If you love pumpkin spice, then you’re in heaven these days. Everything is coming up pumpkin spice: lattes… cereal… chips… yogurt… creamers… Twinkie… Peeps.
Most of these ‘pumpkin spice’ foods, however, are very little (if any) pumpkin or actual real spice. (Always read the labels – especially on ‘healthy’ foods!) And, for me, I love pumpkin and spices way too much settle for nothing but flavor. I want the good stuff – the REAL stuff… and I know you do, too!
That’s why today, on AM Northwest (KATU, Channel 2 here in Portland), I showed Dave how to cut and clean a pie pumpkin, how to spice it before roasting, and then how to turn the delicious spiced pumpkin into this:
Seriously, peeps, THIS IS AMAZING. Wonderful texture, just the right amount of sweet, and a perfect tangy touch from the greek yogurt. Most importantly, though, while you’re getting your pumpkin spice fix, you’re also getting a fix of some amazing nutrients and goodness. (Just look at how nutritious pumpkin is!)
So, roast up some spiced pumpkins, cook up some quinoa, and store both in your fridge this week. That way, no matter how busy your day gets, you’ll have exactly what you need on hand to satisfy your cravings and keep you powered for your calling.
Here’s the segment:
Here’s the detail:
2 pie pumpkins, stems cut off, sliced in half, and all strings/seeds scraped out
Nothing to get me back to the blog like an AM Northwest morning!
Today I spent some time with Dave and we made one of my favorite quinoa recipes: quinoa banana pancakes. (Man, I love him. He is so bright and happy – and always a joy to stand beside and cook with.) Last summer I told you about these and how to make them with fresh peaches… but, since we’ve yet to hit the summertime bounty, banana is what seems to be making an appearance most often in my kitchen these days.
These little patties have no added sugar, can be made gluten free (just use gluten free flour), and taste great fresh out of the pan with a little maple syrup, or cold as a little mid-day snack.
I have a whole batch sitting in my fridge right now and, when the hunger strikes, I nibble on a couple with a big bottle of water and keep running through my day.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups precooked quinoa
1 heaping cup of smashed bananas (or other fresh fruit)
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP organic raw honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
TO MAKE: Whisk your eggs together and pour the eggs into a bowl with the precooked quinoa. Add your smashed banana, vanilla extract, flour, and baking powder. Stir together until evenly incorporated… and then fry in a butter coated pan on medium heat about 3 minutes on each side. Patties should be golden brown when done!
BY THE WAY – WANT TO COOK WITH ME?
If you’re in the Portland area, I’ll be hosting a “Quinoa: Breakfast to Dinner” class at Whole Foods Bridgeport on March 30. Connect with me on FB, Twitter, or on Instagram for more details to follow this week. SPACE WILL BE LIMITED!
I know, I know… I’ve been MIA. Life has been a little crazy… and, I’ve missed you.
Honestly I’ve been writing every day – but on my cookbook project instead of here on the blog. Yep – you heard me: I’m working on a cookbook! It’s an ebook, actually, and it’s a no-cook cookbook/guide on how to eat quinoa. I’ve talked about it for years; and, I’m thrilled it’s finally coming together. So, stick around, okay? Lord willing it will be ready for purchase sometime in the first two weeks of June.
Anyway, today I spent some time away from my desk and headed over to AM Northwest where it was nothing but energy from start to finish.
First, I met one of my all time favorites:
On the set of AM Northwest with Damon Wayans!
He was on the show talking about this super cool app he just created called FlickDat. (As if he wasn’t talented already, right?)
Then, I had to fly by the seat of my pants when I was told my typical six and a half minute cooking segment would have to be done in four minutes! But, we did it… and we had lots of laughs while we powered through:
Well – it’s here: the eve before the eve of the New Year.
We have no ‘big’ event planned for tomorrow… and I have no cute dress poised for reveal. But you know what? I’m still excited because of what is planned: getting together with some really great friends and all of our kids so we can ring in the New Year with togetherness, joy, and hearts lifted up with thanks to our Father.
Now, whether you have a small gathering, a large gathering, or even just a night planned for you and a friend to watch the ball drop at home, I bet late night snacks are likely on your mind. (And, if not, they should be ;-).)
