Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats

Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oats

Happy October! Now that pumpkin has creeped into summer much like Christmas has taken over Halloween I imagine you may already be tired of pumpkin spice everything. I do love my pumpkin though and I’d resisted pumpkin oats/pancakes/breads til Autumn’s arrival so was excited to change up my Instant Pot steel cut oats with seasonal add-ins.

I took my basic pressure cooker steel cut oats and amped them up with fall goodness.

1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup almond milk
2 cups water
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1 cinnamon stick

Use manual settling to set the pressure cooker to 3 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. Once done remove the cinnamon stick, add 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and top with chopped pecans. Serves 3.

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A great on the go breakfast!

Week 44: Flavors of Fall

I may have overdone it a bit this past week.  All told I ended up with six new recipes!  I’ll kick things off with the one not quite fall recipe.

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I had bought a package of extra firm tofu for Week 43 but only used one slice of it in the BBQ preparation.  I didn’t want to waste the whole package so I thought I would give a completely different preparation a try and see if I liked the texture any better.  Thai Salad with Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple BBQ sauce caught my eye because I saw in the comments that freezing and thawing the tofu alters the texture.  However, when it came time to do my food prep I was more in the mood for a stir-fry so I made Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu.   I already had freeze/thawed the tofu but prepared the recipe as written otherwise.  The sauce of this dish is nice and light but packed with flavor from the pepper and garlic.  The texture of the tofu did seem improved from my last attempt and I ate a whole serving of the dish.  That said, I picked the tofu out of the leftovers and have conceded that I simply do not like tofu in general.  If you do like tofu Susan has a bunch of yummy looking recipes up on her blog.

On to the Flavors of Fall!  You’ll be impressed that it’s not just pumpkin this week (though of course there will be pumpkin).  Enticed by the beautiful picture on Pinterest, I made Autumn Arugula Salad with Caramelized Squash, Spiced Pecans and Pomegranate Ginger Vinaigrette for lunches.  I buy a pomegranate about once a year because it only takes one to remind myself that I’m too impatient for pomegranate.  This salad was a good use of my annual pom though!  There is a lot going on with creaminess from the squash and avocado, crunch from the pecans and cucumbers and a lovely sweet burst from the pomegranate (like natural pop rocks – yes, I am a dork).

IMG_5075IMG_5129I was getting a bit bored of salad after a day or two but didn’t want to waste food so decided to reinvent the lunches by adding a soup.  I took what was left of the acorn squash and made Chipotle Acorn Squash Soup.  I had about enough squash for half the recipe.  I used vegetable broth, subbed chipotle peppers for the hot sauce and sriracha and Fresh Cream Sauce from Let Them Eat Vegan for the cream.  I sprinkled a few toasted pine nuts on top with some fresh ground pepper to finish.  It’s a lovely soup that tastes much richer than it is and the chipotle was a nice addition.  A much more satisfying lunch as a combo.

I had actually made the Fresh Cream Sauce for another recipe, Pumpkin Chickpea Cauliflower Curry with Fresh Cream Sauce.  This is also from Let Them Eat Vegan but Dreena Burton has posted the recipe online as well (linked in the recipe title).  Instead of the recommended zucchini I decided to use bell peppers and peas to add some color and texture to the dish.  I also added a potato diced small because I had one that needed to be used and this seemed the kind of dish forgivable to substitutions.  This was a great one-pot meal.  The pumpkin creates a lovely sauce and the addition of  a little bit of the cream sauce really makes it rich and satisfying.  I served mine over brown rice.

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IMG_5083Finally, a sweet treat for Halloween.  It was bound to happen eventually, I have found a pumpkin recipe I do not like.  I was perusing recipes and was intrigued by Happy Herbivore Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies.   I like pumpkin (in case you haven’t noticed).  I like chocolate.  Why not put them together?  No, this one was not for me.  The two flavors together just seemed odd and competing.  I will have to stick to enjoying my pumpkin and my chocolate separately from here on out.

New Recipes Made This Week: 6

New Recipe Tally 2013: 124

Week 43: Vegan Comfort Foods: BBQ Edition

I realized as I looked at the calendar the other day that there are now ten weeks left in 2013!  I’ll be trying to make the last few posts count and hope to get some mid-week posts in as well.  Since I have already prepared this week’s meals I decided to make the mid-week post the New Recipe Challenge post and have some brewing ideas for the weekend post.  The bigger question is what to do for 2014…but that’s for another post!  I thought I’d start the countdown to 2014 with a confession…I cannot seem to make myself like tofu.   If you ask most non-veg people what vegan’s eat I think the top three things they can think of (besides where do they get their protein from?) are pasta, salad and tofu.  I am sensitive to food textures and even when flavors are spectacular if the texture is not appealing I can’t deal with it.  If you’ve been following the blog you may have noticed there has been an avoidance of tofu recipes (and other so-called meat substitutes…and cheese, I’m one of those freaks that never liked cheese).  However, one of the goals of this year was to try new things and one of my favorite bloggers has posted some really yummy looking tofu recipes.  So here we go…

Chipotle BBQ Tofu.  You see why I caved and decided to give it a go?  I admit I was not fully committed.  I halved the recipe (two packages  of tofu is a lot when you don’t know if you’ll like it) and then I only prepped one slice of tofu.  The theory was if I did not like this preparation I would try one of Susan’s crock-pot tofu recipes that seems able to convert the non-believer.  Also, I had an adorable delicata squash (a new food for me) sitting on my counter in need of a recipe decision.  The homemade Chipotle BBQ sauce in the tofu recipe seemed like it would also be good for the squash (and, well, then I’d have something to eat if I didn’t like the tofu).

