Overnight Oats with Pumpkin Granola and Apple Crunch + 5 Overnight Oats Recipes

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oats1605Three months ago I carved out one morning a week for myself and volunteered as a chef’s assistant at the Boston Public Market. The kids were up, fed and dressed by 7am; bright-eyed, sort of, for our saint or, rather, sitter who agreed to come at such an ungodly hour.

Showered and caffeinated by the time our sitter walked into the house, I was ready for my morning.  Bubba and I drove into the city together, alone.  Sometimes we chatted. Other times there was nothing left to say so we just sat, quietly, listening to the radio, his hand reaching for mine while I stared out the window.  The traffic which normally would stress me didn’t phase me at all.  We were together and still.  Nothing left to do but wait..for the next part of our day to start.  A quick kiss and we parted for the day.  He off to his world I know nothing of and me running to the kitchen.

I spent my time at the market prepping food, discussing recipes and chatting with other volunteers.  I didn’t reach for my phone or check the clock. I was present, in the moment, happy to be away from favorites, my one and only(s) for just a few hours.

When my shift ended I walked straight to my favorite vendor: Mother Juice.  Every week, without fail I ordered the same damn thing: overnight oats with almond milk, banana and dates, topped with almond butter, granola and fresh fruit.  Being someone who likes food, you would think I would try something new each week.  Nope.  I craved the oats.  Licked the spoon when I was done.  I couldn’t get enough of them.  If someone offered me an another bowl, I would say yes without a bit of hesitation in my gut.

The banana and dates made the oats slightly sweet.  And then a surprise as I swirled my spoon around: bits of almond butter covered oats!  I was as delighted as a child who finds the hidden marzipan in the holiday cranberry stollen.  Yet, the texture blast that followed is what really sold me on the oats: crunchy granola topped with fresh, bright berries.  Amazing!

My weekly shift in the Kitchen ended two weeks ago, but my craving for overnight oats remains strong, just as my need for some time away. The delicious, creamy oats satisfied my hunger.  But the time just sitting with Bubba and then, alone soothed and sustained my soul. I made my version of overnight oats with some inspiration from a few fellow food bloggers. It’s a start, it’s a step, it’s something.

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Overnight Oats with Pumpkin Granola and Apple Crunch

Oats recipe from Oh She Glows

Apple Crunch adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

Pumpkin Granola adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

Serves 4, 2 generously

Ingredients for Oats:

2 large bananas, mashed until smooth

4 tablespoons of chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup old-fashion rolled oats

1 + 1/2 cup milk of your choice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Using a small bowl, mash the bananas until smooth.  Add the chia seeds and cinnamon and stir until well combined.

Add the oats, milk and vanilla.  Stir.  Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

When ready to use, stir the oat mixture.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.  If it is too soupy, add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and refrigerate until it is thicker.  Oats, stored in an air-tight container and refrigerated, will last up to 2 days.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Granola:

2 + 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 pumpkin puree

2 cups old-fashion oats

1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped

3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or pepitas

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 325F.  Using a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, maple syrup and pumpkin puree.  Add the oats, almonds and pumpkin seeds and stir until well coated.

Spread the oats on a baking sheet, leaving some of the clusters intact, so you will end up with yummy, crunchy clusters.  Bake granola for until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. **Be sure to stir the granola once or twice during baking time.** Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely.  Add cranberries and a sprinkle of sea salt.  Mix and store in air-tight container for 2 weeks.

Ingredients for Apple Crunch:

1 large apple, small dice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of ginger

pinch of cardamom

sprinkle of sea salt

Directions:

Chop apple and set aside.  Heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a skillet.  Add apple, pumpkin seeds, almonds and spices.  Cook, stirring often, until the apple are soft and the nuts and seeds crunchy, about 8 minutes.  Remove apple crunch from pan and store in an air-tight container at room temperature until ready to use.

Assembly, Finally!!

Grab a jar or bowl, whatever suits you and add the oats.  Next add a dollop of almond butter (optional, but yummy) followed by a handful of granola.  Lastly, top this bowl health with heaping spoonful or two of apple crunch.  Sit down and enjoy!

*I like my oats at room temperature.  They taste great cold, room temperature or warm.  You decide!*

5 Overnight Oats Links!

New to overnight oats for breakfast? Head to the Food Network’s blog for a tutorial by Min Kwon of the food blog The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman.

Peanut butter lovers everywhere must check out Minimalist Baker’s recipe for peanut butter overnight oats.  Yum! Have a nut allergy? Use Sunbutter instead!

Steel cut oats can also be made the night before for a healthy and hearty breakfast.  Head to the Lemon Bowl for overnight refrigerator steel-cut oats. 

