Sunday, March 23, 2014

Breakfast Report

This time around it's a (very) short dinner report followed by a longish breakfast report. I don't have a lot of time during the week between work and class to cook and write posts.  Plus, it's usually dark at night (gosh, really?) by the time I finish cooking, so I can't get decent photos.  Natural light makes everything look better.  If I try to take photos using the kitchen light or the flash, the food never seems to look that edible.  As a result, I seem to end up writing these long posts on the weekend.  Maybe in the summer when things slow down a bit (ha!) and it's lighter later, I can post during the week sometimes.

Dinner Report

     Friday and Saturday I made BBQ Pork Ribs in the oven and chili.  The ribs were a little tough--a bit gristly, but the flavor was good.  Trader Joe's makes a pretty good Kansas City Style BBQ sauce.  The chili was yummy, but I have a feeling it's going to be pretty spicy when I have it for leftovers!  And that is the end of the dinner report.

     I don't usually have a lot of time to make breakfast during the week.  I like sleep too much to get up early enough to cook much more than an egg for breakfast or to just grab some yogurt before work. On the weekends, if I feel like it, I sometimes cook breakfast (if I get up before 11).  Sometimes I just eat leftovers.  I also sometimes make coffee, again if I feel like it and if have half & half or milk on hand for it.  This weekend I made spiced coffee and quinoa porridge.

Quinoa Porridge

Tri-colored quinoa
     If you are not familiar with it, quinoa (keen-wa) is the edible seed of a pseudocereal plant (not a grass like true cereal plants) that is actually related to beets and spinach. It's not a grain though sometimes it is referred to as a grain and it's naturally gluten-free, so for people with gluten intolerance or who don't digest grains well, quinoa can be a nice alternative from what I've read. It's cooked like rice and can be used in many recipes in place of rice.  I've had it before several times but always as a savory side or main dish.  My mom made a really delicious cheesy, broccoli quinoa recipe a few years ago when, at the time,

     I'd only had quinoa once before.  I had just cooked it in water with onion soup mix (a recommendation from James).  However, I misunderstood (my fault entirely) and used the whole packet of onion soup mix instead of half, and the quinoa was overwhelmingly oniony.  Not so tasty.  The cheesy, broccoli quinoa was a huge improvement.

Quinoa looks a little like lentils close up but doesn't taste anything like them.
     I've mentioned in previous posts that I am trying to make recipes that I've pinned to my Cooking board on Pinterest.  I pinned a recipe for quinoa cooked "cereal" or porridge a while ago and another just recently.  I decided to try making one of the recipes this weekend, which I did...sort of, because once again I've mashed up two different recipes.  These are Quinoa Porridge with Blueberries & Pecans from Closet Cooking  and Maple-Pecan Quinoa Porridge from Momtastic. The recipes are very similar in some respects: quinoa cooked in milk with maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla topped with pecans before serving.  They differ in that the former cooks for only 15 minutes, is very soupy, and has fresh blueberries.  The latter contains a tablespoon of brown sugar and a peeled and grated granny smith apple which is added halfway through cooking.  After 15 minutes of cooking, the apple is added and then the quinoa is cooked for another 10 minutes.  The quinoa is less chewy, the extra cooking time allowing the quinoa to soak up more of the milk.

     I didn't like the idea of quinoa swimming in a bowl of hot milk, so I decided to use the milk to quinoa ratio and cooking method from the Momtastic recipe but the spices from the Closet Cooking recipe.  I left out the fresh fruit because I thought I'd add some raisins to the finished dish.  I love dried fruit and nuts on oatmeal and figured that it would be good on this cooked "cereal" too.

     Unfortunately, when I set out to make my breakfast this morning (which ended up being brunch because I didn't get up until after 9), I realized that I only had 3/4 cup of milk.  I had a couple of tablespoons of cream, so I added that and a few tablespoons of water.  I ended up with a little less than 1 1/4 cups of milk for 1/2 cup quinoa.  I added the maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla to the milk right at the beginning, added the rinsed quinoa, and brought the whole lot to a boil.  Then I reduced the heat and simmered it for 15 minutes.  The quinoa was very soupy at that point and stil pretty chewy.  I gave it a stir and let it cook for another 10 minutes with the lid cracked.  I checked it again--still soupy but getting there.  I gave it another 10 minutes and it was just right.  Most of the milk had been absorbed and the quinoa was just slightly chewy.

Raisins and pecans were a good addition.  If you're interested, this is a bowl I made in ceramics class last year.
     I gave it a taste and decided against adding more sugar.  It was hardly sweet, but the milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple were all clearly there in the taste.  I didn't want to cover that up with sugar.  I did add some golden raisins and toasted pecans.  It was good.  Different from what I normally eat for breakfast, but I liked the combination of flavors & textures.  The first recipe, which also called for 1/2 cup quinoa said it was for 1 serving, but it was too much for me to eat the whole thing.  Quinoa swells up a great deal when cooked.  It was definitely more than a cup when cooked.  I ate a little more than half and was completely satisfied.  I'm going to save the rest and see if it's still edible when reheated.

Spiced Coffee

     I do enjoy my coffee.  Most of the time I'm happy with a nice strong cup of coffee with some half & half and a dash a sugar (ok, maybe a little more than a dash, but I can drink it black or just with milk too).  Sometimes, though, I like flavored coffee. Not the crazy stuff like raspberry, chocolate, almond, marshallow creme flavor, but I do like hazelnut or cinnamon, things like that. The problem is that many of the flavored coffees either don't taste very good, or they are artificially flavored (or both).  So, I decided to make my own.

     The idea originally came from my friend James.  Years ago, I was over at his house for dinner.  He made coffee after dinner and put some cinnamon in with the grounds in his French press.  It was really good.  I didn't really remember though until last summer, I think, when I was making coffee to chill and keep in the fridge.  Starbucks gets expensive.  I don't remember exactly why I thought of it but suddenly remembered James putting cinnamon in with his coffee and decided to try it.  It turned out quite tasty.  During the fall, what with the various specialty flavored coffees about, I decided to experiment.  I finally came up with a good spiced coffee that is all natural and, since I make it myself instead of getting it at Starbucks, considerably cheaper.

Spiced Coffee

I have a 4 cup coffee maker.  If you have a larger pot and usually make 10 or more cups, experiment with the amount of spices. If making 10 or 12 cups, try doubling the spices first (instead of tripling) then adjust up if the flavor is too light.  For my coffee maker I use:

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

I just sprinkle the spices and vanilla on top of the grounds and brew as normal.  It's really good hot or cold.
(I recycled this photo from a previous post, but it's pretty, and I didn't take a photo of my coffee today, so you get this one again.)


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