Uncanny | Steel Cut Oats with a Jam Swirl

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Uncanny is a series in which I explore the different uses for jams and preserves that we put up during the summer. Because even though each jam you make is wonderful on its own, a veritable taste of summer in a jar… sometimes, you just get TIRED of eating summer on toast.

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Oatmeal wasn’t big in my house when I was growing up. I think grits were more of a constant presence. (We did grow up in Virginia, after all, Land of Buttered and Cheesy grits. Lula will agree with me. REPRESENT.)

But, I have recently come around to oatmeal. Remember how I wrote two days ago that if we didn’t get snow for 2 more weeks than we would break a record here in Denver? Well, nevermind, because we got our first snowfall today. Major fail, in my opinion. When it snows, it gets all cold and all wet, and people forget how to drive, as if 3 snowflakes in the air impedes their ability to drive whatsoever, and then it ends up taking me an hour to drive to the grocery store which is all of 10 blocks away which sends me into a not-so-nice mood and there’s lots of cursing and obscene hand gestures and honking and my father on the phone telling me “he wasn’t aware I had that kind of mouth.”

So yeah… snow sucks.

Basically, it’s cold and it’s wet and you know what coldness and wetness calls for? (Other than puppy hugs, that is?)

Hot, warm breakfast cereals. Like oatmeal.

This isn’t some earth-shattering revelation of how to use up jam. This is the Kitchenette blog, not the Kitchenette Think Tank, of course. But, I think the picture above is so yummy-looking that it deserved a blog post. For the record, I like my oatmeal made with steel-cut oats; the texture is a lot more pleasing than the rolled oats I bake with so often. Furthermore, I like my oatmeal topped with a dollop of cold, tangy, plain yogurt, and then swirled with some hot jam. I microwave my jam for 20-30 seconds until it’s really runny, because it mixes in better when it’s hot, than it does with it’s straight from the fridge and gloopy and all that.

This morning I made mine with some cinnamon-scented blackberry jelly, but you could use whatever preserves you have around.

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Steel-Cut Oats with a Jam Swirl

Adapted from Alton Brown
Serves 2 really hungry breakfast-ers

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Gather:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
plain whole-milk yogurt, for serving
1/4 cup jam (your choice of flavor)

Prepare:

In a large saucepot, melt the butter and add the oats. Stir for 2 minutes to toast. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring. Add the milk, and stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon your jam into a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until the jam is hot and runny. Spoon oatmeal into a serving bowl and top with yogurt and hot jam. Swirl if desired before serving immediately.

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Other Uncanny Ideas from Around the Interwebz:

In a pan sauce to accompany turkey or chickenA small dollop of sweet preserves makes a delicious sauce for juicy, roasted chicken or turkey. (via Local Kitchen)

In a spicy dipping sauce for sweet potato fries - A spoonful of jam creates a sweet fruity note for extra spicy dipping sauce! (via Food in Jars)

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Dinosaur Bones / Royalty

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Uncanny | Salad Dressing

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Uncanny is a series in which I explore the different uses for jams and preserves that we put up during the summer. Because even though each jam you make is wonderful on its own, a veritable taste of summer in a jar… sometimes, you just get TIRED of eating summer on toast.

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I forget why this came to me… but I’ve been culling inspiration from the most random places lately. Whether it be a dish I had a restaurant (recipe coming tomorrow!), or a product I saw in the grocery store, or just from talking with my mother at 4 pm as to what she should make for dinner at 6 pm, from the somewhat limited pantry she keeps. (Mom, you know it’s true — you keep nada in your pantry and it’s HARD to figure out what you should make! So don’t play.) Anyways, so I’m not entirely sure when, why, or how this came to me, because fruit dressings are very popular. Who hasn’t had raspberry salad dressing? Let’s ignore the fact that the aforementioned raspberry salad dressing usually tastes like crap (at least the raspberry vinaigrettes that I’ve partaken of…) But still, it’s not like this is a new idea.

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This is one of those crazy savory interpretations of sweet preserves and jams that you’ve got in your pantry. You can take almost any jam, jelly, preserve, marmalade, what-have-you and adapt it to this recipe, and serve it over whichever salad greens and toppings you prefer. There’s just an unending list of adaptations.

