Crockpot Apple Oatmeal

Crockpot-Slowcooker-Apple-Cinnamon-Oatmeal from Brittany's PantrySo, you know that I love oatmeal.

There are no shortages of oatmeal laden recipes on this blog and I am only getting started.  It is one of those ingredients that is an automatic ‘yes’ for me.  Dishes that call for making browned butter?  No time for that.  Anything at all that includes water chestnuts? Not happening.  But oatmeal?  Yes.  I don’t care what food it is, the answer is yes, yes, A THOUSAND TIMES YES!

Is that from a movie….?

Anyway, I am really loving the revival of the slow cooker that seems to be happening right now.  Anything that can go in a crock-pot is a hot ticket item and has become, dare I say it, trendy, in kitchens everywhere.  For my part, I have always used my slow cooker quite a bit.  The addition of children in my life gave me need to pull it out even more for obvious reasons.  I am not someone who bakes cheesecakes in my slow cooker or steams rolls overnight using some kind of fancy rigging system to suspend small pans in the crock pot.  But I have to admit that as much as I use it, breakfast never really occurred to me.  And when I started seeing overnight oatmeal recipes all over the web, I had one of those ‘slap your forehead’ type of moments.  Why had I not thought of this before?

I really love the Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal recipe that uses apple juice and extra spices that I previously posted.  It is very fast to put together and is extremely hardy and healthy.  This recipe, while containing some similar flavors, tastes completely different.  It has few ingredients and bakes up incredibly creamy.  It isn’t overly sweet, but somehow still seems like you are eating something extra special for breakfast.  Sort of like a really healthy apple pie and I find that most people have a hard time staying away from it.

And all thanks to that infamous slow cooker.Crockpot-Slowcooker-Apple-Cinnamon-Oatmeal from Brittany's Pantry One Year Ago: Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread & Creamy Tomato Soup
Two Years Ago: Black Bean Salsa
Three Years Ago: Five-Minute Meatloaf & Enchilada Pie

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal
Inspired by Pinterest
If you have time to pop this in just before lunch and turn it on Hi instead of Low, it makes an outstanding after school snack.  As for apples, use whatever you have in your fridge, but generally, I try to avoid anything too sour.

Spray or butter the insert of a standard sized slow cooker.  In order, add:
2 apples, peeled and cored and sliced
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c rolled oats-not quick cooking
4 c water

DO NOT STIR!  Cover and set on low for 6-8 hours.  I put this in right before I go to bed and it is done in time for my husband to eat some before he goes to work in the morning.  He turns it off, keeps the lid on, and it is still piping hot and ready for us when we get up for school!  Eat it as is or add a splash of milk, chopped walnuts or pecans, or even a handful of raisins or cranberries.  Leftovers are great reheated the next day.

Homemade Instant Hot Cocoa Mix

DIY Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix from Brittany's PantrySo…um….yeah.  This weather sucks lemons.

Before we get to todays recipe and my witty ramblings, I want to point out the handy dandy little icon on the top right of this page.  YES!  The rumors are true! Brittany’s Pantry has joined INSTAGRAM!!!  Do you know what this means, faithful readers?  It means that you now have photographic visual aids to keep up to date with my kitchen, my cooking, my failures, and yes, my pantry!  So click on the link to join me and while you are at it, check out Brittany’s Pantry on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter!

So.  Between the church cancelations, school closings, impassable roads, and dangerous cold here in central IL, it is safe to say that we are kind of stuck in the house for a bit.  I’ve made soup, roasts, stews, baked desserts, and I am finally breaking free from the comfort food coma and heading in a lighter direction tonight; Roasted Fish with veggies and Baked Garlic Brown Rice.  I am still using the oven to give that warm, cozy feeling to the main floor of the house, but with something a little healthier than a baked/chicken/pasta/cheese/cream/bread crumb/butter type of casserole.  But this meal is no less comforting.  The rice is going to make the house smell deeeee-VINE ( a kind of…pre-requisite for food made during a winter storm) and the rest will be hot and tasty.  *sigh*  I can’t wait for dinner.

Between meals that could sustain olympic swimmers with their sky-high calorie count, you need to sip something just as warming to your soul.  For me, that will always be hot chocolate.  If you are a long time reader of this blog you know my obsessions with hot chocolate.  I have no less than three different recipes for it in archives here and I am always looking for different versions.  No matter what kind I make, it is always from scratch.  I am a bit of a snob when it comes to hot chocolate and I haven’t bought anything in a packet in years.  Why would you when you can make it sooooo much better yourself?

That said, I am the mother of three and sometimes, I just need the convenience of the already mixed up instant stuff.  Luckily, my Mom is the mother of six and wouldn’t ya know-she used to make her own!  This is not a revolutionary idea, but strangely, I don’t know many people who do this.  The monetary savings are enormous, but that aside, it just tastes better!  And the fact that I know exactly what is in it gives me that same warm fuzzy feeling that drinking it does.  Sometimes I make different versions of this that contain actual grated chocolate instead of cocoa powder, but my master version does not.  The cocoa powder adds incredible chocolate flavor while allowing you to control the level of sweetness.  Is it the best hot chocolate in the world?  No.  But it is cheap, easy, super fast, adaptable, and last a long time.  That is a major success in my book and definitely earns it a spot here to be shared with all of you.DIY Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix from Brittany's Pantry I have made a ridiculous number of versions of this over the years and the main goal has always been to create a mix that doesn’t actually taste like a mix.  It should be rich.  It should be chocolatey.  It should make you go ‘Mmmmmmmmmmm’ (like Will Farell does in elf when he adds the booze to his coffee thinking it is maple syrup) instead of ‘Mmmm-Hey!  I can taste the preservatives and high fructose corn syrup in here.  Can you?’

Because that is most defiantly NOT comforting.

