Category Archives: Grains

Another Muesli Recipe

This recipe differs in both ingredients and method from the one I posted two years ago. I like both for different reasons, as you’ll see.

Two years ago I wrote about Homemade Muesli, one where I hand-chop all the fruit and nuts and toast the oats. It’s a great recipe because of the large pieces of everything—dried apricots, almonds, raisins, figs, coconut. As I wrote then, it’s great to get all the chewing from muesli. Maybe that’s why you don’t need much of it, 1/4-1/3 cup soaked in some almond milk. It’s plenty for breakfast and you don’t get a sugar high like you do from commercial cereals, including commercial muesli. You get more of a steady, balanced addition to your daily diet.

A few months ago, I started mixing part of the ingredients in the food processor—nuts, apricots, figs—where the results are these little clusters of energy balls that stick together even after mixing with grains and coconut and seeds. They still have some chewiness, but I would say less than the other muesli. That’s the one I’m showing you today.

Muesli Recipe II

  • Servings: makes about 2 lbs
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°; line a sheet pan with parchment paper, which makes it super easy to pour the toasted grains into a bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb  whole grain rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1/2-1 cup seasoned sunflower seeds
  • 1/2-1 cup pumpkin seeds (my grocery was out of these!)
  • 15 dried apricots
  • 15 dried Sierra figs (a green-skinned fig, it is lighter in color and has a tougher dried skin than the mission fig, for example)
  • 1 cup oven-roasted, lightly salted almonds
  • 1 cup shelled walnuts

Preparation

  • Mix together the oats, wheat germ, and coconut. The coconut and wheat germ are less likely to scorch if you mix them with the oats. Spread out on parchment-lined pan and toast in oven for 5-10 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before lifting the parchment and pouring all into a large mixing bowl with the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Place the apricots, figs, almonds, and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients reach a fairly uniform consistency with some variation, but don’t process too much or you will make a paste. Pour the fruit-nut mixture into the bowl with the grains and seeds and stir until well mixed. The pulsed fruit and nuts will form into little balls of varying sizes, and this is what you want. Some of the wheat germ will stick to them, as well as some of the little seeds.
  • Let it all cool completely in the bowl, stirring occasionally, before pouring into a container with a tight lid.

Serve in 1/4-1/3 cup servings soaked for about 20 minutes in almond milk or the milk of your choice. You could alternately put the moistened muesli in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm up. I let mine sit while I drink that second cup of morning coffee.

Revising a Recipe without a Parachute

We’ve had enough days of cold and snow to bring out a desire for some big bran muffins full of walnuts and raisins. Of course I already have a pretty perfect Buttermilk Bran Muffin recipe, just not all of its ingredients. So I just started throwing items in as substitutes, without doing the kinds of searches for correct substitutes that I might usually do.

  • I  had almost 1 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour, but needed 2 cups, so I filled the missing flour with all-purpose flour
  • The wheat bran looked to be about 1 cup, but I needed 2 cups. Whatever, I just threw in what I had and moved on
  • I didn’t have any molasses, so necessary to the typical bran muffin flavor, so I used some dark brown sugar in the same amount
  • I didn’t have any buttermilk, but I had about 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, so I threw that in, plus one container of no-sugar-added vanilla Greek yogurt to make up the 2 cups or so
  • I added a full cup of chopped walnuts instead of the 1/2 cup in the original and lots of raisins, probably more than the 1/2 cup called for
  • Instead of filling the muffin cups to the usual 2/3 full, I scooped in the thick batter so that it towered over the tops like scoops of ice cream in a cone

I wondered if any of these substitutions would adversely affect the texture or flavor of the final bread, but they turned out very good. Lighter in color and sweeter than I expected, these alternative bran muffins fulfilled my desire for a hefty and flavorful winter muffin. Follow the link above for the original recipe and experiment with your own substitutions.

Slow Cooker Brown Rice Pudding, Low-Sugar, Lactose-Free

There are so many things you can do with a batch of rice pudding, sort of like topping a sundae. Just set out lots of options—nuts, dried or fresh fruit, coconut, raisins, chocolate chips, M&Ms, whatever might appeal to your crew. For me, it’s coconut and raisins; for Ted, it’s chocolate chips. For me, it’s low-sugar; for Ted, it’s lactose-free.

