The Best Baked Oatmeal

I just discovered baked oatmeal this past fall, and I think I’m in love. I love the texture oatmeal gets when it’s baked up with some milk, apple sauce, and egg (not too squishy). I love it with a dollop (or two) of smooth vanilla yogurt on top. I like mine with blueberries, frozen after a summer’s day picking, baked right in, jammy and hot.

Thanks to Sue for the original recipe, adapted here.
Serves 4-6
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tblsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1 1/2 cups mix-ins (I like blueberries, no need to thaw if frozen; other options would be nuts, raisins, dried or fresh cranberries, apple chunks, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8×8 square baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and brown sugar. In a two-cup measuring cup, measure your apple sauce and fill to the 2-cup line with milk. Add vanilla and egg and beat lightly with a fork (Note: the original recipe also has 2 tblsp melted butter, but I forgot to put it in this morning and didn’t notice at all. Thus, I have omitted it.). Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla yogurt on top.

Double the recipe for a 9×13 pan, if you’re willing to share that much.

Maybe someday I will start posting pictures with recipes! Keep dreaming, for now.

My Very Own Chili

Guys, for a long time I thought I just didn’t like chili that much. Then I made this one. I became a little obsessed with the chunks of squash and turnip in it. I loved the spice and the depth of flavor. But I still wanted to make it my own, so obviously, I added meat.

This chili is thick and hearty. It’s spicy but not too much. It’s chunky, but in a good way, and today, it won 2nd place in the prestigious Artisan “Super Football Party” chili cook-off! Enjoy.

My Very Own Chili
Very loosely based on The Kitchn’s Pumpkin Chili

4 slices bacon, cooked and set aside, grease reserved
1 pound ground beef, cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup corn meal, finely ground if you have it
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
3 cups broth (chicken, vegetable, etc.)
1 can each (drained): dark red kidney beans, light red kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Sriracha to taste (I like 3 or 4 good squirts)
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until crispy in the bottom of a large stock pot. Remove the bacon strips (leave the grease), and add the onion, corn meal, and tomato paste, and stir well. Stir in garlic and parsnips, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, broth, beans, corn, bacon (chop it up), and cooked ground beef. Then add in the spices, sriracha, Worcestershire, and balsamic. Bring to a simmer and leave on a low stove for as many hours as you’ve got. I like to start this around noon, and have it for dinner.

Serve with a little sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese. I love the warmth you get from the cinnamon and nutmeg, and the complex heat you get from the various types of pepper powders.

It’s a great winter meal, and it just gets better leftover for lunch in the following days!

Dogfish Head’s Pumpkin Soup (nearly)

For our anniversary this year, Elliot and I went on a road trip to Philadelphia. It’s one of my favorite cities — about an hour south of where I grew up and just feels homey to me. We had a blast staying in Old City, going to South Street, having a cheesesteak, seeing the Dead Sea scrolls at the Franklin Institute. It was wonderful.

But possibly the best part of our trip (well, second only to our incredible meal at Butcher and Singer) happened on the first day, before we even got to Philly. We went to Rehobeth Beach in Delaware, and ate at Dogfish Head’s brewpub. It was magical. The most magical bit was their pumpkin soup with goat cheese. I don’t think it is at all good for you.

I found a recipe online that claims to be the exact recipe. I made their version on Friday night and it was way too sweet. It was like eating spiced pumpkin pie filling. The recipe I found called for one whole cup of sugar and one whole quart of cream. So I made another batch on Saturday (with almost no sugar) and combined it with the batch from Friday night, and it was much more like the soup we had in Delaware. The consistency was creamy but not overly rich, sweet but not saccharin, and thick and filling.

1 stick butter
4 of 5 stalks celery, chopped
4 or 5 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 pint Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
1 15oz can of pumpkin
1 cup water (mix with pumpkin)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
1/2t chili powder
1/2t cayenne powder (omit if you don’t like a kick)
3/4 cup heavy cream (or less, your choice)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh goat cheese to garnish (also could use bacon if you like)

1. In a 4-5 quart pot, melt butter and saute celery, carrots, and onion until the onion is translucent and the carrots and celery are soft.

2. Add the beer, and stir to combine. Make sure to scrape up any tasty browned bits of butter or veggies that are stuck to the pot. Then add the sugar, spices, and pumpkin/water mixture. Stir well, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Slowly add the heavy cream, stirring all the while. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a traditional blender), blend the soup until smooth.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with goat cheese. Makes 10 or so servings.