So when it comes to a hardy, non-perishable mix, this is what I use.  When I was a kid, my Mom used to make this in huge double batches (6 kids, remember?) and store it in an empty gallon ice cream pail.  Come to think of it, we stored a LOT of stuff in ice cream pails.  They seal tight on the top and they have a handle.  What could be better?  Snack mix, cookies-all kinds of things.  Either way, my batches aren’t doubles, but we do store ours in an gallon ice cream bucket too.  It tastes even more nostalgic that way.  In the picture above, the last of the mix-we had been using it quite a bit before the weather cooperated enough for me to photograph it-in a quart tupperware container.  A gallon plastic bag works great as well, for mixing and for storing.  Obviously this would be fantastic gifted to friends and family around the holidays, but when the weather turns ugly, it is a handy thing to have tucked in your pantry.

And that is very comforting.DIY Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix from Brittany's Pantry One Year Ago: My Go-To Sloppy Joes
Two Years Ago: Forgotten Kisses (Peppermint Meringue Cookies)
Three Years Ago: Honey Waffles & Filet Au Poivre & Fettuccine W/Spinach Alfredo & Shrimp Quesadillas

Homemade Instant Hot Cocoa Mix
This is OK made with hot water, but it is MUCH better made with milk.  Use whole milk if you are being particularly indulgent, but I have made it with skim and it is still lovely and creamy.  A heaping spoonful added to cup of coffee gives you a nearly perfect mocha.  Feel free to add Tablespoon or so of cinnamon to the batch to make a spiced hot chocolate mix.

Sift together:
2 c powdered sugar
1 c cocoa powder (dark is fine)
2 c powdered milk
1 c powdered non-dairy creamer
heavy pinch of salt

Combine ingredients well and store in an airtight container.  When ready to use, fill whatever size mug you are using about half full of mix and fill the mug with hot water or hot milk.

Whiteout Smoothie

Whiteout SmoothiesHave I ever mentioned how much I love white?

I don’t like to to wear it-that is just an accident waiting to happen-but I love it in my house, my dishes, my kitchen, my decor, and now, in my smoothies.  My cupboards are white, my appliances are white, and I collect milk glass to display all over my house.  If it wasn’t so darn impractical, my couches would be white.  I love the look of a clean blanket of new snow, and if I can ever get my husband to agree, my dream bathroom would be ALL white.  It looks great with everything and makes any color it is with that much more beautiful.  Naturally, my heart rate accelerated when I recently came across a recipe for white hot chocolate.  Even though I don’t plan on ever making it due to my usual and wildly selective aversion to white (read: fake) chocolate, I couldn’t take my eyes from the pure white drink.  All white.  Clean.  Creamy.  Starkly gorgeous.  White on white on white.  Classic.

With that in mind, I was whipping up smoothies for my kids this week when I realized I didn’t have any fresh spinach left to make this recipe.  So I decided to forgo color all together.  A few fine tuning adjustments and this final recipe was the result.  It is wonderfully thirst quenching and chug-able since it has nothing fibrous to make it super thick.  Its clean and refreshing and a fantastic change of pace from the berry/spinach/kale/ broccoli concoctions that are so popular right now.  And you know what else?  Its white.
Whiteout SmoothiesThe above picture is my special smoothie transporter.  I got it a bajillion years ago when my aunt was cleaning out her Tupperware supply and tossed this into the box that I was getting.  It holds as much as a large drinking glass and the lid seals tight and secure.  If I have a busy morning planned for the next day, I fill this the night before, shake it up on my way to the car, and pop the lid while driving to my destination.  It feels so retro.  My kids like the fun straws and the biodegradable kind are particularly awesome! Because EVERYTHING tastes better when it is inhaled through a fun straw!
Whiteout SmoothiesWhiteout Smoothies One Year Ago: Asian Smokies
Two Years Ago: Midnight Crackles
Three Years Ago: Hot Wings

Whiteout Smoothies
If your avoid smoothies because you don’t fancy the thick texture, this is a great alternative.  It is thinner but no less nutritious.  It also makes a great base to add other fruit to, thus making it a ‘non white’ smoothie!  The amount of honey you add will depend on the ripeness and sweetness of your bananas and your overall individual preference for tang.

2 c plain yogurt, low fat-I use half of a large 2 lb container
2 c unsweetened refrigerated coconut milk
2 bananas
2 T honey (or to taste), preferably local
1 T ground flax seed

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.  Taste a bit to see if you need to add more honey.  This makes two large servings for breakfast or four 1 c servings to share.

I LOVE my to-go tumblers from Tupperware. Mine are the retro version from my childhood, but they still sell them! And in super fun colors too! The lids hold really well and they wash up great. I use them for TONS of stuff! Find them here!!

Brown Sugar Banana Nut Muffins

Brown Sugar Banana Nut Muffins I see Banana Nut Muffins as a pretty standard type of baked good.  When I set out to create this recipe, I wanted all the great flavor but with just a tweak (just a smidgen) of an update.  So I made it heart healthy but kept the classic brown sugar taste that I love with banana.  Nothing all that fancy; just a healthier version of a great muffin that just may become your ONLY version.  It is for me.  And I am not saying that just because I can’t stop eating them.  I generally like to eat my muffins the way I was raised to; sans butter.  But when I smeared a good ‘ol salty glob of the good stuff on these muffins, I nearly dropped to my knees in thankfulness.  Stellar.
Brown Sugar Banana Nut MuffinsOne Year Ago: Pork & Prune Stew & Ginger Chai Blondies
Two Years Ago: How To: Homemade Pumpkin Puree & Garlic Herb Bread & Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Three Years Ago: Piggy Pudding & Broccoli, Bean, & Cheddar Soup

Brown Sugar Banana Nut Muffins
Of course these freeze beautifully and this recipe makes exactly 12 muffins.  If you are feeling particularly fancy, sprinkle the muffins with a pinch of extra brown sugar just before you bake them!

