Thursday, April 7, 2016

Steel Cut Pumpkin Oats

If there's one recipe I've made over and over and over again since becoming a new mom, it's this one.  The restorative powers of a hearty, healthy breakfast can not be overstated. 

I generally have a pretty good little sleeper monkey, but some nights there are more wake ups than others, and a warm filling bowl of pumpkin oats is a great way to start a new day.

Since returning to work, I love having a grab and go serving of oats so this continues to be on rotation in my house while the weather stays cool! It's a simple, straightforward recipe that is delicious every time I make it. 

I've tried a dairy free version with coconut milk, and I've tried it in the slow cooker.  While both variations are edible, I found the pumpkin flavor muddied by the coconut milk, and the slow cooker gave the oats a somewhat less appetizing gummy texture.  I recommend the baking option.  Easy as (pumpkin) pie!

Steel Cut Pumpkin Oats, adapted slightly from The Kitchn
Makes about 8 servings

2 Tbsp butter, divided
1.5 cups steel cut oats
1 can pumpkin, or 2 cups pumpkin/squash/sweet potato puree
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
2.5 cups water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups toasted pecan pieces
Optional: Maple syrup, cream, or whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large oven safe pot, heat 1 Tbsp butter and sauté oats for 3 minutes until they smell toasty.  Move oats to outside of pan and melt the other Tbsp butter in the middle.  Add pumpkin puree and fry in butter for another 3 minutes.  The mixture might get dark brown and stick to pan, that's OK.

Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and stir it all together.  Then whisk in milk, water, vanilla, and salt.  Scrape those brown spots off the pan and stir it all together.

Put a lid on the pot and bake for 35 minutes.  Carefully remove lid and stir in toasted nuts.  Eat immediately topped with a little drizzle of maple syrup and milk/cream or whipped cream.

I portion out individual servings into Tupperware for grab and go breakfasts throughout the week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Crunchy Balsamic Slaw

There is a lot I could write here about what has happened in the last 10 months, but I really don't want to take the time to do it.  I had a baby 5 months ago.  He is happy and healthy and I love him to pieces.  I could write 10 posts just about the past 2 weeks and how much fun we have had introducing him to sweet potatoes, yogurt, and avocado.

But time is precious and I'd rather be somewhere other than on the internet in my free time now.  My lunch hours are spent on a mad dash through the grocery store to grab ingredients for dinner. My evenings are filled with giggles and snuggles, baths and bedtime stories.  Our dinners are often eggs or soup or (if I'm completely honest) delivered pizza or Thai takeout about once a week.  Staying healthy with distractions in your life is no joke and I really haven't been as successful at it as I hoped I would be.  I look back at some of my earlier blog posts and remember how much time I had to be creative in thinking up recipes, shopping, preparing everything, taking pictures, and writing about it!  Ain't nobody got time for that now!

I will, however, take a few minutes to enter this great salad into the record!  I've been spending way too much money on pre-packaged salad mixes from the grocery store to get my vegetables.  I bought four bags of different flavor mixes last week (Asian, Sunflower Mix, Southwest, and BBQ Ranch).  They were super simple to make and tasted fine, but they cost about four bucks each and I kept thinking that I could make it better.

Today I had a few free hours in the afternoon and I chose to spend them chopping vegetables!   It was a luxury to leisurely tear the kale leaves from their stems and use a mandoline to slice carrots!  I added in a few toasted seeds and a basic balsamic vinaigrette, and this was 10 times better than the bag mix.  The best part is that it is prepared and ready to eat after work this week so I have more time to sing songs about frogs and bicycles to my little boy!

Crunchy Balsamic Slaw
Serves 4

1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and leaves julienned
2 carrots, sliced thin on a mandoline
1 stalk of broccoli, head chopped fine and stem sliced thin on a mandoline
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 cup toasted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
4-6 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put prepared vegetables in a large bowl.  Shake dressing ingredients in mason jar or whisk together.  Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar if you like it acidic, or more honey if you like it sweet.  Toss dressing and veggies together and let sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors merge.  It gets better the longer it sits.