Tag Archives: apple

“Eat Your Oatmeal – It’s Good For You!”

1 Mar

When I was a kid, I used to hear adults say “Oatmeal will stick to your ribs” – and it always creeped me out, as I had this mental image of the oatmeal literally coating my insides and why would I want that? Gross! Honestly, I am not even sure why this saying exists – it is confusing to impressionable young minds! But seriously – it was for that reason that I stayed away from oatmeal all through my youth and teen years. It is only recently that I have come to acknowledge the many virtues of the oat – it’s healthy, cheap, versatile, and who doesn’t love a hot breakfast? I know I do. I eat it every day at work, and even sometimes on the weekends. Like this weekend for example…

photo 1 (2)I was browsing through my new favorite recipe book – “Budget Bytes – Over 100 easy, delicious recipes to slash your grocery bill in half”, and I have to admit – I could not WAIT for this cookbook to come out – I have been a HUGE fan of the Budget Bytes Website for a long time – and when I saw they were gonna have a cookbook I pre-ordered it through Amazon, and spent hours poring over it. This recipe for Autumn Delight Baked Oatmeal caught my attention right away – combining oats, pumpkin, and apple plus craisins and walnuts in a delicious warm oat bake? Sign me up!

photo 2 (2)

It was SUPER easy to make, only one bowl and one whisk needed (the fewer dishes the better in my book!). The wet mix definitely resembled and smelled like pumpkin pie – yum! Once I had the wet stuff combined, it was time to add the oats, walnuts, craisins, and apple

photo 3 (2)

Then it was time to get in into the pan and then the oven! It smelled great baking – reminded me of my favorite season – FALL!

Oats

I loved the way this came out – we enjoyed it hot right from the oven, and the texture was great – oats and the craisins/apples and the nuts – you never knew what you were going to get in each bite! And it tasted sort of like pumpkin pie – only a more breakfast-y version!

You can check out this and other great wallet-friendly recipes in the cookbook, available through Amazon – I highly recommend you order your copy ASAP!

This recipe and the others in the book are NOT currently available on their website, but they have TONS of others to choose from online – here are some other amazing recipes that I have gotten from Budget Bytes:
Chunky Vegetable Lentil Soup
Garden Tomato Soup
Slow Cooker White Bean Soup
Vegetable Polenta Casserole
Chicken and Pumpkin Soup
Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal (which I blogged about too – check out the post here)

Advertisements

Battle Of The Oatmeals – Crock Pot Vs Oven

16 Nov

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I LOVE OATS – especially oatmeal, but put them in bread, cookies, meatballs, a shoe – doesn’t matter where they are, I will eat them. And like it.

So naturally, I am always on the lookout for more oat recipes – and I found two different ones I could not WAIT to try. Cranberry Apple baked oatmeal seemed right up my alley – using ingredients I already had at home, and it would be perfect to share with company. Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal appealed right away to my “crockpot obsessed pumpkin loving” side, plus the chance to work with a new ingredient (steel cut oats) is always fun

So up first, the baked version:

Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal (Recipe Courtesy Of Budget Bytes)
Serves: 6

Ingredients
1½ cups unsweetened apple sauce
2 large eggs
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1 cup milk (dairy or soy)
6 oz. (about 1¼ cups) fresh cranberries
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the apple sauce, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until smooth again.
2. Rinse the cranberries in a colander. Slice or roughly chop the cranberries in half (they don’t have to be perfect). Stir the cranberries and oats into the applesauce mixture.
3. Pour the oatmeal mixture into an 8×8 or 9×9 casserole dish (coated with non-stick spray). Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the surface is a light golden brown and it is no longer sticky in the center. Serve hot or refrigerate until ready to eat.

    IMG_5695

I whipped up a double batch of this – and I am glad I did! The leftovers were great! The only thing I changed about the recipe is that I didn’t cut the cranberries in half – I tried, but they are slippery and kept rolling around – so that was really just a personal preference (and a time saver!), and I don’t think it really affected the finished product.

IMG_5699

It was nice and thick, almost a bread pudding consistency, it tasted great – just a hint of apple, tartness of the cranberries, and slight sweetness of the warm middle. I added a bit of brown sugar to the top of mine and it was the perfect addition!

Ok. One down, one to go. My Crock Pot Is Ready, so let’s do this…

Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal (Recipe courtesy of Sweet Anna’s)
Yield: 6+ large servings

Ingredients
6 cups water
1 cup half & half or milk
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2-1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (my family likes things sweet, so we use one cup)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
Stir all the ingredients together in the slow cooker, cook on LOW overnight, about 8 hours.
When it is done, it will still look liquidy. Give it a good stir and it will all come together.
Serve immediately. Save any leftovers in the fridge or freezer… this stuff reheats beautifully!

