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If you grew up in my house, a bowl of oatmeal was never served naked. A not-very-sensibly sized pat of salted butter nestled in the center with an equally-sized spoonful of brown sugar sprinkled of top of that…perhaps some sliced banana…steam wafting up, too hot to eat right away… whoosh, that’s good.

Until about mid-way through. Things begin to cool off. The bulk of the toppings are gone. The bottom of the bowl hasn’t been revealed yet, and already things are congealing into spackle.

Being that today is National Oatmeal Day, I’m showing some appreciation with a cookie variation that brings back the childhood memories and a wee teeny bit of excitement. If you haven’t put bananas in your oatmeal cookies yet, you’ve been missing out my friend. So there are no illusions of health benefits, I tossed in a bunch of English toffee to whet your whistle.

Which leads me to ask, ever had Banoffee before?

Banoffee is a singularly British creation whose magic somehow eludes us stateside. Think banana cream pie, but instead of cream you float those nanners in toffee. Yes. TOFFEE. It is a messy good time. You can’t walk down the street and eat it at the same time, though. People will stare, and not in an admiring, “you’ve got it goin’ on” (I’m bringing that phrase back, you’re welcome) sort of way. No, more of a “look at that tragic little person with no fork or plate” sort of way.

So, cookies. Easy to carry while remaining approachable to others. They may even ask you for one.

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Banoffee Oat Cookies

English toffee*
1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) butter
1/3 + 1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp water
1 tsp kosher salt

Banana-oat cookies
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
a scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F

For the toffee:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water and stir. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring ocassionally, to a medium caramel color, which will be around (but not beyond) 300F.
Immediately pour the toffee onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature. Using a rolling pin or other blunt tool, break into small peppercorn-sized bits.
Set aside.

For the cookies:

Pour all but 1/2 c. of the oats into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a very coarse meal. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. Add the banana, then the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add those to the banana mixture an stir on low until mostly combined. Add the crushed toffee bits and stir again until fully combined.

Remove from the bowl, wrap tightly in plastic, and allow to chill for at least 1 hour before baking.

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Scoop into walnut-sized balls, flatten slightly, and bake until golden (about 12-14 minutes).

Eat with reckless abandon.

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Okay, I know it’s “that time of the year”, but I am loathe to eat and drink all of the super-sweet pumpkin-y stuff that’s out. I don’t have much use for the toaster tarts, sandwich cookies or coffee drinks these days because to me they’re too freaking chock full of sugar, even for me. Give me a savory pumpkin dish, though, and you have a friend forever.

So, here is my contribution. It’s good as a holiday side, but just fabulous as an alternative to mac ‘n cheese.

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Savory Pumpkin Spaetzle Gratin

2 bay leaves
1 c. pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
1 egg
1 tsp. olive oil
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of black pepper
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

4 oz thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, thinly sliced
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 c. grated gruyere
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the spaetzle:

Crack the egg into a medium bowl and beat it a little. Add the pumpkin, olive oil, and nutmeg and blend. Using a strong rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, beatin the flour and salt a little at a time. You should have a really sticky, fairly smooth mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Bring the water and bay leaves to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
Position a spaetzle maker, large colander, or medium-gauge shredder* over the boiling water. Working in small batches, squish the dough through the tool of your choosing, into the water. The spaetzle is done when it floats to the surface and boils there for 30 seconds. Remove them from the pot and rinse in a colander under cold water to stop them continuing to cook.
Once all the spaetzle is cooked and cooled, pour into a shallow baking dish and set aside.

For the gratin:

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Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cook the bacon until crispy. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the fat. Add the sliced shallot and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown. Add the sage and toss together to combine. Remove from heat.

Combine the milk and cream in a separate bowl with the egg and yolk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined. Sprinkle in the cheese, stir well, then pour evenly over the spaetzle.
Bake until the top is golden and bubbly, approximately 25 minutes.

Eat with reckless abandon.

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foodwise, I got nothin’. Seriously, I’m still looking for my re-hydrate-able pizza. What happened there?
And what happened to October? How did I get this far without posting anything?
And what happened to our youth, people? The first BttF came out 30 years ago…30…

Alright then, new posts with actual recipes are coming at you, and soon. I’m looking at you, Pasta Day (International). You too, Oatmeal Day.

Starting tomorrow, when I feel a little less geriatric.

Oof.