Sunday, October 15, 2017

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

I have made baked oatmeal before and I have been trying to make new things for breakfast, tired of the same old thing.  I stumbled upon this recipe for Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal by Cooking Light.  The ingredients are simple enough and I happened to have all the ingredients already at home.  A bonus.  
It was morning, my daughter and I were the only ones awake and we made this recipe.  It's simple and delicious and makes the whole house smell amazing.  The whole family really enjoyed these and I have since made them another time.  
If you are looking for a gluten free option, you could use gluten free oats.  
Overall, I was impressed with this recipe, but I tweaked it slightly.  I used only 1 tablespoon of honey for the recipe, and the number of raisins seemed a bit too much.  I used a 1/3 of a cup instead of the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe.  I thought that the pecans were a bit light and would like to add more next time. The method of dump and stir is not quite my style.  So I combined the wet ingredients and then added the dry ingredients.  It seems to combine a bit more easily when you do it that way.  
The result was described my husband as carrot cake bread pudding, a custardy delicious treat that's pretty healthy.  My family thought it would have been nicer if the muffins were a bit more filled, so I might try 1 1/2 recipe and see how full they seem.  
Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal Makes 12 muffins
2 ripe bananas 
1/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2  teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cups carrots, grated
1/3 cup raisins, I used golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 375°. Place 12 pieces of parchment paper or  muffin-cup liners in muffin cups.
To prepare muffins, combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl, oats, baking powder and cinnamon.  Then in a big bowl, mash 2 ripe bananas.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix, almond butter, milk, honey, vanilla extract and egg.  Mix until combine. Add the dry ingredients, stirring with a whisk.

Grate carrots in either a food processor, blender, or on a box grater; combine ¾ cup grated carrots with the raisins and pecans; combine with the rest of the muffin mixture.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. The batter is very liquid so don't be worried.  It's supposed to look like that. 
Bake at 375° for 20-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hello FRESH review: The full story

So, there's a bit of a story behind the HelloFresh kit that I received.  My mom was kind enough to send it to me.  She went through an ordeal to get it to me and in the process somehow she lost one week's worth of meals.  They cancelled her subscription, it was a gift, a week early.  So the second week of the lovely gift she received was dissolved and never received.

She sent nearly 30 emails to remedy the problem and it never materialized.  No response, no second week of meals.

It's a pity that customer service is not a priority of this company.

I enjoyed the meal kit for the most part, but am I impressed in total.  The short answer is no.  If there is no way to fix a problem easily in this company, than it's not worth the trouble.  Also, the freshness of the produce was no so fresh.

I did enjoy the recipes and it did mix up my typical meals to the delight of my family.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hello Fresh: Day 3: Creamy Dill Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans

So Day 3 of my Hello Fresh adventure was Creamy Dill Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans.  This recipe was in the Hello Fresh Hall of Fame. I'm not sure what that means, but the rating on the recipe was 3.5 out of 4.

Creamy Dill Chicken with Potatoes and Green beans
30 minute meal

Ingredients for 2 servings
¼ ounce Dill
12 ounce Yukon Potatoes
12 ounce Chicken Breast (the package contained one large chicken breast and one little chicken breast)
6 ounce Green Beans
2 tablespoons Sour Cream
1 unit Chicken Stock Concentrate
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard 
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Water

Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pick fronds from dill; discard stems. Finely chop fronds. Cut potatoes into ½-inch cubes.

Toss potatoes on a baking sheet with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in oven until crisp and browned, 22-25 minutes, tossing halfway through. (I was unclear on whether to wait until my oven was preheated or toss in while it was not to temperature. I decided to wait until the oven was nearly 400F.)

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Season all over with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cook until no longer pink in center, 4-6 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to rest.
While chicken cooks, toss green beans on another baking sheet with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in oven until tender, 10-12 minutes. (This time stated is too much for the green beans at 400F.  Take out after 8 minutes when they are still crisp tender. My green beans ended up being a bit charred.)

Stir together 1 tsp dill, sour cream, stock concentrate, 1 tsp mustard (we sent more), and 2 TBSP water in pan used for chicken over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. (TIP: If sauce seems thick, add more water, 1 tsp at a time, until it has a drizzly consistency.) Remove pan from heat.

Thinly slice chicken, then divide between plates along with potatoes and green beans. Drizzle sauce over everything. Garnish with remaining dill (to taste).

There were only a few fresh ingredients.  The dill and the potatoes looked good.  The green beans were pretty good.  

I think the recipe is a little light on the portion of chicken for two people.  My husband could have eaten more.  

The flavor of the recipe was good though.  The kids didn't enjoy the dill too much though.  They liked the chicken plain, just pan seared with salt and pepper.  Everyone enjoyed the potatoes and the green beans.  

I would make this recipe again.  I grow dill in my garden every year.  So this would be a nice addition to add to my regular meals. 

