Home work Assignment #3

OK, everyone in my house is on the Whole 30 Diet for the month. So cooking grain doesn’t really work right now. I compromised and made a large batch of steel cut oats for myself since I already had a container of them and didn’t want them to go to waste. Also, I recently went to the doctor and my cholesterol was high. Oatmeal is suppose to lower cholesterol so I thought that would be a good choice. I just made a large batch to cover me for the week and added walnuts, dates or raisins to the daily bowl with a little milk and heated it up each morning. Worked out great. I don’t have time to cook every morning so this plan worked out. My daughter has 7 kids in her house, 4 of them teenagers, so I will share the grain recipes with her and teach her how to make at least one of them this weekend.

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



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.


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.


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

Strawberry Quinoa Pancakes



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!


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


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!

Home Assignment 3: 1 Grain/3 Ways – Buckwheat!

Winter seems the perfect time to enjoy food with hearty flavors, so I chose buckwheat as my “grain” to prepare three different ways this week. My grandfather owned and operated one of our country’s only buckwheat mills, so buckwheat has always been dear to my heart. Although no longer in the family, I’m pleased to say that Birkett Mills is still in operation in upstate New York, and it produces many organic products, including the organic buckwheat hulls that I used to mulch my asparagus bed several years ago. To this day, many brand name buckwheat products one buys in this country are produced there – including Wolff’s, Pocono, Puritan, and the house brand itself,  Birkett Mills.

I tried making buckwheat 3 ways – once as the flour in a pancake-style blini, once toasted & then cooked with stock to create the stuffing for grape leaves, and last boiled like rice and then used in three different recipes. I found buckwheat to be delicious and versatile, and by finding its way into our home, it worked its magic in my heart. The final recipe is my favorite of all – a salad of chopped veggies & buckwheat dressed with a fresh herb & spice vinaigrette.

Recipe #1 – Blini

Blini require either planning ahead or patience! Because I didn’t plan ahead (other than having the ingredients on hand), I had to be extra patient for breakfast on Sunday morning. Blini are yeast-raised, so after adding 1 tsp. active yeast to 3/4 c. warmed milk & 2 Tbsp. melted butter, one must wait an hour to allow the yeast to grow. A mini-whisk was indispensable in getting the yeast to dissolve in the liquids. After an hour, I stirred in 1 beaten egg, 3/4 c. buckwheat flour, and 3/4 c. whole wheat flour. The batter was a little stiff, so I splashed in a little water to thin, allowing the pancakes to cook through more quickly. I used a Tablespoon to scoop out the perfect amount for small pancakes, which I cooked in sizzling canola oil (butter would have been delicious, but canola is less saturated & has a pleasant flavor). Blini are often served with sour cream and very salty/savory toppings such as caviar or smoked fish. I substituted a sweet and sour combination – nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh blueberries, a candied hibiscus flower garnish, with its syrup drizzled over all.

Recipe #2 – Stuffed Grape Leaves

This was time-consuming to prepare, but my husband asked that it be added to our regular repertoire, so it was worth the trouble. This recipe is a terrific alternative to the traditional recipe that uses lamb/beef and rice. Much more flavorful and far leaner! Also, 1 jar of grape leaves makes enough to fill my large crock pot and freeze enough to serve in the future with very little effort.

The stuffing:

I cooked 1 lb. ground bison (extremely lean!) in the crock pot for 4 hours in 1 quart of chicken stock, adding 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery stalks, and 2 diced fennel stalks & fronds. Next I stirred 1 c. barley groats into a beaten egg, and after letting it rest 5 minutes, I toasted in a skillet on the cook top. When they were browned, I added 2 c. chicken stock and simmered 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I diced 3 cloves of shallots and 1 large, sweet onion and caramelized in some extra virgin olive oil. Then I used a slotted spoon to remove all the meat & veggies from the crock pot (leaving behind the stock), and stir the meat & veggies and the caramelized onion/shallot mixture into the cooked buckwheat, adding 1 tsp. dried mint and 1/2 c. minced fresh parsley.

Wrapping and cooking:

A large cutting board is the perfect place to assemble the grape leaves. The grape leaves come vinegar-pickled in a jar and are rather challenging to remove. This needs to be done over a bowl or sink to allow the brine to drain. Thankfully, the leaves are sturdy and are carefully rolled, so they were undamaged despite the tugging. The leaves get more tender during cooking, but there may still be some fibrous areas. I removed any visible stems, as I selected the leaves. Each dumpling requires about 2 leaves and 1/4 to 1/2 c. stuffing. Since the leaves are different sizes, the dumpling size will also vary. No big deal!Overlapping the leaves and folding in the ends, burrito-style was the best way to assemble.

I added each dumpling to the juices in the crock pot as I prepared them. When done, there was a very tightly-packed single layer with juice to just cover. I put on the lid and let it simmer until kickoff (about 4 hours). By that time, the liquid had disappeared, but the leaves were still moist – any longer, and they may have dried out. (The remaining dumplings were packed & frozen – they will need to be placed in a cassarole or crockpot with stock to just cover in order to finish their preparation.)


