I’m back with some beautiful, orchard-fresh Ambrosia apples, a new recipe and a grateful, renewed mindset! Happy belated Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers, I hope you all enjoyed a weekend full of family, friends, delicious food and a few good drinks. It’s been a week since my last post because I decided to take this weekend off from blogging. It was a combination of events that led me to decide another unplugged weekend was exactly what I needed (nothing serious, but I definitely needed the time away!). I’ll get more into that later in this post — but for now, let’s get to chatting about this recipe!
My Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats with Candied Maple Pecans is inspired by comfort food, holiday flavours and warming, autumnal spices. They’re a simple, delicious way to celebrate fall’s freshly harvested apples and they can be on your table in less than 45 minutes. Who says you can’t indulge an apple pie craving to start your day? This powerhouse breakfast bowl is free of dairy, gluten and refined sugar — and busting with natural sweetness, spices and wholesome nutrition. And yes, it really does taste just like apple pie! Throw on your coziest sweater and let’s make an apple pie inspired dish that you can eat for breakfast — all week long!
APPLE PIE STEEL CUT OATS WITH CANDIED MAPLE PECANS
Before we get to the recipe…
Originally we were set to shoot new style content for JustineCelina on Friday — but Mother Nature had other plans. I was greeted on Friday morning with our first Calgary snowfall (or snowstorm, more accurately). So I decided to make the most of the snowy day and recipe test. When life throws you a snowstorm on October 7th, it seems like a good time to stay in and make steel cut oats, right? Unfortunately, my second attempt at this recipe didn’t go as planned — or at least, I wasn’t happy with it.
The first time I made this recipe about a month ago, randomly throwing things in a pot as I do, it came out amazingly. The reason this recipe idea came to me in the first place is because I was craving steel cut oats and we had a bunch of apples that were getting old. The less-than-crisp apples completely broke down during cooking, infusing the steel cut oat mixture with an amazing, apple-laden sweetness. They tasted just like apple pie — I knew I had to turn them into a blog post!
Since I’m a very experimental cook, I don’t keep track of exact measurements when I’m going about my everyday life. After all, it’s a ton of extra work to write everything down that I simply don’t have time for. I don’t know which experiments will turn out to be hits that I’ll then want to tweak, test and eventually share with you once I’ve undergone my process of ensuring they’re ‘blogworthy’. So, later Friday morning I attempted to recreate the recipe.
If you were following along with my Instagram Stories on Friday last week, you’ll know that I wasn’t satisfied with the way the second attempt came out. I used Granny Smith apples (because that’s what we had) and thought I added too much cinnamon. The apples didn’t completely break down and I just wasn’t happy with the end result. It wasn’t blogworthy — I wouldn’t be able to shoot it and get the recipe out before the long weekend. My plan B fell through and to be honest, I was exhausted.
The combination of those events (plus hitting a few snags with some other projects I’ve been working hard on behind the scenes) left me feeling like a hamster on a wheel. Some days I just feel like I’m just running in place, grinding it out and trying my best to make things happen — and it simply gets me nowhere. It’s beyond frustrating. There aren’t many days like that, but I’ve definitely had a few during my 9 years as an entrepreneur. Friday was one of them. However, I’m not one to feel sorry for myself — so I quickly moved on, decided to reschedule my weekend content and not publish a post. I packed up for a Thanksgiving weekend away with family — I didn’t pack my laptop, iPad or camera and shut my social notifications off. I poured myself a glass of wine and curled up in-front of the fireplace. A weekend off was just what I needed — and sometimes I do think everything happens for a reason.
We enjoyed my second attempt at this recipe for breakfast on Saturday morning with some french pressed coffee before heading out of town. I didn’t say a single thing about the oats — other than yes, we could eat them (do any other bloggers’ significant others ask what they can and can’t eat every time they open the fridge?). Adam devoured them! He said they were better than the original, that he liked the apple pieces and that it tasted just like apple pie (I had the name in mind even before he said that, but that validated it for me). I was floored. So I tried them for myself, with a less frazzled mindset and you know what? They really were delicious.
So what was my issue with them the day prior? Honestly, I have no idea — sometimes I can be pretty ridiculous. I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a major perfectionist and sometimes I set the bar too high. I had expected the apples to completely break down, like they did the first time. Since they didn’t, I immediately decided the recipe wasn’t good enough to use. I planned to tweak the oats until I could recreate the recipe I fell in love with the first time. But why? This variation was just as good (if not better) than the first.
We headed east for the weekend. I didn’t think about blogging or work, or rush to get a post out, I just enjoyed time with family and friends. We are so lucky to have amazing, supportive families and friends, and that’s something I’m very thankful for. With our busy schedules this past couple of years, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like. Sacrificing family time to get a blog post out ‘on schedule’ simply was not on my priority list this weekend and I was reminded of what truly is important to me at this point in my life.
Waiting for me at my childhood home was our annual case of gorgeous Ambrosia apples, transported back from an Okanagan orchard by a family member who visits every autumn. I’d been awaiting their arrival for a few weeks in hopes of using them in this recipe — and sure enough they decided to make an appearance on the weekend that I decided to relax and go with the flow. Funny how life works, isn’t it?
I returned to work and blogging this week with a refreshed mindset. I tried the recipe a third time with our orchard fresh-Ambrosia apples and it came out beautifully. The Ambrosia apples didn’t break down either and I actually like it better that way — it is more apple pie like! I thought I’d share this story with you as a reminder to relax, go with the flow and not to be so hard on yourselves, because I know so many of you can probably relate.
