GLUTEN FREE Peach & Blueberry Upside Down Cake

If you’re looking for something to do with all the amazing peaches arriving at the farmer’s markets this month, THIS. Use all peaches, or blend fruits like I did. Either way, know this: this is a VERY easy WOW-FACTOR dish everyone needs in their repertoire.

While I typically use regular all-purpose flour for this cake, this was the first time I attempted working with a gluten-free flour. And, let me tell you: this Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour performed EXACTLY like my regular flour. The cake was light and moist… and, tasty as all get out. So, if you’re wanting gluten-free, THIS IS IT.

PREP TIME: 30 minutes / COOK TIME: 30-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

SUGAR GLAZE / FRUIT LAYER

  • 3 TBSP salted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups peaches, skinned and sliced
  • 1 cup blueberries

CAKE BATTER

  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs (room temperature… or ‘flash warmed’ in a bowl of warm water)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla

STEP 1:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prep your fruit.

STEP 2: PREPARE THE BATTER

  1. Whisk or sift together the flour, baking power and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time. Beat until smooth and fully incorporated.
  3. Stir in half the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients.  Do not over-mix; stir just until the flour is barely incorporated into the batter. Set aside.

STEP 3: MAKE SUGAR GLAZE / FRUIT LAYER

Melt butter in a 10″ cast iron skillet with stove on medium high. Add brown sugar and whisk the sugar into the butter to bring to a slow boil. Wisk for 2-4 minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from heat.(NOTE: If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can caramelize your butter and sugar in any skillet. Then, once melted, simply pour the sugar mixture into a baking pan before moving to next step.)

STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE CAKE

  1. Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the pan. If it’s in slices, you can create a pinwheel design around a circular pan – or, get creative. Set aside.Gently dollop the batter over the fruit then gently smooth with a pastry spatula so there is an even layer of batter over all the fruit.
  2. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until: a) the top of the cake is golden brown, b) it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and 3) a toothpick comes out clean. (NOTE: Sometimes the fruit bubbles up and over. You can place a sheet pan on the shelf under the cake to catch any drips.)
  3. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.  Let the cake settle for a minute, until any fruit that has leaked up the sides has stopped bubbling.  (TIP: Do not let the cake completely cool or it will be very difficult to get it out of the pan.)!  Run a knife around the edges of the cake.  Place your cake plate over the cake and, using hot pads, carefully flip the cake over.  Gently remove the cake pan. Here’s a peek into how it all comes together in my FINEX cast iron 10″ skillet:

NOTE: Follow Bob’s Red Mill on Facebook and Instagram and watch for the release of the full length video – coming soon! And, yes, while my company, Relish Division, produced this video for Bob’s Red Mill, the recipe and the opinions are all my own 🙂 And, yes, that’s actually me in the video making the cake from scratch.

YOU CAN DO IT: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Walnut Balsamic Salad

DSC04842 (1) I’m a big believer that we women need to feed ourselves well if we expect to have the stamina to do all life calls on us to do. And, the better we feed ourselves, the better those we’ve been entrusted with will be fed and loved.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite things to prepare and keep on hand: roasted brussels sprouts. Roasted veggies, in general, are divine… and,if you have them on hand, they make a perfect foundational ingredient for numerous less-than-5-minute power meals. I’m always roasting sliced sweet bell peppers, cauliflower, root vegetables. The process is the same for every veggie (although the time in the oven may vary depending on the nature and size of what is being roasted).

Okay – so back to the brussels sprouts.

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next,to prepare the brussels sprouts, trim off the stem end, cut them in half, and peel off the outer layer of skin. (Since I peel off the outer layer, I rarely wash them before using them.) Then, place them in a bowl.

DSC04786

Drizzle about 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil* per pound of brussels sprouts. (*TIP: different varieties of olive oil really do affect the taste of your finished dish. So, keep that in mind when shopping for ingredients.)

DSC04791

Sprinkle 1 tsp of sea salt per pound of brussels sprouts…

DSC04806

And about 1 tsp of black pepper per pound.

DSC04808

Stir to coat all the brussels sprouts evenly and then pour out into a single layer on sheet trays.

DSC04818

Roast in your preheated oven for 10-14 minutes. (NOTE: I’ve seen recipes that say roast brussels sprouts at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. For the love – no, no,no! If you roast for that long at that high of heat, you will burn the brussels sprouts and they’ll start to stink of hydrogen sulfide since heat-activated enzymes go to work on the sprouts’ nutritious sulfur compounds. Yuck. (I think overcooking is why many people are completely adverse to brussels sprouts.) It’s very important to roast only long enough to brown and soften.)

They’re done when they look like this:

DSC04820

DSC04822

Transfer all the roasted brussels sprouts into a large bowl.

Now… on to turning these roasted beauties into a salad!

