Quinoa, quinoa, quinoa

Since I already had a bag of uncooked quinoa from my “let’s make trendy grain bowls” kick a few months back, I decided to choose quinoa as my grain of choice for this assignment. I wanted to use it in different ways that I was used to so I tried these three recipes: Quinoa-Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Strawberry Quinoa Pancakes, and Quinoa Protein Balls.

Quinoa-Parmesan Crusted Chicken

 

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This was actually kind of fun! The process of breading this chicken was basically exactly like how you would normally do it, except that you replace the breadcrumbs with toasted quinoa. I baked the quinoa at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes until it was dried out and a browned a bit on top.

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I prepped all of my dipping bowls (these are actually out of order, oops!) and dipped the chicken breasts into the flour, egg, then the quinoa/parm mixture.

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Delicious! Highly recommend using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs to mix up your chicken entree sometime! It was really tasty!

Strawberry Quinoa Pancakes

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I realize now that this photo looks extremely unappetizing… they actually look kind of like some sort of mystery meat patty. But my kitchen smelled of cinnamon and strawberries!

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took my first bite, but these were actually quite delicious! There was a tiny texture thing I had to force myself to ignore, but all in all they worked out!

 

Quinoa Protein Balls

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I make these protein balls quite often as a snack for myself throughout the day. I figured if I threw in some toasted quinoa any weird grain flavors could be masked by all the peanut butter, vanilla protein powder, honey, and chocolate chips! Not sure I would add quinoa again, but it was interesting to try!

It was nice to have a bunch of already cooked quinoa on hand to use in meals throughout the week. I did accidently make way to much and now need to find something to do with my last few cups in the fridge!

Cauliflower & Squash

I am admittedly not very outgoing when it comes to vegetables, so branching out to cauliflower and squash is a big deal for me! I have seen lots of creative uses for cauliflower on Pinterest so I was eager to try some of those recipes out. I chose a kabocha squash as my second ingredient because this is the perfect time to attempt to make a popular Haitian soup that I have had on my last few visits there. Overall I am very happy with how all of these meals turned out!

Haitian Squash Soup Joumou

I understand now why this soup is so special in Haiti. It takes a LONG time to prepare and cook. There is marinating, chopping, sauteing, boiling, resting, and waiting. I am definitely not used to spending this much time making a meal in the kitchen. At least the end result was worth it!

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 In addition to the squash, the green cabbage and the shallots are new for me as well! It was fun to test out my handy knife skills on all these different kinds of veggies.

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This squash put up a fight! The process of cutting and taking the skin off of this thing was a challenge. After I chopped it into cubes, I boiled it until tender, then pureed it in a blender. Set aside to add to the soup for the last 20 minutes on the stove.

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After marinating the meat for about an hour, I browned it in the pot. Then added beef stock and the rest of the chopped veggies.

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Viola! This soup is absolutely delicious. I had enough to pack lunches for the entire week and a few dinner portions as well.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I’ve seen this recipe everywhere and I was so excited to finally try it! It turned out great and I was so surprised how easy it was!

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This recipe called for a food processor to prep the cauliflower, which I don’t have, so I had to substitute for a blender. A bit of a struggle but I eventually achieved the same results!

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I had to microwave the riced cauliflower for 4 minutes, then squeeze the heck out of it in a tea towel. I was shocked at how much water kept coming out! After this, I added an egg, cheese, and Italian spices and mixed into a “dough”.

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I cooked just the crust first until golden brown, then added the sauce and cheese! I will definitely make this again and add more creative toppings. It’s crazy how cauliflower can take on the flavor of whatever you’d like it to.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

After my great experience with the pizza crust last night, I was excited to try this fried rice. This was also so easy, and I loved the result!

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Went with a veggie fried rice this time, but next time I would add chicken or steak.

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Instead of using a blender to make the rice, I tried using a cheese grater instead. This actually worked a lot better and produced the perfect little rice pieces.

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Sauteed the carrots, scallions, and garlic in the pan before adding the egg then the rice and soy sauce.

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This was SO GOOD. I may have just discovered my new favorite dish!

Since I am just cooking for myself, I’m not sure buying produce in bulk is the smartest option for me. It worked this week because I was forced to use the ingredients for these recipes, but I could see myself easily getting tired of the ingredients if I had to eat it before it went bad. Perhaps if I have specific plans to make a soup and freeze portions, or plan my meals strategically to use the produce in different ways it could work.

Homework Assignment #1

As a busy 23-year-old living in a tiny apartment with a roommate, it’s safe to say that cooking up elaborate meal for myself at the end of the day isn’t my top priority. I typically spend Sunday afternoon grocery shopping and meal prepping 5 lunch portions of my selected “easy and healthy” Pinterest recipe of the week. Dinner tends to be a post-workout protein+fruit+spinach smoothie and, if I’m still hungry after slurping that down, a side of eggs and avocado on toast. Needless to say, my kitchen isn’t stocked with much more than I know I can consume in the 7 days before my next trip to the grocery store.

This assignment has impeccable timing, forcing me to be creative with the scraps I have in my fridge and cupboards before I leave for a week long vacation on Tuesday morning. Luckily, my roommate and I have some party appetizer leftovers from our Saturday plans that I think I can get creative with. For my first dish, I will use up my vegetables in one dish and make some oven baked spicy vegetable fries with sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and rutabaga. For my second dish, I will utilize the only part of my pantry that is always stocked: the baking ingredients. I’m planning to make some strawberry+orange muffins.

Here goes!

Strawberry+Orange Muffins

1 cup fresh strawberries
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
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Thanks to Pinterest I found a recipe for these muffins and happened to have all of the ingredients!

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Not often do I have a reason to use orange zest, so it was fun to be able to utilize both the zest and the juice in this recipe.

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These were actually super easy to mix up and put together! I’m so impressed that I was able to put this together when I normally would think I had nothing to eat!

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These were SO good! If I were to change anything I would just add more strawberries, and possibly add more types of berries. Or if I wanted to be really fancy, I could make a orange glaze to put on top!


Spicy Veggie Fries

1 sweet potato
1/2 zucchini
handful of carrot sticks
handful of rutabaga sticks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to season
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Had the carrot and rutabaga sticks leftover and added the sweet potato and zucchini to complete the dish. I have made sweet potato fries before, but wanted to try the same idea with these other veggies.

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Chopped all of the veggies and ready to drizzle the oil and add the seasoning.

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The sweet potato fries were definitely the best ones of the bunch. The zucchini ended up being really soggy, which I kind of expected due to their high water content. Next time I would also try to make some sort of dipping sauce, they needed a little something extra!