I used a combination of canned, whole fat coconut milk and lactose-free whole milk, a total of about 3.5-4 cups, but you could use lots of other substitutions, like almond milk or soy milk and even more coconut milk. I use the full-fat products to make up for the missing sugar, so that I still get a full, rich mouth feel from the pudding. If sugar isn’t a problem for you, you could also use other sugars, like honey or maple syrup in place of refined sugar. But I must say that the Truvia Baking Blend® tastes pretty good and Ted will never know.

Slow Cooker Brown Rice Pudding, Low-Sugar, Lactose-Free

  • Servings: makes about 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup Jasmati brown rice or any brown rice of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups whole lactose-free milk, scalded in microwave
  • 1/2 cup (or less) Truvia Baking Blend® sweetener or equivalent
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt to taste
  • more milk to achieve creamy texture
Preparation
  1. Butter the bottom and sides of a slow-cooker crock.
  2. Place rice and cinnamon in crock.
  3. In separate bowl, mix milks, sweetener, and vanilla, stirring until sweetener is dissolved in the warm mixture.
  4. Pour liquids over rice, cover and cook on low setting for 4 hours.
  5. After 4 hours, open crock and stir to check for doneness and creaminess. My rice was pretty much done, but I covered it for another 25 minutes just to be sure.
  6. Stir in about 1/2 cup more milk for creamy texture. Stir in a big pinch of kosher salt to taste.

Remove pudding to separate bowls, depending on how you want to serve it. I divided it into two bowls of about 2 cups each. To one bowl, I stirred in 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Flaked Coconut® and 1/4 cup raisins, while the rice was still warm. I put the other bowl in the refrigerator to cool before stirring in about 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Rice pudding can be served warm or cold—or both.

Beef Barley Stew

Nothing fancy here, just an old-fashioned beef stew with barley instead of potatoes. As you know, I try to call anything in a bowl that might be mistaken for soup, stew, to make an end run around my husband and his aversion to soup. I gave him both a spoon and fork, and he used the spoon, though. I asked him afterwards if he thought it was soup or stew and he said “stew,” so it was a win. He said it was too thick for soup, which is always “watery”—clearly, he’s not a soup connoisseur.

I could only find quick cooking barley 😦 but it still did its thickening routine, just not by soaking up so much of the liquid or having to cook so long. For vegetables, I stuck to the traditional onion,  green beans, and carrots—there’s a tasty reason those are traditional. I used a beurre manié at the end to slightly thicken the gravy.

Beef Barley Stew

  • Servings: at least 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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2-2 1/2 lb chuck roast, trimmed and cubed

olive oil or other fat for browning

1 large onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, grated or minced

2 cups sliced carrots

2 cups green bean, cut in 1/2″ pieces

5 cups beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

salt & pepper to taste ( is your beef stock salty?)

1 cup quick-cooking barley (adjust times and liquid if using regular barley)

beurre manié, made from 4 tablespoons each flour and butter (see below)

  1. Choose a chuck roast with good marbling. Trim off most of the fat, especially the hard fat, and cut the meat into chunks—large if you want to eat it like a stew; bite-sized if you want to eat it more like a soup. I cut mine on the smaller size.
  2. In a heavy 6 qt. stockpot, brown the beef in about 3-4 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat until browned all over. Season as you cook, but consider how salty your beef stock might be.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and continue cooking until the onions are translucent, but not browned.
  4. Add the carrots and green beans, the beef stock and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Stir in the barley, cover, and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the barley has swelled up and become tender. 1 cup of quick-cooking barley, requires 2 cups of liquid, so I included that in my calculations when determining the amount of beef stock to use.
  6. Stir in the beurre manié until incorporated, continuing to simmer for a few minutes, to cook out the rawness of the flour.

Beurre Manié

In a small bowl, work equal amounts of all-purpose flour and soft butter together until they form a paste with no discernible lumps of flour. I use the tines of a fork for this, but you could use the back of a spoon or even your fingers. Just keep working it until it comes together. Then you can just gather it up with a large spoon and stir it into your hot, simmering or boiling sauce.

Beurre manié is one of those thickening miracles that comes in handy at the last minute. Sometimes, I make a beurre manié with masa harina corn flour and butter to thicken chili at the end. Not only does it thicken, but it adds a nice corn flavor.