Using one of the sheet trays you roasted on, pour 1/2 cup of whole walnuts. Using a flat-bottomed glass, crush the walnuts like this:
DSC04824

…so you end up with pieces like this:

DSC04827

Put the tray back into the oven and toast the walnut pieces for about three minutes. Take the pan out, give ’em a quick stir, and return them to the oven for another three minutes.

Pour the toasted walnuts into the bowl with the roasted sprouts and then here is where you do something very simple: drizzle some really, really good balsamic over the whole bowl. Now, here’s another tip: just like different olive oils offer a unique flavor, the balsamic you use will also offer a unique flavor.  Really good aged balsamic should be thick – almost like syrup, and it should have a tangy sweet taste, not a vinegar taste. So, for this recipe (or any recipe where the balsamic is used as a stand-alone ingredient (versus blended into a dressing), I’m using the good stuff.

DSC04830

DSC04834

Stir all the ingredients together and viola! You have a salad: roasted brussels sprouts & walnut balsamic salad.

DSC04836

DSC04842

DSC04846

Pair a cup of salad with a cup of quinoa… or, add a couple hardboiled eggs and call it good. No matter how you eat this up, I promise: you’ll be satisfied and ready to keep on keepin’ on.

So, tell me: how’s your Advent coming along? You ready for Christmas yet?

Thankful you’re here 🙂

YOU CAN DO IT: Homemade Salted Quinoa & Fruit Energy Bars

DSC04671 If you’ve been with me awhile then you know “SmartyBars”.

I started making SmartyBars in my kitchen back in 2009 when Seb was in the 2 year old constant snacking phase. I struggled to find prepared snack items that weren’t fortified (meaning they were so stripped of nutrition in processing they had to re-add the vitamins back in), or amped up on processed sugars, or filled with chemicals.

The other issue I struggled with was, while I had no problems getting him (or the rest of my family) prepared with good snacks while we were on the go, I was constantly running on empty. My lack of attention for my own well being meant I fell into a pattern of either a) not eating, b) eating everyone’s leftovers and lasts (half a piece of cold toast, the last bite of banana, the cold crumbled scrambled eggs), or c) lots of fast food.

I had simply allowed motherhood to run me ragged… and, because I had stopped seeing how I nourished myself as a big deal, I was tired, achy, cranky and developing a palate that craved salt and sugar constantly.

SmartyBars were the concoction that got me back on track. I pulled together the best whole ingredients I could find and figured out a way to stick them all together in ONE snack. I wanted something that would be nutritious, would fend off hunger, digest well and keep my mind sharp. SmartyBars ingredients were prized for all of those things.

Fruit.

Quinoa.

Oats.

Walnuts.

That’s it. Only four ingredients went into my SmartyBars and, because they were so clean and pure, I got myself (and my cravings) back on track.

I had a manufacturer for SmartyBars for a couple of years and sold them through my website and several local stores. Then, in 2013, I manufactured my very last batch and shut the company down. (Thankfully, however, the Lord used SmartyBars as the springboard for NBC Food Fighters, this Rebel Grain blog and to launch me as the Quinoa Queen! So, no regrets 🙂 ) Today, however, I’m going to show you how to make your own SmartyBars… and, let me tell you, if you’re looking to get back on track and retrain your cravings: THIS IS IT.

While my original recipe was just four ingredients, the version I’m making today is a little more tasty with a few additional ingredients:

DSC04613

DSC04609

DSC04595

DSC04597

You’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups of precooked Royal Quinoa (or you can use 1.5 cups of Royal Quinoa flakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats (regular oats are fine, too, if you’re not gluten free)
  • 1 cup of whole, raw almonds
  • 1 cup of unsulfured dried apricots (NOTE: sulfur is the preservative that gives typical dried apricots the bright orange look; unsulfured apricots are dark brown (like mine in the photo), but they taste WAY better without the preservative. Find them in bulk bins at some grocery stores.)
  • 2/3 cup of dried, pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

I like to rehydrate the fruit just a little bit so it’s easier for the food processor to work with. To do this, simply add the dry fruit and about 2 TBSPs of water into a shallow, lidded pan.

DSC04627

Turn the pan on high and, when the water sizzles, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the fruit to steam for about a minute or so.

Next, using a slotted spoon (so that you don’t add any additional water to the mix) add your fruit into the bowl of a food processor….

DSC04629

and process until smooth, like this:

DSC04638

Scrape the fruit puree away from the sides of the bowl, and then add in the rest of your ingredients:

DSC04646

Process all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds to a minute… and then, you should have a mixture that looks like this:

DSC04648

NOTE: It may be necessary to scrape the fruit puree out of the processing bowl and then work the ingredients in two batches. It all depends on the strength of your processor and the stickiness of the mixture.  You’ll know if it’s necessary because the processor will be moving too slow to break down the ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture to about 1/2 inch thick. Then sprinkle the top with a little flaked coconut and some coarse finishing salt (optional):

DSC04650

DSC04653

DSC04654

Now, place the prepared tray into your oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (This isn’t really ‘baking’ the bars, it’s simply allowing some of the moisture to evaporate.)

