Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Kale

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DSC06088I think last night was one of the best creative nights in the kitchen that I have had in a very long while.  I turned out a fabulous vegetarian dish packed full of vitamins and protein that can be used as a stand alone meal or be a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon.  Sometimes I amaze myself with my ingenuity.  Believe me though, I have had major flops too, so I take this win as a small victory.

Looking in the fridge I knew I had a container of leftover roasted squash, not enough for soup, but enough to be added to….something.  So the chef hat went on as I gathered ingredients out of the fridge.  Mushrooms…yup, have to use those.  Kale, absolutely (I was bitten by the kale bug last week again, I always forget how much I like it). Then what to add as “filler” I pondered.  As I was staring into the pantry, there sat a jar of black quinoa – perfect!  A few other odds and sods pulled out of the pantry and fridge and a game plan was forming.

As I prepped the kale and chopped some onions, I wondered if quinoa could be cooked like a risotto? Short answer, no, but dinner did take a long time to cook as I discovered that fact (I will explain later), but since I was starving, it was time to get cooking!

Ingredients

1/2 dry black quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked squash (roasted and mashed)
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp good red wine (don’t buy “cooking wine”, use the good stuff!)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a saucepan over med-high heat; add onions and cook until just starting to turn transluscent (about 3 minutes), add mushrooms, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are tender (3-5 minutes).

Add quinoa and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to med-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked (about 15 – 20 minutes), remove lid and raise heat back to a boil.  Boil off any remaining liquid.

Turn heat to low again and add the squash, mix until combined.  Taste seasonings at this point and adjust to your liking.  Add kale, stirring to mix in, then cover and let the kale steam for 2-3 minutes until bright green.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings as a meal alone or 4 servings as a side dish.

What I found with trying to cook quinoa as a risotto (seriously, don’t waste your time trying) is that the quinoa needs to sit in the liquid and cook at a lower heat or it won’t plump up.  After 30 minutes of adding liquid and stirring it was still rock hard.  Once I added more broth, lowered the heat and covered the pot, the quinoa cooked.  Lesson learned!

Meanwhile, I am having the remainder of this dish for lunch today, simply outstanding!

Deborah

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories: 184
Calories from Fat 45.0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 0.49g
2%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 99.65mg
4%
Total Carbohydrate 26.38g
13%
Dietary Fiber 8.46g
33%
Sugars 3.39g
 
Protein 5.31g
3%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat
9%
Carbs
57%
Protein
11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories need.

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Cheddar Chive Cornbread

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Today I was waffling.  Waffling about whether to make cheddar chive biscuits, or cheddar chive muffins.

So I made cheddar chive cornbread instead.  I know, sometimes what I think I want, I don’t want at all.  The mind of a woman was clearly at work here.

Since I had just given my rapidly sprouting chive plant a trim last weekend, it was a good time to rummage through my recipe files for an appropriate dish to use some of them up.

No big fanfare here, just a simple, delicious cornbread to enjoy with a Tex-Mex dinner menu (or anytime!).

DSC06019Cheddar Chive Cornbread

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp minced fresh chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

1. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, butter and buttermilk.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.

4. Gently fold in cheese and chives.

5. Spread mixture in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 18 pieces that are 1″ x 2″

Enjoy!

Deborah

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Chipotle Fish Tacos ala Deb!

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Yay!  I am finally getting my world-famous Fish Taco recipe on the interweb-thingie! You know, that thing that a certain Billionaire said wouldn’t catch on?  I wonder what he thinks about that statement now?

Anyway, back to fish tacos….yum..yum..yum! Ramona ~ This is for you, so go ahead and share away!

This recipe is great when you need to whip up a dinner fairly fast, the only part that needs time to percolate (love that old fashioned term) is the salsa, it’s basically being pickled to develop the favours.  It is also fairly waist friendly when the chipotle sauce * is used in moderation,  for an even lighter option, check out the * tip at the bottom of the page.

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Chipotle Fish Tacos ala Deb!

