Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Mmmmmmmmmmmm..... I am a big fan of pumpkin pie for breakfast. I love it! But I clearly can't have it for breakfast all the time. Solution? This oatmeal! Unbelievably good. I was a little skeptical when I saw one recipe (can't remember where, sorry!) but decided it was worth a shot. I've made it on the stovetop and in the microwave - I actually prefer plain oatmeal from the microwave, but this was better on the stove. I like my oatmeal a little chewy, too, so if you like yours reallllly cooked, just add a few minutes and a little more liquid.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
As written, serves 2 Total cook time: about 4 min using microwave, 8-10 on stovetop

1 1/2 cups uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup water or milk (or a blend of the two)
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
brown sugar to taste

- Put oats and milk or water in a large micro-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
- Add pumpkin puree and spice. Microwave for an additional 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Top with sugar and eat!

Stove top:
- Boil water/milk. Once boiling, add oats and reduce heat to medium low, stirring constantly. Once most of the liquid is absorbed (about 2 minutes), add pumpkin and spice. Stir at least 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Aragorn Cookies

Dan named these - they are improved Ranger Cookies. "Improved" because I used part whole wheat flour and cut out some sugar and half the butter. I really like this kind of cookie because you can put pretty much anything in it. Just be careful because if you add too many things, there won't be enough dough to keep it all together. Because of the corn flakes, I would recommend making a smaller batch (like I have here) unless you will be sharing with a lot of people. They're just not as nice if they lose all of their crunch. Also, if you have two cookie sheets or one big one, I think it's worth baking them all at once so that the cereal stays crisp.

Aragorn Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter, softened
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut (toast it, if you have the time)*
1/3 cup craisins (or raisins)
1/4 cup butterscotch chips (if using raisins, consider chocolate chips) (and yes, that's enough for a healthier version to still get them in all the cookies)

-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until it lightens in color, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg, yogurt and vanilla; blend well.
- Stir in oats flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add corn flakes, coconut, craisins, and chips, mix gently until blended.
- Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet in your favorite size.
- Bake at 350 about 10 minutes for heaping-tablespoon cookies, longer for bigger.
- Cool on wire rack, store completely covered. Enjoy at least one while hot!

*To toast coconut in oven: Sprinkle in an even layer on a cookie sheet, place under broiler, turn on. Watch carefully! Stir if needed, toast until browned. To toast on stove top: Heat dry frying pan over medium-high. Sprinkle in coconut, stir gently until browned.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Another one from Cooking Light, with the original recipe here, this was so much easier than I would have expected, and fun. It calls for oil-packed sun-dried tomato, but instead we used a dry kind of "sun ripened" that our store had in the dried fruit section. I think they were a bit softer than usual sun-dried tomatoes, so if you use dry sun-dried, I would soak them in warm water for 2-3 minutes. We also added a little olive oil since the tomatoes would normally have some.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Feta Cheese
Serves 4

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh linguine (This is the exact size of the Buitoni package)
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons almonds
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

- Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan.

- While pasta cooks, place tomatoes and next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a food processor; process until finely chopped.

- Combine tomato mixture and the reserved 1 cup cooking liquid, stirring with a whisk. Add to pasta; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with feta.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best ever coffee for one

Not a single person from my known audience drinks coffee. Some may even doubt it has any healthy qualities. So this is mostly because I think it's cool.

Key 1: Freshly ground coffee is best. I don't have a grinder - I don't feel like buying a pricey one, the reviews for cheap ones aren't that great, they sound sort of messy and I don't need another gadget in the kitchen. Instead, I buy mine from the supermarket and use their grinder. Be sure to run the grinder first and lift the flap because there are loads of inconsiderate people that leave beans in there - and you want the kind you picked, not some weirdo mix from what the last guy wanted! Grind as much as will last you til your next trip on a setting around auto drip to use my favorite method (try it and see how it goes - I find espresso grind doesn't taste as good for this.)