If so, you’ll appreciate what I shared on AM Northwest today: the six ‘must-have’ foods I recommend for your New Year’s celebration table.
No labor intensive prep work.
They’re delicious at room temperate.
They’re easily replenishable.
Here ya go:
1) Cured meats.Walk up to any beautiful deli counter in a local grocery and you’ll see options that will blow your mind: wine cured salami, salami with parmesan, spicy salami, prosciutto. Whichever options you go with, have them for slice very thin slices; and, you really only need 10-12 slices of each.
2) Gourmet cheeses.The possibilities are endless with good cheese and, for me, the more pungent the better. Again, don’t just hit the big box grocer; head to one of your local grocers for your best selection. Whether you go soft cheese, or hard cheese (or offer a selection of both), just be sure to choose a well-balanced selection of flavors (from mild to rich) and either a cheese knife or cheese spreader for variation you serve. (The cheesemonger is a God-send… so don’t be afraid to ask questions, or even for a little nibble.)
My SOFT favorites are: St. Agur Blue, Humbolt Fog (an aged goat cheese), and a plain goat cheese you can roll in your own blend of freshly diced herbs. (For goat cheese herb coating: 2 TBSP finely diced curly parsley, 1/2 tsp finely diced rosemary, 1/2 tsp finely diced thyme, 1/4 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Mix thouroughly with your fingers and then roll cheese log to coat entire outside.)
My HARD favorites are: an aged irish cheddar, Manchego (Spanish), or Compte (French).
3) Fruits – both dried and fresh. There’s nothing like fresh fruit to cleanse your palate, so it’s always a good idea to have fresh fruit on your entertaining table. Cut grapes into small clusters for easy grabbing; slice granny smith apples and/or pears into thin strips and toss with a little lemon juice to prevent browning; serve whole fresh berries.
As for dried fruits, two of my favorite to serve with soft cheese in particular are dried dates and dried figs. For the dates, just pull in half and remove the pit before serving; for the figs, trim off the hard stem and slice in half before serving.
4) Bread and crackers.Don’t think Ritz and saltines – you are entertaining and you need to go gourmet. There are so many wonderful crackers to compliment your quality meats and cheeses that you really don’t want to skimp here. Look for crackers that are very lightly seasoned (if at all) so that you don’t have a lot of competing flavors going on. I’m really loving the Raincoast Crisps (and they’re on sale at New Seasons right now for $6.99). Also, don’t buy precut and pretoasted bread – make your own baguette crisps! Pick up a thin baguette, slice into 1/2 inch slices, brush with olive oil, and bake on a cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes (you want them toasted, but not over-crunchy.)
5) Marinated goodies.Olives. Marinated artichokes, or peppers, or mushrooms, or vegetables. Look in the jar aisle to see what you might discover, or head over to one of the olive / antipasti bars that are popping up in grocery stores.
6) Nuts.You can buy them raw, or lightly seasoned… or you can mix a big nut blend and season them yourself. Every year for Christmas I make the Spiced Mixed Nuts I found in Real Simple years and years ago. (NOTE: If you venture to make them, amend the recipe as follows: cut the sugar in half, add dried cranberries, and bake for only about 25 minutes (30 max). They continue to cook once you remove them from the oven and the suggested cooking time makes them wayyyyy too dark.)
Watch the segment to see how I had all this displayed: white plates, variation in server height, a fabulous slate cheese board.
If you have time, let me know what you have planned and what YOUR favorite thing(s) to serve for a party are. I’d love to hear some new suggestions!
And hey, last but not least, don’t forget: ENJOY THIS. Breathe, be thankful, and ENJOY the last couple days of 2013.
I’m so appreciative you’re here with me – thanks for reading.
I’ve said it before: candy is an identifiable evil around here. We all know it’s junk; we all know if we eat too much it will make us feel like junk. So, we ‘treat’ ourselves with it… we don’t make it a regular part of our day or our diets.
(It’s the junk food masquerading as ‘healthy’ that get’s me concerned… but that’s for another day.)