Ingredients

1 Haddock fish filet per person (or any firm, white fish), sliced into 1″ chunks
2 Cups shredded iceburg lettuce
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced red or green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced radishes or jicama
1 Tbsp finely diced jalapeño
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (recipe below to make your own)
Juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
1/4 tsp (or more to taste) of Chiptole Chile powder
3 Large whole wheat flour tortillas
Fresh cilantro leaves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1. At least 4 hours before serving, prepare the salsa by combining the radish (or jicama)   , peppers, onions and the juice of 1 lime.  Stir to combine, cover and keep refrigerated until time to assemble.

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2. Thinly slice the lettuce into a bowl, cover and chill until needed.

3. Prepare the Chipotle Mayo by combining the mayonnaise, chipotle chile powder and 1/2 tsp of the fresh lime juice.  Stir to combine then refrigerate until needed.

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4. In a frying pan set over med-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of Olive oil and sprinkle half the cajun seasoning all over the bottom of the pan.  Add fish and liberally sprinkle the remaining seasoning on the top side of the fish.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until fish starts to brown on the bottom, flip fish and cook until the bottoms start to brown.  Add remaining lime juice to pan and cook for another 2 minutes or so until the juice cooks off and the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Remove from heat.

To assemble Tacos

1. Warm tortillas by zapping in the microwave for 15 seconds.
2. Spread a tsp of chipotle mayo in the middle of each tortilla.
3. Divide shredded lettuce evenly among the 3 tortillas
4. Divide the salsa evenly among the 3 tortillas.
5. Divide the fish pieces evenly among the 3 tortillas.
6. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

We roll our tacos up burrito style, but these would also be good in hard corn tortilla shells but way messier!

Note ~ This makes 3 tacos ~ 1 for me and 2 for hubs,
so increase amounts for feeding more people.

* To lighten up the chipotle mayo, sub fat-free yogurt for the mayo.

Make your own Cajun Seasoning

In a mortar and pestle, combine the following ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

1 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried Oregano

We have ours with a large side salad, but these would also be great with a side of Mexican rice. Enjoy!

Deborah

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Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir Fry In A Wrap

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I know, I know, I have been remiss of late, life gets in the way you know?  I have many ideas and unfortunately not enough hours in the day.  BUT, today I managed to pull this together in less than 15 minutes, combined with the time it took to make lunch AND type this out, it gives me hope I can throw together some more gems to this blog in the future.

So here it is!

I love wraps.  The food kind that is, although I do like the knitted kind as well, but you can’t eat those.  I love to rummage in the fridge and see what’s in there to insert into the ever-present whole wheat wraps that are a staple in our house.

Usually its lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, avocado, etc that get layered and rolled up to be scarfed down at lunch, but today I had some Asian inspiration with the leftover bok choy from the weekend.

I thinly sliced the bok choy (about a cup), and thinly sliced the remaining half of a yellow bell pepper, one crimini mushroom and a couple tablespoons thinly sliced red onion.  I added everything to a hot pan over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of Olive Oil (along with fresh ground pepper and salt) and sauteed until veg’s were tender.  Oh, and I added a sprinkling of ground garlic as I thought a whole clove would have over-powered the dish seeing as the amounts were made for one wrap.  If making enough for 4 people, then I would definitely add a clove or two of garlic.

After the veg has cooked until tender (about 5 minutes, you may have to add a couple tablespoons of water if it starts to dry the pan out), add a couple shakes of red pepper flakes and about 3 tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce.  Stir together and remove from heat.

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Zap the wrap in the microwave on high for 10 seconds, place the sauteed veggies in the middle of the wrap, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and top with chopped green onion.

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Roll up and eat!  This totally hit the spot and was quick, easy and done in slightly less than 15 minutes.  This is also one of those recipes that can be totally customized, like tossing in leftover grilled chicken or pork…and BAM! a new menu item created to feed the masses.

