Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yogimommy Makes Honey-Blueberry 9-Grain Hot Cereal

Here I am again with another slow cooker breakfast recipe.  I am quickly finding that I love waking up to have breakfast done--or at least almost done.  And with the weather cooling off, I am finding oatmeal and hot cereal breakfasts to be the most appealing options.  There is just nothing better on a cold morning then to dig into a nice bowl of hot cereal.

Of course, then I started looking a little more closely at the options in the bulk section under the heading "oatmeal" or "hot cereal."  I found that there are a lot more options than I ever dreamed--blends, mixes, and grains of every kind (and many that I have never heard of before).  So I am planning to spend this winter learning a lot about these new options--and of course trying new recipes for them. 

For today, I made Honey-Blueberry 8-Grain Hot Cereal that I found on Family Circle (except the mix I bought had 9-grains so I modified the title of this post).  In addition to the change in the mixture, I also added brown sugar in at the beginning of the cooking process.  When I made my last breakfast-in-the-crock-pot recipe, I kept thinking that it would have benefited from having sweetness baked into the cereal rather than adding it all at the end.  However, I learned what I believe is the reason that many breakfast-in-the-crock-pot recipes add the sugar at the end.  This recipe baked to the slow-cooker liner so much more than any other I have made--and we were afraid to scrap it off too much because it really looked burnt.  We did not want the burnt flavor to spread throughout the meal--and luckily it really did not.  But I do not think it accomplished my goal either--I did not think that the hot cereal tasted that much sweeter at the end.  I still felt like I needed to add sugar/sweetness at the end as the recipe described.  So I do not think I will add sugar to the beginning of a slow cooker recipe again. 

Other than that, I followed the ingredients and the instructions pretty closely, but I took advantage of the items I had on hand whenever possible.  I used 1% milk instead of skim because that is what I keep on hand.  I used a 9-grain hot cereal blend that I bought in the bulk section of my local Sprouts--this option allowed me to only buy what I needed for this recipe which I appreciated since this item was new-to-me.  I used frozen blueberries since blueberries were not on sale in my area.  I used walnuts on my first bowl--but I have had this breakfast over the last couple of days and decided to also try almonds.  I think I personally prefer the almonds--but I tend to prefer them in most applications.  

Overall, my family liked this breakfast.  The flavor of the 9-grain cereal is quite different from the oatmeal and cream of wheat that we were used too--but not necessarily in a bad way.  It was something that we had to get used to.  The texture of the cereal on the first day was soft and almost velvety.  However, the texture of the cereal does get a little gummy when re-heated the next day so I added a little milk and really mixed it up well.  The butter does a lot to the dish--I only used the slightest sliver off my butter and I cut with a sharp knife so I could make it really thin.  The enhancement to the cereal was definitely worth the extra calories.  

I am not sure if I would make this particular recipe again.  I liked it--but I cannot say that I loved it.  With so many different recipes out there, I think I would probably try a new recipe for 9-grain hot cereal rather than making this same one again.  But I did learn a lot from the experience--and I did get to try a new-to-me ingredient that I will definitely eat again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Yogimommy Makes Pumpkin Alfredo

I love pumpkin!  So when I was searching for a recipe to try, the Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce that I found in the Food Network magazine really stood out to me.  Plus, I had just steamed a pumpkin I had found on sale, so I had fresh pumpkin on hand that needed to be used.  

However, what I did not have was tortellini and when I went to the store it was not on sale.  Since I did have other pasta on hand, I decided not to buy tortellini this time.  I also felt like it needed more vegetables and some protein in order to make it a more complete meal.  Here are the ingredients that I used:
  • 1/2 package of mini penne (I made the whole box but felt like that was too much pasta once the sauce was made so I only used half--I will probably make a pasta salad out of the rest of the pasta for a separate lunch or dinner)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 of an orange bell pepper (I had this color on hand otherwise I would have used whatever color I had)
  • 1/4 of a poblano pepper (I would not necessarily go out of my way to get this one to add--I added it because I had it on hand.  I think I would have preferred an Italian pepper next time)
  • 1 cup steamed, fresh pumpkin (I would have used canned if I did not have fresh pumpkin on hand--but now that I have found how easy it is to steam pumpkin I love keeping it on hand during the autumn months when it is in season)
  • Pinch of nutmeg (I wish I had had fresh nutmeg on hand but I could not find it anywhere so I had to use some ground nutmeg that I had on hand)
  • 1 can of low fat evaporated milk (I am trying to eat healthier and this seemed like a healthier option compared to heavy cream)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I felt the added vegetables require more parmesan cheese)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pounds of shrimp cleaned and peeled
  • Pepper and salt to taste (the cheese is salty but I personally did not want to not salt the vegetables as they cooking in the beginning)
  • Chopped fresh parsley and chives for garnish (I happened to have both of these on hand otherwise I do not think I would have specifically picked them up for this recipe)
For the directions, I followed the ones in the recipe fairly closely.  I added the extra vegetables when the recipe called for the shallot.  I added the shrimp right after I added the parmesan cheese so they would be just done when I was ready to serve the dinner.

I will definitely make this recipe again.  It was a big hit at my house.  Neither my dad or I thought that the evaporated milk had a negative effect on the sauce--so I would definitely use that again in the future.  The one thing that I would change is that I would cook the vegetables longer so they got softer.  The time in the recipe was only taking into account the time it would take to soften one shallot.  Peppers in general take longer--but the amount of vegetables I used meant I should have increased the time.