So anyway, back to this recipe!
Steel cut oats are my go-to when I’m craving a hearty, nourishing, warm breakfast during cooler months (I also have a Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oat recipe that uses homemade pumpkin puree, if you’re interested!). They’re naturally rich in iron and fibre — and just generally amazing for you. The longer cooking time deters some people from making them, but personally I don’t mind it. I make a large batch so I can eat them for breakfast for the week (this recipe serves 4 – 6) and that totally justifies the extra time for me.
Having gone through some extensive testing with this recipe, I can tell you that you can use your favourite apple variety, but you may have to adjust the maple syrup accordingly. When I used Granny Smith apples I liked the tartness that they infused into the recipe, but found that I needed 1/2 cup of maple syrup rather than the 1/3 cup I used when I tried it with more naturally sweet Ambrosia apples. The good news is that any apple is packed full of fibre and vitamin C — and there are 4 whole apples in this recipe! Their flavour is enhanced by a medley of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ground ginger which are all powerful spices with antioxidant and healing properties. Oh, and did I mention my Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats make your home smell amazing while they’re bubbling away?
Now, the Candied Maple Pecans are optional, but absolutely encouraged! They come together in about 2 minutes are the perfect garnish to this dish. They also make a fantastic addition to holiday parties or simply to set out our your kitchen counter top for snacking. They’re crunchy, sweet, spicy and salty — and delicious enjoyed either on their own or as a garnish on a variety of dishes (they’re also great on salads!). In fact, I’m snacking on some right now as I edit this post!
Styling, props, photography and colour palette inspiration
If you’re curious about my photo setup for this recipe, I actually broke it down in detail in my Instagram Stories earlier today when I shot this recipe (follow along with a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creative work!). I get a lot of questions about how I style photos, where I source props and how I combine everything — so I thought I’d start sharing that type of content over there.
Here’s the gist: the wooden backdrop itself is a foraged piece of bard board we found near my childhood home in rural Alberta this summer. Believe it or not, the burlap is actually an old potato sack I found nearby as well! The bowls are from the (extremely expensive) Artisinal Dinnerware collection from Chapters Indigo — I purchase a couple of pieces everytime I need something for a shoot so one day I’ll eventually have a full set! The spoons are from IKEA, and I spray painted them copper. You can’t eat with them, but they do make beautiful props (yes, one day I will break down and purchase real copper flatware — but I’m picky and haven’t found a set that I’m totally in love with yet!). The galvanized steel tray that houses the apples is a score from my friend Kelsey (but I believe she originally purchased it at HomeSense). The marble bowl is from Chapters Indigo as well and the little flowers are foraged from right outside my building — I like to think I rescued them from the snow!
Does this colour palette look familiar? If it does, it’s because I styled this post with the Fall 2016 Pantone Fashion Trend Report in mind — which I originally mentioned in my September Beauty Favourites. I’ve been feeling so inspired by that palette lately have been referencing it to plan shoots, design and styling work, and also to theme my content across categories here at JustineCelina for Q4.
These images are also an attempt at darker, moodier photography. How did I do? I love the effect of the creams against the darker wood and texture of the burlap. It seems that no matter what I do though, my images always seem to come out light, bright and colourful! Experimentation is always interesting and more dramatic photography is something I’m going to be playing with across categories at JustineCelina this autumn and winter. Now, let’s make some killer steel cut oats!
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
APPLE PIE STEEL CUT OATS
• 4 apples (I prefer Ambrosia or Granny Smith)
• 1 cup gluten free steel cut oats
• 3 cups water
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp cloves
• 1/2 tsp nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp ground ginger
• 1/8 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
• 1/3 – 1/2 cup pure Canadian maple syrup
Note: Adjust the maple syrup to your preference and the type of apple used. You’ll need more with tart varieties like Granny Smith and less with naturally sweet varieties like Ambrosia.
CANDIED MAPLE PECANS
• 1/2 cup pecan halves
• 1 tbsp pure Canadian maple syrup
• 1/8 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
• Pinch of cayenne powder (optional, but encouraged!)
1. Add water and steel cut oats to a medium saucepan. Begin cooking over a burner set to medium heat.
2. Peel and dice 4 apples. Add to saucepan along with spices and salt.
3. Cook Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Once cooked, the mixture will become sticky.
4. In the meantime, add pecans, maple syrup, salt and cayenne powder to a small pan over medium heat.
5. Stir and turn nuts constantly for 2 minutes, or until maple syrup begins to caramelize.
6. Remove nuts from heat, break apart and transfer to a cooling rack.
7. Plate Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats in a bowl with your choice of nut milk or coconut cream. Top with Candied Maple Walnuts to garnish, along with any spices, additional natural sweetener, or toppings you desire.
8. Serve warm and enjoy!
MORE HEALTHY, SEASONAL BREAKFAST IDEAS
MORE CHATS ABOUT LIFE, WELLNESS, BALANCE & CREATIVITY
Canadians, what did you get up to for Thanksgiving this year? If you have any Thanksgiving recipe recommendations or ingredient combinations you tried this year I’d love to hear all about them! And if you try my Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats with Candied Maple Pecans please report back. I love it when you make my recipes and send feedback or photos! You can tag me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, or use the hashtag #justinecelinarecipes in your recreations so I can find them. I also have a board on Pinterest for my recipes, if you’re looking for some more inspiration.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored, and contains my genuine thoughts, ideas and recommendations. JustineCelina uses affiliate and referral links, which allow me to receive a small commission when you make a purchase through one of my links. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that support JustineCelina.com!