Maple Ricotta Oatmeal Cake

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I went for a run in the park yesterday morning and it was beautiful. I’m so excited spring has officially sprung. It’s always fun to see students ‘sunbathing’ on the Columbia campus…hard to believe in just about a month I’ll be graduating law school and leaving academia behind. Winter was so long, it makes the few weeks of spring while I’m still in school seem very short!

 

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When I got home from my run, I was in the mood for an oatmeal cake for breakfast. I picked up a tub of ricotta cheese over the weekend to use in a polenta dish, and though I often use it in omelettes or pancakes, I’d never thought about other breakfast treats. All that changed when I went to whip up an oatmeal cake after my run yesterday morning, and instead of reaching for my usual Greek yogurt to spoon in, I went for the ricotta instead. I added some maple syrup to the mix, and this little ramekin of deliciousness became a Maple Ricotta Oatmeal Cake. It was roughly the same density as one of my other oatmeal cakes, but with a texture just a tad lighter and fluffier. I’m sure it would be great with lemon zest (which I didn’t happen to have on hand), like a lemon ricotta pancake – but with just the maple and cinnamon it was a delightfully dessert-y breakfast treat!

 

Ricotta and maple syrup and cinnamon, oh my!

Ricotta and maple syrup and cinnamon, oh my!

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Liebster Award Q&A

Liebster Award Badge

 

One of the great things about the blogging community is the way in which it really is a community. When I started blogging in December, I was looking for a way to share my thoughts on running, recipes, and life in general with the world. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I also missed writing for fun about subjects I enjoy, and I realize now that’s a part of me I never want to give up again! On a related note, this past Saturday was my 20th day straight of blogging, unplanned by me but the creative juices had been flowing for the past few weeks. That probably won’t happen again, I’ll keep it to 4-5/week at the sweet spot for me. But part of the reason I kept writing was because people kept reading! Another thing I didn’t know was how all the bloggers out there (and there are many, many more than I ever imagined) who found their way to my little corner of the web would be so supportive of my blog, and would themselves have such creative content that I’d become a daily reader of theirs. There was so much to learn over the past few months, and every day is another surprise. Like last Friday, when I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Peppermint Girl. I’d never heard of it, but I think it’s a great way to encourage connections between bloggers. So, without further ado, on to her questions for me…

 

What inspires you the most in life?

My biggest inspiration in life is seeing other people doing what makes them happy. For a long time, I thought I had to be the best at one thing or another, whether it was what I really wanted or not. I struggled to pick one thing and define myself solely by it. Now I understand that I’m much happier and on my way to living a full life by doing lots of things that I enjoy, whether I’m awesome at them or just average. In fact, that’s how I came up with my blog title. A Renaissance Runner Girl likes to run – and cook gluten-free treats, and look at art, and hang out with friends and family, and ski in winter and swim in summer!

What time of day do you write the best content for your blog?

I write the best content either early in the morning, before I go out for a run, or mid-afternoon, when I’m done with schoolwork or my internship and ready for a change of pace. 

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A Breakfast Is Born

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First things first – my initial thought I wanted to share with all of you this Thursday was one of thrills and thanks! (Yes, I like alliteration.) Yesterday’s WIAW post meant the first day of the month was also the first day my blog received over 500 reads. It’s not why I blog, but I’m so happy that people are interested in what I have to say, and I welcome any input on what you might like to read in future. More recipes, or ramblings on life, just post in the comments below!

Now, here’s what I was thinking about yesterday when I drafted this, when a friend of mine joked that I ate more oats than anyone she knew and I should have gone to her alma mater because then I would have been a Quaker. Now, I’ve shared a lot of oat-based recipes with you, but I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret – for the first 18 years of my life, I had a major aversion to oatmeal. Crazy, right? I just had this thing about any “lumpy” foods (I loved mashed potatoes, but refused to eat them if I found even a single lump, when the fork was put down for good). Neither the color nor texture of oatmeal was visually appealing. The first time I tasted it, I was five years old and had a bowl foisted upon me by my well-meaning grandmother, who is not known for her cooking. It was lukewarm and grayish and pretty much the opposite of appetizing, and that was it. I ate oatmeal cookies, especially because even before my wheat allergy was diagnosed I had bad reactions to a lot of other baked goods, but no oatmeal.

