Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pear Sauce Oatmeal

Yep, I gave pears another chance. For me, so much of the problem was the texture--so gritty and watery! I thought I would never make another oatmeal with them again, but when I thought of making a pear sauce, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Carrot Pineapple Oatmeal

In case you haven't noticed, I love using earthy ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots in porridge. These ingredients create such heartwarming bowls of oatmeal that it can make even the coldest of mornings tolerable.

The downfall of those veggies (although pumpkin is a fruit, apparently) is that they typically require an added sweetener. As you can tell from many of my recipes, I do not fear a small dose of maple syrup or honey. However, when I can sweeten something naturally, I much prefer that.

Enter: pineapple!

When I first saw this flavor combination, I was delighted. I've learned recently that pineapple pairs well with just about everything. I love pineapple on pizza, in salsa, and virtually every southwestern-type dish (I recently made a spicy quinoa casserole with corn, tomatoes, black beans, and...yep...pineapple!). There are few dishes I won't try with pineapple. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best of 2013

See also: Best of 2012

One more year has passed, which means my blog is just over a year and a half old now. Like I said a year ago, I can't believe I was able to stick with something for this long! Can you believe I've been pumping two to three original oatmeal recipes every week for a year and a half? How is that even possible? How is it possible that I still have ideas left?

Much to my great pleasure and gratitude, 2013 was a great year for me. I began my partnership with Country Choice Organic, started my Facebook fan page, introduced the Oatmeal Enthusiasts series, was featured on the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, celebrated my first FoodGawker acceptance, and--last but not least--this happened.

With all of that peppered throughout my exhausting first and second school year in urban education, my life seems pretty satisfying right now. Being tired and stress most of the time, it's not until moments like this that I actually have time to reflect on how great my year has been--with many thanks to this site and all of you for supporting it!

Here are my most popular OR personal favorites from 2013. I had to change the categories a bit from last year (because "Best Stove-Top Oatmeal" is way too overwhelming of a competitive field!). I also added categories (because I'm the boss and I can do that). Feel free to comment with recipes you think are missing from the list. :) I love hearing your thoughts on this!

1. Fan Favorite Recipe
Brownie Batter Oatmeal: I love this oatmeal (although I tend to make the peanut butter version), and--by making it the most-viewed recipe posted in 2013--you all demonstrated that you share this love! Not only did it receive tons of views, but it also gathered double the amount of comments of my other popular recipes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crowd-Pleasing Recipes for a Holiday Breakfast

I originally planned on posting a new recipe this morning, but the pressure of posting something "holiday related" became too much. Instead, I realized some people may be hosting a Christmas breakfast tomorrow morning, and perhaps oatmeal will be involved.

(In my perfect world, oatmeal would be served at every morning gathering and everyone would love it as much as you and I do. Sigh.)

Here are seven oatmeal recipes that a) can feed a crowd, and b) are at least mildly holiday-themed.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Blossom Baked Oatmeal

Once upon a time, I liked cookies. Doesn't every child? I loved my mother's chocolate chip cookies (why was the rest of the world incapable of making decent chocolate chip cookies??), the white chocolate chip macadamia cookies from Subway, big puffy snickerdoodles, fork-pressed peanut butter cookies, frosted sugar cookies, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand the incredible peanut butter blossom.

Now, I must rant that I've never understood why people are so incessant about this being a "holiday cookie." What the heck does a peanut butter cookie with a chocolate Kiss have to do with the holidays? Nothing.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Oatmeal

Although I've made several pumpkin recipes, they all carried a similar theme; in particular, they all included pumpkin pie spice.

This recipe let me depart from that category. I'm finally exploring all pumpkin possibilities, which I intend on doing more frequently going forward. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip was a success, so why not with cocoa powder?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

A couple weeks ago, I introduced my Cranberry Brownie Baked Oatmeal. Of course, that was delicious (CHOCOLATE); however, this time I wanted to try something more wholesome, and something that would let the cranberries have their moment.

The recipe calls for a half cup of cranberries, but I used even more. I measured with my hands and added one large handful and another smaller handful. I wanted the cranberries to stuff every bite of this oatmeal!

P.S. YES, that's real snow! Several inches pummeled us over the weekend. This was the first few minutes of the snowfall, before it became downright miserable. Doesn't it make a lovely picture?

Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

by The Oatmeal Artist
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Ingredients (serves 1)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of allspice (optional, could replace with nutmeg)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (I used only 1/2 a tsp)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (or more)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a single-serving ramekin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, add milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup.
  3. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients: oats, cinnamon, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Once mixed, add to wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in fresh cranberries.
  5. Transfer to the ramekin and bake for 22-25 minutes.
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**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!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

PB and J Muesli

There is neither peanut butter nor jelly in this muesli (although I definitely contemplated both). Instead, it contains a delicious mix of fresh grapes, crushed peanuts, and (bonus!) sliced bananas, flax, and raisins. It's like PB&J, in a muesli-friendly form.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Maple Sweet Potato Oatmeal

I think I've overcome my dislike of maple syrup. I've recently realized that it was never maple syrup itself that I loathed, but instead the general experience of eating the classic American pancake breakfast (aka Bisquik). I hate the taste of premixed white flour pancakes, and combined with sweet syrup, I was destined for a post-breakfast bellyache. It's no wonder I associate pancakes and syrup with misery.

On the other hand, maple syrup and oatmeal has become one of my most beloved ways to start my mornings. Not only does it sweeten an earthy porridge, but it adds an unmatchable flavor that I've truly come to appreciate...maybe a little too much. :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chocolate Pomegranate Oatmeal

I remember being underwhelmed the first time I tried pomegranate. I expected it to taste exotic and burst with flavorful juices, like a Fruit Gusher. I couldn't deny my disappointment the first time I bit into one and crunched into the inner seed.

As with coconut, cranberries, and kiwifruit, I eventually came around to love everything about pomegranates, including the qualities I originally loathed. I love that little crunch now. I love the subtle indescribable flavor. I love the feel of the misshapen little jewels on my tongue before they burst.

...and if I'm being honest, I still love the look of them more than anything else. I mean...look at them! They're beautiful!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cranberry Pear Oatmeal

For all the pear lovers out there, you'll appreciate this recipe. As you all know, pears are one of my least favorite fruits. Thanks to the cranberries, I was able to enjoy this oatmeal anyway. I noticed from Foodgawker that pears and cranberries are a common food combination, but I had never experienced it before, and I found the flavor duo to be quite unique and fun.

It's amazing how my opinion of cranberries has changed in the past month and a half. When I first bought the jar of cranberry sauce early in November to use as a topping for fall-themed recipes, I was pretty indifferent to it. It was significantly better than the cranberry sauce I've had in the past, but still nothing special.

Then I bought the fresh cranberries for a few recipe ideas that never actually ended up happening until this week, but I've been using them for other purposes (sauteed with brussels sprouts!), and I'm slowly falling in love.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sweet Potato Gingerbread Oatmeal

Sweet potatoes are so dreamy. They can be silky and creamy, or fried and crunchy. They can be salty and packed with herbs, or sweet and packed with spices. I do love me some sweet potato oatmeal.

This recipe is quite different from my other gingerbread recipes, mostly because I allowed sweet potatoes to be the star. It seemed pointless to mask the sweet potato flavors completely since I already have gingerbread recipes, so I intentionally elected to make this more of a "gingerbread-spiced sweet potato" recipe (and I'm pleased with the results).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cranberry Brownie Baked Oatmeal

I need to go back to all my chocolate baked oatmeals and redo them. I need to fix them knowing what I know now. I must improve them...ASAP...because I now know the secret to a banana-less, applesauce-less baked oatmeal.

It's avocado. AVOCADO! Duh! Why didn't I think of that earlier? Avocado is used all the time as a replacement for butter and eggs in vegan baking. Ugh! I could have saved myself from so many unnecessary banana flavors.

This trick worked like a charm for this recipe. I was too lazy to drag out my food processor, so I just mashed the heck out of this avocado and mixed it by hand with the other ingredients. Before adding the oats and cranberries, I tasted the chocolate-avocado mixture...and it's like PUDDING. It reminded me of the dairy-free pudding I often make when I have avocado to use up...but without the banana!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oatmeal Enthusiasis: Meet Mahrukh!