3 ripe bananas
1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
1/3 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 T ground flax seed
3/4 c brown sugar
1 c all purpose flour
1 c white whole wheat flour or standard whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c chopped walnuts-pecans would be fine too

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the first 7 ingredients until bananas are mashed and everything is evenly incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until barely combined, then add the nuts, stirring the last few times by hand to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 1 dozen count muffin tin or line it with baking papers.  Divide the batter evenly into the 12 muffins wells.  They will be full, but not overflowing.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed, golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then turn the muffins out onto a cooling rack.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake W/Brown Sugar Streusel

Pumpkin Coffee CakeI wish…

Oh! How I wish…

…that I had found this recipe years ago!

Like so many of you, I love the pumpkin season.  Homemade pumpkin puree gets stirred into muffins and pies and even dip!  I don’t jump on the pumpkin spice latte bandwagon, but most everything else I am game for!!  I have a major soft spot for coffee cake and when I saw this recipe, I knew it was right up my alley.  For some reason, the fact that it gets cut into wedges is more appetizing to me.

I have no idea why.

Regardless of the shape of the pan it is baked in, this coffee cake would be excellent baked in a shoe box.  It is simple and classic, which is what I like most about it.  On Pinterest the other day, I saw a recipe for pumpkin glazed roast chicken and I wanted to strangle whoever created that.  Not EVERYTHING should be pumpkinified people!!  It should be limited to things like…well…coffee cake.

This isn’t too sweet and it is moist and lovely.  Add a hot cuppa tea and-gah.  I just.  I can’t even.

The recipe makes two round coffee cakes so that means I have eaten….a few.  We won’t go into details, but suffice to say that I can say with confidence that these bake up great every time and hold a full 24 hours and the streusel is still crunchy on top!  Defrosted from the freezer and warmed a bit in the oven is very nice so add these to the menu when guests are coming over the holidays.  Heck!  Bake one after dinner and eat it with hot cider for dessert!  Or as a mid day snack with that tea I mentioned.  I hear that it is also good eaten with your hands standing over the sink with a huge glass of cold milk, but thats just a rumor.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake Pumpkin Coffee CakePumpkin Coffee Cake W/Brown Sugar Streusel
Recipe adapted from here.
Note that this makes two coffee cakes.  You could freeze one, but I prefer the eat coffee cake two mornings in a row meal plan.

Coffee Cake:
1 stick (1/2 c) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree-not pumpkin pie filling
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp salt

1/4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all streusel ingredients together until well incorporated.  Set aside.

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.  Add the pumpkin and mix, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing again to combine thoroughly.  Mixture will look curdled.  Add the dry ingredients and mix slowly until just barely combined, scraping the bottom and mixing by hand with a spatula at the end.  Spray and flour two, 8 inch round cake pans.  Divide the batter evenly between the pans and sprinkle with the streusel.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes to let the cakes set a bit, then run a thin spatular or knife carefully around the  edges of the cakes and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Serve warm or room temp.  If you want to freeze either of the cakes, cool completely and wrap well in cellophane and seal in a gallon ziptop bag.  Defrost and serve, or warm briefly in the oven before slicing.

The Ultimate Apple Butter Recipe

The Ultimate Apple ButterOk. Last apple recipe for awhile.  I can’t help it.  They have kinda dominated my kitchen for the last two weeks.  And can I just say check out the serious sunshine in the photo above shining in my screen porch windows and onto my breakfast plate!  I love fall!

So yes, I have been canning, freezing, baking, cooking, roasting, and eating apples.  I confess that I had actually sworn off making apple butter this year.  One, I was on GO mode and apple butter just takes too long to make.  Its not the labor involved, its the waiting!  Secondly, I have made a LOT of apple butter over the years and even though it is all good, none of my versions have ever been ‘the one.’  I like all kinds of apple butter so how do you pick one that tastes the best?  You don’t!  You just wander aimlessly, eating all the apple butter you can find and exclaiming, ‘Oh!  I like this one! ‘ or ‘This one is super yummy too!’ or even ‘This is so good I could bathe in it!’  But none of them really stood out.

Until now.  I realized the error of my ways.  I needed two things.  Rum and vanilla.

Now, I am kinda classic when it comes to apple butter, but when I was elbow deep in the sticky, turn-my-fingernails-brown apple trenches, my friend posted this recipe.  I read the title (Vanilla Rum Apple Butter) rolled my eyes and exclaimed out loud, “FINE!  I’ll make apple butter!  Twist my arm, why dontcha…”  About 5 minutes later, it was in the crock-pot and cooking away.  The only change I made for that batch that was different from her original recipe, was to add some brown sugar (my apples seriously lacked flavor) and mine were peeled because I was using this handy dandy contraption mentioned in the last post.  Other than that, I made them the same, crossing my fingers that the lack of spices you usually see in apple butter wouldn’t be missed.

So…um…yeah.  Not missed at all.  It was so amazingly yummy, a friend of mine said she “…could slather that on my face, its so good.”  Another said she would eat it scraped off the floor if necessary.  While that certainly wasn’t called for (although once I did eat spinach artichoke dip that I had scraped off the oven door…) I was thrilled that they liked it so much.  As I stared at my seemingly never ending pile of apples, I decided to rinse out the crock pot and do it all over again, but this time I would add the spices I so so love in apple butter.

The result??  The Ultimate Apple Butter Recipe!  It is rich and full flavored and balanced and lovely.  I will never make apple butter any other way ever again.  And here it is for you!
Apple Butter I can not really stir it yet, but there it is piled in my crock pot and nestled on the counter amongst empty canning jars, full canning jars, and a very sad looking banana…
Apple Butter Ten hours later and it stirs to mush. Ready to puree!
The Ultimate Apple ButterSmooth like buddah!

