Quinoa Week

IMG_6952I had not cooked with quinoa before this week, though I had heard of it’s great nutritional values from my daughter.  A quick online search assured me there would be plenty of interesting recipes.  Since I already have oatmeal several times a week,  I was particularly interested in the breakfast possibilities.

I found 3 recipes that appeared to require about 4 to 4 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa.  So, to prepare a bulk quantity of quinoa:

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed well with water to remove the saponins, and drained

3 cups of water

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, allow to stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.


This preparation in bulk is not something I normally do…to cook ahead and plan for several meals at once.  I feel I ended up with quite a bit more than 4 1/2 cups…maybe I boiled it too long?  The quinoa seemed rather sticky when I was “fluffing it with a fork”.  I moved most of the prepared quinoa to the refrigerator, but kept a small amount out to prepare my breakfast of


Cherry Almond Coconut Quinoa Porridge


Author: Jennifer Farley      Serves: 1 serving


  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup almond milk  (I used Silk ® Original Almond Milk)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut
  • ½ tablespoon hemp hearts or roasted flax seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Heat on medium low, stirring, until the porridge is warm.

This recipe gave me an excuse to purchase coconut oil (unrefined), which I had been reading about as a “healthy fat”.  The smell and smooth texture were great!   I used ground flax seed that I had in the refrigerator, and reduced the amount of ground cinnamon for my personal preference.   The almond milk included cane sugar, and the dried cherries were also sweetened, so the recipe was sweet enough for me.


The verdict:  Delicious!  Both my husband and I loved it!  We will prepare this again later this week.


For a main dish using quinoa, I tried this meatless recipe:

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers 


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2017 Allrecipes.com Printed From Allrecipes.com 5/12/2017

Prep Cook Ready In 15m 20m 35m          Recipe By: DownHomeCitySisters.com


1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup minced yellow bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot(R))
1 egg
3 tablespoons olive oil



  •   Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  •   Roughly mash the black beans with a fork leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.
  •   Mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot pepper sauce, and egg into the
    black beans using your hands.
  •   Form the black bean mixture into 5 patties.
  •   Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
  •   Cook the patties in the hot oil until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.


I used 3/4 cup of the prepared quinoa from the refrigerator.  Rather than using a fork, I used a pastry blender to more quickly  mash the black beans.  The mixture was rather sloppy; I probably should have drained the beans more thoroughly.  I made 4 patties and fried them, finding them very fragile and quick to crumble.  With the remaining mixture I added some brown rice flour to help hold it together.  Though the last patty was easier to fry and turn over, it was was dryer and not as good.

Another success!  The flavor was very good.  We had these patties on sandwich thins with a bit of mayo, lemon, spinach and tomato.   The crumbly partial patties also worked well on sliced baguette with a dab of siracha sauce!



The third recipe using quinoa was a side dish:

Quinoa Fried Rice


Author: Nicole-Cooking for Keeps

Serves: 4 or 6-8 side portions


  • 1 cup quinoa (or 2½ to 3 cups leftover cooked quinoa)
  • 1 ½ cups water or low-sodium chicken stock
  • ¼ small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped and divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly scrambled (still raw)
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Sauce:
  • 1 ½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame oil



  1. Rinse quinoa a few times in cold water.
  2. Bring quinoa and water or chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt.
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and let set for five minutes or so. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Cool and store in the fridge, preferably overnight.
  5. Mix teriyaki, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about two minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another two minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble. Throw in peas, then toss everything together until the peas are warmed through, add remaining scallion and serve.

(No chicken stock, since the quinoa had already been prepared with water.)  I used hoisin sauce (rather than teriyaki) since I already had that open in the refrigerator.



Paired with Mandarin Orange Chicken (Trader Ming’s)…another winner recipe!


Theoretically I should have used up all my prepared quinoa by now (4 1/2 cups), but I still have some left.


That’s OK, I’ve got another breakfast recipe I still want to try!               –Janet Anderson

May 16 breakfast:


I made 1/2 the recipe, used almond milk instead of coconut milk, less cinnamon, and no cardamon or raisins.  Pretty good, but I liked the cherry almond better.



New Produce, New Techniques

Parsnips and Artichokes

Two types of produce that I had never before purchased were parsnips and artichokes.  The reason for parsnips:  my husband hated them from his childhood; could I find a way to make them taste OK?  (We never had them at all in my home growing up.)  The reason for artichokes:  they were a total mystery, so figuring out to cook and eat them would be a challenge.  Parsnips were $1.99 /pound, and I bought 2 pounds.  Artichokes were $0.99 each, a real sale price since they are in season.  I bought 6, having no idea how much or little food that might be.

Parsnip “fries” seemed like a good starting place to try to change my husband’s mind about parsnips.  After all, he really like the potato “fries” I made last week.   I found “Bombay Parsnip and Carrot Fries” in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook by Ciarra Hannah (checked out from the library).

parsnip fries recipe

The “Indian Seasoning Blend” is 3/4 tsp ground cumin, 3/4 tsp ground coriander, 3/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. I kept a small quantity without the Indian Seasoning for comparison.

