I just fell in love with quinoa

I have to admit… quinoa did not look appetizing to me the first time I saw it. To me it looked like (forgive me) fish eggs.

But it kept showing up everywhere.  And then people started pairing it with things I love. Pomegranate. Spinach. Oh my.

And then I started reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and she has a recipe for breakfast quinoa with apple chicken sausage, onion, eggs… and I just had to try it.

I have all of the ingredients in my fridge and cupboard, but that’s not what I ate today. Today, as I looked at the leftovers in my fridge I realized I had some taco mix stuff (ground turkey, seasoning, salsa, beans and corn) that was left over from Mexican stuffed peppers and taco salad. Out of peppers and lettuce, I suddenly thought about the quinoa in the pantry. Would it go…? No …. would it?

So I tried it. Yes, I ate on the couch. And yes, I ate out of the container that held my leftovers. Don’t judge. Less dishes = happy me.

picture040

hooked.

Spontaneous Mexican Quinoa

The first three ingredients we’re already mixed together in my house. Feel free to swap out your favorite Mexican ingredients! I just used what I had but might add some cilantro next time. Also, I don’t deal with amounts… whatever looks good is what goes in. Sorry!

Leftover taco meat (I used turkey)
black beans
corn
salsa
cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional … I went back for seconds. First time I used cheese. Second, sour cream. Both we’re yummy)
quinoa

Cook your quinoa. Heat up leftover taco meat/beans/corn and add to cooked quinoa. Top with salsa, cheese and sour cream as you wish!

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Chocolate Cupcakes for a milk-and-soy-sensitive tummy

I was too scared at first to try to make cake for my one-year-old without milk or soy in them. I’d never made a cake that wasn’t out-of-the-box. For some reason, the thought of it just seemed daunting.

So I googled {there is a red squiggly under “googled” … how has spell check not accepted that as a verb yet???} and called around and found a vegan bakery. The baker told me that she had a recipe for chocolate cake that didn’t have any soy ingredients in them that she could make. Yay! I’d call back later to order it.

Well, my perpetually forgetful mind forgot to call until, well, the day before his birthday. Not enough time for a busy baker to bake a cake.

So the search for a recipe began. And I found this recipe on earthbalancenatural.com.

I made both the cupcake recipe and frosting recipe, but left out the instant espresso in the frosting (it was for a one-year-old, afterall… but I can definitely see how the mocha frosting would be AMAZING on these cupcakes!)

Honestly? Probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. And I’m not bragging – not on myself anyway. These EarthBalanceNatural people really know what they’re doing. (No, I am not being compensated in any way for this… I am simply so thankful for their recipe so that my baby could have cake on his birthday!)

Here are some pictures to prove the yumminess :)

homemade soy-banana frappuccino

Breakfast today – one piece of whole grain bread with nutella and half a banana (sliced) on top (Eli “ate” the other half of that banana), and a soy-banana frappuccino.

**I recently discovered that it seems my pregnancy triggered more severe milk-intolerance than what I had before. Even lactose-free coffee cream bothers me, so I have switched to using vanilla soy milk in my coffee and have found that I like it just as much if not better – especially since my stomach aches have gone away :)

Soy Banana Frappuccino

(adapted from FreeSpiritFood)

1/2 Cup of espresso (I made mine in my Moka Pot)

1 Cup soy milk

1 frozen banana

2 Cups ice (I like mine extra slushy)

1 squirt chocolate syrup

Put all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth (or the consistency you like). I added my chocolate syrup as an afterthought, after it was blended, but I am sure that it is just as good when you blend it in. Mine made enough for 2 frapp’s, so I poured the rest into a freezer baggie and it is now waiting in my freezer for me to take it out and blend it up!

Cream Cheese Crescents

Ingredients:

1 pkg of your favorite refrigerated crescents or croissants in a tube … or in my case, whichever one I have a coupon for :)

cream cheese

What to do:

Follow the directions on the tube of crescents for how high you should set your oven.

Lay each crescent flat on a baking sheet, then spread a tablespoon or two of cream cheese on each (I did not measure). Leave 1/8 of an inch or so from the edge of the crescent. If you are like me and don’t want to wait for your cream cheese to be soft enough to spread easily, you can just put small chunks on the crescent and it will be fine, as long as you still leave room on the edges :)

Carefully roll up each crescent just like you would if you were baking them normally. Pinch where there are any gaps, to keep cream cheese from escaping during baking.

