Whip Smart Kitchen

Recipes, methods & musings for the whip-smart home cook

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Pumpkin Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Breakfast, Fall, Make-ahead, Recipe, Slow Food, Winter, Vegetarian, Comfort FoodLeannda CavalierComment

Hearty steel-cut oats toasted in browned butter get the full pumpkin spice treatment with real pumpkin puree, serious spice and less sugar than your average PS treat. A batch can feed a brunch bunch, or be stored in the refrigerator for a week of healthy breakfasts.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I believe in from companies I believe in—either I use them myself or I've at least done thorough research and vetting. Please reach out if you have any questions!

Too early to read the whole post: gimme that breakfast recipe already.

Two vital seasonal truths in my world right now: 1. Though we have left fall behind, I'm not yet finished with the pumpkin. 2. Though it's a new year and blah blah blah, it's TOO COLD for smoothie bowls. I need my breakfast to warm me up right now, thanks. 

One of my absolute favorite things to make for breakfast is steel-cut oats, and there are so many options out there. In fact, here's another recipe for apple-cinnamon steel-cut oats in case this one doesn't tickle your fancy.

Never made them? Nervous? Let me break it down for you:

How to cook steel-cut oats:

  1. Toast the oats in some butter or coconut oil over medium heat for a few minutes.
  2. Add about 3 cups boiling water for every 1 cup oats. 
  3. Cook on low for about half an hour.
  4. Add any flavorings and toppings you want.
  5. That's IT. 

The rest is playing with flavors, which is my spe-ci-al-i-ty.

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Steel-cut oats have a lot of advantages over your typical rolled oats, some of them health-related. They retain more of their nutrients through being less processed. They take longer for you to digest, keeping you full longer. You know what else? They're chewier, roastier and nuttier--all things I'll take over "faster" 99 percent of the time.

Besides, you can just make these ahead and reheat them. I'd much rather make one big batch of hearty, flavorful steel-cut oatmeal at the beginning of the week than spend 5 minutes making decent quick oats every morning anyway.

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P.S. I actually do like rolled oats... meal planning my breakfasts with blueberry rolled oats I could microwave every morning kept me sane at my last full-time job, plus they're great for pancakes and cookies. But steel-cut oats? Pumpkin ones? Those are the approachable but aspirational mornings I'm generally going for.

They also keep me full for more than 15 minutes without seconds, which is honestly pretty impressive.

As for the pumpkin, surprise! Pumpkins are still in season for the winter! 

We tend to attach pumpkins to fall, which is when they come into season, but the favorite among squashes really shouldn’t disappear the moment you take your jack-o-lantern off your doorstep. (You did remember to do that, right? It’s okay, this is a safe space.)

I wavered a little on whether to call this recipe “pumpkin steel-cut oats” or “pumpkin spice steel-cut oats”. Isn’t that stupid? Well in terms of search engine optimization it’s not, but I’m not even talking about that. I’m talking about all the crap women (and men brave enough to admit it) get for loving pumpkin spice.

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My thoughts? Pumpkin spice is delicious and a little over-hyped. Yes, both can be true. 

I shamelessly love a good pumpkin spice latte, especially homemade or one from Starbucks (gasp!). Pumpkin pie? Definitely. Pumpkin spice bread? Yeah! Pumpkin spice bagel? Double yeah. Pumpkin spice muffin? Why not? 

I don’t tend to like PSLs from many other places because the syrup often tastes nothing like pumpkin, but ultra-sugary fireballs (the candy, not the drink). Specifically fireballs that have already had most of the coating worn off.

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Other DOA pumpkin spice items for me include: gum, store-bought coffee creamers (actually those get a big no from me in general) and yogurt. No thank you, please. 

Anyway, maybe it's the seasonality, but pumpkin just feels like a special treat for me. There are plenty of reasons to use real pumpkin in your breakfast well past November. First, it’s delicious with said pumpkin spices. Second, you can easily store cans of it in your freezer. Third, lots of recipes call for a cup of pumpkin, and most cans come with 2.5 cups.

And hey, pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. 

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This pumpkin spice steel-cut oats recipe is a great way to use leftover pumpkin puree if you’re anything like me and put it in the fridge with the best of intentions, but no solid plan. Wasted pumpkin is a sad sight (and a bad smell).

These steel-cut oats are so easy to put together, and most of the cook time only requires stirring every so often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Also know it’s okay if some oats do stick—I typically get a thin layer of them on the bottom of my dutch oven. 

