Ultimate Oatmeal

And yes it is ultimate indeed! It is a little more time consuming than just regular oatmeal but trust me, it is well worth it.

Ultimate Oatmeal
3 C. water
1 C. 1% milk (do not use skim milk here)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 C. steel-cut oats
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Bring water and milk to a simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, then add the oats and toast, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. 

2. Stir the toasted oats into the simmering liquid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the mixture is very thick, about 20 minutes. 

3. Stir in the salt and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the oatmeal is creamy, about 10 minutes longer. Let the oatmeal stand for 5 minutes before serving.


Ultimate oatmeal with cranberries and walnuts
Add 1/3 c. dried cranberries, 1/4 c. toasted walnuts, chopped, 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon with the salt.

Ultimate oatmeal with apple cinnamon and raisins
Use a sweet cooking apple here such as Fuji, Jonagold, Pink Lady, Jonathan, or Macoun.
Add 1 peeled and grated sweet apple, 1/3 c. raisins, 1/4 c. maple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon with the salt.

Ultimate oatmeal with bananas
Add 2 mashed bananas and 1/4 C. packed light brown sugar with the salt. 

Recipe Source {America's Test Kitchen}


Baked Apple Dumplings

Half an apple, stuffed with raisins, sealed in dough, smothered in cinnamon and sugar served with ice cream and cider sauce. Sound yummy? It is.

These took a little time to put together. I made the dough and the cider sauce early in the day and it made it a little faster to assemble. Just pretend you are Snow White while you work away in the kitchen...you know, the seven dwarfs start salivating when she says she will make them apple dumplings??

Never mind. You obviously don't have 3 small children like I do :)

Baked Apple Dumplings

{serves 8}

2 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons raisins, chopped
4 Golden Delicious apples (you can also use Braeburns or Galas)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1. For the Dough: Process the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the buttermilk until a dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly until the dough is cohesive. Press into an 8x4 rectangle. Cut in half crosswise, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm {1 hour}.

2. For the Apples: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. In a second bowl, combine the butter, raisins, and 3 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Peel the apples and halve them through the equator. Remove the core of the apple with a spoon or melon baller. Pack the butter mixture into each apple half.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a 12-inch square (my dough was quite sticky so I had to use quite a bit of flour on this step). Cut each 12-inch square into four 6-inch squares. Working 1 at a time, lightly brush the edges of each dough square with the egg white and place an apple half, cut side up, in the center of each square. Gather the dough 1 corner at a time on top of the apple, crimping the edges to seal. Using a paring knife cut a vent hole in the top of each dumpling.

4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the dumplings on the prepared baking sheet, brush the tops with egg white, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake until the dough is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes or so and serve with cider sauce and ice cream.

Cider Sauce

To make the sauce in advance, reduce the cider mixture until it measures 1 1/2 cups, then refrigerate. When ready to serve, return the mixture to a simmer and whisk in the butter and lemon juice off the heat.

1 cup apple cider (I used apple juice with good results)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring the cider, water, sugar, and cinnamon to a simmer in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened and reduce to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and lemon juice. Drizzle the sauce over the dumplings and ice cream and serve.

{Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011 Cookbook}


Sauteed Pork Cutlets with Mustard-Cider Sauce

This was incredible.

I was interested in this recipe because of the mustard/cider combination. America's Test Kitchen knows what they are doing. It was the perfect combination of sweet and interesting flavors that paired perfectly with the pork.

Just wait until you see what we had for dessert (I'll post it tomorrow!!)

Sauteed Pork Cutlets with Mustard-Cider Sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork spareribs, cut lengthwise into 2 or 3 cutlets about 3/8 inch wide each
4 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter cut into 6 equal pieces
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
1/4 cup apple cider (or I used apple juice and it worked great)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage (or dry)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon salt and the sugar in 2 cups water in a medium bowl. Gently pound each pork cutlet until 1/4 inch thick (I had a hard time getting mine this thin, so I had to adjust the cooking time accordingly in steps 3 & 4). Submerge the cutlets in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes (DO NOT OVERBRINE!).

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 pieces of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the flour and dry mustard and cook for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the broth, smoothing out the lumps. Stir in the cider and sage, bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set aside.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Remove the cutlets from the brine, dry thoroughly, and season with pepper. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 more piece butter, let it melt, then quickly lay half of the cutlets into the skillet. Cook until browned on the first side, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Using tongs, flip the cutlets and cook until browned on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the cutlets to a large plate and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining cutlets and 1 more piece of butter.

5. Return the empty skillet to medium heat, add the reserved broth mixture, and bring to a simmer. Cook, scraping up the browned bits, until the sauce is slightly thickened and has reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 2 minutes.

6. Off the heat whisk in the whole-grain mustard and remaining 2 pieces butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, spoon it over the cutlets and serve immediately. It is delicious with mashed potatoes!!

