Saturday Random Recipe: Quinoa!

Here’s a recipe I’ve been meaning to share with you for a quite a while. For weeks I’ve been building up to it, so now I’ll finally get to it!

This recipe was a part of my collection of Summer Recipes, great for doing when you don’t feel like heating up the house, and generally enjoying the produce of the Summer. Unfortunately, Summer is practically over, and my thoughts are turning to soups and apples. However, I will share this recipe in celebration of Summer. September is generally the best of Summer anyway, when we can usually get access to good Summer fruit, and enjoy cooler days.

I think I’ve already mentioned this recipe, from Mireille Guiliano‘s cookbook, for Fruit Salad with Quinoa, which serves 4-6. Here it is:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (or lemon juice)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon zest lime (or lemon, or omit)
  • 1 pound mixed fruit (strawberries, peaches, grapes, melon, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Fresh mint sprigs

Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. Drain and cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients

Prepare the fruit. Place all the fruit in a serving bowl and add the cooled quinoa. Add the liquid mixture and toss to combine. Garnish with mint and serve.

dscn7895First of all, this recipe is really flexible and fun. You can probably use whatever fruit you have on hand. I find I really like peaches or nectarines with it. (and don’t worry about measuring how much fruit you use. Just do as much as you want)

A few important things to know:

rinse the quinoa! I didn’t for a while, but it really helps to lessen the unusual, sort of bitter flavor. Also, the mint garnish is very important. It provides a fun, fresh flavor. Plus, be ready to add more lemon juice or honey, depending on what you want.

I also find that it’s not necessary to let the quinoa cool completely. I like how it softens the fruit a little when it’s warm, but this salad is best cooler.

I really, really like this salad. It kind of helped me get into quinoa, which I find has it’s own personality that you have to get used to. I also really like this recipe for get-togethers with friends (they have to be the right friends. If you bring a fruit salad with funny looking soppy bits, they may not get the idea). It provides a fresh, unusual, side dish thing that, conveniently, provides some protein, which is sometimes needed with these random get-togethers.

And there we go! That wasn’t so hard…

Oh, and keep Mireille Guiliano in mind, because I’ll be bringing her up again soon.

By the way, I’d love to hear what your favorite quinoa recipe is! I’m still trying to figure it out, so I’d love to hear from you!

Hope you continue to have a great weekend,


Random Recipe Saturday: Applesauce Muffins

So, as you might have noticed, we’ve been slightly distracted lately – not posting as often or as consistently, getting sidetracked, forgetting all about stuff that we meant to talk about. Sigh! Poor readers… There are all sorts of reasons: Olympics, visiting neighbor-cats, sales on Etsy (yay!), forgetfulness, etc..

One of the biggest distractions is that this month we are trying out gluten-free! Many people talk about how healthy it is to cut wheat out of your diet, so we decided to do a scientific 31 day attempt at it to see how we do. With a couple of minor slips, so far so good! No miraculous cures, but it’s been fun.

We’ll talk about this experiment in more depth later. Meanwhile, here’s a lovely gluten-free recipe that I made up, which is really good! (I think I forgot to take a picture before we ate them all…):

Gluten-Free Applesauce Muffins

Grease two muffin tins and preheat the oven to 425 F. In the same cup, pour and allow to sit:

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup milk

Mix together:

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup other flour (I used quinoa, which has a distinct flavor and therefore might not be to everyone’s taste)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional): add at after mixing everything else

Mix in a large bowl

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup apples sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • The milk and vinegar mixture

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, stir thoroughly, and allow to sit for about ½ hour (which helps the flours to absorb the moisture). Divide the dough into the muffin tins, filling each cup about ¾ way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, switching the tins’ places about halfway, until golden brown and the tops spring back when dented lightly with a finger.

Makes about 24.

  • Dairy-free: Substitute extra apple sauce or apple juice for the milk. Doesn’t have to sit, of course
  • Nut-free: Leave out the nuts! (ok, that was a little snarky…)
  • Substitute wheat flour (half-white, half-whole grain) for a non-gluten-free version
  • Substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar (though the muffins might burn easily!)
  • Add raisins or chopped apples

Enjoy by themselves, or with a bit of butter or jam or cream cheese. Or with a steamy mug of hot cocoa for an autumnal treat (I keep telling myself it’ll be here soon)!