I can usually get any stuck oats off pretty easily with a plastic scraper, but you can also put the empty pan back on the stove with some water and bring it to a boil to soften it up. The dutch oven pictured above is a 5.5 qt enameled cast-iron dutch oven from the Food Network. You don't have to use a dutch oven, but I like them for things that cook slowly like this. I also use mine almost daily anyway, so...

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Usually I prefer my oatmeal a little lumpy with milk poured over, of course I know lots of people like creamier oats. If that's you, no problema! Just add more water or milk. You can add another cup in the beginning, or you could stir it in at the end if you decide it's too thick for you.

Sometimes if I'm reaaaaally hungry I'll make creamier just so the water the oats absorb will make me feel full faster—and sometimes I just do it because I'm in a creamy oatmeal mood. It's a thing, just go with it.  

You can top these with whatever you want, but I really love a pat of butter, pepitas (extra protein, extra crunch), maple syrup and a splash of milk. I put some suggestions down in the recipe itself. 

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Let's get simmering!

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Maple brown sugar pavlova with raspberry compote

Fall, Baking, Dessert, Recipe, WinterLeannda Cavalier2 Comments

A light and airy dessert with fluffy maple brown sugar meringue, velvety maple whipped cream, and tangy raspberry compote. 

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend. I only recommend products I believe in. That means I've used it myself in most cases, and at the very least I've researched it thoroughly and find the company trustworthy—I would never recommend anything I wouldn't buy and use myself. Please reach out if you have any questions!

I'm just here for the dessert, man. Jump to the recipe, please.

We are waist-deep in the season of all-pumpkin-everything. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin butter, pumpkin festivals and, of course, pumpkin pie. Listen. I love pumpkin. I love all the things previously mentioned. Give me a pumpkin spice latte float with pumpkin ice cream, I'll drink it happily! Do not doubt my pumpkin devotion. 

That being said, if you're ready to change up your sweets menu, I get it. Autumn brings us so many more flavors to play with, and honestly there is such a thing as taste fatigue. That's exactly why I came up with maple pavlova with raspberry compote.

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After so many heavy, ultra-sugary, dense desserts, I needed something completely different. Pavlova was in my mind, and maple syrup was in my fridge. Mad food scientist mode: engage. 

Pavlova is a light and fluffy dessert with a crisp exterior, a marshmallowy interior and contested origins. Everyone seems to agree it was created for prima ballerina Anna Pavlova sometime in the early 20th century, but the where is less clear. Some say the first one was made in New Zealand, some say Australia, some even say the United States. I won't speculate, as I'm mostly interested in it's uncontested deliciousness.

Take a minute to look at this thing. It's imperfect—ahem, rustic—but that give it a beautiful quality more composed desserts can't quite recreate. Curious that it was made for a ballerina, because it's more the dancing scene from Harriet the Spy than Swan Lake. 

A wild little cloud of deliciousness. 

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It's not exactly a meringue, but it's in the family. Meringues are typically a fairly uniform texture–crispy and crumbly throughout. Pavlova, on the other hand is soft and cushiony in the middle. It's typically dressed with whipped cream and fruit, which is what first drew me to it. I was looking for a light dessert I could make in a summer I knew would be swimming-heavy. I stumbled across a recipe for chocolate swirl pavlova with raspberries, and I've made my version of it more times that I can count. For parties, for family and at least twice, around midnight for no real reason. 

One of the things I love most about pavlova is that it simultaneously feels light and incredibly decadent. Actually, the way I make it probably has something to do with that. I almost always layer one on top of another, drizzle a ton of melted dark chocolate over and grate more chocolate on top...

Anyway, the wafers (for lack of a better word) combined with the whipped cream melt in your mouth, and the contrast between crisp and creamy keep things rich and interesting. The longer it sits in the refrigerator, the softer the wafers become, but in a good way. Almost like eating a really light mousse pie. 

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But... raspberry and maple?

You may be questioning the maple-raspberry combo, and I don’t blame you, but I swear they go together. I did it on my own to see how it would be, but later found out it’s an actual thing. They’re listed together in Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg's The Flavor Bible, which is about as legit as you can get. 

Me too, Pete, me too. 

Me too, Pete, me too. 

You can always make this without the raspberry compote. I've done it both ways, and both are great. Still, the maple and raspberry are really fun together, and I mean, why not? 