The kitchn’s recipe for blueberry pie overnight oats is on my must make list.  Pie crust topping, fresh blueberries, oatmeal? Yes, please!

If you don’t want to follow a recipe, head to Food 52 for their tips on how to make overnight oats without a recipe.

Pear + Apple Breakfast Granola Crisp + 5 Feel Good Fall Breakfast Recipes!

 

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I can see my breath in the cold, fall air.  The field is dark except for a small area in the east where the sun just begins to warm the dew covered grass.  I walk slowly over to the light and turn my face to the sun, bright spots dance underneath my eye lids.  The sun feels warm, but the wind is brisk and unrelenting.  My running shoes are wet, my toes numb.  The numbness creeps up to my thighs and settles in.  When I open my eyes I see the others undressing, shoving warm layers into clear plastic bags.  They nervously eat Power Bars, set their watches and stretch.  I stare blankly at the grass, not fully present.

“Time to head over.” Who said that? I remove my jacket, shove it into my bag and re-tie my running shoes.  I follow the crowd to the starting line.  I’m not ready.

“Oh c’mon, Kel.”  I hear you Papa.  Three long years later and I still hear you on my runs.

The blow horn sounds, ready or not, my legs are moving.  I feel ok. The numbness is subsiding.  Suddenly I feel great, I am cruising…then I hit mile 5 and I feel a stabbing pain in my knee; my thoughts snowball, my mind takes over.  I can’t do this.  This is too painful.  What am I trying to prove?  Stop!

Breathe.

One foot in front of the other. Finish what you started. “C’mon you old donkey.” Papa…again.

Mile 10.

Almost there. 3 miles is nothing compared to the 10 I just ran.  One foot in front of the other…Bubba and the kids stand near the finish line.  I smile, relieved to see their sweet, familiar faces cheering me on.  The gnawing pain in my knee remains, but my mind is stronger.  I keep going.

Finish line. 

I hear Papa laugh, a proud laugh and then he is gone…again.

The race is over and I have a medal to show for it, a medal and some dam strong determination.  I hobble past the Gatorade and food stations.  Bagels, bananas and Power bars are everywhere. I don’t want any of it.  Anxious to head home, I stop and look for my favorites.

“Mama! Good job Mama!” Bubba gives me a kiss.  I hug the kids.  We head home. The race is over, one foot in front of the other, and I finished.

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I took a few days off from running and attempted to make caramel apples. I failed.  My first attempt the caramel tasted like sugar soup.  Gross!  My second attempt I overcooked the caramel, but coated the apples anyway.  I thought for sure caramel would pull out C’s slightly loose tooth. “Mama this tastes good, but I can’t eat it. It is too hard!” Failed again.

My thoughts snowball: Why am I keeping this blog? Who cares? There are too many food blogs out there! What do I have to say that is fresh? Nothing! 

Breathe.

I move on and attempt to make a whole grain cookie.  I fail. The cookie is flavorful, but way to moist; it’s texture like a dense, squat muffin.

Try something else. Don’t give up!

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I find a recipe for a breakfast granola crisp and feel inspired.  I see perfectly ripe pears and apples sitting in our fruit bowl.  I make the crisp, adapting it slightly: maple syrup instead of honey, brown sugar in place of white sugar and white whole wheat flour and oats for the topping.  I pull the crisp from the oven, the juices still bubbling.  The granola topping is golden brown and crisp.  The ambrosial smell of baked apples, pears and cinnamon fill the kitchen.

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After the crisp has cooled a bit, I take a bite.  Success!  The granola topping is crisp and subtly sweet with hints of maple.  The fruit is warm and syrupy.  I add some Greek yogurt for protein, but could have just as easily eaten straight from the pan.  I feel satisfied with the recipe and ready to share it.  I’m so glad didn’t give up! One foot in front of the other…

Pear + Apple Breakfast Granola Crisp

A slightly sweet fall fruit crisp with a crunchy granola topping makes breakfast feel like a treat.  

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 6-8               

1 1/2 pounds of apples, (apples you like to bake with) peeled, cored and cut into medium size chunks

1 1/2 pounds of Bartlett pears cored and cut into medium size chunks

2 tablespoons  lemon juice

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of kosher salt

1 stick/8 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 cups oats ( I used Bob’s 7 grain hot cereal mix.)
optional: ( I did not use the ingredients listed below because we have a nut-allergy in our family, but I bet they are a delicious addition.)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 shredded coconut sweetened or unsweetened

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.

Using a large bowl mix together apple and pear chunks with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and pinch of salt until evenly coated. Scoop the fruit into an 8×8 metal baking pan and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flour and oats (almonds and coconut too, if using). Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the maple syrup.