Overall Hello Fresh Review:
Our family really enjoyed the new recipes this week.  I really enjoyed working on my timing for cooking more than one thing at a time.  It's a skill that I need some help on.  There is sometimes sides that become cold while I am working on something else for a meal.  I do not know if I would pay for this service.  It is kind of expensive.  $9.99 per serving for 2 people and 3 recipes a week.  So this weeks meal box was $60?!?  

Overall, I did enjoy the recipes and looking at other recipes on the website. I am curious to try other recipes on their website.  I think I might try the balsamic meatloaf tomorrow since I have some ground beef in the fridge.  It looks pretty good to me with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans. 

Btw, it seems like they really like green beans in the meals and especially roasted ones.  I liked the hands off approach to cooking them in the oven and I suspect that Hello Fresh likes using them, because they are a sturdy vegetable.  

I took a look at next weeks recipes for the Classic plan.  The recipes that look interesting for next week's Hello Fresh Classic shipment are:

- Figgy Balsamic Pork with Roasted Green Beans and Rosemary Potatoes

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hello Fresh Review: Sesame Beef Tacos with Quick Pickle and Spicy Crema

So, Day 2 in the Hello Fresh Adventure. I made the second meal in the kit for lunch today.

Sesame Beef Tacos with Quick Pickle Vegetables and Spicy Crema
20 minute meal

Sesame Beef Tacos
For 2 servings

2 Scallions
1 Cucumber
3 Radishes
¼ ounce Cilantro
2 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
4 tablespoon Sour Cream
1 teaspoon Korean Chili Flakes
4 ounce Red Cabbage
10 ounce Ground Beef
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
6 Flour Tortillas

Wash and dry all produce. Trim, then thinly slice scallions. Thinly slice cucumber and radishes crosswise. Pick cilantro leaves from stems; discard stems.

In a medium bowl, toss cucumber, radishes, white wine vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside until rest of meal is ready.

In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and a few chili flakes (to taste— start with a pinch and go up from there, saving a little for the filling). Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add scallions and cabbage. Cook, tossing, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add beef, garlic powder, and 1 tsp sugar, breaking up meat into pieces. Cook until no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in sesame oil and a pinch of chili flakes (to taste).

While filling cooks, wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave on high until warm, about 30 seconds. TIP: Alternatively, wrap tortillas in foil and warm in oven for 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

Spread a bit of chili crema on each tortilla, then top with filling, a small amount of pickled veggies, cilantro, and any remaining chili flakes, if desired. Serve with remaining pickled veggies on the side.

For a service called Hello Fresh, you would expect fresh produce. For the most part, this kit was fairly fresh.  Here's my notes:

The shredded red cabbage was sad.  It was dried out and some of the cabbage was a bit wet and rotting. 
The green onions were fresher this time. They were packaged differently from the package in the last kit.  
The radish, the cucumber, and cilantro were good.

I did not use red cabbage sent in the kit.  It was too sad.  I used my own cabbage that I shredded.  I followed the directions and the results were good. 

I enjoyed the pickled radishes and cucumber, and I don't usually like radishes.  I think it could use some thinly sliced red onion.  The cucumber sent was smaller than the one in the picture, a Persian cucumber instead of a regular cucumber.  I think this recipe could have used more cucumber. The pickle was good but the ratio of radish to cucumber was high. 

I thought the beef needed to be seasoned earlier than the recipe stated while browning instead of seasoning to taste after it was done.  Also, the beef was a bit oily, so I thought the over all dish was oily,  I did pat the beef before adding the sesame oil, because I thought it would be too much, and I was right.  It would have been.  So maybe browning the meat in a separate bowl and draining would be a good idea.

The sesame oil was the only thing unlabelled in the kit, so it was easy to figure out through process of elimination, but I would not necessarily think that a bottle the shape of a fish was sesame oil.  I smelled it to make sure it was sesame oil. Just a quirky thing in the kit.

Again I appreciated the way the entire meal was laid out.  A sequence of cooking was helpful. The family liked the dish.  My kids ate it up.  So Score 2 for Hello Fresh for flavor.  I'll let you know how my last meal in this box goes tomorrow.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hello Fresh Review: Sizzling Hoisin Shrimp

I had an unexpected opportunity to try the meal delivery service, Hello Fresh.  I've toyed with the idea but never thought spending the money was worth it.  I'm all for a gift of a meal kit.

The box for the week was huge and heavy. The food is seriously insulated and there are two large ice packs in the box. The plan that I received was called the classic plan.  It contained three meals for the week.

Sizzling Hoisin Shrimp with Green beans and Ginger Scallion Rice
30 minute meal

Creamy Dill Chicken with Potatoes and Green beans
30 minute meal

Sesame Beef Tacos with Quick Pickle Vegetables and Spicy Crema
20 minute meal

The kit for the Shrimp said cook first. So I did.

