Pumpkin Apple Steel Cut Oats in the Crockpot

That’s a horribly long name.  Pasco would be better, but then again you wouldn’t have any idea what that would taste like would you?  This, on the other hand lets you know that you are soon to be treated with some of the lovely flavors of Fall. And if you pour it all into an oiled crockpot right before you go to bed and turn it on you will awaken to a heavenly, hearty – come on it’s a wonderful day to be alive – kind of smell..followed by a hearty, healthy breakfast.

This was a variation on the Chocolate Steel Cut Oats Little Sis introduced us to in one of her many brilliant moments.  I LOVE those chocolate oats, but my husband had trouble adjusting to the idea of chocolate breakfast.  He has since grown accustomed to the idea and loves the chocolate oats as well, but the idea for a variation was already cooking (slowly in a crock with a glass lid) in my brain, so I thought I’d better try the idea.  Space is after all limited in said brain these days.

While I have never had a Pumpkin Latte from Starbucks, they are apparently a big deal.  After seeing lattes advertised everywhere lately and having some pumpkin in the house, it seemed like a good idea to put some pumpkin in our breakfast  We were all pleased with the results and I bet your Autumn People will like it as well.

Pumpkin Apple Steel Cut Oats

2 c steel cut oats
1 c pumpkin (I used canned)
7 cups water and or milk (I used 1/2 water and 1/2 almond milk)
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 chopped apples (I left skins on)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp allspice

I recommend you oil the crockpot.  I use coconut oil.  If you don’t have that, use something mild that won’t be an odd flavor.

Put the oats in.

Mix the pumpkin in with some or all of the liquid you are using so you can get some of the lumps out.

Pour the mixture and all of the other ingredients into the crockpot – give a bit of a stir.  Put the lid on and set it on low.  My crockpot has kind of a high ‘low’ and these cereals tend to be done in about 5 hours.  If yours has a timer you could set it for 6 if you will be asleep longer than that.  I don’t have a timer and the top of the edges of these cereals can get a little crispy when left to long, but no burning and no problem.

I did not add sugar to his recipe.  I added raisins directly to my bowl and was satisfied with the sweetness.  If your crowd requires more sugar you can always add it after the fact or throw a couple of Tbsp of maple syrup into the crockpot.   All 3 of us enjoyed this a lot and it always pleases me to have a breakfast that has a bit of vegetable in it!

20140928_075629Very good indeed and just the ticket to eat when we were up early to go for a canoe trip on the Harpeth River.  A Great Blue Heron spread it’s great wings and led us down river on 3 separate occasions and almost let us catch up for a really close view on the last time….. then spread his wings and flew off again.  Here and gone, like the seasons.  I do so love this season and intend to savor it – full belly and overloaded brain and all.  🙂

 

Fall Recipe Parade – Yes, there’s some pumpkin

It’s that time of year – one of the many that sneaks up on me each and every year. While it is still sunny and warm here in mid-Maryland, I am apparently supposed to desperately want pumpkin everything. And honestly, I’m okay with that (except for the coffee thing, I don’t get it – but to each her own coffee). Here at the pantry we do have a healthy love of pumpkin. We also love the other flavors of fall and the opportunity to break out those super warming dishes as the temperatures begin to drop. To welcome this season of bounty and cool nights, we offer you a treasure trove of autumn yum. Most of these recipes are both gluten and dairy free. 🙂

Morning Warmer Uppers

  

1. Pumpkin French Toast

2. Dark Chocolate Steel Cut Oats

3. Sweet Potato Apple Oats

Mains

  

4. Slow Cooker Burritos

5. Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala 

6. Sweet Potato Chili with Greens

Sides

  

7. Amazing Applesauce

8. Herbed Bulghur Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Cranberries

9. Waldorf Saute

Sweet Endings

  

10. Super Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

11. Walnut Crust Apple Pie

12. Healthy Pumpkin Cookies

Yay for pumpkins and apples, for warm afternoons and cool mornings, for low humidity and crunchy leaves, for new pencils and new schedules. Here’s to fall and wonderful food, family, and friends. Delish!

