Posts Tagged ‘quinoa


Everyday is Thanksgiving at our House

We don’t need a once a year holiday to feel grateful or to eat a big dinner.  Katie and I exchange gratitude lists every day and have since the beginning of our relationship of over 3 years.  I often talk about what I’m grateful for at work and my co-workers share in this as well.  It just feels good to talk about the good stuff in life rather than dwell on the crappy side of things.

As far as food goes, I make dinner every night and it pretty much always looks like this.

Dinner is served!

I don’t always have a centerpiece decoration on the table,  but I like it.  There is, however, always a tablecloth and place mats.  I’m just funny that way (Ok, I’m funny in a lot of ways!).  Dinner at our place always has a green salad of some sort, a grain, some sort of vegetarian protein and at least two vegetables.  We’ve cut way back on bread, pasta and cheese, so we tend to eat semi vegan meals.

Tonight I made a quinoa pilaf with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, from our garden, paired with Fuji apple and Field Roast Applewood Smoked Sausage (it’s vegan, of course), steamed broccoli and kale and mesclan salad (also from the garden).

 It was delicious!

A full plate of food, we get full, yet never feel stuffed eating like this

Yummy quinoa pilaf. don't worry, I'll give you the recipe.


serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
olive oil, salt and pepper

In a small pan, bring broth to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, cover and lower heat to simmer.   Steam for 19 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat a small amount of oil and saute onion until a bit browned.  Add nuts and cranberries.   Stir and heat through until nuts impart a wonderful fragrance.  Stir into cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut squash, Fuji apple and Applewood smoked Vegan sausage tossed in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper, place in baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 35 -40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Katie and I will probably do our usual routine:  stay in our jammies, make homemade pizza, watch movies, play pool and eat pumpkin pie!


Deli? We don’t need no stinkin’ deli!

And neither do you.  Here is an easy, quick deli style salad that you can whip up in the privacy of your own kitchen.  It features quinoa, one of my personal favorite grains.  If you are not yet familiar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) I strongly suggest that you two should get acquainted.  It cooks up like rice, is packed with protein and it looks pretty cute!

Colorful, tasty Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (I prefer to use the whole pepper including the membrane and seeds, but if you are a light weight, you can ditch them)

2 tablespoons rough chopped cilantro

Bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir and lower heat to simmer.  Place lid on pot and simmer for 19 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir to fluff.  Spread cooked quinoa on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

Once quinoa has cooled, place in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.  Make dressing:

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, if you want more kick to it

Whisk all together in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ready for it's close up, just to make you hungry

I think this is best after the ingredients have had a chance to mingle and marry.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  This will last for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it never lasts that long at our house!


I see healthy people…….

Fantastic salad meal with quinoa, purple potatoes and chickenless strips

Ever since my spouse had her surgery in early December of 2009, I’ve had to change my way of thinking about food.  She told me, in a narcotic haze, that she needed nutrition to facilitate healing.  Yes, even in a Oxycodone  stupor, she still talks like that.  Nutrition has always been a nasty word to me.  In my silly mind, nutritious foods always sounded bland, dull and boring.  And vegetarian nutritious food, even worse. Yes, people, I am the worst vegetarian because I don’t cook or eat a lot of vegetables, until now……….  

After getting over my 2 day pout fest about having to rethink how I cook and what I have been feeding us for the past two years, a light bulb went on in my head.  Yeah, just like in the cartoons! I  know how to make things taste fantastic.  Garlic and spices!  Everything tastes better when it is properly spiced.  I also looked at it as a culinary adventure.  This is my chance to perhaps try some vegetables that I’ve never had before or to discover new methods for preparing the old stand bys.   Lilias Folan, a television yoga instructor, used to always say “The joy is in the journey” and boy, was she ever right.  

