Stuffed Baked Pears | With Oats, Figs and Honey

I have the most insatiable sweet tooth known to man. I’ve made this lofty claim previously but in the wake of Easter – which essentially amounted to an all out candy-eating gorge fest in my household – it bears repeating. Yes, it’s around the holidays that my tendency to overindulge in sugar really rears its insulin-spiking head. You might recall that huge Christmas cake of ill repute, the one I managed to polish off all by my lonesome, over the course of a few weeks, piece after piece stealthily snatched from the freezer. Well Easter witnessed similar petty crimes, except in this case my victims were a sickening number of chocolate bunnies and eggs.
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Really I have no problem munching on sweet treats over the holidays – it’s fun to be festive and depriving myself of food I enjoy puts me in a dark mood. The issue is that these holiday overindulgences tend to set me off on a rather unhealthy pattern of sugar consumption. Suddenly eating candy after dinner EVERY NIGHT doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea. An apple fritter with that Tim Horton’s coffee? Sure, why not? Pancakes for breakfast on a Wednesday? Oh hell ya! Before I know I’m back on the sugar wheel, consuming way too many sugary confections and always wanting more. Madness!
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So once again, I find myself having to do a self-intervention before I snack my way too far into diabetes territory. That being said, I’m not inclined to completely renounce my dessert habit – gotta keep a little junk in the trunk, right ladies? As such I’ve been searching for recipes that would provide a happy medium – that is, appease my sweet tooth without making feel like I’m ‘on a diet’ and eating like an ascetic monk. A tall order? Perhaps, but I knew that someone out there in the WordPress blogosphere or beyond must possess the answer to this culinary ruse!
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Sure enough, the universe answered my call. A couple of weeks ago I came across this recipe for baked apples on Nicole’s Cauldrons and Cupcakes blog. This is precisely the type of recipe I was after. It contains some seriously healthy ingredients – fruit, walnuts and dates – yet with some sort of sleight of hand tricks you into thinking you’re eating something quite sinful when really the opposite is true. Inspired by Nicole, and eyeing some nice ripe pears on my counter, I set about creating my own baked fruit dessert (or in my case, lunch; it was around noon when I made this). This is what I came up with, which essentially amounts to an inside out pear crumble. Old fashioned oats, dried figs, a dab of honey , pie spices and a little butter are combined, stuffed into a hollowed out pear and baked until fall-apart soft. Simply delicious. I think these baked pears have set me on the path toward better glycemic health – just do me a favour and call security if you see me approaching the ‘danger zone’ (AKA the bulk candy aisle) at the grocery store 🙂
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Recipe: Stuffed Baked Pears | With Oats, Figs and Honey
Makes 4 baked pears
Ingredients:
  • 4 ripe (but not mushy) pears – I used Bartletts
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (use gluten free oats if you have a gluten sensitivity)
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried figs
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or agave or maple syrup) + a little more to serve
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or less if using table salt)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Remove top 1/5th of each pear and set aside – these will be the ‘lids’ for your baked pears.

3. Using a small spoon or apple corer, scoop core from each pear, making sure not to cut through bottom of pear.

4. Place pears in an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and set aside.

5. In a small bowl stir together oats, figs, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

6. Add butter (or vegan butter) and honey (or agave or maple syrup) and mix well until everything is combined.

7. Press oat mixture firmly into pears and top with pear tops.

8. Fill bottom of pan with 1/2 cup of water.

9. Place pan in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until oat mixture is warm and soft.

10. Remove from oven and serve, topping each pear with a drizzle of honey (or agave or maple syrup). Optional: Pair with a scoop or two of ice cream or vegan ice cream.

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Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Spiced Pear Compote

Living as we do in a gated trailer park – populated almost exclusively by people over the age of 65 – I’m not expecting any trick-or-treaters to come knocking at the door of the RV this evening. Be that as it may, I’m not letting Hunter’s first Halloween pass without doing at least a few festive things. While we won’t be taking him out trick-or-treating (the weather is atrocious, he’s only 11 months old and realistically, Mike and I would just end up eating all the candy), I did put together this awesome FUBAR-inspired costume for him (don’t be alarmed; it’s a Canadian thing). Unfortunately I couldn’t find a mullet wig small enough to fit his tiny head. That would have lent the costume even more authenticity.

We also carved pumpkins on Sunday night. They turned out quite nicely – far better, at least, than the pumpkin seeds I meticulously separated from the pulp, rinsed, patted dry, seasoned, put in the oven and then proceeded to forget about – until the smoke detector notified me that they were ‘done’. If you were wondering, charred pumpkin seeds are not good. I salvaged about 1o or 20 that weren’t completely burned; the remainder went in the trash. Better luck next year I guess!

There are some very creative Halloween-themed baking and cooking recipes on the Internet (how nifty are these falafel spiders?) and I’m feeling a little lame not posting something a bit more whimsical today, or at least a recipe that incorporates pumpkin. But if you’re anything like me, you might be suffering from pumpkin burnout at this point, unless you’re a real die hard fan of the stuff. That being said, I do have a pumpkin recipe I intend to post, but it’s very decadent so I’m keeping it in reserve until I really have a reason to celebrate  – i.e. Hunter’s first birthday next month. Hopefully I’ll be over my burnout by then.

These pancakes were supposed to be my breakfast yesterday, but by the time I’d hauled the laundry to and from the park’s public laundry facility (oh to have a washer and drier of my own again… it’s such a luxury), tended to miscellaneous domestic tasks around the RV, and finished yesterday’s post, they were more like a late lunch. Needless to say, after ploughing through a stack of these bad-boys my appetite for dinner was completely ruined, but sometimes these things happen. This was my first time using cottage cheese in a pancake recipe and I really like how they added a nice chewy texture without making the pancakes too dense. Cooking the Spiced Pear Compote made the RV smell divine (I flung open the door to make the neighbours jealous), and atop the pancakes it made for a real Fall-flavoured treat! I think I’d take a stack of homemade yumminess like this over Halloween candy any day (but I think I’ll take both). Happy Halloween!

Recipe: Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Spiced Pear Compote

Ingredients:

Spiced Pear Compote

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

  • 2 cups ripe pear (I used Bosc), diced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (Adapted from this Jamie Oliver recipe)

Makes 8 4″ diameter pancakes

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • Coconut oil or butter/vegan margarine (for pan)
  • Maple syrup to serve (optional)
  • Butter/vegan margarine to serve (optional)

Method:

Prepare Spiced Pear Compote: In a small saucepan whisk together water and corn starch until mixture is free of clumps. Stir in diced pear and spices and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring periodically, or until mixture has thickened. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare Cottage Cheese Pancakes: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl whisk together almond milk, egg and sugar. Slowly pour liquid mixture into bowl containing dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Gently fold in cottage cheese. Grease a large skillet and set over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, ladle batter into skillet (I used a 1/4 cup of batter per pancake). Allow pancakes to cook until each side is golden brown.

Serve pancakes, topping each portion with Spiced Pear Compote, butter/vegan margarine and maple syrup (if using). Eat!