Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ambrosia Overnight Oats for Food 'N Flix November Pick: Planes, Trains and Automobiles {#FoodnFlix}

It's the end of November and I am sliding in at the last possible moment (surprise!) with my entry for Food 'N Flix, the monthly blogging event where we watch a movie and then head to the kitchen to make something inspired by what we saw. This month our film is Planes, Trains and Automobiles, hosted by Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures (See her announcement post here.)

Planes. Trains and Automobiles is a John Hughes film, from 1987 and stars Steve Martin and John Candy playing their typical roles--uptight yuppie (Martin) and annoying but ultimately lovable goof (Candy). Chances are you have seen it but in case you haven't, it's holiday travel gone bad with Martin's Neal Page trying to get home to Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday with his family. He meets Candy's Del Griffith on the plane and due to a series of mishaps--starting with a blizzard that halts flights, the two spend several days trying various ways to work their way home. That's the quick version--you have to watch the movie to appreciate all of the misadventures and situations the pair encounters.

It had been years since I watched the movie--at least the whole thing. I happened across a copy of the DVD at my library bookstore for $1 so I grabbed it up and settled in to re-watch it with my food goggles on.It actually holds up fairly well--except for the lack of technology like the laptops and cell phones we take for granted today. It has some very funny moments, some silly ones and even a few that are touching. 

There is not a ton of food in the movie but some things I noticed included spaghetti, mention of a "hot dog and a beer," soda, tea, Life Savers, a Slurpee, Cracker Jacks, Chiclets, a diner breakfast spread that looked like it included eggs, orange juice, pie, oatmeal, coffee and maybe French Toast, nuts and soda on the train, salad and some kind of meat in a restaurant, mention of ambrosia salad, crescent rolls, turkey and cranberries, pizza, alcohol like Amaretto, gin, tequila and rum, various kinds of candy and candy bars, a pie (cherry?) with a lattice crust and a Thanksgiving turkey. 

For my movie inspired dish, I decided to do a mash-up of two inspirations--first the ambrosia mentioned on the phone call that the car rental agent (Edie McClurg) is talking about on the phone and then the diner breakfast where it looked like Neal was stirring a bowl of cream of wheat or oatmeal. I thought I would be fun to take the ingredients and flavors of a classic ambrosia salad (tangerine, pineapple and coconut) and add them to oatmeal. I chose to make overnight oats and keep it cold as that just sounded better and more like the salad. I actually like cold overnight oats better than hot oatmeal anyway and I go through phases where I make and eat them regularly for breakfast.

There appear to be a lot of variations to ambrosia--Wikipedia says, "Ambrosia is a variation on the traditional fruit salad. Most ambrosia recipes contain fresh or sweetened pineapple, mandarin oranges or fresh orange sections, miniature marshmallows, and coconut. Other ingredients can include maraschino cherries, bananas, strawberries, peeled grapes, or crushed pecans. Ambrosia can also include whipped cream (or whipped topping), sour cream, cream cheese, pudding, yogurt, mayonnaise, or cottage cheese. The mixture is refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before serving. Although the name references the food of Greek gods, it is widely believed to be an American dish originated in the late 19th century." I remember my mom occasionally making a variation of it with canned fruit cocktail and marshmallows in a creamy whipped cream (I think) sauce--but no coconut.

I wanted to keep my ambrosia overnight oats on the fresher, healthier side and use fresh fruit--pineapple and tangerine, unsweetened coconut, plain coconut yogurt, and a bit of maple syrup (John Candy was Canadian) to sweeten it. I was going to leave out the marshmallows but then I ran across some toasted pineapple coconut marshmallows at my local grocery store and though it would be fun to cut them up and add them to the oats. In addition to the unsweetened desiccated coconut in the oats, I toasted up some coconut flakes with a dash of cinnamon to put on top.  

Ambrosia Overnight Oats
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Servings)  

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup shredded desiccated (dried) coconut, unsweetened
3/4 cup yogurt of choice (I used plain coconut-based yogurt but you can use vanilla,orange, coconut or pineapple flavored yogurt for a sweeter version)
1/2 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened vanilla coconut milk)
1 large tangerine, peeled and segmented with the skin removed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced
tiny pinch of salt
maple syrup or honey to taste
1/3 cup miniature marshmallows (optional), halved (I used the pictured flavored marshmallows and chopped them into bite-sized squares)
extra tangerine,pineapple and marshmallows to top if desired
1/4 cup coconut flakes, toasted

Combine the oats, desiccated coconut, yogurt, milk, fruit, and pinch of salt into a jar or tightly-lidded container. Stir well to combine. Place in refrigerator overnight--or at least six hours.

When ready to eat, check consistency (you want it thick and creamy but loose to mimic the ambrosia consistency) adding additional milk or yogurt to loosen it up as needed and stir in marshmallows if using. Taste and add maple syrup or honey if you want it sweeter (if you use a flavored yogurt you likely won't need to add much if any sweetener). 

Serve in bowls, topping it with extra fruit and marshmallows and toasted coconut flakes if desired. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I liked this mix of flavors as it gave my overnight oats a bit of a tropical twist with the pineapple and coconut. They were creamier than I usually make my overnight oats to replicate the salad and I liked how it softened and plumped up the dry desiccated coconut. Although I wouldn't make the marshmallows a regular thing, it was fun to have them in the mix for their chewy texture (stir them in right before serving) and sweet flavor. It reminded me of eating a bowl of Lucky Charms as a kid and saving the little bites of marshmallow for last. The toasted coconut flakes added a needed crispiness to all that creaminess. I might add nuts next time too--chopped pecans or mac nuts for even more texture. If you like ambrosia salad and/or these ingredients and like overnight oats, you will probably enjoy this combination. I will happily make it again.   

The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is today, Tuesday November 28th 2017 and Amy will be rounding up the entries on her blog soon after. If you missed this round and love food, films and foodie films, join us for December when we'll be watching Clueless, hosted by Food 'N Flix's founder, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen.  



  1. Those were two scenes that I contemplated as well...I love how you mashed them up to create this awesome recipe! I'd happily eat this for breakfast any morning. And wow - I need those marshmallows in my life!

  2. Such a creative twist on ambrosia salad! I love it!

  3. Great idea Deb, very creative and perfect for the movie that was a little twisted as well.

  4. I love how out of the box this combo was. I'd never heard of overnight oats before, I'll have to try it that style. - Kimberly (coffee and casseroles)

  5. I actually can't wait to give this one a try! I used to do overnight oats a lot and then just stopped. Ambrosia would give it such a flavor lift!


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