Pork Chop with Apple Cider Cream Sauce

Guys. I know. It’s good.

I made this for myself as a late dinner one night after a long evening of baking. I was craving a pork chop, since I basically had cake batter and beer as an appetizer, and fortunately had one thawed in the fridge! I served this to myself with a side of Wegman’s Lazy Person’s Brown Rice and Quinoa blend. I made this for one, but the recipe below is for 2, and could be scaled to fit any number.

2 pork chops
1T butter
1/2 an onion, chopped
garlic, if you like
1/4-1/2 cup apple cider
splash of heavy cream (or half and half, or leave it out), probably 1-2 tablespoons

1. Melt butter and saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.

2. Add pork chops and brown on all sides.

3. Pour in a good splash of apple cider and stir to mix with butter. Allow the apple cider to cook down a bit. It will turn pretty syrupy-looking. Add some more apple cider and flip the pork chops. You want a good pool of apple cider in the pan, but not so the pork is swimming. You also want the apple cider to cook down quite a bit. At this point you may also want to check the temperature of the pork chop. Depending on how thick your chop is, it may be done already (at 145F). If it’s not done yet, you can cover it and throw it in a 350F oven (if you happen to have it on already), or you can keep it on the stove. When it reaches 145F, go to step 4.

4. Using tongs (or a fork), plate your pork chops. Drizzle in your heavy cream, stirring all the while. Once sauce has reached a light brown color, cook for 30 seconds and then pour it over the pork chops on the plates.

5. Enjoy! I think this would go really well not only with the rice/quinoa blend I mentioned before, but also with some sauteed greens or a nice salad.

Variation: You could also slice some apples real thin and start those in the butter with the onions at the very beginning. I didn’t have any apples to do this at the time, but I think that would make a nice addition too.

Eat well, friends.

Pork Tenderloin with Kale & Browned Butter Risotto

Sounds good, eh? I didn’t take pictures, but here’s the skinny:

1 pork tenderloin
salt, pepper
1 stick butter
2 T olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced (I used a red one)
1 T minced garlic
1.5 cups arborio rice
5 cups broth (I used water and Better Than Bouillon)
A crap-ton of kale, chopped roughly

Preheat your oven to 375.

Now first thing’s first: Brown your butter. I implore you. It will make your kitchen smell great. It will be beautiful. You will love it. To do that: Put the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once it melts, swirl the pan a bit. It will get a little foamy, and then you will begin to smell this wonderful nutty aroma, and it should begin to turn golden (keep swirling). Once it is a light golden brown, turn off the heat, and you can put the butter in a bowl or ramekin (and use that pan again for kale in a bit).

Next, put your pork in some kind of oven-safe dish. I used an old broiler pan thing I found at a garage sale, which worked great. Put the pork in the dish, and toss on some salt and pepper. Take a spoonful of the browned butter and put that over the pork. Toss it in your preheated oven. I recommend sticking a thermometer thing in it, if you have one. We have an electric thermometer thing. It dings when there’s stuff (stuff = pork getting to 145).

For the risotto: In a dutch oven or 4ish quart pot on the stove, add olive oil and diced onions and cook them, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to become just a little less than opaque. Toss in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until fragrant.

Now you’re going to pour in the arborio rice. It’s possible you can use any kind of rice for risotto, but arborio is the kind that gets creamier, I think. So put that in the pot with the onions and garlic, and cook it for about a minute (no liquid yet).

Pour in enough of the broth to cover the risotto and stir. Once that liquid is soaked up, do that again. Stir it a lot – that’s what makes it creamy. Continue until all the broth is soaked up and the rice is tender. If the rice is not tender and you’re out of broth, use some more. Or use water. Liquid is important.

While that’s cooking, pour a little broth in the bottom of the pan you used for the butter (which is now empty), and pile in the kale. Use the broth to wilt the kale. You want it a vibrant green. Stir a few times and once it is uniformly wilted, turn off the heat.

So – now you’ve got wilted kale, and you should have a pot of tender risotto and a cooked pork tenderloin (don’t forget about it – and when it’s done, let it rest under some tin foil while you finish the risotto). Stir in the kale and any liquid from the pan. Make sure the kale is evenly distributed, and then pour in the browned butter and stir that in.

Et voila! Incroyable! Pretty delicious. If you have a dairy-free person in your house, omit the browned butter. Use a bit of olive oil on the pork loin, and the risotto will still be delish without the butter.

