Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Banana Peppers Barley Salad

The other day I had a pepperoncini barley salad that was really good I looked for it online. Looks like there is a recipe floating around that came from Cooking Light. Pepperoncinis are usually kinda spicy and I wasn't sure if my kids'll eat them so I subbed banana peppers instead. I didn't have all the ingredients so I omitted and subbed things, the recipe seems pretty flexible as most salad recipes are. In the end, my salad comprised of pearl barley, banana peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh basil. The kids loved them and kept swinging by the kitchen to grab a few bites. I doubled the recipe and it was mostly all gone by the end of dinner. It is a very refreshing salad, and the barley added a nice bite as well as goodness for the body. ( Recipe here.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wild Rice Mix Pilaf

I don't know if it's the asian in me but I really like rice. All kinds of rice. I like it when I go to a restaurant and there's rice on my plate, a different kind of rice other than my usual short grain white rice. Wild rice mix pilaf is one of my favorite restaurant rices. I've never had much luck making it at home, it always come out gooshy or the opposite, way too hard. I found some wild rice mix at a bulk bin and thought I'd give it another try. But this time in my new pressure cooker. I had high hopes.
I thought I'd season it this time, so I threw in some chicken stock, parsley, and garlic. I wasn't quite sure about the water and the time, with several different grains with their own separate cook times, I took an average and went with that.

Well, turns out it was too much water (1 cup rice to 2.5 cups water) which maybe I should of adjusted to the pressure cooker. The brown rice was soft but the barley still had a nice bite to it. Taste wise, it was tasty. Just wasn't the nice rice like the restaurants. Next time will be better. I hope.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Gatorade

The other day I was running short on time to make dinner so I got some frozen fish sticks. I ask my kids if they liked them and my son says he likes the homemade kind better. He follows that with a "everything is better homemade" statement. Oh yeah, well how about Homemade Gatorade? You didn't like that the last time I made it... What??? You made homemade gatorade? I don't remember, they all reply. So I made it again, but this time instead of OJ I used Kool-Aid and with some research and a little tweaks, whola! homemade gatorade!
Here's what I came up with: 1 pkg kool-aid (this batch was with Lemon Lime), 1/2 t LITE salt, 1/4 t regular salt, 5 pkgs Sun Crystals (pure cane sugar and stevia mix), 1/2 t sour salt (aka citric acid), 1/4 c sugar, and 1/2 gallon of water. I think it turned out pretty close and it was so much cheaper.
Nutritional Info (per 8 oz serving), homemade vs store-bought:
Calories: 25 vs 50
Sodium (mg): 111 vs 110
Potassium (mg): 44 vs 30
Sugar (g): 7 vs 14
Homemade version has less sugar and calories which I like since my kids tend to drink these more for enjoyment than as a "sports drink" during exercise. If they were to be used as a sports drink and they needed more calories, I might add maltodextrin or sub more sugar for the Sun Crystals.

Round 2: Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade "Gatorade". The kids liked this flavor better than the Lemon Lime.
I've read that if you double the water, it'll taste like Gatorade Rain.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Muffins and quickbreads really taste good when I'm at work so I made a couple muffins from Allrecipes. I've been trying to encorporate whole grains into my baked foods so I specifically looked for something with oatmeal. Oatmeal blueberry muffins and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal. The chocolate chip muffin tasted like a choco chip cookie, a little too much chips but I liked the batter part so I might try it different add-ins.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Italian Bean Soup

It's been so cold lately, it's been definitely soup weather. I had some cooked navy beans in my fridge that needed something done to them quick, so I searched for a bean soup and found one in a Better Homes and Gardens soup cookbook. It sounded really interesting, had basalmic vinegar in it. It gave a nice interesting flavor to the soup, unfortunately that taste was gone the next day. All in all, a good soup recipe. I didn't have green beans so I subbed some spinach, and didn't bother with the bread topping. Recipe was also found on their website.

No Knead Challah

Having been making no-knead 5-minute artisan bread and seeing how simple yet delicious these breads are, I had to give this no-knead challah bread from King Arthur a try. The recipe yields three loaves, I baked all three since fresh baked bread doesn't last too long around here. For the honey, I used a wildflower honey which has a pretty distinct and strong flavor. Next time I'd probably use a milder flavored honey. It was still good, nonetheless, and I like how the braids look.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Okay, this one's not completely from scratch but I think it's been modified enough to be called 'homemade'. I had about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table and usually I simmer my spaghetti sauces a while but given the time crunch I made it with my pressure cooker. Chopped a couple onions and mushroom (didn't even saute them first), put them into the pressure cooker with some minced garlic, bay leaves, italian seasoning, black pepper, and a couple cans of commercial spaghetti sauce. PC-timed it for 10 minutes and let it naturally release steam for about 10 minutes while the pasta was being cooked and then quick released it when the pasta was done. The sauce came out pretty good, except it was a little runny, I guess because it didn't get to evaporate some of the liquid, being in a fully enclosed pan and all. It thickened up a little the next morning though. Very simple and easy way to make spaghetti sauce without all the mess (that I experience, not sure about the rest of you...) that happens when I open the lid to stir during the simmer stage. And since I have an electric PC, I really enjoyed the Keep Warm feature.