One Year Ago: How To: Caramelize Onions
Two Years Ago: Salmon Nicoise
Three Years Ago: Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Ultimate Apple Butter
My recipe is inspired by this recipe.  The flavor isn’t as traditional as mine, but it is ah-ma-zing.
Some kinds of apple butter are so spiced they kind of reach up and smack you in the face.  I prefer to actually taste the apples instead of just smearing cinnamon paste on my toast.  If I could thin this down, I would suck it through a straw.

apples, cored, peeled and chunked small about 10 cups-enough to fill a standard 4 quart slow cooker (any NON-tart, soft apple is good for this but use whatever you have)
1/2 c spiced rum
1 c pure, no sugar added, apple cider
1/2 c brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pile the apples in the slow cooker, adding more if needed to fill it to the top.  Add the rest of the ingredients on top, EXCEPT THE VANILLA!  Stir it a bit if you can, but don’t worry if you can’t.  Set the lid on tightly and turn the pot on low. After an hour or so, stir it if you can as it starts to cook down to distribute all the spices and coat all the fruit in the rum! 🙂  Leave it on low, until the apples get so soft that it breaks up as you stir it, at least 8 hours.  It will depend on what kind of apple you use and the ripeness of the fruit.  When it is mushy, stir in the vanilla and puree using an emersion blender, or transfer to a blender or food processor and puree in batches.  Can it or freeze it and enjoy!

Chunky Applesauce Years ago, my Mom brought me all her canning supplies, complete with about 40 quart jars, a huge canning pot with a rack for up to 7 jars at a time, and all the tools of the trade.  What she didn’t know at the time, is that she also brought with her a wealth of memories from my childhood.  Rows and rows of brightly colored jars filled with tomatoes, peppers, beans, pears, sauces, and apples.  A tiny, steamy kitchen in an non-air conditioned house in August with pots for boiling, pots for sterilizing, and pots that were bubbling.  It was hot.  We burned our fingers.  It was (and still is) sticky, dirty, seemingly never ending work.

And I loved every minute of it.

There is something supremely satisfying about taking a perishable food item and lining it up neatly with its fellow bounty, like portly soldiers waiting to be called up to duty on some unspecified future day, and knowing it will be just as spectacular then as it is at that moment.  Preserving food is not a new concept and while it was mostly done out of necessity and survival, there is a certain respect that goes along with canning foods.  One doesn’t can-or freeze or dehydrate-food unless we love it.  We want the flavor to last and the waste to be minimal.

And what is more classic than applesauce?!  Its gluten free, vegan, made with refreshingly few ingredients, healthy, and has a bazillion uses.  I like to make a few batches of unsweetened sauce that I make a bit smoother and then use just for baking and cooking with.  The chunky version shown here is great on pancakes or waffles, and I stir it directly into plain oatmeal all the time.  After trying this recipe, you will never spend money on the high fructose corn syrup laden, super processed store bought versions again!  Try it spooned right on the plate at lunch or dinner.  I like to send it in my daughters lunch or serve it to her as a cold, right from the fridge snack with whole wheat graham crackers for dunking!
Chunky Applesauce Two Years Ago: Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Three Years Ago: Apple Cider Syrup

Chunky Applesauce
I like using a natural, no sugar added, pure apple cider when I make my applesauce.  It needs liquid so that it can cook, but you might as well add flavor while you are at it!  After many different versions of applesauce over the years, I discovered that the best flavor comes from minimal plain white sugar and a bit of cinnamon.  The pure apple taste comes out and it isn’t masked with a bunch of other flavors.  Feel free to omit the sugar and cinnamon entirely and just make an unsweetened version for eating or cooking.  If you are making this into baby food, use only water as the liquid and add three times as much.  No sugar or cinnamon and puree the soft apples in batches in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender until very very smooth.  Freeze in ice cube trays and then pop out the cubes and store in labeled plastic bags.  This recipe yields about 4 quarts of finished applesauce.

16 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced apples-soft apples work best since you are cooking them down anyway (Golden Delicious, Cortland, Fuji, MacIntosh, or in my case, whatever you get free from your friends and neighbors)

2 c apple cider or water or a mix of both
1 c white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Lets get started!
Chunky ApplesauceThese were directly off my neighbors tree.  Beautiful!  Regardless of where your apples come from, give them a good rinse before peeling.
Chunky ApplesauceI have a hand crank that attaches to my counter.  It peels, cores, and slices all in one fell swoop.  A major time savor when you are dealing with 6 or 7 bushels of apples, which is what I had!  You can find them just about anywhere this time of year and this is the one I have.  However, I highly recommend this one.  It suctions to the top of the counter which is way easier for clean-up than the clamped base one.
Chunky ApplesauceThis is one batch of apples for applesauce-16 cups.
Chunky Applesauce In your largest, heavy bottom pot, add your apples, liquid, sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir it if there is room!
Chunky Applesauce On medium low to medium heat, cook the apples, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat if it starts to burn.
Chunky Applesauce Keep cooking.  This will take awhile…
When you have the space and the apples are starting to break down, mash with a potato masher to break up the pieces.  If the fruit is getting too dry as it cooks down and evaporates, add a bit more liquid.
Chunky Applesauce Cook the apples more, several hours, stirring often.  Continue to mash the apples to aid them in cooking.
Chunky Applesauce When the fruit is cooked through, and you can now mash or puree if you like, but I prefer my applesauce thick and chunky, not smooth like babyfood.  Taste the sauce to see if it is sweet enough and add a bit more sugar if your apples are especially tart!  The total cook time will depend on the size and density of your chunks of apples, and the moisture content of the fruit.  Every year I have to adjust the cooking time and sweetness and liquid because the apples I use change, but this recipe is my starting point.
Chunky Applesauce And there you go!  Eat, freeze, can, enjoy!  The picture above also has some of my jars of plain apples in cinnamon syrup.  If you are canning the applesauce, pour it hot into clean and sterilized jars leaving 1 inch of headspace.  Wipe rims clean, top with a sterilized lid and ring, and process in a boiling water canner with the water at least and inch above the lids for 20 minutes.  Remove, cool, and check that all jars are sealed.  Enjoy any unsealed jars right away!  If freezing, pour the applesauce into freezer proof containers, or into heavy duty, gallon ziptop plastic bags.  Lie flat until frozen solid.
Chunky Applesauce Look at that texture! Mmm.

