Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Comfort and Italian Sweet Cream

What do you make for breakfast that just comforts the soul?

At my house, it’s oatmeal.

During my growing up years, I didn’t have oatmeal often because my dad—who usually made our breakfasts (Mama worked swing shifts and didn’t get up in the mornings before we went to school) wasn’t overly fond of the mushy, gummy mess that posed for breakfast as his mother had made it. (Instead, he was a master of scrambled eggs cooked in the microwave. Sounds gross, I know but somehow they always turned out fluffy and delicious.)

When I was in college, I dated a man who taught me to make oatmeal (and triticale—his favorite) with nothing more than boiling water and time. It was quick and tasty and that was how I made oatmeal until about a year ago, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Irish or steel cut oatmeal. Wow! What a delightful find…we were immediately hooked. Even my “I don’t eat mush!” husband fell in love.

Our favorite way to eat steel cut oats is with a little Italian Sweet Cream and a dollop of raspberry or strawberry freezer jam. Frozen huckleberries and slivered almonds with brown sugar are also good. I usually make extra because they heat up easily in the microwave for a quick and tasty breakfast when you’re in a rush and they never last long in the refrigerator…someone always wants a snack.

I have to confess to an ulterior motive for sharing this recipe now. Recently, I’ve been on a baking kick and I’ve been using leftover oatmeal in a fun and simple oatmeal raisin-cinnamon swirl bread. Stay tuned for further recipe postings. J

Note: this recipe is great for both steel cut oats and Scottish oatmeal.  What’s the difference? Scottish oats are stone ground into a medium fine meal while steel cut or Irish oats have the oat groat cut into two or three pieces. I toast them both before cooking and the finished product is very similar. The Scottish oats cook in about 10 minutes while the steel cut oats take 40-50 minutes depending on how soft you like them.

Irish Oatmeal

1 cups Irish or steel cut oats—may also be called pinhead oats
1 Tbs butter
pinch salt
3-4 cups boiling water

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add oats and roast for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until oats are toasty brown. Remove from heat and carefully add boiling water (it will spit and boil up a bit). Cook on low heat, stirring every 5-10 minutes (to prevent sticking) until oats are soft. Enjoy with toppings of your choice.

Italian Sweet Cream

This is pure decadence in a bottle and definitely not meant to be eaten on a daily basis. J (I haven’t tried it but I’m sure you could make something similar with fat free half-and-half.)

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
½ tsp vanilla (optional)

Stir all ingredients gently until sugar dissolves. Place in glass jar or bottle. Serve over hot oatmeal. 

Monday, February 7, 2011


Now for my current baking craze. Do you ever get these?

I’ve been on one—bread mainly (more on that soon), but cookies too. It strikes me that it’s been a long time since I posted any cookie recipes and so today, I thought I’d share the family Snickerdoodle recipe.

These crinkly topped cookies have been always been one of my favorites. Nana would let my brother and I help her make them when we were kids. It was great fun. Who wouldn’t love rolling dough into balls through a sandbox of cinnamon sugar, then licking the extra off your fingers? It was much more fun than play dough!

At my house, they MUST be made in the traditional fashion with cream of tarter and baking soda. No modern variations for us…

Spicy, sweet and crispy tender, you’ll find it impossible to eat just one.

Makes about 5 dozen—don’t worry, they freeze beautifully.

1 cup     butter
1 cup     margarine or shortening
3 cups    sugar
4            eggs
2 tsp.     vanilla
4 tsp.     cream of tarter
5 1/3      flour
2 tsp.     baking soda
½ tsp.    salt
1 cup     cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter, margarine, and sugar until fluffy, add in eggs one at a time, beating until each is thoroughly incorporated.

In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture—mixing until all dry ingredients are moistened.
Form dough into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cookies will look a little under-baked. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving to cooling rack.

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