Remove the tray, cut the bars into your preferred sizes and then, with a spatula, carefully place all the bars on a drying rack:

DSC04656

Allow the bars to ‘air dry’ for as long as possible; then, store in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for grab and go snacking.
DSC04665

This recipe makes about 24-28 bars (depending on how large you cut them and how much you eat BEFORE you press them onto the pan 😉 )… and, start to finish, you’re looking at a time investment of about 30 minutes.

DSC04657

DSC04661

The best part? If you make these yourself you’re saving a ton of $$$$ by not buying the prepackaged options. And, honestly, I think these taste a thousand times better than anything you can buy off a shelf.

DSC04659

Give them a try… and play with the recipe, too! Here are some other ideas:

  • If you like more texture, don’t process all the ingredients together. Make the fruit puree as I described, then add it to a bowl with your honey, coconut oil and dry ingredients. You can use your hands to squeeze it all together and then, when it’s all fully incorporated, press it onto the pan and follow the rest of the directions.
  • You can use any dried fruit or nuts you prefer! Just follow the general guidelines for fruit/nut/grain ratios and you’ll be fine.
  • Substitute the precooked quinoa for quinoa flakes. If you do this, you remove a lot of the water content from this recipe and the bars will have a longer shelf life. (It’s the precooked quinoa in this recipe that requires they be refrigerated.)

I hope you’re inspired to make these… and, if you do, I’d love to know what you think!

Thanks for reading 🙂 I love having you here. ENJOY!

DSC04668

YOU CAN DO IT: Chocolate & Coconut Black Quinoa Pudding

IMG_1096

Today my last little bird flew from the nest and into 3rd grade… which means a new school year has officially started for our family. Early mornings, carpool afternoons, sports, homework, and, hopefully, breathing room for my brain so that I can finally feel the freedom to get stuff done.

As I sit here in my quiet house, there are little piles of life all over the place – and I’m excited. Today begins the work of getting back to life. Bills to pay. House finishing to do. Pictures still waiting to be hung, and laundry waiting to be washed. Planning for the months to come. I feel the urge to nest – to hunker down, cozy up our half-finished house, and begin the process of welcoming Fall to settle in with us.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into a routine of cooking. I have to be honest: in the summertime, it’s grazing season. A quick salad. Slices of deli meat and cheese with some crackers. A steak on the BBQ with some roasted veggies. Meals happens… and don’t happen… and yet we all seem to make it through the hot, leisurely months satisfied.

With school back in order, however, food and life require more planning. I mean, with three kids and my man, I’m set to make over 640 lunches alone in the next 9 months. 640 lunches! Add in breakfasts and dinners, and I’m looking at potentially 1400 meals this year. (Ok – I’m tired.)

Flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to mealtime isn’t an option.

I also have to be really conscious of feeding myself well, too. While I’ll still grab and go on most days, I have to be prepared to have the right grab-and-go food available: a quinoa salad, some hardboiled eggs and a piece of fruit, greek yogurt with some quinola and fruit, or THIS:

IMG_1092

This is my chocolate and coconut quinoa “pudding”. When I was little, we used to eat a rice version of this pudding called “Champulado” – a Guamanian treat. Traditionally, champulado is made with white rice, sweetened condensed milk, refined sugar, and chocolate syrup. This version, however, is not only healthified with quinoa and free of refined sugars – the texture and taste is a thousand times better than what I grew up loving.

I’ve made this many times before and always used the regular white quinoa I can find in bulk. Green Quinoa, however, sent me a bunch of their black Royal quinoa and I WILL NEVER USE WHITE QUINOA FOR THIS DISH AGAIN.

IMG_1073

GQ’s black quinoa didn’t really ‘open’ when cooking – it softened. The texture of the quinoa in the finished pudding reminded me of what happens to chia seeds when they’re soaked in coconut milk – not mushy, and just enough of a crunch when you chew. (When I’ve made this with white quinoa the seeds always open normally… so, it’s interesting to me the black quinoa responded differently with the coconut milk/water mixture.)

Seriously: this is SO GOOD. So good hot and right out of the pot… and so good as a grab and go snack out of the fridge.

Here’s what you need:

1 box of GQ Royal Black Quinoa
1 14 ounce of coconut milk (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey

(Optional Add-Ins)
1-2 bananas
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

DIRECTIONS:

Place quinoa, coconut milk, water, and cacao in a high sided pot, then whisk the mixture until cacao powder is broken down. Add in the coconut and honey.

