Fall Apple Bake and Bourbon Apple Oatmeal

Have you gone apple picking yet? If not, go now and embrace the season!

I went apple picking a few weeks ago. Here in New England we had a drought, so I had to prepare myself for a different sort of crop. Less water means smaller, less abundant apples. However, when we got to the orchard, the apples were still beautiful and delicious.

apple-orchard

Nature shows us that life does not always happen the way we plan it, and that is okay. Beauty still comes from the unexpected events. This was an imperfect year for apples in New England, but that doesn’t mean these apples were useless. Ohh no. I made two fabulous recipes from them. We, too, can create beautiful things in times of uncertainty, when we are in our own “droughts.” I’ve come to find that expectations can easily disappoint, for they hardly ever represent reality. The true measure of resilience is making the most of your present circumstances, rather than discrediting them for not living up to what you thought was perfect.

On to the APPLES!

My Momma made this apple bake for my sisters and I every year. I unabashedly have it for breakfast, lunch, or dessert with vanilla ice cream.

fall-apple-bake

Fall Apple Bake

  • 8 medium size tart apples; peeled, cored, and sliced (McIntosh and Cortland are best)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons grated orange zest

Topping

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 1/2 quart soufflé dish, deep casserole dish, or 12-inch cast iron skillet.
  2. Mix sliced apples, brown sugar, flour (2 tbs), and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add orange juice, lemon juice, and orange zest to the apple mixture and transfer to your baking dish.

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  1. For the topping, mix flour (3/4 cup), salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and break down with either a fork and knife or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Add the chopped pecans or walnuts to the topping and spread this over the apples.

20160925_144619Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes. You’ll want the top to be golden brown and the filling to be bubbly!


But wait…there’s more!

Below is the most beautiful breakfast on earth. Make this topping for your oatmeal, and you will start your day off like the champion you are.

Bourbon Apple Oatmeal

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  • 1 Mcintosh Apple, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg to your liking (I like a lot of spice!)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  1. Melt butter in a skillet.
  2. Add apple slices, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add bourbon. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes.

Add topping to a serving of steel cut oatmeal. Happiness will ensue.

 

French Toast Oatmeal

Before we get into the goodness the title of this post suggests, I’d like to start off with a much-needed life update.

I graduate with my Master’s in May, and that means it’s thesis time. Forty pages in, and I’m marching along. Digital marketing is such an analytical yet creative industry. You interpret data, yes, but you also have to imagine the needs and typical lifestyle of a user on your site or digital apps. While I was an English major in college, both of my Physics professors said I should be a physicist. One of them even wanted me to be a Physics TA and teach it! I love that mixture of objectivity and subjectivity. You can find this marrying of objective and subjective in cooking. There are some elements of the craft that you must follow, through and through, like don’t ever substitute baking soda with baking powder. Food is scientific. On the other hand, taste depends on an individual’s palate. Food is creative, too.

America’s Test Kitchen is treating me well, too! I love working as a Web Editorial Intern. I’m writing their Facebook posts and some Pinterest pins. My blog series on the America’s Test Kitchen Feed is launching March 6th. So exciting! It’s called “#ATKVeg Better Together,” based on The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. I’ll be highlighting unique flavor combinations in some of the book’s recipes, reflecting on each ingredient before showing how they are the perfect match. My first post involves Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple. How do goat cheese, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper taste together? Find out next Friday the 6th!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple
Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple

Lastly, my grandmother passed away a few weeks ago, so I was out of town all last week. She inspired me immensely. I’ll have much more to say about her in a forthcoming post, a tribute to her and the glorious ice cream sundaes we always made together.


Now, for the goods.

Yesterday was my first day with no plans or obligations in a very long time. So, I thought I’d treat myself to a nice breakfast—something sweet but healthy. I craved two things: french toast and oatmeal. Having both would mean a carb overload. What to do? Fuse them together!

French Toast Oatmeal with Dried Apricots and Cranberries
French Toast Oatmeal with Dried Apricots and Cranberries

French Toast Oatmeal

Serves 1

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (these cook up far quicker when you’re in a pinch, but steel cut oats would be lovely if you have time. Just remember that the ratio of milk/water to oats will be different with the steel cut variety. Follow the package’s instructions.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dried fruit of your choice (I love dried apricots and cranberries. Golden raisins are wonderful. Add as much or as little as you like.)

Note: While I did not add this yesterday, I think a little orange zest would be a fantastic addition. Try it and let me know what you think!

1. Put the oats and milk into a medium pot.

2. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and dried fruit. Mix all ingredients until fully incorporated.

3. Wait until the milk begins to boil on the sides, about 2 minutes. Start stirring more frequently to prevent the oatmeal from sticking on the bottom. Once the mixture starts mildly boiling, cook until oats are tender and reach desired consistency, about 5 minutes. I love my oatmeal nice and thick, but you may like yours more liquid-y.

4. Pour into a bowl and enjoy. I recommend topping the oatmeal with real maple syrup, à la french toast!