who knew it was quinoa?

No one!

Would you believe me if I told you that at one point I had upwards of TWENTY different kinds of flours in my freezer?  (Thank goodness for extra freezer space in the basement.)

It all started with Good to the Grain, a cookbook that features multiple grains/flours, such as oat, amaranth, corn, buckwheat, etc…  The book came out in 2010, before these flours were available in most grocery stores, and I remember placing a rather large order with Bob’s Red Mill to get the lesser-known varieties (teff, kamut) shipped to my door.

Over the years, the amount of baking I’ve done has decreased for multiple reasons, including time constraints in my schedule, ascribing to a more ‘paleo’ style diet (no grains) and a desire to be healthier overall (decreasing added sugars). However, I really love to bake and do still indulge in both decadent treats and healthier baked goods from time to time.

I’m getting off topic.  Quinoa.  Back to quinoa.

ANYWAY, I’ve been experiencing an on-again, off-again push to–once and for all–use up all those alternative baking flours that are taking up space in my freezer and keep my collection limited to those flours used most often in paleo-style baking and that yield a good product.  The ‘baking-with-ancient-grains’ ride has been fun (and informative!), but I’ve gotta simplify.

Quinoa flour, which boasts it’s own chapter in Good to the Grain, has a strong flavor of…dirt.  I said it. In addition to the fiber and protein quinoa flour adds to your product, it also adds a certain ‘earthiness’ that’s hard to disguise. I’ve made quinoa-beet pancakes, quinoa-pumpkin pancakes and many other things and I can still taste the flour a bit more than I’d like, and I’m pretty accepting of less-than-perfect products.

So when I spied the recipe on the back of the bag for chocolate cupcakes, I realized I’d been going about this quinoa flour thing all wrong.  I needed an equally strong flavor to balance out the quinoa!  (Apparently, beets aren’t strong enough.)  CHOCOLATE.


Bob’s Red Mill Sour Cream Fudge Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Place the butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Sift together the sugar, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, egg yolks, vanilla and sour cream and blend well. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter.
  2. Spoon into a muffin tin lined with paper cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
    Makes 12 gorgeous cupcakes.

I actually ended up making these cupcakes twice in one weekend–once to bring to a friend’s house, topped with Ina’s Chocolate Frosting, and another batch to my sister-in-law’s house for the Super Bowl, topped with this peanut butter frosting from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

I was shocked at how well the cupcakes turned out!  Not a hint of quinoa flour at all!  (Not that it’s all bad, but you’ve gotta know your audience with some of these ‘healthy subs’ and believe me when I tell you I faced two tough crowds this weekend.

So, moral of the story: give quinoa a try!  Just make sure to throw in a little chocolate, too.



kale-quinoa cakes 

First of all, excuse the terrible photo.  I hadn’t intended to blog about these babies, so I didn’t take any photos of the process (I also made them on a Sunday afternoon I was also making a gazillion other things and it was a bit hectic in the kitchen) nor did I photo when they were finished.  It wasn’t until days later when I actually TRIED them for the first time, that I realized how good they were and that a blog post was in order.

I found the recipe for Kale & Quinoa Cakes in a recent issue of the Wegmans Menu Magazine.  I love kale and quinoa and they just looked so darn great in the picture.  Mine, unfortunately, did not come out as pretty, but whatever.  It’s one of those ‘I love to cook’ recipes, designated as such because it involved multiple steps. Before school, I didn’t bat an eye at page-long ingredient lists or elaborate recipes, but I tell you what–since I’ve been in school, any dish that takes more 30 minutes start to finish just makes me want to cry.  I can’t wait to have my life back.  Seriously. (Sixty-four days until graduation.  But I’m not counting or anything.)

But, I liked these so much I decided to take time during one of my Sunday afternoon prep sessions to whip them up.  The recipe isn’t complicated at all; it’s just one of those where you’re grabbing for bowls and spoons and the food processor and more bowls and once you’re finished you wonder, ‘Was that even worth it?’

