Monthly Archives

September 2010

Quinoa with Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce

September 29, 2010
I’ve been on a bit of a roll with quinoa lately. I’m not entirely sure why, though I do think it might have something to do with the fact that I’m trying to cut back on the number of dollars spent at the grocery store and use the ingredients I actually have at home instead. 
When I moved into my apartment 8 months ago my parents took me to Costco to stock up on the basics and get me on my feet. Evidently quinoa seemed like a basic necessity at the time, because I’ve had an embarrassingly large amount of unused quinoa lurking in my pantry ever since. 
And while using quinoa, or any other grain for that matter, may sound like a good idea in the morning, mustering the desire to cook it at night is another story. To remedy this, I’ve started cooking large batches of barley, quinoa and brown rice on Sunday, then storing them in the fridge for the week to come. All that’s left to do at night is whip up some type of quick sauce, like this Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce, to mix it up each meal. 
Quinoa with Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce
(Printable Recipe)
The title of this recipe doesn’t lie – it’s spicy! Feel free to scale back on the chili powder if desired. Since a little bit of this sauce goes a long way, I had leftovers, which I stored in my fridge for a couple weeks and used as a dip/spread. 
*1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package instructions
*1 Tbsp. olive oil
*1 shallot, diced
*1/4 tsp. chili powder
*1/8 tsp. paprika
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
*1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
*1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
*2 Tbsp. heavy cream
*1/4 cup tomato sauce 
*Chopped Peanuts (optional)
*In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add in the shallot, chili powder, paprika, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until shallots are softened and spices are well combined and fragrant. Remove from heat.
*Place tomatoes in a food processor or blender with the heavy cream and tomato sauce. Process until almost smooth and only small chunks remain. 
*Return skillet to heat and add in the processed tomato mixture. Heat through. Add in the peanut butter and stir until well combined. Remove from heat and spoon over quinoa. Garnish with chopped peanuts, if desired. 

MultiGrain PB&J Breakfast Cookies

September 27, 2010
Is it Monday already? If so, I seriously can’t believe it. Every time I go somewhere on the weekend, it becomes so clear that two days just isn’t long enough to get everything done, be rejuvenated and just be wherever you are. J and I made the trek out to Wisconsin for a weekend with some of our favorite people: J’s aunt and uncle and their four very cute kids. I wish I had some photos of the weekend, but of course I took along my camera and completely forgot to use it. Some blogger I am. 
Friday was quite the day. Before the weekend even got started, I managed to throw my wallet down the trash shoot of my apartment building and didn’t realize it until five hours later. I panicked. I cried. I called the maintenance man and dug through the trash. And I recovered my wallet! Thank goodness. 
Part of the wallet fiasco was due to just being scatterbrained, but it also had something to do with being run down and exhausted – at least the freak-out while digging through the trash part. This week I’ve resolved to letting myself rest and recharge. I’ve been chugging Emergen-C like there’s no tomorrow, taking zinc tablets and trying to fuel my body with all the vitamins and minerals possible. And this week J is keeping me to a strict 9 p.m. bed time.   
And these cookies are most certainly part of the plan. They are peppered with quinoa (keen-wa) an edible seed that resembles a grain. Unlike other grains and seeds, quinoa is a complete protein on its own, making it especially important for vegetarians since it provides all the essential amino acids. On top of that, these breakfast cookies also contain Greek yogurt, whole wheat flour, and peanut butter. Can we say protein-packed?
Aside from eating healthy and taking loads of vitamin C, I’m clueless how to stay healthy and avoid getting sick. What are your best tips and tricks? I need em!   
MultiGrain PB&J Breakfast Cookies 
(Printable Recipe)
These cookies have quickly become a favorite of mine for taking along to work as an mid morning snack or to ward away the late afternoon hunger pains. Each cookie has about 120 calories – perfect snack-size. Forewarning: they aren’t your typical cookie. The quinoa gives off a slightly nutty, chewy texture that’s unique to the grain. It may take a little getting used to, but I think they’ll grow on you, too.  
*1 stick unsalted butter, softened
*1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
*3/4 tsp. baking powder
*1/4 tsp. salt
*3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
*1 large egg 
*1/4 cup natural-style peanut butter
*1/3 cup cooked quinoa 
*1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
*1/2 cup fruit preserves or jelly, such as red raspberry or strawberry
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
*With an electric mixer, beat butter and yogurt together until creamy. Add in the brown sugar and peanut butter and beat until well combined, followed by the egg, beating until just combined. 
*Add in the baking powder, salt and quinoa and beat until combined, followed by the flour, beating until just combined. 
*Scoop dough by heaping tablespoons and roll into balls. Flatten with the heel of your palm or the bottom of a glass. Press your thumb into the center of each cookie to create a well. Spoon some of the jam into the well. 
*Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks. Cool. Makes 18 cookies. 
Happy Baking!

Greek Salad Pizza

September 24, 2010

J and I approach food in two completely different ways. It’s almost comical sometimes; the food editor who muses about all things culinary and savors every morsel and the former football player who has spent the last eight years of his life eating for fuel, wolfing down thousands of calories without much of a second thought about the actual taste of his food.

I’m working on him, going to places off his beaten path, encouraging him to slow down and taste what it is he’s eating. But truth be told, sometimes I need a lesson in slowing down and savoring each bite, too; because at the end of a long day, sometimes cooking a meal seems like the world’s most daunting task and a bowl of cereal never looked so good.

This Greek Salad Pizza is here to tell you, and me, that a dinner worth savoring isn’t out of reach. Trust me, I found myself with a bag of pitas and the fixings for Greek salad last week and ate this meal three days in a row. And while pita bread pizzas are hardly anything new or revolutionary, this dish was a fresh reminder of how deliciously easy a ten minute meal can be.

Greek Salad Pizza
(Printable Recipe)

*2 small whole pita bread rounds
*4 Tbsp. hummus
*4 Tbsp. roasted tomato pesto or other jarred pesto
*1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
*4 to 6 pepperoncini peppers, thinly sliced
*1/4 cup thinly sliced black olives
*2 cups romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or chopped
*2 to 4 Tbsp. Greek style salad dressing

*Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil; set aside.
*Spread 2 tablespoons hummus on each of the pita breads, followed by 2 tablespoons of the pesto. Top each with a 1/4 cup feta cheese. Evenly divide the pepperoncini peppers and black olives between the two pitas.
*Place in the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pita is crispy and the toppings are heated through.
*Toss the romaine in the Greek style salad dressing. Top each pita with some of the lettuce mixture, or serve along side the pitas.

Happy Cooking!


Whole Wheat-Flax Seed Banana Bread

September 22, 2010

I spent all summer eating the same thing for breakfast day-in and day-out. This is not an exaggeration in the least bit. Aside from times when I was traveling, and even then sometimes, my breakfast consisted of Greek yogurt, some type of berries, a little cereal, and a dollop of homemade nut butter.

Maybe that’s strange; in fact, it more than likely is. But for me, breakfast is a particular meal. It really does set the tone for my eating choices throughout the rest of the day, and either makes me feel full of energy or dragging my feet. Anyone else with me on that?

But for the last few weeks, I’ve slowly been stepping out of my self-imposed breakfast box, exploring things like Buckwheat-Greek Yogurt Pancakes and this Whole Wheat-Flax Seed Banana Bread. By keeping a serving of fruit in my breakfast, paired with some healthy whole grains, I’ve found that feel-good breakfasts aren’t really as cut and dried as I’ve made them lately. In fact, breakfast is starting to be a whole lot more fun.

So when I spotted banana bread on the cover of Cooking Light magazine this month, I jumped at the opportunity to put my own spin on an already delicious recipe. My only real complaint about the original was that it called for all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat. In its place I used whole wheat pastry flour, which gives you less gluten development and a lighter texture than regular whole wheat flour (aka it’s better for getting all-purpose flour-like results). If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, use a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.

Whole Wheat-Flax Seed Banana Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light  
(Printable Recipe)

This recipe calls for baking the banana bread for 55 to 60 minutes. If you prefer your bread to be firm and fully-baked, shoot for 60 minutes. If, however, you are more like me and prefer it to be slightly soft and moist in the center, shoot for something closer to 55 minutes. After eating this for breakfast two days in a row, I can assure you it is even better the second day. 

*3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
*5 Tbsp. butter, melted
*1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used Danon Light and Fit)
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*3/4 tsp. baking soda
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
*1/4 cup ground flax meal

*Preheat oven 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
*With an electric mixer, beat together the bananas, butter, yogurt, sugars, and eggs until well combined. Beat in the cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract.
*Add in the flour and flax meal and beat until just combined. Do not over mix. Pour patter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
*Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Happy Baking!


Lazy Girl Apple Crisp

September 20, 2010

Despite what the sweets on this site may suggest, I’m a bit of a health nut. I bake because it soothes me, makes me feel happy and gives me a creative outlet. But after one slice, bite or piece is eaten by me, I typically take those baked goods and gift them off for others to enjoy, both because I like to share my baked goods and because I don’t trust myself with an entire cake, pie or dozen cookies in the house.

So when a craving for something sweet hits, my house isn’t exactly full of ready-to-eat junk food options. My solution? Lazy Girl Apple Crisp. The name says it all: it takes little to no time to prepare, it’s in the realm of what might be considered healthy as far as desserts go, and it hits the spot when the craving for dessert strikes.

A couple years ago, I made a variation of this dessert for Jamie Oliver, with both apples and pears. I believe his exact words were, “That apple thingy, or whatever it was, was absolutely delicious.” And hey, if it’s good enough for Jamie then I think it’s most certainly good enough to share with you all.

Lazy Girl Apple Crisp 
(Printable Recipe)

*2 Tbsp. butter
*2 medium apples, roughly chopped*2 Tbsp. brown sugar
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*2 Tbsp. golden raisins
*1/2 cup granola
*1/4 cup whipped cream

*In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add in apples and brown sugar. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are softened.
*Add in the cinnamon and golden raisins. Cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and divide among two glasses or bowls.
*Top with granola and whipped cream.

Happy Cooking!


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