Stir the dry ingredients into the melted butter and maple syrup, add a pinch of salt and continue to stir until clumps form. Sprinkle granola evenly over the apple and pear mixture.

Bake in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and soft.***Check the granola topping at 40 minutes. If the granola browns too fast, place a piece of aluminum foil over the dish.  Remove the foil the last few minutes of baking to allow the granola to crisp.***

Allow to cool to room temperature. Serve with yogurt and a bit of honey or agave nectar. Enjoy!

The crisp will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

5 Feel Good Fall Breakfast Links

Looking for a healthy, slightly sweet pumpkin bread?  Head to Sprouted Kitchen for Sarah’s recipe: pumpkin bread with toasted walnuts and cinnamon swirl.  I can’t wait to make this!

I love pears and I have a container of steel cut oats sitting in my pantry.  Minimalist Baker’s recipe for caramelized pear steel cut oats is on my must make list this week!

If eggs is more your thing at breakfast, try an apple omelet with cheddar and thyme. Be sure to check out What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today? other recipes too!

Want to eat waffles, but need an easy gluten-free option?  Cookie + Kate has the recipe for you!

Check out my pumpkin streusel millet muffins! They are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

 

 

Homemade Halloween Oreo Cookies

 

Halloween OreosI love Oreos. Lately, every time I go to the grocery store I see Halloween Oreos on display. The kids beg for them, but I say no. I am so tempted to buy them but I resist because I have a problem with this cookie. I can’t have just one. I need to have many usually with a cold glass of milk. I am not sure if it is the processed cream filling or the perfectly crunchy cookie that gets me every time. Either way I avoid them.

Months ago I found a recipe for homemade Oreos in Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café and I thought this could be dangerous. Typically, for this holiday, I make sugar cookies, pull out the Halloween cookie cutters and let the kids go nuts. This year I decided to try something different because sometimes I have to shake things up a bit. When C watched me put a few drops of orange food dye into the cream filling, her eyes widen and she asked me “are you making Halloween Oreos?” When I told her yes, she nearly collapsed with excitement. She couldn’t wait to try them and neither could I.

Chang’s recipe for homemade Oreos is not nearly as sweet as the store-bought version but they are delicious. I mean really, really good. This is a very rich chocolate cookie with a fresh buttercream filling. The cookie itself is perfectly crunchy and the buttercream is not overly sweet but works so well with the intense chocolate flavor of the cookie. They are easy to make though do require some planning ahead. The dough needs to firm up at room temperature for about an hour and then rest in the fridge for another two hours.

The cookies taste best the day they are made but still taste dam good for several days if stored in an airtight container. I think nothing is better than a fresh cookie with a glass of milk. Actually, watching the kids eat them, as they tell me about their day totally unaware of the Oreo mustache that has formed around their sweet little lips is better. It’s the little things.

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I made the vanilla buttercream filling first and added a few drops of Americolor food coloring. The filling will last at room temperature for up to two days or refrigerated for a week. If refrigerated bring to room temperature before spreading on the cookies.

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After making the cream filling, I made the cookie dough. Both melted and cooled semi-sweet chocolate chips and Dutch-processed cocoa powder are added to the melted butter sugar mixture. So good!

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After the cookies baked for about 20 minutes and cooled a bit, I assembled them. I added a heaping tablespoonful of filling but feel free to add more! C’mon, treat yourself this Halloween. The cookies can be stored in an air tight container for several days but I bet they won’t last that long!

Homemade Halloween Oreos

Recipe from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Café

Make about 18 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup or two sticks of unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled a bit

1 egg

11/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Vanilla Cream Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

12/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp. milk

pinch of kosher salt

a few drops of orange food coloring

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well mixed. Whisk in the vanilla and melted but cooled chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda until well mixed. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough may seem like it won’t come together. If necessary use your hands to finish incorporating. The dough will seem thick and a bit dry. Let it sit a room temperature for about an hour.

Transfer dough to large square of parchment paper and use your hands to the shape the dough into a 10 inch log about 21/2 inches in diameter. Roll the parchment paper around the dough and roll the log into a longer smoother log, still keeping it at 21/2 inch diameter. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for about a week.

Pre-heat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices and place them about an 1 inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes but start checking them after 16 minutes. When they feel firm remove them from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet to slightly warm or room temperature.

Do not fill the cookies when they are hot!

While the cookies are cooling make the vanilla cream filling. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low-speed until totally smooth and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the milk, salt and about 3 drops of orange food coloring and beat until smooth. The filling can be stored at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for about a week.

Select two cookies and fill with a heaping tablespoon of filling to make a sandwich. Continue with remaining cookies. Share with family and friends, if you can!