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!

‘Hot & Hearty’ – Better than Porridge

Did you hear that joke about oatmeal?

It was a lot of mush…

Actually I like oatmeal, but I get tired of oatmeal, and variety is the spice… and I’ve got this big honking bag of quinoa in the pantry that I bought from CostCo, so… I had to try some different hot cereals.  Another plus is that both oatmeal and quinoa are on our list of healthy pantry items that can come through for you in a pinch.  (See post “Peeping in our pantries’)

I did, but I just need to state that I think we need a better name than ‘hot cereal’ or ‘porridge’..  Hot & Hearty is not that great either, is it?  Seriously, neither ‘hot cereal,’ ‘Hot & Hearty’, nor ‘porridge’  (please, Sir, could I have some more?) gets folks leaping out of a warm bed into that cold kitchen.  So in Little Sis’ honor, I will call my creation ‘Warm Bowl of Yum’.  This is not an instant recipe, but make a big pot, because with a little extra milk (whether dairy, soy or nut) to moisten, it works for a couple of days!

This, as is so often the case with people who cook from scratch for children, was developed over time with changes here and there to finally find the Warm Bowl of Yum that both my boys (one a smadge older chronologically, but not at heart), and I, enjoy.  I especially enjoy it because I’ve snuck some protein and lots of trace minerals in by using nuts that my son won’t eat when they are whole.  (Grind ahead of time if your children object to nuts!)

Warm Bowl of Yum

5 cups liquid : I use 2.5 water and 2.5 almond milk
1 cup oats
1 cup quinoa
1 cup ground walnuts (you can certainly try other nuts, but walnuts really seem to thicken this and they are not very noticeable either ;-)1 tsp salt (optional)
1-2 tsp allspice / or 1 Tbsp cinnamon (optional)

toppings like raisins, honey, more nuts, maple syrup, etc.

Bring your liquid and salt, if using, to a boil.  Be careful!  Almond milk is the wallflower of boilers.  It waits and waits and then suddenly gets inspired, leaps into the fray, jumps out of the pan and into the saucer under your burner there to create a rather ghastly smell and even ghastlier mess.  Do not step away from the stove until you’re at a safe simmer!

‘pot full of milk’ waiting to be transformed into ‘pot full of yum’

Once it boils, toss in your quinoa, turn down to a simmer and cover.  Let simmer about 10 minutes and then boil again Baby!

Toss in the oatmeal, turn down to low and cover. Let simmer about 5 minutes.

While it is simmering, grind your walnuts.  I am blessed with a Vita-Mix which is a noisy but effective way to grind nuts.

Noise, Noise, Noise! Why do you have to be makin’ all that noise?

Stir in the ground nuts and cook covered for a few minutes or until the oats are tender and the quinoa is tender.

A few large walnut lumps – but he doesn’t seem to notice!

Schplop into bowls with your favorite schplopper and enjoy!

I am feeling very grateful for raisins right now.

If I have leftover rice in the frig that is not ear-marked for something to be cooked, I have been known to toss that in as well at the final stages.

I’m sure some of you have your own ‘warm bowls of yum.’     Do tell – spice up my life 😉

 

 

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Our Delightful Home

Breakfast in Bed

Rolled Oats

“How do you feel about oatmeal, buddy?”

“I feel yes about oatmeal.”

“You mean you want some right now?”

“No, I mean oatmeal is yes.  Especially with a little syrup.  And it’s warm and makes my stuffy nose clear up.”

So there you have it folks, the word from the experts on oatmeal is YES.