Key 2: Melitta one-cup cone filter holder. I love it. If you don't know what it is, I put a pic below. You can easily make a nice 6-16 ounce cup from this. It's $3 for the cone, and filters are cheap, too. You put the filter into the cone, your coffee (2 Tbs/8 oz cup) into the filter, and pour in water that was brought to a boil and then allowed to cool for 15-30 seconds (I use an electric kettle). Fill it up all the way once for a small cup, or refill with water for a larger cup. Super quick, super good, and SOOO much better than instant! If I want a cheap mocha, I just put hot cocoa mix into the cup and let the coffee mix in as it drips from the filter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberry Raisin Bran Muffins

In elementary school, if we didn't eat all of our cereal for breakfast, my mom would put it all in one big bowl and while we were gone she'd make muffins for our after-school snack. (Yep, we had after-school snacks - pretty often, even. One benefit of having a stay-at-home mom.) I've found out that some people are grossed out by this, but it worked well. I'm not saying here to use the exact method, but it did give me an idea when the box of raisin bran got stale. I didn't want to revive it, using yesterday's method, because I didn't want the raisins to get hard. Instead I made muffins. This will work with any kind of cereal, but using raisin bran has the benefit of at least seeming healthy. I also had some strawberries that were in danger of getting moldy, so I threw them in, but the recipe would work with apples, craisins, or no additional fruit. This recipe does take longer, but the use of stale cereal is worth the time in my book.

Strawberry Raisin Bran Muffins
Makes: 18 muffins

3 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal (any brand, really)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 T of white vinegar and enough 1% milk to make 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups strawberries, diced

- Mix the dry ingredients (including cereal) in a large bowl
- Mix the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and add to dry mixture. Mix in fruit.
- Let sit at least 45 minutes
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease muffin tin or use liners and fill cups completely (does not rise very much).
- Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Tops will be light brown.

Nutrition info per muffin: Cal: 183 Fat: 4.3 g Carbs: 33g Protein: 6g
(As a comparison, Starbucks bran muffins, which are bigger, have 420 cal, 19 grams of fat, and 58 carbs)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Revive stale cereal and chips

My mom used to do this when I was little, and I've had loads of people think I'm nuts, but it seriously works! I hadn't had stale stuff in a while - until one day we left the windows open when it was like 100% humidity outside. And then a lot of the cereal got a little funky. Yes, things get stale because of moisture. In their bags, they are nice and safe, but then air and its moisture get to them and take the crunch right out. Do not despair, there is hope! Just do not walk away! CornPops, for example, can make some big flames for quite a long time.

Revive stale cereal, chips, or crackers
Serves as many as you like

- Take your stale food and put it in a thin layer on a cookie sheet or the tray of your toaster oven.
- In the toaster oven: set to toast. Watch carefully, and stir every 30 - 90 seconds. At the first sign of browning, remove from oven, let cool, and eat as usual.
- In the conventional oven: Put rack on second highest shelf. Turn on broiler. Watch carefully, and stir every 30-90 seconds. At the first sign of browning, remove from oven, let cool, and eat as usual.

I've never tried this with potato chips, but it definitely works for tortilla chips. If you serve chips or crackers warm, it gives them a bit of a restaurant feel. If you serve cereal warm, do it as a snack without milk. With milk it's just sort of funky, warms the milk, and gets soggy fast. Don't try it. Seriously.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Southwest Couscous Salad

I can't believe I've put up so few couscous recipes! Well, time to fix that. This one has a southwestern kick to it with the kidney beans and salsa. It works as a main dish or a side. If you feel the need for meat, I would chop it up and pan fry it with minimal oil (or cooking spray) and season with cumin, chili powder, and garlic salt (or any blend to your liking.) It's served cold, which makes it perfect for parties or making ahead. If you use frozen corn, the corn cools the couscous and the warm couscous thaws it, so you can also make it right when you want to eat. Leftovers are good for lunch, too.

Southwest Kidney Bean Couscous Salad
Serves: 4 as main dish, 2-3 as a one-dish meal, or 4-8 as side.

3/4 cup uncooked couscous (I use whole grain)
3/4 cup water
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup salsa
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 medium bell pepper, diced (I used green because I had it)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin

- Boil water in a small saucepan. When water boils rapidly, remove from heat, add couscous, and cover. Let sit 5 minutes while preparing vegetables.
- Chop up the pepper and onion. Place in a large bowl. Add beans, salsa and corn to bowl.
- Once couscous has sat for 5 minutes, add to bowl and fluff with a fork (even if everything else isn't in the bowl yet.)
- Mix with a fork and serve immediately or cover and chill in fridge until serving.
- Topping options: Top with cheese (jack, cheddar,pepper jack, feta) or sour cream.

Nutrition info (for 1/4 of recipe using regular couscous): Cal: 528 Fat: 1.9g Carbs: 100 (but 20g of fiber) Protein: 30g


Ok, I really doubt that I had any readers *to* lose, but that's probably for the best, considering my major lapse in posting. The semester caught up with me and I have finally finished everything, recovered from the craziness, and started looking for and trying out new recipes. And........ I am trying to take pictures! Yay, food pictures so that my tasty things will have lovely visuals. More to come, starting today...