IMG_5043Make this BBQ sauce.  Put it on everything and eat it often.  I appreciate that Susan posted some handy tips on storing the leftover chipotle but cannot see how she doesn’t make buckets of BBQ sauce and find recipes to use it on immediately.  Chipotles have a distinctive flavor that is not quite spicy but not quite smokey either.  Tasting the sauce before baking the tofu made me hopeful.  I didn’t hate the tofu (that’s an endorsement from my usual one bite and meh).  It was a better vehicle for the BBQ sauce, which is really what it’s all about, but still not quite a pleasant texture for me.  The squash was delicious but the sweetness of the squash altered the flavor of the BBQ sauce so I may try to spice it up next time (there will be a next time).

IMG_5040I was trying to decide what would go with my BBQ tofu and since I had leftover chipotle I went with a Pinterest find, Linguine with Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Sauce (you knew there’d be pumpkin somewhere).  This dish was very easy and delicious.  I subbed penne for linguini and cooked the pasta until slightly underdone then added directly to the sauce to finish, rather than spooning the finished sauce over the pasta as the recipe suggests.  This is probably not the best if you are counting calories but I find it is the best way to ensure your pasta soaks up the flavors of your sauce for a better bite.  The chipotle is the predominant flavor in this recipe with the pumpkin adding creaminess and working to thicken the sauce.  The pumpkin seeds and almonds add some texture and nuttiness that is welcome.  The dish also reheated well; some of the creaminess was lost but the flavor was even better and while not creamy it wasn’t dry either.

IMG_5036Of course, dessert is necessary when talking comfort foods.  I had a couple of bananas that needed to be used and wasn’t really feeling like bread or muffins.  Perusing my cookbooks I saw Veganomicon’s Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding and decided this would be perfect to also use up the rest of last week’s English Muffins.  I made 2/3 of the recipe since I only had two bananas and I baked it in an 8×8 pan.  I soaked the bread longer than called for since it didn’t seem that the bread was soaking up the liquid but it baked up nicely.  This was a wonderful end to a meal that seemed far more indulgent than it actually was.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  I brought leftovers into the office and had requests for the recipe!

New Recipes Made This Week: 3

New Recipe Tally 2013: 118

Week 42: Weekend Breakfasts and Such

It’s been a beautiful fall weekend in Eastern PA.  My body is trained to wake early so even on weekends I’m up by 7 am at the latest (if my body doesn’t wake me than a certain cat who doesn’t seem to align with the dog and I when it comes to the theory that Saturdays are for sleeping comes purring, meowing, kneading the blankets and staring intensely until his human rouses).  Even though I’m up early, I like to make a lazy start of it and I treat myself to pancakes most weekends while I take the time to brew a pot of coffee stovetop in the percolator.

Week 42 came to a start last Sunday with the realization that I was *gasp* out of pumpkin puree.  Though Happy Herbivore seems to think pumpkin has no flavor and can be subbed with carrots we’ll have to agree to disagree on this.  I admit pumpkin has a somewhat subtle flavor and if you are only using a tablespoon or two of pumpkin with lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and/or cloves than you likely taste the spices much more than the pumpkin.  However, if you add enough pumpkin it does have a distinct taste all its own, at least to my tastebuds.  Since pumpkin pancakes were not an option I decided to go back to basics and made the pancake recipe from the first Happy Herbivore Cookbook.  I halved the recipe to make just enough.  This recipe is very simple and quick, perfect for a Sunday morning when you’re not quite fully awake to focus.  They also taste great and are nice and light.  I missed the photo-op on this one so instead here is Master Finn having returned to bed for a nap after waking the house.

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To close out week 42 I thought I’d mix things up a bit and make french toast.   I had pinned a recipe on Pinterest a few weeks back and finally got around to giving it a go.  With pumpkin puree re-stocked, I made Vegan Pumpkin French Toast.  This recipe suggested using English Muffins as the bread; I bought Pumpkin English Muffins thinking this would go nicely in the recipe (English Muffins are not oil-free if you are fully plant-based).  I was surprised how good English Muffins are in French Toast form.  The recipe cooks up nice and fluffy with lots of pumpkin spice flavor.  I’m still a pancake girl but this was a good alternative and inspired Week 43’s sweet treat (which smells delicious baking as I type this).