Soup De Doo!

Everyone I’ve talked to in the last week or so has at least one person in their house who’s sneezing, coughing, hacking, and otherwise feeling miserable.  Both of the Sis sisters have been plagued as well. In my house, all four of us fell to this school born scourge.  And so, while appetites have not been hearty around here lately, we do seem to agree on the goodness of soup.  All soup, any soup, warm wonderful soup.  The fact that we had our first TRUE cold weather of the season only made the call for soup more compelling.

I’m assuming we are not the only coughers and hackers out there, so I thought I’d pause for a moment to do a bit of a soup tour.  But why, you might wonder, why worry so much about soup  recipes when there is nearly an entire aisle full of prepared soups waiting for me at the grocery store? There are many reasons why we prefer homemade to “factory” soup (my nephew’s designation). Canned soup is extremely high in sodium, when the label says low sodium, it means it’s lower than the salt lick next to it.  Canned soup also contains MSG (a good one to avoid according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest) even when it says it doesn’t, apparently.  Canned soup contains a plethora of unnecessary preservatives and unusual ingredients (like monster carrots and celery) that are in that can solely because it is a highly, and violently processed, canned food.  Finally, canned soup is expensive.  No, it’s not the most expensive thing you can buy, but compared to homemade soup, which can be one of the most frugal meal choices you can make, it costs a fortune.

So for all you coughers and hackers, all you frugal home cooks, all you folks who are feeling the first signs of winter, I bring you Soup De Doo!

Soups for Healing

   

1. Cold Kickin’ Soup –  My go to choice for headcolds and other respiratory yuck.

2. Shweet Potato Stew – Super soothing anti-inflammatory sweet potatoes with fantastic flavors.

3. Lentil, Mushroom and Sweet Potato Soup – Warming broth with healing mushrooms and anti-inflammatory sweet potatoes.  Greens for added nutrish and power protein lentils.

Crock Pot Wonders

 

 1. Slow Cooker Vegetable, Bean and Barley Stew – So easy, so delish.

2. Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Soup (DF) – You know you miss that tomato soup – you don’t have to.

3. Slow Cooker Creamed Lentil Soup – A surprising and simple slow cooker soup.

Twisted Classics

1. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – Roasting the veggies brings out their sweetness.

2. Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup – Wild rice is so great in soup – never mushy.

3. Bellywarming American Black Bean Soup – We always think of Southwest flavors for black bean soup – this twist reminds us that black beans are very versatile.

Ready for a great big bowl of soup? I know I am (sniffle, hack, cough).  Be well, and get better before the gathering extravaganza begins!

The Sweet Beast and Morning Decadence

It’s been a while since we specifically talked about sugar. But really it’s a discussion you just kind of keep having.  I have it with myself all the time.  I’m having it right now, in fact, because I’m sitting here wondering why I don’t keep more dessert in the house.  The fact that I’ve been thinking about this for an hour explains why I don’t keep more dessert in the house…  So, maybe it’s time to talk about sugar again.  For those of you who were lured in by the Morning Decadence part of the title – it’s there, recipe included, waiting for you below. Continue reading

SOTW: Crock Pot Creamed Lentil Soup

Yeah, I know we have lentil problems.  A lentil fixation.  A lentil leaning, as it were.  The truth is that lentils may well be the perfect legume, hearty full of all the goodness that the legume family can bring, but so very forgiving because they are so small.  Didn’t soak?  Bah.  Running out of time?  Never fear.  Lentils are the home cook’s best friend.   Lentils are easy, cheap, delicious, nutritious, and friendly to those of us who are a little lacking in the planning department.  If you haven’t drunk the kool-aid (and I am speaking purely figuratively here because I really, really don’t want you to drink kool-aid) on lentils with us before, it is high time that you did. Continue reading