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if it WAS worth it.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was great.  I’m thrilled that I have a whole bag of them in the freezer to have for months to come without any more work.  However, I could easily serve kale and quinoa at dinner and accomplish the dish in a similar fashion.  But, I’ll stop being a humbug and give some praise to the recipe.  It had great flavor and texture and it really wasn’t that hard.  I served the cakes with fish, but they would go equally well with salmon or pork or even eggs for breakfast.  Definitely don’t ignore the tip to serve with Roasted Red Pepper sauce–so good!

Recipe below and linked above.

2 cups  Wegmans Organic Vegetable Broth
1 cup (6.5 oz)  Wegmans Organic White Quinoa (Bulk Foods)
1 bag (16 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Kale Greens
1 container (7 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Diced Mirepoix
1 medium (about 9 oz)  baking potato, peeled, chopped
Food You Feel Good About Large Eggs
2 Tbsp  Wegmans Basting Oil
1/2 Tbsp  Wegmans Sea Salt Fine Crystals
2 tsp  Food You Feel Good About Tuscan Seasoning Shak’r
Wegmans Nonstick Cooking Spray

You’ll Need: Food processor, muffin pans


  1. Bring vegetable broth and quinoa to boil in pan on MED; stir. Reduce heat to LOW; cover with lid. Simmer 15 min.
  2. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 min to absorb liquid. Spread quinoa on large sheet pan to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blanch kale in large pot of boiling, salted water, 3-4 min. Transfer to bowl of ice water. Drain; squeeze dry.
  4. Pulse kale, mirepoix, and potato in batches in food processor until finely chopped. Whisk eggs, basting oil, salt, and seasoning together. Add kale-potato mixture and quinoa to eggs; mix until combined.
  5. Coat muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/2 cup mixture in each section of muffin pans. Bake 35-40 min, until egg sets and tops are lightly browned. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool 10 min before removing cakes.
Chef Tip(s):
Try these cakes paired with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
Nutrition Info: Each serving (1 cake) contains 110 calories, 13 g carbohydrate, (2 g fiber), 5 g protein, 4 g fat, (1 g saturated fat), 55 mg cholesterol, and 300 mg sodium.
Calories: 110

starting the new year off LIGHT

Happy February, all!  (OK, where did January go???)

This post has been in the works for awhile now, and I’ve been dying to get it up here.  What set out to be a few snapshots of some of our ‘photo-worthy meals’ (yes, Andrew and I refer to them that way) has become a compilation of healthy meals we had in January.  I’m really proud of myself (and Andrew) that we have faithfully stuck to the “Meatless Monday” and one fish-dish per week goals I set for the new year.  And that we’ve–for the most part at least–stuck to the weekly menu plan and haven’t ordered pizza when the schedule got crazy.

Going forward, I’m adding one more weekly goal:  fix one meal from our list of ‘favorites.’  Andrew’s biggest complaint, by far, is that I make awesome stuff and save the recipe, but he never sees it again because I’m too busy trying new things.  It’s completely normal for me to put together five or six meals of completely new recipes, including side dishes.  That’s like 12-15 new recipes a week!  (I’m exhausted.)  And I love my husband and want to (finally) listen to what he wants.  So, a few of our favorites will be making a comeback 🙂

So, without further ado, here is my tribute to our healthiest month yet:

(Note: And all of these meals were planned AND eaten before I even saw Cooking Light’s current Jan/Feb “Start Your Year Off Light” spread.  I’m a little behind…what can I say?)

BTW–Cooking Light had THREE contributors this month with “RD” after their names…perhaps that will be ME one day!

Anyway, all that to say that we’ve been eatin’ pretty healthy around these parts so far.  Not that we were fast-food junkies, or even really needed to overhaul any part of our diets (OK, except my dessert habit, but that’s my own burden to bear), but I really wanted to add a little more structure to our weekly meals and, of course, make them even healthier.  But not less tasty.

Enter ‘Meatless Monday.  You can read my post for the co-op about it here, which includes the link to the actual ‘Meatless Monday’ site.

