Saturday, April 30, 2011

Oats, Spiced-Almond Milk, and Spring!

I absolutely love spring. I wish it could be spring forever. When I lived in was! Ah, the good ole' days. I never realized how spoiled I was over there....until we moved to back to the mainland.

The only negative thing about Spring is when these little buggers come out.

I don't know what it is about Spring that puts everyone in "eat healthy mode", but I've jumped on the health train.

Now, I don't eat many unhealthy foods to begin with.....but I've also never made homemade granola and almond milk either. So this extra healthy stuff is new to me! Oats have so many health benefits that I could never go over all of them on my blog.

I think most of us know that we should all try to add oats to our diet. I, not being a big oatmeal fan, had to find different ways to eat this healthy food. Luckily, I have discovered two new ways to do eat oats. to me, at least.

The first being granola. If I had known all these years how easy it is to make granola, I would have started making it ages ago. Sorry Bear Naked, you are delicious, but I've found someone else....and his name is homemade granola. I hope we can still be friends.

Actually, I have a little confession. Granola is easy to make, but I messed it up the first go 'round. Here's a NOT add too much brown sugar or honey. The first time I made it, I added more than the recipe called for (thinking, honey never hurt anybody), and the honey and brown sugar burned. It wasn't pretty guys.

Can you guess where these ended up?

The other way I love to eat oats is muesli. Muesli is a dish made of uncooked oats that are soaked in a flavorful liquid, such as apple juice, or any fruit juice. I soak mine in milk. It comes out so creamy and delicious. I add peanut butter, honey, dried fruit, and nuts just before serving. Now there have been many debates over what exactly can be called muesli, so if this is not the authentic kind then I am sorry. I don't know what else to call it. Uncooked Oats Soaked in Milk just sounds.....gross.

The almond milk is good, but takes some getting used to. Do not expect it to taste like milk, or even like the Almond Milk you buy at the grocery store.

I added dates to my almond milk for natural sweetness. I also heated it up in a pan for 5 minutes, turned off the heat and added cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. I let this steep for a delicious Spiced Almond Milk, made from scratch and oh so much cheaper than the processed store-bought stuff. If you are into the whole "raw food" thing, then just skip the heating.


Almond Milk

1 cup raw almonds, skins on
2-3 cups filtered water, this varys person to person

Soak the almonds in water (not the filtered water, but plain tap water) overnight.

In a blender, blend soaked almonds along with filtered water until mixed thoroughly. Liquid will become white. At this point you can add 3-4 pitted dates if you like sweet almond milk. Blend the dates for a few seconds.

Strain using a Nutmilk bag. I didn't have one, so I used a colander. It is not as good as a nutmilk bag, and I will probably buy one for next time, but a colander gets the job done.

There you have it! Fresh Almond Milk.


3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds, or any other nut
1/4 cup sesame seeds, or any other seed/nut
1/3 cup flax seeds (optional, but very healthy)
1/4 cup honey
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
a dash of salt
dried fruit

Preheat oven to 320 F. Mix honey and brown sugar in a large bowl . Add oats, and whatever nuts and seeds you like. Mix thoroughly, making sure all of the granola is covered with the honey/brown sugar mixture. Season with a little bit of salt. This will help bring out the sweetness, believe it or not!

Pour onto a greased baking pan. Spread out evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown.

After you take it out of the oven, add the dried fruit (however much you want). Spread granola back out on the baking pan and let cool. Break the granola up and eat with yogurt, cold milk, or plain.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Arugula and Pea Salad w/Coconut Vinaigrette

I went on my weekly trip to the farmers market a few days ago and had a wonderful time. The first thing I put in my shopping cart was something that was not even on my grocery list (I don't even know why I bother writing those things).

It was fresh arugula. I had never seen fresh arugula before, with the roots still attached and dirt still dusted over the leaves. It looked like they had just pulled it out of the soil, all for little ole' me.

I could smell it a mile away. That delicious peppery smell. I love arugula. And the best part is that it only cost $0.89 for one bunch. The grocery store charges $4-$5 for a small bag of arugula....and sometimes that's not even for organic. I bought two. I would have bought more because it was so cheap, but I knew I wouldn't be able to eat all of it.

When I got in line to pay for my things, an old lady cut in front of me. And then gave this "Oh I'm a sweet little old lady so you can't get mad at me" kind of smile. I couldn't believe it. And then on top of that, when it was time for her to pay, she started pulling out pennies & nickels and counting them one at a time.

For a brief moment, I thought about ramming her cart. Was I wrong? Probably. But it made me feel better.

But lets not dwell on the past.

On another note, did you know that today is Earth Day?

Honestly, I didn't until someone brought it to my attention. I remember hearing about Earth Day a few times on Nickelodeon when I was younger, but I never payed any attention to the holiday.

I am participating in a "Blog Hop" and this months theme for recipes is "Earth-Friendly Meals in Honor of Earth Day". I researched what are to be considered"environmentally friendly" foods and found out that vegetables such as onions, avocado, cabbage, broccoli, and even peas are all included in this category, due to the low levels of pesticides used.

So in honor of Earth Day, I made an environmentally friendly salad with my organic Arugala, Shell Peas, Snap Peas, and a citrus coconut vinaigrette.

The vinaigrette was very light, and coated the greens and vegetables just enough to add a little flavor, but not overpower the delicate salad. I ate it with a few slices of smoked salmon.

