Monday, November 4, 2013

Oatmeal Enthusiast: Meet Stephanie!

Like many of my Enthusiasts, I discovered Stephanie on Instagram. Day after day after day, she posted and tagged oatmeal photos. I actually had to comment on four of her pictures over the course of several weeks before I finally got her attention! :) But alas, I finally snagged her and persuaded her to join the Enthusiasts club. Can I also acknowledge that she's the first Enthusiast to make multiple recipes a day?? Snaps for savory!

Hello, everyone!  My name is Stephanie or in the lovely world of Instagram oatmeal, mazzy1221. I have to admit I am super ecstatic about being selected as an oatmeal enthusiast for The Oatmeal Artist.  So much so, that I endeavored to exercise some bragging rights on my colleagues shortly after being contacted by Lauren.  Most attempts received an immediate quizzical look followed by “Huh?”  Then upon further explanation, “Who gets excited about oatmeal?”   

I do…  I do! ME!!  ... and it’s nice to find I’m not the only one.   

I will admit all food excites me.  I love to cook.  It gives the opportunity to experiment, to create.  Recipes can be seen as scientific formulas or ingredients as an artist’s pallet of never-ending color choices.  With the right combinations you may discover a cure for an unwanted belly ache or a much needed comfort food during a battle with a seasonal cold.   It may also become that awe-inspiring photographic masterpiece that visually stimulates one into a state of drool.  My favorite kind!   

The problem I stumble upon most in my cooking routine is that with so many possibilities there hardly is a dish found to repeat itself in my home.  There are so many recipes out there to overwhelm me that 3 meals, 7 days a week doesn’t allow for me to fit them all in.  If only I had more time…..          

On the flip side, meals bring people together, and in my home that is time to be treasured.  Whether it’s sitting down for an evening dinner or a Sunday morning breakfast, I cherish these moments with my family.  These meals aren’t made of just ingredients meant to hold it together and satisfy the taste buds alone.  I put love into this.  My heart goes into this and I see it as a gift or offering to the people I hold most dear, my husband and son. in my quest of never ending ideas, I happened upon The Oatmeal Artist. 

I love oatmeal.  Oatmeal and I, we go way back.  My grandmother would make oatmeal for me in the mornings before heading off to school.  This gives it that special place in my heart.  She always made it on the stove and her rule…. “DON’T STIR IT!”  She felt this would break the oats and make them mushy.  Although I don’t STIR my oats I must admit to giving them a quick swirl around the pot with a spoon, careful not to hurt them.  : )  Beyond the privilege of receiving a hot breakfast that most kids did not, the toppings never changed and I must confess are a bit boring.  Butter, milk, sugar.  For a child these are the best.  “More sugar, please!”  But as we age, so should our eating mature and evolve.  

…and here we are. 

I wish I could remember the exact combination of ingredients I had Googled that day, obviously one being oatmeal.  But it brought me here.  I was instantly taken in by the pictures for they are beautiful, as food goes.  Delectable.  I was instantly hooked.  As a creature of habit I was already eating my oats every morning, changing them slightly by adding some berries or drizzling some honey, but that day my world got bigger and my mornings more exciting.  Mind blown…   Now, every morning is a new adventure and my oatmeal escapades, even bleed over, into lunch and dinner at times.  Savory oats?  WHAT…?! 

..but enough about me.  Let’s get on with this week’s menu. 

MONDAY: My weekday mornings always start early.  Up before the rooster crows as they say and even though I had taken this Monday off from work I got up at my usual time of 4:15 to cook my oatmeal and hit the 5am fitness class at the gym.  I chose a nectarine and blackberries for my 1st day on the job as Oatmeal Enthusiast, mixed in a bit of maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon and topped it off with some additional pieces of fruit and chopped walnuts.  


Monday was a double-the-fun day for me as I also whipped up a savory baked oats dish for dinner.  I browned some hot Italian turkey sausage with a red bell pepper and onion, seasoned it with some garlic powder and rubbed sage, and then mixed it with 2 cups of oats, 2.5 cups almond milk, an egg, 1 tsp baking powder, and 3/4 cup shredded Colby cheese. Poured it into a prepped 11x15 casserole dish and baked at 350 for 35min.  PERFECT!


TUESDAY: Tuesday morning it was back to work.  To save myself time in the morning I try to do any prepping I can the night before, especially if there are difficult fruits that need to be dealt with.  On this morning there was no such need.  I took inspiration from the Oatmeal Artist’s Elvis recipe and added one additional ingredient: bacon bits!  I went with turkey because I don’t eat pork or beef.  This was super easy and delicious.  I cooked ½ of the banana with the oats, ½ tsp vanilla extract, and 3 tbsp of PB2.  Then I topped it with the remaining banana, a TBSP bacon bits, and a TBSP of honey.   


WEDNESDAY: The muse for my oatmeal on this morning was a recipe I had seen for a salad.  I had all of the ingredients so why not?  I cooked ¾ of a red pear with my oats along with a dash of cinnamon and a TBSP of maple syrup. I finished it off with the remaining pear, a TBSP of dried cranberries, a TBSP of chopped pecans, and a TBSP of blue cheese.  WOW! 


THURSDAY: Up to this point in my oatmeal adventures I had yet to try the PBJ & banana on Lauren’s list of favorites.  I have added PB to some and use bananas all the time but the jelly hadn’t made it to my bowl.  I have eyed it on numerous occasions but always have so much fresh produce on hand that I hate to see wasted therefore the opportunity never arose for me to give it a go until now.  For this morning I cooked ½ a banana with my oats, added 3 TBSP of PB2, and tossed in ½ cup black grapes (saving some for garnish).  My jelly of choice was baobab jelly.  My only regret – that I didn’t use the whole banana.   


For dinner I had another savory baked oatmeal recipe I wanted to give a try – Amish baked oats.  2 cups oats, 1 medium onion, 1 medium Jonagold apple, 8 slices Applegate Farms turkey bacon (the BEST), ½ cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 eggs, ½ cup shredded Colby, ¾ cup almond milk, 1.5 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp ground sage.  I sautéed the onion and turkey bacon along with the sage and black pepper.  Meanwhile I prepped and mixed the remaining ingredients.  I combined everything and pressed it into an 8x8 baking dish then baked at 350 for 35.  The only fault I found with this dish was that there wasn’t any left for a 2nd bowl.  It was that good! 


FRIDAY: To close my week out as honorary Oatmeal Enthusiast (an honor it is) I was drawn in by another recipe from The Oatmeal Artist – Pineapple & Jalapeno. I cooked my oats in almond milk as usual, added 1 cup pineapple chunks (saving a few pieces for garnish).  I chose to go with WHH Ranch Cowgirl Candy in place of the Jalapeno. It’s a sweet hot relish made with jalapenos, cherries, and pineapple. Once my oats were done I topped them with a TBSP of relish and 2 TBSP of raw pistachios.  It was yummy and it was HOT!  Glad I had the self-control to use only 1 TBSP as I had contemplated more.  Water was on hand as I broke a sweat. 


…and that would be a wrap for me! This newly treaded ground in my oatmeal endeavors has been a blast.  I am so greatly appreciative of Lauren for asking me to do this.  I look forward to trying out the endless ideas she can envision and creating some of my own.    *Stephanie* 

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last,
"what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" 

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. 

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said. 
The Tao of Pooh 
[Editor's Note: If you're interested in becoming my next Oatmeal Enthusiast, be sure to show your enthusiasm by tagging your oatmeal pictures with #oatmealartist on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Thank you for all your love and support!]

**You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!

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