bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cranberry Apple Pie Oatmeal (a la Mode)

I love oatmeal in the morning.  I usually cook my oatmeal with dried apples, dried cranberries, and cinnamon - and that's pretty much the perfect oatmeal, but I saw this recipe for Apple Pie Oatmeal on Pinterest, and it looked so good, I just had to try it.  Reading the recipe now, I see that I did not actually follow the recipe.  How could I miss the part about cooking the apple with nuts, butter, brown sugar and spices?  I will have to try it again, I guess.

Here's how I made my oatmeal, and it turned out quite good, too.  Maybe it doesn't actually qualify as an Apple Pie Oatmeal, but I'll call it what I want!

Cranberry Apple Pie Oatmeal (a la Mode)
  • Bring to boiling 1 cup water with a dash of salt
  • While water boils, cut half an apple into small pieces
  • Reduce heat to medium and stir in 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • Add some cinnamon, the chopped apples, some dried cranberries and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally
  • Turn burner off or remove from heat; cover and let sit for a few minutes
To serve: top with a little brown sugar and vanilla yogurt  (I used Yoplait Honey Vanilla Greek yogurt - that's the a la Mode part!)

Next time I'm going to try cooking the apples, cranberries, and probably some walnuts with butter, brown sugar, and spices and then cooking the oatmeal with that - like the other recipe - and see if that makes a difference.  If there's a huge difference, I'll be sure to update this recipe.

I'll also go back to using plain yogurt, because the vanilla was a bit too sweet to me.  I love plain yogurt on my oatmeal.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Antioxidants - Follow-up

I posted a list of antioxidant-rich foods a few weeks ago.  I saw this image on Pinterest tonight, and I thought the pictures and additional information here would be a nice follow-up.  The list isn't exactly the same, but there's some good information about each of the foods listed here and why they're good for us.  I like that coffee is on this list!  I love my morning coffee...

Cranberries are really high on my list, too... and broccoli, and strawberries, and peaches, and...  The more healthy choices we have, the more likely we'll all find something we like that is also good for us!

Did anybody notice anything unusual about any of the pictures? (Click the graphic to view full-size)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No More Freezer Burn

When I go shopping, I always check the meat case to see if there are any markdowns.  When an item is getting close to it's Sell By date, the store will usually mark it down to encourage customers to buy it.  Walmart makes them really easy to spot with bright yellow stickers.

Buying this marked-down meat is a good way to save money.  The key is to use it or freeze it by the date on the package.  I usually buy several packages when I can get a good deal - whether it's chicken breasts, steaks, hamburger, or anything else I normally use.  Then the next day I break the large packages down and freeze them in single-use packages, usually in zipper bags, like in this post - Freezing Hamburger.

It wasn't until recently that I found a great way to avoid freezer burn - which happens when you freeze a lot of stuff and don't use it in a timely manner.  It's so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself!  I was thinking maybe I needed one of those Vacuum-Sealing Systems - and one of these would be nice.  But, I was talking to the man who works in the meat department, and he suggested wrapping individual pieces of meat in plastic wrap and then putting them into the zipper bags.

Individually wrapped steaks in my freezer
Wrapping serves two purposes - the plastic wrap protects the steaks from freezer burn, should I not use them right away, and it's so easy to pull out just the number of steaks I need - even though they're all in the same zipper bag.  You know those individually frozen chicken breasts you can buy in the store?  Yes, I buy those too, but if I find a great deal on chicken breasts in the meat department, I can individually freeze my own now!

Also, a note: the best plastic wrap I have ever tried is the Great Value Premium Wrap - Professional Strength you can buy at Walmart.  I never even liked plastic wrap before I tried this stuff.  Seriously, it's great!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lentil Barley Soup

I found this soup recipe in my Sunday (or Wednesday) paper - at the same time I found the Sweet Potato Chickpea soup that we loved

Lentil Barley Soup

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/4teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lentils (about 16 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup barley
  • 8 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, beef, whatever you have or like)
  • Salt to taste
  1.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan (6 qt.) over medium heat; add onion, garlic and celery and cook until onion begins to soften and become translucent.  Add carrots and continue cooking 1-2 minutes; add seasonings (except salt) and stir to coat vegetables; allow to cook for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add lentils, barley, and broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally until lentils and barley are tender. Add additional stock or water to reach desired consistency, if needed. Add salt to taste.
Alternate (original) Directions:
Place all ingredients, except salt (and olive oil - there was no olive oil in original recipe), in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 45 to 55 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils and barley are tender. Add additional stock or water to reach desired consistency, if needed. Add salt to taste.

