Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Quinoa and Asparagus

Maybe some of you are ahead of us, but we are just discovering the beauty of quinoa at our house. A little background: it is a South American grain that is almost 20% protein. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. For more see:

So I've been experimenting a little bit with some quinoa recipes. This is the best one we've tried so far and makes a great protein-filled, meatless meal. Mia even ate it too...Oh ya, I buy quinoa in the bulk foods section of the store because it's cheaper. You can also find it sold in a box in the health food section.

2 cups white quinoa, rinsed well
4 scant cups water
2 tsp. chicken boullion
a few splashes of extra virgin olive oil
3 - 4 medium/large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, etc)
1-2 cups lightly cooked asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments
salt to taste
fresh parmesan to top (optional depending on your taste)

Mix the quinoa, water & boullion in a pan. Bring it to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 12-15 minutes. It's not supposed to be mushy, kind of like a firm, nutty rice. If there's any liquid at the end, drain it off.

Cook the potatoes, olive oil and onion in a large stir-fry type pan on medium heat until the potatoes are tender (it takes a good 1/2 hour or so of occasional stirring). Put the potatoes on a plate. To the already dirty pan add the garlic, (I added mushrooms because I had them in the fridge), pine nuts and asparagus. Cook until the asparagus is crunchy but tender. Combine the asparagus, potatoes & quinoa in the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Honey Wheat Bread

This is our favorite whole wheat bread. Since I like to experiment, I have tried just about everything I could think of with this recipe. I do not recommend any of them. The only change that does work is to allow the loaves to sit in the fridge for about 8hrs for their second rise, then just put them straight into the oven.

Dissolve in small bowl:
1/2c warm water
1T yeast
1t sugar

Combine in bowl of stand mixer:
12oz evaporated milk
1/4c water
1/4c melted shortening
1/4c honey
2t salt
2c whole wheat flour

Mix yeast mixture into flour mixture
Allow to rest for 15min

Add 3c all purpose flour, 1c at a time
Knead dough until smooth (for my kitchen aid, this means mixing at speed 2 with the dough hook for 3-5min)

Cover dough and raise for 45min

Punch down dough and divide in half
Form each half into a loaf and place in a greased pan
Raise another 30min (or in fridge for 4-8hrs)

Bake at 375 for 30-35min

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shortbread Cake

We had this cake this weekend and it was fabulous! Our friend made it with Blueberry Jam/Preserves in the middle. This is a full recipe but it can be halfed for a 7" springform pan and baked for 30 min. Really good!

Beat 13T room temp butter until soft and smooth
Add 1c sugar and beat til creamy
Add 1 egg + 1 egg yolk -- beat until well incorporated
Mix in 1t vanilla

Then add and mix just until incorporated:
2 1/2c flour
1t baking powder
pinch of salt

Gather dough into a ball, divide in half, pat each part into a disk
and wrap in plastic
Chill for 15-30min

Butter a 9" springform pan and place on a cookie sheet

Roll one disk of dough to a 9" circle and place in pan -- or squish in
pan to size with fingers

Spread about 2c of a good chunky jam/preserve over dough Roll the other disk to a 9" circle (easiest on a wax paper sheet so
that you can easily lift onto jam) -- place in pan and use fingers to
even if necessary to make sure it covers the jam.

Lightly brush with water and sprinkle with 2T sugar -- I have large
grained raw sugar that was very pretty on top

Bake at 350 for 35-40min until it is very lightly golden and a thin
knife inserted into the center comes out clean

Cool at least 20min, then release sides of pan and plate -- it's best
served at room temperature

Low Fat Banana Bread

I always get asked for this recipe. Kids & adults both love it--what more could you want?

2 eggs
3/4 C sugar
3 well mashed bananas (about 1 cup)
1/3 C vanilla yogurt
1 T oil
1 T vanilla
1 3/4 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t soda
1/2 t salt
1/3 C coconut
optional, walnuts or pecans

Mix dry ingredients (including coconut) in a bowl. Mix sugar, yogurt & oil. Cream together then add eggs, vanilla & bananas. Mix well then add dry ingredients until smooth. Add nuts. Put in a single loafpan and bake at 325 for 1-1.25 hours.


-I like to split the flour in thirds and use 1/3 white, 1/3 white whole wheat, 1/3 oat flour (pureed oats in the blender)

-We love the coconut flavor so I substitute 1/2 of the vanilla for coconut extract

-Sometimes I add flax seed which gives a little extra nutrition and texture

Abby's Granola

This is a fabulous recipe from my fabulous cook friend Abby Bennett. I made this and Chad told me multiple times how much he liked it. It's really easy to make and really good!

4C old fashioned oatmeal
3 C Wheaties/wheat flake cereal
2 C wheat germ (this is cheapest at Target)
2 C coconut
Almonds, whole or sliced - optional but good

Heat the following in a saucepan until smooth:
1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 t salt
3/4 C oil
1 C water
1/2 C honey
3 tsp vanilla

Pour sauce over dry ingredients and place on 2 cookie sheets. Bake all day with your over just above warm or on 150 for about 6 hours. Can also be left overnight. Stir occasionally. It won't feel crunchy when it comes out of the oven, but will once it cools. Nuts and raisins can also be added after baking, although if you're using almonds, it's good to add them before so they can toast all day.