Love, a bowl of Rice Cooker Oatmeal, AND a McCormick Spices Giveaway!

This post has a fun backstory. Grab a seat. I promise there's a treat in it for you at the end. It is Halloween after all...

The whole premise of my blog started because I had zero, okay virtually zero, space in my kitchen. I had a little galley kitchen that I could barely turn around in but it didn't matter because I couldn't stop cooking. So much so that I rolled the dice and thought I'd take a chance on a career in the food biz. I quit my corporate job and traded that 9 to 5 for a chef's coat and culinary school. Along this adventure, I ended up meeting the love of my life, my husband Richard. We started our own personal chef and catering company, The Skinny Beet, and now we have (a little) more space but I'm always a small Boston kitchen girl at heart. Without my blog, I wouldn't have taken those chances, had the job of my wildest dreams and found a partner for life. I'd be trapped somewhere behind a desk still daydreaming about it if it weren't for the blog that forced me to get deeper and deeper into what I loved doing most. 

I'm telling you this because I was asked by McCormick Spices (you can read the fine print at the bottom of this post to learn about the specifics, if you'd like) to create a recipe utilizing their spices in a recipe. There's a fun twist to this too, the recipe has to be made in a unique way with a small appliance. These recipes are meant specifically for people that have small city kitchens and are trying to utilize their space and equipment to the max. For some inspiration, they even provided a fun video from Chef Juan Pedrosa of The Glenville Stops, right here in Boston. You can check that out here. Spoiler alert: he makes Asian noodle soup in a French Press!

This task reminded me of my days of getting as creative as possible to save space in my kitchen and still create great dishes. I came up with this recipe because I accidentally forgot to put away the rice cooker. So it was just sitting there on the counter and, being inspired by the task at hand, thought it would be fun to try making something other than rice in my rice cooker. So I went with oatmeal because for some reason in the fall and winter months I get obsessed with it. This version is so hands off and it involves steel oats, which if you haven't had them before, they have a pleasant and hearty chew to them that regular oats just don't have. They can sometimes take a while to make but this version is so hands off and they're done in a flash. Richard hates oatmeal, with the fury of 1,000 under-seasoned cheeseburgers (click here to get that reference) but he said he really liked these. I take that as a victory.  

The reason why McCormick Spices asked me to create a recipe is because they are celebrating their 125th birthday and want to do so by getting 1.25 million people to share how they thing flavor unites and defines people across the world. They will donate $1 to the United Way every time someone shares their thoughts here. They will donate up to $1.25 million.

Lastly, and certainly not least, the giveaway! If you'd like to be entered to win a McCormick Spices prize pack which includes a tote bag filled with exclusive McCormick products and a McCormick recipe book, valued at $50, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me your spice story and, for a bonus entry, you can tweet me your favorite spice @The_SBK and be sure to use #flavorstory to enter. Contest closes Wednesday November 5th and winner is drawn on Thursday so get those entries in! The winner will be announced on my Facebook page which you can access by going here. Any questions? Shoot me a message or leave me a comment. Lastly, happy Halloween!

Cranberry, Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean Rice Cooker Oatmeal 

1 cup steel cut oatmeal

2 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons maple syrup

A pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise but pod left whole

1 teaspoon McCormick Cinnamon, plus more for garnish 

1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or dried are fine)

In rice cooker, combine all ingredients into a rice cooker. Set the rice cooker to cook white rice and let it go until it's done. When the rice cooker beeps, your oats are done. Just don't forget to fish out the vanilla bean pods before serving!

This is a post sponsored by McCormick Spices.