Steel yourself for Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oats

december-4-2016-steel-cut-oats-in-bowl-with-walnuts

Breakfast in Bed? No problem. Make this nutritious apple and cinnamon scented oatmeal the evening before in your rice cooker or crock pot. It will be ready for you when you wake in the morning and your kitchen will smell like apple pie! This is the best way to wake up!

Steel cut oats have the most nutrition and lowest glycemic index of all the oatmeal products.  I add flax seed, oat bran and chia seeds to further boost the nutrition, and sprinkle with walnuts for extra protein. My recipe uses only a tablespoon of brown sugar, unlike most of the slow cooked steel cut oats recipes you find on the web. The raisins, apples, and cinnamon bring a natural sweetness to the cereal. Of course you can add more brown sugar or maple syrup when serving, but I’m fine without that.

I use a nonstick rice cooker with a slow cook setting. I spray it with nonstick canola oil spray and cleanup is very easy. I’ve made this in the crock pot too, but be sure you spray it well. Even so, there is a bit more cleanup involved. If the oatmeal sticks, soak the crock pot with hot water and a few tablespoons baking soda.

dry-ingredientsIngredients (makes approximately 6 cups). Refrigerate leftovers for more breakfasts.

Nonstick canola spray

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tb cinnamon

1 Tb flax seed meal

1 Tb chia seeds

1/4 cup oat bran

1 Tb brown sugar

3 Granny Smith apples peeled and chopped (can substitute other cooking apples)

1/4 cup raisins

1 tsp vanilla

2 cinnamon sticks (optional)

1 1/2 Tb butter, cut up in small pieces

3 cups milk

4 1/2 cups water

 

1 cup each blueberries and walnut pieces to stir in the next morning

 

Spray your cooker very well.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then put in cooker. Mix in apples, raisins, butter, vanilla, cinnamon sticks and liquids. Set timer for 7 hours.

apples-on-top-of-cooked-oats

In the morning, the apples will rise to the top.  I like to stir in a cup of fresh blueberries. Stir oatmeal well and ladle into bowls.

Sprinkle with walnut pieces and serve with more milk if desired.

Eggplant Crockpot Pasta Sauce

served with Parmesan and basil

ingeredients

The last 10 minutes of San Francisco’s Heart of the City Farmers Market are filled with vendors shouting “$1 a bag!” which is how I ended up lugging home 2 bags of eggplant and a huge bag of tomatoes home on the Bart train!

We’re in the middle of one of those rare but scorching Bay Area heat spells, so I decided to use my Crockpot to cook the eggplant and veggies instead of roasting them in the oven. Although not as toothsome as roasting, they came out tasty and ready to mix with penne or rigatoni pasta.

chopped vegetables

Ingredients:
A very large bag of tomatoes. It’s fine if they’re a little soft, and that’s what you’re going to get with bargain bag tomatoes anyway.
5 long Italian eggplants and 4 small globe eggplants
1 ½ small onions, (or one large onion)
2 bell peppers (or a bag of frozen sliced bell peppers).
5 large mushrooms
6 spicy chicken Italian sausages (you can use sweet if that’s too spicy for you)
8 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
Parmesan rind
4 bay leaves,
Sprig of rosemary
1 Tb oregano
1 ½ tsp salt
A few grinds black pepper
1 Tb of olive oil
1 Tb red wine
1 Tb of sugar

Add after cooking sauce:
1 can artichoke hearts
1 fresh bunch of basil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 pound of penne or rigatoni pasta

Chop the vegetables and sausage and add the other ingredients in the first list to the Crockpot. I went to the trouble of dipping the tomatoes in boiling water and peeling them, but it’s not really necessary to do that.

in the crock pot

Cooked sauce in the Crockpot

I started the sauce after work and let it cook all night. (You can also start yours in the morning and cook it all day.) I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be enough liquid to cook it properly, but in the morning I realized that the vegetables had released plenty of liquid. I removed the Parmesan rind, which had given up its flavor to the sauce.

I added a can of chopped artichoke hearts. I chopped half the bunch of fresh basil I had bought at the farmers market and stirred it in with the freshly grated Parmesan. I let it sit in the fridge until dinner time so the flavors would develop.

At dinnertime, I boiled 2/3 of a pound box rigatoni pasta  and mixed it together with the sauce. I chopped up the rest of the fresh basil and sprinkled it on top with more Parmesan. This made 9 meals. Yay for leftovers!

layered with Parmesan

layered sauce with Parmesan

Coconut Pancakes

coconut pancakes
These tender, delicious pancakes are made with coconut milk, shredded coconut and coconut oil. If you can find coconut sugar, you can use it to sweeten them.
Coconut oil is all the rage, and my son Francisco talked me into buying some. Now he says “Sounds like you’re going kookoo for coco!” While I wouldn’t fry eggs it in, (I tried – weird), it’s excellent in pancakes. Because it has a high smoke point, you can fry your pancakes in coconut oil without it burning the way butter does. To retain the coconut flavor and have the pancakes golden brown, cook them on medium heat.

