Curried Chicken Salad Recipe

curried chicken salad | pamela salzman

I’m sure you all pushed away your keyboards and ran into the kitchen to poach chicken after Monday’s post, right?  Perfect!  Now let’s do something healthy and delish with your chicken.  I have a recipe for the BEST curried chicken salad I have ever eaten!   Even my family, which to my chagrin prefers more “simple” flavors, loves this salad.

shred chicken

apples, green onions, celery

I thought it would be a great time to post this curried chicken salad since you might be looking for some new options for school and/or work lunch.  At it’s most basic, curried chicken salad is just what it sounds like — chicken salad with curry mixed in.  I use a yellow curry powder, which is a blend of different anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and many others.  But as opposed to basic, standard chicken salad to which I add celery and onion, I like to add a little something sweet to balance the curry.  My husband and I disagree on whether diced apple or halved grapes is better.  I think they’re both good, but since I am a sucker for crunch, I usually add apples.

curry dressing

curry dressing

I used to make Ina Garten’s version with Major Grey chutney and white wine, but the chutney is not something I usually use and it was taking up space in the fridge.  So I created my own blend of ingredients, including apricot preserves, to mimic the sweet, hot, tart flavor of the chutney.  This is the best part of the dressing.  So, so good and flavorful!  I also like to use shredded, as opposed to cubed or diced chicken, because I think the nooks and crannies of the shredded chicken pick up more of the dressing.

curried chicken salad | pamela salzman

curried chicken salad

You can make it the day before and tuck it inside of a pita or 2 slices of hearty, whole grain bread.  Or, as I like to do it, eat it in a lettuce cup.  A little avocado would put this over the top!  Feel free to make this spicy or change up the preserves.  I think any variation of orange, apricot, peach or kumquat would be great.  I like the St. Dalfour brand which is sugar-free and without added preservatives.  I think this might become your new favorite chicken salad!  For you vegheads, I may try to do a tofu version of this.  How does that sound?!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Curried Chicken Salad
Author: 
Serves: about 2 quarts, serves 6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (technically split breasts), about ¾ pound each
  • ½ small onion, peeled
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 Tablespoon additive-free kosher salt
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped apple (about 1 medium apple) or 1 cup grapes, halved
  • ¼ cup golden raisins (or dark raisins, if you prefer)
  • ½ cup roasted, salted cashews, chopped (slivered almonds are also good)
  • ½ cup plain, whole Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (I like soy-free Vegenaise)
  • 3 Tablespoons apricot or peach preserves, preferably no sugar added like St. Dalfour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • butter lettuce or sandwich bread, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken in a saucepan with the onion, garlic, salt and peppercorns and add water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  3. Allow chicken to cool in the poaching liquid.
  4. Remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into large, bite-size pieces. Set aside in a large bowl.
  5. Add the celery, scallions, apple or grapes, raisins and cashews to the chicken.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, preserves, curry powder, vinegar, salt, ginger, and cayenne pepper.
  7. Pour on top of the chicken and salad ingredients and combine to coat well with dressing. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  8. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Notes
Or you can use 6 cups of shredded, already cooked chicken instead of poaching chicken from scratch.

 

 

Grain-free Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

One of the first desserts I made my boyfriend-now-husband was the Chunky Apple Walnut Cake from The Silver Palate Cookbook.  Do you remember that book?  Even though it’s from 1982, I still have it on the shelf in my kitchen with more current titles.  It was probably the second cookbook I ever bought and still one of my all-time favorites.  That Chicken Marbella is legendary!

mixing it altogether

But I might have won my husband’s heart with that apple walnut cake.  It was dense, sweet and chock full of apples and walnut pieces.  I actually healthified it many years ago with whole wheat flour, coconut oil and sucanat, with delicious, but still decadent results.  But lately I’ve been trying to limit the gluten and indulge in it when it counts (e.g. crusty bread, pizza).  After the wildly successful grain-free chocolate zucchini cake (if you haven’t made that, you must!), I decided to do a twist on that and make a cinnamon apple version.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

This apple cake is very different from the Silver Palate one, but my husband has also come around to a lighter, more healthful way of eating, especially since we hit 40. When he and the kids went crazy for this grain-free cake, I knew I had to teach it in my classes.  It was a big hit there, too.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