So, the issue for me today isn’t the candy… the issue is: how can I teach my children that, even in the face of an over-abundance of treats, they can exercise self-control, moderation and even a little gratefulness?
Today on AM Northwest I shared my four easy steps for fending off the sugar overload (and using tonight as a platform for lifelong lessons). They are:
STEP 1: NOURISH BEFOREHAND
Just like we’re told not to grocery shop on an empty stomach, kids shouldn’t be sent out trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. They need protein and fiber – both of which will keep them feeling fuller, longer.
Mind the Water! Make sure your kids drink lots of water before heading out the door. (Hydration is the key to suppressing the urge to overindulge – for kids as much as adults!) No sugary drinks – WATER. Often we eat thinking we’re hungry… but we’re really just thirsty. So, keep them hydrated and, again, it will be easier for them to fight off the cravings and use self-control.
STEP 3: SET THE GROUND RULES
When my kids return with their stash, no candy gets eaten until they understand the rules of engagement with the candy: how much they’re allowed to eat, how much they’re allowed to keep, where it will be kept, and where all the leftover candy goes. (And, they always return home to fruit, cheese, and something warm, like apple cider.) They spread out, categorize, horse-trade, and, yes, I even let them eat until they can’t eat anymore. (Funny thing: they usually can’t eat as much as you would think because I’ve already stuffed them full of good food and water. Ha! Mommy wins without even fighting the battle!)
They each get a quart sized bag that they’re allowed to stuff to the brim with their favorites. (Lesson: Discernment.) The think and even agonize a little… but, ultimately, each child walks away with a bag of candy that is theirs and theirs alone.
(SIDE NOTE: I never allow candy in their bedrooms – ever. All the candy stays in the kitchen and they are allowed to pick one ‘treat’ a day (and maybe an extra or two with permission).)
And the extras? The extras become ‘family domain’; we toss everything else in a big plastic container and then….
STEP 4: HAVE A PLAN
There are so many things to do with the ‘extra’ candy that doesn’t include eating it:
create a beautiful display of candy for an ice cream / froyo topping bar on a family movie night
mix chocolates in with dried fruit and nuts for kids snacks
create ‘thank you’ bags for your local firefighters, police officers, mail carriers, garbage workers – all those whose service often gets overlooked
create ‘you’re a sweet friend’ bags the kids can surprise their friends with over the next couple of months
drop the extra off in the teacher’s lounge at school with a little note that says “thank you for all you do”
call your dentist / Orthodontist – many will often buy the candy from the kids
send it to our troops via Operation Gratitude – again, another way to get our kids thinking about and appreciating those who give their lives for our safety.
save it for your gingerbread houses (I can’t wait to tell you about our gingerbread house tradition in December!)
Sound too harsh? I hope not… because it works. It relieves my stress, it keeps us on track as a family. And, believe it or not, I think my kids are happy to have parameters put around this day of over-indulgence – not to mention I think they’re thrilled to know that, while mommy makes them eat quinoa on a regular basis, they’ll never be forbidden a little extra sweetness in their day.
Happy Halloween everyone! Be safe…and here’s the link:
Our move is finally done. We are in, boxes are unpacked, pictures are hung… and the smell of quinoa cooking in my rice cooker fills this new house – and it’s a smell that takes this house from just a ‘house’ to our home.
We are home.
Being settled at home means I can now get back to my loves: my love of cooking, my love of writing, my love of connecting with you and sharing this adventure we call life. And what better why to kick off the return to my loves then with this: a little spot on AM Northwest!
Yep, this morning I had the pleasure of talking about my ‘must haves’ from one of my favorite stores in the world: Cost Plus World Market. (I am so humbled to be called a ‘lifestyle expert’, but if that title means I get to tell you about what warms my spirit and my home, so be it!) See, being from Guam where the seasons never changed and I never, in a million years, would have thought about lighting a candle for anything more than light during a power outage, Fall is HUGE to me. It means cozy, crackling fires and vibrant colors, hot chocolate and spicy teas. It means entertaining and guests, long conversations and lots of laughs. It means sweaters and fuzzy slippers and wrapping up in a blanket to read a book. And, more than anything, it means it’s time to PRACTICE HOSPITALITY… the art of having people into our home and making them feel loved on, welcomed, and appreciated.
