Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oats and Olés

Monday morning's oatmeal was requested specifically by Isabella, who very well might be the first child in recorded history to put oatmeal above pancakes in the breakfast favorites category (I am very proud of this). This is not, mind you, the tutti fruiti, turn your milk neon blue, prepackaged children's "oatmeal" that marketers push as a healthy morning meal for America's youngsters. This is pure old fashioned rolled oats that take the full 6 minutes to cook on the stove (as opposed to their "ready in the microwave in 45 seconds" counterparts), that are a whole grain superfood, full of fiber, and keeps you feeling full (great if you are trying to loose weight). Admittedly, plain oatmeal is grueling to get down.... knowing how to dress it up makes all the difference in world. Here are some super easy (and quick) ideas to get real oatmeal back on the breakfast table:
- Add some chopped apple, raisins, a few walnuts, a tablespoon of sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon shortly after adding oats to the water
- While the oats cook, slice some strawberries into a bowl and toss in tablespoon or so of brown sugar. The berries will release their juices and get deliciously syrupy, add as a topping to your bowl of oats
- Eat plain, with a drizzle of real deal pure maple syrup*
- We top all of the afore mentioned combinations with a splash of whole milk, to give it that extra oomph of flavor and texture

* Maple syrup makes a wonderful sweetener, and naturally contains vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, so feel free to indulge! No offense to Aunt Jemima, bless her heart, but her syrup is nothing more than artificially flavored and colored corn syrup, as are most brands of 'maple syrup' on the market. Be sure to look for "100% pure maple syrup" on the label.

Mexican Night got off to a discouraging start when I realized at the beginning of dinner prep that I had forgotten to soak my pintos overnight for the borracho beans. That is unfortunately a blunder that I am familiar with. Moving on, I decide to scrap the mexican rice as well, and take solace in the two beautiful avocados I happened to have picked up, by turning them into the most delicious and simple guacamole ever, with just chopped onion, lime juice, cilantro, sea salt, and a touch of plain yogurt, which adds to the tang and smoothes out the texture just slightly. My chili con carne sauce that will be topping my cheese and onion enchiladas takes an hour and a half of simmer time, which is fine, because it allows me to get all of my other dish components prepared. The long simmer time (and a ridiculous amount of spices) allows everything to really break down, which is the secret to that perfect, smooth, super flavorful sauce that seem to be an art only Tex Mex restaurants have mastered (there are a depressingly low number of authentic Tex Mex cookbooks on the market and I'm glad I finally found one!). The queso was as good as I have had anywhere, despite me skipping the 15 minutes it would have taken to roast the poblano peppers before sautéing them, and was incredibly simple- just chopped onion, poblanos, and tomato with american cheese (something I typically disdain, but made an exception for), with a little water to thin it out. The flautas were slightly disappointing flavor wise, falling a little flat as I filled them only with shredded chicken, jack cheese, and onion (I should have added a bit of seasoning), but I was impressed and pleased that they managed to hold up their roll in the pan. The salted caramel sauce which I pared with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert was spectacular... Look back for the recipe tomorrow!

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