Friday, April 18, 2014

Easy Overnight Cheesy Spinach Breakfast Bake

This last week here in our amazing Free Cooking Classes, we had an Egg-travaganza showing some great dishes to make with eggs! Eggs are a great price right now, especially with all the Easter events.

People ask us all the time what we do with day-old bread or whole wheat bread if it didn't turn out the way we would have liked. This is a great way to use up some extra cubes of whole grain happiness...

 Easy Overnight Cheesy Spinach Breakfast Bake
2 packages fresh spinach (9 oz) chopped
6 green onions sliced thin
2 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or half-n-half)
9 eggs
1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1T salt
1T Italian Seasoning blend
8 cups whole wheat bread cubes
In a large pot, bring 2 inches of water to a boil.
Place spinach in a colander in the boiling water. Cover and steam for 3-5 minutes until wilted. Drain well.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except the bread cubes. 
 Add the bread cubes and coat well.
 Transfer to a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes (or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Scoop into serving dishes and drizzle with your favorite salad dressing if desired. We really loved it with ranch dressing. 
There it is! Simple, convenient, and delicious!
We hope to see you soon at one of our free upcoming classes!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Perfect Quinoa 101

 What in the world is quinoa anyway? 2013 was declared the The International Year of Quinoa. Did you miss the memo?  If you haven't yet tried this remarkable super-grain you're going to be in for a few surprises.  We hear a lot of questions about how to cook it and what to do with it. Enough so, that we had three classes on how to cook it and add it to your healthy life. Here's what you should know about the nutrition of Quinoa.

It is a complete protein and a wonderful source of fiber.

How do you cook it?
 You will always need to rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly in cold water before cooking, unless it is in a package that says, "pre-rinsed". It is easiest rinsed in in a  finer meshed colander. This is a smaller grain and it will easily slip through the cracks. 

Rinsing is not an optional step. Why?

 In its natural state quinoa has a coating of saponins, which gives it a bitter taste. This bitterness can have beneficial effects in terms of cultivation, as it is a crop that is relatively untouched by birds and thus requires minimal protection. The presence of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds". This also represents the major antinutritional factor found in the grain. Fortunately, most of these saponins are concentrated in the outer layers of the grain (seed coat, and a cuticle-like layer) which facilitates their removal industrially by washing the grains with water. (See more here)

Basic Quinoa

2 cups red or white quinoa, rinsed well
4 cups water or chicken broth
salt to taste


Pressure Cooker: In a 2 1/2 liter pressure cooker add the Basic Quinoa ingredients. Bring to a boil. Seal lid and pressure at high for 5 minutes. Allow pressure to drop on its own. Store cooled quinoa in the fridge for up to a week. 

Conventional:  In a 1 and a half quart (6 cups) capacity heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, boil the water and the salt, that is when the bubbles don't stop even when you stir it. Add the grain, cover the pot, and turn the burner to the lowest setting. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Don't stir it. Just let it simmer. This will produce perfect grain every time if you follow the instructions.

Now, if you feel pretty crazy and confident, try using chicken or vegetable broth in place of the water. It will add a lot of flavor. Some people don't like a flavor to their grain, beside the grain. We also like using coconut milk in place of the water in Hawaiian dinners, along with 1/4 cup minced onion. Garlic adds a nice touch too, even just one or two cloves pressed into the broth as you add the grain.

One final note. You can use quinoa anywhere you use rice. It is also remarkable added to your baked goods in small amounts. Keep it to about 1/2 cup of cooked grain to every dozen muffins or pan of quick bread.  

See you soon at one of our Free Cooking Classes!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Slow Cooker Carrot Cake

Last week we had our vegetable festival and for one of the dessert recipes we made a really fun slow cooker carrot cake in our Fagor 3-in-1 Pressure Cooker.

This pressure cooker has three functions in one appliance so it can work as a rice cooker, pressure cooker, and also a slow cooker.  Because the insert is metal and removable with a non-stick coating, it is perfect for this carrot cake recipe. No additional pans are needed and it bakes this carrot cake perfectly in 2 hours without an oven! This is great for anyone who is using their oven for other foods or simply doesn't want to heat up their kitchen. We haven't tried it with other recipes yet, but we're anxious to see what else we can bake in our slow cooker!

We also adapted this recipe from the original recipe that called for dead white flour and replaced it with fresh ground whole soft white wheat flour. Using a Nutrimill will give you the ability to retain all the healthy nutrition of the whole grain. 
We love being able to control the texture of our flour. For this cake, we go with the finest setting possible. Soft wheat, with the lower protein content, is perfect for cake.
The other thing we do is use the flour sifter for our Bosch Universal. Sifting out some of the bulky fiber will give this cake a lighter texture.  This is how it works: 

Slow Cooker Carrot Cake
1 Cup grapeseed oil
3 eggs
2 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Cups fine grated carrot (about 4 carrots)
1 ½ Cups soft white wheat flour (bran removed if possible)
1 ½ Cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 Cup golden raisins, plump with 1 cup boiling water 10 minutes, drain well

Directions: In a Bosch bowl with the cookie paddle, combine the oil, eggs, water and  vanilla. Turn off the mixer. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Mix on speed 1 until combined. Add the carrots, walnuts, and raisins using the moment speed until incorporated.  
Pour batter into a well greased  Fagor 3-in-1 Pressure Cooker. Turn on the slow cook function on high for 2 hours. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before opening lid. 
The cake will be moist and remarkable. 
There you go! Make some amazing slow cooker carrot cake! We look forward to seeing you at one of our next cooking classes!