans really are convenient.

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The final product is thick & ooey-gooey-chewy-delicious. Ridiculously delicious. Never-ending summer delicious. 12-hour-hard-sleep-after-a-long-week delicious. Brand-new-hardcover-book delicious. Melt-your-face-off-delicious.

You can’t tell from the photos, but the wrappers have pictures of muffins on them. And “muffins” is scrawled all over them, multiple times.

See? Cookie cups in muffin tins in muffin wrappers declaring their contents to be muffins, just because I can.

Make these. Make them because it’s Tuesday and Tuesdays are neither popular nor hated. Make them because you want the satisfaction of burning something that ends up tasting really, really good. Make them because you are fearless and have really fabulous hair.

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Make them because you deserve to be good to yourself.

Mini Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups (printable recipe here!)
from Averie Cooks
makes 36 mini cookie cups or 12 normal-sized cookie cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned (see directions)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, or dark)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a mini-muffin pan, or line with mini muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter turns brown and fragrant (butter will melt and foam, then turn from clear to golden to brown). Remove pan from burner and continue to stir for about one minute.
  3. Poor butter into large mixing bowl and allow to cool momentarily to prevent the egg from scrambling. Stir in egg, sugars, and vanilla.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir until just combined (a few flour streaks is okay). Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon dough equally into mini-muffin cavities. Bake for about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Allow cookies to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Devour. (They will keep for about a week at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer.)

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Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones.

(Or Almond Joy Scones. Or, more fittingly, Almond Joy the Baker Scones. Have I ever mentioned how much I adore her blog? I do. A ton.) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My mother decided to reorganize our silverware drawer. After five and a half years of living in this house, we’ve only had the drawer one way, even after we got new silverware. Now, I’m unconsciously reaching for a knife when I want to eat cereal and finding spoons when I really just want to make a PB&J. Sometimes, the changes are bigger than that. Sometimes, friends will choose to go away permanently, whether on amiable or unfriendly terms. You might uproot your life and travel across continents to chase (and, hopefully, find) your dreams. Routines change; “normal” changes. You find yourself in strange places and even more bizarre scenarios, and as you fumble through life, you do your best, you fight the fight, you gulp the coffee and breathe the best you can. Life is rough. Breakfast can make it better. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mornings feel like the calm before the storm, especially if you’re up before dawn, which is one of the many reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Settling into a routine gives you a bit of solid ground to stand on. Thus, I bring you scones to help the transition between “blissfully enjoying my 4th hour of sleep” and “I forgot it’s Monday” and all the other worries and anxieties on your mind. Soft, buttery, coconut-y, and comforting, like little bits of home. Biscuits and scones are some of my favorite baked goods to make – no waiting for butter to come down to room temperature, and plus, you get to use a pastry cutter. Or your hands. Like playing in the dirt, except you’re playing with butter and flour. And you’re not in small, flowered overalls. I’d say the most important point in this recipe is the toast the coconut and almonds beforehand. Heat brings out the best in both of those ingredients. And these little biscuits can be adjusted to your sweet tooth, or lack thereof. More coconut? Fewer almonds? White chocolate? Go for it. Whatever makes you feel most at home – whatever’s gonna get you through the day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Make these tonight. Throw one in the microwave or toaster oven tomorrow morning as you’re rushing about, trying not to forget shoes or whatever weekend project you were assigned or all the things your child needs at day camp. Take a bite, take a breath, and go get ’em, tiger. This is your week.

Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones (printable recipe here!)
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes about 10-12 large scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or a mixture – I used 3/4 cup whole wheat and the rest AP)
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • additional sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place coconut and slivered almonds on it. Put in the oven to toast for 10-12 minutes, checking once or twice to make sure it doesn’t burn. When coconut is golden, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until butter and flour are mostly combined. Set in the fridge for a few minutes.
  5. Whisk together buttermilk and egg.
  6. Remove flour and butter mixture from the fridge; add coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips. Stir together, then create a well in the center. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the well all at once.
  7. Stir until wet and dry ingredients are just combined (preferably with a few visible flour streaks).
  8. Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Work the dough into a disk with your hands. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake scones for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and devour.
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the aftermath.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

This is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Not only was this my first time using the ice cream maker that’s been sitting in our basement for a year, but it was my first time ever making homemade ice cream and the first I’d even touched a vanilla bean.

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It felt like a literal recipe for disaster. It felt like diving blindfolded into an ocean infested with sharks with open wounds. It felt like sword-fighting a pirate with one arm tied behind my back and an inch of wood beneath my feet. It felt like…well, you get the picture.

That aside, the world didn’t end. Yes, it was a struggle. There was a little bit of screaming, a little bit of lip-biting, and a good many frustrated sighs.

I’m not selling this recipe very well, am I?

But look at you. You have the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth – yet there’s that upturned chin, that grin of impetuous youth. Oh, I believe in you. (Whoops, I have How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on the brain! The whole musical is on my iPod. Hee hee.)

Really, though, I believe in you. If I can handle this, so can you.

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Truly, in retrospect, it wasn’t bad at all. Making food brings out the perfectionist in me almost more than any other activity, especially when dealing with long direction lists and expensive ingredients like vanilla beans.

(Admittedly, I am a disgusting perfectionist to a fault. To. A. Fault.)

Here’s a run-down (along with additional commentary mostly based on the things I muttered to myself under my breath). After combining the milk and heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) in a sauce pan (see, that’s easy!), you take the vanilla bean, use the sharp tip of a knife to slice it open lengthwise down the middle, and scrape out the little black seeds into the pan with the milk and cream. Don’t forget to add the pod in, too! After you bring it to a boil, let it simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Take a breather. Do some jumping jacks. Feed your cat.

