Cherry Coconut Oatmeal

Apparently, I'm in recipe mode lately. I don't know why. Blame the new year, maybe? But I was wanting a new oatmeal recipe for healthy weekday breakfasts a few weeks ago, and received some inspiration from a can of light coconut milk in my pantry. Before I knew it, cherry coconut oatmeal was born.

No big story, here, but I do use a few specialty ingredients. You should really look into getting yourself this stoneground oatmeal from Zingermans. I've seen steel cut oatmeal in grocery stores, but this is an entirely different animal. I know it's expensive, but this is one of those items that's totally worth it, and I go through only about two bags a year. It's less chewy than steel cut oats, but more nutritious than regular old fashioned rolled oats, because more of the whole grain is left in tact in the stone grinding process. It's homey and thick, utterly delightful. BUT, if you want to use your favorite oatmeal for this recipe, please do. Just change up the cooking method accordingly.

Second item: agave syrup. Have you used this? It has significantly fewer calories than sugar, and the nature of the sweetness it adds to dishes is a little less cloying, to me. If you don't have a bottle, use honey or sugar, but again, you'll need to adjust with more of those items - agave syrup is typically used in teaspoon measurements rather than tablespoon.

BHS Cherry Coconut Oatmeal

  • 1 Cup Stone Ground Oatmeal
  • 1 Can Lite Coconut Milk
  • 3 C Water
  • 1/2 C Frozen Whole Cherries
  • 1/4 C Dried Cherries
  • 4-5 tsp. Agave Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • A pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 C Dried Coconut Flakes (I use Bob's Red Mill, which are unsweetened)
  • 1/4 C Sliced Almonds

Put your coconut milk and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, then whisk in the salt and oatmeal. Drop the heat down to low and put a lid on it. The stone ground oats need to cook for 20 minutes, so set your timer for that.

Halfway through the cooking time, add your cherries, both frozen and dried. Give it a stir and replace the lid.

In a small, dry skillet, toast your coconut flakes and almonds. Keep a close eye on these to make sure they don't burn. If you like, add a sprinkle of salt and cinnamon to these, as well. Toast them for maybe 10 minutes, then remove to a plate to cool.

When the oatmeal is done cooking, add in your agave syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. I stir these in, then replace the lid and let the oatmeal rest off the heat for another 10 minutes, for the flavors to come together.

Portion the oatmeal into single-serve re-heatable containers for each day of the week. I get four days of breakfasts from this recipe. I also portion the coconut/almond mixture into little baggies, and add this as a topping after I reheat the oatmeal, for a crunchy element. Each portion should be around 1/3 C.

It's so yummy! The agave syrup won't make it super sweet, so add some brown sugar or muscovado sugar, if you like, or thin out with more water or milk if you like a loosen consistency. This is more of a method than a strict recipe, but the combination is utterly wonderful, and the cherries give you a great vitamin boost to your morning. Enjoy!


Little Black Beans

Did you know I make the best black beans in the world? OK, OK, I don’t actually cook them from scratch, so I suppose there are loads of people in Central and South America, or the Carribean of wherever who cook dried beans with lots of aromatics and make them insanely deliciously. But I would argue that I have figured out the perfect way to make them on a weeknight, and cram them full of flavor. 

Shawn, who is rarely superfluous about such things, even has commented, of his own volition, about how good they are. So if you’d like to add these little protein bombs to your weekly in-house taco or burrito bowl night, check out my recipe.

Big Hungry Black Beans

  • 1 Can Goya Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ Packet Goya Sazon
  • 1 T Bacon Fat
  • 2 T Wegmans Roasted Tomato Salsa
  • ¼ C Water

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t be coy and try to sub in olive oil for the bacon grease. Just save your fat this weekend when you make bacon in a small container in the fridge, and then use it for the beans. I promise, it’s worth it

If you cook the beans for longer and they soak up the water, just add more. It’s pretty forgiving in that way. Oh, and don’t skimp on the Sazon, either. That stuff is key. 


Knot Your Average Dinner Rolls

What has zero nutritionally redeeming qualities and is one of the most delicious things you can stuff in your face? The answer to this riddle is garlic knots. I could have made that into a real riddle, but do you really need that kind of stress this time of year? Probably not.


Garlic knots are a specialty of pizzerias and Italian restaurants in the Southern Tier, although in the North Country, Wise Guys and Stefanos also offer really yummy ones. I’ve had some bad examples, too – with under-seasoning, over-baking, and under-buttering being the chief crimes leading to unsatisfactory knots. Please, never let your knots be under-buttered. It’s a grievous error.