When September rolls around, it’s not only back to school, but apple season and the Jewish new year, too.  This was the perfect week to post this recipe since this Sunday is the first night of Rosh Hashana.  Even if you don’t celebrate the Jewish holidays this cake is a delicious treat in a lunch box or after dinner with a dusting of powdered sugar to make it look a little fancier.  My husband loves pieces of walnuts or pecans in here, but my son preferred a version I tested with raisins.  Either way, this is a more wholesome, clean cake than most out there and who can resist tender chunks of apple enveloped in a sweet and cinnamon-y cake?   And you won’t know this is flour-free or grain-free.  It tastes as good as “normal” cake no matter how you slice it.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

It freezes beautifully and I found out that it even tastes great frozen after I tried to tuck some away so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it.  Can someone please explain “self control” to me?  Who eats frozen cake???  I am planning on making at least one of these for my Rosh Hashana luncheon next Monday and I know I won’t have to worry about leftovers.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Grain-free Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe
Author: 
Serves: 1 cake
 
Ingredients
  • unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup creamy, unsweetened, unsalted almond butter, raw or roasted (or use unsweetened sunflower butter for a nut-free cake)
  • ⅓ cup pure Grade A maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼” cubes (about 1 ½ cups)*
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or you could use raisins)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch pan or an 8- or 9-inch round pan. If you want to remove the cake from the pan in one piece, line it with unbleached parchment paper as well. You do not have to grease the parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until smooth.
  3. Stir in apple pieces and nuts or raisins.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Do not overbake. A 9 x 9 pan will take 35-45 minutes. An 8 x 8 pan will take 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Notes
I like the chunks of apple in the cake, but you can also use 1½ cups of shredded, peeled apples (about 2-3 medium apples.)

Vegan apple spice snacking cake recipe (refined sugar-free)

vegan apple spice snacking cake | pamela salzman

I just took stock of my pantry because baking season has officially begun.  It started slowly with a few batches of cookie dough for back to school lunches.  Then Mr. Picky’s birthday rolled around last week and whoosh it’s Rosh Hashana this Wednesday night already!  I don’t need to tell you what is just around the corner, do I?

grease the cake pan and line with parchment if desired

Thankfully, I share the Jewish holiday cooking with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  We each host a meal and cook whatever we want.  I have the first day of Rosh Hashana lunch, as well as the break fast on Yom Kippur evening.  The break fast is actually one of my favorite holidays to host because people literally starve themselves for 24 hours (no water either!) and then come to my house to eat.  I could basically serve anything and it would be a hit!

dry ingredients

One of the nice traditions of the Jewish new year is eating seasonal foods.  Love that!  Apples are likely the most important food along with honey which symbolize the hope of a sweet year ahead.  I have been loving the new crops of local apples flooding the markets over the past month.  My kids particularly love Honeycrisp, Pink Lady (my personal fave), Granny Smith.  I use apples all over the place at this time of year — turned into applesauce, sautéed on top of pancakes and waffles, cooked into oatmeal, chopped in salads and folded into simple snacking cakes like this one.

wet ingredients

I saw a recipe a few years back for a Depression era chocolate cake called “Wacky Cake.”  The cake didn’t use any “expensive” ingredients like eggs, milk or butter and I think got it’s name “wacky” because somehow the crazy recipe actually produced a moist, delicious cake.  There are a gajillion recipes for the classic chocolate Wacky Cake, but last year I decided to put a twist on the (vegan) recipe and use apples and spices instead.  Delicious!

batter before apples and raisins

 

diced apples and golden raisins

The result was a moist, fragrant and just sweet enough little cake that I think is just perfect for after school snacks, lunch box treats, brunch or anytime you need a seasonal dessert for a fall gathering, like Rosh Hashana!!  I make some sort of apple dessert every year for my luncheon, but I am very fond of this one because it is so darn easy and it freezes amazingly well.  It is also pretty clean: whole grain flour, minimal amount of unrefined coconut sugar, and very little oil (I use unrefined coconut oil.)  My entire family loves it!

add walnuts to the top of the cake

You can do different things with this easy cake.  You can double the recipe and bake the cakes in 9-inch round pans for a 2-layer cake.  I would use this vegan frosting or a classic cream cheese frosting to go between the two cakes and on top.  If you don’t like raisins, leave them out.  Or instead of placing the walnuts halves on the top of the cake, chop them up and fold them into the batter.  Or make this into muffins.  For my do-aheaders, make this today and freeze it for the upcoming holiday (Rosh Hashana, Halloween, Thanksgiving — GASP!)  If you are celebrating the new year this week, may it be a sweet one!
vegan apple spice snacking cake

vegan apple spice snacking cake | pamela salzman

 

Vegan Apple Spice Snacking Cake
Author: 
Serves: makes 1 8 x8 cake or 12 standard muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour
  • ½ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar or cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves (optional)
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil or unsalted butter (not vegan)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice*
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced, about 1 cup
  • ½ cup unsulphured raisins (optional)
  • 16 raw walnut halves, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You can grease your pan with coconut oil or butter and line it with unbleached parchment paper if you want to remove it from the pan to serve it. Otherwise, no greasing necessary if you will cut pieces from the pan to serve.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Make a well (indentation) in the flour mixture.
  3. Pour the coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla, water and orange juice in the well and stir until everything is just combined. Do not overmix!
  4. Fold in diced apple pieces and raisins.
  5. Pour batter into pan and smooth out top. If you want, evenly space walnut pieces over batter. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Notes
*Or use all water and up the coconut sugar to ⅔ cup.  You can also add diced dates.

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins Recipe

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins | Pamela Salzman

I had no intention of posting this recipe today because I already have a muesli recipe on my site.  But that was from so, so long ago and I know I don’t even remember what I posted on this site back in the beginning so I don’t expect you to!  Plus this one is better and ironically I made it up on the spot.  I threw this muesli together on a whim on Sunday night because 1. it’s my favorite summer breakfast, 2. Mr. Picky was starting day camp on Monday and I needed one less thing to do in the morning, 3. it has actually been very warm and summerlike here in Manhattan Beach which never happens in the summer, just in September and October when everyone has gone back to school and resumed soccer on the weekends, and 4. I was a little naughty this holiday weekend which involved a homemade cherry pie, a new favorite rosé (did you see my instagram?) and some (a lot of?) mozzarella.  Ooops.  And that was after 9 days at my parents’ house which always involves too much pasta, pizza, wine and mozzarella.

Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats

 

grate 2 green apples, skin and all

I always say breakfast will set the tone for the rest of the day’s eating, so you want to start off right, eat a good breakfast.  I had a good sized bowl of this muesli with some blueberries in the morning at 7:30 after a quick workout and then a little green tea at about 10:00 and I was completely fine until lunch at 1:00.  That just about never happens.  I am usually looking for a snack of some kind around 10:00 or 10:30.  If you have issues with sugar and sweets, try making this without any added sweetener or add a couple drops of stevia.  Of course, feel free to sub your favorite nut or seed for the hazelnuts and any good unsulphured fruit for the golden raisins (remember: sulphur dioxide is a preservative for dried fruit and it is not healthy for you, especially for people who have sensitive lungs.)

kefir or yogurt + almond milk

I actually think this muesli tastes more like the ones I have had a hotels both in the states and in Europe.  Although it is not technically the original bircher muesli which uses condensed milk (eeek!), it is very similar in taste and texture.  In my previous muesli, I used yogurt, water and orange juice to soak the oats with a little lemon zest.  Decidedly citrusy, which I love, but not necessarily uber authentic.  This one I used half almond milk and half kefir, although a nice think yogurt like Straus Family Creamery would be just as ideal.  (Did you know Trader Joe’s European style yogurt IS Straus?!?)  I still add shredded green apple which is a must, but for this batch I also included golden raisins and chopped hazelnuts and I was in heaven.  Yum, yum, and YUM!  Creamy, crunchy, lightly sweet.  Perfect. I am dreaming of being in a European hotel for breakfast.  And then I had to take Mr. Picky and his buddy to baseball camp. Wake up!

muesli in the morning

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins | Pamela Salzman

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 apples, unpeeled, grated (I like using green apples)
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • juice of half an orange
  • 1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened almond milk (click here for instructions on how to make your own)
  • 1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened kefir or yogurt
  • ½ cup unsulphured golden raisins or dried fruit of choice
  • ⅔ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • Toppings: fresh berries or sliced bananas, extra chopped nuts, raw honey or maple syrup
Instructions
  1. The night before: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except toppings, in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning: add sweetener to taste, if necessary. Divide the muesli among four bowls and top with favorite nuts or fruits.
  3. Keeps for several days covered in the refrigerator.
Notes
I don't sweeten this ahead of time because I prefer it unsweetened. Since my kids like a little honey, they add it to their own bowls in the morning. But feel free to add 2 Tablespoons or so of honey or your sweetener of choice.