Banana Peach SmoothieFinally!  A recipe!  I have been busy in my kitchen, but canning and freezing, not cooking real food.  But after some last minute tweaking, this recipe is ready for you!

I know that a recipe for a smoothie can be a bit of an oxymoron; smoothies are generally a-throw whatever you have on hand in the blender-type of meal.  But while I do that a lot of the time, I like to have some consistency too.  It is not fun when you throw something together, absolutely fall in love with it, and then have no luck trying to recreate it later.  This happens to me more than I would like to admit.

“So Mom!  That awesome thing you made last week with the strawberries?  Remember that?”
“Of course I do!”
“Can we have that again?”
“Ummm…..soooo…..yeah.  Uh…”


“This is so great, Mom!  I love this recipe!  What’s in it?”
“Hmm.  About that…” as I look desperately at the items still scattered around the counter.

So when the kids and I tasted this creation and looked at each other with delight over the rims of our glasses, I made sure to write it down.  I have made it a few times to make sure we like the balance of flavors in it, and I have now been instructed by my four year old not to change ANYTHING!  I am a huge fan of putting fresh baby spinach in my smoothies since it adds a ridiculous amount of nutrition and is practically tasteless, but I left it out of this one on purpose.  We were in the mood for a change.  And this is certainly a refreshing one.

This makes a big batch.  It fills my blender the brim which is perfect for our whole family to share for breakfast alongside a healthy muffin, setting us all up for a long day.  But it doesn’t separate or set up, instead staying nice and creamy for hours, so I like to chill any leftovers and bring it along in a to-go cup for my daughter as an after school/pre-ballet class snack.  After a long day, an ice cold, fruity smoothie hits the spot and the boost of nutrients keep her energized until dinner.
Peach & Banana Sunrise SmoothieOne Year Ago: Apple Butter Bran Muffins
Two Years Ago: Baja Fish Tacos & Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Peach & Banana Sunrise Smoothie
Sometimes, even smoothies can be a bit heavy on my tummy in the morning.  Not so with this recipe.  It has a bit more liquid in it than usual, making it refreshing and super easy to slurp down!  Use organic ingredients here when you can.

1 bag (10 oz) of frozen peach slices
1 c plain non-fat yogurt -low fat vanilla is good too
1 c orange juice
1 c coconut milk-for smoothies, I like the stuff in the carton from the refrigerator section
1 banana, peeled (duh)
1 T ground flax
honey to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Taste for sweetness.

Coffee Swirl Coffee Cake

Coffee Swirl Coffee CakeI am so in love with this coffee cake.

Adding coffee to baked goods at breakfast is nothing new.  But this recipe is fun, unique, and totally feeds my coffee cake addiction.  I really love coffee cake of any kind.  My Mom used to make it all the time when I was a kid and even though she was partial to making them with cinnamon and streusel, I try not to discriminate.  All coffee cake deserves a fair shot at my table and this one is my new favorite.  I have already added it to my holiday recipe list, marked as a make-ahead addition to brunch menus when family is in town.  I can bake it up long before I need it and stash it, wrapped tightly, in the freezer. Just pull it out, defrost, and slice it up next to some baked eggs, fruit, and enormous mugs of spiced tea.

Mmm.  Ushering in Autumn in a very tasty way.
Coffee Swirl Coffee CakeOne Year Ago: Veggie Enchiladas
Two Years Ago: How T0:Make Vinaigrette & Roast Broccoli
Three Years Ago: Roast Pork W/Peach & Mustard Glaze, Simple Soup

Coffee Swirl Coffee Cake
Recipe adapted from Mad Hungry
This is a basic sour cream coffee cake with a swirl of delightfulness.  Its not overly sweet and my favorite way to eat it is with a slice in one hand and a steaming cup of tea in the other.

In a small bowl, combine:
2 T sugar
1 T instant coffee
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix thoroughly and set aside.

1 stick (8T) of softened butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add half the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Gently mix until almost incorporated.  Add the sour cream, then the last cup of flour.  Mix just until barely combined, stirring with a spatula at the end.  Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and add half the coffee cake batter.  Sprinkle the coffee/cocoa mixture evenly in the pan and pour the remaining batter over top.  Spread evenly and swirl layers together using a skewer or small knife.  Bake for 45-50 minutes  or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then gently turn out onto a cooking rack.  Enjoy warm, cool, or half frozen. 🙂

Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice MuffinsHere we are again!  More back to school recipes and ideas!

This recipe came about fast and furiously.  Much like the way zucchini grows.  It sneaks up on you unexpectedly and then BAM!  You have a garden full of green bats that could feed a whole vegetarian army.

I was in the mood for a super healthy, plain, spiced zucchini muffin and I didn’t feel like searching through all the recipes in my archives to find one and test it.  So I just started from scratch with a pen and paper.  The first batch was just blegh!  Into the trash it went.  The second batch was much better  and the the third and fourth were perfect.  Boom.  There.  I did it.  Problem solved.  Then I went to the computer and erased all my other zucchini muffin recipes.  Into the virtual trash you go, inferior and less-healthy zucchini muffin recipes!

