YOU CAN DO IT: Baked Quinoa Egg Pie

It’s been awhile, sweet friend. I’ve missed you. I don’t know what happened… I don’t know where the days have gone from January 29th to today. I was on a roll. I was writing, and cooking, and savoring every connection with you – and, then, I got quiet.

Quiet.

I feel like three weeks ago I made an unconscious decision to slip out of my tough skin – the skin I wear when I command the troops, run the house, strive to build, and do, do, do, and slip back into the softness of motherhood, and marriage, and friendship. I needed to stop striving. I needed to turn inward, and pay attention, and be still. (And with tough skin on, being still and quiet is the last thing I want to do.)

But then a couple of days ago I was standing in my kitchen after a workout, and I needed to eat.  I wanted something powerful, because I was feeling powerful. I wanted something light, because I was feeling ready to take on the world. And in that moment, I felt something else: I felt the urge of quiet lift, and I wanted something to share with you – I wanted something to empower YOU with, too.

And you know what came from that thought? This:

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A baked quinoa egg pie.

I made it, ate it warm, and then snacked on it cold the next two days. I made another variation for my Friday morning bible study group – and it was devoured. Then, I made another one today after I returned from my morning workout – and it has carried me through the day.

Just a little slice or two, a glass of water or some tea, and a piece of fresh fruit. Can you say PERFECT MEAL?

Clean. Pure. Whole. Easy. DELICIOUS.

Here’s what you need:

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For saute:

  • olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 baby Portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped in quarter sized pieces
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved (this is a great way to use up tomatos that are beginning to wilt)
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp peppr

For egg mixture:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of precooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta

Make sauté:

Heat a large skillet with some olive oil. Add diced shallot and minced garlic; sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so you don’t burn the garlic.

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Add in mushrooms and parsley and sauté until mushrooms begin to release their moisture (about two minutes).

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Turn off heat and add in spinach, cherry tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, and stir to mix thoroughly. Cover so the steam wilts the greens and tomatoes while you prepare the egg mixture.

Make egg mixture:

Butter a glass pie plate. (Yes, buttered. Don’t use chemical cooking spray – use real butter.)

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Whisk 6 eggs in a large bowl until they are loose.

Add in quinoa, feta, and then the warm sauté. Pour entire mixture into a buttered, glass pie plate.

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Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

DONE.

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Now, the possibilities are limitless with this dish. Just like an omelette or quiche, you can add sausage, arugula, other herbs, other greens. You could do it with leftover roasted root vegetables or potatoes. You could use any cheese – from cheddar, to goat cheese, to parmesean. Whatever your heart desires (or whatever is in your fridge) will work. Allow yourself the freedom (and fun!) to get creative.

So there. I’m back. And… I hope you’re inspired. (Because that’s why I’m here, you know? I’m here because I want you to know: YOU CAN DO IT.)

Much love to you.

Bring the Wow: Quinoa Stuffed Portobellos and Simple Arugula Salad

I’m sure many of you have calendars that are filling up fast for the holidays. Either you’re going somewhere… or people are coming to you. Either way, you + food are a given.

That’s why you need to know this little number:

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Now, If you google ‘quinoa stuffed portobellos”, you’ll find lots of options. But, it’s not just my stuffing that makes these so special (although, if I say so myself, my stuffing is better than all the others I found)… it’s what you serve these little beauties with that makes them spectacular – both to the eyes and the taste buds:

…served on a bed of a simple arugula salad

…served on a bed of a simple arugula salad

The colors, the layers of flavors, the textures of the different ingredients, the brightness of the lemon zest in the salad against the depth savories and the goat cheese in the filling… this is one of those things, ladies, the gets people talking about your cooking skills. So, if you’re asked to bring a side dish, or even a salad, THIS is it.

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You in?

Here’s what you need for mushrooms:

  • 1 cup precooked quinoa
  • 4 portobello mushrooms – washed, dried, and stems carefully removed
  • 1 yellow bell pepper – diced
  • 1 red bell pepper – diced
  • 1 shallot – diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic – diced and smashed with the back of a fork
  • 1 handful of curly parsley – rough chopped
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • goat cheese
  • Panko bread crumbs

Here’s what you’ll need for salad:

  • baby arugula
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat your oven to bake at 350 degrees.
  2. PRE-BAKE MUSHROOMS: Place washed and dried mushrooms on a cookie sheet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each side and rub gently to coat. With top sides facing down on the cookie sheet, place mushrooms in oven for 10 minutes. Then, remove from oven and flip mushroom over on cookie sheet so the built up liquid drains out. Set aside.
  3. PREPARE FILLING: Using a large skillet (cast iron is best if you have one) on medium high heat, add 2 TBSP of olive oil into the hot pan. Add shallots and garlic; saute. After a couple of minutes, add all your diced peppers into the pan. Continue to saute, stirring occassionally, until peppers are softened. Add chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add cooked quinoa and saute, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes; stir occassionally.
  4. BUILD THE MUSHROOM: Take 1/4 cup of quinoa filling and, with mushroom laying top-side down, heap the quinoa on top. Sprinkle a little goat cheese on top of the filling, and then evenly sprinkle panko to coat the filling.
  5. BAKE: Return mushrooms to the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until panko begins to slighly brown. Remove and set aside.
  6. PREPARE SALAD: Place 2 large handfuls of arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle approx 1 TBSP olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle 1 tsp of lemon zest over the arugula, add two generous pinches of sea salt, and 1/4 tsp of lemon juice.

There are a couple ways to serve this:

If you are serving these on individual plates, you’ll want to divide the arugula salad evenly on four plates, and then lay the stuffed portobello right in the center.

