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Posts Tagged ‘Milk’

When life gives you grape-nuts, make grape-nuts bread. 

I’ll be honest.  We don’t eat grape-nuts.  I don’t know how we came to have a box in our home.  It may have had to do with the fact that Rice Kernel didn’t poop for something like 21 days when he was younger. (No exaggeration.)  Or maybe FHE needed added fiber.  Doesn’t matter.  When I discovered neither one of my boys would consume grape-nuts in cereal form, i.e. as intended, I made it my mission to find a recipe to “hide” it in.  (The idea is using the cereal as a body exfoliant did cross my mind.  Fortunately I was spared.) 

This recipe requires three steps: soaking, stirring, and baking.  It’s nutritionally packed and FHE and Rice Kernel have inhaled loaves of the wholesome, nutty bread over the years.  Good thing it’s a quick bread – the first loaf is all gone….

Grape-Nuts Bread

Easy. Healthy. Flavorful.

Ingredients

    1 cup grape nuts cereal
    1 1/2 cups milk (I use 1% because that’s what we have on hand)
    2 tbps oil
    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    1/4 cup agave nectar
    1 cup flour (I use a mix of all purpose and white whole wheat flour)
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1/2 cup to 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut (optional) or any mix-in… or none.

Directions

  1. Soak grape nuts in milk for 30 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  3. Mix in rest of ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  4. Bake in a prepared 8×4 loaf pan for 35-40 minutes.
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Snow Days

The three of us went to Lake Tahoe for a few days with my in-laws.  I’ve been making the trip with my husband’s family since high school and before Rice Kernel came along, a drive to the mountains meant sleep, rest, and movies – all to excess.  With a little one in tow these days, our priorities have changed.  The trip is no longer synonymous with restful relaxation (okay, slothiness) – it’s about playing in the snow!  (And showing Rice Kernel that wearing layers is essential in some places.) 

We were greeted by abundant snow and cold this trip.  In fact, it snowed all of Friday.  Temperatures were below zero at night and in the low double digits during the daytime.  It’s no surprise there was lots of shoveling and shivering.  Fortunately, we had a solution to combat fatigue and the chill:  homemade hot chocolate.  Unlike the small, store-bought packets of hot cocoa mix (of which I’ve had my fair share), homemade hot chocolate uses real melted chocolate instead of added sugar, flavorings, and milk powder.  Decadent and satisfying, it is the perfect reward for shoveling the driveway and will entice even the little ones to come in from hours of sledding. 

Now that we’re home, don’t think the hot chocolate got left behind in Tahoe.  Did I mention milk + chocolate is the perfect workout recovery drink?  With carbohydrates, fat, calcium and protein, hot chocolate may be the superfood to replenish your tired muscles on any day of the week.  Of course, fat-free milk is probably a wiser choice here.  But I digress.

How does your family warm up from the snow?

Basic Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

    4 tbsp chocolate (we used 60% cacao for a more intense chocolate flavor and little added sugar)
    2 tbsp agave nectar
    5 cups milk (your choice of fat content in the milk or use of cream will dictate the level of creaminess)
    1 tsp vanilla
    pinch of salt
    Optional flavorings

Directions

  1. Warm milk in a small pot over low heat.  Bring to low simmer.
  2.  Add chocolate, agave, salt, vanilla and optional flavorings. 
  3. Whisk vigorously until chocolate is dissolved.
  4. Serve with optional marshmallows or whipped cream.

 Optional flavorings

  1. Cinnamon.  Add a pinch of cinnamon or infuse the milk with a cinnamon stick during the initial heating process.
  2. Chopped peppermint / candy cane (infused in the milk or used as a topping at the end).
  3. Chai spices.  If using spices, brew them into the milk during the initial heating process then strain before adding chocolate.
  4. Peanut butter chips melted in with the chocolate.
  5. Caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought).
  6. Hot chili powder for an Aztec-inspired chocolate drink (infused in the milk).
  7. Liquors.  Not for the kiddies.

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There are few dishes that wait for the cook and her company.  In my kitchen, it is far often the other way around.  So when I need to regain some control over service I turn to the strata, a dish that is perfectly flexible, patient, and decadent.

Strata is the bread pudding made with a base of savory eggs.  This easy treat (meal) generally includes cubes or slices of bread that have been soaked in custard.  Like many egg dishes, a strata can incorporate any or all of your favorite ingredients.  Once assembled, it sets anywhere between a few hours up to an entire day before baking – making it the perfect dish to entertain with.  For me, it is the ideal vehicle to sneak eggs and milk into my toddler’s diet – neither of which he has been enjoying of late.

Strata

Ingredients

5 cups of cubed bread (use whole wheat for more nutrition; French for a more classic version)
8 large eggs
1 quart milk (lowfat is fine)
1 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated cheese (we use low-skim mozarella)
Filling of your choice. Ours includes:

    1 cup spinach, chopped and thawed from frozen
    1/2 large onion, chopped
    1/2 cup sliced onions
    1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
    1 cup sausage (any variety), cooked and crumbled

 

Directions

  1. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and pepper.  
  3. Add cooled sausage and vegetables (or your filling(s) of choice). 
  4. Gently fold in bread cubes and cheese.
  5.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  6. To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Uncover and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the mixture has puffed up slightly and is golden brown on top.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Note:  Consider a sweet strata – essentially a baked french toast.

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