Saturday Random Recipe: Ice

It’s hot outside. Actually, it’s not too hot right now. But it will be hot. And this year, I’m trying to embrace that.

IMG_1072I’m getting more annoyed at the heat than I usually do, possibly because it seems a little more humid than some times. But I’m trying to figure out ways that make me happy with it being hot.

There’s the practical side, such as the fact that, I think, grapes – and therefore wine – taste better when it’s a hot year. So this year should have some really good wine!

Also, there’s more reason for you to take Annie’s example – on the left – and get wet and have fun.

I’m also trying to figure out other methods of having fun being hot, as well as figure out ways to keep cool.

First of all, the worst way to cool down when you’re out in the sun is to fume and moan about how hot it is. It’s easy for me to do that, even if it’s just in my head. But it just makes it worse. So I’m trying to embrace it- lizard style- with cicadas chirping mildly in the background and an occasional butterfly fluttering by.

IMG_1060  I’m also trying to figure out what this one style of music is, which we have only a few songs of, that reminds me of a certain kind of temperament that allows the sun to pass over you in golden downpour while you enjoy the doze of a Summer afternoon. As Abigail put it recently: “People have been sweating for years.”

So, one way I have to keep cool, which practically contradicts everything I just said with the fact that it’s so cool, is Icicle Tea, pictured on the right.

I was inspired to try this when I had some snow cones. It’s like iced tea, but hardcore.

IMG_1051Basically, I can’t give any specific instructions for this ‘recipe’, because it depends entirely on what you want. Personally, I suggest you make some tea, preferably with tea bags and extremely strong. I like mint or green/mint best for this, with some fresh mint leaves on the side.

Crush ice in a blender, with some of the tea – I like enough ice to have a small iceberg, as pictured.

Note: this is surprisingly messy, and you will need a lot of ice if you’re doing this for several people. Also, you will have to make the tea a little in advance so it has time to cool and get stronger.

Icicle Tea is surprisingly, wonderfully refreshing and extremely simple. Serve it in a pretty, clear glass, with a spoon, for people to enjoy the ice, which is gently flavored with tea. I also recommend that you sit and enjoy the beverage, under a patio or back porch if you prefer, for a few minutes, to properly enjoy the flavor.

I hope everyone’s having a good Summer so far! If you’re anywhere near where we are – at least in temperature – then it’s far from over. Summer’s still one of my favorite seasons, although we’re in the dull part, so I’m not too sorry. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the heat, or beat it, and I’d love to hear what everyone has to say!

Hope you continue to have a good weekend!


P.S. I just remembered! Another way I’m enjoying the Summer is by having sort of desert animals as my computer background. Backgrounds are very important for me, and kind of signify what I want to do, how I feel about the month, or just simply to add a bit of fun in there. For instance, August is a very dull month, so I’ll probably have some funny backgrounds.

This second half of July, I decided to go with giraffes, because they’re so cute and fun and embody the meaning of having fun in the sun. Well, one of the embodiments…

Saturday Random Recipe: Sweet and Golden

So, I thought I’d do a short, probably sporadic series of recipes that are good for Summertime. When someone says ‘Summer food‘ I generally think fresh stuff, preferably with a lot of fruit. But it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that. In this case, I mean food that you can make quickly, easily and generally without much cooking. In fact – raw. I think that’s the latest thing.

IMG_1271Today, I thought I’d feature a simple treat we enjoy in New Mexico. It’s possibly the simplest, most humble delicacy you can come by – either of our own invention, or an actual New Mexican discovery.

Chips and honey. There’s really not much more I need to say.

What you need: crisp tortilla chips and good, strong honey (preferably from New Mexico)

Chips and honey are best after a dish or bite of green chili. Part of the reason is that honey is good for calming the fire. Another good way to stop the burning is tea, milk or, of course, sour cream.

This recipe is simple, crunchy, salty and sweet. Plus, it’s really easy, and takes all of about 3 minutes to prepare, if you know where everything is. I’ve managed it in about a minute!

IMG_1277This was going to be the shortest blog post I’d ever write, but then I started thinking it would be fun to find out some favorite, regional treats. So, I got on the Etsy forums, and got some absolutely fascinating and funny answers.

Paulie was the first to answer with – ‘Dutch’ Shoe Fly Pie, whoopie pies, red beet pickled eggs, scrapple and corn meal mush.