Recipe development is extremely satisfactory for me.  My husband thinks I’m crazy but doesn’t complain because he gets to take all the UN-perfect batches of food to work.  Like…um…I don’t know, say…the first 10 batches of oatmeal raison cookies that didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to.  Batch number 11 is slated for tomorrow, but thats neither here nor there.  The point is, I love it.  I love it love it love it.  And even though the challenge is against no one by myself, it is one of the things I love most about being in the kitchen.

I of course tackled this recipe with a plan.  I wanted to use honey as the sweetener, use all whole wheat, no dairy, and make it super spiced.  So I did!  I had to tweak the sugar a bit at the beginning as the honey just didn’t have enough umph to hold its own against the spices.  I was however walking around using my best Schwarzenegger voice and repeating the phrase, “I am da zucchini shreddah!” whilst filling bowl after bowl of the veggie ribbons in preparation.  Because cooking should be fun, right?  Or at least filled with 90’s movie references….?  But they turned out great and more batches have already collected in my freezer.  The plan?  Snack on them, eat ’em for breakfast, throw them at my hubby when his blood sugar gets low, and tuck them into my daughters’ school lunches when she starts a new year in a few weeks.  She loves getting muffins in her lunch (pulled right from the freezer, they defrost by lunchtime) as they fill her up perfectly when paired with some fruit salad and low fat string cheese.  I always send her with water to drink since she is getting milk at afternoon break, dinner, and sometimes breakfast.
Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice MuffinsThe kids rolled their eyes to the heavens when I presented them with these this morning.  I took that as a good sign.  Or maybe they were just glad I was done shredding zucchini…

Here are some other great, bake ahead, healthy lunch recipes!

Earth Bread: There is a reason this is one of my most popular recipes.  Its darn good!  Baked as muffins, they are just as yummy to pull from the freezer as these zucchini ones.  Baked in loaf form, it is a great snack or addition to a lunchbox.  But two slices with cream cheese between them, and you have one stellar sandwich!  My daughter’s favorite!

Blueberry Maple Muffins: Healthy and a fruity change of pace!

Apple Carrot Muffins-Gluten Free: These delightful little nuggets are addictive to just about anyone!  Bake them up in a mini-muffin tin and add 3 or 4 pop-able bites to your brown bag!  They also make the ideal afternoon snack!

Homemade Granola Bars: One of these babies can easily sub out for a sandwich.  After you cut them up, wrap them individually in cellophane and throw them all in a gallon zip top freezer bag.  Just pull from the freezer and toss in your lunch box!

Pumpkin Pie Muffins: These are easily up there in the #1 or #2 spot as the most favorite muffin in our house.  They are simply awesome.  Yes they might remind you of fall.  But make them anytime of year and after one bite, you won’t care.

Oatmeal Raisin Snack Bars: Despite the title of the recipe, they are great as the main attraction in a school lunch.  So healthy and soooo good.

Banana Bran Muffins: I have no words.  These are just so good.  A freezer with a bag or two of these inside makes for a happy household!

Also, if you follow Brittany’s Pantry on Facebook, you heard about the Muffin Caper in our house.  This all happened while I was trying to photograph this recipe!
Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice Muffins Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice Muffins Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice Muffins Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice MuffinsCutest thief ever if you ask me!

One Year Ago: Summer Salmon
Two Years Ago: Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Baked Pasta W/Summer Veggies
Three Years Ago: The BEST Margaritas, June Bugs, Herbal Iced Tea, BBQ Pulled Pork

Whole Wheat Zucchini Spice Muffins

In a large bowl, combine:
1/3 c canola oil
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar or raw sugar
2 eggs
2 c shredded zucchini, lightly packed
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Mix till thoroughly combined.  Fold in:
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder

Gently fold dry ingredients until just combined.  Don’t over mix!  Portion into 1 dozen paper lined, or sprayed muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes, or until lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool slightly and enjoy. If freezing, cool completely before sealing.

Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter Hi everyone!

I know I have been kind of missing the last week or so and I have a good excuse.  Its summer!  I have been immersed in home improvement projects, little red wagon walks around the neighborhood, bike rides, picnics, and appointments!  I am also in the middle of trying to perfect an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe (that still is not ready after 9 batches-argg!) so that has been keeping me in the kitchen but away from my computer and all of you!

That said, I have been making big plans and am excited to share!  Today marks the first day of my Back To School Series!  I have been compiling lists, recipes, ideas, and tips to help make lunches, snacks, and weeknight dinners a bit easier, more streamlined, and less monotonous!  The series will continue through August and September as we all get back into the swing of things and nail down a new routine for a new school year.  Not everything posted here in the next few months will be geared toward kids, but the great thing is that even if you are single, married without children, or empty nesters, its nice to have some fresh ideas for healthy snacks, brown bag lunches at the office, and even pre/post workout food!
HoneyIn addition to what is hopefully  useful ideas for you, starting today, I will be featuring one of my favorite ingredients throughout the month: HONEY!  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I luuuuv to cook and bake with it!  My local supplier has been harvesting and I am celebrating with a wealth of new recipes all highlighting the golden sweet stuff.  Which brings me to my next announcement-another GIVEAWAY!  My third and final giveaway of the summer will be a box of raw honey shipped straight to one lucky winner!  More details on that later so keep checking back so you don’t miss it!  Be sure to follow Brittany’s Pantry on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and subscribe via email so you are sure to get all my updates and witty prose!

And now, on to the eats!
Honey Cinnamon Peanut ButterWe love peanut butter at our house.  As in, we go through an obscene amount of it every month.  We never get sick of pb&j and it makes its way into my baking and cooking on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, we don’t have access to good natural peanut butter here-which we far prefer-but we make do with our favorite brand.  We are a JIF family all the way, baby!  But as much as I like peanut butter, I dislike repetition.  I get bored with food quite often and even though the chitlins and the hubs don’t complain, I like to shake things up.