  • I used plum jam, because it was one of the open jars hanging out in my fridge, but you can use whichever canned sweet preserve you want.
  • Try using a different vinegar! I used white balsamic vinegar because I wanted to maintain the color of my salad dressing… but you could use whatever vinegar you like: balsamic, red wine, apple cider, brown rice; the possibilities are endless.
  • Add herbs or spices to your dressing – try a little fresh thyme, or a dash of cumin.
  • If your original jam was chunky, but you want a smoother dressing, throw it in the blender until the dressing reaches a consistency you like.
  • Throw in a bit of mustard if you like. I chose not to add any mustard in this vinaigrette, although mustard plays a huge role in most of my homemade vinaigrettes.

I also added a bit of hot water to my dressing, since the jam I started off with was very, very thick. The hot water thinned out the jam to more of a liquid consistency without me having to add more vinegar, which would overwhelm the jam flavor (trust me, I know… my first batch was kind of heavy on the balsamic. Blech.)

Then serve over spinach, arugula, or baby mixed greens. Top with whatever salad accoutrements you prefer – I had my Plum Jam Dressing over mixed greens with goat cheese and toasted pecans.

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Which jams will you be trying this out with? I’m anxious to hear your ideas!

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Plum Jam Salad Dressing

Original recipe from The Kitchenette
Makes 1/4 cup

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Gather:
2 tablespoons plum jam (or other jam of your choice)
1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar of your choice)
1- 1/2 tablespoons hot water (optional, to thin out thicker jams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare:
Add all ingredients to an empty canning jar. Cover with lid and ring, and shake vigorously until combined. If desired, run dressing through blender or food processor until consistency desired is achieved. Serve over salad of your choice. Store leftover dressing in jar in fridge.

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Other Uncanny Ideas from Around the Interwebz:

in SmoothiesUse whichever jams you have to spice up a morning smoothie! (via Food in Jars)

Thumbprint CookiesA small dollop of jam on a sugar cookie. This is great because you can use whatever jam you have in your pantry! I can think of quite a few tasty interpretations… (via Sugarcrafter)

On Toasted Sandwiches on Food in JarsThis makes me wish I had put up some spicy tomato jam this summer! (via Food in Jars)

In BreadUse up home-canned applesauce and fruit butters in this tasty whole grain bread. (via Food in Jars)

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Wolf Parade / What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)

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Uncanny | Streusel-Topped Jam Bars

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So even though I’m very happy with my jams this year, and I’m sure all of the jam you canned was like, superfreakingdelicious and all that, but sometimes, you just get TIRED of eating jam on toast, or a bagel, or a piece of cardboard (if you’re dieting). I will be the first one to admit, I ate my weight in jam on toast for May through July. But eventually the monotonous texture started to get to me… and after a while I wanted something different.

Thus the inspiration for a series on the blog, entitled Uncanny (extra points to my sister-in-law Amy for suggesting that title!)

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I wanted to do things for this series that could be easily adapted to whatever preserves you have in your canned goods pantry. I used a jar of my blueberry-cinnamon-vanilla jam, but you should use whatever you have around. Hey, you could even make this with store-bought jam, although I’m not sure it will bring the mouth-gasms like the home-canned preserves do. Adapt this recipe to whatever jam/jelly/conserve you want, whether it be blueberry, raspberry, peach, apple… I could go on. Feel free to spice up your jam before you spread it on the crust… I stirred in a 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, just to punch up the fresh flavor of my blueberry-cinnamon-vanilla jam.

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The recipe itself is very adaptable, too. If you want, add some pecans and throw them on top with the streusel. Add a thin layer of shredded unsweetened coconut onto the crumb topping before spreading your jam. If the amount of butter offends your health sensibilities (clearly I have no sense, so this isn’t a problem for me) then compensate by adding some wheat germ into the crumb layer. You could even switch out the flours, maybe substitute a cup of almond flour for one of the cups of all-purpose flour. My point is, it’s a very adaptable recipe! Have fun with it!

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Streusel-Topped Jam Bars

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Peach Shortbread
Makes 18 bars

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Gather:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
1 large egg
1  (8 ounce) jar of jam, jelly, or preserves
1/2 cup rolled oats

Prepare:
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare a 9 inch x 13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper. Add sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt to a food processor bowl and pulse a few times to combine; alternatively, whisk together in a medium bowl.

Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the crumbs are the size of peas; add the egg and pulse until combined. (No food processor? How do you live? Use a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture.) Press 2/3 of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, pressing firmly. Pour the jam onto the crumb base, and spread using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

Add the 1/2 cup rolled oats to the remaining crumb mixture, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the oatmeal mixture over the jam layer. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn brown. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

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Cory Chisel / Home in the Woods (Live) lovely guitar-pickin’ and gravelly male voice pairs wonderfully with these jam bars

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