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!
Well, that’s it! After a year of waiting to see it come to pass, Food Fighters finally aired and I can say with joy: this little mama threw down and beat some of the best chefs in the world!
I’ve been overwhelmed with emotion this last week as we awaited the episode. It was exciting giving interviews and seeing my story unfold in the media… but I was nervous to see how it all would come together. Thankfully, I LOVED IT. So, thank you Electus and NBC – I am honored you chose me to be part of this amazing project.
Words cannot do justice to the experience of competing on Food Fighters. Nothing I say will ever help you fully grasp the emotions – the anxiety, stress, fear, and excitement! – I felt as each new chef walked on stage. While America watched an hour long episode, in reality the competition took hours upon hours to unfold. The freshness I took to the first couple rounds was soon zapped by the pressure, and by the end of the day I was exausted, dehydrated, and running on nothing but pure adrenaline. It was so hard; and, you can see the nerves started to take their toll as I began making mistakes in my last two rounds! Thank God He pulled me through and I was able to recover after that devestating loss to Marcel! UGH! I honestly didn’t think I could keep going…
I am so thankful for ALL OF YOUR LOVE you’ve poured out on my blog, facebook, and twitter. It especially warmed my heart to hear from fellow Guamaians expressing pride over seeing our island represented on national TV. Yay, Guam!!!
Here are answers to some of the questions I’ve received (and that you may be wondering about):
Q: How did the morning show in Seattle go?
I kicked off yesterday in Seattle where I appeared on New Day Northwest. We talked Food Fighters, and I made a chocolate quinoa pudding – a ‘healthified’ version of a traditional Guamanian dish called ‘champulado’. Here’s the segment:
Q: When are you going to Guam?
Good question! Lord willing, it will work to go this December. My hope is to be there for about a month. It takes almost a full 24 hours to get there – and airfare alone will be close to $12,000! So, if we’re going, the plan is to stay as long as we can and make the most of it. We have tons of family to see. PLUS I really want to work on a Guamanian food series while I’m there. Guamanian food is exceptional… and I plan to continue sharing our food and culture with the world.
Q: What happened to your finger?
Ohmygosh – my finger! At the beginning of the second round my nerves had me shaking so bad! I had to cut open the plastic bag the fish was sealed in and, while I held it in one hand and sliced at it with the other, the tip of the exteremely sharp pearing knife knicked me just enough to cause a small problem. Thankfully it took just a minute to wrap it up and I got right back to cooking. Thank God it didn’t jeapordize my round!
Q: Can you share your recipes?
NBC has all the recipes HERE.
Also, check out the ‘extras’ from the NBC website:
Anyway, while I don’t think I’m fully processing anything in my brain just yet, I couldn’t let today go by without saying THANK YOU for your support, encouragement, and for cheering me on! Food Fighters was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my woman skin… and, I am grateful for every minute of it.
So, again, thank you for being here with me… and I hope you’ll watch every week and make Food Fighters one of the summer’s best new shows!
In less than 12 hours, millions of people will be watching as I battle against five of the best chefs in the world on NBC’s brand new culinary competition, “Food Fighters”.
I’ve been sitting at this computer for over an hour trying to figure out what to say about it… and, to be honest: I’m speechless. Even though it’s happening, I can’t kick the feeling that this is too good to be true. Me? Really? Am I really going to be on NBC? Really?
And, more than anything, I give all glory to my Heavenly Father for bringing me to this place and to this opportunity, for I am nothing without His grace and mercy over my life.
Wow. Wow. WOW.
I guess the only thing left to say as we push forward to 8pm tonight is… LET THE FOOD FIGHT BEGIN!!
Photo Credit: Food Fighters, NBC Universal
Watch Food Fighters TONIGHT (Tuesday, July 22nd) @8pm ET/PT on NBC
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:
The best part of being the Northwest Food and Lifestyle expert for World Market is I get to hunt through their stores for what I love best… and then tell you about them!
Today on AM Northwest I shared some of my ideas for brightening up your Easter brunch table, putting together unique easter baskets, and also simple hostess gifts for whomever you may be visiting with this month.
My biggest encouragement, though? While you’re thinking about decorating your tables, putting together the baskets, planning egg hunts, and bringing sweet treats to those you’re be visiting… don’t leave out the JOY.
Your joy… your laughter… your sincerity… your gracious heart – THESE are the things that will make every part of your Easter celebration – and this spring season – beautiful.
YOU are what brings color and life to each day. Don’t forget that.