 

 

Roasted delicata squash and apple salad recipe

delicata squash and apple salad | pamela salzman

Oh, I know your Thanksgiving menu is probably planned and I think that is great!  I actually had no intention of trying to convince you today, this late in the game, that you absolutely must include such and such recipe on your holiday table.  I know you’re committed and that’s that.  But for the rest of you slackers, it’s your lucky day!  This is your Thanksgiving salad.  Period.  I have taught it umpteen times already this month, with another class to go and I am more obsessed with it than ever.  I think this salad actually makes turkey taste better!! Make some room on that menu!

prepping delicata and apples

Delicata squash should be nicknamed “THE Thanksgiving squash” because it’s seasonal, adorable, and minimal work.  You don’t peel it!  You eat the skin!  It tastes amazing! How much do you love me right now?  Forget butternut squash this year.  Give yourself a break and go with delicata.  I have no idea if you can find it where you live, but in Southern California it’s all over the place at every supermarket, farmers market and Trader Joe’s.  Sometimes it’s off-white with yellow stripes, sometimes pale yellow with orange and lots of in-betweens.

toss everything with coconut oil and maple syr

roasted and delicious

As much as I love delicata squash, my favorite part of this salad just might be the big wedges of roasted apples.  Pink Ladies are my favorite and I think are perfect here, but Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jonagold are all great, too.  Granny Smith is a little too tart in my opinion.  Leave the peel on to not only make your life easier, but I think the apples look prettier that way and hold their shape better.

delicata squash and apple salad | pamela salzman

Here’s your game plan for this salad:

  • make the dressing this weekend and store in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator
  • wash and dry your salad greens on Tuesday and store in the refrigerator
  • if you are using nuts or pumpkin seeds, toast them Tuesday and store at room temperature
  • wash, seed and cut delicata squash into slices on Wednesday and store in a container or ziploc in the refrigerator
  • shave Manchego cheese with a vegetable peeler and store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container
  • Thursday morning you can roast the delicate squash and apples and take the dressing out of the refrigerator to bring to room temp; store cooked squash and apples at room temp until dinnertime
  • right before carving the turkey, assemble and dress the salad!

Have an amazing Thanksgiving!!!

delicata squash salad

5.0 from 2 reviews
Roasted Delicata Squash and Apple Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 delicata squash, washed but not peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, and cut into ½-inch slices
  • 2 large apples, cored, sliced into ½-inch slices (I cut them crosswise)
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (optional, but I think it’s delicious)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 10 cups mixed greens including some bitter varieties such as radicchio and/or arugula
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably raw
  • 5 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • Toppings: shaved manchego cheese, ½ cup buttered and salted toasted pecans or toasted, salted pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the squash and apples in a large bowl and add the melted coconut oil and 1 Tablespoon maple syrup.  Toss to coat. (You can also add the apples to the salad raw instead of roasted.)
  3. Place the apples and squash in one layer on the baking sheets and sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.  Roast until tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. For the dressing:  in a small bowl or screw top jar combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, salt, pepper and maple syrup and whisk or shake to combine.  You may have more dressing than you need for this recipe.
  5. Place salad greens on a platter and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly.  Separately drizzle the squash and apples with some dressing and add to the greens.  Sprinkle with any desired toppings. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

Apple-Dipped Pancakes recipe

apple-dipped pancakes | pamela salzman

Huh???  What is an apple-dipped pancake?  I know.  It’s really the silliest name, but I didn’t want to call these beauties “apple pancakes” because that makes me think of something that these are not.  These are better than just dropping a few pieces of diced apple into pancake batter or using apple cider instead of milk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  These are literally slices of apple dipped in pancake batter and then cooked so there’s a tender apple slice nestled inside the pancake.  Beyond delicious!!!  The first time I made these, Mr. Picky asked, “Mom, I can’t figure out how you got the apple in there.”  And then he ate six.  And then I ate six.  And so did everyone else in the kitchen because they all woke up to the house smelling like apple cinnamon doughnuts.  Deep inhale.  Can you imagine that?  Heaven.

apples

dip the apple slices in pancake batter

Here’s the deal — even though I am sharing a fantastic spelt pancake batter with you that is perfection with apple slices, you can dip apples into whatever pancake batter you like.  Just add a little cinnamon and nutmeg so you get that apple pie thing going on.  The only trick is to slice your apples just so.  Not too thick or they’ll stay crunchy in the middle.  But not too thin or you’ll have a hard time dipping them into the batter without breaking.  You can use a skewer or a toothpick  to dip them in and out, but I found my fingers to be perfectly fine for the task.

