Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade Pumpkin Oatmeal

Hi again! It's hard to believe I'm blogging just a day after my last post. I finally had a weekend here in Boston that did not involve traveling, and it was just wonderful! I really enjoyed getting a few things done around the house and just RELAXING. I haven't done that in ages, it seems. I tend to have a hard time relaxing actually, but I succeeded at doing it this weekend. :-D

Being home this weekend allowed me to make a fun breakfast Saturday morning of pumpkin oatmeal! And you know what I had for Sunday dinner too? Pumpkin oatmeal again! I was continuing to feel lazy and didn't want to put too much effort into dinner, so pumpkin oatmeal it was. ;-)

All you do to make this dish is cook regular oats on the stove according to the package directions, add a couple scoops of pure pumpkin as well as any other additions you'd like.....and that is it! For the versions I made this weekend, I used half water and half almond milk for the liquid (so that was 1/2 cup of each for 1 serving, 1 cup liquid in all). I added 1/2 cup of oats and probably 2 heaping tablespoons of pumpkin. I also like bananas in my oatmeal, so I added half of a sliced banana. AND, I obviously added cinnamon!!! Just about every pumpkin dish needs cinnamon, in my opinion. Oh, and I typically add the pumpkin and banana slices toward the last couple minutes of the cooking of the oatmeal, fyi.

Pictures for your viewing pleasure...

I love how the bananas cook slightly and become a little mushy. Pumpkin and banana really are great together, trust me!

And in case for some reason you have regular oats on hand, but you do not have the instructions that come with them, below are the directions and ingredients for 1 serving of stove-top oatmeal!

-1/2 cup regular oats
-1 cup water (or milk, or combination of both)
-pinch of salt

Bring water and salt to a rolling boil. Add oats; reduce to medium heat and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover; remove from heat and serve in 2-3 minutes (that last part is key; this oatmeal is sooo hot right off the stove top so be sure to let it cool a bit! you can see the steam in the pictures above).

This is such an easy, healthy, and yummy breakfast treat. I get so excited about little things like this. Now go make yourself some pumpkin oatmeal and you'll also see what all the excitement is about. ;-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grilled Peanut Butter Banana Jam Sandwich

Grilled peanut butter banana jam sandwich. It's a mouthful to say but a very tasty mouthful to eat. :) If you're in the mood for a comfort food that's also a breeze to make, this is it! I'm not sure when I started making grilled peanut butter sandwiches or where I got the idea, but I'm glad I did! This is super simple, somewhat healthy (maybe not the best but there are worse things out there ;-)), and quite delicious.

For this version I'm sharing with you, I used creamy peanut butter, sliced banana, and strawberry jam. But there are other combos you can use too! You could just stick to the classic pb ans j, or just pb and banana, or maybe even peanut butter and nutella??? Woah. That'd be delicious, I bet.

Essentially, you make the sandwich just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich. Spread a little butter or margarine on the outside of the bread and just grill on the stove for a couple minutes on each side until the bread is a light golden brown and the ingredients are nicely melted and ooey gooey.

It couldn't be easier! YUMMMM. ;-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Fall Classic: Apple Crisp

Mmmm, apple crisp. One of the best culinary delights of the fall, I think. It's so delicious, simple, and I don't know...just wonderful. :)

I tried a new recipe this fall - one from Cooking Light, my favorite! The recipe I followed is called maple walnut apple crisp, but I omitted the walnuts, so mine was just the maple apple crisp. I had never added maple syrup to apple crisp before, but what a brilliant idea!! I also added two sliced pears to this recipe, so I guess my version would technically be maple apple pear crisp. ;-) Oh, and I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

Some photos for you!

I used three different kinds of apples from Drew Farms, my boss Gina's orchard. Delicious! The three kinds were McIntosh, Cortland, and Ozark Gold.

I love the specks of cinnamon you can see on the apple and pear slices! I also added a little nutmeg and cloves. :)

(this is a dish of both my apple pear crisp and a friend's peach cobbler...both were mmmm, mmmm good)

Yummm is all I have to say about that!!! Talk to you again soon, hopefully. Sorry for the delay between my last post and this one. I've had a few "life" things get in the way and a few blog technical glitches too!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cooking Light Pumpkin Bread

I'm back with another autumn recipe for you! As I mentioned in my last post, next up we have pumpkin bread. I just looove anything with pumpkin. I do think it's my favorite fall ingredient of all time...

I followed a recipe that I've used several times in the past...a recipe from Cooking Light! I always feel better about eating the baked goods I make if I know they're on the low-cal side and better for you than most other recipes out there. "No guilt" (or "less guilt") recipes are the best! 

Here is the recipe I followed. However, you must know that I was feeling a bit lazy when I made the bread this time around, and I completely skipped the streusel topping. Typically I do love the streusel on top, but I just wasn't feeling it this time! The great thing though is that the bread recipe itself is so delicious on its own, that you won't even miss the streusel. ;-)

The ALL important star of the show, pumpkin!

