Mar 28, 2016

Breakfast oatmeal shortcuts!

I've been eating oatmeal almost everyday for the last 5 years.  I've tried every method of preparing them - instant, rolled, steel cut, multigrain, baked, overnight, slow cooker. Oats are nutritious and filling and make a great first food for the day. Today, I wanted to share three of the easiest ways to enjoy oatmeal!

The first method that I still enjoy from time to time is instant oats! These are just really thinly sliced rolled oats. I love that they are so easy to make. I wake up hungry, so it's the simplest thing to just  microwave a packet of instant oats and gobble it up. While Quaker has a ton of different flavors and options, they all have plenty of added sugar and salt. That's when I found the McCann's quick cooking Irish oatmeal. These are plain, so you can add toppings to your preference. I add milk to the oats instead of water and microwave it for three minutes. Add in fruits and nuts/seeds that you like and your breakfast is ready! I always add sliced almonds or walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds. I vary the fruit by season - apple and cinnamon, banana and peanut butter, peaches, berries, mangoes! The options are endless!

These days though, my go to recipe is inspired by this new discovery! Quaker quick cook steel cut oats. While I like rolled oats, I feel like they are mushy and tend to get a bit gummy. Steel cut oats have this beautiful texture that makes it creamy and very porridge-y! I know the pack says 3 minutes but I cook for 7-8 minutes for a good texture that's also suitable for a baby. I throw in 1/3 cups oats and one cup water in a saucepan, set the timer. I dice an apple and add it in so it can cook. I stir once in a while to prevent the oats from sticking to the bottom. At the end of 8 minutes, porridge is ready! Spoon into bowls, add yogurt to baby's bowl, milk, nuts, chia and hemp with a dash of maple syrup to my bowl and breakfast's ready! Again, you can add any fruit you like in here. Just prepare with water if you're making this for a baby!

My last method is the most useful if you're making this for multiple people - in a slow cooker! Though my slow cooker is only 3.5q, it still makes too much for just me. I tried to freeze leftovers but that resulted in a weird texture. Now that my in laws are here, I make a cup and a half of steel cut regular oatmeal with 5 cups of water in a slow cooker. I cook it on low for about 7 hours. I add in only fruit because I also want to give this to the baby. But once I've removed her portion, I can add in milk, nuts and seeds and syrup and make it suitable for the adults.

I have the 3.5 quart Cuisinart.

I prefer steel cut oatmeal, so I'm not going to try overnight and baked oatmeal anymore. But if you're a fan of rolled oats, those are methods that you can try! I hope you found this post useful and it can make your mornings a little more fun. Now that I have these methods down to a routine, of course, my baby decided that she hates oatmeal, haha. So I'm going to hunt for something else that she likes and I'll share it when I find it. If you have any tips for baby breakfast recipes, please share in the comments. 

Mar 9, 2016

Butternut Squash and Kale Risotto (Baby Friendly Recipe)

Hello everyone! It's been a while, isn't it?  Well, this recipe brought me out of my blog hiatus, it's so good! I haven't tried many new recipes the last few months. By the time I finish making the baby's food and feeding her, I'm too tired to try anything new, so I end up making the same old recipes again and again. I'm so excited that she is almost ten months old now and she can eat the food I make for us (with a bunch of modifications!). I saw a recipe for butternut squash risotto on a baby food website and I was so eager to try it. My husband loves risotto, so, this was meant to be our first meal together!!

I used to dread risotto because of the constant stirring it requires. The great thing about this recipe is that it only needs a few stirs once in a while and not all the time. I made this in a big stainless steel pan. I bet it'll be even easier in a dutch oven. Adding the broth one cup at a time seems to be the key here!

Ingredients -

Frozen butternut squash - 1/2 lb of cubed squash (I got some organic frozen squash at whole foods. If you get fresh, great!)

Kale - 1/2 cup , rinse and chop (I used frozen curly kale)

Olive oil/ Butter/ Ghee - I used ghee to roast the squash.

Salt and Pepper

Dash of turmeric

Onion - 1 small, diced

Garlic - 3 pods, finely sliced

Arborio rice - 1 cup

Vegetable broth - 4 cups (either store bought or home made. If store bought, get low sodium)

Method -

1. Heat oil in a pan and when hot, add the cut butternut squash. If you spread them out, they'll get nice and brown. Add kale and cook for a few minutes and set aside. (I removed a bit for the baby and added some smoked paprika to ours)

2. Heat some more oil and fry the onions and garlic.

3. Add the arborio rice and give a stir.

4. Add the broth once cup at a time and stir. If you stir every 3-4 minutes, the risotto won't stick at the bottom.

5. Once the broth is absorbed and the rice puffs up, add another cup of broth.

6. Keep cooking for 35-40 minutes. I read in some places that you shouldn't cook arborio rice for more than 20-25 minutes but at that mark, the rice still felt uncooked to me. Taste test and continue cooking to your preference.

7. Add salt, pepper and the cooked butternut squash + kale and give it a good stir.

8. Sprinkle some parmesan on top and serve!

For the baby, I served it with some cottage cheese which she loves.

Both husband and the baby really loved it. I did too, which is why I decided to record it in the blog, haha!
Definitely give it a try if you're looking for a warm and comforting dinner. It takes a little time but it's super easy! Hope you enjoy the recipe.