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.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

All right, fine. Maybe germs are real after all. I don’t even want to talk about it.

And I totally had a second chance to watch grown-up Fantasia (following the unfortunate fire alarm incident from a while back) and ended up leaking from my eyeballs as the conductor flipped out during the grand finale, urging the orchestra to play just a few beats longer. Stravinsky, you have my heart. Use it wisely.

But let’s talk gardens. Because mine is in bloom and I want yours to do the same thing.

Gardening has everything to do with food. In a few months, I’ll be making kale chips up the wazoo. Zucchini quiche like nobody’s business. And herbs will always be fresh.

I know very little about gardening, other than the few tidbits I’ve picked up from blogs, friends and trial-and-error. The best advice I can give you is to love your seedlings. Keep their soil moist. Keep them warm. They love the sun (more than you do). And, most of all, don’t be bummed if you have to let some go. Not all of them will make it through the first few weeks of life. It happens. Plant s’more!

And always, always get excited when they first start to sprout. They need all the encouragement they can get.

In the meantime, keep on baking things with peanut butter.

I’m super obsessed with ramekins. It…might be intervention time.

Yeah, okay, I know, I’ve made a lot of peanut butter things lately. Live with it.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips.

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup vanilla yoghurt
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup ground flax
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips (always)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13 bread baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, fluff the flour, baking soda, salt, flax and spices with a fork.

In a large bowl, whisk bananas, peanut butter, melted butter and sugars until the peanut butter is fully incorporated. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure that everything is mixed before adding the next.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry before adding the chocolate chips and oats. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour (it may take more time), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 1 pan of bread, good enough for about a week of sweet, delectable breakfast.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chips

I’m a major creep on the train. I sit in the first cart, every day, at 8:06am and sit like a hunchback while perusing through the day’s news. I’m a train hermit. I don’t look up at the other bozos going to their respective daily grinds.

Unless.

Unless there’s a mini family on the train. Not necessarily strollers and bibs, but toddlers and daycare kids. Moms in suits asking their daughters if they remembered to bring their show-and-tell doll. Dads finding juice boxes. Sons sleeping on laps.

I totally stand near those families. I totally creep.

They’re snippets of happiness. And I’m far too young to even think about families and yadda yadda yadda (don’t worry, Mom), but watching them is more energizing than a fat cup of coffee, more news-worthy than the latest hoopla on the internet.

And as I age yet another year, I’m glad that I’m not in a rush to get anywhere.

Why fast-forward through life, right? Right.

It’s my birthday. Time to make my own snippets.

Scoops of peanut butter in my face.

When chocolate marries peanut butter, they make beautiful babies. And when they experiment with butter, whoa.

Served best with ice cream and board games on the porch.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chips.

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy, chunky, natural, Skippy, anything)
1 cup flour
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×9 baking pan or line with parchment paper.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar until the crystals are gone. Cool to about room temperature (you don’t want the egg to cook!) before adding the egg, vanilla and peanut butter. Swiftly mix until smooth.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and fold until they’re evenly distributed.

Pour into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Makes 8-12-16 brownies, depending how big you want them.

Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Sandwich

My hair is greying.

Not just a few. It’s got highlights. White highlights. Highlights that I wish would just clump together so I could call them a skunk stripe and be both Rogue and Mrs. Robinson at once. Any maybe fly and have super strength. While seducing adolescent men? Maybe I’ve gone too far.

When someone caught me drinking three cups of instant coffee, watching Top Chef while painting my nails and heating up more waffle fries for dinner, I had to make a self-intervention.

I went to bed early. I woke up 30 minutes early and made tea. And home lunch, the way Mom used to pack it.

Although I grew up jealous of my friends’ cool Lunchables with their mini sandwich meats and bite-sized cookies, or even the SPAM musubis, my white-hair-clad, nine to five aging body is grateful for the comforts of home. This time, the kids were jealous of my lunch.

No recipe required.

This is fancy bread. It’s got rye. And cranberries and pecans.

Creamy? Chunky? Bananas? Apples? Jam? Honey?

Everything but the brown paper bag.