Sunday, November 22, 2009

Toasted Oats

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I'm an oatmeal fan and enjoy all kinds except for the stuff in the packets (with all the chemicals) that is microwaved. Steel cut oats are nutty and have a taste of their own.. I typically use whole oats, not quick, for my morning oatmeal--in a bowl with water to cover, a dash of salt and cinnamon and microwaved on medium power for six minutes. I prefer stove top oatmeal (cooked in a pan on the stove) but if time is short, the slow microwave method works.

Toasted oats are simple and have a crunchy, explode-in-your-mouth taste. I make my own granola which is similar to this recipe only with more additions like cinnamon or nuts.  Toasted oats will keep for weeks in an airtight container and are good with milk, yogurt or just to eat out of your hand as a snack.

4 c whole oatmeal
1/4 c maple syrup--the real stuff from the tree, not the fake stuff with corn syrup & imitation maple

Heat the maple syrup for 30 seconds in the microwave, just enought to thin it a bit. In a large bowl, mix the two ingredients until the oatmeal is coated.  Pour onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. I use one baking sheet for this 4c recipe.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-40 min. stirring occassionally until the oats are browned.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked apples

By Perry Washburn

Last fall, on a trip to Napa Valley, we stayed in a great little B&B. The host made amazing breakfasts, which often included muffins or scones, omelets or a baked egg dish, and - I think every day - baked fruit.

This is not something I do much. But I was struck by how easy it was. And how much we liked it. His usually had some liquid, often in the form of a liqueur.

When friends came for the weekend recently, I remembered the fun of baked fruit. Here is my variation:

8 apples, cored and sliced (I don't bother to peel them)
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 C butterscotch schnapps
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C sliced almonds

Butter a backing pan large enough to hold the apples 2-3 slices deep. Layer the apples. Mix the butter the schnapps, and drizzle over the apples. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon, and then the almonds over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour.

The kids (and adults) LOVED this.

Note: the liqueur options are nearly endless here. This version tastes a bit like caramel apples, part of its appeal. But pears and a rasberry liqueur, for instance, also would be great.

Sweet Potatoes Cuban Style

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I am not someone who only eats sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Actually, those super sweet, marshmellow topped sweet potatoes that were a staple of our family Thanksgiving potlucks do not appear at all in our house. I love sweet potatoes--they are gorgeous and rich in nutrients. Sweet potato fries, baked sweet potatoes, Cuban style sweet potatoes--yes!

This is a super simple savory sweet potato dish that I have been making for years:

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F and when heated, put an oiled, baking dish in the oven until the dish is sizzling. I use a cast iron skillet.

Peel and cube into 1" chunks medium size sweet potatoes, one potato per person. In a bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil to coat and salt and pepper.

Put the sweet potatoes in the hot skillet in one layer. Bake about 20 minutes, stirring once, until the potatoes begin to brown.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and stir into them:
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 T chopped fresh parsley

That's it!

Another variation--stir into the roasted sweet potato:
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 T finely chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime

Or add the lime juice to the garlic and parsley version.

These variations provide quite a different taste to this simple dish.  These recipes can also be created on the grill using a grill basket.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Greek Stew

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I've been making this simple stew for years. It's a standby, an easy dish that takes minutes to prepare and about an hour to simmer. There is a surprising ingredient that is added near the end of the cooking time that brings the flavors together in a simple explosion: cinnamon! Why would anyone buy a packet of stew seasoning when this one is so simple, so tasty and minus the chemicals in the grocery store packet. Serve this stew with a salad and a loaf of bread and you've got a great dinner.

1 lb stew meat (or a cut of meat that you like cut into 1" pieces)
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, cut into large wedges
3 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 c carrots, cut into chunks--more if you like carrots, I do
1 can tomato paste
1 t cinnamon
 salt and pepper to taste

Saute the meat and onion in the olive oil until the meat just begins to turn pink. Add the tomato paste and then using the tomato paste can, fill it 3 times with water and add to the meat.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and carrots, salt and pepper, bring to a simmer then cover and simmer stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Add the cinnamon, stir well, cover and simmer 15 minutes. That's it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Corn Chowder

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

After raking leaves all day yesterday, I wanted somthing warm and filling. I looked in the refrigerator and saw some bacon and the last of this season's local sweet corn. Hum, corn chowder.  I also have quite a supply of gorgeous, multi colored potatoes that I dug from the garden, onions and green peppers from the garden and fresh thyme. Perfect--dinner!

This is an easy and tasty chowder.  You'll need:

6 pieces of bacon
1 med onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 c fresh cut corn, or frozen corn, thawed
2 c potatoes cut into 1/2" pieces
1 c chicken stock
3 c milk

1 t fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 c grated cheddar cheese

Saute the bacon, removed to paper towel to drain. I poured off all but 1 T bacon grease and briefly sauteed the onion and pepper--about 3 minutes, and then removed to paper towel to drain. But yes, these veggies could be sauteed in olive oil--my Indiana roots prevailed.

Into a pan, add the corn, potatoes, stock, milk and seasonings and bring to a simmer using medium heat. When the milk begins to simmer, add the peppers and onions. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.  I did not add a thickening agent like flour because there is natural starch from the potatoes; the cheese thickened the chowder, too.

I served the steaming bowls of chowder with cornbread made with Spring Mill State Park cornmeal--great meal!

Here's the link from a previous post for Cornbread Roxie:

Cornbread Roxie