Bake per directions on the crescent package.

Other ideas:

Eat them with tomato soup for lunch :)

For breakfast – add jelly on top of the cream cheese  before you roll the crescent (you would use slightly less cream cheese for this so you can still roll up the crescent without squeezing all the jelly out). Picture below… you can’t see the jelly very well, but it was yummy :) I used raspberry, strawberry and blueberry.

White Mac and Cheese

This has become our favorite macaroni and cheese. In fact, I don’t even want to buy the boxed stuff any more. Not even to make cheating baked mac and cheese with it.

I personally had some trouble at first finding blocks of  white cheddar to use for this recipe. The cheapest one that I found is at Walmart, and I believe the brand is Cabot. They have Seriously Sharp and Extra Sharp – I have not noticed a difference between the two, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one!

Here is the recipe:

1lb your favorite pasta (I use shells)

1lb white cheddar cheese, shredded

3T butter

2T flour

2C milk

salt and pepper to taste

1 pkg diced or cubed ham, or leftover ham that you have diced or cubed (you decide the amount)

Start to boil the water for your pasta, and preheat the oven for 350 degrees. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the flour, then slowly pour the milk in, stirring as you pour. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to thicken (I usually go by the time more because I don’t notice mine thickening too much, probably because I use skim milk). Stir in the white cheddar cheese, and turn to low, stirring ocassionally. Cook your pasta just until al dente. As the pasta is cooking, butter the inside of a 9×13 glass pan. Drain the pasta, then pour it into the pan. Add the ham cubes to the white cheddar cheese sauce, then pour the sauce over the pasta. Place on the middle rack and cook for 30 minutes.

I have frozen the leftovers and it has reheated just fine :)

(Picture to come soon! We just ate all of our leftovers.)

Crafty and apple-y goodness…

After much mental grumbling over the thought of having to use the pickiest, most bobbin-sensitive, old garage sale sewing machine ever – which was kindly given to me one Christmas by someone who didn’t know I already had a nice new(er) sewing machine (which is still back in Illinois, sadly)… I finally pulled the thing down from the closet, carefully set it up, and patiently (ha ha) wound… and re-wound… and re-wound the bobbin, stuck it in… and it worked!

I then got halfway through my project, ran out of bobbin thread, filled it back up again, then proceeded to forget how I got it to work 20 minutes earlier…

… but eventually I ended up with this!

Made with this tutorial for a Book Sling.

I still need to make it’s twin. And buy double curtain rod hangers. And attach them to the wall. After we finish painting baby’s room.

And now for the apple-y part!

On Tuesday night, Chris and I were watching TV. A commercial came on for Tim Horton’s, and all I had to do was say one tiny little thing about how the apple spice muffins looked sooo good, and Chris jumped in the car and drove to TWO Tim Horton’s just to find an apple spice muffin for me. Like I said in my last post, he’s good :) I don’t even have to ask, or even think about asking! And it might have been the best muffin I had ever tasted… until…

… my attempt at making something like Tim Horton’s apple spice muffins. The most exciting part was that I actually got to use the apples from the apple tree in our back yard! :)

The tree that I didn’t know was an apple tree… until it started growing apples!

Apple Spice Muffins

slightly adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/04/whole-wheat-apple-muffins/, which was adapted from King Arthur Flour.

King Arthur says it makes 12. Smitten Kitchen made 18. I made 16 (and that’s with the added apple pie filling!)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

dash of salt (I did not measure, just one shake from my salt shaker)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup margarine

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed, divided

1 large egg

1 cup (8 ounces) vanilla yogurt

2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Apple Pie filling (I didn’t measure again… just used some from a can of store bought stuff, then refrigerated the leftovers. I suppose if you are feeling like doing everything from scratch, you could make your own, in which case I would estimate you would need less than a cup total!)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour muffin tin, or put paper muffin cups in the tin, and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Fill each muffin cup 1/2 way. Make a small indent in the center of each. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of apple pie filling into the indents of each 1/2-filled muffin cup. Top with more muffin mix (I filled mine all the way to the top, and they turned out perfect – but I think the muffin tops are the best part!). Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (besides apple pie filling… there shouldn’t be any batter on the toothpick). Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack (or just a plate) to cool completely.

Oh. P.S. I got the results of the glucose tolerance test back from the doctor. No diabetes! :) I am, however, anemic… which explains all of those times that I crave Arby’s roast beef sandwiches!