The shrimp was a big hit.  It came out wonderfully after cooking in the sauce. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yogimommy Makes Slow Braised Red Chile Beef

I found this recipe for Slow Braised Red Chile Beef after searching Google for a recipe to make red chile beef.  We had made red chile beef in the past without any recipe and we liked it, but we felt there was something missing from our sauce.  We had a beef brisket on hand that we had thawed with the intent of making red chile beef in the crock pot.  We had a very busy day ahead of us--so coming home to dinner being practically done sounded heavenly.

Overall, I made a few modifications to the recipe to incorporate what I had on hand but a lot of modifications to the directions because I wanted to do my red chile beef in the crock pot rather than the oven:
  • 2 cans of low sodium chicken broth (I would have used beef broth but I had just bought a bunch of chicken broth on sale and did not have beef broth on hand.  I also cut the amount down a little because we all felt our previous version had too much liquid in it.)
  • 6 dried New Mexico chiles stemmed and seeded (I only had 6 on hand after the last time I made red chile--if I had had more on hand, I would have put more in the sauce.  And I choose New Mexico chiles because that is what I found--I do not know the difference between New Mexico chiles and California chiles and would use whichever I found.)
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks and divided (I put half of the onion into the sauce and half with the meat to cook in the sauce.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1-2 Poblano peppers diced
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used whole dried oregano from the Mexican spices section of my local grocery store)
  • About a 3 pound beef brisket trimmed very well.
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Add half the onion, the garlic cloves, and the chiles to the hot liquid then take it off the heat.  Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until the chiles are soft and pliable.  
  2. Move the mixture to a blender.  Add the dried oregano.  Blend until well mixed.  (I had to do this in stages because I was using my Magic Bullet.)
  3. Season the brisket with the salt, pepper, and cumin.  Put the brisket in the crock pot.  Add the remaining onion and the poblanos to the crock pot.  Cover with the sauce.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  It is done when the meat shreds easily (for us this happened at about 6.5 to 7 hours).  
  5. At the end, we decided to add potatoes to the mix to soak up some of the sauce.  We added more salt and pepper at that time.  We also put the meat back in to continue absorbing the sauce now that it was shredded. 
  6. We served our red chile beef with whole wheat tortillas, light sour cream, and grated cheese.  I had meant to add avocado to mine, but totally forgot when I was putting my dinner together.  

Overall, my family loved this dish.  I do not know what made the big difference from our previous attempt (using less liquid, allowing the onions and garlic to soften in the broth and blend with the sauce, the oregano, the cumin, the brisket--we used chuck roast last time), but this one was so much better.  Even cutting the liquid down as we did, we ended up with a lot of liquid in the end which is why we added the potatoes.  Next time though we may blend some corn starch in when we make the sauce and see if that will leave us with less liquid or a thicker sauce.

This one is definitely a keeper for our family.  It was so easy.  It capitalized on the flavors we love.  And we had so much left that we have plans to make enchilada casseroles or tacos or maybe both for later meals.  I love meals that can be used to make meals later in the week.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yogimommy Makes Apple-Cinnamon Wheat Berries

I found the recipe for Apple-Cinnamon Wheat Berries after following through some of the links on one of my favorite blogs, Frugal Foodie in WV.  This recipe appealed to me for a couple of reasons.  One, I had been talking about trying a breakfast-in-the-crock-pot recipe for a while.  This desire increased as the temperatures dropped by 20+ degrees in a week (it may have been more but I do not tend to follow the weather report very closely).  Whatever the change--it got chilly fast.  Two, I had found wheat berries on sale not-too-long-ago and had been looking for recipes to use them in.  I bought them as one of my steps towards eating healthier--but I am still working through the process of learning to cook with an ingredient I do not know very well. 

That being said, I am not sure that I could really consider my final product to be "this" recipe exactly. I did make quite a few changes, and so I am going to write out my ingredients:
  • 4 cups of unsweetened vanilla coconut milk (I would have used almond milk if I had it on hand)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Wheat Berries
  • 1 cup made up of the combination of the liquid that came off the pumpkin I had steamed and then let cool and water
  • 3 Fuji apples cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (I left the peel on more out of convenience but I did not mind it in the final product)
  • 1/2 cup of steamed pumpkin (I had this on hand because I had steamed a pumpkin using one of my favorite kitchen tools the day before--if I make this again I would add more pumpkin)
  • 1/3 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (I am not sure why the recipe called for this to be added at the end--if I make this again I would put it in earlier so the wheat berries absorb more of the sweetness)
  • slivered almonds (I did not really measure these out--I just put what I thought we would like in each individual bowl)
  • dried cranberries (again I did not really measure these out, but after the first bowls I replaced these with bananas which my family liked better in the dish) 
I followed the directions of the recipe fairly closely, adding my additional ingredients at the beginning.  

Overall, my family liked the dish but did not necessarily love it.  The wheat berries themselves have a texture that almost pops in your mouth that was not loved by everyone.  I will say that even the next day, the wheat berries kept that texture so this dish did not dissolve into mush or lose its texture after the long cook time or after being reheated the next day.

My dad, who tends to like things a little sweeter than me, did want to add more sweetness to his dish--he was the one that originally suggested the bananas rather than the cranberries that I agreed seemed to compliment the flavors of the dish more.

If I had the ingredients on hand (and really wanted to do a breakfast-in-the-crock-pot meal), I would not be opposed to making this one again, but I do not know that I would go out of my way to collect the ingredients solely to make this recipe again.  But I did love waking up to a nice hot breakfast basically done for me, so I am definitely interested in trying more breakfast-in-the-crock-pot meals.  And I am so excited that there are a couple more interesting ones linked up with this one on the Family Circle website