Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oatmeal

slowcookedsttelcutoats

Whether or not you’re bracing for an epic snowstorm like we are in the north east, or, you’re simply looking for a hearty dish to serve for breakfast, Steel Cut Oatmeal should be your go-to dish.

Steel Cut Oats is oatmeal at its very best. The nutty flavor is unparalleled, as is its risotto-like texture, especially when slow-cooked overnight.

Steel Cut Oats are the healthy, unrefined form of oats that aren’t sold with added sugar or artificial coloring and flavoring like its sibling, Rolled Oats. They’re whole grain oats (inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only 2 or 3 pieces by steel rather than being rolled. Because of this, Steel Cut Oats take longer to digest and therefore create less of an insulin response (which is good). They’re an amazing source of complex carbs (this is also good) and soluble fibers (yup, good too). Despite their heightened nutritional benefits, Steel Cut Oats are most commonly known as the “oats that take forever to cook.” And, for anyone harried with kids, to spend time cooking them seems downright inconvenient.

But, all you need is just a smidgeon of planning. I promise it’s worth it, nutritionally and from a pure taste perspective.

I know what you’re thinking. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, their Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats are tasty and you can cook them on the stove top or in the microwave in 8 minutes.

And, Trader’s Joe’s also sells a Frozen Steel Cut Oats package where you get two pucks of cooked-then-frozen steel cut oats that you can defrost and cook in under 3 minutes. But, I promise, the taste just isn’t the same. There’s something to be said for being invested in your food and actually taking the time to cook it. Waiting for Steel Cut Oats to cook on the stove top for 20 minutes during the early morning rush when everyone is trying to get dressed and prepared for the day isn’t relaxing to me. I’d rather know that, when everyone is seated at the table, all I have to do is lift off the lid to the slow cooker and I’ve got a fresh, voluminous bunch of warm oats ready to be served.

With a slow cooker, there’s literally no stress involved when making steel cut oats. Most likely you’ll already have the ingredients in your pantry or fridge (milk, water, brown sugar, butter, oats, cinnamon, apples). Then, just dump everything in the slow cooker before you go to bed and in the morning, you’ll awake to the aromatic smells of the cinnamon and apples and fully-cooked oats.

While it looks like mush but tastes like heaven!

And, get adventurous. Add any toppings desired (blueberries, bananas, more cinnamon or sugar) and you’ve got a very hearty, high-fiber, nutritious, hassle-free meal for your family.

Any leftovers? Throw it in the fridge and reheat and serve for the next couple days. I know that’s what I’ll be doing when we’re socked in from the snowstorm.

Try it. You won’t be disappointed.

Notes: Feel free to alter the amount of brown sugar, cinnamon, and honey. I actually added two teaspoons of honey and only added in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. When finished, I served the oats with dried apricots and blueberries but really, any fruit topping would taste great. For the apples, I used Rome apples since they bake well for long periods of time. Place left overs in the fridge and reheat in microwave 1 1/2-2 minutes, stirring halfway through. When reheating, I also added 1/4 cup of milk to the oats.

Also, check out the My Judy the Foodie Store where you can purchase a slow cooker! A % of the proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research. Go on, click over!

 

Lemon Bars

lemonsqaurepowdered

I remember my mom baked incessantly in the wintertime. There’s something very soothing when your house is warm and toasty and full of aromas wafting from an oven that’s in constant use.   She truly loved baking. And, lucky for us, we were the proud beneficiaries of all of her baked masterpieces.

Mom had a Flour/Sugar Shaker so she could evenly sprinkle flour, powdered sugar or cinnamon over top her Viennese Crescent Cookies, Salzburger Nockerl, bread dough, or anything else requiring a powdery coating. She really had a flair for presentation and every brownie, every pie, every loaf of bread that was presented to her eager audience was gourmet quality in looks as well as taste.

While I am still mastering the art of baking, and learning the hard way that it’s an exact science with really NO room for error, I have slowly grown to LOVE baking. I love it for its predictability. If you follow the directions, and truly focus on the exact ingredients, the exact measurements and the exact time allocations, chances are, your final product SHOULD turn out as planned.