(And isn’t that what we all hope for? To be welcomed and appreciated?)
So, here’s the segment; and, I hope you are inspired to practice hospitality and make your home the best darn hot-chocolate house on the block. (Don’t forget the homemade whipped cream, too!)
By the way, right after the segment aired I received a Facebook post from a good friend saying, “I need the list!” Well, no worries – I’ve got it all beautifully logged on Pintrest for you. As for the Droste cocoa, it’s not on the World Market website for some reason, but it is in the stores. So – go grab it!! Seriously, you’ll never drink grocery store hot chocolate again.
Today was SALSA DAY on AM Northwest! (Man, I love being on the show.)
I made my signature ‘salsa verde’ (i.e. green salsa) and my restaurant-style red salsa… both of which are soooo easy and soooo much better than what you can find at the store. I always have some red salsa on hand; the green salsa I make primarily when I’m making my green enchiladas (I use it as my green enchilada sauce), but it’s just as good with chips in my opinion.
Anyway, here’s the link to the segment… and the recipes follow. And hey, I promise: if you make these at home you’ll NEVER go back to store-bought salsa again.
As a mom, there’s not much I get ‘props’ for. No one jumps for joy when I wash and fold their clothes; no one really notices when I go grocery shopping, or make lunches, or sweep the floor. (I wrote about motherhood being a tough gig not too long ago.) And hey – that’s the life of a mom, so I don’t sweat it. But one of the reasons I love, love, love to cook and to bake is because, without fail, when my kids catch whiffs of what I’m stewing, or baking, or sautéing… it draws them to me.
That’s the thing about cooking: the sweet, delicious smells created by my work call my babies to my side quicker than words ever do. They come in close, lean in, and ask for nibbles. They want to talk about what’s going into the pan; they ask questions like: Mom, did you make this up? Have I eaten it before? Will I like this?
They see ingredients at their finest – fresh, colorful, clean. They see me confidently using my hands to prepare and dice and toss and squeeze. They see me choose, and manipulate, and ‘dance’ my mama’s dance of love. And, when it’s all done, they enjoy the fruits of my labor.
It’s seeing my babies enjoy my ‘work’ and celebrate my ‘dance’ – that’s why I cook.
I especially love the squeals of joy when I make these:
Fresh Fruit Hand Pies with Homemade Flaky Puff Pastry
Call these my rebel yell against commercialize pop tarts, breakfast strudels, and sugary cereal. I dreamed them up in my kitchen one day when I had an abundance of mangos and some leftover tart dough… and I can’t believe it took me so long to begin creating these. They are just sweet enough with the fresh fruit and the slight addition of sugar that I wouldn’t hesitate to serve one for breakfast with a couple eggs – or as an after school treat with a glass of milk. And man, let me tell you: the kids really think they’re getting something spectacular when they eat these.
The crust is super simple, the filling is fresh and easy to prepare, and based on the reaction of my kiddos, all kids are sure to enjoy making and eating.
First, make the dough.
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.
While dough chills, prepare your filling. Here are some great options…
Dice up some champagne mangos and toss with sweetened shredded coconut.
Peel and dice up granny smith apples. (Apple pieces should be just slightly larger than a corn kernal.) Toss the apples with a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Toss fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – anything! – with a little sugar and squeeze of lemon juice.
Assemble the handpies:
Preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 400 degrees.
Roll out your chilled dough on a floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Cut out whatever shape you’d like with an oversized cookie cutter, or other found object from your kitchen. (Large coffee cups make great cutters for circular hand pies.)
Fill the center of your shape so that you maintain about a 1/2 inch around the outside of the filling. Dip your finger in the egg wash and coat the edge along the outside of the filling.
Take a second shape and cover the filled piece. Gently push the edges together being careful not to push the filling out of the sides. Then, dip a fork into the egg wash and ‘seal’ the edges with the fork.
Using a pastry brush, wash the top of the hand pie thoroughly, then score with either a knife or a several fork pricks.