This time I remembered to photograph my beautiful fries before we ate them all.  The seasoning was great!  A parsnip success!

parsnip fries 4parsnip fries 5


My husband’s unhappy parsnip memories involved “my Mom baked them in the oven, and I hated them”.  Now the challenge would be to find a recipe that baked them flavorfully.  “Creamy Baked Parsnips with Thyme” looked mighty good to me (http://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/creamy-baked-parsnips-with-thyme/).  I prepared the recipe using grated Manchego cheese, knowing the leftover block would disappear quickly as appetizer snacks.  I had to hunt awhile at the grocery store for whole milk yogurt; that is not an ingredient I had used before.

I thought the baked parsnips tasted great!  My husband conceded they were pretty good, but maintained the ingredients would be better used on potatoes!

creamy parsnips



The third parsnip use would be just to add them to a slow-cooker meal.  I found an interesting looking recipe in January 2017 “Eating Well” magazine, “Slow-Cooker Braised Beef”.  But wait, I thought the recipe said carrots and parsnips…too late, the pot roast has already been thawed.  Parsnips should work as well as turnips…

slow cooker recipe

This recipe used a combination of spices for the pot roast that I would never have considered:  cinnamon, allspice, and cloves along with the salt and pepper.  The result was quite tasty, and I thought the stewing liquid really gave the parsnips the best taste of all the methods I tried.

I made the polenta side dish, too, and that went very well with the tomato-ey sauce.





Since I had no idea how to tackle the artichokes (I had never even touched one before Saturday morning), I headed for my trusty 1972 Betty Crocker cookbook.  Betty would tell me what to do.

I turned to page 414 for not only a recipe, but also how to eat the thing.  Yes!  I figured I would really get fancy and make the suggested hollandaise sauce from page 357.

boiled artichokes recipeHollandaise

I found a kettle that would let me cook 3 at once.  I read somewhere online that you want to keep them inverted while boiling, so I weighed them down with a lid to keep them from turning over.  While they simmered I prepared the hollandaise, which I thought came together pretty nicely.

Well, maybe artichoke is an acquired taste, though it was kind of interesting how you eat them by drawing the petals (yeah!  they are a flower!) through your teeth to eat the meaty part of the petal.  My husband and I had part of one of them served warm with the hollandaise sauce (which had too much lemon to my taste…).  The other two went into the refrigerator…maybe they are better chilled with a dip?



Perhaps boiling isn’t the best way to enjoy them?  So online I found a recipe to roast them instead.  The next evening I tried “Roasted Artichokes with Lemon Tarragon Butter” (  http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/2012/04/roasted-artichokes-w-lemon-tarragon.html ).  The prep on this was much quicker.  The lemon tarragon butter was GREAT, but the artichoke petals were leathery.  We ate even less of this artichoke, though I did make an effort to at least consume the meaty heart.



My third try was an artichoke soup recipe (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/artichoke_soup/ ) .  This one seemed really safe, it looked mostly like a potato/onion soup with some artichoke added.

potatoes and stock

For this preparation, it was necessary to get to the heart of the artichoke before cooking.  This felt like a plant anatomy class.  When the artichoke is raw you can clearly see the center flower disk, called the choke.  All those little hairy fibers would make you choke if you ate them, so the name is apt.  The heart disk you end up with is sure not much of the whole artichoke globe!

petals plucked

Petals removed


You can see why they call it the choke.


the heart

The heart of the artichoke

Since I was only preparing half the recipe, I needed 2 1/2 artichoke hearts.  I used the last two raw artichokes to prepare 2 of the hearts.  Those were sautéed in butter as per the recipe.  Since I still needed at least 1/2 more heart, I went to one of the leftover boiled artichokes, plucked off the cooked petals*, cut away the choke, and added the boiled, chopped artichoke heart at the same time as the potatoes.  Beyond finding the heart of the artichoke, the other highlight of this soup prep was I actually used the food mill that has been in my kitchen for decades (it lives in the turkey roasting pan) but perhaps used only 3 or 4 times.

puree soup

I have the soup stored at the “make ahead” stage.  It tasted pretty good so far, and adding butter and cream before serving will only make it better!  I just am not sure I can identify the artichoke flavor amidst the onions, garlic, and other spices.

(*I still have one boiled artichoke in the refrigerator.  I will try eating that cold with a lemon tarragon butter dip.)


Shopping this week included more produce than I usually buy. ( I am pretty sure I should not buy a CSA share, just don’t think with only 2 of us in the house we would get through all the produce.  I will still visit farmers markets, though.)   I think I didn’t eat more produce, just different produce.  It was rather an effort to consume the parsnips and artichokes since we just didn’t consider them favorites.  The recipes I chose used shallots, leek, and fresh herbs beyond the parsnip and artichoke star players, which were not in my “staples”.  I also had to purchase avocado oil and coriander, but those can be used in many recipes moving forward.

I see just now the challenge to include the produce in a breakfast.  Hmmm, maybe I can try turning some of the creamy baked parsnips into something like hash browns?  Wish me luck!                                                                                                   –Janet Anderson


On hand to on table

I guess it was by osmosis:  I learned from my Mom that coming up with what’s for dinner started with “what meat or protein do we have?”  Once that was identified, you looked at what was on hand to fill out the menu.  Growing up we lived 17 miles from the grocery store, so you didn’t just run after a single ingredient.