Bring pot to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Allow pudding to gently simmer for 25-30 minutes. (Every 10 minutes or so be sure to stir the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom while cooking.)

Turn off heat. DONE.

Now, you can eat the pudding right away as a warm porridge for breakfast (the way we always ate champulado). I love topping mine with fresh fresh sliced banana and grated ginger…

IMG_1090 IMG_1107 IMG_1098

Or, you can gently mix the sliced bananas and ginger directly into the pot, stir, and then portion the pudding out into individual storage containers, like this:

IMG_1108

I do both… and then, when I need a grab and go meal, I have one ready to go. (I’m eating one of my pre-portioned puddings out of the fridge as I write this 🙂 )

I’d love to know some of your tips for getting off on the right foot with food now that kids are back in school. Do you have any tips or recipes you want to share? One thing I know for sure: it takes a village… and WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.

Thanks for reading – and thanks to Green Quinoa for sponsoring this post! Find them on Facebook and Instagram.

YOU CAN DO IT: Bone Broth Chicken Quinoa Soup

DSC04482
This is a sponsored post paid for by Green Quinoa, but you know how I LOVE quinoa – and the recipe, thoughts, and opinions are all my own. Connect with Green Quinoa on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

I’m a big believer that a mom has two best friends in the kitchen: quinoa and a rotisserie chicken. If you have one, or the other, you’re minutes away from a powerhouse meal. Now, if you have BOTH on hand, you’re really set up for greatness.

Today I want to do two things:
1) Introduce you to 100% Bolivian quinoa brand – Green Quinoa. All their products are made from 100% organic Bolivian quinoa (aka “Royal Quinoa”) – and BOLIVIAN ROYAL QUINOA is the best quinoa in the world. It’s the largest, fluffiest, nuttiest tasting, and most nutritious variety… PLUS, since Green Quinoa traces their quinoa batches from farm to shelf, you can be confident it’s clean (meaning you don’t have to rinse it) and free of pesticides and contaminants.

2) Show you how to get another meal out of a rotisserie chicken you may think has nothing left to offer. When I buy a rotisserie chicken, I typically debone the breasts and thighs and use that for dinner #1.  What you may not know, however, is that with just a little more effort and a few additional ingredients, you can turn that almost fully deboned chicken into bone broth chicken quinoa soup… and, if you’re not familiar with bone broth, know this: it’s amazingly healthy.

INGREDIENTS:
leftover rotisserie chicken
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 medium carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1/4 cup of finely diced parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 box of GQ brand mixed grain Royal Quinoa
1 TBSP sea salt
1 TBSP black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce

PROCESS:
Add 10 cups of water to a stock pot with the apple cider vinegar. Then, remove as much skin as you can from the chicken and place the entire chicken into the pot of water. (NOTE: be sure you add in all the gelatinous goodness that settles in the bottom of the rotisserie chicken tray and collects around the chicken skin you’re discarding. It’s full of flavor and nutrients that were cooked out of the chicken on the first cook – so, use it!)

DSC04411

DSC04408

Bring the bones to a rapid boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour on medium heat. (While the bones simmer, this is where you can get another load of laundry in, help with homework, and prep your soup ingredients. 🙂 )

While the soup is boiling, prep the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley (the parsley didn’t make it into my picture):

DSC04464

…dicing them all up like this:

DSC04478

Once your bones are boiled down, they should literally fall apart as you go to remove them from the water. So, using a slotted spoon, remove the bones from the pot and onto a plate.

DSC04471 What will be left in the pot is this golden goodness – your bone broth:

DSC04469 Using a pair of tongs, or a fork, or even your fingers, remove all the chicken you can from the bones. You’ll be shocked at how much meat was still left! Look at mine – when making the soup for this post I was able to get close to two full cups of beautiful chicken off my bones:

DSC04472

DSC04473

At this point you can toss the bones in the trash, put all your veggies and the chicken back into the pot…and, this is where the quinoa comes in:

DSC04481

One box of GQ mixed grain quinoa is about 2 cups of dry. I wanted a thick soup, so I added the whole box of dry grain into the pot. (If you want your soup less thick, add less dry quinoa.)

Add your sea salt, black pepper, and soy sauce. Bring the soup to a rapid boil reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 15-18 minutes – just long enough for the quinoa to cook.

When the soup is done, this is what you’ll have:

DSC04484

DSC04485

DSC04482
Isn’t it amazing how leftover bones you’d probably be tempted to throw away have the potential to become this stunningly beautiful, flavorful, and healthy bone broth chicken quinoa soup?

My man goes nuts for this soup, as do my kids. They always tell me it’s just like something from the Whole Foods soup bar – but even better… and, it’s true.