In short, I made two resolutions this year pertaining to our weekly dinners: to eat fish once a week, and to (purposefully) go meatless once a week as well.  I say purposefully only because I wanted to use MM as a chance to explore new ingredients/sources of protein, as opposed to using it as an excuse to make pancakes or spaghetti and marinara for dinner.  (Not that either of those are bad options–in fact, we had pancakes for dinner last Saturday night with the Nyes!

So anyway, here (in no particular order), are some photos of what we’ve been eating lately, as well as the link to recipes when possible:


Everyday Food Mag’s Fish Tacos and Spicy Slaw.  I’ve made this a couple times now and Andrew is a huge fan, believe it or not.  Served with blue crunchy corn shells and avocado, as well as spanish rice.


BTW, this is our new favorite wine: Layer Cake’s “Primitivo.”  Emily gifted it to me because of the name, and it’s a mild red both Andrew and I like a lot.


Quinoa and Lemon Soup from my Quinoa 365 cookbook.


Tilapia cooked with basil olive oil and lemon vinegar (Christmas gifts from Heather!) in a foil packet.


Morningstar Farm’s Spicy Black Bean burgers served with spinach and all the traditional burger fixins’ on homemade bread.  I don’t normally buy “vegetarian” burgers at the grocery store, but Mrs. Nye gifted me with a box of these from her freezer, and I sensed if I didn’t use them they would succumb to freezer burn.  Don’t know that I would buy them again, but not half bad.  Andrew ate it, but didn’t want seconds.


Mustard-roasted Chicken with Vegetables: an old-school, back-pocket classic.  This is one of three chicken recipes I cut from a Real Simple magazine forever ago that I make over and over again.  The other two are: Barbecue Apricot Chicken and Chicken Paprikash.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.


Roasted asparagus, broiled salmon and a Barley and Fig salad from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  Andrew really liked the salad, which featured dried figs, green onions and a lemon dressing.


This one was a toss-up, but Andrew ate it nonetheless.  It’s Cooking Light’s Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad.  I’ve had it in my ‘to-try’ binder for more than a year and decided it was time to try it, Andrew’s dislike of beans be darned!  It was quite spicy–chipotles in adobo will do that!  Add avocado next time and it would be even better.


Cooking Light’s Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry, served with Spicy Cabbage Stir-Fry.  The chicken stir-fry was pretty good, although I totally overcooked the cabbage.


Cooking Light’s Seared Scallops with Bacon, Cabbage and Apple.  My photo of my plate didn’t turn out well, but the color I got on the scallops was beautiful.  I’d never made scallops before, and Andrew had never tried them.  Can you believe he admitted they “weren’t fishy at all,” and that “I’d eat them again” came out of his mouth?  I almost fell out of my chair.


A couple nights ago I made CL’s Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili, and can you believe Andrew had TWO BOWLS?! It featured pinto beans (which I find to be much milder than kidney beans for chili), zucchini and roasted bell and poblano peppers.  The flavor was traditional chili, but more vegetable-y.  Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein, so it’s an excellent option for meatless dishes.

Last night I made CL’s Beef Stroganoff, which is a dish I loved growing up, but I’m sure my mom made it with Cream of Mushroom soup and sour cream.  This healthier recipe featured a flour/beef broth mixture and just a tad bit of sour cream (I used plain yogurt instead).  I thought it was wonderful, but since Andrew picks around mushrooms, I don’t know that I’d make it again.  It was nice, however, to feel like I could make something I really wanted and that Andrew would eat it despite the offending ingredients.  He’s maturing like that 🙂

In case you’re wondering, I don’t keep all the recipes I try.  In fact, I barely keep any of them.  I make it, and unless Andrew and I are blown away, it goes right in the trash.  The truth is, I have too many cookbooks, magazines and already-torn-out recipes to keep any that aren’t absolutely fantastic.  I try to remember particular methods or ingredient pairings (like how coarse-grain mustard is excellent for pork or roasted potatoes) and then toss the recipe.  I’m also aways on the quest for “the best” recipes, like the best chili or butternut squash soup, so I’m constantly trying and comparing new and old recipes.  For every 10 recipes I cook, 9 are new and maybe only 1 is from the “favorites” binder, much to Andrew’s chagrin.