Can I confess something to you?  Every time I watch the movie Matilda and I see her make a sandwich with that Smuckers Goober Grape, I wonder why I don’t do the same thing.  I mean, what a genius time saver!  So here is my version, sans the retro look and just a bit more versatile.

These two recipes are kicking off the Back To School series because they are, well, peanut butter!  Can you get more traditional than that?  Feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below!  Here are some snack and lunch ideas to get you started:

– use either spread to make a sandwich but use banana bread instead

– dip apple or pear slices in it

– we LOVE them smeared on a warm multi-grain bagel

– make a chocolate peanut butter and cream cheese sandwich with raisin bread

– spread it on a graham cracker with some marshmallow fluff and make an extra special fluffernutter snack

– spread it on a rice cake

– top sliced bananas

– use it as a dip and pack it with graham crackers, pretzel sticks, or mini vanilla wafers
Honey Cinnamon Peanut ButterHoney Cinnamon Peanut Butter Honey Cinnamon Peanut ButterOne Year Ago: Ranch Dressing, Saucepan Brownies
Two Years Ago: Smashed Potatoes W/Spinach, Cherry Hand Pies, Grilled Yogurt Chicken
Three Years Ago: Earth Bread, Banana Bran Muffins

Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter
This will keep tightly covered in the fridge for weeks.  Although I doubt it will last that long!

1 c creamy peanut butter
3 T honey
1 1/2-2 tsp cinnamon

Whisk all ingredients together.

Peanut Butter W/Honey & Cocoa
I wanted this to taste like peanut butter with chocolate in it, not chocolate with a bit of peanut butter.  This has just a hint of chocolate without being too sweet.

1 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c honey
1 T cocoa powder
a splash of hot water

Whisk all ingredients together.  Add the splash of hot water if needed, as the cocoa can make it a bit dry.

Oatmeal & Brown Sugar Scones

Oatmeal & Brown Sugar Scones It is no secret that I like anything made with oatmeal. I try and work it into just about everything I make.  I use it as a binder in my meatloaf, bake it into my breakfast, cookies, muffins, and I have been experimenting with putting it in my drinks and smoothies. Naturally, it would migrate to my scones.

I have been making oatmeal scones for awhile now, but none of them were really all that fantastic.  I found this recipe from Gourmet a few months ago, stashed away in a folder after I had torn it from a magazine a gazillion years ago.  Who am I to argue with culinary geniuses?  Of course they were amazing.  Hearty, yet light.  Nice and flavorful with none of the bland heaviness of some.  These scones are just really…oatmealy.  One bite of these actually make you feel warm and comforted.  I’ve made them an embarrassing number of times lately, to…you know, make sure the recipe is perfect for all of you.  Originally, the recipe called for cutting them into little tiny triangles and even though I sometimes have great difficulty taking orders, I did it the way they recommended.  I liked them so much, I have been making all my scones that way lately.  Cute little mini scones that are perfect for snacking.  I mean, brunch. Perfect for brunch.
Oatmeal & Brown Sugar Scones Oatmeal & Brown Sugar Scones One Year Ago: Strawberry Lemonade
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies & Pan Fried Tilapia

Oatmeal & Brown Sugar Scones
Recipe adapted from Gourmet

1 2/3 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/3 c rolled oats-not quick cooking
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into cubes
2/3 c buttermilk

Pulse the dry ingredients exactly 15 times. 🙂  This gives you the perfect grind on the oates.  Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.  Pour the whole she-bang into a large bowl and add the buttermilk.  Stir the dough with a fork until it just starts to come together.  Dump it out onto a clean, floured counter and bring the mass together with your hands, kneading gently a few times to finish mixing-but don’t go crazy!  Pat the dough into a rough square, about an inch thick.  Cut the dough into 9 squares, and then cut the squares in half to make 18 small triangles.  Carefully transfer the scones to a parchment lined sheet pan and if desired, brush with additional buttermilk and sprinkle with extra brown sugar and oats.  Bake the scones at 425 degrees for 14-16 minutes, or until golden brown.


A few weeks ago, I confessed my love of quinoa.  When I recently came cross a recipe that called for cooked quinoa in granola, I nearly fell off my chair.  I thought it was brilliant, and before I had even made any I was sold.  Granola is a protein, nutrient rich food anyway (check out our favorite basic recipe here!), but add a grain like quinoa to it and it becomes a full on powerhouse of a snack!  Pair that with vitamin and antioxidant rich berries, low fat, organic yogurt for an extra boost of calcium, and you have yourself a nutrient dense breakfast or lunch that will give you energy for your day or boost your recovery after a workout.  Truly powerful.


This recipe begs to be stirred into something.  This is not your, snack-out-of-the-bag type of granola that is all clumpy.  Um, no.  That would be crumby.

Get it?  Crumby?  Heh heh…

Nope, this is a crunchy and dry, sprinkle over yogurt or eat out of the bowl with berries, type of granola.  I like to leave this plain.   As in, I don’t add any kind of dried fruit or chocolate chips to it.  I want it straight up so that I can do with it whatever my mood calls for.  Obviously, you can add whatever you feel like and because it is granola after all, mix-ins are allowed and encouraged.  The picture above is how I like to serve it to my kids.  The plain glass, footed dishes are fun and they feel like they are eating something extra special.  Being able to see the layers just makes mealtime that much more exciting!  And if they eat it with chunks of ripe peach or apricot, fresh blueberries, or even bananas on the bottom, the rainbow just looks cool.  And whether you are a parent, kid, or a kid at heart, it is kinda nice to have your meal look cool.  Dontcha think?

And there isn’t anything crumby about that!