cook them until dry on the sides and bubbles on top

 

apple-dipped pancakes | pamela

My husband observed that these pancakes hold their heat longer because of the apples.  So you can make a whole bunch at once and have them ready for everyone for breakfast.  I know you may think these are impossible on a weekday, but if you start making your pancake batter the night before , these are a snap in the morning!

apple-dipped pancakes | pamela salzman

 

apple-dipped pancakes | pamela salzman

Apple-Dipped Pancakes
Author: 
Serves: 4-5
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large or 3 medium apples, cored and sliced crosswise into ¼-inch slices
  • 1⅔ cups whole spelt flour (or 1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour)*
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups buttermilk or plain, unsweetened kefir**
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Melted, unrefined coconut oil for brushing the griddle
Instructions
  1. Preheat a griddle to 400 degrees or medium heat.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or 4-6 cup measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and melted butter until well blended. (A blender can do this easily, too.)
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Grease the griddle with a little coconut oil.
  6. Dip the apple slices one at a time in the batter and turn to coat. I like to use a toothpick or a wooden skewer to do this.
  7. Cook dipped apple slices like you would regular pancakes, flipping once the bottoms are golden and the edges are dry. Cook until the second side is golden brown and the pancake is cooked through.
Notes
*Gluten-free: substitute half buckwheat flour and half brown rice flour for the spelt flour. Or you can use GF oat flour, too, such as part oat flour, part buckwheat flour and part brown rice flour.

**No buttermilk? Sub half unsweetened yogurt and half whole milk. Or use milk or an alternative milk and add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.

Slow cooker apple pie steel cut oats recipe (stovetop version, too!)

slow cooker apple pie steel cut oats | pamela salzman

I feel like whining.  Nooooo, I don’t waaaaaaant school to start tomorrow.  I have to wake up so eaaaarrrrrly.  Ugggh.  And lunnnnnnches.  Ok.  I’m done.  Thanks for listening.

I think making breakfast, lunch and dinner during the school year is hard.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in a competition on a Food Network show.  Minutes to spare.  Limited ingredients.  Tough judges.  The pressure!  The fact is that I cannot wing it when school starts.  To feed my family and myself real food as much as possible, I need a plan.  I have one child leaving at 6:35 am, another at 7:20 am and my youngest leaves at 8:00 am.  To all of you who can pull together breakfast, lunch and dinner without so much as a list, I am in awe of you.  I consider myself a culinary quasi-professional and I cannot wake up on a Monday morning and open the fridge and say, “Hmmmm.  What should I make today?”  It stresses me out just thinking about doing that.

raw steel cut oats

Every Sunday night for 18 years, I have planned my meals for the week and I shop accordingly.  And every year I do one new thing to help me get a little better organized because every year my family seems to throw me a new challenge.  This year I think I’m going to do a breakfast schedule so I don’t have to think so much about that meal when I’m making my list.

Monday:  oatmeal or warm whole grain porridge (muesli in the warmer months)

Tuesday:  breakfast quesadilla or burrito

Wednesday: pancakes or waffles (homemade, silly)

Thursday: muffins, quick breads, or French toast or maybe oatmeal again

Friday:  frittata  or rice bake to use up leftover cooked vegetables from the week

I will always have homemade granola in the pantry, yogurt and nut butters in the fridge, stuff to make smoothies, and fresh fruit on the counter.  If one of the kids doesn’t want what I’ve made that day and chooses to make his or her own breakfast, I’ll believe it when I see it that would be lovely.  Here’s a previous post with more breakfast ideas.

place everything into the slow cooker

I’ve been making this slow cooker oatmeal for the last year and I couldn’t wait for it to be apple season again so I could share it with you.  We all love it!  Love!  It tastes like you stirred apple pie filling into your oats.  I like steel cut oats because they are so hearty and they take a little longer for your body to digest than rolled oats, so you get a longer-lasting energy.  There’s nothing wrong with making plain and simple oats for breakfast and setting out a bunch of delicious toppings, but this is so easy and it’s ready when you come into the kitchen in the morning.  Nothing else you need to do.  We love it as is, but if you don’t like raisins, you can leave them out.  But I encourage you to try it with the raisins because they plump up so beautifully and add a little extra sweetness to the oats.  You can also add more sweetener than I do, but again, try this as is because you can always add extra sweetener later.

what it looks like in the morning

If you don’t have a slow cooker, I have a post in the archives for stovetop overnight steel cut oats.  You bring everything up to a boil on the stovetop the night before, cover and turn off the heat.  I repeat, turn off the heat.  In the morning, just warm through and your oats will be perfect in a few minutes.  I don’t see why you couldn’t do this with this recipe.  And of course, you can do this the traditional way on the stovetop as well.  Just dump everything into the pot and cook.  No excuses on this one!!