With Fall upon us, I hope you’ll remember this simple recipe and give it a try… and then come back and tell me about it!

YOU CAN DO IT: Strawberry Ricotta French Galettes

DSC04393

After months of being consumed by remodeling, moving, unpacking, and purging, all of a sudden I woke up and the truth hit me: I have a child starting 7th grade, one starting high school, and my baby going into 3rd grade next week; the big Labor Day camping adventure we do with six other families every year is THIS weekend, our 17th wedding anniversary is coming up on the 5th; and, yes, SUMMER IS OVER.

Wow. Three months gone. Just. Like. That.

While summer started with us packing up and moving out of the rental we were in for two years, it’s ending with us officially in our new house – yippee! It’s the smallest house we’ve lived in as a family (we left 3800 sq feet in suburbia three years ago and now live in just about 2100 sq feet), yet it’s also the happiest, most comfortable house we’ve ever lived in. Soooo much work went into getting it ready for our July 1st move in: tearing down walls, a new beam, electrical work, floor installation and refinishing, painting, carpeting… and, even though we’re in, there’s still lots and lots of work to complete. But, WE ARE HOME – and we are blessed we now have a place to root our hearts and watch our kids continue to grow.

One of the raddest parts of this remodel and move is that Frigidiare partnered up with me again! Yep! Revolocity Creative spearheaded the whole project and in just a few weeks our new kitchen campaign will launch. You’ll see the reveal of my kitchen before and after, tag along with me as I shopped for appliances, and then cook with me in the kitchen! I’ll share recipes, kitchen life hacks, and we’re even doing a recipe contest giveaway! So, follow meFrigidaire and Kraft Foods on Facebook and STAY TUNED!!

Something I want to share with you today, though, is this: my strawberry ricotta french galette.

DSC04395

It seems only appropriate as we say goodbye to summer and, soon, to fresh strawberries, that we mark the end with a little something special, no? Well, THIS is special… and it’s gonna thrill your taste buds to no end.

All it takes is this: a pint of fresh strawberries, some ricotta cheese, a little powdered sugar, and homemade pastry dough…

DSC04326

and then these simple ingredients for the finishing: an egg wash (take a room temp egg and beat it until smooth), a little sugar, and some fresh grated lemon zest.

DSC04341

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and make the dough. It’s the dough I used for my mango tart on Food Fighters, and the same dough I use for my hand pies and plated pies. This is the dough you need to know.

FOR TWO CRUSTS:
2.5 cups flour
2 regular sticks of salted butter
2 TBSP sugar
12-13 TBSP ice water

  • Add flour, butter, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Turn on for 10 seconds nonstop. Then, pulse and additional 5-8 times. The goal is for butter bits to be about a little larger than pea sized…. so don’t over process!
  • Drizzle a TBSP of water at a time through the top of the food processor and pulse for 1 second after each water addition.
  • Pour mixture from food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, squeeze the dough together until all of the mixture is stuck together. (NOTE: The dough should lean to the dry side. If it is too dry, wet your hands and continue to work dough until it adheres. If it is too sticky, add a tsp of flour at a time until the stickiness is gone.
  • Form two discs, wrap in plastic, and chill.

For a video tutorial on the dough, watch this:


Second, prepare your ricotta mixture.

  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup of powdered sugar

DSC04331

Place the two ingredients in a bowl together and stir until sugar is fully incorporated. Set aside.

Third, prepare your strawberries. Wash and dry them, and then slice them in thin slices. Be sure to keep the strawberries together, though – it will make for a prettier layout when you put the galette together. Set aside.

DSC04335

Fourth, roll out the pastry. Once your dough is chilled and ready to use, flour your surface, flour the disc, and get to rolling until you have a disc that’s bout 1/4″ thick.

DSC04332

Now, one of the things I love most about galettes is that they’re meant to look rustic. So, when you roll the crust out, remember that: it doesn’t need to be perfect.

DSC04334

Fifth, assemble the galette. With the rolled out pastry centered on your baking sheet, smear your sweetened ricotta cheese around the center (being sure to leave about 2″ between the ricotta and the edge of the crust).

DSC04336

Cover the ricotta with your strawberries, and then begin to fold the crust up over the edges of the strawberries….

DSC04338

DSC04337 until it looks like this:

DSC04339 Once you have the sides folded in, wash all of the exposed dough with your egg wash (it’s what helps the crust get nice and golden)…

DSC04346 Lightly sprinkle the entire tart with some sugar…

DSC04357 And then finish it off with a little fresh grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon worth)…

DSC04369

Once it’s ready to go, bake it in the oven for 15-18 minutes (or until golden brown)… and LOOK WHAT YOU’LL HAVE: pure deliciousness.

DSC04396

DSC04393

From start to finish, this is something you can get together in less than 30 minutes (if you already have the dough made)… AND, it’s something that will make whomever you serve feel your love 😉

Make it. Eat it. Come back and tell me about it. I’ve missed you… and, now that I have my brain back and I’m settled in, I promise I won’t be a stranger anymore. Thanks for sticking with me – thanks for reading.

TOMORROW: It’s quinoa time!! I’ll tell you what to do with a leftover rotisseri chicken and a box GQ Brand 100% Royal Tricolor Quinoa. It’s a fast, flavorful, crowd-pleasing meal you don’t want to miss.

YOU CAN DO IT: Thai-Inspired Carrot Quinoa Soup

Did you see this headline a few days ago: Harvard University has determined A Daily Bowl of Quinoa Could Save Your Life. See! Just ONE bowl… so, imagine what a quinoa habit does for your health 🙂

Today I want to share a recipe for a soup I made a couple of nights ago: a thai-inspired carrot quinoa soup. Traditional carrot soups are usually creamy – and we’re not a creamy soup kinda family. We like bulk. We like texture. We want to eat a bowl of soup and feel like we’ve eaten… not be left with feelings of ‘what else is comin’.” THIS soup did just that – satisfy.

DSC03951

Here’s what you’ll need:

DSC03961

8-10 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, diced and smashed
1 large stalk of lemongrass, quartered and pounded (or three pre-cut stalks)*
2 TBSP fresh parsley, finely diced
1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of water
3/4 dry quinoa (OR, 3 cups precooked quinoa)
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP fresh squeeze lime juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
the zest of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

(*Find lemongrass in the herb section of your grocery store. It’s very tough; use the back of a heavy knife and hit the stalk several times to release the oils that will flavor your soup.)

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot, add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. When the pan is hot, add in your diced onions, garlic, lemongrass, and parsley, and sauté on medium high for a couple of minutes.

When onions are translucent and your mixture is fragrant, add in your carrots and ginger. Stir everything together and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, water, DRY quinoa, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil; then, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.

When quinoa is cooked and carrots are soft, remove lemongrass stalks; add in the lime zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
This is what you get:
DSC03957

It was DELICIOUS.

Now, notice I did something I’ve never told you to do before: use DRY quinoa. When you’re making a brothy soup like this one that has adequate liquid, you CAN add dry quinoa right into the pot. The key is remembering that quinoa sucks up water and expands to almost 4x its original size. So, just keep that in mind when you choose to go the DRY route… otherwise, you’ll end up with an overly thick bowl of porridge-style soup versus a brothy one. (If this turns out too thick for your liking, just add an additional 1/2 cup of water or broth towards the end. Not a big deal.)

Before I go, if you haven’t picked up my quinoa e-book, The Quinoa Habit, don’t forget it’s available here.

And hey, if you’re in the Portland area, join me on Monday, March 30th at the Bridgeport Whole Foods for The Quinoa Habit class! You can sign up HERE… I’d love to meet you and encourage you into a healthier food lifestyle with quinoa as a foundation. Here’s the flyer:

Quinoa Habait 2015 tab-01

Thanks for being here with me!

YOU CAN DO IT: Crunchy Salmon Quinoa Patties

So, my girl gets back today. I’ve missed her so much this week! In just T-2 hours I’ll be hugging her, taking her for cold drink somewhere, and then bringing her home to RELAX. I’m sure she’s going to need it… and probably a long, hot shower, too.

As I fuddled around in the kitchen this morning thinking about her, I made up these Salmon Quinoa patties that are, well, gonna blow your mind.     I wanted to do something with either tuna or salmon – particularly because I wanted something protein packed to eat after my morning workout… and tuna patties + bodybuilding always went hand in hand when I was growing up. Thankfully, my craving for protein was satisfied with one lone can of wild salmon in my pantry… and, now, you’re going to see how easy these DELICIOUS, protein and nutrient packed patties are to make and enjoy in your kitchen, too.

The patty mix is very simple:

  • 2 cups of precooked quinoa
  • 1 can of wild salmon (tuna would work, too)
  • 1 cup of spinach sauté (see below)
  • 3 eggs + 1 TBSP olive oil, beaten together
  • 1 cup of processed oats (whole oats put in a food processor for 15 seconds)
  • Panko brand bread crumbs

Mix together the quinoa, salmon, spinach saute, and egg mixture.

DSC02081 Once mixture is mixed, add in 1 cup of processed oats, and stir to incorporate.

DSC02085 Once patty mixture is put together, it’s time to make the patties – and here’s where the Panko comes in. (Panko is a japanese style breadcrumb that is extremely crispy… it’s the same stuff used for tempura (and why Japanese tempura is unlike anything else). It isn’t gluten-free, though. So, if you are gluten-free, just replace the Panko with your favorite gluten-free breadcrumbs… I’m sure it will work just as spectacularly.)