To prepare ahead: You can prepare the soup up to two days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat when ready to serve.

Yes, I know the original directions sound simpler, and I'm sure the soup will turn out just fine following them.  I just think it adds some extra flavor to cook the vegetables in olive oil first, and to cook the seasonings with them for a couple minutes.  If you're in a hurry or just don't feel like messing with it - don't.  Just toss everything in and cook!

With most soups it is best to prepare ahead, cool, cover and refrigerate, and reheat before serving, but this is one you can serve right away!  It turned out really thick, so I'm thinking I might need to add additional water when I reheat it, but it was perfect tonight.   The flavors were just so good!  Part of the flavors come from whatever broth you use (I used half broth from a deer roast I had cooked and half turkey broth) - so if your broth is good, your soup will be good - but the seasonings in this are really good themselves.  I loved the texture - barley is one of my new favorite things!

I wasn't sure what to serve this with.  Soup usually calls for crackers, bread, biscuits, cornbread, something - but I wasn't sure what this particular soup needed.  I went with toasted whole grain sourdough, which was good, but I'm not sure this soup really needs anything.  It was good all on its own.

I definitely plan to make this one again!

Update: This soup really thickened up after being refrigerated, so I needed to add a cup of water when I reheated.  It also needed a bit of additional salt once the water was added.  I still think it's really good.  My husband said it was 'OK' so I don't think he's a huge fan - but he did eat it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Italian Style Chicken

I found this recipe in the Food section of my newspaper. It's a keeper!

Italian Style Chicken

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 large thinly sliced onion
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 T quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) rinsed cannellini beans Great Northern beans
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil torn into small pieces
  1. Place chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Scatter onion over chicken.
  2. Stir together tomatoes, broth and tapioca; pour over onions.  
  3. Cover and cook on high 4-1/2 hours or on low 6-1/2 hours.
  4. Stir in beans and spinach; cook 30 minutes more on low.  Stir in basil and serve.

The flavors in this were so good together!  It turned out soupier than I was expecting, but I think that was because I used pearl tapioca instead of instant - it's what I had - and I think I messed it up by soaking it in hot water instead of cold.  Looking back on it, I could have just mixed the tapioca with the cold broth and tomatoes and let it soak in that overnight - since I mixed this up the day before and then cooked it in the morning.  Either way, I'll try it again, whether with instant tapioca or the same kind - to see if there's a difference.  It didn't really matter, because it tasted great.  I just cooked up some fettuccine and served it with that and some sliced sourdough bread.

The original recipe called for bone-in chicken thighs, but I read it wrong and got the boneless thighs out of the freezer.  I don't really like boned chicken in crockpot recipes because it ends up falling apart, and you always have to be on the lookout for bones.  So, I stuck with the boneless.  It was great, because it did fall apart, and there were pieces of chicken all through.  I cooked it on high most of the time, and probably got closer to the 6-1/2 hours than the 4-1/2.

I used Great Northern beans, which I cooked in my crockpot, instead of the cannellini beans - because that's what I had.  The original recipe called for 1/2 cup sliced black olives instead of the spinach, but at least one of the people who would be eating this doesn't like olives, so I left them out.  And the spinach?  The original recipe didn't call for it, but it just seemed like it should have spinach - so I added it.  I didn't actually measure, but a 10-oz. package ought to be about right.  You can add olives instead of the spinach or along with the spinach.

Update (1/29/16) -  This recipe was Lori's September 2015 SRC pick over on lori's culinary creations.  She added a handful of orzo to the crockpot along with the beans and spinach.  I just finally got around to making this again, and followed her suggestion and added 1/2 cup orzo.  I could have added a bit more, but it was really good.  I am going to have to do that from now on.