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Whipping it up, in practice

Pavlova is pretty easy to make, but there are some things to pay attention to if you're a baking newbie. First measure the ingredients exactly. Second, be mindful of how things look and feel at all times. It's really important that the batter is set up correctly when you bake it. 

Stiff peaks are what you're looking for, and I do mean stiff peaks. When you bounce the whisk lightly into the surface of the batter, pull it up, and flip it upside down. The peaks that form should be short and stand straight up. If you plunge it too far, the peaks will still be long and soft, so make sure you’re doing it lightly. In this case, over-beating is better than under-beating. 

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I actually find the look of the batter itself to be a better indicator. Make sure the mixture is shiny and a little silvery—pearlescent. It should look almost like a cross between marshmallow cream and extremely thick shaving cream. The air you’ve beaten in is so well incorporated that the batter is rich and smooth, and when you move a spatula through or pile up spoonfuls, it holds its shape. 

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When cooked, the pavlova should be light and airy. The outside should be crisp and crumbly, and the inside should be soft and a little spongey, but still lighter than angel food cake. All of it should melt in your mouth. 

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In this recipe I use cake pans because pavlova does best when all parts are baked very consistently. If one of the wafers is getting more heat than the other, you might run into two very different layers. Maybe event a burnt one. The cake pans guarantee you can fit both wafers on the same rack of a standard oven. If you're willing to risk it though, you can definitely try using sheet pans on different racks. I've done it that way as well, and it can be done. 

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If you do use the cake pans, I recommend cutting down the parchment paper into rounds just a couple inches wider than the pan, and pressing it into the bottom as best you can. If you leave it in big sheets, the edges tend to pop up and the bottom of the wafers won't bake flat. 

Baking in the pans does make the sides a little less smooth-looking than a typical pavlova, but I actually like the way it looks both ways. Either way, the pavlova should peel away from the parchment paper fairly easily if baked correctly. 

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One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make the wafers and the compote ahead. The meringue part can be made the day before, and the compote can be made several days before. You could technically make the whipped cream ahead too, but I think that part is best fresh, and takes no time to whip up. 

Question for you: Have you signed up for my email list yet? I sent out emails every time I post a recipe, and soon I'll send out a poll to see what else you want to get in email. Want recipe roundups? Curated articles and tips? Something else? Sign up and let me know!

When you sign up, you'll automatically receive the WhipSmart Kitchen Guide to Mise En Place, a PDF I put together to show you the secret to getting every recipe right, every time. Just click below for a free download. I hope you like it!

Hey, one more thing: I want to hear from you! Wanna make this recipe? I'd love to see your photos on social media! Just tag me and hashtag #whipsmartkitchen on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. You can even try out the "tried" feature on Pinterest! Have questions about it? I'm happy to answer them in the comments or through email. 

Have an unrelated question or something you're struggling with in the kitchen? I'd love to help you out if I can, but I won't know until you ask.

So let's get baking!

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Game-changing buttermilk drop scones

Breakfast, Recipe, VegetarianLeannda Cavalier3 Comments

A lightly sweet griddle cake perfect for butter and jam. Buttermilk and sour cream add tangy flavor and a tender, fluffy middle to this cousin of pancakes.

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I'm famished, drop the story and give me the scones.

A few months ago I learned about a griddle cake, and it's changed my life.

Okay, maybe that's hyperbolic—but only a little. I've truly made a batch nearly every week since then. 

They're called drop scones, but they're really not like scones at all. When you make drop biscuits, you start with a similar batter and get a biscuit-like dumpling hybrid. These are more like pancakes than anything else. In fact, these beauties are also called Scotch pancakes. 

So are drop scones the same thing as silver dollar pancakes?

Not really. For one, they're much thicker and they can hold their own and then some. Traditional pancakes are fork and knife food. If you hold one by the edge it's going to droop. Do the same to a drop scone and it will hold its shape. That makes them ideal for jam and butter, and for leftovers.

They're also sweeter, with sugar right in the batter. At the same time, they feel less like a dessert breakfast than pancakes depending on how you dress them up, which makes sense as drop scones are generally served over tea in the UK. Whenever you eat them, they're small and un-syrupy enough to work for everyday meals. 

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Drop scones, while new to me, are a time-tested recipe. They appeared to me in a vision, and by vision I mean in my Google Cards after binge-watching Netflix's "The Crown". I found this article which gives a recipe that it claims Queen Elizabeth II herself used, once making them for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. I'm a sucker for food history, so I took the bait.