Buen Provecho! (Oh wait, that’s Spanish…. I wonder how it is said in Mandarin?…. I must go google…)

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Bodacious Banana Bread ~ Take II

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I am taking the time to update my Banana Bread recipe from its current form to a low-sugar form.  Hubby and I have embarked on our get healthy, get fit movement for a year now and collectively, we have lost about 65lbs! WooHoo for us!  There is still some weight loss to go, but in order to achieve (and maintain) a healthy weight, you need to change your eating habits and since we both love our banana bread, I wanted to be able to continue eating/enjoying this yummy stuff so the sugar and a lot of the AP flour had to go.  Here is an updated version, but I will leave the original version below the updated one for anyone wanting to enjoy it.

**Mainstream Bodacious Banana Bread**

Ingredients

3-4 Medium bananas (over-ripe), mashed
2 large Eggs, room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/3 cup Unsalted butter
1/4 tsp Baking soda
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup All Purpose flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat flour
3 Tbsp Ground Flax meal
1/2 cup Chopped walnuts

Directions ~ Whip butter, eggs and vanilla and then follow the remaining directions below in the original recipe, making sure you omit the sugar*

* You really don’t need the sugar in the banana bread as over-ripe bananas are really sweet unto themselves (and trust me, you won’t even miss it!).

The Banana

banana

You can mash it.
You can slice it.
You can slather it in peanut butter.
You can make a banana split sundae out of it.
Or you can peel it and just eat it plain….

But one of the most amazing things to come from the humble banana is Banana Bread.

Walking into a home to the aroma of banana bread baking is just about as good as it can get…aside from regular bread baking or cookies.

These are known as comfort smells.

Which is way better than stinky sneakers…

Banana Bread is one of those things that can be whipped up quickly, hence the name ‘Quick Bread’ as there is no need for yeast and therefore does not need to be coddled like regular bread.  Start to finish, it takes about an hour and 20 minutes to make, including baking time.

To make your own loaf of this yummy, banana goodness, just follow the recipe below and soon you will be slathering butter on a hot from the oven slice of this marvelous, Bodacious Banana Bread.

So gather up the ingredients and let’s get started.

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Ingredients

3-4 over-ripe bananas, about 1 cup mashed
1/3 cup un-salted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a large bowl (or stand-mixer), whip butter and sugar together, add eggs and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy…

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In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; mix well.

In another bowl, mash bananas to desired consistency.  If you like chunks of banana in your banana bread, leave larger pieces, or puree if you don’t like chunks.

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Add the mashed bananas to the batter and beat until well incorporated.

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Add the flour mixture and mix well.

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Finally, fold in the chopped walnuts…

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 Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spoon  batter into a greased 5″ x 7″ loaf pan.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.  Some ovens are hotter than others, so check every 5 minutes after the 50 minute mark.

Bodacious Banana Bread

Remove from oven and let cool for about 45 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pan, slice and serve to the masses.

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Washing Up In Style ~ Take II

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This is a blog update for my original post back in January of 2013 to which I have modified the pattern slightly to give a symmetrical border to the washcloths as well as to account for the weight (thickness of yarn) difference from Bernat’s Handi-Crafter cotton to KnitPick’s Dishie.  With KP Dishie being slightly thinner, I have added extra stitches and pattern rows to get the same size washcloth as when knitted with Bernat’s yarn.

I have actually become a cotton yarn snob, KnitPick’s Dishie has won me over and aside from the Christmas speckled washcloths I am making for gifts this year, moving forward I will be treating myself to working exclusively with Dishie yarn.  It is actually cheaper and has more yardage per ball than Bernat’s.  PLUS, it is a tighter spun fibre, smoother and knits without splitting. (Gee, I should maybe get some free yarn out of this plug?) ;)

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A quick, easy to memorize pattern transforms cotton yarn into brightly coloured squares worthy of anyone’s cocina.

Materials Needed:

Bernat Handicrafter Cotton – 42.5 g / 1.5 oz. (1 Ball per square, if using different colours, allow a half ball per square)

OR

KnitPick’s Dishie – 80 g / 2 oz. (1 Ball will make 2 washcloths and you will still have some leftover!)
4.5 mm (U.S. # 7) Straight knitting needles

Gauge: It isn’t important with this project.