 

A bowl of oats

A bowl of oats

 

And then I arrived in Oxford for my first year at university. The food served up in my college dining hall was mostly unappealing, as it seemed to operate on the principle of maximum calories for minimum cash – good for starving students, but not so good for a student with a sensitive stomach and lots of allergies. To make matters worse, there was a small refrigerator in the hall of my dorm, but no kitchen, and we weren’t allowed to have cooking appliances in our rooms (because of the risk of burning down a beautiful 500-year-old building, to be fair!) There was a microwave on the floor above mine but I didn’t discover it until the spring. So for the first two terms, I pretty much subsisted on yogurt, salads, cheese, fruit and veggies, and other food eaten cold, and unfortunately, more junk food (chips and crisps and chocolate) which played a role in distorting my eating habits. The saving grace of this time was my electric tea kettle – the one appliance permitted in every room in Oxford, because it was always time for tea. I could boil water, so I could make anything to which you added hot water, which meant soup, and yes, oatmeal.

 

Matriculation at Oxford with my dear friend Elli

Matriculation at Oxford with my dear friend Elli

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WIAW #4: From PB&J to Gourmet

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

 

Welcome to this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. This post features Monday’s eats. I think my PB&J cravings and insatiable appetite that day were the result of doing my first long run on Sunday since the NYC Half (I jogged to the start of the 10k, making it 8 miles and change). I’m always extra-hungry for a few days after one of those. In fact, after this morning’s November Project PR Day, I’m not sure my tummy is going to STOP growling! The sunrise was a beautiful way to usher in April…but now I need to make some breakfast to start my monthly eats off right. So without further ado…

Breakfast: I was really craving PB&J Monday morning. Before my run, I had a salted rice cake with a smear of Peanut Butter & Co Smooth Operator and some blueberry jam, topped with fresh blueberries. I did 5 miles in the sunshine in the park, just a nice and easy pace, and felt fabulous. Both my food and fitness for the wee hours seemed to be exactly what I needed. Then, when I got home, I mixed up a PB&J Oatmeal Cake and put it in the oven to bake while I showered and readied myself for the day. My stomach was already rumbling, so I had a peach Greek yogurt to tide me over. The oven timer couldn’t chime a moment too soon! I enjoyed my oatmeal cake with some more fresh blueberries and a crisp Pink Lady apple, and a mug of Green Mountain Wild Blueberry coffee. Scrump-diddly-umptious!

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Lunch: An assortment of snacks to get me through a long afternoon of class and internship. As regular readers know, I tend to eat a lot of little things strung together during the day, bookended by a big breakfast and dinner, because I’m often on the go and dislike feeling weighed down (as I snack, my backpack gets lighter!) OR hungry (because for me, hungry = hangry). This day featured a salad of greens, cabbage, and carrots, with smoked sockeye salmon and feta cheese, topped with Annie’s honey mustard vinaigrette as my ‘lunch’ entree. I ate this with a side of baby carrots around 12:30. I ate the muffin around 2pm before leaving school for Lincoln Center, and had the apple and pretzels around 4pm while at my internship. Then I had a pre-dinner snack when I got home around 6pm and had to wait a bit for dinner as I was going out to eat with a friend. To tide me over for the hour, I had the yogurt – banana cream, with some kettle corn and blueberries crumbled in. 

 

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My pack of snacks for the day

 

 

 

 

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Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake

This rainy start to spring has put a damper on my mood recently (bad pun, no apologies) and I’ve been wishing and hoping that the sun will break through and May flowers will bloom even when it’s supposed to be April showers. After all, March went out like a lion instead of a lamb, the weather should mix it up a little! To get in the spirit of spring, I’ve been making meals with lots of spring fruits and veggies like asparagus, artichokes, baby lettuces and berries. Since I already have classically autumn apple cinnamon and pumpkin spice oatmeal cakes, I came up with a lovely Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake for this season. It’s a little cakier than my other oatmeal cakes, and worthy of the muffin name for that reason. Go ahead, whip one up and take a bite bursting with berries!