SOTW: Slow Cooker Vegetable, Bean and Barley Stew

I have fallen totally in love with my slow cooker.  It’s true.  I’ve not yet branched out into non-soup/stew type dishes yet, although Pinterest assures me these options are plentiful.  But to be honest I LOVE soup and while it’s still chilly enough to justify a big steaming bowl of it, I see no reason to move out of the category for the time being.  My six year old twins had their last swim class for this session on Tuesday and despite the slightly warmer than average temperatures last week, they still emerged from the indoor pool with blue lips, chattering teeth, and decidedly tortured dispositions.  I warmed them up in the shower only to have them get cold again walking from the changing room to the car.  Once again I was so very delighted to come home to a big warm Crock Pot full of yumminess.  A few simple directions, and you can have one too.  🙂  The soup of the week (yes, I realize it’s not always once a week, many pardons) is a simple and insanely flavorful vegetable, bean and barley stew. Continue reading

SOTW: Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

What could be better on a chilly day than a hot bowl of tomato soup?  I have an answer to that – on a chilly day, the only thing better than a hot bowl of tomato soup is a hot bowl of tomato soup that is waiting for you, nearly complete, when you walk in the door with two pool-soaked “freezing cold” six year old swimmers.

I should confess that as a child I was never a tomato soup eater – the ever present Campbell’s soup can didn’t do a thing for me, but Mr. Little Sis was a huge fan.  I was always happy to simply eat the grilled cheese that usually accompanied a great bowl of tomato soup.  As my love affair with the tomato became a permanent state, however, I’ve given this simple dish another chance.  In the past I found that creamy versions usually were my preference, but in more recent days, I’ve avoided creamy soup.  What to do?

I was confident someone on the vast internet had conquered the creamy tomato soup with no cream conundrum, and lo and behold, I was correct.  I stumbled onto a recipe that uses beans to thicken, fortify, and give soup some body.  Being the me that I am, I took the recipe to heart and promptly began changing it to meet my increasingly particular standards. 😉  The result was a creamy and flavorful soup that was warming to the toes, each bite full of tomato goodness.  Smoked paprika evokes roasted goodness and smoky warmth.  So flavorful, and so perfectly simple. Continue reading

Slow Cooker Burritos

My increasingly not so little ones are taking swim lessons.  They’ve been taking them for a while, but now I really feel like we’re starting to have swim, not just don’t be afraid of the pool, lessons.  They have a ball, and honestly I kind of love sitting in that humid air, watching them take instruction from someone else, splashing with their peers, laughing at themselves and at each other.  It’s good stuff.

The only problem is that the lesson happens at 5 p.m. on a school day.  Five o’clock is usually dinner prep madness and there’s nobody hungrier than two six year olds who’ve been in the pool kicking like mad and working on circle arms.  Here we come up against one of the reprted biggest drawbacks of scratch cooking – time.  So we arrive home at 6 p.m., half an hour after “usual dinnertime” and with two ravenous, cold, and exhausted children.  This is a carry-out dinner trap in the making…

Crock Pot, my old friend, do your thing.  While I admit to having scorned the Crock Pot in younger days, when one circulated at a White Elephant party I attended with aspiring teachers in their 20’s (I was a ripe 31 at that time), I knew they were missing out by mocking this lovely kitchen tool, and that I was about to score big.  My simple Crock Pot has been with me ever since.  Just two settings – Lo and Hi – and a timer that I bought to turn the lamps on when go on trips, but it’s still kicking and if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it with something fancy that will.

This Monday’s slow cooker offering was driven by a recipe in the Cooking Light Slow Cooker Cookbook.  As you know, I’ve developed a fondness for barley.  These barley, black bean and corn burritos caught my eye right away, so I set to getting everything going around lunchtime in order to come home to finished dinner, and the finished product did not disappoint.  As usual I made some changes based on what I had on hand and tipping the scales of possibility in favor of my most reluctant eater.  I’ll share my version with you, but feel free to check out the original for plenty of slow cooker suggestions.

Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos

  • olive oil for pan
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans (or equivalent dry, soaked and cooked), rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz tomato (diced, crushed, whatever – I used 15 oz leftover homemade pasta sauce)
  • 1 c uncooked pearl barley
  • 1.5 c water
  • 3/4 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • juice of 1/2 small lime
  • 2 T Bragg’s or soy sauce
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground red pepper (opt – I omitted)

The recipe suggests putting all ingredients in the Crock Pot raw.  Personally, I prefer to cook my onions a bit first.  I REALLY don’t like onion crunch in cooked food, so I always sauté my onions for a few minutes and throw the garlic in for a few seconds once the onions are translucent.  I then moved the whole lot to the Crock Pot.  Follow with all of the remaining ingredients, stir, put the lid on and turn that puppy on low for 4-5 hours (ours took 5).

Once I got everything going in the crock pot, I chopped some fresh veggies and cilantro to go with the burritos so that I would literally simply have to take the bowl of veggies out, get tortillas out, a little cashew cheese for the parents, and serve it up.  Worked like a charm and my little man indulged in hungry swimmer thirds.  Picky pants was less impressed, but honestly wouldn’t you have been a little disappointed in her if she acquiesced in the face of several foods mixed together with a hint of cumin?  I knew it was a long shot and decided it just wouldn’t be her night (she had her favorite Crock Pot dish after last week’s lesson).  The rest of us were very happy. Delish.

Amazing Apple Sauce

This is so easy, and so amazingly better than what you get in the store that I can hardly believe it.  I have always thought I should make my own apple sauce and apple butter as with apples in particular, I prefer organic and it’s HUGELY expensive.  Commercial applesauce also doesn’t taste all that great in my opinion.

It was a staple on my plate as a child and I was very adept at spreading it out enough that it looked as though I’d actually eaten a good portion of it.  Blecch.  To be honest, it made me gag.  But, homemade is another story.  So when I found an Oh She Glows recipe for apple butter in the crock pot, and too many apples after both my husband and I bought apples on the same day, I thought I’d try apple butter.  I ended up with amazing applesauce.

apple in corer
For this recipe I got to whip out the old apple corer.  Gear enhances the experience, don’t you think? 😉

After roughing up a mixture of the apples I had on hand (just Fuji and Gala – all getting a little old).  Note the peels are still on.  I hate extra work that reduces the nutritional value of the end product.  (Great excuse, huh?)

evidence of slaughter

I filled the crock pot with a splash of apple juice at the bottom to prevent sticking.  I think water would be fine.  Angela Liddon recommends apple juice and I had some, so that’s what I did, and left them to cook for about 6 hours.  I turned my old crock pot from high to low and back several times, but it is a pre-historic crock pot.  You might have a more medium temp that will cook without burning.

mashing

Once your apples are very tender.  Smush, bash, mash, pulverize and otherwise maul your nice complacent, soft apples into something resembling chunky apple sauce.  Here is where the departure takes place.  You can thin your mixture by letting it continue to cook for awhile with the lid off, or you can just go with this stage, which is what I did.  It will depend on what kind of apples you used and how juicy they were.  At this point, also add some spices.  I added cinnamon.  No sugar, no salt, just a little cinnamon and a pinch of cloves.  Probably about 1 tsp of cinnamon.  You could add a touch of ginger or nutmeg or allspice if you like.  Just start low and add if you need more.  Again, the line between apple sauce and apple butter may be one of sweetness for you, or of consistency, but either way, you are in the drivers seat of this baby, so just make it how you like it Sister!

Once you’ve mashed and are pleased with the consistency, you can whiz it up in the blender.  (Depending on the thickness you could probably do it in a food processor as well – but I haven’t tried that yet.

applesauce in vita mix

I just love the cosmic Vita Mix shots.  Looks like a geothermal pool of bubbling calcium salts, or a galaxy spinning off into the Vita-Verse…  Or like really smooth and creamy apple sauce.

Place this delicious concoction in a mason jar and it’s worthy of the county fair!

in jar

Kudos to those of you who thought of this a long time ago.  It was an AHA, followed by DUH! moment for me to give this a whirl.  And I am so glad I did.  Just the kind of simple, yet special preparation to dress up a holiday feast or a regular meal!

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