OPTIONAL: You can sprinkle colored pastry sugar over the top before baking. If you are making the apple pies, you can add chopped store-bought caramels and sprinkle a pinch of coarse sea salt over the top for a ‘salted carmel apple’ pie.
Place the assembled pies onto a preheated baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown.
For “Salted Carmel Apple” Handpie: fill with prepared apples, a few pieces of store-bought carmel (diced), and then, after you apply egg wash to assembled pie, top with a pinch of corse sea salt.
These little gems are amazing warm… but just as yummy served cold – especially when thrown into a lunch pail for your little love.
Check out today’s AM Northwest segment from this morning where Dave and I made these up:
Okay, ladies… we arrive home from a long day at work, carpool, and/or sports for the kids and all we want to do is get a quick, nutritious meal on the table for our family. Right? Quick and easy cooking, so mamas relaxation comes faster?
Well, this past Monday I was back on AM Northwest with Dave making an amazing dinner ‘superbowl’ recipe that anyone can do in 5 minutes flat. As I mention in the segment, the hardest part about this recipe is simply being prepared. BUT, if you have the time to stop and grab a rotisserie for dinner, and you have the right things on hand, this is a ‘wower’… I promise. (My 12 year old asks me to pack it in her lunch… that should tell you something.)
Enjoy – and come back and tell me if you make it!
The ingredients and instructions follow the segment.
INGREDIENTS / GROCERY LIST:
Whole rotisserie chicken
Bag of organic spinach
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
1 fresh lemon
1 can of garbanzo beans
Pre-cooked quinoa from the fridge**
Debone the rotisserie using your fingers. Place all deboned meat on a plate. Place half the chicken on a cutting board and roughly chop with a large knife. (You can store the rest of the chicken in a plastic container.)
Drain and rinse 1 can of gabanzo beans.
Rinse and dice two green onions.
Rise and roughly chop one bunch of cilantro.
Rise and dice 1/2 a medium jalapeno.
MIX IT ALL TOGETHER:
Place 2 cups of pre-cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
Add all prepped ingredients and two handfuls of fresh, raw spinach.
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the mixture and drizzle approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil, too.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well until all ingredients are well coated and blended.
Top with diced jalapenos for anyone that can handle the spice.
This ‘Super Bowl” can be eaten warm or cold… and it also stores nice for lunch the next day. (NOTE: If you store it overnight, be sure to squeeze a little extra fresh lemon on it before enjoying it as a leftover.)
Last Wednesday I visited AM Northwest again to share one of my favorite staple quinoa recipes: a fried quinoa spinach skillet. It is warm, savory, packed full of everything we need to energize us through the day… and the best part: it takes less than three minutes to prepare.
All too often I speak to women who say, “I’m so busy getting everyone else out the door in the morning that I didn’t even have time to eat breakfast myself!” But the truth is that when WE fail to care for ourselves, everyone and everything around us suffers. We are more irritable, we’re likely to make poorer food choices throughout the day (and overeat), and our bodies and minds D R A G through our day.
Well, mamas, this recipe leaves us no excuses. This ‘power breakfast’ has tons of protein, tons of fiber, a huge burst of iron – all the things we need when we are feeling fatigued.
(Beyond OUR needs, however, this recipe is what my soccer-playing 6th grader calls her ‘secret sauce’ for a great game. So – not only is it good for us ladies, it’s exceptional for our families who need strength and endurance in their days.)
Rebel on, sister.
1/2 cup precooked quinoa
2 cups raw spinach
2 TBSP uncooked breakfast sausage
Heat your frying pan. (NOTE: You are going to use your frying pan in three sections to make this meal.)
In one third of the pan, brown the sausage. In another third, add a little olive oil to coat the area and fry your two eggs.
When the eggs whites begin to cook, roughly ‘scramble’ the eggs in their place and continuing cooking; at the same time, stir sausage so it browns on all sides.
Once your egg is cooked, add a little olive oil to the third section of your pan and add cooked quinoa. (Spread quinoa into a thin layer.)
Toss the quinoa just a little in it’s place, then stir all ingredients in the pan together. Add the raw spinach, a drizzle of soy sauce, and continue to stir just until the spinach is wilted. Toss with chili paste and black pepper… enjoy!