I wish all of you an excellent beginning of school!

slow cooker apple pie steel cut oats

Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (use certified gluten-free oats for GF oatmeal)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, & cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (you can use any sweetener you want)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Place the steel cut oats, water, apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins into a slow cooker and cook on LOW heat for 5 hours. Actually, anywhere between 4 and 6 hours is fine. Most slow cookers have an automatic “WARM” setting so after it cooks, it will stay warm until you’re ready for it.
  2. Stir well to combine before serving. I like to finish my oatmeal with a little homemade almond milk to thin it out a little. Yum!
Notes
I know it's tempting to leave the peel on the apples, but after they cook, the apples get soft and the peel stays tough.  Not so fun to eat!  To make this on the stovetop, see the last paragraph above.

Winter fruit salad recipe

Although I’m not 100% strict about it, I do try my best to eat seasonally as well as locally.  This helps to keep our bodies in harmony with nature, and is more healthful for us as well as the planet.  I know, easy for me since I live in Southern California.  It’s true we do have access to such a bounty of wonderful fresh produce all year.  But not even in sunny Southern California do I find locally grown melons and stone fruits in the dead of winter.  You might find a few vendors at local farmer’s markets who sell berries grown in hot houses all year long.  But I haven’t seen any farms with cantaloupes and watermelons in their fields in December.   

Yet people love a good fruit salad for brunch or after dinner and for some reason I don’t see too many fruit salads without watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and strawberries even at this time of year.  Sure these fruits look lovely together and are easy to cut up, but when was the last time you tasted a fabulous piece of watermelon on Christmas?  It’s time to think outside the fruit salad box and try a combination that is a more natural complement to gingerbread and pumpkin and everything else you’re serving for your holiday brunches.  I’ve been making this delicious fruit salad for several years and I am still obsessed with it. I use pears, apples, pomegranate seeds and dried fruit, but it’s the spiced-infused steeping liquid that takes it over the top.  If you’ve never used star anise, it is amazing.  It imparts a beautiful, floral, licorice flavor to the syrup.  If you can’t find it, just sub a cinnamon stick.

Technically I think this would be considered a fruit compote, but we don’t worry about semantics here.   Whatever you call it it’s easy peasy, and the best part — you guessed it — do ahead!   Which is why this fruit salad is really SO perfect for Christmas morning or any of your holiday brunches.  I have also made it for a more healthful after-dinner dessert option which is always so welcome during a season of cookies and pies and cookies and chocolate and… cookies.  But actually my favorite way to eat it is with yogurt and some sliced almonds — what a scrumptious breakfast or snack that is!

Here’s hoping your Christmas is merry and bright and that you can spend it with the ones you love!

Winter Fruit Salad
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup maple sugar or cane sugar (I used maple sugar in these photos.)
  • 3 star anise or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into slices
  • ½ of a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 4 2-inch long pieces of lemon rind (use a vegetable peeler)
  • 8 dried unsulphured apricots, thinly sliced
  • 4 dried unsulphured figs, thinly sliced
  • Juice of the zested lemon
  • 3 firm Bosc pears or Asian pears
  • 1 firm tart apple
  • Seeds from half a pomegranate
Instructions
  1. Fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups water. Add the sugar, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean and lemon rind. Bring to a boil, and simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool for just a few minutes, but still hot and then add the dried figs and apricots. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Peel and core the pears and apple, if desired. Slice thinly crosswise (1/4-inch slices) and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat.
  3. Once the syrup with dried fruit has cooled, pour it over the apples and pears. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next morning, remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and transfer it into a serving bowl. You can remove or leave the ginger, vanilla beans, star anise and lemon zest. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve.
Notes
Syrup can be made up to two days in advance and kept refrigerated. Salad can be fully prepared and kept refrigerated up to two days. Other dried fruit that works well – dried cherries, raisins, peaches, persimmons