In the Pacific Northwest there’s a fry sauce that can be served with French fries, but is also good on burgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders. On the subject of French fries, Letha from New Jersey mentioned they’re sometimes served with gravy or taylor ham. (by the way, fries are also good with 505)

Susan mentioned that rhubarb used to grow wild where she lived, and she loves rhubarb pie. She also mentioned that pickled watermelon rind is a favorite in Pennsylvania. I haven’t tried it yet, but at least I’ve heard of it.

Several other, interesting treats were mentioned, but I probably can’t go over all of them. Some of them were moon pies, tomato pie from NY, maple candy from Maine and fluffernutter (gesundheit).

But I saved the best for last. Quoting Tot Brill:

Yorkshire curd tart made with beastings, Wendlesdale or Coverdale cheese with fruit cake or apple pie and savory duck (a kind of spicy, herby sausagey bake made with liver and other bits and so totally not a duck”

I enjoyed seeing what interesting food there is around the world and the US. Food is fascinating!

I’d love to hear what treats you love, either regional, summertime, or just something you’ve got to always have on hand. Just leave a comment! This is food we’re talking about – there’s never enough said! 🙂


Saturday Random Recipe: Gluten Free

There’s an obsession with gluten free things. (they’re even making coffee gluten free now!) Okay, if you’re allergic then you kind of have to be aware of the recipes that come along without gluten, so I thought I’d just title this blog post “Gluten free” to be clear.

IMG_0885The original recipe – written confusingly in  corner of a cook book – for Baked Oatmeal is gluten free, however, in a moment I will mention a few options, including how to make this recipe also milk free! First, the recipe itself:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine in a bowl:


  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

In another bowl, combine:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine wet and dry ingredients, pour into a greased 9″ by 9″ pan and pop in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

A couple things I like about this Baked Oatmeal is:

  1. It’s simple. Really simple. You can make it within minutes if you’re really quick. The only trick is that it does have to cook for a while.
  2. It’s simple. Sorry, I can’t think of any other word for it. I just like that this recipe is unassuming, there’s nothing special about it, and yet it’s completely satisfying. It’s just sweet enough, but not too sweet.
  3. It’s flexible. You could basically think of the recipe I’ve given at the top as a blank canvas, and you can do with it whatever you want.


So, if you don’t want milk in this recipe, substitute it with 2-3 bananas, mashed up. Of course, if you want the banana flavor, which I’ve discovered is really nice, you could add it to the regular recipe.

So, Options. The options are almost limitless.

Among my favorite: Putting about half of the oats in the milk and letting them soak it up. It doesn’t change the recipe at all (I think I do add a splash more milk) but it makes the recipe a little more cake-like, and less oatmeal-y. I’ve recently tried part oat flour and part oats, which is also very nice. I really like sprinkling it with Demerara sugar, which gives it a really nice crusty top.

IMG_0889   Some favorite variations are with peanut butter. I love the flavor peanut butter gives this! I also really like Ginger Bread Baked Oatmeal. Just add a lot of molasses, less brown sugar, powdered ginger and candied ginger. The result is delicious. Definitely sprinkle the top with sugar!

In the pictures I took, we made them into muffins and added chocolate chips.

Like I said, it’s a very flexible recipe. If you want to add pumpkin puree, go ahead (we have done that, and it turns out well, but add more oats and refrigerate it sooner). If you want to add coconut flakes or any variety of dried fruit, absolutely! If you want to try adding quinoa or hemp or chia, tell me what you think, because I’m sure it will be delicious! If you want to substitute the sweetener for pickle juice, that’s your problem.

I just had to share this recipe, because the kids we babysit love it, and it’s a very helpful thing to have around for the reasons I’ve already mentioned.

Please, try it out soon and if you come up with a new and interesting variation, tell me about it 😀

Hope everyone continues to have a good weekend!


P.S. I think this recipe would work really well for a granola bar, if you add some chopped nuts, dried fruit and chia or something! It’s a kind of crumbly recipe (seems to hold better if you add bananas) and if you want to make it for granola bars, plan on hiking in the next few days, since this delight doesn’t have the longest shelf life.

Saturday Random Recipe: Sourdough Bread

Bread, ready for the cutting!

Welcome to the latest way to use your sourdough starter, which you started a month or two ago and have since used to make endless waffles or pancakes and biscuits! Today, I thought I would share my all-time favorite bread recipe. It’s a versatile dough which I use for sandwiches, toast, to accompany soup (clam chowder is a perfect pairing!), or even for pizza dough.

