Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

20140130-090322.jpg

Are you sick of winter? Our winter here in NC has been pretty mild, but that point from late January to late February is a big ol’ grumpy time for me. Much of the northeast is seeing record snowfall, and for me at least, that means oatmeal. Not those dusty packets of super sweet instant oats, but rich, hearty toasted oats. Toasted oats? Yes, indeed!

Sometimes I read foodie articles and marvel at my own lack of creativity or insight. I read an article recently that revolutionized my oatmeal making, and I kept thinking, “why didn’t this occur to me?”. The article asked why, when we toast rice and other grains prior to cooking, we don’t ever toast our steel cut oats before making oatmeal. Toasting brings out wonderful flavor in nuts and grains–what would risotto be if we didn’t toast the arborio rice prior to adding the stock? I know right?

I decided a dark, cold, rainy morning was a good time to experiment with this technique. I don’t think I will ever make oatmeal another way again. Oh. My. Goodness. Toasting the steel cut oats gives the oatmeal an amazing depth of flavor and a wonderful nuttiness. And since grumpy winter mornings call for going a little over the top with our breakfast, I added some cinnamon and almond butter to the oatmeal for a protein-packed, super healthy start to the day. This is crazy delicious. I want to eat this all the time.

So go ahead, toast your oats! Let me know what you think. I think you will never look at oatmeal the same way again!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter per serving
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  1. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted and just foamy.
  2. Add the oats and stir well. Continue to cook the oats, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The oats should darken slightly and give off a wonderful, nutty aroma.
  3. Add the water and continue cooking and stirring for about 30 minutes or until the oatmeal is to your desired consistency (I like mine very thick, so I cooked it for 40 minutes).
  4. Plate the oatmeal in serving bowls or mugs. Add one tablespoon of almond butter, a little pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
  5. Stir and serve immediately.

NOTE: You can freeze the oatmeal in greased muffin tins, giving you servings ready to heat in the morning. Also, this oatmeal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Advertisements

Shopping at the Winter Farmer’s Market

Assumptions. I know better than to make them, yet I still do. Before we started eating local, the winter farmer’s market (in my mind) was a place of leftover collard greens, cabbage and sweet potatoes. Sad. Lonely. Bereft of good eats. I should just give up and head to the grocery store, right? Wrong!

Visiting our winter farmer’s markets always amazes me and disproves my assumptions. At least in NC, there are lots of great foods waiting for us at our local markets.

Not only is the State Farmer’s Market busy, but I am really amazed at the variety of fresh vegetables and fruit (apples) that were still available. Thanks to a very mild winter (at least in NC), farmers are still growing and harvesting white potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (mostly locally grown hothouse), salad greens, turnips, kale, spinach, green peppers, apples, fresh beans, broccoli, collard greens, beets and more. And the prices were definitely lower than the grocery stores on just about everything.

I was glad to find Scott Smith of Heaven On Earthorganic farm at the market. He was awesome! He and his wife have a farm outside of Wilmington and they love organic farming. Farmer Scott let me taste test my way though his vegetable stand so I could discover the difference between dino kale and curly kale (dino kale is thicker and spicier), how turnip greens with a little bit of yellow (from frost) are sweeter than the bright green leaves (the frost brings the sugar to the tips of the leaves) and more.

In the end, I did buy vegetables, including the dino kale (the name alone makes it interesting). Scott suggested that the dino kale makes terrific kale chips, something I had heard of, but hadn’t tried before. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They were devoured by my family and my pre-teen daughter (who eats vegetables grudgingly) decided they were amazing. Light, crispy and salty, these are the perfect antitode to potato chips. The recipe is below.

  • 1 bunch fresh kale (we used dino kale, but any kind would work)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar (we used balsamic)
  • Kosher salt to taste (we used about 1 Tbsp.)
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the kale.
  3. Cut off the lower woody stems and compost.
  4. Cut the kale into pieces about the size of potato chips (2-4″ or so).
  5. In a bowl (or a plastic bag, if you don’t want your hands oily) put the chopped kale and add 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.
  6. Toss the greens with the oil until leaves are covered. (If you use the bag, massage the bag until the leaves are covered).
  7. Add the vinegar and toss again to coat.
  8. If needed, add the remaining Tbsp. olive oil (depending on the thickness of the leaves, you might not need this).
  9. Carefull place leaves on an oven safe baking rack or on a cookie sheet (I used a rack). Don’t overlap leaves.
  10. Sprinkle leaves with salt.
  11. Put rack/baking sheet in the oven and roast leaves for 20-30 minutes (this will depend on how thick your leaves are, so check on them after 20 min.)
  12. Remove from oven and enjoy immediately!

 

Swiss Chard and Mushrooms with Egg

chard

Is there a culinary Easy Button? I mean, one that doesn’t involve pizza delivery? Because some nights, I just want things to be easy. If I have to defrost or measure, it’s too much work. Do you have those nights? I’m guessing it’s not just me. This recipe is becoming one of my “go to” meals for those nights. You only need one pan, a cutting board, a knife, a spoon and a spatula. And the whole dish cooks in about 20 minutes. What’s not to love?

Adding to the love, the Swiss chard in our garden is going berzerk. Swiss chard is super easy to grow, pretty to look at with its multicolored stems and it keeps growing even after you cut it. Did I mention it’s a super food? Yep, it sure is. It’s a miracle plant, I tell you. If you have a little patch of soil or a raised bed, I highly recommend growing these greens.

A note about fungi. This recipe uses mushrooms, which I know are a controversial vegetable (or fungus?). Regardless, people either love them or hate them. I personally love them, Ellie hates them. If you have haters in your family, just substitute something else for the mushrooms. Red bell peppers would be good, especially if they are roasted. Or even white beans. Go crazy!

Eggs cooked in a nest of chard and mushrooms--easy and healthy!

One thing you should not skimp on with this recipe are the eggs. Eggs are a centerpiece in this dish, so use the best, freshest eggs possible. You can cook the eggs to your preference, but I like the yolks runny–they become magic with the greens. This is one good place to use those $4.00/dozen farm eggs because you will really taste the difference.

Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Eggs (serves 2)

  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard, rinsed well to remove any sand
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Trim the stems off the Swiss chard and dice into similar sizes to the onion. Add chopped stems to the onion.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and chard stems. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are soft and stems have started to soften. Stir well. Season to taste.
  3. Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 2 minute, stirring well to keep vegetables from getting too brown.
  4. Chop the Swiss chard leaves and add to the pan. Keep turning the greens with the other vegetables until the greens are coated with olive oil and juices. Saute until the greens are wilted. Reduce heat to medium/low
  5. Take your spoon and flatten the greens and veggies. Make four depressions in the greens.
  6. Crack one egg into each depression. Season top with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes, until eggs are opaque and set, but yolks are still runny.
  7. Remove from heat and use a spatula to divide the pan of greens in half. Lift greens carefully with eggs intact and plate.
  8. Serve immediately.
%d bloggers like this: