Apple Spice Oatmeal

Happy First Day of Fall!  The light is softer and there has been a slight chill in the air these past few mornings.  I absolutely adore this time of year - sweater weather, long hikes, back to school, and apple picking.  

I have to say though, by the time I actually get around to the thought of apple picking, it's usually too late.  I think of it as more an October adventure, but alas, by then it's time for pumpkins and the apple trees have long dropped their fruit. This year, I was determined to make it to an orchard during peak season, so last weekend Ravi and I made an afternoon trip to Shelton, CT with wine tasting at Jones Family Farms followed by a stop at Beardsley's Cider Mill and Orchard. It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and both the winery and and orchard were packed!  Clearly we weren't the only ones with this idea. We left the orchard with two large bags of mixed apples (Macintosh, Gala, and Empire), a jar of apple sauce, and a hot fresh apple cider donut - you know, when in Rome.  

Beardsley Orchard September 2016

We've been eating most of the apples as is - taking them to work as a snack. But this morning, I craved a warm and comforting breakfast to celebrate the changing of the season.  I wanted something really apple-y, so I opted for a combination of both sautéed apples and apple sauce.  The result was a perfect homage to the start of fall. 

Apple Spice Oatmeal

Serves 1

For the sautéed apples:

1/2 tsp. coconut oil
1 small apple, thinly sliced (I used Gala)
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
pink of salt

Heat a small saucepan to medium.  Add coconut oil, apple slices, maple syrup, spices, and salt.  Stir to combine, but being careful not to break up the slices. Cook for 5 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Turn heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer another 5-8 minutes until the apples are just tender.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

For the oatmeal:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup liquid (I used 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tbs. golden raisins (optional, but I like the texture contrast)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch allspice (use very little, as it can overwhelm the dish quickly)
pinch of salt

In the same saucepan used for the apples, add oats, liquid of choice, applesauce, raisins, spices, vanilla, and salt.  Turn heat to medium and cook until the mixture just comes to a bubble.  Stirring often, turn heat to low and simmer 8-10 minutes until most of the liquid as been absorbed and the oats are creamy.

Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, top with sautéed apple slices and other desired toppings as mentioned below.  Enjoy immediately!

Optional Toppings:
1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
1 Tbs. walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
1 Tbs. almond butter
Dollop of yogurt