Vanilla Berry Baked Oatmeal

Vanilla Berry Baked Oatmeal
I’ve gotten pretty lazy about breakfast lately. Weekday mornings with egg sandwiches on toasted English muffins and steel cut oats with fruit compote swirls are a distant memory. Now I define a.m. creativity as a bowl with a mix of three different kinds of cereal. I leave home full, but without the spring in my step when I have a from-scratch meal.

A craving for oats hit me, but I wasn’t interested in my usual cooking method, soaking them overnight. Instead I made a vegan vanilla berry baked oatmeal with slivered almonds, brown sugar and maple syrup. I ate most of it cold from the fridge topped with a splash of almond milk. It only took a few days for me to polish off the whole thing myself.
Vanilla Berry Baked Oatmeal
Vanilla Berry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Food52

Serves 4-6

Non-stick cooking spray
1 tablespoon ground flax meal
3 tablespoons warm water
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
2-1/4 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon canola oil or melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups fresh mixed berries plus more for topping
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch or 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flax meal and water. Let stand for a few minutes until it thickens.

In a large bowl mix together the oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Add the maple syrup, almond milk, oil and vanilla extract to the flax meal mixture whisking to combine. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the berries. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle more berries on top and bake for 15 minutes. Top with almonds and brown sugar and continue baking for 10 minutes until the majority of the liquid has been absorbed.

Let the oats cool before serving. The oatmeal can be eaten warm or cold. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Honey-Thyme Chicken Apricot Kebabs

Honey-Thyme Chicken Apricot Kebabs
It’s no surprise that we didn’t make it through the summer on one propane tank for our grill. We have fired up our favorite outdoor appliance at least once a week and even more depending on what we have picked up at the market. Grilling is exactly what lazy, relaxed cooking should be—not much effort for some incredible meals.

We ended up with a kitchen full of stone fruit. After we had eaten them in enough snacks and salads, I decided they needed to be skewered and cooked, so I grilled honey-thyme chicken apricot kebabs. Served with a side of couscous, the chicken thighs and apricot halves were the right balance of smoky and sweet flavors.
Honey-Thyme Chicken Apricot Kebabs
Honey-Thyme Chicken Apricot Kebabs
Adapted from Food & Wine

Serves 4

1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 small apricots, halved and pitted
8 large skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden
Olive oil for brushing

In a small bowl, combine the honey, thyme, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill on medium high heat. Arrange the chicken and apricots on the skewers. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Grill the kebabs until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Drizzle the honey-thyme mixture on the kebabs immediately after removing from the grill.

Blueberry Lemon Pie

Blueberry Lemon Pie
Last weekend a couple friends and I threw a perfectly PG-rated bachelorette party. No crazy antics, embarrassing accessories or surprise guests. We chatted, sipped champagne cocktails & rosé and nibbled on all sorts of little puff pastry bites. It was an evening of good conversation and laughs.

I was in charge of sweets, so a week before the party I asked the bride-to-be what she wanted for dessert. Fruit was her pick over chocolate, so I had to give it extra thought. Not everyone is a chocoholic like me! I took advantage of berry season, and I baked this blueberry lemon pie.
Blueberry Lemon Pie
Blueberry Lemon Pie
Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang 

Makes 1 pie

For dough
1-3/4 all-purpose flour plus more for worksurface
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 12 pieces
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold milk

For pie
8 cups fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar

For the dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, mix for 10 seconds until combined. Add the butter, mixing until small clumps are visible throughout the flour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk before adding to the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worksurface and flatten into a 1-inch thick disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.

After the dough has chilled, on a lightly floured worksurface, roll out about two-thirds of the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan leaving a 1/4-inch overhang at the edge. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the pie shell with parchment and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the shell for 30 minutes until light golden brown.

While the pie is baking, make the filling. Place 2 cups blueberries, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Cook the berries on medium low heat until they are the consistency of a chunky, loose jam. Stir in the remaining blueberries and the lemon zest.

When the shell has finished baking, remove the parchment and pie weights and pour in the filling, On a lightly floured worksurface, roll out the remaining dough into a 10-inch diameter circle about 1/8 inch thick. Use a small cutter to cut out holes in the dough, but not too close to the edge. Place the dough on top of the filling leaving a 1/4 to 1/2-inch overhang.

Place the pie on a sheet pan before returning to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 1-1/2 hours. Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 3 to 4 hours. Use a paring knife to trim the edge of the pie.

Store the pie in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

Charred Tomato Panzanella

Charred Tomato Panzanella
August is the only month of the year that I don’t have canned tomatoes in the pantry. They are one of my top 5 most used ingredients, but with every different variety in season from beefsteaks to green zebras to sweet 100s, I swap tinned for fresh doing my best to get them into as many meals as I can.

I put a little more effort than usual into this charred tomato panzanella by roasting the tomatoes under the broiler. The slight smokiness paired well with crisp cucumber slices, salty chopped Kalamata olives and red onions. This salad made the most of each tomato including all the flavorful juices.
Charred Tomato Panzanella
Charred Tomato Panzanella
Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Serves 4

1/2 loaf crusty country bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 to 4 large ripe tomatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds), assorted colors
1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise, deseeded and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast the bread in the oven until dry and light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatoes on a foil-lined sheet pan and broil until charred in spots, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the tomatoes and continue broiling for 2-3 minutes. Allow the tomatoes to cool.

Roughly chop the tomatoes discarding any loose skin and put them into a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, onions, olives, olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Allow the salad to sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Stir in the bread cubes and basil before serving.

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