Arugula and Pea Salad with Coconut Vinaigrette

1 bunch (or bag) of arugula, washed
1 cup shelled peas, or frozen peas
1 cup snap peas
ice bath (a bowl with ice and water)
4 cups water
handful granulated sugar
3-4 basil leaves, shredded
1/4 cup coconut milk
juice of 1/2 an orange
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 table spoon coconut oil, or any other oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz smoke salmon (optional)

NOTE***it is easiest to place a colander in the ice bath so you don't have to pick out each pea one by one***

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Once water is boiling, add sugar. Add peas to the water and blanch for about 30 seconds t0 1 minute. Remove from water and place in ice bath.

Add snap peas to the boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Place in ice bath. Once cooled, remove colander from ice bath and set aside.

Make the vinaigrette by mixing the coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice, and oil.

Toss the arugula, basil, peas, and snap peas together. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the vinaigrette onto your salad mixture (depending on how much/little you dressing you like).

Season with salt and pepper. Toss and serve by itself, with smoked salmon, or any other protein you would like.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April DK Challenge: Blackened Shrimp and Grits

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

I really enjoyed this months Daring Kitchen challenge. It allowed me to use another side of my creativity.

Edible Containers?

All types of ideas were going through my head. Vegetables, bread, puff many options.

Ultimately, I decided to make Blackened Shrimp and Grits, using the grits as an edible bowl. This is a dish I have loved to learn after moving to Atlanta. It tastes as delicious as it sounds.

All you have to do is make grits, following the instructions on the container. A secret to deliciously creamy grits is to add a little heavy cream to the grits at the end.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray, or wipe the dish with butter. Pour the grits into the container and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until firm.

Use a cookie cutter, or do what I did and use a clean & empty can, such as a left-over tomato sauce can, to cut circles. I also used a knife to cut square shapes, but forgot to take pictures of those!

Scoop out a small hole with a spoon, making sure not to scoop the bottom out.

Voila!! You have an edible bowl made of creamy grits. You can stuff these babies with anything....blackened shrimp, braised short ribs, diced chicken, or roasted vegetables. Even drizzle them with a little sauce.

Want to know what to do with the left-over grit balls that you scooped out?

Fry them! Stuff them with cheese, sauteed mushrooms, whatever you like. They make delicious snacks.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Snapper w/Curry Coconut Soup

I got the idea to make this soup from a fellow chef. For a dinner party she was cooking for friends, she made a Curry Coconut Soup with Lobster Claws, drizzled with Truffled Honey. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?

After that conversation, I was craving this soup the rest of the day. Since I don't have 'lobster money', I cut that out of my recipe! I'm not a big fan of truffled honey either, so I knew I wouldn't be adding that to my soup.

This soup sounded so good, that I started thinking about using it as a sauce as well.

I went to the farmers market to figure out what vegetables I wanted to include and found all kinds of goodies.

Like these cute little baby cauliflower.

I had never seen these before, and I was so excited about finding them that I took a picture of them with my cellphone and texted it to my brother. I asked him if he thought the colors looked cool!

Do you know what he texted me back?

"I don't care what color they are, I HATE cabbage". I laughed so hard. He called my cauliflower cabbage.

I guess not everyone gets as excited over food as I do. To each his own.

I also found these cute little Indian eggplants.

As well as sweet potatoes, turnips, sugar snap peas, and carrots.

I love the farmers market. I don't know if I could ever live somewhere that didn't have one. I mean....I would if I HAD to, but I wouldn't be happy about it.

I roasted the vegetables. It was my first time having a roasted turnip. I fell in love.


I texted my mom and told her that I had fallen in love with roasted turnips.

Does anyone else text people about food as much as I do?

One of the next recipes I add on this blog will definitely include roasted root vegetables. I could munch on those throughout the day, as a snack. They get so deliciously sweet, like candy. Love it.

The soup came out tasty. Hope you try it.

Red Snapper w/Curry Coconut Soup ***This recipe makes enough for 4 large servings of soup. You might need to cut the recipe in half***

2-4 filets of snapper, depending on how many people are eating

3 tablespoons oil

6 carrots, roughly chopped

3 sweet potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped

7 baby indian eggplant, cut in half, or 2 regular eggplant, roughly chopped

6 baby cauliflower, cut in half, or 1 large cauliflower roughly chopped

2 turnips, peeled, roughly chopped
1/2 pound sugar snap peas

2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon allspice powder

2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic
2-inch piece ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons curry paste
2-3 cups chicken stock (depending on how thin/thick you want it) 2 cans coconut milk
2 limes

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl mix carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger with the curry powder, allspice, and oil. Coat vegetables thoroughly with seasonings.
Place vegetables on a sheet pan. Roast for 1 hour.

In a separate bowl, mix snap peas, cauliflower, and eggplant, with the curry paste. Place on a sheet pan.

After the other vegetables have roasted for 30 minutes, and these to the oven. Cook the remaining 30 minutes.
When vegetables are roasted (to check for doneness, stick a fork in them. If it slides in and out easily their done) remove them from the oven.

In a pot, add the carrots, sweet potatoes, and turnip mixture, along with all of the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass.

Add the chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Use and immersion blender to blend soup (or use a regular blender but I HIGHLY suggest you buy an immersion blender. They are so convenient and cheap).

Add lime juice and season with salt.

Serve the roasted snap peas, cauliflower, and eggplant as a side dish.

For the Snapper:
Heat pan on medium heat. Season snapper with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan. Cook fish for approximately 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness.


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