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:
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.
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!
I was back on AM Northwest today making our favorite fish tacos. One was made with a traditional topping of shredded cabbage and pico de gallo salsa… The other was my “wow” fish taco: one topped with a roasted corn, mango, jalapeño salsa. (My mouth is watering just saying those words.)
This was my fourth visit to the show and it really is a blast. They don’t let me mention my business or SmartyBars – but the media experience is such a blessing. My hope is that as my business grows, my media exposure will grow, too! So, I see every minute in front of the camera as priceless ‘on the job’ training.
So, here’s the video. Enjoy! And come back and let me know if you make them….
Today I shared some quinoa love on Portland’s ABC morning show, “AM Northwest”! I had such a blast… especially because they LOVED the quinoa snacks I made. I mean LOVED THEM.
I made two SuperSnacks in my 6 minutes, both of which give that perfect power punch in the middle of the day: a sweet quinoa snack and a savory quinoa snack.
Here’s what I did:
Sweet Quinoa Super Snack –
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 a banana, diced
1/2 a mango, diced
1/4 cup of coconut milk
sprinkle of unsweetened coconut
a drizzle of honey (if desired)
Savory Quinoa Super Snack –
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 fresh avocado, diced
handful of cherry tomatoes, each one cut in half
a drizzle of olive oil
the fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
If you watch the segment, a couple of the ingredients for each dish don’t even make it in… yet Dave went bananas for both of them! After the cameras went dark he came right back over and totally finished off BOTH bowls I prepared for him. Even more rewarding was that the camera guy came over and let me feed him – and then two people that must have watched from a different part of the building came in, too! Everyone was gathered around my quinoa station for at least 15 minutes after the show ended… eating, talking, sharing food thoughts.