Steel Cut Oats with Strawberries, Bananas and Peanut Butter

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I made a daring getaway. I only just got out of there with my life and dignity.

It was at the bargain basement of Urban Outfitters. There were sales. There were $5 t-shirts. The clothing racks were spaced about six inches apart and it was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday. Lines to the registers were 10 deep.

I lasted five minutes. No amount of printed tights, patterned pants or polka dot shirts could keep me there.

I scurried up the stairs and didn’t look back, for fear of being turned into stone.

And to calm my nerves, I ran straight into the hardware store next door and made purchases that either make me out to be a dude or, at the very least, someone who is obsessed with coffee. 200 filters. A pour-over brewer. Batteries. I almost bought that pooping pig keychain. Remember those?

Shopping is stressful and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

But I do recommend a full serving of steel cut oats every morning.

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Steel cut oats are my jam. And so much better than plain old rolled oats. They’re dense and slightly crunchy and, best of all, are re-microwavable. You can make a big vat of them on Sunday and have it last you for the rest of the week.

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Bananarama! Strawberrypalooza! Fruits! Vitamins!

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Guys I just put a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter in that bowl. It might even be two tablespoons. A dollop. A lot.

Steel cut oats with strawberries, bananas and peanut butter.

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
3 tablespoons ground flax
1 banana
3 strawberries
dollop of peanut butter

In a large pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the oats and stir continuously to make sure none of the grains get stuck to the bottom. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep on stirring every minute or so to prevent a skin from forming. Continue to do this for about 30 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed and the oats have a porridge-like consistency.

Turn off the heat and quickly incorporate the ground flax.

Add sliced bananas, strawberries and peanut butter dollop. You can also add any other fruit or topping your heart desires. Make it a breakfast dessert with chocolate chips. Throw in some mango. Get some jam in there.

Makes enough for an apartment of 4 people or just enough to last you until Wednesday.

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Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes

Let’s try an experiment.

How about we all try to talk to strangers?

I was recently directed toward this Onion article and was aghast that I might very well be one of the most annoying people in Boston. I like talking to people. I like it when someone’s wearing sassy shoes on the train – so much so that I tell them how sassy their shoes are. The 40-something-year-old listening to funk was just begging for someone to groove with him, right?

“Hi, your tattoo of a shark jaw is pretty fantastic.”

“Are you seriously listening to ‘Call Me Maybe?’ Is this really happening right now?”

“Would you rather have your hands smell like garlic or your feet like asparagus?”

A girl sitting next to me on a park bench and I both were reading a book during the sunset, and amidst the silence and distant sound of dogs barking and children playing, she let out a very audible toot. I burst out laughing and she did the same. We didn’t even say anything to each other, just laughed for a few seconds then went on reading until it was time to go.

Talk to people. Just give it a whirl. And maybe, someday, you’ll make them a stack of buttermilk pancakes in the morning and realize that if not for your mild nuisance of a personality, you wouldn’t have met half of the people who make your life special every day.

Ingredients everywhere. Recipe on the laptop for inspiration. This is what the kitchen looks like when it’s time to cook.

I find it difficult to have a plain pancake. Even if it’s fluffy and filled with buttermilk. It needs some oomph. It needs ginger and cinnamon.

Egg whites into stiff peaks. It might be the one baking process that is both my least favorite and most satisfying thing to do. If you don’t have an electric mixer, I suggest avoiding it. Unless you work out your forearms on the regular. Who works out their forearms on the regular?

I like eating in my office in the morning. I also like waking people up with the smell of sizzling butter.

Spiced buttermilk pancakes.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, separated

Optional: blueberries

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking power, spices and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, vanilla and egg yolks until just combined. Add to the dry ingredients until and mix until just incorporated.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until they become stiff peaks. Fold gently into the rest of the batter, being careful not to over mix.

Heat a skillet to medium temperature and add a dollop of butter. Scoop pancake batter in 1/4-cup sizes, being sure to leave about 1-2 inches between each round.

Makes about 12-18 pancakes, depending on how large you make them.

Green Smoothie

You should probably get a blender. Like, right now. At least before summer.

I got one. It’s totally made my breakfasts (dinners, desserts) rock.