The recipe features some ingredients measured in teacups, which is just fantastic. It's always fascinating to me when handed-down recipes incorporate non-standard measures like teacups, cans and yogurt containers. 

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The first time, I made them almost exactly the way the recipe describes for the first batch, and they were delicious. The second time I added some orange zest, and that was pretty nice too! The third time, I realized I had run out of cream of tartar, and that stuff is... expensive. Also, fun fact, baking powder is made of baking soda mixed with dry acid, typically cream of tartar. Hmmm. 

Drop Scones version 1.0 cooked in plenty of buttah. A little spongier, little thinner, little less rich. Still delicious. 

Drop Scones version 1.0 cooked in plenty of buttah. A little spongier, little thinner, little less rich. Still delicious. 

(Imprecise) Chemistry for non-chemists 

I decided to go with two teaspoons baking powder and one teaspoon baking soda. That doesn't exactly add up—technically the ratio would be somewhere between 6 and 8 teaspoons of baking powder 😳—but the thing with leaveners is that less is often more. Have you ever doubled a batch of leavened waffles? You increase the amount of everything but the yeast. Plenty of breads and other leavened goods behave the same way.

Sooooo, I guessed. 

Besides, I wanted to add some acid in the form of buttermilk and sour cream, which meant I could cut down on the dry acid. Buttermilk makes the end product more tender, and plus it reacts with the baking powder to help these little delights rise higher. I only added the sour cream to give the batter a little zip (think sour cream doughnuts). 

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One more change: I put the batter in time out for 10 minutes. Resting the batter makes certain the flour absorbs the liquid. The batter expands a bit too, filling up with tiny bubbles that will stay as you cook the drop scones. 

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Results

These tiny changes created puffier, ultra-tender drop scones with more flavor. More even browning with slightly crispier crust. Bliss? Pretty much. 

Those dark spots are what happens when the pan is a liiiiittle too hot. Whaddayagunnado? Besides, you know, turn the heat down. 

Those dark spots are what happens when the pan is a liiiiittle too hot. Whaddayagunnado? Besides, you know, turn the heat down. 

 

One of the things I love about drop scones is how versatile they can be. 

Typically I'll grab one out of the refrigerator, toast it (!!!), spread on some butter and jam and have it for breakfast. Preferably with scrambled eggs. Perfetto.

A gnawed cross section. For scientific purposes. 

A gnawed cross section. For scientific purposes. 

I'm also a big fan of snacking on them when I want something sweet after dinner. Toasted with little PB&J on top? Yes, please. Nutella? Let me think about that.

I mean, was there ever really a question?

I mean, was there ever really a question?

Next experiment is drop scone sandwiches, but I'm saving that one for a rainy day.

There's something else. 

Right after you take drop scones off the stove. They're still steaming and you can smell the butter on them. They're a bit crisp on the outside, a little gooey in the middle. They're pretty much BEGGING for butter and maple syrup.

HOLD UP. Understand that if you do this, you'll be breaking a rule. Maybe even a cardinal rule? Now that you know that, also know that rule is the same kind that says not to put pesto on a sandwich or dip fries in your Frosty. BREAK IT, with zeal, ASAP.

So, what's your favorite breakfast food? Let me know in the comments! I'm always developing recipes, so I'd love to know what you like. 

As always, I want to hear from you! If you make this recipe, make sure you come back and let me know how it was, or you can post a photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen & tag me! 

So let's drop some scones!

One last thing!

Thanks for reading this far! I'm so happy you're here. I really want you to get the most possible out of WhipSmart Kitchen—and really anything kitchen related in general. That's why I created The WhipSmart Kitchen Guide to Mise en Place: How to Get the Recipe Right Every Time. 

I know so many people struggle with cooking, and I truly believe most people could be better cooks with just a few adjustments, and maybe a shift in focus. This guide is designed to help you figure out what's holding you back, and build your confidence by dipping your toes in. 

I really hope you enjoy it!

Apple cinnamon porridge

Breakfast, Make-ahead, Fall, Recipe, VegetarianLeannda CavalierComment

I'm worthless if I don't eat breakfast. You laugh, but I mean it. Without a quality, nutritious breakfast, I'm tired, unfocused, grumpy, unmotivated and a little dazed. Not fun for me, not fun for anybody else. 

Actual video of me around 10 a.m. sans-breakfast. 