A few years back I made mom’s recipe for Lemon Squares. They were exactly as how I remembered them— tangy and cake-like with a nice dusting of powdered sugar on top. I was reminiscing about the squares the other day and found another recipe for lemon bars in the New York Times Cooking section (if you don’t subscribe to their email newsletter, you should!) using olive oil and sea salt. I knew I had to attempt to bake them and the weather was so dreadful last weekend, I felt as though it was my calling.  As I was carefully moving through each step of the recipe, I was thinking how exciting it is to witness the transformation of a recipe, simply by altering one or two ingredients.

lemonsquarebatter

While I’m still mastering the art of presentation (as you can see from my product shots above), you can’t always judge a book by its cover.  One of these days I’ll purchase a flour/sugar sifter like mom’s to evenly perfectly dust the top of the bars but right now, on a rainy weekend afternoon with kids running around, I’m fine settling with the powdered sugar clumps that fell from the spoon (see photo above).

This particular batch of Lemon Bars is completely different than my last one. The tart custard top layer overlays a crumbly shortbread base layer to create a refreshing and filling treat.

finallemonsquare

My kids adored them but, they’re very filling. They could only eat one at a sitting. And, everyone preferred eating them after having been chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours. Otherwise the custard layer gets “soupy.”

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

The Keurig 2.0 Brewing System

keurig 2.0 boxshot
This post was sponsored by Keurig.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

If you’re a coffee lover, you’re going to be ecstatic about the Keurig 2.0 Brewing System.

Actually, even if you’re not a coffee lover (like me), you’ll find good use for your Keurig. I did! Get ready to make terrific hot and cold beverages from the most advanced beverage system Keurig has ever built.

If you’re novice to the world of Keurig, say goodbye to messy coffee grounds and filters. With the use of handy “K-Cups,” this machine neatly brews a perfect cup of coffee, tea, hot cocoa or iced beverage in under one minute–simply at the touch of a button. It also accommodates three different cup sizes for your drinking preferences.

So, I guess you’re wondering if this appliance can get any better? Of course.

The Keurig 2.0 is the first Keurig brewer with the ability to brew both single cup and four-cup carafe coffee.
So whether you’re trying to accommodate a group of people at a meeting, you’re hosting a dinner party or you simply want a single-serve drink, your needs are met.

I first laid eyes on the Keurig 2.0 at the Kidvuz Holiday Party back in December.  I was treated to a hot cup of hot chocolate as I talked to some of the brand representatives.  I was surprised to hear that this machine can brew more than 400 beverage varieties (including both hot and iced beverages) from 60+ celebrated brands including, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Snapple, Lipton, Swiss Miss and more (look for Keurig Brewed® seal). This feature is especially advantageous for families. My son and daughter were able to enjoy Keurig-brewed cups of hot chocolate and immediately after, my husband brewed a carafe of coffee— all in under one minute. Because of this versatility, we’ve given this appliance sacred placement on our all-too-small kitchen counter.

keurig2.0

The new brewer features advanced technology that reads each K-cup lid to insure that it delivers a perfect beverage every single time.  This helps Keurig deliver on its consumer commitment to produce excellent quality beverages, simply and consistently.

Other brewer features include a 60-ounce water reservoir, 2.4 inch interactive black and white touch display, and a strength control setting for brewing bolder coffee.

Check out this video to see for yourself:

From the moment I received my Keurig this past weekend, we ran out to our local Starbuck’s (which is thankfully only one short block away here in NYC) and stocked our kitchen drawer with K-Cups.  Next up, we’re going to sample the iced tea K-cups.  Ah,the brewing possibilities seem endless.

keurig2.0our kitchen drawer packed with K-Cups!

For more product information, you can go to www.keurig.com.

 

Turkey and Chickpea Stew

Turkey and Chickpea Stew

While we haven’t had much snow on the east coast, it is still winter.  For my family, that translates to meals that are comforting and filling.  As you might’ve imagined, my slow cooker has been put into overdrive and I feel as though baking in the oven adds another much-needed layer of heat for my apartment.

There isn’t a week that goes by without some sort of casserole or stew being designed.  There should be no intimidation factor here.  Most casseroles and stews are hassle-free to make.  As long as you’re comfortable using a knife, you should be all set.

I love this Turkey and Chickpea stew recipe from Seriously Soupy.  It’s simple and less labor intensive- requiring absolutely no chopping and dicing of the classic vegetables and potatoes.

It’s best, like every stew and soup, served with a nice warm slice of bread on the side.  And, it can keep in the freezer for up to a week!!

So, maybe you’ll get your stew on this weekend with your family?  This one won’t disappoint.

 

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