Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

I really have a difficult time with breakfast. I am typically groggy from the baby or toddler waking me up.  I am not very awake and the kids are very hungry.  

I remembered years ago watching an Alton Brown Good eats episode with overnight oatmeal in a slow cooker. Let me tell you right now.  There is nothing like rolling out of bed to a hot bowl of oatmeal.  It is awesome! Breakfast decision already made.  

I found a recipe to start.  It's from Mel's Kitchen.  I read in the article that she makes her oatmeal firmer than her sister by using less water.  I like my oatmeal more soupy, so I stuck to more water.  The recipe had additions of sweetener and other things.  I kept it simple, because I like to add my own fixings.

Overnight Oatmeal
1 1/2 cups steel cut oatmeal
7 cups water

Place oatmeal and water in a slow cooker. Cook on low overnight 7 hours.  

The results: The next morning, there is a bit of a crust around the edge of the slow cooker.  Just stir it together and it will mix right in.  
It was delicious! I definitely would make this again. A great addition to any breakfast routine. Roll out of bed and eat a hot breakfast. 

Link to original recipe:

Friday, November 27, 2015

No sugar added Cranberry Sauce

Two years ago when we hosted Thanksgiving, my sister in law made a sugar free cranberry sauce. She sweetened it with a raisin mixture. I tried to make it this year. 

Cranberry sauce 
Juice of one orange
1cup golden raisins
1 bag of cranberries
1/2 cup Water

Juice orange and place in a sauce pan with raisins.  Simmer until softened. Using stick blender, blend until roughly chopped. Still should have big chunks. Add cranberries and 1/2 cup water. Simmer until cranberries pop. Using stick blender, blend until it is about half blended. Still chunky. Cool and serve. Great make ahead. 

The Results:

It tasted good, but I think I need to purée the raisins in a food processor instead of the stick blender.  The raisins were visibly noticeable. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Experiment #79: Tarragon Chicken Salad

I have purchased something like this rough recipe before and my son loves it.  The anise flavor from the tarragon, the slight bite of red onion, and the sweetness from the red grapes.  I love the combination.  

I had a lot of chicken breast leftover from the weekend and decided to try. I have fresh tarragon growing in my garden, which I haven't used.  

Tarragon Chicken Salad
One large roasted chicken breast, cut into large cubes, about 1 1/2 cups
A handful of red grapes, cut in half
A dollop of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and adjust to taste. 

The Results
I enjoyed this chicken salad on a slice of toasted bread as an open faced sandwich. My son even liked it.  I would definitely make this again. Oops. I forgot that I wanted to add chopped celery. I will have to do that next time. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Revisiting Experiment #33: Carrot Cake Muffins

I was making these carrot cake muffins for my little one's first birthday and decided that I should tweak it a bit more.  I substituted applesauce for half of the oil to reduce the fat in the recipe.  The idea for this substitution comes from the last time I made this recipe was for my husband's birthday in February and I was surprised that there was so much oil.  That was all I changed this time around.  Oh, I didn't have an orange to grate orange zest on top this time, but I liked it last time if you care to add a bit of freshness at the end.

I should note that if you want to make a cake from this recipe you should double it because it makes a very short cake, like a 1 inch tall 10 inch cake .  That's what I made back in February.  I baked the cake in a springform pan and it was decidedly small.  A delightful double layer carrot cake would definitely require a double batch!

Carrot Cake Muffins adapted from Martha Stewarts Carrot-Cake Mini Cupcake recipe
Makes 11 muffins
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrot

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: sugar, eggs, oil, applesauce, buttermilk, and vanilla until combined.

Add wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix just until combined.  Stir in the grated carrot just until combined. It's pretty thick batter. Perhaps because it's half whole wheat?

Place muffin liners in muffin pan and add batter to each muffin cup.  I used an ice cream scoop so that they would be uniform.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean.  It took my oven about 18 to 20 minutes, but always make sure not to overbake your cakes.  Check them around 18 minutes.  Overbaked cakes are dry and not delicious!

I made cream cheese frosting for these cupcakes using organic cream cheese, organic powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla extract. (8 oz. cream cheese, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla).