There were thick brown bags for each of the meals and the meat was separate.

The Sizzling Hoisin Shrimp kit was unpacked and it had everything I needed, except for oil, salt and pepper. Things that any good cook has in their kitchen.

The ingredients for 2 servings:
2 Scallions
1 thumb Ginger
1 Lime
2 clove Garlic
¾ cup Jasmine Rice
6 ounce Green Beans
10 ounce Shrimp
1 tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil*
*Not included in delivery

Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small pot, bring 1¼ cups water and a large pinch of salt to a boil. Trim, then thinly slice scallions, keeping greens and whites separate. Peel ginger, then grate or finely mince. I used a microplane grater.  Cut lime into wedges. Mince garlic. I used a garlic press.  

Once water is boiling, add rice to pot. Cover, lower heat, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, 15-20 minutes. The rice was done for me at 15 minutes. 

Toss green beans on a baking sheet with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in oven until browned and slightly crisp, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. I only cooked for 10 minutes and they were done.

Rinse shrimp (I didn't rinse them), then pat dry with a paper towel. In a medium bowl, toss together shrimp, 1 TBSP hoisin sauce (we sent more), garlic, and half the ginger. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add scallion whites and remaining ginger. Toss until softened and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to pot with rice. Stir to combine, then cover until meal is ready.

Add shrimp mixture and a drizzle of oil to same pan over medium-high heat. Cook until shrimp are firm and opaque, 3-4 minutes. Divide rice between plates, then top with green beans and shrimp. Garnish with scallion greens and sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges on the side for squeezing over.

For a service called Hello Fresh, you would expect fresh produce. For the most part, this kit was fairly fresh.  Here's my notes:
The scallions were seriously a bit sad.  They were skinny and the outer layer was turning kind of a murky green like it was about to spoil. 
The ginger was fair. 
The lime was perfect.
The garlic was good.
The green beans were good. 
The shrimp was a bit frozen. 

I followed the directions and the results were good.  I would make this recipe again, but with fresher green onions, ginger and green beans.  

I appreciated the way the entire meal was laid out.  Time management while cooking is a desired skill with more than one dish being made at a time.  I liked the result.  My family liked the dish and wanted me to make it again.  So Score 1 for Hello Fresh.  I'll let you know how my next meal goes tomorrow.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Experiment # 77: Lamb curry

I've been trying to make easier meals so that my family can eat more healthy foods that are different. I have been toying with the idea of a one pot meal and perusing my old magazines I found several recipes I want to try in an old Martha Stewart magazine.

This lamb curry is originally a pressure cooker recipe, but since I don't have a pressure cooker or the space to store one, I thought I would try to make it a slow cooker recipe. 

I was trying to decide what kind of curry this lamb was. It's not Thai, it's not chinese.  I suppose it's Indian? 

In case you were wondering, the curry itself had no chilis in it, so it was not spicy at all much to the disappointment of my husband, but I have to feed the children right?

I have made this twice.  The first time I used the lamb shoulder recommended from the original recipe and it was a bit too fatty for my taste.  So this time I used leg of lamb and I doubled the meat because the first time there was so much sauce left over and no meat! Also, my husband and I thought the potatoes were an unnecessary addition to the recipe, so I omitted it the second time around time.  

Lamb curry adapted from Martha Stewart magazine September 2014
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 1/2 cups Diced onions
6 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Ginger, grated
2 teaspoons Tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons Coriander seeds, crushed
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, plus more for seasoning the meat
2 cups Chicken stock
5 lbs. leg of lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes


Sauté onions, garlic and ginger. Add spices salt and tomato paste.
Toss in the lamb and brown the meat. 

Place in slow cooker. Add chicken broth. 

Cook for 5 hours on low.  Add potatoes(or not) after 4 hours. When potatoes are tender, serve over hot cooked rice and garnish with cilantro and yogurt if desired. 

It was delicious, but the potatoes didn't add too much to the dish. I think I would omit them next time I make this dish. I think carrots might be a good choice next time.

This curry is not spicy at all. There are no chilis in it. While spiciness is not a problem for my husband and I, it is a bit of a problem for my toddler. I think we might have to put in a little kick to it. Just a touch and hope my little one still likes it.  He loved this recipe by the way. He never fails to surprise me. 

I tried this recipe again.  I omitted the potatoes and doubled the lamb.  I also used leg of lamb instead of shoulder in an attempt to reduce the fat in the recipe.  I was able to skim a lot of the fat this time and it seemed a bit healthier to me.  It was a hit with my sister in law and her husband.


Link to original recipe:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Food52 review

I was really excited to find out that a recipe I reviewed for Food52 was posted on their website!  Maybe that's just me whose excited! It's a first for me!

The salad, shaved fennel salad, was excellent! I would definitely make it again!

Here's the link below: