Make-Ahead Breakfast: Steel Cut Oats

Make-Ahead Steel Cut Oats

Make-Ahead Steel Cut Oats

 

I’m a bit of a planner, and I’m up for anything I can get done on the weekend to free up some down-time during the week.  I also make sure I eat breakfast every day to keep those hangry (hungry + angry) feelings at bay.  My requirements for breakfast are that it’s 1) filling, 2) quick to prepare, and 3) yummy.  I find meal bars unsatisfying, and although I love a hearty smoothie, sometimes a bowl of warm goodness is more satisfying.  I used to eat instant oatmeal, then I heard about the health benefits of steel cut oats (in 1/4 cup uncooked oats, there’s 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein) and picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats at the store to give them a try.

Steel cut oats (also sold as Irish oatmeal) is the whole oat that’s been cut into little pieces. It’s the least-processed form of oats you can prepare, so all that protein and fiber is still in tact.  They take longer to cook than rolled or instant oats (about 20 minutes to cook on the stove), but you can make a batch and reheat by the serving during the week.

What I love most about these is that you can add in favorite mix-ins, like raw fruit and veggies, and they’ll cook along with the oats.  I love adding chopped apples and craisins, or grated carrots and golden raisins.  Nuts or coconut can be added at the end.

Here’s the basic recipe I use for make-ahead steel cut oats:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 to 1.5 cups chopped or grated fruits/veggies (chopped apples, peaches, pears, pineapple; grated carrots; frozen berries or cherries)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (chop if pieces are large)
  • 1 teaspoon spices (cinnamon + nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 cup sliced or chopped nuts, or grated coconut
  • pinch of salt
  • sweetener, to taste (I don’t add very much, if any, when I use apples and dried fruit)
  1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil on high; add oats, fresh fruit, and dried fruit, then reduce to low.
  2. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Oats should be creamy; add a bit of water if they’re too thick.
  3. Stir in spices, nuts/coconut, salt, and sweetener.  Eat right away, or spoon into containers (mason jars work well) and refrigerate.  I usually like to pour some milk on mine before I eat them.  To reheat, take the lid off of the container and reheat on high for 60-90 seconds.  You may need to add a bit of water before reheating if they’re too thick.

I hope you enjoy this as much I do.  If you give it a try, let me know what you think!  And if you come up with some more delicious combinations, I’d love to hear about them.  Comment below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets).

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Recipe Roundup: Sweet Potatoes, From Appetizer to Dessert


photo 2

Last week I made a trip to a fruit stand and picked up a few too many locally-grown sweet potatoes.  The tendency to overbuy was something I warned about in my previous post about shopping at farmers’ markets and fruit stands (probably because I’m guilty of it on most shopping trips).  But I had them, and I wanted to make something delicious.  Having a bounty of sweet potatoes isn’t really a bad thing considering all of their healthy properties (high in fiber, all sorts of vitamins, potassium, and iron).  I opted to make some oven-baked sweet potato fries to snack on while I watched movies on a rainy afternoon.  Below are my favorite ways to use sweet potatoes, from appetizers to dessert.

  1. Savoring the Thyme’s Baked Sweet Potato French Fries.  They are crispy, salty, and cheesy, and healthier than traditional fries (you know, the kind that are actually fried).  These pair well with outdoor grilling, kids like them, and you can add your favorite dipping sauces.
  2. Roasted Grape, Goat Cheese, and Honey Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by How Sweet It Is.  This is one of my favorite side dishes of all times.  Roasted grapes and goat cheese add a huge punch of flavor, and the honey rounds out the sweetness.  Sometimes I make this as a casserole by scooping out the insides of the sweet potatoes and spreading them inside of a casserole dish.  Yum.  Just yum.
  3. Cookie and Kate’s Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili.  It’s satisfying enough for both my vegetarian and omnivorous friends, so it’s one of my go-to recipes for game nights and get-togethers.  I’ve made it in my crockpot before, but cut out the tomato liquid and reduced broth to one cup.
  4. A Family Feast’s Sweet Potato Risotto.  Sweet potatoes make the taste and texture of risotto rich and savory.  I normally use beef stock for risotto, but this uses vegetable stock and makes for a great vegetarian option.
  5. Love and Olive Oil’s Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Molasses Buttercream.  This is such a beautiful AND delicious spice cake (seriously, click the link above and see for yourself).  The only extra labor is roasting the sweet potatoes, which you can do the day before and then store them in the refrigerator.
Recipe Roundup: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Risotto

Do you have a favorite recipe that features sweet potatoes?  Please share by commenting below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets)!

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa (Southern Salsa Verde)

When I went to a local fruit stand last weekend, the cashier started ringing me up for items an earlier customer decided not to buy and had left on the counter.  I thought I had cleared things up, but realized when I got home that some beautiful green tomatoes made their way into my Baggu bag.  I have been hesitant to buy green tomatoes since the only way I know how to prepare them is fried.  This clearly shows I had some learning to do.  I started browsing for green tomato recipes and came across several salsa recipes.  I remembered making Bobby Flay’s recipe for Shredded Chicken and Tomatillo Tacos with Queso Fresco and how much I loved the taste of the chicken after it soaked up the roasted green salsa flavor.  So I decided to use this as a guide to make some roasted green tomato salsa.

Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

  • 3 large green tomatoes, whole
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, whole
  • 1 bulb of garlic, top cut off to expose cloves
  • grapeseed or vegetable oil for drizzling
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup of packed cilantro
  • half of a lime
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbls. honey or agave
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place green tomatoes, a bulb of garlic (top cut off so oil can reach cloves), and a jalapeño pepper in an oven-safe pan.  Drizzle with grape seed or canola oil.
  2. Roast vegetables in oven for 25-30 minutes.  Tomatoes and pepper should start to blacken on the outside, and the garlic should begin to turn soft.  Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then remove stems of tomatoes and pepper and remove garlic cloves from skin.  If you want your salsa to be less spicy, remove the seeds from the jalapeño.
  3. Place tomatoes, pepper, garlic, cilantro, red onion, juice of half a lime, honey, and cumin into a blender or food processor (I had to add my cilantro after blending the first ingredients because my blender is too small!).  Use a blender if you want the finished product to be more sauce-like, and a pulse on a food processor if you like your salsa chunky.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  4. Store in the refrigerator and use within the week, or use this guide for freezing and canning food at home.

 

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa (Southern Salsa Verde)

Before and after roasting green tomatoes, jalapeño, and garlic.

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa (Southern Salsa Verde)

Blend the roasted vegetables with red onion and seasonings.

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa (Southern Salsa Verde)

Add the cilantro (this adds the extra green color).

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa (Southern Salsa Verde)

Use within the week, or can or freeze it for later.

There are a lot of ways to enjoy this salsa.  Scooping it up with chips, using it in Skinnytaste’s crock pot chicken tacos, using Bobby Flay’s taco recipe above, Jamie Oliver’s steak and salsa verde, add it to a taco salad or black beans and rice, or pour over poached whitefish.  Have more ideas or ways you use salsa verde?  Please share!  Comment below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets).

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands

The neighborhood farmers’ markets and road-side fruit stands are buzzing!  Some of you may have year-round markets near your home, but now is the time that spring and summer fruits and veggies start stealing the show.  The difference in product availability and, for some, price makes for a different shopping experiencing than running to the nearest grocery store.  Here are a few of my tips for making the most out of  your market or fruit stand trip.

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands| southernbeets

Roadside Fruit Stand

Before You Go:

  • Take an inventory of what you already have at home.  Just bought a few pounds of apples?  Then you probably don’t need to buy more (if you do, they may not be fresh when you eat them).
  • Make a list of anything you want to make sure you remember, such as ingredients for dinner.  If you do what I do some weekends and throw something together like a contestant on Chopped, get some ideas by browsing through some recipes online that feature seasonal fruits and veggies,

At the Market/Fruit Stand:

  • If it’s perishable, only buy enough for the next week.  I get excited when I see the perfect tomato or taste some super sweet berries, but over-buying can lead to waste.  You can also can, pickle, or freeze different fruits and veggies, but consider if you’ll have time to spend in the kitchen to prepare and process everything while it’s fresh (more information on preserving food at home here).
  • Check fruits to see if they are ripe.  Here’s a guide to tell if it’s ripe or not.  Some vendors provide samples or give samples if you ask.
  • Consider price.  At some markets and fruit stands, prices can be much higher than a grocery store.  The benefit of these places is that the produce is usually fresher, produced on a local farm, and has a smaller carbon footprint because it wasn’t transported across the country.  Some markets and stands, however, are tourist spots and charge more (which may be a direct reflection of their high rent).  If the price is high and the bounty doesn’t look great, consider holding off until your next trip to the grocery store.
  • Bring cash.  Credit and debit cards zap profit from small businesses.  Help them out (and it’ll help you when vendors are able to keep their prices low).
  • Bring your own bag or basket.  Again, it helps keep the carbon footprint and costs for vendors low.  And it makes you look like a market warrior.  My favorite bags are from Baggu.  They’re made of recycled plastic, can be washed in the washing machine, come in different sizes, and easily fit into my purse.  I never leave home without one.
  • If you want the best selection at a market, go early.  If you want a chance to bargain prices down, go late.  Some vendors will also cut a deal if you’re buying in bulk (like for canning or storing).
  • Check out the other goodies (some have canned goods, nuts, honey, or baked items).  It doesn’t hurt to take a look, as these will keep much longer in the kitchen.
  • Take care when getting your findings home.  I keep a small cooler in the back of my car for things that need to be chilled (eggs, cheese, fresh yogurt).  And secure your watermelon (I’m not kidding!).  I’ve made the mistake of putting it on my back seat, and it ended up rolling around on the way home right over my tomatoes and peaches.
Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands| southernbeets

For everyone’s safety, secure the watermelon.

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands| southernbeets

Fruit Stand Goodies

When you get home:  Once you get your market haul home, take some time to store and/or prep your goods.  Fruits and veggies can be kept fresh longer if you store them properly.  For example, berries can last longer if you soak them for 5 minutes in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 3 cups water (don’t rinse afterwards), then store in a covered bowl lined with paper towels.  I have found tips online for storing fresh produce and refer to them often.  The worst thing is buying beautiful fruits and veggies and never having the chance to enjoy them.

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands| southernbeets

A Local Farmers Market

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets and Fruit Stands| southernbeets

Country Tyme Fruit Stand along Highway 49 in Mississippi

Do you have some more tips to share?  I’d love to hear them!  Comment below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets).  Happy shopping!

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Chicken and Bell Pepper Panang Curry

I love curry dishes, and it’s usually what I order when I’m out for Thai food (pumpkin red curry is my fave!).  I found myself craving vegetables swimming in spicy coconut sauce, so I started browsing online for a recipe until I found one.  When I finally did, I couldn’t believe how simple it was (it’s more than boiling water, but really, it’s easy!).  It’s my new 20-minute weeknight dinner.  It only requires a few ingredients, and I can keep a stock of some of them in my pantry and refrigerator.

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Keep curry paste and coconut milk on hand.

I got my recipe for Thai curry from Rachel Cooks Thai, and I used a recipe for Panang Curry with Beef as a general guideline for meat and veggie curry dishes.  As for ingredients, you can buy curry paste and coconut milk at most Asian markets.  There’s different types of curry pastes:  green, yellow, panang, and massaman are a few.  They come in resealable plastic containers and are stored in the refrigerator after opening.  I also use an onion, a pound of protein (shrimp, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or beef for stir-fry), and some vegetables (a few bell peppers or a couple of heads of broccoli, or a couple of small eggplants).  If you’re able to find some Thai basil or lime leaves, that’s a bonus!

Here’s my basic curry recipe:

  • 1 can (13.5-15 oz.) coconut milk (if you use low-fat, it will turn out watery)
  • 2-3 Tbls. curry paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into strips (rather than chopping or dicing)
  • 1 lb. cubed meat or peeled shrimp
  • 3-4 cups vegetables, cubed or cut into strips
  • 4-6 large kaffir lime or Thai basil leaves, sliced thin
  1. Add curry paste to a pan heated up to med-high.  Scoop the cream (the thick stuff at the top of the can) of the coconut milk into a pan and stir until well combined.
  2. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until onion begins to soften.
  3. If using meat, add meat and cook until outside is browned (inside will still be pink).
  4. Add vegetables and stir well, so curry paste coats the outside.  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.
  5. Add remaining coconut milk and leaves (optional) and bring to a boil.  If you’re using shrimp, add them now and cook through until they curl and are no longer translucent (adding them at the end keeps them from being overcooked).
  6. Serve once coconut milk is heated and meat/shrimp are cooked through.

Serve with cooked rice, roasted sweet or golden potatoes, or your favorite noodles.  I’ve used zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) in place of rice and they were delicious because the zoodles absorb the coconut milk and curry flavors.

Below, I used a pound of shrimp, a large peeled eggplant, a large handful of baby arugula, and green curry paste.