One Year Ago: Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
Two Years Ago: Grilled Pork ChopsStrawberry Ice Cream & Sweet Veggie Pasta Salad

Quinoa Granola
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
This granola is great sprinkled over frozen yogurt.  For breakfast, if yogurt isn’t your style, pour milk over it and eat it like cereal!

2 1/2 c rolled oats
1 c cooked quinoa (I freeze one cup portions of my leftovers)
1 c sliced almonds
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 stick of butter (4 T)
1/2 c honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.  Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the honey and vanilla.  Pour the warm mixture over the oat mixture and mix until evenly moist and well incorporated.  Spread out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes.  Stir well, and bake for 10 minutes more.  Continue to bake, checking every few minutes, until dry and crunchy.  The amount of time will vary based on the moisture in your quinoa and your particular oven. For me, it takes about a half hour total.  Remember, the granola will crisp up a bit as it cools.  When its done, let it cool completely on the sheet pan before storing in an airtight container.  The granola freezes great!

Layer with fruit and yogurt for a healthy parfait.  Enjoy!

I don’t know much in the way of sports jargon, but I will do my best.

These muffins came out of left field!  They gave me the one two punch!  They are a perfect 10!  Touchdown!  If I had to give this recipe a score, it would be Love:Love.

I can almost hear my husband roll his eyes right now.

Ok, so maybe all those didn’t make sense (I especially like the last one…:) but you get the idea.  I am always looking for recipes or ideas that are different from what I already do.  If they are healthy it is even better.  As it is the ingredient list is full of fiber, whole grains, natural sugars, and healthy fats.  The fact that they are spectacularly scrumptious just makes it even better.  These have become the current favorite in our house and I am afraid to admit just how many I have eaten or how many I have stashed in the freezer to eat later.  They are a great make-ahead breakfast muffin and all three of my munchkins devour them with fruit and yogurt or alone as a snack.  My oldest has been taking them in place of a sandwich at lunch.  Add a smoothie (this one or this one) and she is good to go!

When you read through the recipe you will notice there isn’t any added sugar; just the maple syrup.  Don’t worry.  You won’t miss anything.  With the fruit and orange zest, they are perfect.  And while we are on the subject of syrup, please please please make sure what you are buying is actual pure maple syrup and not maple flavored syrup.  One is the reduced sap of a maple tree, and the other is brown rice syrup or corn syrup with artificial maple flavor added.  These are different things, my friend!  And if you are one of those people who shrug and say ‘Ach!  Whats the difference?’ and buy the fake stuff anyway, then I don’t want to hear about it.  You are dead to me. *dramatic sigh*

You will also note that the orange zest in these muffins is listed as ‘optional’.  I have made this recipe several times, both with and without the orange zest.  So here is the unanimous take on it: make it with the zest.  If you don’t have oranges and it is the only thing stopping you from whipping these up, then by all means, leave it out.  If it is just a questions of effort, do yourself a favor and don’t skip it.  It lifts these muffins up from really good, all the way to spectacular.  The difference is shocking and since I am an honest gal and a good Christian woman and I would never lie to you, then you can trust me on this one.  I don’t joke around when it comes to orange zest.  Believe you me.

I would close with more sporty type phrases but I am tapped out.  It is nights like this that I wonder if I should even be allowed to blog when its late and I am tired.  I can’t be held accountable for what I write here.
Two Years Ago: Homemade Ketchup

Blueberry Maple Muffins
Adapted from Eating Well

In a large bowl, combine:
1/4 c ground flax
1 c white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Whisk together.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, add:
1/4 c canola or grape seed oil
1 c low fat buttermilk
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
zest of 1 orange, optional

Whisk until smooth and fold into the dry ingredients just until combined!  Do not over mix or they will be tough!  Gently fold in:

1 1/4 c fresh or frozen blueberries

Divide evenly among exactly 12 muffins cups that have been sprayed or are lined with paper liners.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two.

Blueberry SmoothieThis smoothie is what I have been making lately so naturally, I want to share it with you!  It gets frozen in these little thingamabobs and then added to my daughters lunch.  My boys-especially my almost 1 year old-suck down whatever can’t be frozen, and I just end up trying to steal little tastes between their bites.

As much as I support the ‘lets throw everything we have in the fridge in the blender’ type of mentality when it comes to smoothies, I rarely do that.  I like to have a plan.  While I have never met a smoothie combination that I didn’t like, when I make them myself, I want to have things that go together.  That is why there is no pineapple in this one.  I like my pineapple in this smoothie and the flavor is so great, I don’t want to mess with it.  So when I created this one to help use up some fresh spinach I had, I wanted the flavors to go together, not just be thrown together.  As it turns out, a simple ingredient list proved that less is more.  You don’t need a million different kind of fruits to make it.  Just a few.  The best part?  The flavor is unusually plain.  It doesn’t scream any one flavor so those of you who are raising your eyebrows about spinach in your smoothie can just simmer down!  You can’t taste it specifically, but it makes the whole thing kind of mellow.
Blueberry SmoothieSee??  So pretty.  Ready for a whiz.

And the title of the recipe?  Smokey smoothie?  Well, I kept calling it that for lack of a better name and it stuck.  The color is kind of dusky and it looks a bit mysterious.  Don’t we all want a little adventure in the morning?

One Year Ago: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Strawberry-Orange-Pineapple Smoothie
Two Years Ago: Two Kinds of Cranberry Sauce

Smokey Smoothie

1 c fresh or frozen blueberries
2 bananas, frozen if you like
2 huge handfuls of fresh spinach
1 c vanilla yogurt, preferably low fat and organic
2 T ground flax
water, milk, almond milk, or soy milk, as needed to blend

Put all ingredients in a blender and whiz away!  This smoothie doesn’t separate so you can make it in advance and stick it in the fridge.  Just give it a stir before enjoying!