Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coconut Banana Pecan Coffee Cake Oatmeal

I have not been feeling the best the last couple of days.  I drove to Springfield, Illinois, 3 hours from my home, so that my sons and I could have Thanksgiving dinner with my Mom.  On the way back, I had a coughing fit before I even got out of the Springfield area (which I attribute to the air freshener I got at the car wash the night before and was promptly thrown out), and once that was done, I had a scratchy throat for the rest of the drive. Yesterday, I woke up with a mild sore throat and a hoarse voice.  Today, I had a voice, but I had a moderate sore throat.  Needless to say, a green smoothie was not appealing in the least.
I remembered Kathy Hester's website, Healthy Slow Cooking, and that she had a TON of recipes for steel cut oats.  The only problem being, the recipes all call for a 1½ to 2 quart slow cooker, which I did not own.  That is ... until I ran out and bought one this morning at 9 AM.  :::smile:::

After looking at all of her oatmeal (steel cut oat) recipes, I finally settled on Coconut Banana Pecan Coffee Cake Oatmeal.  Yes, it does take a long time to cook (7 to 9 hours), and by the time I washed out the crock pot and put the ingredients in it, it was 10:20 AM.  I didn't care.  I decided I would eat the rest of the soup I had in the fridge early and eat the steel cut oats later.
I only did a few things differently than the recipe, and I'm sure they did not affect the taste.  First, I used unsweetened almond milk (not vanilla flavor) and upped the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon.  I used agave instead of a low calorie sweetener and I used walnuts for my nuts instead of pecans.  I didn't have any pecans in the house and walnuts just seemed close enough.  I don't know if my slow cooker cooks at a warmer temperature than Kathy's does, but 6 hours was long enough for my steel cut oats.  To cook it overnight, I think I'll add a bit more liquid and put it on so it will only cook for 6½ hours at the longest.
This is an absolutely delightful steel cut oat dish.  It's extremely tasty.  It would be good with a splash of almond milk in it, too.  As a bonus, the vegan bowl I ordered from came today, so I got to eat the oatmeal in my new bowl.

I can't wait to try more of Kathy's oatmeal recipes.  These will be perfect for the upcoming winter months.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cabbage, Chickpea, & Sweet Potato Soup

I started out to make one soup, Chickpea Rice Soup with Cabbage on PPK, and ended up making an entirely different soup.  Part of the problem was I didn't have any carrots.  The other part of the equation was although that is a good soup, it was too bland for my palate.  I like soup with a little zing.

Here is what I did:

Cabbage, Chickpea, & Sweet Potato Soup

1 onion, sliced or diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used Penzey's minced equivalent to 2 cloves)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon dried jalapeno flakes
1/2 teaspoon of red cayenne pepper
sprinkle of salt and pepper
1/2 to 2/3 cup brown rice
1 squirt (about 3" long) of Thai spice blend (in the tube in the produce section)
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded or cut in 1/4" or less ribbons
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2" squares
6 to 8 cups of water
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of Better than Bouillon, no-chicken flavor
2 cups cooked chickpeas (I use frozen that I've cooked at home)
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon Tofutti Better than Sour Cream per bowl of soup

Saute onions in the olive oil until soft over medium heat; add garlic, thyme, jalapeno flakes, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and brown rice.  Saute another minute or two over medium heat.  Add cabbage, sweet potatoes, water, and Better than Bouillon.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the chickpeas and let simmer another 20 minutes, until the rice and sweet potatoes are tender.  Add dill weed.  Let simmer another minute or two.

Ladle soup into bowls.  Add 1 teaspoon of Tofutti Better than Sour Cream per bowl (no more than 1 teaspoon - you only want a hint of richness to keep the soup on the lighter side versus it being a heavy soup).  Stir to mix in and enjoy.

This soup is not over-the-top spicy, but rather has a little zing, just enough to make the soup interesting and keep you coming back for another bowl.  YUM!  It's a keeper.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Butternut Squash with Couscous and Dried Fruit