Directions if using Bernat’s Handi-Crafter Cotton:

Cast on 38 Stitches using the Thumb Method (sometimes called ‘e-loop’ method) or the Long-Tail Method, either of these give a nice, stretchy cast on edge.  Perfect for beginners, it is very easy to do and you only need one needle to do it.

Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch – see note below before starting)

*Note; if using the Long tail cast on method, once you cast on, Knit 5 rows (garter stitch), THEN proceed to pattern below

Slipped Stitch Waffle Pattern:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *P2, S1 (slip next stitch knit-ways, keeping the yarn at back of work, but do not knit the stitch, just pass it to the right needle), after slipping the stitch, bring yarn to the front for the purl stitches, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, *K2, P1, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

These four rows make one pattern set.  Work 14 pattern sets for each dishcloth.

Ending Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)

Bind off stitches loosely and weave in ends.

Directions for KnitPick’s Dishie Yarn:

Cast on 41 Stitches using the Thumb Method (sometimes called ‘e-loop’ method) or the Long-Tail Method, either of these give a nice, stretchy cast on edge.  Perfect for beginners, it is very easy to do and you only need one needle to do it.

Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch – see note below before starting)

*Note; if using the Long tail cast on method, once you cast on, Knit 5 rows (garter stitch), THEN proceed to pattern below.

Slipped Stitch Waffle Pattern:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *P2, S1 (slip next stitch knit-ways, keeping the yarn at back of work, but do not knit the stitch, just pass it to the right needle), after slipping the stitch, bring yarn to the front for the purl stitches, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, *K2, P1, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

These four rows make one pattern set.  Work 15 pattern sets for each dishcloth.

Ending Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)

Bind off stitches loosely and weave in ends.

Be creative in your colour choices, as here is an opportunity to make a bold colour statement in your kitchen without using paint.  Bright pops of colour are mandatory in my kitchen.  On  the plus side, if you have bits and bobs of leftover cotton yarn, use them up for additional washcloths that can be delegated to laundry room duty.  Heck, use them in the kitchen or bathroom, no matter the colours as long as they work, and work hard they will.

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Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

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Hubby says these are NOT cookies.  Cookies are super sweet and bad for you.

I beg to differ.

DSC04550I found this recipe in a magazine and as usual, tweaked it to add things to my liking.  These are a great option for when you have zero time in the morning for breakfast before you run out the door.  Just grab and go.

I also sub them for a quick lunch and/or snack when I am on the road for several hours of the day.  Quick, healthy and good for you, regardless of hubby’s opinion.

Super easy to make, start to finish they are done in half an hour.

Ingredients

1 medium banana, mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter), smooth or chunky – your preference
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp skim milk or almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup 12-grain flour (or whole wheat flour, I like the 12-grain though)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup pepitas (raw or roasted, no salt)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw or roasted, no salt)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins or blueberries (experiment!)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, honey, milk, peanut butter and honey, mix well.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon

4. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just coming together.

5. Add seeds/fruit and mix to combine.

6. On parchment lined baking sheets (2), drop 1/4 cup spoonfuls and flatten to 1/2″.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 12-16 minutes.
Makes 12 cookies

These freeze beautifully too so may just want to double or triple the batch if you are making for a family.

Enjoy!

Deborah

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Condo Kitchen Facelift

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I am thrilled.  I am absolutely REALLY Thrilled.  No, wait, I think I am over-the-moon ECSTATIC that my horrid kitchen has been banished for good, maybe only haunting me in my dreams, but, I can finally say MY KITCHEN IS DONE!!!  I want to run up to the 17th floor of the building and holler from someone’s balcony on the Penthouse level (cause it’s higher than mine) that MY KITCHEN IS DONE!

Ok, maybe not, but you get the idea at least.  All it took was 6 working days to go from this….

Yellow Countertopto this….