For the last day of the pre-Easter season, I want to return to Sugar Busting that breakfast bowl.  Have you re-visited oatmeal yet?  REALLY?  In my last oatmeal-related post, I pointed out to you that oatmeal is WAY cheaper than boxed breakfast cereal, that it packs much more of a nutritional wallop, and that it is WAY lower in sugar than most options.  What I failed to point out explicitly is that a serving size for oatmeal is also much smaller because of the whole expandy thing when cooked with liquid.  So when the serving size on the carton says 1/2c, that is actually a reasonable quantity for a person.  Boxed cereals often say 1/2 to 3/4c, which as Big Sis pointed out the other day, is not enough cereal for most reasonably hungry people; I’m pretty sure that’s not even enough for my 5 year olds.  So all of the nutrition and price differences are actually that much bigger.  One serving of oatmeal is a true serving, with less than one gram of sugar.  One serving of Frosted Flakes, on the other hand, is only 3/4c, and has 11 grams of sugar; so if you eat more than 3/4c, like say 1.5c, that’s 22g of sugar.  That’s just 1g shy of a Nestle Crunch Caramel bar. How’s that for a nourishing breakfast?

Not sure you eat that much cereal? I wasn’t either until several years ago when my husband and I were both following a Weight Watchers program. Nothing gets you honest about quantity faster than measuring every flipping bit. I’m not going suggest that you do that, because frankly, it’s annoying, but just for the sake of reality, you may want to measure that morning cereal just ONCE to see how much you are really eating. Then take a look at that label and see how it pans out for you. If it’s more than 5 grams of sugar (a serving of oatmeal with one teaspoon of brown sugar), then perhaps the time has come for an oatmeal revelation.

My Low-Tech Crock Pot

Here I am making the case for oatmeal again, and this is when you say: “It takes too long,” which is where we left off last time. I pointed out that it takes between 5 and 12 minutes to cook oatmeal. To which you say: “You don’t understand what it’s like around here in the morning.” And I say: “But wait, there’s another answer… how’d you like to wake up to breakfast that’s already made?” Five minutes of nighttime prep and you can be in low-sugar oatmeal heaven in the morning. How, you say? Our old 1970’s friend, the Crock Pot. Oh yes, the Crock Pot.

For hot overnight oatmeal, I prefer to use steel cut oats as they hold up to the long low heat better, in my opinion. Steel cut tend to be slightly more expensive than rolled oats, but if you DON’T get the ones in the fancy can (which is lovely, I agree), the price difference is less. I can buy them in bulk for the same price as rolled oats, so if you have a store with a bulk section, this might be a good option for you as well. There are also plenty of folks who used rolled oats in crock pots and recipes online abound. For either type, basically you mix it all up the night before and give it 7-8 hours to cook and voila, it’s hot and delicious, waiting for you. You can’t get much easier or faster than that, friends.

SIMPLE OVERNIGHT STEEL CUT OATS

  • oil for pot
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 8 cups liquid – I mixed mine half water, half almond milk
  • cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

VERY lightly oil the bowl of the Crock Pot.  Add ingredients.  Stir.  Cook for 7-8 hours on low.  When you open the lid, it may not look like yummy oatmeal, but this is a result of the long low cook.  Give it a stir, and voila, there’s your hot oatmeal, ready to go.  Serve with preferred oatmeal toppings.  Here’s where you say: “THAT’S IT?!”  And I say, “Yes, that’s it.”  Many people like to cook apples, dried fruit, nuts, whatever, in with their oatmeal.  We tend to like the texture that these items add when put in individual bowls in the morning.  This also allows for more individual choice (pretty much a necessity with two five year olds). Delish.

Fancy Crock Pot Feature for $4.

A Note On Crock Pots: There are a variety of Crock Pots and slow cookers on the market and you can spend very little or a whole lot. There are also LOTS of people who have Crock Pots in the back of their cabinets that they don’t use. Ask around, see what you can dig up. But wait, you say, the new ones have timer functions and all sorts of other cool features. To which I say, yes, they do and you will pay for it. Unless you’re planning on doing a WHOLE lot of Crock Pot cooking (which I do), I’d like to suggest that you consider my ridiculously simple solution: the cheapest Crock Pot you can find with one of these  little numbers.  Four dollar wall timer.  Worked like a charm.  So if you have an old Crock Pot, your Aunt Martha has an old Crock Pot, or if you’re lucky like me and attended a White Elephant holiday party with a bunch of younger folks who couldn’t imagine the utility of a Crock Pot, slap that timer on there and you have breakfast in bed (because you could actually cook it in your room, you know) ready to go.  Hot Diggity!