The cupcakes turned out perfect. Slightly sweet and very moist with the addition of applesauce and less oily! I would definitely make these again.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Experiment #78: Cardamom Coconut Almond Balls

When I worked more and didn't have children, I used to leisurely go to the Farmers market every Wednesday after work and take on the sites and smells of the produce and prepared foods. There is a stall at that farmers market that sells cardamom coconut balls for a dollar each. They are about the size of a golf ball.  They are so delicious but now after kids they seem a bit too extravagant and leisurely strolling through the farmers market is just not an option right now. 

I recently was able to buy one and I remembered how much I enjoyed them. So I decided that I would try to make them. The ingredients of these balls seemed easy enough, but I was a little worried about the proportions, but I thought I would just wing it and see what would happen.  

I did notice to my surprise that the balls at the farmers market had xylitol a synthetic sugar substitute, so if course I omitted that. The original balls also had coconut oil, which might make them softer. I ended up omitting it. The balls also had pink Himalayan sea salt, which I didn't have so I used the sea salt I had on hand. 

Cardamom Coconut Almond Butter Balls by Samantha 
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 cup almond butter, raw and unsalted
1/2 cup coconut flour ( I used organic)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (I might use a bit less next time)
3/4 teaspoon cardamom ( I used 8 pods and crushed them with a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt ( I would use a bit less next time)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor, I pulsed the oatmeal until it was fairly fine powder.  I added the almond butter and coconut flour and pulsed until combined. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and pulsed until combined, stopping to stir so that all the ingredients were mixed in completely.  Dump into a bowl. 

Pick up a small handful and form into balls. I made them into about a tablespoon size balls although I didn't measure precisely. I just picked up a clump and squeezed until the mixture held together. It is very crumbly.  And you are done!  

The Results
I was very pleased with the results. They were delicious! I would definitely make them again. I might reduce the maple syrup a little and the sea salt as well.  Everyone loved them though as is.  I think it is possible that after I ground the oatmeal I could just put all the ingredients in at once, but I was experimenting and making it up as I went along. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Experiment #76: Chicken Adobo

Another recipe from a while ago and it was another slow cooker recipe.  I was on a bit of a slow cooker kick.  This recipe also comes from Real Simple Magazine online.

The modifications I made were to reduce the onion from 2 onions to 1 onion.  It just seemed like too much onion to me.  I substituted low sodium tamari for the soy sauce, because that's what I use in our house. I also used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in chicken thighs.  I didn't have bok choy in the house, so I instead steamed broccoli on the side.  I also thought that red bell pepper would be a nice addition to the sweetness in this dish.  I ended up cooking this one on the stove, since I ran out of time to use the slow cooker, but next time I will definitely try.  

Chicken Adobo (Slow Cooker Soy Braised Chicken) adapted from Real Simple by Cyd McDowell
1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/3 cup low sodium tamari
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon paprika
2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a pot, saute the onion and garlic cloves until tender.  Add the vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf and pepper.  Place the chicken on top and sprinkle with paprika.

I covered the pot and simmered it on low until the chicken was done.  It was maybe 20 minutes? The dinner rush got to me and I didn't put on a timer.

Serve with hot cooked rice and steamed broccoli.

The family liked it and if I had time, I would have definitely used the slow cooker.  The sweet and salty flavors were matched well.  I will make this recipe again.

Link to original recipe:

Experiment #75: Slow cooker chicken masala

This was a recipe I tried out a few months ago, and I had not gotten around to finishing the write up.  

I was looking for some easy to make slow cooker recipes so that I have an easier time during the dinner crunch.  It is something about that time of day when the whole family is tired that makes it so difficult to make dinner.  If I could only make dinner during the day with a slow cooker, then I won't have that anxious feeling of "What am I going to make for dinner today for the family?"  I admit it.  I am terrible at meal planning, which really means that I don't meal plan.  It something that I have to work on, but that's a challenge to tackle for another day.  

So, I found a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala from Real Simple Magazine and of course, I had to tweak it.  I doubled the recipe to make more servings since my family is a bunch of meat eaters especially my son.  A few other modifications: Oops, I forgot to double the tomato paste.  I omitted the cream, on purpose.  :) 

Chicken Tikka Masala modified from Real Simple by Charlyne Mattox
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 medium onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

In a 6 quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, kosher salt and pepper.

Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables, cover and cook until the chicken is tender.  I cooked this on high for 3 1/2 hours, but the original recipe says you can cook it on low for 7 to 8 hours if that helps you.  I prepared it and threw it in the slow cooker after lunch and it was ready for dinner.

Serve with hot cooked rice and yogurt.