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When the time for simmering is nearly up, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until thick and smooth. The egg yolks will make it incredibly thick. Gently pour in one cup of the hot milk liquid in with the eggs, mix it together, and return it to the sauce pan. Don’t cry when you spill. Stir, stir, stir. Ah, yes, success! It’s starting to look like ice cream. And smell like ice cream. Except it’s not quite ice cream. Yet. Patience.

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(You can’t tell, but I was using a Winnie the Pooh measuring cup. And proud of it.)

Once it’s really thick, transfer it to a bowl and let it come down to room temperature before adding the vanilla extract to ensure the best flavor. From there, allow it to chill completely – up to 6 hours – before allowing the ice cream maker to do its thing.

Thus, one mental breakdown, lots of shouting, many drips, and an infinite number of hours later (ok, maybe only 24 hours)…

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Literally the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The creamiest, the tastiest, the sweetest, the most flavorful – just the best. Vanilla bean ice cream is my favorite to begin with, but this is a whole new level of yum. Beautiful little vanilla bean flecks, although virtually undetectable when going on feel alone, are the key to turning (or should I say churning?) this frozen treat from good to great.

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All that stress for nothing.

You’d think I’d have learned by now.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (printable recipe here!)
from the Cuisinart’s Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker recipe booklet
makes about 14-1/2 cup servings

[NOTE: Keep in mind that most ice cream maker freezing bowls need to be frozen for up to 24 hours before you make your ice cream, or at least the amount of time it takes to completely freeze the coolant liquid. The maker won’t do its thing unless the bowl is completely frozen.
You can substitute a lower-fat milk for the whole milk (I used 2% since I couldn’t find whole milk) or half-and-half for heavy cream. Keep in mind that this will change the texture and taste of your ice cream.]

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine the milk and cream in a medium sauce pan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise; use the blunt edge to scrape out the seeds into the sauce pan with the milk and cream. Stir in the bean pod as well.
  2. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently (but not constantly).
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Using a mixer, beat on medium speed (about 2 minutes) until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pale yellow, similar to mayonnaise.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture; discard. Measure out one cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, pour the liquid into the egg mixture in a slow stream.
  5. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan; stir to combine with the remnants of the cream.
  6. Cook, stirring constantly, on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla extract. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard; chill completely.
  7. Once chilled, pour the custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine on, and let mix until thickened, approximately 25-30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refirgerator. Remove from the freezer and allow to warm at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving. Devour.

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Apple Strawberry Nut Baked Oatmeal.

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My mom’s birthday was last weekend, so I promised to make her some sort of breakfast. Unfortunately, we left early that morning for the Windy City, and that didn’t allow for time to actually make anything decent beyond “here, I poured you a birthday bowl of cereal!”. Thus it was decided we’d have a nice breakfast/brunch on the 4th of July when we’d all be home and not rushing about.

Baked oatmeal seems to be quite the thing nowadays, something I’ve never gotten around to making since all the members of my family are never in the house at breakfast time. Plus, I’m usually so impatient in the mornings to eat, any attempt at making something taking more than 10 minutes might send me into a grumpy-morning rage.

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Anyways. Baked oatmeal is incredibly easy, especially if you’re using pre-cut/dried fruit, and incredibly versatile. And incredibly delicious. Still discernibly oatmeal, yes, but definitely different from instant or stove-top. It’s almost like a breakfast cake (real cake for breakfast is better, of course, but not every morning. A sugar crash during the middle of the work day would not be very profitable) – a little crunchy on the top, soft and warm in the middle.

Before this, I had no idea how you actually made baked oatmeal – clearly, putting something in the oven was involved, but beyond that, je ne savais pas. Upon finding a recipe, I really liked layering some fruit at the bottom, covering it with oats, and pouring the milk on top. I’m such a child – drizzling the milk was my favorite part.

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Can you blame me?

Another funny thing: I had no idea what cutting apples “crosswise” meant, so I just sliced them up like that. Unfortunately, crosswise is a lot prettier than slicing.

This is a great dish for breakfast or brunch, and as previously mentioned, super versatile. If you don’t have (or want) strawberries, replace them with other fresh or frozen berries, bananas, other fruits, dried fruits. Any nut works well, too – I’m just partial to whole almonds, and walnuts are my mom’s favorite. Do yourself a favor and toast the nuts!

Wonderful warm from the oven and topped with more milk or yogurt.

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I accidentally asked my mom if she wanted ice cream on hers.

(I meant yogurt, I swear.)

Apple Strawberry Nut Baked Oatmeal (printable recipe here!)
slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker (http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2013/01/03/apple-cinnamon-raisin-walnut-baked-oatmeal/)

[NOTE: to toast nuts, spread them evenly on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring at least twice, until nuts are brown and fragrant.]

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted (chopped, slivered, or whole)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large Gala apple, cored and cut crosswise
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced and divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, ¼ cup of the walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, egg, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and vanilla extract.
  4. Arrange sliced apples in a single layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of the strawberries over the apples. Pour the oat mixture on top of the fruit, spreading with a spoon to ensure the fruit is evenly covered.
  5. Drizzle milk mixture over the top of the oats. Sprinkle remaining walnuts, almonds, and strawberries on top.
  6. Bake for 37 to 45 minutes, until top is golden brown and oatmeal is set. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon (or more, if desired) of melted butter on top. Devour. (Can be reheated and devoured another day! Or for lunch.)

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