Oh, we still eat pizza and veggie burgers and fries now and then, but a lot less frequently.  Quinoa and brown rice are our new carbohydrate.  We hardly ever eat pasta and we both have noticed that when we do, we always feel too stuffed.  I try to make sure we have at least one dark green vegetable each night for dinner.  I’ve replaced the anemic Romaine hearts from Trader Joe’s with the dark green Romaine heads for our salads.  There is an awesome kale and carrot salad at the deli at New Seasons Market that I am totally addicted to.  

The other night I came up with the salad meal you see pictured at the top of this post.  It was soooo yummy!  

I cut a purple potato into bite sized chunks and steamed until tender firm.  Set aside to cool.  I steamed some broccoli until still bright green and crisp, then I removed it from the heat and plunged the broccoli into ice water to retain the color and stop the cooking process.  Drain and pat dry with paper towels and set aside.  

I had some left over cooked quinoa in the fridge.  I added the beautiful bright green broccoli to it along with some shredded carrot, finely chopped red onion, some grape tomatoes that I halved, about a tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese and a handful of Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend ( dried fruit blend of golden raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries) and tossed gently to distribute everything.  

I cut up about half a package of Trader Joe’s Chicken-less Strips.  If you have not tried these, you should.  They are better than the Morning Star Farms brand, also cheaper and much lower in calories, fat and sodium.  Also, the list of ingredients is a lot shorter and all full of natural stuff that we have all heard of and can pronounce!  And they are VEGAN!!!

The first word on the back of the box is "Nutritious!

 Using a non-stick pan, I heated 2 teaspoons of olive oil and when nice and hot, I tossed in the steamed purple potatoes and sautéed them until lightly crisped, then I tossed in the chicken-less strips and a clove of minced garlic and some poultry seasoning.  Once everything had a nice golden look to it, I removed from the heat and set aside.  

Next I cut up several dark green leaves of Romaine and thin slices of red cabbage. and tossed in a large bowl.  

OK, almost ready to plate this wonderful nutritious meal up!  

I made my dressing:  

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil  

1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar  

1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce  

1 tablespoon raw honey  

Whisk together until emulsified.  

I took the bowl with the quinoa mixture in it and tossed with just a little of the dressing, saving the rest for the greens.  

Next toss the remaining dressing with the greens mixture.  

Place Romaine salad on the plate.  

Place a generous position of the quinoa mixture on top of the greens.  

Final step, place the potato-chicken-less saute on top.  

Eat your NUTRITIOUS meal!


Come On-A My House

Yes, you either think of Rosemary Clooney or “The Girls Next Door” theme song when you hear that tune.  I will admit to being sucked into Hef’s reality show (?) a time or two.  But I was thinking more along the lines of having people over.  We had brand new guests over last evening.  I did my usual, “I’ll just put a few things out to nibble on” routine.  I love to cook and I love to feed people.  I don’t know what the girls expected last evening, but I’m pretty sure everyone had plenty to eat and a good time to boot.  Here is a shot of the little nosh spread.

A light repast ala Vampiregran

A light repast ala Vampiregran

Fruit and cheese board included grapes, blackberries and chocolate dipped strawberries paired with cheddar, spicy cheese curds, herbed goat Gouda and BellaVitano Raspberry cheese.  That last listed cheese was described by the following “A unique Parmesean taste with creamy cheddar texture soaked in New Glarus Raspberry Tart Ale.”  It is good!

Fruit and Cheese Board

Fruit and Cheese Board

I assembled a nice Caprese Salad with basil from our garden, organic tomatoes from work and fresh Mozzarella cheese.  Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, super tasty!

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Yes, that is Vampiregran’s Famous Hummus in the background.  A quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) salad and crimini mushroom caps stuffed with soyrizo and Parmesean cheese rounded out the little snack.
Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

I’ll post the recipe for this salad at another time.  It is a great summer treat, with raw fresh corn cut from the cob, crunchy celery and other goodies I’ll get into when I post the recipe.
So, next time you find yourself in Portland, don’t be shy.  Come on-a our house, especially if you are hungry.



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