IMG_5812

So like I said, I had never worked with steel cut oats before, they are definitely different than any oat I had ever seen! They are much more “grain-y” looking, and need to be cooked much longer than traditional oats

IMG_5813

One SUPER IMPORTANT CHANGE I will be making to this recipe for next time – I will be heavily spraying the inside of the crock pot with non-stick cooking spray before adding the ingredients to it. It stuck to the sides without the spray, which wasn’t a huge issue, but it can be avoided next time for sure!

Also, when I woke up (to the gorgeous smell of pumpkin wafting through the house!), I turned the crock pot to “warm” and left the lid off for about an hour – it let the oatmeal cool off a little and thicken up a LOT – made all the difference in the world!

IMG_5814

The taste of this is great – it definitely has the essence of pumpkin pie, but a much healthier version (I used skim milk in mine, and you can control the amount of sugar you add too!), and I love the texture of the steel cut oats. This was a winner – even my husband (who is not a big pumpkin fan) had two helpings!

If you don’t have time or want to mess around with the oven or crock pot to make your oatmeal, you can always stick with a delicious breakfast of plain old oatmeal. The great thing about it is that it’s like a blank canvas – you can add TONS of different toppings/mix-ins to it and create some delicious custom flavors. Here are some ideas for Oatmeal Mix-ins: Raisins (or any fried fruit!), cinnamon, maple syrup, brown sugar, applesauce, pumpkin puree, apples (or peaches, or bananas, or any other fresh fruit!), milk, butter, fruit jelly/jam…really the list is endless!

These two recipes are great because they allow me to take a cherished pantry item (oats!) and use it in new, different ways. These flavors are perfect for fall, so you can whip these up before you go out to rake leaves, or on Thanksgiving morning! Plus, the leftovers from both are delicious, and I love leftovers, so I will definitely be making both of these again

So In the battle of “oven oatmeal” vs “crock pot oatmeal” I would say it’s a draw – they are both great for different reasons, and will both warm you and fill you up on a chilly fall day!

Sometimes, You Just Need To Eat Cake

12 Oct

I stumbled across this amazing looking Apple Pumpkin Spice Cake online and decided it was just the thing to whip up for a beautiful October day. It has it all: apples, pumpkin, applesauce – it’s a great fall dessert (and would be perfect for breakfast too!)

AppleCake Walter

My adorable sous chef is ready for action (and by action I mean “possibility of falling apple peels”)

 

Apple Pumpkin Spice Cake (Recipe courtesy of Once A Month Meals)
Ingredients:
• 0.5 cups butter softened
• 1.5 cups sugar
• 0.5 cups pumpkin puree
• 0.75 cups unsweetened applesauce
• 2 medium eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 0.5 teaspoons salt
• 3 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
• 0.25 cups powdered sugar (for serving day)
• cooking spray or oil for greasing pan

 

Applecake 2 batter

 

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar 2-3 minutes until smooth and pale, then add pumpkin puree and applesauce and beat to combine
-Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla extract
-In another large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
-In a separate bowl, toss apples with 2 Tablespoons of the flour mixture (This will keep them from sinking in the batter) Set aside
-Gently stir remaining dry ingredients into wet ingredients by hand, only mixing until just combined, then gently fold in diced apples
-Grease 2 – 8×8 foil baking pans generously with cooking spray or oil and pour batter evenly into prepared pans
-Bake 45-50 minutes in preheated oven (skewer inserted in the center should come out clean)
-Check cake half way through cooking time – If the top is browning too much, spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover
-Cool cake 10-15 minutes in the pan. Cut into individual portions and garnish with powdered sugar

applecake 3 oven

Ready to hit the oven!

applecake5 done

The finished product – which has filled my kitchen with the most AMAZING scent

Oh, and did I mention – this recipe makes TWO 8×8 cakes? So you can eat one freeze one, freeze two (or eat two – no judgment)
Freezing Directions: Cook as directed above. Cool cake 10-15 minutes in the pan. To freeze whole cake, cover with foil, label and freeze. To freeze in individual portions, cut cooled cake, place parchment paper in between pieces and divide among freezer bags, label, and lay flat to freeze. TO SERVE: Sprinkle thawed cake with powdered sugar using a fine sieve or sifter and serve

applecake4 close up

Sometimes, you really do just need some cake – the smell of it baking, the chance to share it with your loved ones, and the TASTE…speaking of taste, I’m off for a late breakfast of cake and coffee. Yum.

For The Love Of OATS

27 Sep

I eat plain oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every day – and people always ask me “don’t you get tired of it?” and I really don’t – it is nice and warm, and filling, and can be changed to suit your mood with different toppings and mix ins (craisins, maple syrup, apples, applesauce, pumpkin puree, cinnamon – to name just a few of my faves!). Oats are great – they are good for you, and they can be used in lots of different ways

I like to use this breakfast food when I bake, and there are TONS of amazing recipes out there, so to help you narrow down what you can use delicious, heart healthy oats for, here are my faves:

My Top 3 Oat Recipes

Oats ChocCookies 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – These are my husband’s favorite, and what’s funny about that is that he HATES oatmeal raisin cookies, and will only eat an oatmeal cookie if he is sure there are chocolate chips in them! I like them because you can pretend you are being healthy by eating a chocolate chip cookie with oats in it

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Directions
1 Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
2 2 Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
3 3 Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

OatsCrisp

Apple Crisp – This is a fall favorite, I like to eat it warm, with or without ice cream, and sometimes with a drizzle of caramel on it too if I’m feeling naughty!

