Steel yourself for Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Apples and Blueberries

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!

Note: If you make this before bed, it’s best to start it at least an hour before hitting the sack. Once the oatmeal thickens, stir well to prevent lumps.

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

3 cups milk

6 cups water

1 1/2 Tb butter (or a mixture of butter and coconut oil)

4 large Gala, Jonagold, Pink Lady or other sweet cooking apples peeled and chopped (you can substitute other cooking apples)

1 Tb brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tb cinnamon

1 Tb flax seed meal

3 Tb chia seeds

1/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup raisins

2 cinnamon sticks (optional)

For serving:

1 cup walnut or pecan pieces to stir in the next morning

1 cup fresh or 2 cups (16 oz) frozen blueberries to stir in the next morning (optional)

caramelized apples and dry ingredientsDirections

Spray your cooker very well. Fill with milk and water.

apples cooked in butter with cinnamon and brown sugar

Fry apples in butter and sprinkle in a few shakes of cinnamon, the vanilla and brown sugar, stirring often until they caramelize. If I have cream on hand, I stir in a tablespoon for real caramel.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour into cooker and mix well with the liquids. Mix in caramelized apples, raisins, and cinnamon sticks. Set slow cook timer for 7 hours. It’s best to make this with at least an hour before bedtime so that you can stir it while it thickens and avoid lumps.

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 (or frozen) blueberries. Acai berry puree is also good to stir in. Stir oatmeal well and ladle into bowls.

frozen blueberriesIf you don’t have apples on hand or just don’t want to do all that work, stir in a 16 oz package of frozen blueberries into the cooked oatmeal.

oatmeal with frozen blueberries

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

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.

Steel-cut oats oatmeal with apples and nuts

???????????????????????????????This fiber-rich, creamy and crunchy oatmeal will stick to your ribs on these cold winter mornings when you need something to warm you up and keep you going.

I used the quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s. They cook in only 8 minutes. Nuts add crunch and protein, and apples and/ or raisins add sweetness and fiber. This recipe serves 2, but you can double or triple it to store some for those weekday mornings when you need a quick warm-up before work. It’s all-natural, so much better than those instant oatmeal packets.

Serves 2

1 1/2 cups water

a few shakes salt

1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats

2 Tb ground flax seed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 apple (I used a honey crisp apple)

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup milk

1 Tb cream (optional)

pure maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)

Peel and chop the apple into bite-size pieces. Bring water to a boil. Add salt, oatmeal. flax seed, cinnamon, apple and raisins. Lower heat and cover pot, and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in nuts and milk for one minute. Pour into bowls and add a tablespoon of cream for a treat. If you desire added sweetness, add maple syrup or brown sugar to taste.

Peach Smoothie

???????????????????????????????Summertime means peaches, juicy and sweet. I bought a couple that were not as perfect. I popped them in the blender along with a speckled banana,  a scoop of plain non-fat yogurt and a glass of orange juice. Gave it a whirl and poured out this delicious smoothie!

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My Homemade Muesli

Muesli

muesli with berries

I eat my homemade muesli every workday morning for a crunchy high protein start to my day that keeps me full all morning. It’s made with oatmeal, quinoa flakes, raw nuts and seeds, and a dash of cinnamon for sweetness and flavor. I serve it with fresh fruit such as berries or peaches and 1% milk.  (I used freeze-dried blueberries from Trader Joe’s when fresh fruit was out of season.)

muesli ingredients: Makes 8 cups (8 servings)

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup quinoa flakes

3/4 cup pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds)

3/4 cup sliced raw almonds and/or diced roasted almonds (I get mine from Berkeley Bowl)

3/4 cup shelled raw pistachios

¼ cup ground flax seeds (flax-seed meal) must be refrigerated or frozen

¼ cup chia seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup hemp seeds (no, you will not get high from them!)