One aspect of my blog that brings me more joy than almost anything else is my international audience. How cool is it to appeal to such a variety of people with such different tastes! When I discovered Mahrukh through Facebook and Instagram, I never even realized she was from outside the United States. Interacting with readers like her has taught me that it doesn't matter where we're from and what our regional cuisine is; anyone can love porridge. And peanut butter. ;)

Greetings, Fellow Oatmeal Lovers! My name is Mahrukh and I am currently doing my M.B.A in Human Resource Management from NUST University, Pakistan. Yes, this might come as a shock to most of you. But I feel absolutely honored to have been contacted by the Oatmeal Artist to exhibit my love for oatmeal on her highly drool-worthy blog. Isn’t it simply wonderful how people living million miles away can connect on the basis of love? Thank you, Lauren, for providing me with the opportunity to bridge distances on a common ground. J

Oatmeal (or as many over at my side of the world like to call it, porridge) might be one of the simplest and minute things of life, but for me it means the whole world. I cannot imagine life without it. Over-exaggerating much? Heh. I mean it! It became part of my life 5 years back, and now I am totally hooked. Joining the gym and wanting to lead a healthier life is to be credited for this addiction. Initially, I was subjected to a lot of criticism from my family and friends as oatmeal in my country is normally a part of the older lot’s diet, but from simpler starts such as honey or banana, I have slowly mastered the art of dessert-like combinations and transformed the doubters into die-hard fans. And of course, until recently Lauren became one of my major inspiration.

I came across her blog a few months back and I am absolutely in awe with all the recipes. My only wish is to at least try making more than half of them, but I am time-constrained or I simply lack the essential ingredients required to make a delicious bowl of oatmeal. Can you imagine we don’t have blueberries, raspberries, cranberries or pumpkins over here? Sad, I know. Even then I try my best to come up with as many combinations while incorporating ideas from her blog as well.

Oatmeal is love. Literally. But my love for oats just does not stop there. I love using oats for making pancakes, as well as mug cakes. These two are also a huge part of my everyday routine and I absolutely love experimenting with different flavors and combinations. This love for oats has now developed as a healthy addiction and even if I have an exam one day (as I did the last week), I cannot fathom going a day without an absolutely gorgeous meal. Many of my friends call it an obsession, and I wouldn’t disagree. But then most of them also suggest that I should take this love to the next level and start my own small healthy food deli. Who knows? I just might!

Coming back to this post, I decided to stick with oatmeal for most of the days. In case you guys are curious about the other items, feel free to hop over to my Instragram for daily updates; my id is: mahrukh_23.

Monday: Popeye Pancake

I hadn’t yet received a confirmation e-mail from Lauren until now, so I had my Popeye Pancake. Why Popeye? The reason being simple, it is made out of his favorite thing in the whole wide world; spinach. I topped it off with peanut butter/banana sauce and crushed nuts (i.e. walnuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews).

This is one of my ‘favoritest’ combination! I absolutely love chocolate, banana and peanut butter and when these three mesh together? It is eternal bliss! Now as far as the presentation goes, I love turning oatmeal into parfaits. It simply adds a bit more drama to it.

Wednesday: PB&J Oatmeal

I have always been fascinated by this combination, but never actually took the risk of trying it. I know it’s quite popular in the US but at my side of the world, peanut butter itself is uncommon which makes PB&J a myth. Anyhoo, for the sake of this post I decided to finally take the plunge and I absolutely fell in love with this combination. I used Sugar-Free Kiwi Jam for this purpose and since I had recently bought Kiwi from the market, I decided to incorporate it as well. It was absolutely delicious! I cannot wait to try a PB&J toast someday. Though I have a feeling it might not triumph over this lovely oatmeal parfait.

Took inspiration from the Oatmeal Artist, but I added my Asian twist to it or as we like to call it, the desi touch. Fruit Chaat aka. Fruit Salad is highly common in my part of the world, especially during the month of Ramadan. Hence, for this oatmeal, I took as many fruits as I could get my hands on (i.e. apple, banana, pomegranate, red and green grapes) and added them to my oatmeal. Then I added the secret ingredient to it which is ½ tsp of Shaan’s Chaat Masala (i.e. Salad Spice). It simply adds so much zest to the oatmeal! Tried this for the first time and absolutely regret not doing it any sooner.

I recently bought baby food applesauce from the grocery store and bumped into this recipe on her blog and decided to give it a shot. I garnished it with pomegranate arils, diced apples, cinnamon and raisins. It was scrumptious and delicious!

Saturday: Mug cake with Choco-banana Sauce

This sauce, and in fact all her sauces, are to DIE for! I find myself using them quite frequently, be it as a topping on my pancake, mug cake or just drizzling it on top of my oatmeal.

In the end, I’d just like to conclude by thanking Lauren yet again for providing me with this lovely opportunity. It has been an incredible experience--one I am bound to cherish for years to come. It feels great to connect with people on the basis of similar interests and the love for food, good food, being the finest of them all. As they say, ‘people who love to eat are always the best people’. I’d like to add just an itsy bitsy to it; ‘people who love to eat good are always the best people’. Goodness being oats!

With love, from Pakistan!

[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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