Not a pumpkin fan? Enjoy apples instead

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Happy Halloween! For those of you on “team pumpkin,” it is an exciting time of year. Pumpkin flavored everything is just about everywhere. However, this is not exciting to me. You may remember that I dislike pumpkin. I side on another fall favorite and consider myself part of “team apple.” This week, I feature a recipe for a breakfast item, containing apples that is close to my heart.
I add apples to many items at this time of year. The fruit is very versatile and is not just for pies and sauce anymore. They lend themselves well to pork roasts, salads and appetizers too. Cooked or raw, apples make the average dish so much more festive and part of the autumn season.
I have only recently started adding apples to something, which in a way, should have been quite obvious. As a child, I looked forward to breakfast when my mom would treat me to a package of oatmeal; my favorite being the apples and cinnamon.
As an adult, I started to yearn for the memory-inducing breakfast, especially with the colder mornings. The packaged oatmeal of my youth also needed a healthier update. Instead of using instant oatmeal, I opted for old-fashioned oats. They need to be cooked longer, but it is a good trade off for the whole grains. I add enough salt and sugar to balance the flavor, but not too much. The salt and sugar can be adjusted to your own personal taste. I use milk in addition to water, which adds a little creaminess. I like a looser consistency to my oatmeal and the amount of liquid in the recipe may be reduced by 1/3 cup if you like it thicker. Of course, fresh apples replace the dried ones in the packaged version. I prefer using a tart and a sweet apple, which add a different dimension of flavor to the finished product.
Since this oatmeal takes more time than the instant, it can be made ahead and warmed in the microwave for about 90 seconds. I like to double the batch and eat it during the week.
For many, the Apples & Cinnamon Oatmeal is fine on it own. Others may like to add a topping, which is mentioned as optional ingredients in the recipe. It is fun to mix and match your favorites and customize your own oatmeal. When I make the oatmeal, my grandmother adds a little half and half and sugar. I liked the addition of butter with a little drizzle of maple syrup.
Apples & Cinnamon Oatmeal
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 apples, cored, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Dash of salt
1 cup old fashioned or five minute oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Optional: Half & Half, cream, cinnamon sugar, maple syrup and butter
Step 1: Add the butter to a two-quart pot over medium heat and melt. Add the apples to the melted butter and briefly sauté for three minutes. Add the water, milk, brown sugar and salt to the apples and stir. Bring the mixture up to a simmer.
Step 2: Stir in the oats, followed by the ground cinnamon and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with a topping or any additional options if you choose.

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