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If you are preparing this and taking them to a dinner party, cover the base of your plate/platter with the arugula salad, and then evenly place the mushrooms atop.

However you choose, here’s the result:

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Be sure to come back and tell me if you make them, okay? I’ll be excited to hear about all the ‘ooohhhhs’ and ‘aaahhhs’ they brought your way…

A Dish With Heart: Rustic Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart

Something you might not know about me is this: I was not raised to cook.

My entire life my nana lived with us and she was our nourisher. She made all our meals – from our breakfast toast and coffee, to our after school meal of chicken soup and rice. While she was forced to use a conventional stove while we lived in California, when I was seven we returned to Guam – and she returned to her true comfort zone: her outdoor kitchen.

My sweet nana in the early morning – protecting her hair from the humidity

All the cooking I remember as a child was done over an open fire in a tiny 8×10 tin shack – aka the ‘outdoor kitchen’. Pots black from smoke from the fire. A knife that likely harkened back to WWII days that was so blunt and worn down, and with a blade that curved upwards like the back of a stretching cat. A rusty fridge. A lightbulb hanging by an extension cord that ran out the propped open tin window and into the main house. An old 1960’s rejected office desk with rocks for feet that slanted sideways and made my soup run for one corner of the bowl. Her kitchen smelled of the jungle, and savory meats, and wild chickens – and mosquitos ate me up every time I sat to a meal.

My nana’s kitchen was my heaven.

Growing up with a nana that cooked for me, though, meant that I never was really ‘taught’ anything. I watched. I asked questions about dishes as I got older. But my ‘cooking’ was never more than opening a can of green beans that I’d eat straight with a fork.

Fast forward to today.

I don’t have my nana anymore… but, what I do have is her heart.

My nana’s heart was always to serve and comfort through her food. She cooked to lure you into conversation over a perfectly percolated cup of coffee and inch-thick pancakes or handmade tortillas. She cooked to care for you and to love you – to show you she was thinking of you.  She cooked to wow you with what she could do with a small piece of chicken and some vegetables out of her garden – and to hear you say, “Thanks, nana, that was delicious. I love you.”

So, I cook… and, when I do, I take pleasure in creating things like this:

Mushroom and Black Olive Goat Cheese Galette

Mushroom and Black Olive Goat Cheese Galette

Believe it or not, this amazingly beautiful galette (tart) is sooo easy, so delicious… and soo worth the effort when you see how others respond to this work of art.

Here’s the recipe… but you have to promise: you’ll give it your heart and give it a try whether you were ‘raised to cook’, or not.

For the crust:
The crust is a very basic everyday galette crust and will make TWO galette crusts:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 10-14 TBSP ice water
  1. Using a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt several times until mixed well.
  2. Add the cubed butter and pulse 8-10 times. (NOTE: DO NOT OVERPULSE. The key to having a flaky pastry crust is making sure the butter (the fats) remain about pea-sized.)
  3. Slowly add the water about 2 TBSP at a time and pulse once or twice after each addition. The dough should begin to clump, but will still be very dry in the bowl of the processor.
  4. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and begin lightly kneading the mixture until it all begins to stick together. (If it is still too dry, drizzle a little more water (about a tsp at a time) into it and toss the mixture with a fork. You want the dough to be sticky enough to adhere together without crumbling, but you don’t want it to be wet. Also, do not over-knead.)
  5. Form two discs out of the mixture, sprinkle flour over the discs, and wrap in plastic. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to using. (If you won’t be using both, you can freeze the extra one for later.)

At this point, preheat your oven to 425 with the rack in the center of the oven, and place a cookie sheet on the rack to heat along with the oven.

For the filling:

  • EVOO for pan
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced and mashed
  • 1 TBSP capers
  • 16-20 small white and brown mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2/3 can black olives, crushed (NOTE: I drain the olive can and then I pour the olives right into my hand over the pan and crush the olives between my fingertips as I drop them in to cook)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Goat cheese
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced in quarters
  • Fresh arugula (see blow)
Up close...

Up close…

  1. Sauté all ingredients until mushrooms are tender. Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. On floured surface, roll out one of the disks until the dough is about a 12″ diameter and 1/4″ thick.
  3. Spoon your mushroom mixture into the center of the disc leaving approximately 2-3″ of space around the outside of the filling. (You might have a little filling left over – and it’s delicious right out of the pan.)
  4. Sprinkle your diced cherry tomato pieces and crumble goat cheese over the whole thing.
  5. Fold the outer edges of the dough over the filling in an accordion fashion to slightly cover the edge of the filling. Wash the exposed dough with egg wash (basically an egg with a drizzle of water, whisked until light).
  6. Here is where you might need some help – and you will definitely need patience: Remove the pre-heated cookie sheet from the oven and place it beside your prepared galette. Carefully, using an extra wide spatula and your hands, gently lift the galette onto the hot pan. (NOTE: The key is to support the bottom of the galette as securely as possible so that it doesn’t fall through when you move it. It’s okay if it looses some of it’s shape – just reshape it as best you can when it hits the hot pan.)
  7. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Toss some fresh arugula with a light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and spread across the top of the warm galette before serving.

That’s it! When I serve it I cut it in four quarters, and then each quarter into a quarter (like a pizza). It’s a great appetizer – and definitely a perfect ‘wow’ dish to take to a potluck.

Now… go cook with some heart! And, nana: I’m thinking of you today…

My nana - dish towel on her shoulder as she shooed me to the kitchen to eat

My nana – dish towel on her shoulder as she shooed me to the kitchen to eat

Rebel on,
Elisha