Makes approximately 10 medium pancakes

coconut pancake ingredients

Ingredients:
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup canned coconut milk (use low fat coconut milk to cut calories)
¾ cup finely ground whole wheat flour (aka white whole wheat flour)
1 Tb baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar or coconut sugar
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tb coconut oil

Beat coconut milk with eggs. Sift in flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix with wooden spoon just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in shredded coconut.
Heat coconut oil in heavy skillet over medium heat, just until melted. Stir oil into the batter. Pour large spoonfuls of batter onto skillet. Turn when bubbles begin to form and edges begin to dry. Add a little bit of coconut oil before frying each batch.

Serve with fresh fruit, a tad of maple syrup and a bit of coconut oil if you like.

Chili-Cheese-Bacon Cornbread

piece of cornbread

This rich, moist cornbread is flavorful with charred poblano chili, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon grease. The guilty pleasure of bacon grease is balanced by the healthy addition of olive oil! Sweetened with applesauce. Bake in the cast iron skillet used for frying the bacon.

baked pan of cornbread

Ingredients:

chili cheese
1 cup 1% milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 large poblano chili
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp paprika
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (I buy the little plastic containers.)
2 Tb bacon grease, melted but not hot, made from 3 slices bacon.
2 Tb olive oil
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425◦ and place rack in middle position.
Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

sweating poblano chili

Place poblano chili on comal or heavy frying pan over high heat, turning so that it burns in places. Place in a small covered pot to sweat.

While chili is sweating, grate 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.

bacon frying

Fry 3 pieces of bacon in a cast-iron skillet. Eat the bacon or add it to frijoles pintos, but save the grease. It should yield 2 Tb of bacon grease. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Cool while preparing the other ingredients.

Sift white flour with baking powder, salt, paprika, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal until well combined.

miniced poblano chili

Remove poblano chili from pot and scrape off the blackened skin. (Don’t rinse it, since you’ll be rinsing away some of charred flavor.) Mince the chili. Include the seeds if you like more heat.

Whisk eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then whisk in applesauce and bacon-oil mixture, including the browned bits of bacon.
Stir in minced poblano chili and ¾ cup cheese.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Slowly mix and fold with a large spoon, only until batter is combined.

sprinkle cheese on top

Pour batter into the skillet that you fried the bacon in. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

cornbread and frijoles

Excellent served with frijoles pintos.

Hachiya Persimmons and Yogurt

yogurt topped with persimmonTry this simple dish of plain yogurt mixed with sweet jelly-like Hachiya persimmon pulp for a tasty and healthy breakfast or dessert.

???????????????????????????????Hachiya persimmons are oval shaped, and should be so soft they are practically weeping. Scoop out the flesh and mix with a cup of plain yogurt. If desired, sprinkle a few raspberries and pistachios on top.

persimmon mixed with yogurt

Eggnog Popovers

popovers in basketPerfect for Christmas or New Year’s morning. These popovers are crispy on the outside and custard-like on the inside, with the rich taste of eggnog.

Mix the batter the eve before, then pop them in the oven for a breakfast treat. I use  good quality eggnog for best results.

1 cup eggnog, heated with milk

½ cups hot milk. I use 1%, but you can use non fat or whole milk. (But don’t use lactose-free or other milk substitutes; they won’t work.)

3 large eggs

1 ½ cup white all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 Tb melted butter

non-stick pan spray

Heat the milk and eggnog for 2 minutes in the microwave or in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.

Beat eggs well in a blender. Pour in eggnog/milk while beating until foamy. Add the flour and nutmeg, scraping the sides of the blender. Add melted butter and mix again. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, and preferably overnight.

???????????????????????????????In the morning, preheat the oven to 375’. Place a muffin pan into the oven for 3 minutes. Remove the pan and spray with non-stick pan spray.

Pour in the batter until holders are ¾ full.

baked popoversBake for 30-35 minutes, until tops are puffed up and browned. If popovers are baking unevenly, rotate the pan the last 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Persimmon bread

???????????????????????????????We have a Hachiya persimmon tree. These persimmons are oval shaped, and can only be eaten when very soft, unlike their flat-bottomed Fuyu cousins which I eat hard.

???????????????????????????????When you cut them open, they can look either jewel-like or very sexy, (depending on what kind of mind you have.)

???????????????????????????????I based this recipe on my banana bread, and used a couple of ripe bananas for sweetness. I add spices, brown sugar, and a tad of maple syrup. to complement the taste of the persimmon.

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% milk

1 tsp lemon juice

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 soft bananas (3/4 cup mashed)

2 very soft Hachiya persimmons

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tb canola oil

1 Tb pure maple syrup

1 ½ cup unbleached white flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

½ cup walnut or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Add lemon juice to milk. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk instead if you prefer).

Sift white flour, baking soda, salt, spices, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Stir in whole wheat flour and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Add bananas and persimmons to mixer and mix well, then whip on high. Add the maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Add nuts and mix slowly until they are just combined.

Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan or Bundt pan with non-stick spray. Pour in batter.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated 350º oven. Bake for 1 hr 15 min minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out dry. Dust with powdered sugar mixed with a few shakes of cinnamon.

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