Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats with Fruit Compote

I love breakfast. On the weekend, I’ll sleep in and then enjoy pancakes, poached eggs over homemade bread, or omelets stuffed with veggies and cheese. But during the week I need something that can be prepped in advance, and something that will keep me full until lunch.

Lately I’ve been loving steel cut oats. They feel more substantial than regular rolled oats, have a nice chew and a nutty flavor, and have some added nutritional benefits. I cook up a big batch on the weekends and portion it into containers so I can have an easy breakfast every day of the week. I top the oats with some homemade fruit compote, fresh berries, and stir in some greek yogurt.

You can make steel cut oats on the stove or in an Instant Pot. Since we got our Instant Pot as a wedding gift, we have been using it for everything! It makes perfect steel cut oats and brown rice. We have even made homemade greek yogurt using the yogurt setting! However, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, no problem! I made steel cut oats on the stove for years. I am including modified ingredients and instructions for the stove-top version at the bottom.

I am also including a very simple recipe for fruit compote. You can put ANY kind of fruit you like! The best part is that you can use fresh or frozen fruit – it will just take a little longer to cook if it is frozen. I usually use ½ cup of chopped strawberries and ½ cup of frozen mixed berries. The strawberries are typically from what is about to go bad from our fresh berries. The cartons never last the whole week! If I don’t need to make compote right away, I’ll just wash and chop the strawberries and throw them in the freezer in ½ cup portions. I like getting frozen berries in bulk. We get a 3 lb bag at Sam’s Club. The latest kind they had was under $8 and included raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. My favorite version included strawberries and sweet cherries as well, but it isn’t currently in stock. 

Steel Cut Oats Ingredients (Instant Pot version)

 Steel Cut Oats Instructions (Instant Pot version)

Plug in your Instant Pot. Press Saute and make sure it lights up below “Normal.” Press the plus or minus keys if you need to change the setting.

Add the butter to the pot and let it melt.

Add the oats and orange zest and stir well. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until slightly golden and the oats smell toasty.

Press Keep Warm/Cancel to stop sautéing.

Pour in the water and milk and stir well.

Put the lid on your pot, make sure to lock it properly, and set the lid to “Sealing.”

Press Manual and then hit the plus or minus buttons until the display reads “3.”

It will take ~5-10 minutes to come up to pressure, depending on how cold your ingredients are. Then it will count down the 3 minutes to cook. The machine will beep once the 3 minutes are up. Do not open the lid right away! You need to let the pressure come back down first. I always wait 10-20 minutes to let it mostly naturally release. Then, protecting my hand with an oven mitt or towel, I quickly flip the valve from “sealing” to “venting” and move my hand out of the way. Unless the pressure has already naturally released, quite a bit of steam will come out of the valve.

Once you have the lid off, use oven mitts to pull out the inner pot. Give everything a good stir (it will look too liquidy at first, but it all mixes in). Add in the orange juice and stir again.

Let cool and portion into containers, or serve immediately with greek yogurt, fruit compote, and fresh berries.

To reheat:
Spoon some compote on top of the oats. Microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds (adjust as necessary depending on the power of your microwave). Stir in cut up fresh berries* and greek yogurt or milk to achieve desired consistency.

* I like putting the berries on top before microwaving so they get cooked down a little. 

Fruit Compote Ingredients:

1 heaping cup of chopped fruit (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup fresh orange juice (from ~1/2 orange)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1.5 teaspoons cornstarch

Fruit Compote Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a small pot, stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until berries pop and juices have thickened. 

Steel Cut Oats Ingredients (Stove-top version)
Adapted slightly from Cookie and Kate

4 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups milk (I always use unsweetened almond milk)
1.5 tablespoons butter (unsalted or salted is fine)
1.5 cups steel cut oats (not quick cook)
Zest of one orange
Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
Juice of ½ orange (about ¼ cup of juice)

Steel Cut Oats Instructions (Stove-top version)

Heat milk and water in a large pot over medium heat.
Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add oats and orange zest and cook 2-3 minutes or until golden and they smell nutty, stirring occasionally.
Stir the oats into the milk and water (carefully, to avoid splashes). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. The mixture should have thickened slightly.
Stir in salt and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick. Stir in the orange juice.
Let cool and portion into containers, or serve immediately with greek yogurt, fruit compote, and fresh berries. 

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Blueberry Lime Swirl

I went to look up the recipe for this ice cream, and realized that it was hidden in a post featuring a different recipe, one I didn't even like all that much. This ice cream is so fantastic it deserves the spotlight!

I've made a lot of homemade ice cream recipes, and this is by far my favorite. It is super creamy, even after being in the freezer for weeks. But let's be real, it never lasts that long!

Many of the times I make this I don't get true swirls. You need to wait as long as possible before adding the blueberry mixture to the ice cream machine, and then turn it off after just a few spins, otherwise it will incorporate into the ice cream fully and you will get blue ice cream. It does taste exactly the same so don't worry about it too much. If you are set on getting the swirls, you can even layer it in the container and swirl by hand before putting in the freezer. It is pretty sot when it is first made, so I recommend making it at least a few hours before you want to serve it.

Recipe: Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Ice Cream

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp corn starch
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
2 tsp lime zest
3/4 cup heavy cream

Combine the blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, lime juice, and 1 tbsp lime zest in a small pot. Whisk together the water and cornstarch, and add to the pot. Turn the heat onto medium and let simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.

Beat together the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, mix until creamy and set aside.

Bring 3/4 cup of the milk to a boil over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and add 1/4 cup of the milk to the cream cheese mixture and mix until combined and smooth. Continue with another 1/4 cup at a time of the milk, and then add the entire mixture back to the pan.

Stir over medium-low heat until thickened slightly. Remove from heat, strain mixture, and let cool completely.

(Everything works best if all of your ingredients are really cold, so put in the fridge to cool if possible)

Combine the zest, heavy cream, remaining milk, and cream cheese mixture together. Pour into your ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

* I use this ice cream machine and really like it
Cuisinart ICE-30R Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker, 2 quart, Brushed Metal/Red
When ice cream is thickened and finished freezing, slowly pour in the blueberry lime syrup and let swirl a few times in the machine before turning off. (Or create layers in a container, then swirl with a knife a few times.) 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Savory Empanada Tarta with Roasted Vegetables and Cheese

Most nights when there isn't really anything on TV, Joey and I will put the Food Network on. There's usually something interesting to watch, and if we're lucky, we find a meal inspiration. A lot of the time, our inspiration comes from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I know that a lot of people don't like Guy Fieri, but I do like seeing the variety of cuisines featured on the show.

Recently, we saw an episode that featured a cafe called Maria Empanada in Denver, CO. Their empanadas looked fantastic, but the star of the episode was her empanada tarta - a savory tart that was made with her empanada dough, smeared with cream cheese, and then layered with roasted vegetables. It looked so good! While I copied down most of what she said, I didn't have any plans to try making it right away. However, Joey immediately started searching for empanada dough recipes, and we decided to make it for a potluck dinner we went to recently.

It was such a hit! We only got a slice each at the potluck dinner, so we made it again just 4 days later. The dough is so easy to work with, and has turned out crispy and flaky every time. You really can use any filling you would like, but the flavor of the roasted vegetables works really well, especially with a generous layer of tangy cream cheese. The second time we made it, we had some leftover ricotta cheese, so we put in some dollops between layers.

Empanada Dough
Recipe from Epicurious

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the bowl. Using your hands (or if you prefer to keep your hands clean, a pastry blender or two knives), and work the butter into the flour until you have small pieces/ribbons of butter that are pea-sized. Put the whole bowl in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes, to keep it cold.

In a small bowl, mix together the egg, water and vinegar, until homogeneous.

Pull out your bowl from the fridge/freezer, and add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Use a fork or a spoon to gently mix together until there are no visibly wet areas. Use your hands to help it form into a ball. It will seem like there is too much flour - that is okay!

Lay out a piece of plastic wrap onto your counter, and dump the contents of the bowl on it. Use the plastic wrap to help guide the dough into a disc - it helps to act as a shield so it won't stick to your hands, and will help some of the excess flour adhere to the dough. Wrap the disc well with plastic wrap (get another sheet if necessary), and put it in the fridge for 1-1.5 hours.

Empanada Tarta:
Note: these are just suggested vegetables to use - feel free to use your favorite.

1 medium butternut squash (or similar squash), peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
Olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tbsp cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Ricotta cheese, if desired
Herbs, if desired


Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Toss the veggies with olive oil, spread out on the baking sheets, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized. Let cool and set aside.

Shake out some flour on a large work surface. Once the dough has been chilled, set it out, and sprinkle some flour on top of it. Roll out until ~1/4 inch thick, and it extends beyond a 9-inch springform pan (or deep dish pie pan) by a couple of inches in all directions. Carefully transfer to your pan, and let it sink onto the bottom. Press it down on the bottom and onto the sides of the pan - if there is excess, push that down onto the top of the pan so the sides stay up. Put it back in the fridge while you are waiting for the veggies to finish cooking/cooling.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Once everything is ready, take the dough back out of the fridge. Spread the cream cheese on the bottom. Make sure the veggies aren't too hot (it will just melt the butter in the crust), and sprinkle them over the cream cheese until they have just covered the bottom. Sprinkle with ~2 tbsp parmesan cheese, and any fresh herbs or dollops of ricotta, if desired. Add another layer of veggies, another layer of parmesan cheese (and desired herbs/ricotta). Gently peel the dough off the sides of the pan, and fold over the veggies, still leaving a large portion uncovered.

Cover the pan with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another ~25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and flaky.

If cooked in a springform pan, let it cool 5 minutes, and then remove the sides. Let cool another 5 minutes, and then enjoy!

See how messy my dough was! But it all works out in the end, I promise

Here is the first layer of butternut squash

We topped the butternut squash with onions, mushrooms and broccoli

Here is where you add your ricotta/herbs

Another layer of veggies

Gently fold the edges of dough over your filling, still leaving the center uncovered

This is what it looks like after the first 30 minutes in the oven. The last 25 minutes are where you get all of the color on the pastry

Beautifully golden brown!

It is golden brown all the way around, not just on the top

Look at that flaky pastry