Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Back when I was still a fairly new mom and my night’s sleep was a fun game of Russian Roulette, I started putting my breakfast on the stove the night before so that I wouldn’t have to use my brain in the morning. I bought these fancy steel cut oats and the side of the can said that they would take 40-60 minutes to cook, but THEN, at the very end of the directions, it said, “For quick-cooking method, let the oats soak in water overnight and then boil for 10 minutes.”  This was the answer to needing breakfast after a who-knows-how-much-sleep kinda night!  I would literally add everything to the pot the night before – the butter, the pinch of salt and even stuck my stirring spatula in there so that I would not have to use even one iota of brain cells to make breakfast.

I’ve been doing this a few times a week ever since!  On days that I run out of steel cut, I just use plain rolled oats, except I don’t soak them overnight.  I just like the steel cut – they are chewy and interesting and they don’t turn to glue and mush after they go cold, so they are perfect for making a big batch on Monday and then warming them up with a splash of milk the next day – it’s always a great texture!  Most commonly, I make chocolate oatmeal.  It’s Olive’s favorite and I love hearing her request it the first second she sees me in her room in the morning “Chock-ate oatMEEEEL?!”  I’ll add that recipe to the end of this one for those who saw it in my Week in the Life post!

For today I recreated my favorite dessert bread at our grocery store – Apricot White Chocolate!  I had a little of everything and so I went for it, and it was amazing!  What’s fun about oatmeal is the various toppings you can add – so if you have guests for the weekend, make a huge pot and set out an array of dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruits or syrups and let them add what they want!  Great for kids, for people watching their diet and for picky eaters!
apricot and white chocolate oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal with
White Chocolate, Apricot and Toasted Walnuts

2 cups water
1/2 cup steel cut oats (or one cup of rolled oats and skip the night before step)
pinch of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract
tablespoon of fat – I use butter, but it’s GREAT with coconut oil and it’s probably just fine without it)
splash of milk or cream
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, pecans, almonds – whatever you have on hand

Right after Top Chef is over, before you check Facebook for the 75th time, put a large saucepan on the stove and add the steel cut oats, water, butter, vanilla and salt.  Place a rubber spatula in the pot, too, so you won’t have to think at all in the morning.  Go to bed.
First thing in the morning, or 10 minutes after your toddler starts talking in her crib, turn on the burner to medium-high heat and bring oats to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.  Add a splash of milk or cream if it gets too thick and taste for texture.  If it’s to your liking, remove from heat, place a small portion in a bowl and stick it in the fridge to cool a bit for the toddler while you assemble yours.  Stir in the white chocolate chips till they melt and then top with the dried apricots and walnuts.  Take the kid’s portion out of the fridge, stir again, and then add a few chips so she can stir them around or pick them out herself and discard the rest.  That’s at least how it happened to me.

Chocolate OatMEEEEEEL version:

same as above, except add:

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
sliced banana or dried cranberries

I love banana and chocolate.  Near the end of the cooking time, I add the cinnamon to the pot and stir to incorporate.  I take the pot off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until an adequate darkness is achieved.  This may call for more chocolate.  Because I use 70%, I have no guilt and no shame.  Top with sliced bananas and eat! Sometimes I shake it up and stir in dried cranberries.  The cranberry/chocolate or banana/chocolate combo is always a winner.  Do what you feel with the toppings, but more often than not, we just do plain chocolate oatmeal!  Olive is never disappointed.

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Apricot Pine Nut Cakelettes

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I used to have a huge apricot tree in my front yard.  It was so wonderful throughout the seasons to see the blossoms appear in spring and the fruit appear around June and the leaves turn shockingly golden in October.  It was one of my favorite things about our house and it introduced me to jamming and gave me a passion for it.  Because of that tree, I learned to make apricot preserves and the first two years we had fruit, I canned nearly 100 jars of apricot jam variants. Vietnamese Cinnamon, Chinese 5 Spice, Bourbon Brown Sugar, Rosemary, Vanilla Bean (the best version) and even Crushed Red Pepper Apricot!  I gave them away as gifts and really just reveled in the sudden surge of domestic satisfaction I was getting from the process of gathering, cleaning, cooking and canning a resource from my own yard.  I felt like such a good steward of those little golden gifts!

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To make a sweet story a bit sad, that tree fell victim to the terrible drought our area has been suffering the past three years.  The second year into the drought, the fruit on our tree was tiny but packed with flavor.  It was the last year it would bear fruit.  We had to chop it down last summer and I will admit, I mourned the loss of that tree for months.  We’ve tried planting replacement apricot trees twice, now, and borers got the second one (and the first – it was a borer/drought combo) and the second replacement got hit by two late frosts and never recovered (although I won’t call it officially gone till next spring).

So maybe it’s not meant to be?  Maybe the lesson learned is to make good use of what you have while you have it.  Revel in the gifts you’re getting now, because soon, they may not be available to you.  If you have a fruit tree and don’t have time to make anything from it, first, call me and I’ll come pick up every piece from your yard (I know there’s no fruit on trees in this area, yet – still, the sentiment always applies) and second, if nothing else, just eat from it!

This recipe is a wonderful, easy recipe that can be used with fresh, canned or even dried apricots (or any fruit, really).  I used dried apricots that I reconstituted in a bit of water, first, because I couldn’t find canned, as the recipe called for.  They turned out wonderful and they lasted for a week!  The cake part is a wonderful cake recipe and one that I plan on using for other purposes in the future.  It calls for buttermilk, and I happily used some raw buttermilk from our local dairy, Pereira Pastures.  They are suffering from the drought too, and could use your support if you are from this area and feel like making a donation and getting some amazing milk in the process!

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Apricot Pine Nut Cakelettes*
makes six cakes

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
8.5 ounces apricot halves, sliced
1 1/3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter six 6-oz ramekins and place them on a baking sheet with a shallow rim.

Divide the pine nuts evenly among the ramekins.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat.  Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and the water and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the apricots and stir gently until coated.  Divide the apricots and syrup evenly among the cups.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the remaining 4 tbs butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and the granulated sugar on medium speed until well blended.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla until combined.  With the mixer on low speed, mix half of the dry ingredients into the batter until just combined.  Mix in the buttermilk until combined.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients until combined.  Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins and smooth the tops.

Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes (mine took more like 45).  Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and cook for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the ramekins to loosen the cakes.  Invert the cakes onto individual dessert plates and serve warm with fresh whipped cream, or a drizzle of amber agave nectar, like I’m currently obsessed with.  🙂

* recipe from the Bonne Femme Cookbook!

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