Monday, October 6, 2014

recipe: apple-banana-quinoa muffins

I like quinoa. But Tony and I always seem to eat it the same way, and lately I grown bored of it. So there's been a bag of quinoa just sitting in my pantry for months, and I haven't wanted to cook it. 

But I've also been on a kick to clear out food in my pantry, so the other weekend I fired up Pinterest and discovered this treasure: apple-banana-quinoa breakfast muffins.

These muffins are sweet but healthy, and they're Baby L's favorite meal. I froze the muffins, and in the morning I take one out and throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Apple-Banana-Quinoa Muffins
Adapted from Pumps and Iron

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 mashed bananas: 3 mashed and 1 cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped fine

Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Cook 10-15 minutes until water absorbs. 

In a large bowl, mash three bananas. Stir in applesauce, milk, honey and vanilla.  

In a medium bowl, mix oats, cinnamon and cooked quinoa. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir in apple and banana pieces.

Scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin. 

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. 

Makes 12 muffins.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

recipe: lentil soup

It's been a year+ since I've stopped by to blog here, and I'm sure my four regular readers (hi, mom!) have long ago stopped checking in for new posts. I became a mom, then started a new job, and figuring out how to balance all of life has been a challenge. So blogging took a backseat. Like, the third row backseat in one of those gigantic SUVs.

I don't think I'm going back to blogging regularly, but I think I'll start posting ... occasionally ... and with a focus limited to new recipes.

Tonight, I found myself wanting to bake a loaf of bread to go with the lentil soup I was making, so I went to this blog to find my recipe for rosemary bread, and it occurred to me that the new recipes I've been trying, like the soup, aren't being captured here.

So here I am, sharing with a recipe for lentil soup. And I didn't take any pictures because, well, since I haven't been blogging, I'm no longer in the practice of taking pictures of the food I make. Sorry. It looked like lentil soup.

Earlier today when I was making a grocery list for the week, I got it into my head that I should base our meals on things that have been sitting in our pantry for a while. Like a bag of lentils. Valerie's made this lentil soup a few times for us, and it's a wonderful thick, spicy soup.

Lentil Soup
Adapted from Scaling Back

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 banana pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 7 cups water
  • 1-pound bag of lentils
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven, and add onion. Turn heat to very low and cook 30 minutes until onions begin to caramelize. 

Add banana pepper and jalapeño and cook for 5 minutes. 

Mix in garlic, spices, salt and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes. 

Add almond milk, water, lentils, garbanzo beans and carrots. 

Cook 30 minutes.  

Serves 7.


I intended to serve this with a loaf of whole wheat rosemary bread, based on this recipe. But it's been so long since I've baked anything that my yeast when kaput, and the dough didn't rise. Wah wah. So after brainstorming with my mom, I kneaded 1 tablespoon baking powder into the dough, and dropped spoonfuls of the dough on a baking sheet as biscuits. I baked them for 15 minutes. 

Verdict: good mistake. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

recipe: tony mcmuffin

Tony and I grew up an hour and 10 minutes from each other in Ohio, and in a lot of ways, we had very similar upbringings. Especially when it comes to food - our moms made a lot of the same dinners for us.  Everything from roast beef to spaghetti. So it's always funny to me when we discover some cuisine differences from our childhoods. Like the other week, we had cottage cheese in the fridge, and Tony suggested we eat cottage cheese and noodles for dinner, which was a favorite of his growing up. Um, ew - no way. And he was equally repulsed when I was dipping Fritos in the cottage cheese, a tasty combination I picked up as a child from my dad.

But Tony is always very, very impressed when I microwave an egg for a breakfast sandwich. My mom made these all the time growing up, so they never struck me as particularly special, but Tony had never had one. When I make them, I get compliments that include the phrase "best wife ever." The last time I made the sandwiches, Tony requested mustard on his, so I'm naming this sandwich the "Tony McMuffin."

Tony McMuffin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 English muffin
  • Butter
  • 1 slice American cheese
  • Mustard

Grease the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an oversized coffee mug with butter or margarine. Crack 2 eggs into the mug. Stir with a fork to break the yolks.

Cover mug with a napkin, which will prevent a mess in your microwave if the egg pops. Microwave for 45 seconds. Use a fork to flip the egg. Re-cover mug with napkin. Microwave for 45 seconds more. (Check that the egg is no longer runny; microwave cooking times vary.)

Meanwhile, toast and butter an English muffin.

Assemble the sandwich with a slice of cheese and squirt of mustard.

Note: If you want to use just one egg, reduce cooking time to 30 seconds per side.

Monday, July 1, 2013

recipe: enchis on the grill

When Tony and I lived in Phoenix, we ate a lot of really great Mexican food, and we started experimenting with Mexican recipes at home. We eventually added enchiladas to our regular dinner rotation, and it's something we still eat regularly. (Tony and I call them "enchis" for short.) They're even better with a fried egg on top, a trick I picked up at one of my favorite restaurants in Phoenix.