Actual video of me around 10 a.m. sans-breakfast. 

So each morning priority #1 is breakfast.

My schedule is all over the place, so I have time to make breakfast most mornings, but that wasn't always the case. For busier times, I love make-ahead or pre-prepped breakfasts I can just it heat up and enjoy with my coffee. Apple cinnamon porridge is one of my latest favorites.

When you look at this recipe, you might think, "whoa, this recipe makes WAY too much! Why would I make this for one or two people?"

Hold up. Hear me out. If you are regularly struggling to eat breakfast, one of the biggest tips I can give you is to plan ahead. You can make this Sunday, portion it out into containers and have breakfast for days. You can even freeze it for breakfast emergencies. You don't have to eat it every day, but it's nice to have options.

Why steel-cut oats?

Steel-cut oats are minimally processed, so they fill you up and keep you full. Complex carbohydrates are best for lasting energy and fullness, and that's where steel-cut oats deliver. Your body can't digest the sugars as quickly, so you don't burn through it all at once and get that gross sugar crash. 

Rolled oats (probably the most common form of oatmeal you see) are actually steel cut oats steamed and then rolled thin and flat. They cook quickly... but they also don't take much time or energy to digest. That sounds great, but what it really means is that the sugars break down faster and you get hungry faster.

Instant oatmeal is even more processed. It's rolled oats shredded up and steamed again, then dried–broken so the carbs are so simple they're basically sugar by the time you chew them.

Beyond that, I just love the texture of steel cut oats—soft but a bit chewy. They take a little longer to cook, but it's worth it. 

Uh, porridge? Okay, fancy-pants. 

Mind blowing statement ahead: technically, oatmeal is porridge. But that's not why I call it that.

I call this particular recipe porridge because I like to use a mix of two grains. One of those is amaranth. I first had amaranth in Mexico, but it's becoming more popular around the world. You might see it marketed as an "ancient grain" or "superfood." I take those buzzwords with a grain of salt, but it is true that amaranth is a good source of protein, lysine and more. 

Amaranth is usually considered a cereal grain, but technically it's a seed. It's a little bit like a finer version of quinoa, but with a nuttier flavor. When you cook them up they give a nice little pop-crunch that I really enjoy to breakup the texture of  

Warm and cozy

I use two forms of cinnamon at different stages in this recipe because they have different purposes. Cinnamon sticks have a higher concentration of oil than ground. They slowly release their flavor during the cooking process, infusing the liquid and oats with a warm aroma. The ground form packs the classic punch we expect cinnamon to bring to the party.

Another perk of using cinnamon sticks is eating the oats stuck on them. The sticks keep a great flavor throughout the cooking process, and the little bits of oats that get trapped in the center are truly a delight. 

Recipe after the jump!

Breakfast before bed: Cherry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

Breakfast, VegetarianLeannda CavalierComment
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This post was originally published on my old blog. This version may contain minor edits and updates. The original is preserved at Recipe Repository

Not eating breakfast is the worst. Don’t do that.

Instead, check out this video for serial breakfast-skippers—a little breakfast before bed, if you will. 

Fresh, fruity and filling, this super-easy way to get breakfast ready before you even hit the pillow is a tangy energy-booster. 

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Cherry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

Special equipment: 
Two 1-pint mason jars
Immersion (stick) blender (a regular blender will work too*)

Ingredients:

  • 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup chia seeds, divided in half
  • 2 TBSPs honey, divided in half
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract, divided in half
  • 2 tsps almond extract, divided in half
  • 12-16 pitted sweet cherries (I use frozen)

Instructions

  1. Split the can of coconut milk evenly between two 1-pint mason jars (this doesn’t need to be perfect).
  2. Add half of all the remaining ingredients to each jar.
  3. Place your immersion blender into the jar, and cover the mouth of the jar with paper towels to prevent splatter. Pulse several times until your mixture is dark pink/purple and cherries are well blended. This should only take a few seconds.
  4. Carefully remove the blender, pushing the mixture off of it and back into the jar with the paper towel as you go.
  5. Screw on the lids, shake for good measure, and leave in the refrigerator overnight or at least two hours.

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, just pour all ingredients in a regular blender and pulse for a few seconds until smooth, then pour into jars. I prefer the immersion blender because this method leaves a lot of valuable liquid and seeds on the sides of the blender (okay, also because it looks cooler). Just be certain to scrape as much as possible out of the blender when you pour.