{The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011 Cookbook}


Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil

Another America's Test Kitchen recipe. I make this to go with the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets and they went together fabulously. Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil
Serves 4

1/3 C. extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional. I used half the amount)
Table Salt
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
1/4 C. minced fresh parsley leaves (optional. I actually sprinkled dry parsley on at the very end)
Ground Black Pepper

1. While preparing/cooking noodles according to directions on box, heat oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook stirring frequently, until garlic turns golden but not brown, about 5 minutes; remove pan from heat.
2. When draining pasta, reserve 1/4 C. cooking liquid, drain pasta and return to pot. Add garlic mixture, reserved pasta cooking liquid, and optional parsley; toss well to coat. Adjust seasoning with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets

In honor of Valentines day, allow me to share with you the menu tonight. Not sure if you've figured out that Jess and I are pretty much in love with America's Test Kitchen...but uh, we are. And my entire meal consisted of their recipes, including dessert. It was fabulous...so, enjoy! And next time you're standing in the checkout line at the grocery store and you see a magazine called "Cook's Illustrated" - it will be the best $8.00 you ever spent! :)
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
Serves 4 (can easily be halved to serve two or doubled to serve 8...can I come?)

-2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed, breasts trimmed of excess fat and halved horizontally (see note)
-Table Salt & Black Pepper
-1/4 C. plus 1 Tbs. flour
-1/4 C. Parmesan cheese, grated (I used the powder stuff you get at the grocery store, or you could grate some fresh stuff on a mircoplane rasp grater. Either way, it needs to be very small)
-3 large egg whites
-2 Tbs. minced fresh chives (optional. I did not use this tonight)
-2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded (buy a block and grate it like you would cheese on the largest holes of the grater. )
-4 teaspoons olive oil
-1 lemon, cut into wedges

Note: chicken breasts are easier to slice into cutlets if you freeze them for 15-20 minutes until firm but not fully frozen. To slice in half, place one hand on top of the breast to secure it, hold a chef's knife parallel to the cutting board, and slice through the middle of the breast horizontally.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 200 degrees.
2. Set a oven safe cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk together 1/4 c. flour with 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese in a pie plate. In medium bowl, whisk egg whites and chives (if using) together until slightly foamy. Pour into a pie plate. In third pie plate, combine shredded Parmesan and remaining Tbs. of flour.
3. Using tongs and working with one cutlet at a time, coat chicken in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Transfer chicken to egg-white mixture; coat evenly and let excess run off. Coat chicken with shredded Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so that cheese adheres. Place on wire rack. Continue with the rest of chicken cutlets.
4. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 2 cutlets in skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook until cheese is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes (I actually cooked 4 minutes on each side). Carefully flip cutlets and continue to cook until cheese is pale golden brown on second side and meat is no longer pink in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towel and return to medium heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoon oil and cook remaining 2 cutlets. Serving immediately with lemon wedges.

I served this with Spagheti with Garlic and Olive Oil. - I'll post this quick fix too.
For Dessert we had the recipe that Jessica posted today. Fallen Chocolate Cake. Oh heavenly.

Individual Fallen Chocolate Cakes, or the perfect Valentine's Dessert

I got this amazing recipe book for Christmas called "The Best of America's Test Kitchen: 2011." Every recipe we have tried has been delicious.

But this is the crowning jewel. I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved these. We made these last week and I am already craving them again.

They are just like Molten Lava cakes, if you have ever had those. If you haven't, they are amazing little cakes where the outside is like a brownie and the inside is underbaked and saucy. I have wanted to try making them for awhile but I was intimidated. They seem sensitive and hard to get just right. But these were really easy and there are not many ingredients! They are so light and fluffy and are paired perfectly with a scoop of ice cream and berries. And with only 2 tablespoons of sugar, go ahead and help yourself to two!!

Trust me, your Valentine will love this dessert.

Individual Fallen Chocolate Cakes for Two

Cocoa powder, for the ramekins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 6-ounce ramekins and dust with cocoa powder.

2. Combine the butter and chocolate in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until melted, 1 to 3 minutes stirring often. Stir in the vanilla.

3. In a large bowl, whip the egg with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy (about 1 minute). Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until soft, billowy mounds form (about 1 minute). Gradually whip in the granulated sugar and salt; continue to whip the egg until very thick and pale yellow, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

4. Scrape the egg mixture onto the chocolate mixture, then sift the flour over the top. Gently fold the mixtures together with a rubber spatula until just incorporated and no streaks remain.

5. Divide the batter between the ramekins, smooth the tops, and wipe any drops of batter off the sides. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the cakes until they have puffed about 1/2 inch above the rims of the ramekins and jiggle slightly in the center when shaken very gently (about 10-13 minutes).

6. Run a small knife around the edges of the cakes. Gently invert each ramekin onto an individual serving plate and let sit until the cakes release themselves from the ramekin (about 1 minute). Remove the ramekins, dust with confectioners' sugar (if using), and serve immediately.

{The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011}