Apple Oatmeal – Day 2 Tastiest Bite

Oatmeal has a special place in my heart. I find it tastes best when made slowly on the stove top, preferably stirred gently with a wooden spoon. I conjure the spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder as I divide the thickened oats into bowls. I’ve tried desperately to bring my love of oatmeal to my children. One will tolerate oatmeal if offered twice a year. Any more often and it is flatly refused.

I thought we were having a break through a couple of years ago when the littlest was in preschool. His class made the cutest of cookbooks for Mother’s Day. One morning, Kai brought me the cookbook and asked to make the recipe from his friend for oatmeal with apples in it. Elated, I grabbed the pot and we poured in the old-fashioned oats, water and salt. Kai stood on a stool and stirred the oatmeal. I added the chopped apple, spoonful of sugar and dash of cinnamon. We covered the pot and waited expectantly for the apples to soften and become infused with the spices. I spooned the apple oatmeal into each bowl and added a stream of cold milk. The oatmeal was eaten with pride and enjoyment.

I have tried a couple of times to replicate this experience, yet somehow it doesn’t live up to the memory of the first time. Kai will halfheartedly eat a few bites and leave the rest for me to eat the next morning. Yesterday, I bypassed the stove and went straight for the instant Nature Path Apple Spice Oatmeal and was pleasantly surprised by the creamy texture and hint of spice. It was slightly sweet and the apples were minced and dried, which created the illusion of apple flavor without having to bite into chewy chunks that are often a part of packaged mixes. Maybe, tomorrow I’ll make two bowls instead of one.

How do you eat your oatmeal?

Stove top Apple Oatmeal

Serves 2

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook “Good and Cheap” which I highly recommend. I threw in a peeled and diced apple and used water for the liquid instead of apple juice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a small pot on the stove. Stir occasionally. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls and top with milk if desired.

Quick Cinnamon Orange Rolls

fullsizeoutput_17aThe count down to Christmas is in full swing and it has me thinking about the act of gift giving. As a child our family of six would pile into the car and drive two hours to the nearest mall on Black Friday. It was especially magical when the year’s first snow would coincide with this family outing. I would have my allowance in my hand and head out to find the perfect gift for each family member. I doubt I had more than ten dollars to spend but that didn’t bother me. One year I found the perfect snow globe for my twin sister. I was mesmerized by the snow floating and swirling around the little figurine. Waiting a whole month to give it to my sister felt like an eternity. It was one of my earliest memories of the anticipation of giving and not just receiving on Christmas day.

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Though I love finding gifts for others, it can also be a source of stress, especially this time of year. I want each and every gift to reflect thought and care. I want each gift to be perfect. But let’s be honest – this is a tall order for any package. It’s good to keep it in perspective. The true gift is the time and thought goes into each oen. This in and of itself is an act of love. I think of the gifts I’ve received over the years and the time and effort required and feel so much gratitude.

To me the gift of time and attention is one of the most thoughtful and lasting presents we can give each other. There are a multitude of ways to show our affection and love this season and they don’t all have to be wrapped in bows.

But I really would like a snow globe of my own.

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Quick Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Baking breakfast is an especially kind act of love and these orange cinnamon rolls are just the trick. They come together quickly and require no wait time or frosting. Cinnamon rolls are always a favorite in our family but I find the timing for breakfast challenging. Normally, this means that breakfast is ready closer to lunch. So when I saw this recipe in Cooks Illustrated, I had to give it a try. The technique is similar to making biscuits. I added orange zest and nutmeg to punch up the holiday cheer.

Tip: Altogether you will need about 8 tablespoons of melted butter. Three tablespoons are used in the filling and dough and are best measured precisely. The other 4-5 tablespoons are used to grease the pan, brush the dough before adding the filling and brush on the rolls before baking. I melted it all at once and then measured it out as needed.

Ingredients:

Filling:

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon melted butter

Dough:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (I prefer aluminum free)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 – 1 teaspoon orange zest (I used a mandarin orange)

1 1/4 cup buttermilk, warmed (butter will stay in liquid form when added together)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use some melted butter to grease an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add 1 tablespoon of melted butter and mix. The mixture will stick together slightly when pressed. Set filling aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, orange zest and salt. Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter to the warmed buttermilk. Pour into the flour mixture. Mix with a spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be shaggy.

Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times so that dough becomes smooth. Roll out the dough to a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Brush with a couple tablespoons of melted butter, leaving an inch or two around the border. Spread filling evenly on top and press it down gently.

Start with your hands on the long edge nearest you. Begin to roll the dough away from you. Once your dough all rolled up, use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 even pieces.

To transfer the buns to the pan, pick them up one at a time and gently pinch the under side of the bun to help keep the filling in place. Put 7 rolls around the edges and 1 in the center of the pan. Brush with the rest of the butter.