Anyway, here’s the clip – and, check out my Pinterest board for specific items (and others!) seen in the clip.)
And don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes through the link that follows the clip! Someone has to win the $2000 and year’s supply of Divine Chocolate… why not YOU? (Sweepstakes ends on April 18, 2014.)
Today on AM Northwest I made a dish using one of the greatest ‘cheats’ available to us mamas: a store-bought rotisserie chicken. I pick a rotisserie up at least once a week (because I know it will come in handy for instant dinner somewhere), and I always ‘re-create’ it somehow – like with these fajitas, for example.
Deconstructable, which means everyone can prepare theirs just the way they want it.
And, most importantly: FAST. (When you watch the segment you’ll see it made from start to finish in under 6 minutes. You can’t even boil pasta in that amount of time!
Enjoy… and come back and tell me after you try them at home. (I bet they’ll become one of your favorite family go-tos.)
Here’s the recipe:
Serves 5 (with 2-3 corn tortilla-sized fajitas each)
1 rotisserie chicken, breast and thigh meat removed and rough chopped (save the rest of the chicken for soup!)
2-3 large bell peppers, variety of colors – cut into thin strips
1 onion, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chicken stock (or water)
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1/2 a lime
Heat large skillet and add enough olive oil (or canola oil) to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil begins to smoke, add in bell peppers and onions. Saute for a minute or so, then cover and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Add in chopped chicken, chicken stock, and sprinkle fajita mix over entire pan. Stir everything to coat evenly; add lime zest and the juice from 1/2 the lime. Recover and allow to cook on medium high heat for two minutes so flavors can meld together. Uncover, stir again, turn off heat, and prepare your tortillas.
Heat up a griddle (or flat pan of some sort) to warm tortillas. After you flip the tortillas to warm the flip side, sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese and top with warm chicken fajita mix. Top with fresh cilantro, salsa, sliced avocado, and sour cream.
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.
Giving gifts makes me happy. I don’t think they have to be expensive, or fancy, or huge either… a good gift really just has to be thoughtful.
When I go gift shopping, for example, I’m not just on a mission buy – I’m on a mission to tailor my purchase to the heart of the recipient. So, here’s my tip:
The one principle of gift giving you’ll ever need to know is this:
GIVE IN A WAY YOU WANT TO BE GIVEN TO.
We love to be ‘known’, don’t we? We love when someone remembers our name; we love when someone notices the little things about us like a new hairstyle, our manicure, the fact we’ve lost some weight or bought a new sweater. We love to be told we’re beautiful, and smart, and inspiring… we love to be loved.
There’s something about being valued that warms us up from deep within and encourages us to open up.
So, when it comes to gift giving, give gifts that show you value the person you’re giving to. This doesn’t mean that if they’re not your best friend you’re shooting in the dark, either. To the contrary, even if you don’t know someone on a very personal level, pay attention to the subtle clues their life shares on a daily basis:
What does the person talk about when you’re with them? What hobbies do they have? Where do they like to eat? Do they have something they’re learning to do? Do they have a place they dream of visiting? Do they like to watch particular shows?
What have you noticed about how the person walks through the world? Is there a color you notice they wear more often than others? Do you see them with a particular coffee cup in hand? Do they like to wear unique jewelry? What is their style? Do they always carry a book with them? Are their nails always done? Do they seem to always be in ‘designer’ goods?
What is their life status? Do they work? Do they stay home with kids? Do they exercise regularly?
Picking the perfect gift starts out with paying attention to the details of life.
Because the truth is this:
A handcream is just a handcream… unless you give a handcream to a woman that happens to cherish her hands.
A sweater is just a sweater…. unless you buy it in the persons favorite color from their favorite store.
Cooking ingredients and spices are just food ingredients and spices… unless you know the person receiving them happens to be a phenomenal cook and will love exotic ingredients to add to her repertoire.
Take time to give a gift that truly reflects the person you’re giving it.
Give in a way YOU would want to be given to… and I promise you will light someone’s heart on fire.
With all that said, here’s my AM Northwest segment from today where I spotlighted some great gift-ideas from World Market:
p.s. If you’re looking for the specific items I mentioned, I’ve created Pintrest boards for each ‘theme’ I talked about: chocolate lovers, the ‘foodie’ ingredients’, Downton Abbey tea inspiration, and ‘flavors of asia’. Also, while I was asked by World Market to do this segment, the choices and opinions are my own.
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: