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.

Advertisements

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.

Charoset

Passover is one of those Jewish feast holidays, you know: They tried to kill us off, we survived, let’s eat!

Actually it’s a wonderful celebration of freedom and a reminder that we were once slaves in Egypt. The rituals remind us to work for a time that all people can enjoy freedom.

Charoset (pronounced in Yiddish as khah- ROH-sees) is eaten as a symbol of mortar that the Jewish slaves used in building cities in ancient Egypt. Its sweetness is a symbol of freedom. It is spread on a matzo, the bread of affliction the Jews baked in a hurry to escape the Pharaoh’s army.

A spoonful of horseradish, known as maror, is spread on top of the Charoset to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. This is known as a Hillel sandwich, (after the great rabbi Hillel), and is served as a symbol of hope.

My mom taught me to make Charoset, and it became my contribution to the Seder as a child. As an adult, the taste of the apples flavored with  Manischewitz sweet wine and the beet red maror on a piece of matzo brings back instant memories of Passovers. My sister brought a bottle of Villadodro Moscato this year instead of the Manischewitz. It made a delicious charoset.

Serves 10 guests

2 apples, grated. I used Pink Lady apples. If you don’t peel them, it adds a nice blush to the charoset

¼ cup walnut pieces

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup Moscato OR Manischewitz sweet Concord wine

Grate apples, then mix with cinnamon and wine. Crush walnut pieces so they are small, and mix into Charoset.

Arroz con leche (Rice Pudding)

I used to sing this folk song to my kids whenever I’d make this for them.

“Arroz con leche
me quiero casar
con una viudita
de la capital”
 

This comes out very creamy even though I use only 1% milk. I sweeten it with raisins and piloncillo, (pea-lon-SEE- yo), which is brown raw sugar, sold in cones in Mexican groceries. If you can’t find that, substitute about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. I only use a small cone, but if you like yours sweeter, add more. For me, the cinnamon and vanilla is flavorful enough that less sugar is needed.

My mom used to add walnuts to hers, which I thought was fantastic. I’ve had sublime Indian rice pudding with cardamom, coconut milk and pistachio nuts, so I added this option as well. For a vegan version, use all coconut milk.

Serves 6

1 ½ cups cooked rice. Although white rice is traditional, I like the nutty flavor of brown rice. I cook the rice only with water, a teaspoon of butter, and a sprinkle of salt.

3 cups low fat milk or 2 cups milk and 1 cup coconut milk

1 Tb. vanilla extract

1 ½  tsp. cinnamon powder

¼ tsp. cardamom powder (optional)

1 small cone of piloncillo

¼ cup raisins

1/2  cup chopped walnuts, pecans or unsalted pistachios (optional)

1 stick cinnamon to garnish

Heat milk with vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and piloncillo until it starts to bubble around the edges, but not boil. Stir in  raisins and rice. Heat on low for 30 minutes, stirring often so that a skin doesn’t form. The pudding will thicken as it heats. Add the nuts. Let sit until cool. The longer it sits, the more the milk is absorbed by the rice. You may want to add more milk after it has sat awhile. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Buñuelos

My favorite New Year’s Eve memories include one spent with my in-laws in a small country town in South Texas. We went to the Knights of Columbus hall, where we joined couples of all ages dancing in a big circle to Mexican polkas and boleros. The men wore cowboy hats and the women danced in high heels. Most of the songs were about love, but I remember a few about chickens.
In the morning, my mother-in-law, Conchita, fried up delicious buñuelos, orange and cinnamon scented flour tortillas rolled in cinnamon sugar. We’ve made them every New Year’s morning since.

Makes 15 buñuelos

Cinnamon powder, divided. 1 tsp for dough and 1 Tb for coating

Sugar, divided. 1 tsp for dough and ½ cup for coating

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tb baking powder

2 Tb butter at room temperature

½ cup orange juice at room temperature

2 cups Canola oil for frying

Mix 1 Tb cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow dish for coating the buñelos and set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp sugar in a large bowl. Mix in butter. Mix in orange juice and knead until it forms a ball. Place on a floured board and knead for 5 minutes.

Form into small balls, cover with a warm damp dish towel. and let rest for 5 minutes.

Roll out each ball into a round tortilla shape, as thin as you can.

Heat oil in heavy skillet until hot. Place several layers of paper towels on a plate.
Carefully fry buñelos, one at a time. Fry the first side until it puffs up, or about 8-10 seconds. Turn it over and briefly fry the other side until it stops puffing up. Using tongs, hold the buñelo at an angle above the pan for a few seconds to drain excess oil.  Place on the paper towels to soak up oil for a few minutes,

then roll in cinnamon sugar.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!  Happy New Year!

Squash or Pumpkin Gingerbread

My neighbor Shauna gave me these beautiful acorn squash that she grew. I roasted them and used them to make squash gingerbread.