Eat well, friends!

Almost-Good-For-You Mac and Cheese

It’s been, uh, quite a while since I’ve posted anything, so I thought I would give you this tasty little nugget of a recipe.

Almost-Good-For-You Mac and Cheese 

1 small or 1/2 large acorn or butternut squash (I used acorn)
1 lb. pasta shapes, i.e. nuggets, elbows, rotini
2T butter
1ish T flour
2ish cups milk
3ish cups shredded cheese
1t salt
Other spices to taste — I used nutmeg and cayenne and black pepper – tasty!

1. Cut squash into large chunks. Place it in a covered ceramic dish and microwave for 15-20 minutes, until squash is thoroughly steamed and is soft. When the squash is cooked, very carefully scoop out the meat into a small bowl.

2. Meanwhile, start your pasta. You know, boil water, salt it, cook that pasta, and whatnot. When it’s done, drain it.

3. Make a roux: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in flour until you have a nice little paste. Slowly, SLOWLY add in the milk, little bit by bit, until you have a what looks like Elmer’s glue.

4. Add a few good spoonfulls of the roux you just made and then mash the squash with a fork or potato masher. Make sure there aren’t any big chunks, then pour the mashed squash back into your roux. Mix well. Pour your cheese in and mix that up too. (I started with 2 cups, but it wasn’t cheesy enough. Just trust me and go for 3.)

5. Mix in the pasta, and if it has cooled at all, rewarm. You can mix your spices in now too, to taste. You could also bake it if you like that baked mac and cheese style.

This recipe is nice because the squash lends just a little sweetness and texture, but you can still hide it pretty well. It turned out to be a tasty meal!

Eat well, friends.

You said you’d bake me a cake!

Hello friends! About a month ago, my grandmother turned 75, so we trekked to North Carolina with three tiers of cake and frosting in a cooler and this is how it turned out:

It was a beach theme! Those are chocolate-molded seashells and numbers. The buttercream is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to compliment the apple and pumpkin layers, as well as to make it look like sand.

I used a double-batch of Healthy Abundance’s Apple Spice Cake for the 8- and 6-inch upper layers and a one-and-a-half-batch of Sprinkle Bakes’ Brown Butter Pumpkin for the 10-inch bottom layer. I used two mega-batches of my favorite buttercream for all the filling and frosting. I’m very proud of how it came out!

Mega-Batch of Buttercream

1 lb butter, room temperature
~1/3 cup heavy cream
2 lbs confectioner’s sugar
1T vanilla extract

In your stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the butter on high until it is lighter in color and fluffy. Add the heavy cream and continue to beat another minute or two. You should have a very light-colored, light-consistency product right now. (I have a theory that the heavy cream actually whips up a bit in this process as well, but I can’t scientifically verify that.)

Once you have that light and fluffy butter/cream mixture, move the speed to medium and start dumping in your sugar in small quantities. I usually open up the bag and put in maybe a half cup at a time, allowing it to mix completely before I add the next portion.

After you’ve incorporated all your sugar, add your vanilla extract or any other extract (hazelnut, almond, peppermint — adjust amount to taste). To make the spiced buttercream pictured above, add about 1 tsp. cinnamon and 3/4 tsp. nutmeg and mix to distribute.

Frost your cake and enjoy! This recipe will make quite a bit of frosting. Doubling it, I had maybe a cup leftover after doing all three tiers and touching it up. But who doesn’t love having extra frosting around?

Bake in love, babies,

Flour City Girl


Welcome to the Flour City Girl blog! I have a passion for things that are baked homemade, eaten by people I love. I hope you’ll join me as I do my best to chronicle some of the things that come out of my kitchen. I have a need to feed, if you will, so no one goes ever hungry at my house (…even if that means whipping up a tart a few minutes before friends arrive).

A little background: I’ve been baking since I was old enough to stand on a chair and hold a measuring cup. I have memories of many Saturdays spent in my grandmother’s kitchen, mixing up cookie dough, pinching pierogi, and decorating cakes together. “The Beetle,” as I call her, inspired me to all manner of tasty cooking, and I knew from a young age that it was always better if you made it yourself and if it was made with love.

My day job has me administrating and assisting, but by night and weekend, I freelance cakes and other goodies when I can, and I love to experiment with new recipes! Fortunately, my wonderful husband and friends are good guinea pigs. I hope you enjoy the recipes I share here. I will do my best to keep up posting!

bake, eat, and love.