Friday, May 30, 2008

First Things First

Geez, don’t you just hate how I spend so much time talking about my love life and not enough time talking about the food? I know: your belly is way more important than my romantic encounters. In fact, my friend Matt, whose attentions to my belly often lead to our romantic enounters, said it best:

“I wouldn't say it's a huge ego trip to read about myself on your blog. You say beautiful things about me and lots of other people, it's true, so I like it. But look at it from the lover's perspective: nowhere is it so clear that we are all second to the food than on your blog!”

So there. The food comes first around here.

But is it really so bad if my foodly motivations come from a place other than hunger? Take The Peanut Butter Boy for example. My friendly affection for him has motivated me to go to a place I seldom visit: uncharted breakfast territory. When it comes to the first meal of the day, I’m a creature of habit. I know what works for me, and what works is usually a big bowl of Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats cereal, slathered in a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, dusted with some cinnamon, and then gently submerged in lowfat milk. The only real question most days is this: Chai Latte or Mexican Coffee? (Both are delicious—this decision is a tough one for me.)

It’s hard for me to forgo this breakfast because I’m so smitten with my cereal. To my mind, it has just the right amount of crunch and sweetness, along with all the good things that whole-grain cereal should provide, like fiber and satisfaction. But for The Peanut Butter Boy, I shall deprive myself for the sake of experimentation. It turns out, though, that in the case of this particular experiment, one that involves peanut butter, peaches, and yogurt, “deprive” is an awfully strong word. In fact, it’s not even appropriate. There’s nothing remotely depriving about having a Peanut Butter-Peach Breakfast Parfait first thing in the morning. In fact, I’d say it’s downright decadent. Layers of yogurt are topped with gently stewed peaches and a few tablespoons of Peanut Butter-Glazed Granola. While the individual ingredients are awfully tasty on their own, the synergy that happens when they come together is magic. The other nice thing about breakfast parfaits is that they can be made ahead of time—layer everything in pretty glasses the night before, cover the tops with a bit of cling wrap, and pop them in the fridge. The next morning, get your coffee or tea brewing, reach into the fridge for a glass, pop a spoon in it, and boom! Breakfast is served.

I’m presenting today’s recipe with order of operations in mind. You’ll need to whip up a batch of Peanut Butter-Glazed Granola first, and then you can assemble two breakfast parfaits. Once you’ve made the granola, you’ll have plenty for parfaits and general snacking. A kitchen should always have some fresh granola stashed away in a cupboard—yes, it’s really that essential for happiness. Trust me on this one.

Peanut Butter-Glazed Granola
Adapted from this recipe
Makes ~5 cups

Have you ever smelled peanut butter and cinnamon baking together? Oh, so wonderful! The nutty, spicy fragrance of this granola is reason enough to bake a batch of it right now.

Cooking spray
3 cups rolled oats
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
½ tsp. cinnamon
6 tbsp. mild honey
¼ cup well-stirred, natural creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet, such as a jelly roll pan, with cooking spray.
2) In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, chopped peanuts, and cinnamon.
3) In a small saucepan, gently heat the honey, peanut butter, and vanilla over low heat. Stir frequently to melt the peanut butter into the honey, making a nice smooth glaze.
4) Pour the peanut butter glaze over the oat mixture, stirring it into the oats to coat everything evenly.
5) Spread the granola evenly on the prepped baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring everything around halfway through the baking.
6) When the granola is done baking, stir it all around again. Cool granola in its pan on a rack. Try not to gobble it down all at once. Store in an airtight container. This granola makes a mighty fine cereal or snack, with or without milk.

Peanut Butter-Peach Breakfast Parfait
Makes 2 parfaits (2 servings)

This parfait has a lot going for it. Not only is it beautiful (aren’t all fruit parfaits just gorgeous?), but it’s filling and packed with protein and fiber. But most importantly, it’s a sublimely tasty way to greet the day. I like to pair it with half of an onion bagel topped with some Neufchatel cheese and something caffeinated to drink.

Oh, and the Peanut Butter-Peach Breakfast Parfait is an official contestant in The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #2: Breakfast! Three cheers for breakfast!

1 generous cup of frozen peaches
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/3 cups plain yogurt (I like Brown Cow lowfat plain yogurt)
~12 tbsp. (~3/4 cup) Peanut Butter-Glazed Granola (recipe above)

1) Chop the frozen peaches into bite-sized pieces. (Even though the fruit is frozen, it should be soft enough to cut with a sharp knife.) Place the peaches and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently (almost constantly) until the peaches are thawed, warmed, and a little juicy. Allow the peaches to cool for a minute or two.
2) Assemble the parfaits! (I love this part.) Find two pretty, wide glasses. Place two tablespoons of granola in the bottom of each. In each glass, spoon 1/3 cup of yogurt over the granola, followed by ¼ cup of peaches (including their syrup). Repeat the granola-yogurt-peach layering and finally top with two tablespoons of granola.
3) Eat immediately or wrap the tops of the glasses with some cling wrap and store in the fridge to eat later.


Anonymous said...

Yum! Sounds so delicious! I'm adding this to my "to make" list!

Rosiecat24 said...

Why, thank you, Tina! I hope you find the recipes as tasty in your kitchen as they sound in writing.