Recipe #3 – Stirfry over Buckwheat Groats

Reading our assignment more carefully, I realized that we were supposed to make a large quantity of 1 grain and then use portions in three different recipes. So I made a large batch (1 c. dry with 2 cups water expands to 4 c. cooked) for use with 3 recipes.

Cooking buckwheat Groats

When preparing buckwheat groats, The Joy of Cooking recommends pre-toasting the groats to optimize flavor & firmness using 1 of 2 methods to optimize the flavor: either by soaking in beaten egg for 5 minutes, then heating while stirring for 5 minutes or by heating in a skillet with 1-2 Tbsp. of oil. I decided to make a quantity without first toasting – this allowed me to compare flavor and firmness with the batch I made for recipe #2 (the filling for stuffed grape leaves). The Joy of Cooking also suggests that one can substitute stock for the water when preparing buckwheat groats – to enhance flavor and nutrition. Because I used stock in the grape leaves recipes, I opted to use water this time.

I was very pleased with the buckwheat groats prepared untoasted using water. They cook in only 15 minutes, and left covered, they stayed nice & warm to serve with the stir fry.

Seitan Stirfry with fresh herbs & miso/ginger/garlic sauce

While the buckwheat was cooking, we sliced up 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 head broccoli, and one large sweet onion. After frying briskly, we added in at the last minute: 6 halved cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, fresh parsley leaves, 1 c. power greens with 1 package sliced seitan and the sauce. We cooked 1-2 minutes, stirring to wilt. Then served over buckwheat groats.

The sauce:

1/4 c. red miso paste, 4 garlic cloves, 2 inches grated fresh ginger – stir in some of the juice from the seitan, gradually to thin.


Recipe #4 – Buckwheat groats breakfast cereal

spoon out refrigerated portion of prepared buckwheat groats (see recipe #3 for cooking instructions). Top with desired fruit (I used fresh blackberries) & any desired toppings (I use 1 Tblsp. each of nutritional yeast, ground hazelnuts, cocoa, golden flax meal & wheat germ). Buzz in microwave 1.5 min., spoon on Greek yogurt & drizzle with maple syrup. ENJOY!

I will keep this in the arsenal for quick work-day breakfasts, since making it ahead saves time & is easy. Those who eat gluten-free could enjoy this with no issues – just leave off the wheatgerm topping!

Recipe #5 – Buckwheat salad with Jicama & Peppers

Each salad ingredient contributes a unique texture, color & flavor, making this salad a delight that is nutritious and unique.

2 c. cooked buckwheat groats
1 c. diced jicama
1/2 diced red pepper
2 minced shallots
2 stalks celery cut in crescents
Toss the above with the dressing:
1/4 c. walnut oil
minced fresh basil  – 12 leaves
1/4 c. chopped jalapenos w/ brine
1 Tblsp white vinegar
2 Tblsp. freshly toasted cilantro seeds (put in covered pan for 2 minutes until they crack – bruise in mortar & pestle)

Serve garnished with freshly toasted walnut halves – this completes the protein of the buckwheat, making it a main dish salad. Soooooo good!

Home Assignment 3: 1 Grain/3 Ways – Buckwheat!

Cooking for Wellness - The Basics

Winter seems the perfect time to enjoy food with hearty flavors, so I chose buckwheat as my “grain” to prepare three different ways this week. My grandfather owned and operated one of our country’s only buckwheat mills, so buckwheat has always been dear to my heart. Although no longer in the family, I’m pleased to say that Birkett Mills is still in operation in upstate New York, and it produces many organic products, including the organic buckwheat hulls that I used to mulch my asparagus bed several years ago. To this day, many brand name buckwheat products one buys in this country are produced there – including Wolff’s, Pocono, Puritan, and the house brand itself,  Birkett Mills.

Recipe #1 – Blini

Blini require either planning ahead or patience! Because I didn’t plan ahead (other than having the ingredients on hand), I had to be extra patient for breakfast on Sunday morning. Blini…

View original post 1,070 more words

Quinoa for days

I used quinoa for my grain this week.  I selected it solely because I had some in the pantry.  Usually I keep quinoa and rice (white, brown, or basmati) on hand, but have recently tried out farro and enjoyed it.  Having quinoa available in the fridge was a helpful shortcut to get lunches prepared for the week.  I even tried it out for breakfast.  I’m going to try and keep this tip in mind.  Lunches tend to be the last meal I want to plan yet need to have something readily available if I want to avoid buying lunches out.  Leftovers can work, but sometimes those get boring.  I noticed I found a handful of recipes or methods to use with my quinoa this week and could use this practice in the future.