DSC02088

Take a handful of patty mixture, and make a patty. Hold the patty over a plate of Panko, coat each side of the patty with the breadcrumbs, and gently press the breadcrumbs into the formed patty. Finished patties should look like this – about 3/4″ thick and 3″ wide:

DSC02093

As you make your patties, place them into a hot pan coated in olive oil. (Use the same pan you sautéed the spinach in… and no need to wash it out first, either.)

DSC02096

DSC02098

Cook the patties with burner on a little hotter than medium heat. (Think of how you cook pancakes: you want enough heat to sizzle, but it should be low enough so the patties can cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes without burning.)

Cook patties for 3-4 minutes on each side (or until golden brown like my photo)… and look:

DSC02103

DSC02104

Beatiful, huh?

“Now, Elisha, how do we eat these patties,” you ask. Well, DON’T stick them between a bun – you do NOT need a bun – and please do not slather them with a bunch of mayonnaise or dressing. Instead, you can either eat them plain and whole like a grab and go snack – you know, a REAL protein bar. They’re super yummy just like they are…

Or, if you have time to sit and eat, present yourself with more of a meal and eat them like I did this morning:

DSC02115

DSC02112

I tossed a big handful of arugula in a sesame, soy, wasabi dressing (see below), laid it on a plate, then topped the dressed arugula with one of the patties, some fresh, thinly sliced tomato, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. (I also poured the remaining dressing from the bottom of the bowl over the tomatoes once I plated it all.) IT WAS DIVINE.

Maybe you’ll give these a try this weekend… or, think of them next time you have leftover grilled salmon (or any fish, for that matter) in your fridge. They’re perfect for instead nourishment – and, like I learned today, an awesome way to reward yourself after a good workout.

Now off I go to get ready for my sweet Kenna-girl to return.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

  • Spinach Sauté: Heat a pan and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. Saute 1/4 cup of diced onion, 1 clove of garlic (diced and mashed with the back of a fork), and three really large handfuls of raw spinach. Add 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 TBSP of black pepper, and 1 TBSP of sea salt. (NOTES: Spinach really breaks down when heated, so you’ll use a lot more spinach than you think. (The goal: 1 cup of finished saute for mixture – so add more spinach to pan if needed.) Also, yes, the saute will be really salty standing alone – but remember: it’s getting mixed into other ingredients and that saltiness will be tempered perfectly.)
  • Sesame, Soy, Wasabi Dressing: Add 1 TBSP soy sauce, 1 TBSP rice vingegar, 1 tbs sesame oil, and 1/4 tsp of wasabi into a small dish. Whisk together until wasabi is incorporated. This will be enough to dress 2 handfuls of arugula for plating, and leave enough for a small drizzle over the top of the tomatoes and patty.

Guamanian Steak & BBQ Potato Quinoa Salad

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nothing takes me back to the islands and the days in my nana’s kitchen then the smell of BBQ. The blend of smoke, fire, and food is pure comfort to me. (Now, if every BBQ was only accompanied by rain falling on a tin roof and roosters in the yard, I’d be in heaven.)

With that said, I BBQ steak every chance I get. I don’t do BBQ steak the way most people do, though. No BBQ sauce or fancy rubs. No, for me, I keep it simple – I keep it Guam-style, ‘nana-style’: lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper. It’s deliciously aromatic – and the taste of the finished product… um, divine.

What I love most about this simple steak marinade is that steak leftovers are so versatile. You can use the leftover steak in eggs in the morning, you can warm it in a tortilla with some beans and cheese and make steak quesadillas, or you can use it this – the most amazing grilled steak salad you’ll EVER eat: The beauty of this salad is not only that it uses thin strips of Guamanian-style steak, it also uses roasted potatoes and veggies you roast up on the same grill. It’s all done outside – it all takes on a nice smokey flavor – and, it’s the perfect dish for these last days of summer. So, go grab your favorite cut of beef, gather up some red potatoes and veggies, and MAKE THIS.  Once you do I have a feeling it will become a favorite you BBQ year-round.

NOTE: Before I give you the recipes for each item, here’s rundown on how timing this out should work: the potatoes will take longest, so get those on the grill first. About 15 minutes into roasting the potatoes, throw the steaks on the grill. Potatoes and steaks will come off at about the same time; and, while your steaks are resting, roast up your veggies.