This recipe could not be easier.  Dump everything in a slow cooker and set it on low or high if you don't have much time.  It was tasty and easy.  You couldn't ask for a better recipe if you like Indian food and it's a bit heathier than other chicken masala recipes out there.  I would definitely make this again.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Experiment #74: Blackberry Coconut Muffins

I was looking for another muffin recipe to try a while back and I tried this recipe from Two peas and Their Pod for blueberry coconut muffins. The first time I made them I reduced the sugar, but when my husband tried them he said they tasted too sweet compared to my usual "healthier tasting" baked goods so I decided to try this recipe again with less sugar.

I thought what might have sent the muffins into too much sugar was the sweetened coconut, so I calculated how much sugar would be in the muffins with just the sweetened coconut. It's 4 grams per teaspoon. I figure every sweetened coconut is not the same so you might want to do this yourself. 

This time I tried the recipe, I doubled the recipe, because I was bringing the muffins to school and I added blackberries instead of blueberries because they looked good at the store.  Doubling the recipe also left about a tablespoon of coconut milk in the can, so I just added it so I wouldn't waste it. 

Blackberry Coconut Muffins adapted from Two Peas and their Pod
3 cups White Whole Wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used organic)
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs
1 - 15 oz can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups fresh blackberries, cut in half if big
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini muffin pan with muffin liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut oil, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula. Stir until just combined. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the shredded coconut and blackberries.
Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. I used a ice cream disher so all muffins would be the same size and evenly cooked. Bake muffins for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack and cool.

I thought the muffins were tasty, but I thought the kids might not like them because they were so low sugar. I could have added more sugar I think next time. 

The kids seemed to like them and I would definitely make them again. 

Link to original recipe:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Experiement #72: Chimmichurri sauce

My husband and I have discovered these delicious tacos at our local farmers market.  The vendor, The Back Porch, makes tacos with corn tortillas topped with sautéed chard, a fried egg, bacon, and chimmichurri sauce. The combination is slightly addicting. I could eat three, but I probably shouldn't. ;)

The chimmichurri sauce is something I've had before, but never made myself. My friend, Rebecca, used to talk to me about how she loved the chimmichurri sauce that Trader Joes used to carry. She used to put it on everything.  These tacos made me want to make this delicious sauce at home.  

After searching for a recipe, I came across one on the Epicurious website. It's from Bon Appetit magazine the October 2002 issue.  It looked easy enough so I thought I'd give it a try. 

When I followed the directions, the sauce didn't look green enough to me so I added more parsley and cilantro. I did reduce the chile flakes, because I wanted my toddler to enjoy it. Oh, and I used Curley parsley instead of Italian parsley, because I tend to use Curley more than Italian parsley, and I forgot to look up the recipe while at the store. ;)

Chimmichurri Sauce adapted from
1 1/2 cups fresh Curley parsley
1/2 cup olive oil 
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until the leaves of the herbs are chopped finely and incorporated into the oil and vinegar. 

The Results
It is delicious! Just what we wanted to eat. Enjoy over grilled meats like they do in Argentina or eat it like our family did and make tacos.  

Too a warm tortilla with sautéed Swiss chard, a fried egg, bacon and this chimmichurri sauce. It is a wonderful breakfast I hope to eat some time soon again! 

Link to the original recipe:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Experiment #71: Goat cheese with Pistachios and Cranberries

This recipe is probably the easiest recipe you can make for a party with delicious results.  Three ingredients to make a quick party appetizer.

The original recipe from the Wall Street Cheat Sheet was for this recipe to make several balls of goat cheese for elegant appetizers.  I had neither the time to make a fussy appetizer, so I decided to create a goat cheese log with the same ingredients. 

Three ingredients:

Goat cheese log with pistachios and cranberries adapted from the Wall Street cheat sheet

11 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped finely
1 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped finely

Mix the goat cheese with 1/3 cup dried cranberries. Using plastic wrap mold the mixture back into a log.  

Mix the remaining cranberries and pistachios on the cutting board until well distributed.  

Roll the goat cheese log in the cranberry pistachio mixture to coat outside of the log and press to adhere. 

This recipe can be made ahead of time and kept in a refrigerator until your party. 

Serve with a variety to crackers. 

I really liked this recipe. Great flavors and festive colors and so easy. 

 The next morning I spread the remainder over my morning bagel. I loved it. 

Link to the original recipe: