Wednesday, 23 January 2013

About quinoa and a recipe for black bean salad

I just got home from a wonderful gab session about making wise food choices.  It was great!  Some people learned a new word today and I feel inspired to chat a bit about it.

Today's word is "quinoa" and is pronounced keen-wah and is brought to you by the letter Q.  Who doesn't love the letter Q?!  It's so regal, even when writing it.  Go get a pen and paper and jot down a few Q's just to better appreciate where I'm coming from with this.

Here I will pull a few quote from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (1996): "Quinoa is no twentieth-century hybrid; its recorded history of cultivation and use date back to the Incan empire.  Indigenous to South America, this wheat-free grain has been rediscovered in the last five years and is suddenly widely available.  Quinoa contains all eight of the amino acids the body cannot produce, is rich in vitamins and minerals, cooks in about 15 minutes, is easily digestible, expands almost five times in cooking and can be eaten plain or used to thicken soups and stews.  It has a mild, nutty aroma and slight crunch.  Pastas made of quinoa flour are also available.  Quinoa and quinoa products can be found in natural food stores and in many supermarkets."

Here is a good picture I found online of uncooked (raw) quinoa.

Raw, uncooked quinoa

 Here is a good picture I found online of cooked quinoa (ignore the bits of green - that is not quinoa).

Cooked quinoa with green bits added for effect

I have served quinoa alongside of chickpea curry, added it to soups and stews (like fast red lentil soup) and in salads (particularly salads in jars).  You can make a hot cereal with quinoa for breakfast or bake quinoa into muffins.

Here is a recipe for a quinoa black bean salad also from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  They have another little blurb on the properties of quinoa: "Higher in protein than any other grain, quinoa is chewy with a delicious, almost nutlike flavor.  Bolstered with the nutritional power of black beans, this salad is hearty, healthy eating at its best." 

WHAMO!  Eat this, be healthy.  OKAY!

Quinoa Black Bean Salad
from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
serves 4 as a side dish
1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
4 tsp fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/4 tsp gr cumin
1/4 tsp gr coriander (I leave it out)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (I'd use fresh mint)
2 Tbsp minced scallions (or green onion)
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups diced tomatoes (28 oz can diced tomatoes in a pinch)
1 cup diced sweet peppers (any colour)
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh off the cob, canned, or previously frozen and now thawed)
2 tsp minced fresh green chiles (I leave out)
salt and pepper to taste
- rinse quinoa well in a sieve under cool running water.  In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, cover, and simmer on low heat, until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- in a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, add the cooled quinoa and S&P to taste and combine thoroughly.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with lemon or lime wedges.

This dish would also be great with some cubed, cooked sweet potato thrown in there; for the colour, texture and more vitamins!  Cook the sweet potato along with the quinoa for no loss of nutrients.

It would be good as a side dish to a corn chowder for a supper serving or all on it's own for lunch.

What did you learn today?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Old fashioned cooked butterscotch pudding

I don't know if it's the pregnancy (17 weeks yesterday!) or the weather or just me but I have not been craving chocolate at all of late.  Not even a little.

Other flavours are coming into play and that's wonderful!  I made an Orange Chiffon Cake for the wee-est one's (so far) second birthday.  I made an Oatmeal Cake yesterday with coconut broiled on top.  I'm gravitating toward lemon-y things and craving, got-to-have desiring butterscotch and caramel flavours.  Go figure!

Enter, butterscotch pudding! 

Tonight I made a quick microwaved butterscotch pudding for two and shared it with the Big Kid.  MMMMMM

Here is a recipe that I will be making next for a bigger batch to share with the whole clan.  Here is an adult version to try someday that I have whiskey in the house (I like the fact that it's one pot and seems to cook rather quickly).

Still no camera since it was dropped in the tub a couple of days ago.  It's in a rice bath for a few more days to dry up and then we'll see.

Dana’s Microwave Butterscotch Pudding

So, here's another quick-fix treat for late-night snacking.

I know, I know, you've resolved to lose 100 lbs in this New Year and I'm not helping.

Make this butterscotch pudding and share it with a loved one.  Eat it as a snack and walk it off.  Dip celery sticks in it.

It's just a perfect butterscotch pudding that happens to be made in the microwave (no risk of scorching your milk), cooks in four minutes, doesn't add heat to the house (hello, homemade pudding in July!) and, best reason of all, is made from scratch!  No funky ingredients, no preservatives, no wonky aftertaste.  Just pure butterscotch bliss. 

Enjoy warm or chilled.  Enjoy.

Dana’s Microwave Butterscotch Pudding
from a now-defunct website Dana McCauley
4 tsp cornstarch
½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
pinch salt
1 cup 2 % milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tbsp cold, salted butter, cubed
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Blend the cornstarch with the sugar and salt until well combined in a microwave safe bowl or large glass-measuring cup. Whisk in about 1/4 of the milk until smooth. Blend in remaining milk, whisking until smooth.
- Cook mixture in the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Whisk well and cook for 2 minutes longer or until thickened. Spoon a little of the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Stir until smooth. Scrape the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture using a rubber spatula. Whisk well and cook for 1 minute longer on HIGH. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Cool to room temperature. Makes 2 servings.

I don't know who Dana is, but she came up with the recipe and I haven't changed one thing so I kept her name in the title as she has done.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Yay for craving vegetables again!  Hip, hip, hooray!

Tonight I made THE best stir-fry I've ever made without following a recipe.  I also very much needed and wanted vegetables so that helps bring the level of satisfaction up a bit when it's "just what I wanted".

I got inspired yesterday and made a weekly menu plan that includes spring rolls, vietnamese noodle bowls, and a few stir-fries.  I have in my pantry for this week rice paper wrappers and rice vermicelli.  I went grocery shopping today and stocked right up on a variety of vegetables including, but not limited to, bok choy, bean sprouts, peppers, cucumber, fresh mint (!), carrots, ginger and garlic.  Ah!  I made the vietnamese noodle bowl for lunch today with a sauce that included Thai fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and vinegar.  I thought for sure the Big Kid would devour it and ask for more but, boy, was I wrong!  He turned his nose up at it after the required "couple of bites to give it a chance".  He thinks it was the mint, but I think it was the sauce on top.  I haven't given up on this, it really seems like a dish he'd like with the right balance of sauce flavours for him.  Maybe with some meat on it or shrimp!

I then used the Three Wees' nap time to chop, chop, chop.  How inspring it is to open my fridge and see all those veggies washed and cut up just begging to be snacked on or cooked with.  SIGH!  I chopped up just about every vegetable in my kitchen and put them in mason jars or clear plastic containers so I know right away what I have.  I don't prep onions or garlic ahead of time, I find the smells are too strong in my fridge so I just cut them up when I'm ready to cook.

For supper, I whipped up a most fabulous stir-fry with all those pre-prepped veggies with soy sauce and hoisin sauce.  I served it on rice vermicelli.  What a joy to have on-hand, those rice vermicelli are!  After spending time at the park with the kids while they biked, supper can still be on the table in 10 minutes.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed the noodles and kind of ate around the vegetables but I think that's a given at this age.  The Girl Twin fed the remainder of the "baby"'s meal to her and that was pretty cute considering she didn't finish her bowl.

Tomorrow is sauce and lasagna making day!

So, no pictures of my beautiful stir-fry, vietnamese noodle bowls from today as Girl Twin dropped my camera in the bathtub yesterday.  It may be a little while before I buy another so try to stick with me.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Asian Pork Chops and hasselback potatoes

Man, supper was so good tonight.  We had pork chops and potatoes and side veggies.

I also made a batch of my "famous" brownies with a graham wafer base, holy, decadent!  I'm going to bring the remaining brownies to playgroup tomorrow otherwise it will be up to me to finish the pan off eventually by myself.  And by eventually I mean in the next couple of weeks.  And by that I mean before this weekend is out.

My kids go crazy for these pork chops, actually we all love them!

Asian Pork Chops
from Canadian Living Make It Tonight
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp gingerroot, minced (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
1/4 tsp pepper
4 pork loin centre chops
- mix all ingredients (except pork) in a small bowl
- coat meat in marinade and let stand for 30 minutes (up to 24 hours in the fridge)
- line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set a grill on top, arrange chops in single layer.
- bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes until juices run clear and just a hint of pink remains inside.

Hasselback potatoes.
The hasselback potatoes were a huge hit and will be made again.  Perhaps with a cheesy or "fully loaded" variation someday.  drool!

Cut as thinly as you can for more crispy results.
To cut my potatoes in this style, I laid two wooden spoons down on the counter and placed my washed potato between them.  Then, with a very sharp knife, I cut all the way down until the spoons stopped me.  I moved over and sliced them again.  I never even had to think about cutting all the way through (which you don't want as you want them to fan out and be pretty).  You want the slices to be as thin as you can get them, you can't go too thin on these cuts.

Hasselback Potatoes
inspired by What's Cooking America
4-6 potatoes (I uesed organic russets)
2 tsp butter
2 tsp bacon fat (or oil or more butter)
salt and pepper
- scrub potatoes well and dry completely
- carefully slice potatoes as thin as you can and leaving about 1/4" intact at the bottom to hold it together.
- line a small baking dish (8x8" or a pie plate) with tin foil and arrange potatoes, cut side up.
- melt butter and fat together and brush over the potatoes trying to get into the cracks, be sure to roll the potatoes around to coat the potatoes.  Salt to taste (hahahaha, you can't taste it yet, just throw some salt on it, darn it)
- bake at 450F for 30-45 minutes, you may choose to broil it a few minutes to crisp them up at the end.

I forgot to take the "after" photos until after I had served supper.  My Man said "did you take the pictures already?"  I rushed back to the pan to capture what was left.  Here is your after shot!  They were works of ART!

Here's a meal a fellow blogger friend put together using hasselback potatoes, maple ginger carrots with meatloaf.  Miam, Mmmommy!!!!!

And yes, these are wonderful if you choose to peel your potatoes too.  It all depends on what potatoes you have available and your taste preference.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Birthday cake - Orange Chiffon Cake

Today, my baby turned two years old.  Where does the time go?  Where was I?!  She's getting so big!

Here she is in Newfoundland at the age of 15 months.

(By the way, there'll be another baby born to us this coming June.  That's right, #5 is on it's way.  And yes, that is the end for us in this lifetime.)

Back to #4's birthday cake.  I was thinking hard about her and trying to think up a cake that would be "her".  Chocolate was too plain.  White with sprinkles has been done.  Coconut was too wispy and floaty for her.  I'm generally not all that creative when it comes to choosing flavours for things to bake but for some reason orange jumped out at me.  We also just happened to have some oranges in the house that are awesome and she's super awesome so the fit was a natural.  Besides, I think her favourite colour might really be "owange" as she says it now and not the colour blue that her sister has assigned to her because that was the only colour that was left after all the other family members that could speak had chosen theirs about a year ago.

#4 blowing out her candles, Thing 1 watching over her.
I was imagining an orange loaf or a pound cake of sorts and perused the usual suspects of cookbooks in my pantry and Betty Crocker's Two-Egg Yellow Chiffon Cake really stood out.  After indulging over the holidaze, I can hardly bring myself to make another sweet cake right now this one fit the bill.  It is by no means "light" as in less fat than any other cake but it does have a light feel to it - much like a cross between a regular butter cake and an angel food cake (here's a lovely blurb about how the chiffon cake came to be and rose to fame).  You do prepare a cake batter and then fold in an egg white meringue. 

The filling and frosting for this cake is a package of vanilla pudding mix prepared with orange juice and water then folded with whipped cream.  Delicious and what a good trick!

Here I have typed out the recipe as I prepared it using the recipe for the filling as filling and icing on top (I did not use another cup of whipping cream as suggested in the cookbook to frost the top and sides of the cake; I bet that would be great but just seemed a bit OTT (over-the-top) for tonight).  I also do not "do" layer cakes very well, I find the layers slide around on me a lot and usually aren't very pretty so I passed on the suggestion to cut my two cakes in two thereby creating four layers and simply filled and stacked my two cakes (if you have any suggestions to pass along, please feel free, I am open to all you comments).  It was certainly just as good, just not as impressive if I was bringing it to bridge night or something else fancy that women get together and bring stuff to and then judge each other based on it's appearance.  I don't buy into that jazz.

This fancy cake was served after a feast of "pee-dda" which she chose from pizza or spaghetti.

The Orange Cake was one of the options in the yellow chiffon recipe, I have typed it out here as the recipe as I have prepared it.

Two-Egg Orange Chiffon Cake
from Betty Crocker
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar, separated
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
1 orange, zested and juiced (measure juice of one orange, add water to equal 1 cup liquid)

- heat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 2 round cake pans or one bundt pan. 
- zest one orange and juice it.  Set aside.
- in small mixer bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.  Add 1/2 cup sugar 1 Tbsp at a time and beat until stiff and glossy.  Set aside.
- measure 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a lage mixer bowl.  Add oil, juice/water and zest, beat 1 minute on high speed, scrape bowl.  Add egg yolks, beat 1 minute. 
- fold in meringue.  Pour into pans.
- bake 30-35 minutes until tester comes out clean in the centre.  Cool completely.

Orange Filling
1 pkg (4 servings) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 orange, zested and juiced (measure juice of one orange, add water to equal 1 cup liquid)
1/2 cup whipping cream
- mix dry pudding mix with juice of 1 orange plus water to equal 1 cup.
- in another bowl, whip cream
- fold together
- place one cake on serving platter, spreat about half the filling on cake, stack second cake on top and spread remaining filling on top allowing it to gently cascade over the side.
- let set about an hour in the fridge (or outdoors in the +4C weather we have here right now) and serve to many.  Best with tea, coffee will do.  Hahahahaah TEA!  ME?!  COFFEE!

Recovering well from the holidays?