First step: Turn your grill on to preheat and prepare the ‘potato pillows’ for grilling: Turn your grill on to medium high to start preheating. Close cover. Chop your red potatoes into small, even squares and place them into a large bowl. Add the parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Pour olive oil over the mixture and stir to coat all potatoes evenly. DSC01897

DSC01898

Tear off a tin foil square and fill the center with potatoes. (NOTE: Keep the potatoes in a single layer on the tin foil as best as possible for ideal roasting.) Fold the foil around the potatoes into a little pouch – being sure to seal all the sides and keep steam inside. DSC01903

DSC01904

DSC01906

Once all potato pouches are filled, lay them on hot grill. Turn burners down to medium, cover lid, and grill on direct medium heat (approx 450 degrees) for 25-30 minutes. And look what you’ll get:

Step 2: Marinate and grill the steak. Simply take your choice of steak cut (chicken works, too), and lay it single layer in a dish like this: DSC01883

Sprinkle each side of the meat with garlic powder and black pepper, then pour equal parts of lemon juice and soy sauce over the cuts. Allow meat to marinate for at least 15 minutes prior to grilling. DSC01885

Move your potato pillows to one side of the grill and grill your steaks on the other side; all burners should remain on medium. Grill the steaks on medium direct heat for 6-8 minutes per side (flipping ONCE) for medium doneness. Once you pull the steaks off the grill, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Guamanian Style Marinated Steaks

Step 3: Get your veggies on the grill. Drizzle some olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper over your washed, dried, and trimmed veggies (I used asparagus for this particular recipe, but I also love using sweet bell peppers, too). DSC01914

DSC01918 Grill until slightly charred.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad {4 servings… which means you’ll have a lot of steak and potatoes left over for breakfast – or more salad!)

  • 2 cups of precooked Andean Naturals True Bolivian Quinoa
  • 2 cups of roasted potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped steak (sliced into thin strips for easy eating)
  • 1 oversized handful of fresh arugula

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon) – then stir to incorporate everything evenly. Taste – and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. You can also add crushed red pepper (or fresh jalapeño) for heat. Beautiful, isn’t it?

DSC01931

(Want to learn more about quinoa? Check out my brand partner, Andean Naturals – importers of the best quinoa in the world 🙂 )

Happy back to school days, everyone. By the way, here’s a pic of my babies this morning. I told them to hold the signs… they said they would, but they still had to do it their way. LOL back to school

A Warm and Savory White Bean & Carrot Quinoa Salad

Where has the summer gone? Do you feel that, too? Just yesterday I saw this quote by John Burroughs: “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” Yep – I couldn’t put it any better than that.

Not only have I been feeling the days are too short, I’ve been feeling my days are way too filled with the ‘tedious things’. The laundry. The organizing. The grocery shopping. The laundry. The cooking. The cleaning. The laundry. (Do you do that much laundry, too?) On more than one occasion I’ve looked at the floor waiting to be swept and the dishes needing washing, and, for a split second, it’s crossed my mind to run out the door with The Kitchen House and hide in the shade of a tree instead of doing my chores. Ha! Maybe after the kids go back to school that will be my ‘free day’: shade, a good book, no chores for mommy.

Anyway, because of all the business of these last days before school starts, there’s been no real ‘plan’ for our days… which is why we ended up eating this last night:

I was staring at my pantry, my overabundance of carrots, and a nice selection of my staples: white beans, lemons, spinach, and arugula. As I started to cook, it didn’t even occur to me I was throwing together a recipe I’d be sharing with you – hence, my lack of ‘how to’ photos in this post. But you know what? It was so yummy… so fast… and so perfect for a quick meal on a summer night – I have to share it.

Here’s what I used:

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced and smashed with the back of a fork
1 1/2 cups of carrots, peeled and grated (I chopped mine with my mini food processor)
1/4 cup fresh diced parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of water
2 handfuls raw baby spinach
1 cup cooked Andean Naturals quinoa
1 handful of arugula
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

In a large fry pan, sauté your onions and garlic in a little olive oil on medium high. Once onions are translucent, add in your shredded carrots, parsley, dried seasonings; stir and continue to sauté for another couple minutes. Add in your white beans and water; stir again, and allow beans to warm through for a couple minutes. Add in baby spinach, stir to incorporate, cover, and turn off heat while spinach wilts.

Place your quinoa in a large bowl. Add in one cup of your hot bean/carrot sauté, a handful of fresh arugula, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to incorporate. Serve the salad and, before eating, freshly zest lemon zest over the top for garnish.

Now, here’s the truth: After I pulled out the cup of sauté for this salad – my salad, I actually mixed the remainder together with some noodles for my man and kids. So, if you have family that wants pasta – serve them pasta! But, if you want quinoa like me, do it up; and, if you have leftover saute, just mix it with more quinoa and save it for lunch tomorrow.

Before I go, please know I intend to spend more time here once our house is back on a school / work schedule. Thank you for sticking it out with me, encouraging me, and being here! I appreciate you… I hope you know that.

(Want to learn more about quinoa? Check out my brand partner, Andean Naturals. They’re raising the power of goodness and sharing quinoa with the world.)