Autumn is here. When Fall arrives, apples, pumpkins and other squash are on the mind and in the kitchen. Throughout America, families go apple picking; busy professionals relish their pumpkin lattes on the way to work; Pinterest is a flood of pumpkin and apple pies, cookies, cakes, waffles and pancakes. The leaves on trees will soon turn beautiful, bright hues of red and orange. On the same note, we will all enjoy the colors of the season via cups, plates and bowls.
Pumpkin-Apple French Toast Bake is an nutritious, easy and seasonal dish. It is assembled the night before (or the morning of, if one is short on time) for a fabulous Fall brunch. An hour in an oven, followed by warm maple syrup and a pat (or three) of butter later, yields a perfect morning treat.
And, if there was ever any question, the recipe is whole-heartedly family approved. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the kiddos and Dr. Greg (a.k.a. Farmer Greg – he did grow the pumpkins in the Pumpkin-Apple French Toast Bake, after all!) rose early to Fall redolence that permeated the house. The family was coaxed into the kitchen by the wafting of warm spices and roasting apples, along with the ethereal goodness only cooking French toast on a weekend morning can provide.
Slow-Cooker Vegetable Curry is a hearty stew quickly assembled in the morning. When evening comes, a warm bowl of healthy, heart-warming comfort food is completely prepared. Simply top the steaming bowl with fresh herbs and cool, creamy yogurt. Now: enjoy a night free of cooking. Snuggle up with a good book, open a window and take in the crisp air of the Autumn night.
Above, the components of slow-cooker Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Curry are brought together and ready to simmer throughout the day.
Above, the Assembly of the Pumpkin-Apple French Toast Bake.
Pumpkin-Apple French Toast Bake
Assemble the night before and it’s ready to bake in the morning
3 medium, tart apples, such as fuji, diced
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp. Greek or regular plain yogurt
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each: nutmeg and allspice (or, substitute cloves for allspice)
¼ cup brown sugar*
Pinch of fine salt, about ¼ tsp
Optional: ½ cup of dried cranberries or raisins
Optional: ½ cup roasted walnuts or pecans, chopped
Cooking spray, butter, or canola oil (to grease pan)
1.) Preheat oven to 375°F or 190°C. Spray a medium (2 to 3 quart) rectangular glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Alternatively, grease the dish lightly with butter or canola oil using a paper towel. Combine the bread and apples in a medium bowl. Stir to evenly distribute the apples and bread. If using the optional dried fruit or nuts, stir them into the apple and bread mixture.
2.) In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, almond milk, yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice (or cloves), sugar* and salt.
3.) Pour the apple and bread mixture into the wet ingredients in the large bowl and stir just until combined. Pour the contents of the large bowl into the prepared baking dish. Press the top of the mixture with a spoon, ensuring that the bread is completely covered by the liquid and the batter is uniform.
4.) Bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the dish comes out clean.
*Low sugar option: Substitute two tablespoons brown sugar and six packets Stevia, such as Truvia, in place of the ¼ cup brown sugar
Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Curry (Gluten-Free)
A hearty, hot meal for a chilly day
3 large yellow summer squash, diced
3 large zucchini, diced
1 large orange pepper, diced
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup stems of cilantro or parsley, chopped
8 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary or thyme, finely minced
1 28-ounce can organic diced tomatoes (low-sodium)
2 cans organic garbanzo beans, no salt-added, drained and rinsed
1 cup small green lentils (raw)
4 to 5 cups free-range, organic vegetable stock* (enough to almost cover vegetable curry)
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp each: curry powder and turmeric
1 tsp each: coriander, cumin, fennel and Baharat (Middle Eastern Spice Blend)*
2 tsp each, salt and pepper, plus more, to taste
For Garnish: fresh parsley or cilantro, Greek Yogurt or Sheep Feta Cheese
1.) Combine all ingredients, except for garnishes, in a large slow-cooker and stir well. Use enough chicken stock to almost cover curry mixture, about four cups. Cook on low for eight to ten hours.
2.) Ladle spoonfuls of vegetable curry into bowls and top with herbs and Greek yogurt or sheep feta. This dish was served on a relaxing Friday night with a medium body white wine (Sancere) and a favorite bread, honey challah.
*If you are not vegetarian, feel free to substitute free-range chicken stock
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