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Entries in oats (25)

Sunday
Nov182012

Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars

Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but from the sheer amount of holiday commercials on television and Christmas music on the radio, you may guess it to be mid-December. My family is hosting the Thanksgiving celebration this year, as we have done many years before. My mother is already rushing around to get groceries, keep the house clean, and find enough space to seat twenty people for dinner. It can be a tight fit, but we figure it can't hurt to bring the family close together (both literally and figuratively).

Food and family go hand-in-hand. In many ways, it is a defining feature of our holidays to truly help them feel like a special moment in time.

Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always held the very same routines for me. As family begins to arrive and the food slowly begins to be spread out on the table, I hover over the vegetable tray trying to steal half of the black olives without anyone noticing, starving from a lack of breakfast (Needless to say, someone always notices and I continue to sneak olives despite it). Once everyone has arrived, we say grace and dig in, always eating much more than we should.

The chorus of content, but slightly uncomfortable voices after dinner confirms this fate.

Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars

As the dishes are cleared, the televisions are quickly tuned to football games and everyone settles in for a lazy, sleepy afternoon. Without fail, someone in the family manages to fall asleep with his or her mouth hanging open, snoring softly, while the rest of the family gathers to laugh quietly and take embarrassing video footage (I desperately hope it's not my turn this year). In late afternoon, after the sun has set and the food coma is beginning to wear off, the leftovers from lunch are spread out on the tables and the second meal of the day indulgently begins before we part ways for the evening.

While my family never quite expresses our gratitude for one another out loud, it can be felt in the room. It is as real and perceptible as the scent of turkey in the air.

Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars

I've been struggling to come up with a Thanksgiving dessert menu this year, but this recipe has easily made the short list of possible contenders. These bars are a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. The crust is made from oatmeal and almonds, providing a strong contrast in texture to the smooth pumpkin filling. The filling is spiced with the classic spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, but I added a tablespoon of espresso powder which lends a subtle, but harmonizing flavor to the finished product. Topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon, these bars are truly something special for the holiday season.

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Thursday
Nov012012

Baked Apples

Baked Apples

I have grown a fond for apples over the last two years. Rarely a day goes by where you won't find one in my hand or on my plate. My mother refers to my apple-eating habit as an addiction (in jest) and I'm beginning to think she's right. Yesterday alone, I had apples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in various forms. Perhaps it's the crispness of the first bite of an apple I simply cannot resist. Or maybe it is the fact that I love to spread my apple slices with a thick layer of peanut butter.

Whatever the reason, I do hope that old saying about apples is true. I don't want to go to the doctor any time soon.

Baked Apples

My neighbors had an apple tree while I was growing up. The tree was next to the fence and the branches hovered over our garden, growing apples no bigger than the palm of my small hand. In early fall, the apples would begin to turn color; shades of red and green and yellow took over the tree. Wearing light jackets and long pants, my sister and I would steal apples under the cover of darkness, munching the tart fruit in the backyard. The biting tartness of the fruit was enough to make my eyes squint. When we were finished, we'd hide the evidence in the bushes.

It was, in many ways, the forbidden fruit.

Baked Apples

My babysitter was the first person to introduce me to baked apples. She'd fill her apples with brown sugar and cinnamon, baking them until the house smelled like a rich apple pie. Baked fruit has always been a favorite of mine. The firm, yet tender, fruit and sweet fillings are the scents of autumn daydreams. I have a bad habit of forgetting about baked fruit when the seasons roll around.

This year, with a love of baking and a kitchen counter full of apples, it seemed destined for fruit to find its way into the oven.

Baked Apples

Baked Apples are sweet, tart, and tender at the same time. The apples are filled with a mixture of brown sugar, oats, and sliced almonds, which gives a little crunch to the filling to offset the soft fruit. As the apples bake, the scent of cinnamon and apple pie fill the house, which only adds to the cozy effect these apples have on an autumn evening. Different sized apples may require shorter or longer baking times, so please adjust accordingly.

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Friday
Aug172012

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression,
'As pretty as an airport.'” ― Douglas Adams

In my many travels, airports stand to be the most polarizing form of moving from one place to another. On one hand, I find airports to be indispensable—there is no way I could have traveled as far and wide as I have without them (and for that alone I feel as if I am indebted). On the other hand, I find nothing enchanting about my time spent in an airport. People love to romanticize airports, waxing and waning over the anticipation of travel or adventure, meeting old friends or coming home to family members (and these are certainly a part of the experience), but those small moments are swept away in the 5:00 am trips through airport security and the long hours of waiting.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

I'm quite certain I've never walked into an airport at a reasonable time of day. Early mornings are a common theme as I set my alarm for a cringe-inducing hour, waking several times throughout the night in a panic that I've forgotten to pack something important. Soon follow the quiet moments of hauling luggage, finding boarding passes, and removing shoes to walk through the metal detector, wondering why I specifically wore a belt on today of all days. While waiting for the airplane to begin boarding, I watch my fellow passengers find the gate, all of whom seem to be in a similar state of dry eyes and caffeine-induced disarray.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

A moment spent in an airport is a moment spent in limbo. Time runs on its own accord, jumping forward and backward faster than you can keep pace. It's a place that's neither here nor there, a small plot of land unto itself. It's a place where people gather and disperse. A place no one can call home. Only on a westward flying airplane can you daydream about a cheeseburger and French fries, but arrive to Egg McMuffins and disappointment.

Airports can be romantic in fairy tales and homecoming events, but I'd argue the typical reality falls a little short. My true problem with airports is not being allowed to buy a hamburger at nine in the morning when your body is telling you it's noon.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

There is a place in my heart for oatmeal and raisins. It was only a matter of time for rum to join the mix. These Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies have all the qualities of the classic oatmeal raisin cookie with a boozy twist. The cookie base has a dark depth of flavor (in part from the addition of molasses), but the rum-soaked raisins steal the show. The cookies bake up soft and stay tender long after their stay in the oven. These cookies are not for the kids, so please keep them out of the younger ones' hands.

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