1 tsp cinnamon (to taste)

Mix together and store in airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Blueberry Cake or Muffins


This is perfect for late spring and summertime when fresh blueberries are plentiful. I love how the fragrant nutmeg complements the fresh fruit. My friend Marcia got this recipe from her mom. Our families used to pick wild blueberries with her in-laws in the New Hampshire countryside.

I changed the recipe a bit, substituting finely ground whole wheat flour, cutting down a bit on the sugar and adding vanilla. The original recipe calls for half-and-half, but I use 1 % milk and still get a tender and delicious muffin.

Makes a 13 × 9 inch cake or about a dozen muffins

Blueberry prep:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tb flour

Cake:

2/3 cup sugar

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature

2 large eggs warmed to room temperature

½ cup milk

1½ tsp vanilla

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup pecan or walnut pieces (optional)

Topping:

2 Tb sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350’

Wash blueberries, and discard overripe ones. Dry in a paper towel. Toss blueberries with 2 Tb flour so that they are lightly coated.

Sift flours, salt and baking powder and stir well to combine.

Beat butter on high speed and add sugar, beating for a few minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until the mixture is light. Scrape the bowl and add 1/4 cup milk, mixing well.

Stir half the flour mixture into the batter only until combined. Add the other 1/4 cup milk and the rest of the flour mixture and slowly stir only until combined.

Fold in the blueberries and nuts.

Put in a buttered 13 × 9 inch pan, or scoop into about 12-14 paper muffin cups. An ice cream scoop makes it easy to portion it.

scooping muffins

Mix 2 Tb sugar with ¼ tsp nutmeg in a cup. Sprinkle about 1/3 to ½ tsp over each muffin, or if making the cake, sprinkle evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes, until top is light brown.

DSC00999

Eggnog biscuits

Slightly sweet, eggnog flavored biscuits! Good with a cup of coffee for the holiday mornings.

These are based on  but with the addition of eggnog and orange zest for the holidays. Perfect for a holiday breakfast. I freeze the eggnog and cream for 15 minutes before adding. Mix dough as little as possible for  tender biscuits.

Preheat oven to 450′

Makes 15 -20 biscuits depending on the size.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 Tb baking powder

1/8 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

1/2 cup cold eggnog

1 cup cold heavy cream

finely grated zest of one small orange (about 1 tsp) (zest is the orange part of the peel)

1 Tb cold butter, chopped

3 Tb melted butter, cooled

Chop 1 Tb cold butter and put in the freezer with the cream and the eggnog for 15 minutes. Melt 3 Tb butter in a shallow bowl and let it cool.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add eggnog, cream, zest, and  chopped cold butter. Slowly stir until the dough is shaggy.

Rub an insulated  cookie sheet with a bit of the melted butter. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

French Toast with Fresh Fruit

This family favorite is a weekend morning treat after a week of eating muesli. Although French toast made with half-and-half is rich and sublime, this lower fat version, made with 1% milk is really good. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and piled high with fresh peaches and strawberries with a hint of maple syrup, it makes a satisfying breakfast.

Serves 3:

3 large eggs
¼ cup 1% milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Several shakes of nutmeg
8 slices of raisin bread
About 1 tsp butter
1 large peach
6 large strawberries
3 Tb maple syrup

 

Whip eggs with milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat a nonstick frying pan and move butter stick across it until it is coated with butter (about 1 tsp). Dip slices of raisin bread into the egg mixture so it begins to saturate the bread but not make it soggy. Place bread in the pan and fry over medium heat a few minutes until it turns light brown, then flip and fry again.

Serve with fresh cut peaches, strawberries or what’s in season. You can heat frozen fruit and serve as well. I like to spread the fruit on a plate and pour about 3 Tb of maple syrup over the fruit, then microwave for a minute. No need to add extra syrup to the French toast.

Vatrushka

These cheese-filled, sour cream dough pastries were one of my favorite treats as a child. I can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer. My mom, Sarah, baked hundreds of these as hors d’œuvre for our wedding. Now my kids and husband gobble them up as fast as I can make them.