The evening I made the batch of quinoa, I was going to use it for a casserole or gratin, but instead kept it simple and just made a grain bowl with other veggies.  I roasted brussels sprouts (bought a bagged of shredded bsprouts at Trader Joes—huge time saver) that same evening to have on salads and decided to include it in my grain bowl along with sautéed onions, cauliflower rice (another TJs shortcut), and peas.

img_3541-1I topped the bowl with a bit of soy sauce and Sriracha and it was delicious! img_3542

Since we were challenged to use grains at breakfast, I tried it out.  A few weeks ago I saw a food blogger post the recipe Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa (http://cookieandkate.com/2017/cinnamon-breakfast-quinoa-recipe/).  This isn’t normally a recipe I would consider making as quinoa isn’t something I think about for breakfast, but since the homework encouraged it, I tried it out.  It tasted fine, but I likely wouldn’t make it again.  I prefer an oatmeal if I’m going to have a cooked grain for breakfast.  And I wouldn’t say it tasted like cinnamon toast; more just like cinnamon on quinoa.


With the leftover quinoa, I made a salad using quinoa.  I used this recipe as a guide, but made some changes: http://pinchofyum.com/spring-quinoa-salad-honey-lemon-vinaigrette.  I made the dressing and fried up bacon the night before so I would have that readily available.  Since I had the roasted brussels sprouts on hand, I added those too (I didn’t have cilantro or basil).  And I already toasted pecans for my breakfast quinoa so I used those instead of almonds.  I thought it was a great lunch option and super easy to put together in the morning; especially if you make the dressing the night before to have on hand.  I also think it would taste more fresh if you added herbs or mixed greens.  But without those it tasted good too.  I think I found a new lunch method!  Yay!  I made 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and after several meals, I still have leftovers so if you don’t mind having 1 grain for multiple meals, this is a fast and economical meal plan.





The task this week – three recipes with quinoa.  Why quinoa?  Overall a versatile whole grain that I would use on a regular basis so seemed good to play around with some options. I used both regular and tri-colored quinoa during the week and although I couldn’t taste much of a difference, the added color of the tri-colored created more vibrant looking dishes.

Recipe #1:  Quinoa Enchilada:  A cheesy casserole with corn, beans, quinoa and good flavors.  Perhaps the cheese fest offsets the benefits of the whole grain but oh well.  With fresh toppings – avocados, tomatoes, lettuce – the heaviness of the dish is offset and becomes more like a mexican salad.


Recipe #2:  Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

Quinoa for breakfast was not as bad as I expected.  Basically it works as an oatmeal and the blueberries, almonds and honey make it nice and sweet.  A little goes a long way so don’t plan on eating a full cup of cooked quinoa as a light breakfast.


Recipe #3: Quinoa and roasted veggies

I cheated on this one and repeated the recipe from class. I had to bring a meal to a family event and really liked the sesame sauce and roasted flavors. I skipped the parsnips and turnips and replaced them with my favorite-yellow and green zucchinis.



Homework #3: It’s millet time!

For my whole grain this week, I choose millet.   This required a shopping trip to multiple stores as apparently millet is something only birds eat.  Preparing the millet was pretty easy – I toasted the grains over for a few minutes, then added water, brought it to a boil, reduced heat to simmer for about 17 minutes and let it sit for 10 more minutes.

Recipe #1 Millet Porridge  (I cooked this one up separately as it involved different millet cooking instructions)


  • 1/3 cup millet
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup skim milk or 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt
  • dried cherries
  • maple syrup or honey, to taste


In a small saucepan, combine millet, water, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and raisins. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Drizzle with honey.

I enjoyed this alternate to my usual cereal – although I don’t know that it would keep well.

Recipe #2  Rainbow Millet Tabbouleh

I have a friend who has a gluten-free, vegan diet, and wanted to try a recipe that he could eat.  Having enjoyed learning about tabbouleh in class, I found a recipe that substituted millet for bulgar.   To make it, I mixed together the following ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups cooked millet
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper,
  • 5 green onions,
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil,
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice,
  • 3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

It’s pretty tasty!

Recipe #3 Fried Millet

I love fried rice, but have never made it. The prospect was certainly less onerous with the  millet already prepared.


  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 3½ cups cooked, chilled millet
  • 1 (15 oz) can cut baby corn (couldn’t find this so added leftover cucumber)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Tamari sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat. Add the lightly beaten eggs and scramble them. When the eggs are cooked through, remove them from the pan and set aside.  Melt 1 more tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic, carrots, peas, and green onions and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Add 1 more tablespoon of butter. As it melts, slightly reduce heat and begin adding the cooked millet, ½ cup at a time. Stirring continuously, fry the millet for about 2 minutes. Stir in the Tamari and fry for an additional minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the scrambled eggs and sesame oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


It seems like millet might not be the best grain to store overnight.  It clumped together oddly while chilling.  I probably would want to experiment with other grains for this recipe.  That said fried [insert grain product here] is a lot easier to make than I thought it would be!

This week definitely forced me to cook differently since I couldn’t just throw together things that could be cooked up quickly.  Since I am preparing meals for just myself, I will have to experiment more to figure out the best balance between saving time with early prep, but still have variety in what I am eating.