INGREDIENTS:

10 cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup quick-cooking oats

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).
2. Place the sliced apples in a 9×13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
3. Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes

Oats CraisinCookie

Oatmeal White Chocolate Craisin Cookies – I made a ton of these two years ago for Christmas – and they were a hit! Packed full of fruit, chocolate, and oats to give them a great texture – these are a winner for sure

Ingredients:
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 5-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

 

If you aren’t sure about oatmeal, or oats in general, then I suggest you try one of the above recipes to ease yourself into it, and hopefully you will discover just how delicious and versatile oats really are!

Applesauce – Easy To Make, Delicious To Eat, Fun To Give!

26 Sep

Confession: I have already gone apple picking three times this season, and will be going at least once more. Maybe twice. Or three times….but anyway, who’s counting? And besides, I need a lot of apples because this year I decided to make and jar applesauce to give as gifts at Christmas time. It’s been my first attempt at jarring, and honestly, it is so easy, I don’t know why I haven’t been doing it for years

A Apples

 Thankfully I have a VERY tall husband who can reach up to the very tops of the trees to pick me those perfect apples!

 

But first, I must make the applesauce – which is probably the easiest thing to make ever. I just peel and core the apples, cut them up into chunks and toss them in a big pot with a little water, and let them bubble away on the stove for a good 20-30 minutes. Once they are soft, I will mash them with my handy potato masher, and add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to taste. Give it another 5-10 minutes or so on low, and voila – you have delicious homemade applesauce!

Homemade applesauce is so delicious that I figured I HAD to share it with the world – and by the world, I mean my family and friends – and that meant it was time to roll up my sleeves and get canning!

There is a TON of fancy equipment out there for canning/jarring, but I decided to forego that since I was new to the whole thing, and I went with this Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit, which came with instructions, 3 pint jars, and this cool basket/rack that fits right into a stock pot and holds 3 pint or 4 half pint jars. Not only does it work perfectly, but it was only $10 – what a deal, right?

Jarring

Here’s me – all ready to seal up some jars!

 

Here’s how easy it is:
-Fill the jars (leaving a little space at the top)
-screw on the lids (not too tight – you want air to be able to escape)
-Set the jars and basket into a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes (covered)
-Remove the lid and let the pot go for 5 more minutes
-Remove the basket from the water, and leave the jars in an undisturbed place overnight (you might be able to hear them “pop” – which means they have sealed!)

Check out the official instructions on the Ball website

I’ll wrap these up with cellophane and ribbon and cute little tags, and they will make perfect Christmas gifts! What better to give than something from the heart and homemade!

If you aren’t an applesauce fan, then maybe you could try a classic Apple Pie, or even these adorable Mini apple pies perhaps? Or there’s one of my other faves – Apple Crisp…yum. So many apple possibilities, so little time!

Fall = Apples, which therefore = PIE

21 Sep

Living in Upstate NY has (a few) benefits – one of them being the amazing fall season, with its crisp air, colorful leaves, and APPLE SEASON! I LOVE going apple picking, and have gone twice already this year.
There are SO many things you can make with apples – my personal faves? Applesauce, apple crisp, and Apple pie – making these classic recipes reminds me of everything I love about fall, and today I decided a pie was in order
When it came to which recipe to use, there was really no question – it was the classic Betty Crocker Apple Pie all the way. Not only did I use her name in my blog title, but Betty’s cookbook was also the first ever cookbook I bought, and the one I rely on for all the classics, from pot roast to casseroles and yep, pies and desserts too!

Ingredients
Pastry
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Filling
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (8 medium)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions
1. In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
2. Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
3. Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
4. In large bowl, mix sugar, 1/4 cup flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in apples until well mixed. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over filling. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.
5. Roll other round of pastry into 10-inch round. Fold into fourths and cut slits so steam can escape. Unfold top pastry over filling; trim overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute as desired. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning.
6. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm if desired.

Ok, I admit – I cheat a little, I use store bought pie crusts. I have tried to make my own, and it has not come out well, it’s a skill I’m working on, but in the meantime, store bought is definitely my go-to for crusts
I also like to bake it at a little lower temperature, 400 degrees, for a little longer – I find it makes the apples more tender and tasty!
However you do it, the result is a drool-worthy smell coming from the kitchen, and a delicious flaky crusted, warm apple pie. Yum. Happy Fall!