Basque Shepherd’s Bread

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (no warmer than 110 F)
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour

Mix together (don’t forget to feed your starter!), cover, and let stand overnight or up to 24 hours.

When you proceed, add:

  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix together.

For bread-making, it is way easier to use a heavy duty mixer for kneading – such as a KitchenAid, which we’ve used for years. However, if you don’t have one, kneading by hand can be quite a good workout. Simply flour a clean surface generously and knead for about 10 minutes until another 1-2 cups of whole wheat flour has been absorbed and a good elasticity develops.

If you use a mixer, gradually add another 2 cups of whole wheat flour. If it’s still sticky, sprinkle in white flour by the half cup. When it’s done, the sides of the bowl should be clean, and the dough should be elastic and resilient. This is usually after about 6 minutes.

Turn the dough into a greased bowl, cover, and let rise at least half an hour. Then punch it (a good time to take out your aggression!), cover again and let it rise for another half hour. A second rising lets the dough develop a good flavor and texture.

Divide into two or three equal portions, and shape into rounds or oblongs (roll a bit to let out any big bubbles that might have formed). Place on a baking sheet or stone (I love stoneware!), dust with flour, slit the tops, and let rise 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 F, and when it’s hot, pop in your dough (carefully so it doesn’t fall). Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, and the bottoms thump when you tap them with your knuckles (yes, this will burn your hands – but that helps make you feel like a real baker!).

Now, the difficult part: You must let the bread rest and cool for at least half an hour – which is torture, because it smells delicious! But it’s very important to let it cool, so that it doesn’t become doughy and weird when cut.

Enjoy, with butter and local raw honey, or jam, or alongside stew, or torn off and dipped into cheesy fondue!

Sourdough Bread (looking particularly artisan!)

A few variations:

  • Let the dough rise overnight and bake it early in the morning (a very baker thing to do!). This develops a distinct sour flavor, wonderful crustiness, and an artisan feel.
  • Use a quarter of the dough to make a medium-size pizza.
  • Make dinner rolls. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Put into bread pans, for a sandwich bread look.
  • Form the dough into 5-6 inch rounds, bake, cool, then cut off the tops, scoop out the insides (useful for breadcrumbs or croutons!), and fill with clam chowder.

The possibilities are endless!


Saturday Random Recipe: Sourdough Biscuits


A few weeks ago, I shared how to start your very own sourdough starter, and then gave you a recipe for waffles or pancakes to make with it. But… that was a few weeks ago. Since then, every week you have made nothing but waffles or pancakes until you’re getting a little tired of them (however delicious they were when you started out). So, here’s another scrumptious recipe to make, just to shake things up until a week or two from now when I give you the recipe for my favorite bread! But until then, enjoy these:

Sourdough Biscuits

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sourdough starter

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Add the sourdough starter and mix gently. (Don’t forget to feed your starter with a cup of white flour and a cup of water!)

Allow the dough to rise while you clean up a space on your table or counter and flour it, then turn the dough out and need it 10 times. (This makes it wonderfully flaky!) Pat or roll it out until it’s about a half inch thick (or up to 1 inch, if you want your biscuits tall), and then cut into 3-4 inch circles. Or, if you prefer (as my mom does), roll quite thinly, cut, and bake until crispy – a version we call biscuit-crackers.

Brush their tops with milk, and let rise for half an hour.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes about 12. (Perfect recipe for doubling!)

Serve with extra butter, local raw honey, a delicious berry spread, or alongside a cozy soup.

Saturday Random Recipe: Sourdough Waffles (or Pancakes)

Last week, I shared with you how to grow your very own sourdough starter and, struck with irresistible inspiration, you rushed off to your kitchen to mix up your own batch! You bought a beautiful jar to be its home, named it something wonderful – like Lobelia or George or Hagrid. And now, you have been looking at it for the past couple of days with some trepidation as bubbles rise and then a creepy layer of clearish liquid formed at the top.

So, I am here with you first delicious recipe!

I’m rather proud of this one, since I sort of made it up myself. These waffles (or pancakes) are so light that they are almost lacy, with a sweet and slightly tangy flavor.

Scrumptious with butter and maple syrup! But also lovely with a good fruit spread or fresh strawberries or caramelized apple slices. Or even plain.


Sourdough Waffles

First, stir up your starter so that the “pot liquor” is fully incorporated.