I’ve tinkered with my knot recipe for probably the better part of a year, though sporadically. One just cannot make knots that often – or can they? Because now that I’ve perfected them, we want them constantly, and I’ve made them once a week for the last month. It’s becoming a bit of a problem, actually. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of buttery, cheese, garlicky goodness any longer. So here’s the recipe.

BHS’ Garlic Knots
1/3 Package of store bought pizza dough
2 T Butter
1 T Olive Oil
2-3 Garlic cloves, minced very finely
½ tsp Garlic Salt
A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
A pinch of Dried Basil
1 T Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Preheat oven to 400° (if you’re also making pizza, go for 500°)
  • On a floured surface, pat your dough into a flat disk, and cut into 1 inch wide strips, about three inches long
  • Pick up each piece and roll between hands into a long, skinny snake-like rope. Tie that rope into a round knot, then another one on top of the first and drop into a baking stone baker. I got mine from Pampered Chef, and while I don’t usually promote such things, it really does a good job with pizza dough.
  • Proceed through the rest and bake them at 400 for 18-20 min or 500 for 12-15 min; until golden brown.

  • Add your garlic to the butter and oil in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds, then add spices.
  • As soon as the knots are out of the oven, brush generously with the garlic butter mixture, and then sprinkle with cheese.

  • Serve with warm marinara sauce or leftover pizza sauce



Love and Joy Come to You

It's time again for my holiday gift list for foodies, during this most sacred time of the year, when all shopping is permissible and no one can fault you for going overboard!

First up is Oprah's Weight Watchers cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness. I received this as a gift from my friend Melanie this year, and have very much enjoyed its light, yet flavorful recipes for Vietnamese chicken salad, cacao e pepe pasta, and miso glazed cod.

Next up, one of Oprah's suggestions for adding rich flavor to lightened up dishes is Sabatino Truffle Zest, a $15 indulgence that makes a great stocking stuffer, and is head and shoulders above truffle oil at adding the earthy, heady truffle flavor to foods without completely taking over all other flavors like oil does. It's intense and delicious on pastas, eggs, and potatoes, or to enrich a mushroom dish.

Staying on the spice track, you absolutely should buy everyone you know a jar of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning blend. This one's even more affordable, just $1.99, and makes everything you sprinkle it on sing with the onion, garlic, sesame and poppy seed goodness of an everything bagel. Basically, buy this for people you want to like you more, because they totally will. I like to brush boring old frozen dinner rolls with a little butter and then sprinkle it on before I bake them, to add zest. Also delicious on an omelet, especially if you're doing a low carb diet thing and are missing your morning bagel.

"But Shelbs!" you're whining, "I need more than stocking stuffers!" Duh, I know. And I got you. Shawn bought me my Philips Air Fryer last year for Christmas, and it has become our favorite appliance. Want chicken wings you can make at home, less greasy than bar food, but more crispy, and with no oil to dispose of or stink to endure? Air fryer. Want actually healthy French fries, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside? Air fryer. Want crunchy empanadas without the guilt? Air fryer! It's bulky, yes, but we use it almost weekly, and deeply love the degree to which it's kept excess oil out of our diets this year, while still delivering crunchy, crispy food to our bellies.

If you get your loved one the air fryer, you might as well go ahead and get a French fry cutter. Believe me, once you taste how great fries are out of this baby, you're going to want to make them all the time, and cutting uniform fries by hand is a pain. We have this heavy duty French fry cutter. It's boss hog. A little unwieldy on the counter-top. I suggest mounting it so you can be a true fry professional in 2018.

For my birthday this year, I received a box of New York State treats from Shawn's family, and this next gift idea was my favorite of the bunch. Hedonist Artisan Chocolates is a Rochester-based business, and its ginger truffle and pistachio truffle were two of the best things I put in my mouth all year. The Chocolatier's Choice box is $34, just about what you planned to spend on your mother-in-law, no?

I met the proprietor of Syracha'Cuse, another New York-based food business, just a few weeks ago at a tasting in Hamilton. He makes hot sauces and mustards with kick, often using beer crafted by fellow NY purveyors. If you need a spicier stocking stuffer for the dude in your life who likes it hot, I bet this guy will have your hook-up. Plus, doesn't it feel good to shop local? (the correct answer to that is yes)

So that's my deal this year, you guys. Really great gifts, one and all. You could do all the foodstuffs together as one basket of goodies, or package the fryer, cutter, and truffle zest as a truffle fry bundle, or even the chocolates and cookbook together as a "Naughty Holiday, Healthy New Year," idea!

No matter which gifts you choose for those you love this year, make sure it has flavor, and remember, gift certificates to locally owned restaurants never spoil. Love and joy to all of you Hungries! Happy Shopping!