DSC04332 DSC04331 DSC04329 DSC04326I adore it.  Everything.  From the paint colour (Chiptole Red – bet your surprised there eh?) The Blanco Silgranite sink (I had it in the house, loved it so much I had to put one in here), the drawer pulls, the countertop choice (bye bye yellow!), even the new cabinet above the fridge opening (it was removed years ago apparently).  EVERYTHING.

All this happened in 6 working days.  How you ask?  Well, I can unequivocally tell you that unless you are changing the layout of a kitchen, a facelift is the most economical choice for the majority of homeowners.  I am now a new fan of this concept.  New cabinet doors and drawer fronts are custom-made from your choice of a variety of styles and tones.  Countertops are simple, cheap and also come in a wide variety of colours and styles along with handles and drawerpulls.  At the end of the week, I have basically a brand new kitchen for less than half of a total gut job.

Now the hard part, putting everything back in the cupboards that had to come out.  It is a small price to pay though for having a beautiful kitchen that just boosted my home equity nicely!

Tonight I get to actually cook something in the oven for a change, instead of a microwave.

Salud!

Deborah

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Huevos Rancheros

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If you love eggs (like I do), and if you love Mexican food (like I do), then you will love this breakfast staple.  How can it be better? If you use my leftover Charro Beans as the base, that’s how.

Making huevos rancheros can be time consuming due to all the chopping/sauteing of veggies/beans, but utilizing the leftover charro beans has made for a breakfast that is ready in under 30 minutes instead of almost an hour.

DSC04157Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a small baking dish (spray with cooking spray first), press a warmed 6″ flour (or corn) tortilla into place.

Add 3/4 cup of charro beans

Top with 2 tbsp shredded cheese (mozz/cheddar or monterey jack, whatever suits your tastebuds)

Crack one egg onto the top, season the egg with salt and pepper and pop into the oven for about 20 minutes or until egg is done to your liking.

Garnish with cilantro. Salud!

Easy-peasy…. and boy, was it tasty.  I have enough charro beans in the fridge for one more breakfast.  I am so looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Deborah

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The Great Avocado Dye Experiment!

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Yesterday I posted a recipe using avocados, and in that recipe I said to save the pits and skins for later use.  I guess I *should* have been more specific, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many people would be wracking their brains wondering what the heck would you use them for.  I mean, they are inedible after all, and unless you are wanting to grow an avocado tree, why save the pit?

So here is what I do with them….

To one 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado pits. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

To another 500ml canning jar, I added 3 oz of chopped avocado skins. Combined 3/4 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup ammonia and added it to the jar. Topped up to about 1 1/2” from the top.

I screwed the bands down snugly on the jars and the heat/steam from the boiling water  sealed the jars after about 15 minutes.

DSC04087Here on Day 1, the colour starts almost immediately, but it is necessary to let the jars sit for a minimum of 30 days for the colour to develop, if you tried it now, you would not get any colour to stick to the fibers, it would mostly rinse away.

Here they are on Day 3 they are darker, but they still need to sit.

20151202_091140_medium2I put these jars up on November 30th and left them until after Christmas.  Close to one month later while we were up at the cottage, I finally cracked the jars and dyed 2 skeins of yarn.  The larger skein went into the skin dye, which looked purple/green, the smaller one went into the dye made from the pits, which looked rosy-red.

Here are the results…

Studio_20151229_110736_medium2The skein on the left was in the skin dye bath and it came out a gorgeous, soft beige colour.  The pinky-rosy one on the right was in the pit dye bath.  The colouring on the skein from the skins was much more even, but the pit dye bath took up the dye very unevenly, so it was a more rosy/tan mottled look.

I really liked the colour of the skein from the skins and have another batch fermenting now, but will let the jars sit much longer this time to deepen the colours.

** Tip if you are going to try this ~ when you first get the pit out of the avocado, chop it up into small pieces immediately, if you wait, the air gets at it and it turns rock hard and you will be unable to chop it.  I store pits and skins (washed) in ziploc bags in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch with.

There, aren’t you glad you asked? If you want to dye yarn (or fabric), this is what you can save your avocado skins and pits for. ;)

Deborah

 

 

 

 

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