Mix in a large glass bowl:

  • 2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cup reduced-fat milk (or substitute soy or nut milk)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

Cover, and let sit overnight or up to 24 hours (another patience builder, I know!). This is called a sponge. Don’t forget to feed your starter by adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of oil (yes, it is a living thing!).

The next day, mix together:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder (increase to 2 tsp. for low altitude)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda (ditto!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine with the starter sponge. Drop by rough half cup-fulls onto your waffle irons, and await the deliciousness!

This recipe can also be used for pancakes, of course – which is a nice option if you don’t have a waffle iron. Cut the oil to 1/4 cup, since pancakes don’t require the crispiness of waffles, and there you go!

Breakfast for tomorrow? I think so! Enjoy!


Random Recipe Saturday: Sourdough Starter

First of all, say the title fast five times. Go on! I dare you!

Ok, now that we have that out of the way…

Sourdough Starter!

It’s high time that I introduced you to Luther!

Luther is my sourdough starter. He’s been percolating on my counter for a few year now, the latest in a line of starters that I’ve tried to keep alive – and so far the most successful. Starters can be temperamental; most have died through neglect (they tend to get moldy and disgusting if you don’t use them regularly). And of course, each of the previous starters were named also (inspired by Sweet Herman, who was going around a few decades ago); there has been Zinzendorf, Erasmus and Calvin – all named after reformers.

Each has a distinct character. The flavor is effected by weather and ingredients, how often you attend to them, and other nameless factors. Luther is surprisingly sweet and good tempered, assertive yet pleasant; and curiously seems to get sweeter with a little neglect.

To make your own (a fun hobby!), just mix:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups of (unsalted) water used to boil potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. dry yeast
  • a drizzle of honey

Leave in a covered glass bowl for a week so that it collects natural yeast from the atmosphere. Or, buy a special jar for it like I did!

After a week, you can use it to make all kinds of recipes – bread, biscuits, cupcakes, pancakes. The starter must be used on a weekly basis (otherwise, you know, mold and stuff…); with every use, feed the starter with a cup of water and a cup of white flour. I do make an exception and use only white flour for this, since wheat flour doesn’t behave as well.

By the way, don’t let the might-get-moldy part turn you off. This whole process is a bit of a science project – yeast is a fungus which makes bread rise by expelling gases, etc. That’s part of the fun of baking; making something delicious out of what belongs in a lab! The results are lovely.

And there you go! Go on, make up a batch of starter, and next week I’ll share one of my favorite recipes!


Saturday Random Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Kugel

This is one of those recipes that is an example of two wrongs making a wonderful right! Spaghetti squash has never been one of my favorites, even when served traditional spaghetti style with our favorite meat sauce. And the usual kind of noodle kugel is bland and that’s about it. But a couple of years ago, we were inspired to use the stringy, odd squash in place of the noodles (which apparently hasn’t been done much before) – and, voila! Deliciousness emerged.

Spaghetti Squash Kugel

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. mixed dry herbs (either a premix, or a selection of matches; such as basil and oregano, parsley and thyme, or chives and marjoram.)
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, or a mix of two
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese

Prepare the squash with the help of this slideshow, and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or up to an hour:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As the squash is baking, mix the other ingredients. And, in this case, cottage cheese is another unexpected inspirations: It makes the kugel rich and cheesy! However, when making this recipe, I usually just find whatever is open in the fridge and use that up. If using cottage cheese, you can use an immersion blender or a food processer to get everything really smooth.


Mix in the grated cheese. Choose a cheese that matches the cuisine that you’re going for – Parmesan or asiago for Italian, Jarlsberg for something more appropriate to a classic Germanic kugel, or perhaps cheddar.

Test the squash for doneness by skewering it with a knife; it should be tender. Remove from the oven, invert with care so that the steam doesn’t scald you, scoop out the onions and garlic and add to the egg and cheese mixture. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh and shred the fibers apart. Mix everything together, pour into the casserole, sprinkle plentifully with more paprika, and throw it back into the oven for about 45 minutes. It’s done when a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.


This makes a wonderful side dish, served with chicken-apple sausages or kielbasa. But might also be a lovely one-dish meal that’s vegetarian and gluten-free (especially if you mix in half a cup of ground chia or flax seed). The spaghetti squash’s slightly sweet and nutty flavor is the perfect ingredient for kugel!