Time to combine the wet and dry ingredients...


I decided to make half the batch plain pumpkin and half with semi-sweet chocolate chips... Mmmm. Pumpkin and chocolate is really a great combination. You should try it if you haven't yet! Another tasty ingredient to add would be cranberries.

Ready for the oven.

This batch made two bigger loaves and one small one, as you can see!

This bread is very moist, in case you're wondering. I really don't like dry quick breads...don't worry, this recipe doesn't make dry bread at all!

Here's a piece that I test tasted from the small chocolate chip loaf just to be sure the other loaves would be okay to share with others. They were! ;-) I wonder what my next fall-themed recipe will be. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homemade Apple Cider Donuts

Fall is definitely the theme of my blog posts this month!!  First we had butternut squash apple soup, and now, apple cider donuts. YUM. Cider donuts scream fall! A few weeks ago when my friend Jenn and I went apple picking (referenced in this "Yum Yam Smoothie" post ;-)), we had what I deemed at the time, "the best cider donuts I've ever had." Well, that has since changed. I now think that this homemade recipe is the all-time winner!! It's not my own recipe, so I really can't take the credit...but it was a delicious recipe that I'd highly recommend if you want to try making your own and comparing them to others you've had from the orchards! My sister told me the donut I gave her (that I made in this batch) was the best she's ever had, so I'm going to go with her opinion. :)

Onward to the recipe! I followed the cider donut recipe of Our Best Bites, an awesome blog. You can read the recipe here. The only thing I'd warn about this recipe is that it does take some time... So only make this if you have 2 or 3 hours to spend in the kitchen! Granted, you're not necessarily working that whole time (the dough needs to chill for a while), but it was a fairly lengthy recipe from start to finish. It wasn't difficult though, I promise!

And now, pictures of my first attempt at making homemade donuts!

The all important spices - cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg!

And the *star* of the show, the apple cider. :)

Here is the cider, reducing on the stove.

This is the shortening and sugar being mixed... I took an "action" shot while the mixer was running. Can you see it moving?? Also, fyi - the recipe calls for butter-flavored shortening but I just used vegetable shortening, since that's what I had on hand. I don't think it made a difference!

The recipe calls for buttermilk... Well, I had purchased buttermilk a week or two before making these donuts because I had originally planned to make them sooner than I did. Anyway, even though the date on the buttermilk was still good, it had gone bad! :(  My first hurdle in the donut making process.... What to do? In most recipes that call for buttermilk, I usually just substitute yogurt (which you can see pictured above). However, for some reason, I thought that it might just not turn out right if I used yogurt in this recipe. So what I did instead was combine regular milk with a bit of vinegar (as described here), and voila, I had a buttermilk substitute! Somehow I thought this would be a better substitute than yogurt. Who knows if it was, but it seemed to work just fine!

Milk + vinegar = "buttermilk"

This is the cider, reduced to just 1/4 cup (down from 1 cup!) after cooking on the stove. This had to cool down in the fridge before it was added to the rest of the dough.

Here's the final dough with all the dry and wet ingredients combined!

The recipe says to roll out the dough between layers of saran wrap and then put it in the fridge or freezer for a bit before working with it.

Three of these four donuts look okay...not sure what's up with that fourth one in the top right corner! I didn't end up frying that one. Instead, I incorporated it back into the rest of the dough and made a second attempt at forming it.

Heating the oil! I used my candy thermometer so I'd know when it was at the right temp (325 degrees).

Here are the first three! I have never fried anything in oil before this. I was a bit nervous about it at first, but it really wasn't quite as difficult or "scary" as I expected it to be.

Here are a couple I did later on - you can see the bottoms are starting to get that nice golden brown color.

And below here are the first few, draining on paper towels. As you can see, my first ones weren't really the best... The one on the left didn't cook thoroughly. In the end, I broke that one up into smaller pieces and put them back into the oil to fry again.

I actually kind of "gave up" early on in the process on making full-sized donuts after I had made only a handful of them. I decided that donut holes were MUCH easier and fun. So that's what I ended up making for the majority of them!! All I had to do was just roll the dough into a ball in my hands. No dough cutter needed!

Sizzle, sizzle.

This part was really fun - shaking them in the bag of the cinnamon sugar mixture!!

Here are several of the final products, all nicely coated in deliciousness (a.k.a. cinnamon sugar). My mouth is starting to water as I type...

Here are a couple of the regular-sized donuts that did turn out pretty well in terms of their appearance!

I brought most of the donuts I made into work for my coworkers (it was my day to bring in breakfast for our weekly lab meeting). The homemade donuts were a success! I caught a few coworkers sneaking more than one donut hole. ;-) I reeeally liked these donuts, and I do want to make them again when I have the time!

I also brought in pumpkin bread for lab meeting that day...and you know what, I think pumpkin bread will be my next blog post!! I must keep with the fall-themed flavors, you know. See you again soon!