Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crockpot oatmeal II

Today we started talking about oats and got hungry for crockpot oatmeal. Crockpot oatmeal can be a super hot breakfast, but it requires some forethought. And while you're supposed to cook on low overnight, it probably would only take a couple hours if you turned the heat up. The trick seems to be to make sure there's enough liquid to keep it from drying up since the oats absorb over time.

This can be a very hearty vegan breakfast if you use alternative milks and a margarine product for the butter. I'm trying mine tonight with almond milk for the first time. Silk's new vanilla almond milk is a favorite of my daughter.

Grease the crockpot.

- one cup oats, rolled oats NOT instant ( I used one and a half)
- 2 cups milk ( I used about 1.5 cups vanilla almond milk, 3/4 cup soy milk and 1/4 cup whole cow's milk)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 chopped apple (I used two)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup walnuts ( I used pecans)
My other add-ins:
- 1/4 cup chopped prunes
- 2 tablespoons vanilla white chocolate chips
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon 
- a few chopped dates

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Parmesan pasta florentine

My husband is trying to perk me up after we've all had a rough weekend. My physical health is not what it should be and after working close to 15 hours already this weekend (and two more days to go), he wants to help and make a nice meal.

He looked through my family favorites cookbook and he managed to find three options, two of which he thought looked too complicated. He suggested:

- omelet (the easy one he knew he could handle, why didn't I just pick this?)
- chicken française (more complicated AND our chicken is frozen)
- Parmesan pasta florentine (easier than chicken française)

I picked the pasta. And then I realized I don't think it's in this blog. The recipe is from an old Kraft promotional cookbook.

The Kraft recipe for Parmesan pasta florentine:
(mine is always vegetarian, they use chicken broth. Because really, how can you make something this green and put it chicken broth?)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chicken broth (I usually use vegetable or even spicy Thai vegetable, but today i'm advocating the use of the liquid in the can of spinach)
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained (today I used 13.5 ounces canned spinach and used the liquid to replace the broth as I mentioned earlier)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I normally omit, or through in some chives instead)
- 2 garlic gloves, minced (I had to use the jarred garlic as I still have no fresh, bad me)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces linguine, cooked and drained ( I often use rotini)

Place milk, broth, and spinach in blender.
In saucepan, or in a big French skillet if you're me, sauté the onions and garlic in the butter. Add spinach mixture and cook for five minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add cheese and pepper, stirring one minute until slightly thickened.
Pour onto pasta.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Steak stuffed with feta and apples

This is what I'm attempting for tonight's dinner with my dad and stepmom:

Of course, being me, I have deviated from the recipe.

It's 7 a.m. and I have just set 4 pieces of sirloin tip steak to marinate in the crock pot reservoir in the fridge. I made my marinade with:
- somewhere around 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing

I came home about 12:30 and embarked upon the stuffing. Her recipe calls for one golden delicious apple, "one half block" of feta, something like 1/3 cup chopped almonds and two cloves garlic. I had more steaks than her, but she said she had leftover stuffing. Now, my stepmom doesn't like garlic...

So I mixed:
- About 3/4 cup feta (instinct says I should have used more)
- two gala apples
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- about 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic (the jar kind)

And I eliminated the nuts. Cheese and meat are enough protein. The nuts can't add that much texture...

I rolled about a large handful and a half of stuffing into each steak and returned it to the juice in the crockpot and put the crockpot on high. Then I tossed some extra stuffing on top. I planned to reduce the heat to low when I get home from my meeting, which will probably be after school at 3:30.

There was also a lovely raspberry, spring mix, feta, raisin and sesame stick salad...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chicken "pork with apples" in the crock pot

So, I offered to pop in on a friend who just had surgery and bring dinner. Spur of the moment. And she has this brood of four children that eat like starving piranhas. It's a sign of my friends' superb parenting skills that they haven't eaten each other.

I wanted to make the candy chicken from Sunday because my husband bought enormous amounts of chicken thighs and it's the only think I have enough of to feed this family. I love them, but they scare me with the rate they can obliterate a normal family's groceries.

But, as I collected the ingredients, I discovered that my daughter and husband drank the open can of 7-up/lemon lime soda I needed for this concoction. So, I had to improvise.

Into the crock pot went:
- about one cup 100% apple juice
- about two teaspoons honey mustard
- about 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon country herbs (blend of sea salt, Rosemary, parsley, oregano, basil, mint, sage, thyme
- two tablespoons minced garlic, the kind in oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
- one chopped golden delicious apple
- 20 chicken thighs
- one small box peach-infusions golden raisins from Target
- 1 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pepper

Oh-- and I found this which sounds worthy of a try:

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Detergent Debate

I'm not exactly a fan of Wal*Mart and its business practices, nor have I set foot in a Wal*Mart store in years. But I do have a Sam's Club me membership, which makes me a hypocrite. I admit that upfront.

For a long time, Sam's Club offered the convenience of BIG containers of cat litter (nice in a two-cat house) and dishwasher and laundry detergent and peanut butter, all consumed in mass quantities when you have a small child. Oh! and tissues!

I am considering dropping my membership because I ethically don't like the company and more and more the "good deals" I used to see are available now not only at Sam's but also at Wegmans, Target and other stores which are trying to compete.

I always knew some items at Sam's weren't cheap, and some, because of their bulk, would rot before my family would use them. Now, since I work at Target, I am forced to see more merchandise and what it costs. I have always been aware of what I spend for stuff, but never before have I had an opportunity to study the shelves for basic household items at a Target.

Last week, I bought dishwasher soap at Target. Yesterday, my husband bought more at Sam's Club.

I'm fairly certain inlaid $2.48 for 75 ounces of Up and Up dishwasher soap. My husband paid $7.98 for two 96-ounce bottles.

That's 4.15 cents an ounce at Sam's and 3.3 cents at Target. That's not include the membership fee at Sam's or deducting my employee or red card discounts from Target.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Emergency lunch

I'm not sure how much time we'll have at lunch today so I packed a small lunch for my husband.

- a Morningstar breakfast patty with ketchup on a homemade multigrain biscuit.
- an archer farms strawberry real fruit bar
- a 100% juice juice box
- pretzels with buffalo blue cheese dip

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crazy vegan Thai medley

There are nights where I make things for dinner that I would never share with company. They are too unpredictable and weird.

Like tonight.

I put two cups rice in the steamer with 2.5 cups Thai stock from Wegmans and 1.5 cups water. (to keep it from getting too spicy for my daughter)

In my skillet I combined:
- about 14 ounces(?) black beans
- about two to three cups stock
- two cups water
- one can water chestnuts
- two cups frozen French cut green beans
- chunks of 2/3 of a large golden delicious apple

It's simmering now. I'm hoping a slow simmer will allow the apples to cut the 'heat' of the broth and sweeten it some.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Improved pumpkin waffles

We made a variation of PPK's pumpkin waffles today. Mine today aren't vegan because I used 2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt instead of soy yogurt.

I also substituted 1 cup apple juice for one of the two cups of soy milk.

I also added 2 cups oats.

My little one is eating them as fast as they emerge from the waffle iron.