Bake on the center rack for 23-25 minutes. The buns will be dark golden brown and the filling will be bubbling beautifully all over. Err on the side of over baked if not sure.

Let cool slightly and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Serve directly out of the pan.

Like most baked goods, these are best eaten right out of the oven, but I found them completely acceptable 1 – 2 days later. Store in a air tight container. I wouldn’t feel bad at all about baking them the night before and then warming them back up in the oven (or microwave) in the morning. I would suggest transferring the buns to an air tight container though so that they don’t stick to the pan. Enjoy!

Toasted Poppy Seed and Lemon Scone with Rhubarb Compote

April has turned to May and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, it is an obvious time to reflect on motherhood. My oldest turned 10 years old last week and I’m suddenly surprised that I’ve been doing this for that long already. I am just so proud of him and excited about this coming year. I remember those early years of mothering and how hard they felt. Everything was new and uncertain but also fiercely emotional. It’s not as new anymore and it’s easier to trust my parenting instincts as the years go by. I’m so thankful for all the moms that I’ve had in my life to help light the way. Friends who listened and talked me through sleep deprivation, picky eating (I talked a lot about this one), and new schools.

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I firmly believe that raising humans is the hardest, yet most important work of all.  Over the years, I’ve learned (or am learning, ahem) that parenting is not about creating a certain outcome but is more about finding out who these little humans are and helping them along the way. They are not my mirror and so they do not necessarily reflect me. Yet, I am responsible as well to ensure that they get all that they need so that they can grow up and continue the cycle. So lets celebrate motherhood and our own mothers for the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into us and that we in return are pouring into our own children.

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This Mother’s Day is extra special because my mom is going to be traveling across the country to visit and will be here to celebrate with us. As I was thinking about what I wanted to make for her, as well as for my own family, I landed on lemon poppy seed scones. Scones that are flaky yet can hold up to a bit of compote or jam. Scones that announce that spring is here. Scones that can be eaten slowly over a cup of coffee. These ones fit the bill. The tangy lemon combined with the nutty crunch of poppy seeds keeps me coming back for more. I find many lemon poppy seed recipes to be a tad fussy (syrups and glazes) and so I love the simplicity of this recipe. I especially like the sparkling sugar that gives a nice sweet contrast. I used lemon extract that was given to me by Ballard Extracts, and I have to say, that I really like how the extract worked to let the poppy seeds share in the lime light.

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Rhubarb grew in our back yard growing up and I remember eating it raw right after pulling up a stalk. Rhubarb has a delightful sour taste that reminds me of grapefruit and has a texture similar to celery. It breaks down quickly when cooked and the pretty jeweled tone is a beautiful complement to the sparkling scone. I couldn’t stop dipping my scone in the compote so I finally just cut the scone in half and layered half with butter and compote. I would suggest doing the same!

 

Toasted Poppy Seed and Lemon Scone

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Dreamy Cranberry Scones.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (I prefer aluminum free)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter. Remove from refrigerator and cut into cubes right before incorporating into mixture.
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
  • 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 400° degree Fahrenheit and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a dry non-stick skillet, toast the poppy seeds on medium for a few minutes until they smell nutty. Remove to a small bowl and allow to cool. This is important because you don’t want warm poppy seeds to melt the chilled butter.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cooled poppy seeds. Using fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until the flour looks like sand and stays together when squeezed. Work quickly so as not to warm up the butter too much. I like to stick the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so to firm up the butter before moving on to the next step.

Mix lemon extract into heavy cream and pour into flour. Use a wooden spoon and mix. You will have a shaggy dough. Dump out on a clean counter top and knead 2 or 3 times to bring the dough together. Flatten dough into a 8 in circle. Use a bench scraper to even out the edges. The circle should be about 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut into 8 triangles. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle sparkling sugar on top to your hearts desire.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating once for even baking. The scones are done once a toothpick comes out clean and the scones are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Scones are best eaten the same day, but you can freshen them up in the oven for a few minutes the following day or keep scones refrigerated over night and bake off the next mirning. You will need a few extra minutes for baking if refrigerating over night.

Rhubarb Compote

Adapted from Food52.com. I love this compote and along with slathering it on a scone, it is also lovely swirled into yogurt. You won’t want to skip it! Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to your tastes. I found 1/3 cup to be right for me but you can start out with a 1/4 cup and adjust from there.

  • 1/2 lb rhubarb stalk, chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium low. Add rhubarb, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir to combine and continue to stir to keep sugar from burning. The rhubarb and sugar will create a syrup on the bottom and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir for 10 minutes. The rhubarb will soften and you will begin to smell the happy scent of the sour and sweet rhubarb. Take the compote off the burner once the rhubarb has softened and the compote is mostly smooth, with only a few chunks remaining. Cool and refrigerate. Serve on the side.