We use the same filling as for Blintzes.  I changed mom’s recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour she used, and mixing nonfat ricotta cheese with the farmer’s cheese to cut down on the fat. But I still top them with a bit of sour cream. The fresh strawberries I placed on top add just the right amount of sweet juiciness to balance the filling.

I got a  kick out of the comments or rather criticisms I got on this blog entry. Russians have got to be the most opinionated people on the planet! (I should know, being half-Russian myself).

makes several dozen, depending on the size

Dough for Vatrushka
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature
5 Tb sour cream
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until dough is formed. Knead on a floured board about 12 times, until it is no longer sticky. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for ½ an hour. Prepare the filling while the dough is chilling.

Cheese filling
1 1/2  cups farmer’s cheese
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1/2  tsp sugar

Mix ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350◦

Roll out the dough on a floured board until thin, and cut with a round biscuit cutter. For larger pastries, I made little balls and roll them out into circle shapes. The circles don’t have to be perfect as long as they can fold into a half-moon shape. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and fold it over into a half-moon shape.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, spray the pan with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350◦

Serve topped with sour cream and fresh strawberries.


Cheese Soufflé

I make this for Easter brunch and serve it with bunny biscuits (Light as a feather cream biscuits cut into bunny shapes with a cookie cutter).

My mom used to make this soufflé for dinner back in the day. I added some suggestions I found in my favorite cookbook, Joy of cooking

The key to this dish is timing. The soufflé must be served immediately or it will fall. Bake the bunny biscuits ahead of the soufflé, (wrap them in a dishtowel to keep warm), raise the temperature to 475′. then pop the soufflé into the oven so it will be ready to serve when the guests sit down.

Don’t pour the soufflé more than 1 inch from the top of the pan, or it will not cook thoroughly and spill over the top (I can tell you from experience!)

Serves 6

Nonstick spray

6 Tb butter

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 large shallot

10 crimini mushrooms, well

6 Tb flour

¼  teaspoon salt

grind of black pepper

one shake of cayenne

1 shake of nutmeg

1 ½  cups milk (I use 1% to make up for all that butter!)

6 large eggs

a few shakes paprika

Preheat oven to 475’

Spray a round 8” by 3” straight-sided casserole dish (2.5 liters or 10 cups) with non-stick spray.

Grate cheddar and Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Mince a large shallot to make 2 Tb. Cut off stem ends of mushrooms and cut into quarters.

Heat 1 Tb butter in a heavy pan and cook shallots and mushrooms over medium heat until softened.

Make Béchamel (bay-shah-MEHL) sauce: Melt 5 Tb butter in a medium pot. Whisk in flour and salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and black pepper. Add milk and whisk well until thickened. Stir in cheese. Let cool.

While Béchamel sauce is cooling, separate eggs, pouring whites into a mixer bowl.  Whip egg whites until stiff glossy peaks form.

Whisk egg yolks well, then slowly whisk into the cooled Béchamel sauce. Pour soufflé base into a large bowl.

Stir a couple of tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the soufflé base to lighten it. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites by dividing the soufflé in half with a large serving spoon or plastic spatula, and folding one half over the other, repeating several times until the whites are incorporated.

Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika.

Run your thumb along the top inside of the casserole dish, making a 1” groove into the soufflé . This will help the soufflé to rise evenly.

Place on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 475’. Lower heat to 400’ and bake for 20 more minutes. The soufflé should rise 3- 4” above the top of the casserole and have a golden crust. It should feel firm with only a slightly wobbly middle. Serve immediately.

What to do with all those eggshells? Dye them and stuff them with confetti, then glue pieces of colored streamers or tissue paper over the broken tops . You now have cascarones! When they’re dry on Easter afternoon, crush the eggshell over your loved one’s head and they will have confetti in their hair. But watch out, they may get you back!