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The rest of the week’s cooking involved old favorites.  I’ll mention one that’s at the top of the favorites list because it is fast, delicious, versatile and re-heats well – all bonuses in my kitchen!  Kathy Patalsky’s Kale Peanut Salad is a great recipe.  I like it so much I often turn it from side dish to main dish, which is what I did this week.  I doubled the sauce component and added linguini (I’ve done this before with rice noodles but had none on hand)  to have a quick and satisfying dinner.  I added a little Thai Chili sauce to spice it up a bit as well.  Lacinato Kale (aka Tuscan or dinosaur kale) is my favorite variety for this.

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New Recipes Made This Week: 2

New Recipe Tally 2013: 115

Week 40: The Pumpkin King vs Mother Nature

Yes, it’s another pumpkin week; if you do not like pumpkin (how is that possible?!) you may be disappointed for the next couple of months with my new recipe choices.  Despite the random, and cruel resurrection of summer weather, I am clinging to fall with all my might (from the comfort of my air conditioned living room – I held out until today but just couldn’t take the 85+ degrees any more).  In a show of stubbornness  I even turned the oven on to make some more pumpkin treats.  Take that Mother Nature!

I started off the week trying to shake up breakfasts with a new oatmeal recipe.  I’ve tried crock-pot oatmeal and overnight oatmeal and have been disappointed with both, mainly due to texture and consistency.  I haven’t tried baked oatmeal yet and when I saw a pumpkin baked oatmeal on Pinterest that looked absolutely delicious I figured I’d give it a go.

Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Vegan Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal (Pumpkin Boatmeal) is a simple dish to prepare and a single-serve recipe makes it even easier to give it a try without too much commitment (you’ll be making larger batches in no time).

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I baked this in the evening and then reheated for 30 – 60 seconds in the microwave before putting in the toaster oven to crisp the top and finish heating through while I got ready for work.

This was a welcome alternative to my usual stovetop old fashioned oatmeal.  The texture was great, crispy on the top and softer in the middle.  The recipe is not too sweet making it perfect for a light but filling breakfast.  The pumpkin and spice are more prominent in the crisped top so definitely be sure to let it bake long enough for that nice crust on top to form.

Next up were  Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts with Pumpkin Pecan Glaze.  This is another simple recipe to throw together pretty quickly and they bake fairly quickly as well.  Vegan, Low-Fat (ie no oil), Baked…what more could you want!  Did I mention moist, flavorful, and delicious.  Making the glaze with pumpkin puree really makes the flavor come through even more.  Of course, my glaze quickly melted into the doughnut due to the lovely heatwave.

IMG_4958These recipes will both be put in the rotation.

New Recipes Made This Week: 2

New Recipe Tally 2013: 109

Week 38: The Great Pumpkin

Happy Fall!  It’s officially my favorite season and I am enjoying the cooler weather and lovely fall flowers.  My mums and black eyed susan are in full bloom and I even have a couple (literally) of early leaves changing into their beautiful reds.  Somehow I made it this far into September without making something pumpkin and this needed to be rectified.  The weekend began with Pumpkin Pancakes.  I normally just add a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree to any pancake recipe with a few dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and call it a day but decided to try a more formal approach this time around.  Happy Herbivore was including a new recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes from her forthcoming Light & Lean Cookbook in this week’s Happy Herbivore newsletter but by early Saturday the newsletter hadn’t arrived yet so that recipe will have to wait for another week.  My friend at the Pink Ticket had posted a Pumpkin Pancake recipe the other week so that’s where I started.  These are awesome!  The recipe calls for more pumpkin than I usually add to my makeshift recipe and you can taste the difference. I added some allspice and cloves for a spicier pancake.

IMG_4862IMG_4867I still had some pumpkin puree left so I decided to make Oh She Glows’ Lightened Up Raw Pecan Pumpkin Butter.  This was super easy to throw together (I left out the coconut oil and do not miss it at all) in the food processor.  My apple never tasted so good with this yummy dip.  As written this recipe is not very spiced so if you like things spiced up like me increase the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  As good as this was with my apple, I had an idea for a wonderful sweet treat.  Happy Herbivore had posted a Cinnamon Bun Minis recipe on her facebook page not too long ago.  The recipe provides a cheat for the time consuming cinnamon bun process of making your own dough by using pizza dough to make the cinnamon buns; you can also make smaller portions to serve.  I decided to take this concept and use the Pumpkin Butter in place of the brown sugar/applesauce mixture in the cinnamon minis.

To make the glaze I also added a small spoonful of the pumpkin butter to the confectionary sugar to boost the flavors even more.  I am quite pleased to say these came out as good as I’d hoped!  I need some practice working with the pizza dough to get it rolled out a bit thinner so the minis roll nicer but these were an excellent treat for fall.  They are not overly sweet but you can use the glaze to add more sweetness if you like.  I loved them just as they were.

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New Recipes Made This Week: 3

New Recipe Tally 2013: 105