Of course, now that the D.C. summer temperatures have reached yucky, and the humidity has reached disgusting, I haven't been turning on the oven very much. Instead, I've been trying some tried-and-true recipes on the grill, and I've had some great success so far. And I'm happy to report that enchis on the grill are just as fantastic as they are in the oven.

Enchis on the Grill

  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 4 8-inch tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, diced
  • several handfuls of cheddar cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • cilantro

Line bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick foil. Pour about 1/3 of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Assemble the enchiladas. Spread 1/4 of the beans along the center of each tortilla. Top with tomatoes and jalapeños and other toppings of choice (such as green olives and onions). Sprinkle a handful of cheese in each enchi. Fold the enchi sides over to close them.

Flip the enchis over and place in the baking dish. Spread remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas. Add another handful of cheese on top of each enchi.

Cover top of baking dish with foil. Also cover bottom of baking dish with a piece of foil to protect it from the flame.

Grill on medium-high heat for 20 minutes. Remove foil top and grill an additional 5 minutes.

While the enchis are grilling, fry the eggs, over easy, in olive oil or butter.

With a spatula, transfer enchis to plates. Top with eggs and a handful of cilantro to taste.

Serves 4.

Note: Tony and I took the two leftover enchis for lunch the next day. And they were just as good (maybe even a little better) than the night before.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

recipe: homemade funfetti cake

I grew up on the quintessential American street. It wasn't a large block - just a couple dozen houses, many of which the vacuum manufacturing company down the street built around 1920 and sold to its workers. My parents bought one of those houses soon after they got married. When I was growing up, some of the men on the street still worked at the company and walked to work.

A lot of young families lived on the street, so kids were always playing games in the street or playing hide-and-go-seek through the neighbors' backyards or drawing with chalk on the sidewalks.

When my parents brought me home from the hospital, the neighbors down the street had just brought home their two-week-old baby girl, Valerie. She and I grew up together, walked to school together, and marked a lot of milestones together.

Our lives went in a lot of different ways after high school, and we didn't stay in touch. But then last summer, she moved to D.C. for a fellowship, and she ended up moving into an apartment that is (literally) just down the street from where I live. Neighbors again. We see each other often now. It's funny how life works out that way.

The other weekend, Valerie turned 30. Which means, of course, that my own 30th birthday is right around the corner. (Cue the panic.)

Anyway, we had a really fun time celebrating Valerie's milestone with good, old-fashioned bowling at the Fort Myer Bowling Center. (It was a pretty rad place, so I'm planning to post a separate blog about the center.) The bowling alley has a party room, and they let me bring a cake to the party as an exception to the center's no-outside-food rule.

Valerie requested a Funfetti cake. Instead of picking up a boxed cake mix, I did a Google search to see if anyone had perfected a homemade version. Lo and behold, I found a recipe that turned out to be awesome.

It was super moist, had a lot of vanilla and butter flavors and was pretty easy to put together. My cake didn't turn out as white as the boxed version or the pictures on the original recipe writer's blog - but I still give this recipe very high marks.

Homemade Funfetti Cake

  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sprinkles (not nonpareils)
  • additional sprinkles for the top
Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in sugar and brown sugar. Whisk in eggs, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract.

Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Stir in sprinkles, being careful not to overmix, which would cause the sprinkles to bleed.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 33-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

When cool, frost cake with recipe that follows.

Vanilla Frosting (for a two-layer cake)

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • up to 3 tablespoons milk
Combine powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl. Add milk, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until frosting is a spreadable consistency.

Friday, May 10, 2013

decor: couch update

There have been two recent additions to my couch that have made a big difference.

First, I saw this beautiful old quilt in the guest room at my parents' house over Christmas. The colors coordinate really well with my orange-and-blue living room. My mom was hesitant to hand it over at first ... but ... I can be very charming.

The quilt is now living on the back of my couch. I bought my couch when I moved to D.C. five (!) years ago, and over time, the cushions have become a bit saggy. Maybe I could just add some more stuffing, but for now, the quilt is doing a good job at making the couch look neater.

Second, I now have a boatload of pillows on my couch.

I used to think I didn't want a lot of pillows on the couch for practical reasons. Tony and I share the couch when we watch TV or movies, and I thought it would get too crowded with two humans and a half dozen pillows on a small couch. So all I had on the couch were two matching floral throw pillows. Here's a photo of Jamie playing his guitar my couch before Christmas to give you an idea of what my couch used to look like. In hindsight, it looks pretty plain.

But Jen bought me this pretty ampersand pillow for Christmas, which prompted me to experiment with adding more pillows.

I brought out from storage some more pillows (which were DIY projects with fabric and stuffing from Jo-Ann Fabrics) in a mix of colors and patterns.

It looks like some place you want to curl up and read a book/take a map/watch a DVD.

But, let's be honest, that's only what my couch looks like when I know guests are coming over or when I'm going to take a picture for, say, a blog post. Most of the time the pillows end up tossed on the back of the couch to make more room, which actually makes it very cozy. The too-many-pillows problem that I was worried about hasn't turned out to be a problem at all.