Also, I used chicken breasts, because that's what I had.  They aren't as good as the thighs, so I will definitely use thighs from  now on.  And, Great Northern beans are better than cannellini.  I will use those from now on, no matter what the recipe says.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Need Better Food Pics

In some cases, I just plain need pictures - good or not.  I've been using Pinterest for a while now, and I started thinking that it would be a great way to handle the 'table of contents' on this blog.  Currently I have the tabs at the top linking to all the different categories - using Blogger labels.  And that works OK.  You click the tab for soups, and you get a page with all the posts I've labelled 'soup' - simply scroll down through the posts to find a recipe that looks good.

I thought it would be nicer to create a Board on Pinterest for each of my categories.  Clicking the tab would give you a page - like this one I created for Soups - with all the recipes in that category.  The only problem is that it's not quite that easy.  Why?  Because I don't have pictures on all my recipes, and that means either I can't add those recipes to the Pinterest board, or I have to use my header, which doesn't quite convey the idea.  It's that yummy picture of the recipe that is going to make people look in the first place.  I know I love the pictures in a cookbook - whether I'm cooking or not, I can still get a lot of enjoyment out of looking at the pictures.  Of course, my favorite cookbook - The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals - has no pictures at all, but...

Anyway, I have been trying harder to take pictures of everything I make, but I don't always remember - sometimes not until it's half gone, and sometimes not at all.  And, my husband has been known to laugh at me for taking pictures of food.  My problem is that I don't really know what makes a good food pic.  I know one when I see one, but I don't really understand why it's good, and how do I go about taking some of my own?  So it's time for some research into food photography and getting better food pics.  I found a couple posts to start with:

  1. Food Photography Techniques and Tips
  2. 25 Food Photography Lessons You May Have Missed
and most of all, I just need to remember to take some shots of everything I make - good or not.  Practice makes perfect, right?

In the meantime, what to do about those Pinterest Boards?  Do you think it's a good idea for the 'table of contents' part of this blog?  What do you use to organize your recipe posts to make them easy to browse?

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

I found this recipe in the paper a couple weeks ago and made it for dinner last night. It was amazing! Really. So, so good!

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. (about 2 large) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 T paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups turkey broth (or chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (15-oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • Salt to taste
  1. In large soup pot (5-qt.), heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, garlic, and sweet potato and saute until onion becomes translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add paprika, turmeric, basil, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir to combine.  Add stock and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; turn down heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, garbanzo beans and green pepper.  Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes (or longer) or until potatoes are tender and soup is heated through.  Season with salt to taste.
  4. Serve with crusty whole grain bread, and brown rice if desired.

I will definitely be making this again.  It's really easy, and the flavors blend so well.  Also, I can't remember why I thought I didn't really like Garbanzo beans - until I tried roasting them - but they are absolutely perfect in this soup.  I might have to try them in other things...(see related articles)  The recipe said, once the potatoes are cooked and the soup is hot, to add additional stock or water if needed to reach the desired consistency, but I thought it was perfect just the way it was.  I guess it depends on how you like your soups.

The recipe didn't say what to serve this with - crackers, biscuits, bread? - so I  had mine with a bit of brown rice, which was wonderful, and we had some nice whole grain sourdough bread.  Oh!  the broth soaked into the bread!  Amazing!!  (so I added my own suggestion to the recipe - because I can't imagine anything going better with this soup)
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bean and Pumpkin Chili

I cooked a pumpkin last week and used part of it in this chili.

Bean and Pumpkin Chili

  • 1/2 lb. hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 t. dried parsley flakes
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 can (15-oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15-oz.) red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  1. In 6-quart pan, brown hamburger with onion, pepper, and garlic; drain fat if necessary.  Add spices.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer until heated through and flavors have blended. (1 to 1-1/2 hours on low heat)
Serve hot.

The original recipe was supposed to be meatless, using soy crumbles, but I didn't have anything like that, so I used hamburger.  Ground turkey would probably be good in this too.  I made some cornbread muffins to go with it.  My husband just put crackers in his.

I've never used pumpkin in chili before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.  It adds a richness and a thickness to the chili, but you really don't taste pumpkin.  So why put pumpkin in chili?    Any ideas?  I'm thinking it's a good way to get some extra nutrition into your soup.  Pumpkin - it's not just for pies!
Enhanced by Zemanta

  © Blogger template 'Totally Lost' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008 - Header credit: Steve Wampler

Back to TOP