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Shrimp and Eggplant Green Curry

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out!  And do you have a favorite Thai or curry recipe?  I’d love to try it!  Comment below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets).

Recipe Roundup: Sweet & Savory Beets

Recipe Roundup: Sweet and Savory Beets| southernbeets

Golden Beet Salad

Earlier, I posted my simple method for roasting beets without making a mess.  I love eating them with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt, but sometimes I like to dress them up.  When I’m dining out, I see them featured most often in salads.  But their versatility and brilliant color make them an unsuspecting star in main dishes and desserts.  Here are some beautiful food blogs that feature beets at their best.

  1. Love & Lemon’s Roasted Beet Pear, & Walnut Salad.   Pears and beets pair well together (no pun intended) since they’re both ‘meaty’ in texture and mild in flavor.  Feta and walnuts round out this balanced salad with a honey walnut vinaigrette.  If you want a heartier salad, this recipe has quinoa as an optional add-in.
  2. Baked Bree’s Roasted Beet and Orange Salad.  The mild and slightly sweet flavors of roasted beets show off the sweet and tart flavors of citrus.  You can use a mix of red and golden beets to make this a colorful salad for summer.  The parsley adds some contrast in color, which could easily be substituted with microgreens.
  3. Delicious Shots’ Homemade Beet Pasta.  Ingredients are often used in pasta to add color (such as spinach, squid ink, or pumpkin).  Adding roasted beets to pasta produces a beautiful red pasta.
  4. Minimalist Baker’s Fudgy Vegan Beet Cupcakes.  This is a one-bowl dessert (yay for fewer dishes to clean!), and the beets add to the rich dark color.  The author PROMISES they taste delicious and chocolate-y, and not a thing like beets.
  5. Joy the Baker’s Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting.  I absolutely love what beets do for the frosting of this beautiful cake.  The layers have a deep chocolate color, and the frosting is dark pink.  This not-too-sweet recipe may become my favorite chocolate cake for the lovely coloring alone.
  6. Design Love Fest’s Citrus Shortbread with Beet Glaze.  These hand-dipped cookies are simple and beautiful, and I’m going to keep them in mind for Valentine’s Day.
Recipe Roundup: Sweet and Savory Beets| southernbeets

Whole Roasted Beet Salad

Do you have a favorite recipe that features beets?  Please share by commenting below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets)!

How to Roast [Southern] Beets Without Making a Mess

Beet salad is so hot right now.  It seems to be on the menu of every New American restaurant, at least.  I never liked beets until I tried these trendy roots roasted in a salad.  Before then, I had only had beets pickled, which was my mom’s favorite but too acidic for me as a kid (I didn’t really like pickled anything until I was in my late 20’s).  I started roasting beets along with my carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes when I roasted chicken.  When I came across this video on How to Roast Beets the Easy Way, I gave it a try and have been making my own roasted beet salad ever since.

Buying:  Most grocery stores stock beets, but I try to buy mine from the farmers’ market when they’re in season.  The farmer I buy my beets from and the narrator of the video (above) swear by cutting the greens from the beets as soon as possible to preserve the sweetness and freshness of the beet.

Preparing:  Once you get your beets home, scrub and rinse them to get rid of any dirt.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer peel, and cut off the top (where the stem was attached).  Use a paper towel to blot off any extra water.

Roasting:  Place the prepared beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil.   Drizzle with coconut or grapeseed oil (something with a high smoke point, so save the olive oil for drizzling over after they roast), sprinkle with sea salt, then cover with another piece of aluminum foil and seal well.  The goal is to make an airtight pocket for the beets to roast in.  Place the beet pocket in a baking pan with sides (in case anything leaks out), and place in a 425-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of the beets).  You’ll know they’re done if you can easily prick them with a fork.  And the cleanup?  Crumple up the aluminum foil and give a quick hand wash to the pan, then you’re done!  When you slice the beets, however, your hands and the cutting board may remind you of Dexter‘s workspace.

Let the beets cook before slicing, and store in the refrigerator if you don’t eat them right away.  I eat them plain sometimes, or make them into a salad with spinach and blue cheese, watermelon and feta, or pears and sliced almonds.

The easy way to roast beets without all the mess| southernbeets

The easy way to roast beets without all the mess.

Do you have a favorite use for roasted beets?  Or a recipe to share?  Comment below or send me a Tweet (@southernbeets)!