 

Ingredients:

Essential ingredients

Essential ingredients

1/2 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats (using these instead of rolled oats results in more of a muffin-y texture – I went with Chex Gluten Free quick-cooking oats)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt – plain, vanilla or blueberry

1 egg white (substitute applesauce if desired)

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

Pinch salt

For topping: 2 tsp each of Greek yogurt, cream cheese, and blueberry jam or preserves

For ramekin: 1 tsp butter (can substitute olive oil or cooking spray)

 

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Miniature Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

I enjoyed my pumpkin spice oatmeal cake so much, I decided to whip up another – but since I’d finished the pumpkin, I needed a new flavor palate. Enter apples and cinnamon, one of the best combinations for a warming winter treat known to all mankind! Perfect for these days when silver-white winter is supposed to turn into spring, but spring seems a little shy to come out and play…

 

Ingredients:

Bake in a ramekin...

Bake in a ramekin…

1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup milk of choice (I used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt (I recommend using 2% or full fat for the creaminess)

1 egg white (substitute applesauce if desired)

1/2 small apple, cubed

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch salt

For ramekin: 1 tsp butter (can substitute olive oil or cooking spray)

 

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

...flip into a dish to ice and serve!

…flip into a dish to ice and serve!

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add in wet ingredients (only use 1 Tbsp of yogurt here) and cubed apple and mix well.

3. Melt butter in 1-cup (8 ounce) ramekin to coat inner surface. (You can also use olive oil or cooking spray, but I found that butter worked really well in this recipe to give the cake a yummy buttery crust).

4. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then set oven to high broil for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Use a knife to carefully pry the edges of the cake from the ramekin (easy as long as it was greased well!) and flip upside down into a dish.

6. Top with 1 Tbsp of yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!

 

 

Eat up!

Eat up!

 

This is a perfect post-workout breakfast – you can come home, whip up the ingredients, and stick it in the oven while you shower and get ready, then eat before you leave. It’s also a perfect lazy morning dish, because you can just lounge around reading the newspaper and slowly waking up while the oatmeal cake bakes. Basically, it’s great for everyone! And it’s completely gluten-freeWhat’s your go-to breakfast?

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Miniature Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cake

Choosing to roast and carve your own pumpkin is an undertaking. Few will dare to tread this path to reap the delicious rewards when Libby will do it for us (whoever Libby is, millions of pie-makers around the country must thank her every November.) But when you’re just making breakfast for yourself, or even for your family, even opening a can of pure pumpkin can feel like a commitment. Unless you’re making a pie or a Pumpkin Pouffle, you won’t use the whole can in one recipe. I’m always thinking of new ways to use up the rest, and it isn’t difficult – who doesn’t love a little pumpkin stirred into their oatmeal? By the end of winter, even that gets a little boring, though; so when I whipped up what may be my last batch of Pumpkin Puffins for the season, I decided to get creative with the remainder of the can. Instead of simply stirring it into regular oats, I made a little cake to test out my new ramekins (the PB&J round just wasn’t enough!) I bought them with the intention of making mini quiches for my dinner party, but they needed a test run. And the test was a round of miniature pumpkin spice oatmeal cake, passed with flying colors!

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

Before baking, it looks just like regular cold oats...

Before baking, it looks just like regular cold oats…

1/4 cup pure pumpkin

1/4 cup milk of choice (I used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)

1 Tbsp Greek yogurt (I go for Fage 2% for the creaminess)

1 egg white (substitute applesauce if desired)

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp flaxseed

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon and nutmeg)

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch salt

For ramekin: 1 tsp butter (can substitute olive oil or cooking spray)

 

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baked into a cake with a delicious buttery, pumpkin-y crust!

Baked into a cake with a delicious buttery, pumpkin-y crust!

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add in wet ingredients and mix well.

3. Melt butter in 1-cup (8 ounce) ramekin to coat inner surface. (You can also use olive oil or cooking spray, but I found that butter worked really well in this recipe to give the cake a yummy buttery crust).

4. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then set oven to high broil for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Use a knife to carefully pry the edges of the cake from the ramekin (easy as long as it was greased well!) and flip upside down into a dish.

6. Top with a little extra maple syrup and cinnamon, or a dollop of yogurt. Enjoy!

 

 

A warming winter treat to start the day off right - go ahead, take a bite!

A warming winter treat to start the day off right – go ahead, take a bite!

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.