So, I’m totally cheating. This week for CEiMB we were given the opportunity to choose whatever recipe we wanted and were asked to serve it at our Thanksgiving meal if at all possible. Well, after being told numerous times that I’m not allowed to bring anything to Thanksgiving, I decided to be a cheater. (I’m not cheating by posting late though, I promise. We’re allowed to this week!)

Today I bring you Ellie’s vanilla spice oatmeal. I’m a huge oatmeal fan, I have it probably 4 mornings out of the week. You just can’t beat it when it comes to nutrition AND taste. Normally I cook it with a banana and a tiny bit of brown sugar so I found Ellie’s Vanilla Spice Oatmeal to be a little sweet as it contained raisins, vanilla, and brown sugar. The sweetness was a nice change though and I gobbled it up.

I’ve adapted the recipe for 1 serving and made a few small changes but otherwise, a very good oatmeal recipe.

Vanilla Spice Oatmeal
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt optional
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoons walnuts coarsely chopped, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoons dark brown sugar plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the oats and raisins, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, place nuts, if using, in a dry skillet over a medium-high flame, and toast, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. When the oats are cooked remove pan from the flame and stir in the vanilla and nutmeg. Swirl in the brown sugar and place the oatmeal in serving bowls. Top with toasted nuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
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It’s days like this when I question why I participate in the BBA challenge. And by “days like this” I mean days where I’ve got 3 loaves of fresh baked French bread sitting on my counter and haven’t a clue what to do with them. I’m just not a bread person. None of us in my household are really.

I definitely love making bread though. (And the crowd says “Duh!”) It’s not fair. I should be one of those people who love making cookies that way nothing would ever go to waste.

I do have to give this bread credit though. It’s good bread, especially for a 2 day’er. I have a French bread recipe that was given to me from a friend that’s instructions are literally “stir with wooden spoon, rest, stir again” and from that, you get awesome French bread in about an hour and a half. So I was especially harsh on this one.

There was nothing difficult about it, except I really hate spraying the oven with water and using a steam pan. I don’t know why since it’s not a whole lot of work, it just annoys me. It just seems like I could’ve gotten the same result without all the steam.

It reminded me a lot of Panera’s bread. Almost too chewy but you eat it anyway because it’s that good, you know? I don’t know if I’ll ever make it again but it was a fun recipe and I think it would be good for an event that called for a whole lot of bread.

So what did I do with the bread? Two loaves have become croutons (which caused my husband to say “Well, isn’t that a lot of work for something that you could’ve bought for a buck?”) and the 3rd went wonderfully with a big pot of spaghetti sauce.

As always, check out Peter Reinhart’s book if you are interested in any of the breads I post about. And check out the BBA blogroll to see where everyone else is in the book.

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My 9 month energy burst has officially hit. I want to clean, clean, clean which is tough since, you know, hi big belly. The urge to clean is so bad that I’ve actually started going through the thousands of photos stored on my computer. And lucky for you, I’ve found a few food pictures that I had forgotten about.

This is one of our favorite sides and I had completely forgotten about it in my pregnancy haze. I used to make it anytime I made enchiladas, burritos, anything like that. I don’t know how authentic it is but I’m a fan of anything with lots of cumin.

It’s especially tasty with shrimp enchiladas.

Mexican Rice
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 onion finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
  • 1 to mato seeded and chopped
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cumin depending on your taste
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring broth to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add rice, onion, jalapeno, and tomato. Season with bouillon cube, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.


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These are my favorite biscuits ever. Not only are they delicious but they’re super simple. One of my least favorite things to do in the kitchen is use a pastry cutter. I cannot stand using a pastry cutter and I hate cleaning them even more. So guess what! These guys don’t need one. There’s absolutely no butter to cut in!

I was a little skeptical the first time I tried them since it’s the butter that gives biscuits the nice flakiness that everyone loves but these truly are delicious. They work great with sausage gravy or a delicious jam.

Sweet Cream Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Pour about 1 cup of the cream over the dry ingredients, grab a fork and start tossing the ingredients together. If necessary, add more cream, a spoonful at a time, until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading – 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even – a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.
  4. Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get them ost you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting – just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)
  5. Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.
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A few months back I bought The Sweet Melissa Baking Book on complete impulse after seeing a baking group using it. I participated in the group for two weeks and then the next recipe called for ricotta. At that point, the thought of ricotta made me nauseous so I dropped out of the group and I haven’t picked up the book since then until recently.

I was thumbing through the book looking for holiday-ish recipes (because having a newborn isn’t going to be enough to keep me occupied in December apparently) and these butterscotch cashew bars called out to me. They looked so simple and I’m a sucker for anything with cashews. And a shortbread base? Oh man, I went to the store that day to get the ingredients.

I made them on a football Sunday and the pan was gone by the time our guests left. They were just gobbled up and everyone raved about them.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound 2 sticks, or 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 11 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 cups roasted salted cashews
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9″x 13″ pan with cooking spray. Using two sheets of parchment paper, line the pan’s width and length, creating a parchment “sling.” Spray parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and salt for 1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes. Decrease mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix just until combined. Lightly press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a golden color. Remove to wire rack to cool.
  3. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water. Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and butterscotch chips are melted. Pour over crust.
  4. Sprinkle cashews over the butterscotch caramel. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, remove from pan and use a very sharp knife to cut into bars.
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