Even though now we have 2 grocery stores within 5 miles, I still tend to look at what is already in the house for most of my meal-making.  If we are having a holiday celebration or guests with us, I will plan a menu and purchase what is needed to cook for that occasion.  Other than that, I have no good routine.  My husband I and are both retired, and that flexibility lets us be casual with meals.  But the downside is we could eat more healthfully with some planning, and that’s why I’ve joined the class.  My cooking feels uninspired, and I want to include more fresh vegetables and learn flavorful ways to make them.  The issue I have with fresh vegetables is they demand to be used shortly after purchase or they can be wasted; they require planning! (notice above I said “meal-making” not “meal-planning”).

We have a small deep freezer for meat and vegetables, and always a few dry mixes and canned items in the cupboard.  The refrigerator holds staples of eggs, milk, butter, cheese, condiments.  My oils and spices cupboard is disorganized, and though I have quite a number of spices I tend to buy them only when trying a new recipe.  (The canned and dry goods stay quite organized thanks solely to my husband who puts away the groceries.)

What is not needed?  Probably half of the bottles currently on the door of the refrigerator.  Maybe I can thin those out…

I purposefully limit how much kitchen equipment I have.  I know that I just don’t love cooking enough to purchase and store specialized equipment.  So I have a mixer, a blender, assorted pots, pans, baking sheets and utensils.  Nothing specialized like a bread machine or pasta maker.  (I don’t have a food processor or food mill and am wondering what one does instead if you want to make the occasional pesto recipe…)


It was not difficult to come up with a recipe using what was on hand, but it feels a little like cheating because I had bought a spiral sliced ham when they were on sale for Easter.  (Though it was not on our Easter menu, at $1.77/pound I couldn’t pass it up, knowing it would make plenty of other meals.) One of those meals would use the ham bone, and I had a pound of dried split peas in the pantry.   I looked online for a ham and split pea soup recipe that included beef broth so I could use up a partial box of beef broth (leftover from our actual Easter dinner, and approaching the “use within 14 days of opening” message).

I opened the packaged ham and cut the meat from the bone, realizing again that I was holding the knife how I must have been holding it my entire life with my index finger over the top of the blade.  I am working on the pinch method, but it will take awhile to break this habit.  I packed much of the ham for the freezer in about 1 pound portions, left some in the refrigerator for use within the next few days, and placed the ham bone and some of its trimmings in a dish into the refrigerator overnight.


Break the old knife-holding habit…


Ham bone ready for the soup pot

The next afternoon, I washed one pound organic split peas, drained them, boiled in 6 cups water.  I then followed the recipe found at


with the following changes:

—Leftover beef broth (1.5 cups + 1/2 cup water) instead of the bouillon cubes. This brings the total liquid to 8 cups as per the recipe.

–I only had one onion on hand, so I added 2 T onion powder.

–My husband dislikes cooked celery stalks in anything, so I used a scant teaspoon celery salt.

I added the ham bone and spices to simmer 1/2 hour, then added the diced carrots.  The soup simmered another 2 hours.  We thought it was delicious, served with a couple of take and bake french dinner rolls that I had in the freezer.    We have leftovers, a bonus in my opinion…one less meal to make!


Ham and split pea soup


For my second recipe, I hoped to make sweet potato “fries” after tasting them at our Tuesday night class.  I knew I had a sweet potato in the cupboard, but alas, it had gone bad.  (Someday I will learn that sweet potatoes just don’t keep as well as russets.)  I even had my recipe picked out: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/baked-sweet-potato-fries-recipe

Now what? Still in the cupboard was a good-sized russet baking potato, so I guess now it would just be potato “fries”.  I peeled the potato, quartered it lengthwise, and carefully cut thin fries (more knife practice).  I cut the recipe quantities back to about 1/3, enough for my single medium/large potato. It seemed like paprika was not the right spice for a regular potato, so I omitted that and used just a pinch of ground cumin.

I baked the potato fries on parchment paper at 425° for about 30 minutes total, turning them at 15 minutes,  and again at 20 and 25 minutes.  (I baked at 425 rather than 450 because I worry about the parchment paper igniting.)

My husband proclaimed them “great”!  He had been lukewarm about the sweet potato idea, but made with a regular potato this was right in his comfort zone.  I was glad the recipe worked well…with olive oil and being baked, it’s at least a little healthier than regular fries (which I don’t make at home due to messy deep frying).

Unfortunately, by the time I thought about taking pictures of this cooking episode, all I had left was dirty dishes. No leftovers here.  Bugger!  The raw “fries” really looked quite professional, tossed with the oil and seasonings in a bowl (Photo I wish I had), and after baking (Another photo I wish I had!)  So instead, you will have to settle for a photo of my disorganized spice and oil cupboard (after rummaging around for the ground cumin, which I knew was in there somewhere…)                                                –Janet Anderson


Spices (I swear they move around themselves when the door is closed)