I made the bread again, this time with pumpkin. It’s a bit more gingerbread than pumpkin bread; the squash taste is overwhelmed  by the gingerbread spices. You can roast and /or purée the squash ahead of time.

I used whole wheat pastry flour for a healthier bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup pureed roasted squash or pumpkin

½ cup mild molasses

1 tsp baking soda

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

Roast squash or pumpkin at 450′ for an hour or until soft. Slice in half when cool enough to handle. Remove seeds and fibers, then scoop out flesh and purée in food processor. (You could also used canned pumpkin puree if you’re looking for a shortcut.)

If it has cooled down, heat with molasses in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Stir in baking soda. The soda should cause it to foam. Let cool.

Set oven to 325’ Spray a 8×8 inch pan with nonstick spray, and line the bottom of it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the paper and the pan sides. I’ve also made this in a loaf pan, but it took 15 minutes longer to cook.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl.

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs, applesauce and sugar on high speed 3-4 minutes until thick and the color is lighter.

Fold in 1/3 flour mixture, then alternate with ½ the squash mixture, mixing gently by hand. Pour into pan and shake pan to even out the batter to all sides. Bake it until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

It’s especially good spread with cream cheese or lower fat Neufchâtel (nuf-shuh-TEL) cheese and topped with walnuts.


Ponche Navideño – Mexican Christmas Punch


My colleague Maria made this punch for a meeting at work, only she calls it a fruit tea. It was so delicious I kept coming back for more. It was fruity and not too sweet.

Ponche Navideño very popular in Mexico at Christmas time, served at posadas and on Christmas Eve. Since we are lucky to live in an area with a lot of immigrants from Mexico, the ingredients are easily found in the Mexican markets here. You can buy them jarred, but Maria says it’s better with fresh ingredients.

I went to Mi Pueblo grocery in on High Street in East Oakland after work and bought everything, including a 6 ft tall sugar cane which I barely got it in my little Toyota! The thinner parts could be snapped apart at the rings, but the thicker parts are very strong. My husband chopped it with a pick. Then I peeled the woody exterior from each section with a sharp knife. Once peeled, the soft pulp is easier to chop into 1 to 2 inch pieces.Discard the rings between the sections. You can chew on it for a sweet treat, and spit out the pulp afterward. I reserved a few sticks and sliced them lengthwise to make stirring sticks for each glass.


There are a lot of variations on fruits for ponche, but tejocotes (te- ho-CO-tes) are traditional in all ponches. They are the small orange or gold colored fruit of the hawthorn tree, known also as Hawthorne Apple. They were called texócotl by the Aztecs and grow in the highlands of Mexico and ripen in winter. Now they are grown in the US as well, since there were some legal problems in importing them. They are sometimes called manzanitas or manzanillas. I made my first batch with whole tejocotes, but I disliked getting a mouthful of seeds when I drank the ponche. So for the second batch I parboiled them to soften, then halved and seeded them.

The jamaica (ha-MY-ka) (that would be dried hibiscus blossoms, not Bob Marley’s home) lend a deep red wine color to this punch. Maria warned me not to put too many in, as they can make the punch sour. I didn’t heed her warning on my first batch, and had to add extra sugar!

Piloncillo, the raw sugar cones available at Mexican groceries, are a delicious way to add extra sweetness.

The cinnamon sticks make a wonderful aroma throughout the house as the ponche is simmering.

Makes 2 quarts ponche

1/3 cup dried jamaica blossoms

8 sections of sugar cane

1 cup water

1 pound tejocotes (15 large) make 3 cups cut up

2 quarts apple cider (I used Trader Joe’s)

6 Cinnamon sticks

5 Guavas, peeled

2 Bosc pears, cut into chunks

4 apples, cut into chunks

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup walnuts

About 3 small cones of piloncillo (raw sugar) to taste

jamaica tea

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan and add jamaica blossoms. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then let sit for another 20 minutes until the tea is a deep red. Strain tea into a bowl and discard jamaica blossoms.

halved tejocotesFill a small saucepan with water and boil tejocotes for 10 minutes until soft. Let cool, then trim ends, and split them in half and discard the seeds.

Wash sugar cane and fruits. Peel sugar cane, and cut into medallions. Cut apples, pears and guavas into small chunks and add to tea along with the seeded tejocotes, raisins, walnuts,  and cinnamon sticks. Add 2 quarts unfiltered apple juice or pear cider. I used the Pear Cinnamon Cider from Trader Joe’s which contains apple and pear juice or Trader Joe’s Apple Cider.

Bring to a boil, let simmer for 20 minutes. Taste, then add piloncillo to desired sweetness. Cool for about 20 minutes until you can drink it. It’s even better if you let it sit overnight or all day while you are making the rest of your meal, and the fruits break up and give it a wonderful flavor. Drink it warm with a few pieces of fruit and nuts in the cup.

ponche and Christmas cooklesFor a festive occasion, it is delicious spiked with tequila or brandy to make Ponche con Piquete  (punch with sting). We also tried red wine in it to make a sangria-like drink.