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 V.13 No.48 | November 25 - December 1, 2004 

Eating In

Instant Gratification

Ten flavor-packed oatmeal recipes that cook up in no time

Serving suggestion
Serving suggestion

From the way we've been talking about oatmeal lately, you'd think the Alibi is bankrolled by Quaker Oats. We're not (but we gladly accept endowments, if anyone's listening). No, we just really like a good bowl of oatmeal. In fact, we like it so much that we've dubbed November "Rediscover Rolled Oats Month," and made it our personal mission to wean people off of the chintzy flavor impostors that clutter supermarket shelves worldwide. We think you should, too. Here's why:

From-scratch oatmeal is thrifty, quick and comforting, requires no brain cells first thing in the morning, is completely customizable, fills us up and gives us sustained, slow-burning energy throughout the day. Oatmeal was the first food product to boast FDA-supported health claims, from lowered cholesterol to a drop in blood pressure, a link to weight loss to improved intestinal function. And it's damned tasty. In a nutshell, oatmeal is the culinary marriage between hard-bodied athlete and sweet old granny.

You don't need cutesy packaging to enjoy a convenient bowl of oatmeal–but it couldn't hurt. If you often find yourself rushing out the door on an empty stomach, take a few nighttime minutes to make your own "instant" oats. Throw a small handful of rolled oats in your food processor and pulse it two or three times. Pour it into a resealable bag, or onto a six-inch square sheet of wax paper. Add another (unpulverized) small handful of oats to the bag, along with a dash of cinnamon, a pinch of brown sugar, some raisins or chopped, dried apples and (if you fancy it) a few teaspoons of powdered milk or protein supplement. Seal the bag, or fold the wax paper in half and iron the sides shut. Shake it up and you're good to go. When you get to work, dump your oats into a coffee mug, cover with hot water and let it stand for about two minutes (or until all the water is absorbed.). You'll have breakfast ready in the time it takes to check your e-mail. On the other hand, you could just wake up 10 minutes earlier and have a sit-down breakfast at home: Most of the recipes you'll find here require just five minutes on the stove.

Chai Plum Oatmeal

A delectable bohemian breakfast for one.
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/3 cup oats

2/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each of ground cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and black pepper.

2 dried plums, chopped

Honey or brown sugar, to taste

Instructions:

1) Bring milk and spices to gentle boil; stir in oats and fruit. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats, stirring occasionally.

2) Pour into a serving bowl. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients, leaving golden brown swirl pattern in bowl for presentation.

Peach Cobbler Oatmeal

This recipe comes from the test kitchens of the Quaker Oats folks. Log on to www.QuakerOatmeal.com for more recipes and ideas. f
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups fat-free milk

1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups oats

1-1/4 cups chopped frozen (thawed) or canned (drained) peaches

1 cup low fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt

Instructions:

1) For topping, combine wheat germ, brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; set aside.

2) For oatmeal, bring milk, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg to a boil in medium saucepan; stir in oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats, stirring occasionally. Stir in peaches. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until peaches are heated through and most of liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

3) Spoon oatmeal into four cereal bowls. Top with wheat germ mixture and yogurt.

Strawberry Oatmeal

Topped with sour cream or a dollop of crème fraîche, this is a nutritionally superior blintz in a bowl.
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pint strawberries(thawed if frozen)

2 or 3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 and 3/4 cups water

1 and 3/4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups quick-cooking oats

4 tablespoons sour cream

Instructions:

1) Hull and thinly slice the strawberries.

2) In a medium bowl, combine strawberries and brown sugar and gently stir until the strawberries are evenly coated.

3) In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Immediately add the oats and reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

4) Fill four bowls with oatmeal, leaving room for the topping. Spoon 1 tablespoon of sour cream on each bowl followed by 1/4 of the strawberries.

Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal

Another dish from www.QuakerOatmeal.com. Serve up a big batch of this stuff when you've got holiday company at the breakfast table.
Serves 7

Ingredients:

2 cups oats

1 cup pumpkin purée

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 cups water

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (from 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 cup low-fat or nonfat vanilla yogurt

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Instructions:

1)In medium saucepan, bring water, pie spice and salt to a boil; stir in oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Stir in pumpkin and brown sugar; cook 1 minute. Let stand until desired consistency.

2)Spoon oatmeal into cereal bowls. Top with yogurt and pecans.

Orange Apricot Oatmeal

Say “Good morning!” to your tastebuds with this citrus-apricot blend.
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup oats

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1 1/4 cups cold water

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 pinch salt

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans

Instructions:

1)Combine all the ingredients except brown sugar and nuts in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute if instant, 5 minutes if old-fashioned, stirring occasionally. Let sit for 5 minutes.

2)Pour into serving bowls. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients, leaving a golden brown swirl pattern in bowl for presentation.

Choco-Banana Oatmeal

Like starting your day with a big bowl of cookies.
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 cup oats

1 pinch salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 banana, mashed

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1) In a saucepan, combine water, oats and salt. Simmer uncovered 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old-fashioned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 3 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, banana and chocolate chips. Serve immediately.

Irish Oatmeal with Seasonal Berries

One of the best things about this dish is finding the "prize" at the bottom of your bowl.
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup brandy

1 cup raisins

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups Irish or steel cut oats

1 cup fresh berries

8 tablespoons cream

4 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions:

1) In a medium saucepan set to medium heat, bring corn syrup and brandy to a simmer. Add raisins and simmer 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow the raisins to plump up in the liquid at least 20 minutes.

2)In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a rolling boil. Add butter and oats, then lower heat to a moderate flame. Simmer oats for 7 to 10 minutes or until the oats are tender. Drain excess water from the oats if necessary.

3)Set out four bowls. At the bottom of each bowl, place 2 tablespoons of cream, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of drained raisins. Add warm oats and top with fresh berries.

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Earthy, warm and utterly comforting. If you yearn for the old country, use treacle instead of molasses.
Serves 4

Ingredients:

About 3 cups milk

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup oats

4 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

Instructions:

1) In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar and molasses to a gentle boil.

2) Stir in spices and oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old-fashioned oats or until most of milk is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

3)Let stand for desired consistency. Stir in wheat germ and serve immediately.

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