Sometimes mornings don’t give me enough time to make a burrito or crazy avocado sandwich. Sometimes I wait until my alarm song plays twice through before crawling out of bed. Sometimes all of the energy I can muster goes into throwing on some clothes and sacrificing breakfast for coffee.

Coffee isn’t breakfast, guys.

Spinach smoothies are breakfast.

I spent a week at this crazy shack of a farm on the Big Island of Hawai’i a couple of summers ago harvesting baby lettuce and weeding for six hours a day. It was lame, but the best thing about it was the endless piles of avocados, papayas, bananas and Okinawan sweet potatoes.

And Spirulina. And noni. And a deep fryer. That thing was amazing.

But even more amazing was the turbo blender, which my farmer buddies and I used to make green smoothies every morning before heading out to work in the rain.

With some mango chunks, plain yoghurt, honey and a splash of soy milk, this spinach smoothie is packed with vitamins that fuel your day. I don’t need coffee after sipping on one of these bad boys.

Oh. I also stole straws from the coffee shop around the corner. Smoothies need straws.

Hey blender. You look great. Keep it up.

Yeah, this tastes kind of like spinach. Sweet greens.

Green Smoothie

handful of spinach leaves
1 cup mango chunks, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
1/3 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon honey

Throw all ingredients into a blender. Pulse until smooth.

Makes one smoothie.

Breakfast Panini

I’m excited.

I’m excited for picnics, avocado salads,  raised beds and the excuse to wear SPF 30 on my face. I’m excited to be outrageously sweaty the moment I wake up. Most of all, I’m excited to refill ice trays thrice a day and have endless sweet tea.

Breakfast paninis on the porch are another excuse to get some healthy Vitamin D in my sun-craved body.

All this excitement might inspire me to get a piercing. Or a hot-dang tattoo. Maybe.

German rye from my favoritest bakery is the foundation of this super duper breakfast meal.

Some sharp cheddar cheese and thinly sliced zucchini provide heartiness while the arugula gives it a flavorful punch.

Every so often I’m in a square mood. Today’s one of those days. Nerding out with computer shopping and home decorating ideas.

The eggy ingredients are cooked into a burrito-like omelette, which fits evenly onto the bread.

Butter can be replaced with olive oil to help the panini maker crisp up the bread.

Don’t have a panini maker? You can just fry this on a skillet and press it firmly with a spatula. Flip and repeat!

Zero recipe. Get creative with your panini.

Get excited for the sun.

Banana French Toast

Food is therapy.

After having a minor anxiety attack because I bought black wall shelves instead of white (I can’t handle apartment decorating!), I stopped popping every knuckle in my body and hunkered down to start making something for breakfast.

There’s this place back home called Boots & Kimos that makes the most massive pancakes with the sweetest coconut syrup chock full of macadamia nuts.

Ridiculous.  Plastic forks can’t handle it.  My conscience can’t handle it.

Add to that batter a handful of mashed bananas and your heart attack just turned into a potassium-filled heart attack.

Half a decade or so ago, my dad taught me how to make his “famous” banana crepes, which was really just milked-down Bisquick batter with a banana or two, fried thin and rolled into a tight sleeping bag.  Sometimes we put strawberry jam in it.

Simply delicious.

I gave it a minor upgrade because I had an entire braided challah loaf from CFB (seriously, whenever I go there I just take ANYTHING.  Even though I. . .never eat challah).

Maybe I’ll try my hand at bread pudding later this week.

You know how the usual rotten-banana default baked good is banana bread?  Well!  I pulled a fast one and threw it into the french toast batter.  Booyah.

My new apartment came with a five-burner stove and a cast iron skillet attachment.  The dream I didn’t even know I had came true.

In honor of the original crepe maker, I ate these with blueberry jam instead of syrup.

Banana French Toast.

1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 super mashed, blackened banana
3 slices of thick challah bread (or any bread)

Smoosh the banana to a pulp (try your best to get the bigger chunks because otherwise it won’t stick to the bread).  Add all other ingredients except the bread, mix until well incorporated.  Place all three slices of bread into the batter so it really soaks to the core.

Set your skillet to medium heat and lather with butter.  Cook the challah until lightly toasted on both sides.  Coat with powdered sugar if you’re in the mood, and serve with grade B maple syrup if you’re in the mood.

Serves one.  All mine.