Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal


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Life with a newborn (now technically an infant!) was hectic before I went back to work. Now, it’s even more of a whirlwind and I started looking for shortcuts for many meals, especially breakfast. Since my usual dairy laden cereal and breakfast bar are now out due to baby A’s milk protein issues. Enter my favorite kitchen appliance (aside from the food processor): the crockpot.

With some steel cut oats, the applesauce I made and froze this fall and a few other ingredients I had an easy breakfast that I didn’t have to think about! Even better, it was automatically dairy free!

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Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Spray the crockpot with non-stick spray. Add the apple sauce.
  2. Add the oatmeal.
  3. Add the apples.
  4. Add the water and cinnamon and sugar.
  5. Stir to combine. Just make sure the oats are all in contact with the liquid.
  6. Cover and cook on low for at least 7 hours.
  7. I accidentally cooked mine for 9 and it turned out fine. This is what it looked like when I woke up.
  8. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Optional: If you are using plain applesauce, plan to add some cinnamon. You can also sweeten with honey or white sugar if you prefer. You can also add nutmeg.

My opinion:
Delicious, easy and filling. I can’t wait to try more overnight breakfast options especially as baby A grows! It also reheats well if you have leftovers.

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Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac


As the arrival of our daughter gets closer, J and I have started perfecting some of our favorite restaurant dishes at home. We finally got this dish perfect and couldn’t be happier. The original recipe can be found here.

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Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac
Servings
people
Ingredients
Beef Marinade Ingredients : makes the gravy
Dipping Sauce Ingredients (this is our favorite part it really brings the whole dish together!)
Non-sauce Ingredients
Servings
people
Ingredients
Beef Marinade Ingredients : makes the gravy
Dipping Sauce Ingredients (this is our favorite part it really brings the whole dish together!)
Non-sauce Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prepare marinade by combining garlic, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil with the beef for at least half an hour, preferably 1-2 hours let marinate in the refrigerate. (Note: If you're thinking ahead (like we occasionally do), feel free to combine the beef and the marinade and freeze the mixture. Then you can just take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator when you leave for work.)
  2. Prepare vinaigrette by mixing rice vinegar with salt and sugar. It should be a balance of sour, salty and sweet. It should look something like this:
  3. Thinly slice the red onion and use about 3-4tablespoons tablespoons the vinaigrette to pickle and set aside covered in fridge for about 10 minutes (longer is better here too!). Prepare bed of lettuce and tomatoes in a serving platter and set aside.
  4. Heat a large wok or pan over high heat.
  5. Add about 2 tablespoons cooking oil and when it begins to smoke, add an even layer of beef and allow to sear for about 2 minutes, before “shaking” to sear the opposite sides for about another 1-2 minute more to brown all the sides. Do this in batches to cook all the beef if necessary. This will sear the beef so it looks like this:
  6. Transfer beef to bed of watercress and tomatoes.
  7. Drizzle another 3-4 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the beef and greens and top with pickled red onions.
  8. Lastly, squeeze lime juice over salt and pepper in a small bowl and use for dipping the beef, or feel free to just drizzle it on.
  9. The dipping sauce should look like this:

My opinion:
This has to be in my top 10 favorite dishes of all time. I love the veggies and the balance of all five flavors. I also love that the rice isn’t even really necessary for this to be a filling meal. Plus even if you do all the prep work right before dinner, the whole start to finish time is only about 30 minutes.

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad
Summer finally arrived about a week ago and it’s been too hot to cook. Too hot for heavy meals and just generally too hot. My favorite thing about this dish adapted from this Shape.com recipe is it’s served chilled and for a light dinner, it is really filling.