I needed to use the butternut squash that I roasted the other day.  I didn't want to make a risotto, although I think that's what I should have done as I love winter squash risotto.  Instead, I was trying to find a soup that I could make.  I ended up settling on a recipe from called Butternut Squash and Couscous.  This would be my first time making couscous.
I chopped the onions and minced the garlic and ginger.  Then, I sauteed them for a few minutes and added a fruit medley.  I was going to use a craisin/raisin blend, but I had a bag of mixed fruit that I needed to use.  It contained papayas, pineapples, raisins, and bananas (which I picked out).  (In hind sight, the fruit medley would have been perfect in a rice pudding.  Go figure that occurs to me now!)
I sauteed that mixture for a bit and then I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1 teaspoon (at least) of freshly grated nutmeg.  I sauteed that for about 30 seconds and then added 2 1/2 cups of water and the couscous.
Since my butternut squash was roasted, I didn't need to complete the step to let it simmer until tender.  I thought I'd up the spices and add a few more to give it more of a sweet and savory type of taste.  I decided I didn't want it to be a thick pasta dish, but rather a creamy soup.  So, I added a handful of garbanzo beans, 1/4 cup of SO Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer, and about 2 cups of water.  The "soup" (very thick soup) turned out too sweet, not enough savory.

I ended up putting a squirt of Sriracha in my bowl and that helped, but it was still missing something.  So, I added 1 teaspoon of red curry paste and about a teaspoon of Sriracha to the pot.  That was more like it.  It's much better now.  However, in the future, I'll leave out the fruit all together.  I'm not a fruity soup person and would have never thought to add it before reading the recipe on VegWeb. I also didn't care for the minced ginger.  If it was grated, that would have been better.  The ginger flavor was too strong when biting into a small cube of ginger.

While I won't make this soup exactly the way I did today, I will try making a butternut squash soup again.  I love winter squashes.  I'm glad I experimented as it brings me closer to finding the exact spice ingredient combination that is perfect for me.

Today, it is cloudy with a temperature in the lower 50's with a wicked wind whipping around.  I took the girls for a walk at Lake Katherine today, which is our favorite place to walk.  However, I under-dressed because I'm thinking 50's, not 30's or 40's with the wind chill.  Brrrrr!  We only walked 1 mile and then came home.  (Our norm is 2 miles.)  I guess that 1-mile walk was enough to tucker the girls out, because here they are this afternoon.
Kobe is in the dog bed, which she OWNS and has actually pushed Jordan out of when Jordan had the "nerve" to lay in it the other day.  Jordan is in the rocker/recliner, which she owns. ha!
They've been in these positions for the last hour at least.  They need to rest up because tomorrow morning, we'll be back out there walking our 2-miles and I will be dressed more appropriately!
Lake Katherine

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roasted Red Kuri Squash & Coconut Soup

I have a variety of squash at my house.  I have a spaghetti, butternut, acorn, and red kuri squash along with a pumpkin pie pumpkin at my house.  I've had these squashes for weeks.  OK, some since mid-September.  I figure it is time to start using them.  So, I threw the red kuri and butternut squashes in my roaster that doubles as a slow cooker, and slow cooked them for 8 hours today.  I knew I wanted to make soup or risotto or something with the red kuri squash as I've never had it before.
So, I put it on a plate to remove the skin.  I really wonder why I needed to remove the skin.  The skin was extremely thin and was almost as tender as the squash flesh.  I think next time I roast one of these, I'll leave the skin on it.  I've seen recipes that use it unpeeled, so that's what I will do.  It was an absolute M-E-S-S to peel the thing.
After looking at MANY recipes (and bookmarking a few of them), I decided to make Roasted Red Kuri Pumpkin & Coconut Soup.  Technically, I don't think the red kuri is a pumpkin, but it kind of looks like one.  What I can say, regardless of the title, this soup is the BOMB!  LOVE IT!
It took a bit to put it together between chopping shallots, mincing garlic, and grating ginger.  I was supposed to "crumble" a dried red pepper in with the shallots/garlic/ginger, but I discovered that my pepper wouldn't crumble.  Oh it's dried and has been sitting in a cellophane pocket for months, but it was still a little gummy. So, I chopped the CRAP out of it and added it.
This is my first recipe using coconut milk.  I bought a can for something (I have no clue what), and finally used it today.  When I first put the coconut milk in the soup and tasted it, I could taste the coconut strongly.  After simmering for 30 minutes, it no longer has a strong coconut taste.  While I did add the lime juice, I only added 1 tablespoon, not two.  Also, I didn't use the garnishes.  Maybe they add a ton to the soup, but I have to say, I absolutely LOVE the soup without them.

This soup is a keeper and will be a repeat in my house.  There is a link in the comments for the blog entry for this soup for a butternut squash soup.  It's called Spicy Butternut Squash, Apple and Coconut Milk Soup.  Since I already have a roasted butternut squash, I'm thinking this is my next soup.  Although, this soup uses far less coconut milk, which is a good thing.  I could probably get away with using 1/2 cup of almond milk.  I'll keep you posted. :)