Ingredients:
Well-marbled New York steak or a skirt steak, grilled (we broiled and pan-seared a couple of times when it was too hot to grill) to your liking, but preferably no more than medium rare
1 small red onion, sliced into skinny wedges
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped, no stems
Large handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or 1/2 vine-ripened tomatoes cut into wedges)
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 limes (or about 1/4 to 1/3 cup lime juice)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (you may need more. Note: the original recipe called for palm sugar, but we’ve had a hard time finding it)
1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
Thai chili powder to taste (we found a blend at Penzy’s Spices that we love for this dish – Bangkok blend)

Directions:
Grill, pan-sear or broil the meal as directed above and slice into thin strips after allowing to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Put the brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl, add some of the lime juice and mush into a thick liquid form. Add the rest of the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.
When the steak has cooled, Add it to the sauce mixture. Toss with your hands to incorporate all over the steak. Add the rest of the veggies, toss and taste. Tasting as you go is the most important part. Add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, or more sugar if it is to lime-y.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so to let the flavors meld. Then serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish cilantro.

My opinion:
You can add the cilantro into the sauce mixture, just give it a rough chop. If you want to quick sautee your veggies in peanut oil (or your favorite cooking oil), feel free it adds another layer of flavor. This is the perfect dish for a hot summer evening.

Langlois Crusty Bread

 

In case you haven’t guessed, I love bread. I especially love fresh from the oven, homemade bread. While at Langlois Culinary Crossroads in New Orleans for cooking school, I learned just how easy it is to make delicious, wonderful bread at home. From scratch. Even though it officially takes two days, I promise it is really worth it. 

Note: The most important ingredient is a clay or cast iron dutch oven or clay pot with a tight-fitting lid. We found this one from Lodge on sale and couldn’t be happier.

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Langlois Crusty Bread
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Wish together the flour, salt and yeast in your favorite mixing bowl.
  2. Add the water and mix until a "shaggy mixture" forms.
  3. As Chef Matt said when showing us how to make this, it should look like a wet dog.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 12 hours or overnight. Longer in this case is better.
  5. The next day (or 12 hours later) place the dutch oven and lid in a 450-degree oven so the pot and the oven are heating at the same time.
  6. Turn out the dough on a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.
  7. When the oven (and the dutch oven) reach 450 degrees, place the dough in the center of a piece of parchment paper and put the whole thing in the dutch oven with the parchment paper side down.
  8. Cover with the lid and either return to the oven, or slide the wire rack back in and close the oven door (I find the second way to be the easiest rather than trying to lift the super hot dutch oven in and out of the oven more than once).
  9. Cook covered for 30 minutes.
  10. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  11. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  12. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack. (This means take it out of the dutch oven.)

My opinion:
There are directions for stuffed bread, but I haven’t tried it yet. I want to get the basics down first. In my first few trials (and errors!) I learned valuable lessons, like the difference between iodized and kosher salt, that sometimes the times are off and it is ok to cook bread a little longer to get a more golden crust. If you do accidentally use iodized salt and the bread is a bit on the salty side, treat it like a bagel and just don’t salt the eggs for the bagel, egg and cheese sandwich (it evens out in the end). It’s been hard not to make this every single weekend since we returned!

Mango Salsa


Watching the Super Bowl also means eating chips and dip. But it’s winter and fresh salsa in the winter is usually pretty disappointing. But when the new grocery store in town had mangos on sale for 19 cents each, I jumped at the chance to have just a little taste of summer. C made up this amazingly refreshing mango salsa. As we were eating it, we decided it would also be delicious on fish tacos, salmon, pork and of course tortilla chips. It was super easy to make.

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Mango Salsa
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Dice all ingredients into roughly the same size. This part is important because if the mango chunks are too big, they'll fall off the chip. Or worse, break the chip.
  2. Add ingredients to a bowl.
  3. Mix with a spoon.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the mango pit into the bowl.
  5. Feel free to use the side of a metal spoon to scrape off the fruit attached to the pit.
  6. Squeeze the lime juice.
  7. Mix again.
  8. Add salt and pepper, tasting in between.
  9. Garnish with cilantro.
  10. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later.

My opinion:
As noted above, usually fresh salsas made in the winter lack flavor, maybe it’s because we let the mangos get really ripe, but this was full of flavor and very tasty. Don’t be afraid to try it on something other than tortilla chips!