Quinoa & Black Bean Burritos

Quinoa (say it with me: "KEEN-WA") quickly became one of my favorite grains when I first tried it. Let me tell you why.
First of all, it's the coolest word ever, don't you think? It makes me want to do a little dance around my kitchen, chanting, "Quinoa, quinoa, quinoa!"
Second, when you cook it, the seeds magically turn into little curli-cues.
Third, it's light, fluffy, and nutty. Who doesn't love nutty?
Lastly, it's the most nutritional grain! High in protein, amino acids, dietary fiber, magnesium...

Need I say more?

This recipe is definitely a winner. My neighbor, Alicia, brought these over just hours after we returned home from the hospital with our new baby and she was kind enough to share the recipe with me.

Quinoa & Black Bean Burritos
6-8 servings

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon granules (I use "Better Than Bouillon" chicken base; they also make a vegan option)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (opt.--I used 1/8 and could hardly tell)
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
6-8 burrito-size tortillas (use corn tortillas for gluten-free diets)

Our favorite toppings:
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Avocado or guacamole
Raw spinach

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions & garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add corn, quinoa, water, bouillon, cumin, and cayenne pepper to saucepan. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the beans & cilantro and heat through. Serve in warm tortillas with favorite toppings.


Steel-cut Oats

I frequently have a hearty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. But if I have a few extra minutes, I treat myself to steel-cut oats instead of old-fashioned rolled oats.
Steel-cut oats are even less processed than rolled oats, making them healthier (right?) and...get ready...chewier. I love chewy. Do you love chewy?

The fun thing about oatmeal is it's 100% customizable. Add in anything you want according to your likes! I usually make a cinnamon-raisin version, but this morning I sliced up some fresh strawberries. Mmmm!

The possibilities are endless.

I like to add a splash of soy milk & and sprinkle of cinnamon on top before delving in!
Can you say heaven in a bowl?

(Speaking of bowls, don't judge mine...I painted it when I was 11.)

Steel-Cut Oats
Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 cups water (or other liquid; substitute milk/alternative milk for extra creaminess)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/4-1/2 cup fruit (give or take) fresh, frozen, or dried (use less dried fruit)
1-2 T. sweetener (honey, agave nectar, pure maple syrup, sugar)
Favorite toppings (more fruit, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, coconut, cinnamon & sugar, nutmeg, splash of milk)

Bring liquid to a boil. Add in steel-cut oats and turn heat down to a low boil. Add fruit in at appropriate time (see below). Cook until all liquid is absorbed (about 12-14 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add in sweetener & toppings, and enjoy!

*If you're using dried fruit or something hard like chopped apples, add in at the beginning with the oats (for maximum plumpness and juiciness). If it's something softer, like fresh strawberries or a mashed banana, add in at the end when liquid is nearly all absorbed.

I've seen several different methods for cooking steel-cut oats, but for my favorite chewy texture, I use a 3:1 (liquid:oats) ratio. If you'd like them even softer, add more liquid and cook longer. And I'm all about big breakfasts, so 1/2 cup of raw oats is one serving for me (if you're a light breakfast eater, it would probably be two servings)!


Berry Muffins with Whole Wheat

Or should I say, Berry Swirl Muffins?

No, I didn't photoshop my muffins to have the blue swirls in the batter. It's actually a lot simpler than that. Just get your frozen berries out of the freezer, get distracted by your 3-month-old, and then proceed to fold thawed blueberries into the muffin batter. :)

Maybe I should've told you I did it on purpose. It's the new trendy muffin.

(Please note the uniformity in size...
and by uniformity, I mean non-uniformity)

Fresh or frozen, any berry works wonderfully in this recipe. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries...yum.

1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (I like a lot of cinnamon)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries

Mix dry ingredients together, then add in egg, milk, and butter. Gently fold in berries and spoon into 12 muffin cups. If desired, sprinkle extra cinnamon/sugar on top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes (or less-don't let them get really brown).

*The original recipe (from my mom) called for 1 cup of berries, but I like 1 1/2 cups--it will seem like a LOT, but if you love berries, you'll love it!


Oriental Chicken




Go-to dish.

From my mom, of course.

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 T. brown sugar
6-12 chicken pieces

Mix together all ingredients except chicken. Place chicken in baking dish, pour sauce over it, and bake at 425 for about 45 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken is), turning every 15 minutes. Serve over brown rice, and pour extra sauce over rice for more flavor.

*I used several chicken tenders and it only took 20 minutes to bake! My mom would usually use chicken legs because my brothers and I thought those were fun to eat. :)
*If you have time, marinate chicken for even more flavor.



It just so happens that I have a neighbor who has a delicious food blog with a huge variety of recipes. This whole food blog thing's a little intimidating for me but she's the one who inspired me to get started! I even got to watch her give a demo last week of Chicken Tikka Masala...so delish! Check out her blog, Readable Eatables. (Cute name, huh?)


Whole Grain Cornbread

Everything tastes better when my mom makes it...but especially her cornbread! Her secret? She grinds her own cornmeal! It just gives it that perfect nutty texture to make it special. Someday I'll own a wheat grinder and then my cornbread will taste as good as hers. In the meantime, I'll settle for store-bought cornmeal. But even with store-bought cornmeal, this is the tastiest, moistest (is that a word?) cornbread I've ever had. Hands down.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 eggs
1 cup cornmeal (freshly ground is best)
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups almond or soy milk (or cow's milk if you wish)

Cream together butter & sugar; add in eggs and cornmeal. Separately mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Alternately add milk & dry ingredients to cornmeal mixture. Beat together (but don't overbeat!). Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes in a greased baking dish (I use a small rectangular dish-smaller than a 9x13). Although it tastes wonderful plain, drizzling honey butter on top will give you a special treat!


A hearty, delicious soup like this should be made to warm you up on a cold, January wintry day, right?
...or I guess it works in April when it snows, too. (Like today.)
Winter or not, this recipe makes a ton of soup--and tastes even better on day two!

1-2 Tbs olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups water
3-4 carrots, sliced
3-4 potatoes, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 can light red kidney beans, with liquid
1 can dark red kidney beans, with liquid
1 can corn, with liquid
1 T. dried basil
1-2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cans Italian stewed tomatoes
5 beef bouillon cubes (use veg broth substitute to make this vegan/vegetarian)
1-2 T. dried parsley
1 pkg. frozen, chopped spinach
Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a large pot, saute onions & garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add in water, carrots, potatoes, and celery; cook until tender. Add rest of ingredients and simmer at least 30 minutes before serving (the longer the better). (No need to thaw spinach; just throw it in frozen and break it up as the soup simmers.) Finally, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top, slice up your favorite crusty bread and feel free to dunk and slurp!


Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

To me, the words "homemade pizza" say fun-filled family Friday night (how's that for alliteration? My 9th grade Honor's English teacher would be proud.)! This crust recipe comes from my dear mother, a true homemaker icon. Not only is this pizza crust oh-so-tasty and healthy, it's also super fast to make! Tonight I made Shaved Asparagus Pizza from Tasty Kitchen with my mom's whole wheat crust (pictured above). Can you say Mmm-Mmm?! This way, with whole wheat and veggies, you can eat pizza and nix that gross "pizza hangover" feeling!

*Note: You can also try my Yeast-Free Pizza Dough with Whole Wheat

1 1/4 cups regular whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white flour (Or use 100% whole wheat white flour for all of the flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs yeast
3/4 cup very hot water

Combine flours, salt, and yeast. Add hot water until the dough forms into a ball (it will be quite moist). Knead the dough for about 1 minute, then let rest on floured surface for a few minutes (just while you get the yummy toppings ready). Roll out to a diameter of about 13-14 inches.
Softer crust: Add your favorite toppings and bake at 450 until crust begins to brown (about 15 minutes).
Crispier crust: Bake crust at 450 for 3-5 minutes (depending on how crispy you like it), then add toppings and continue baking for another 10 or so minutes (again, depending on how crispy you would like it).

*I like to spread olive oil on the crust before putting sauce & toppings on, and also sprinkling seasonings (ex: garlic powder, oregano, italian seasoning) and grated parmesan cheese on top!


Roasted Asparagus

Simple, healthy, and delicious. A perfect spring meal addition!

A bunch of asparagus
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt & Pepper and/or your favorite seasonings

Cover a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place asparagus on foil, drizzle with olive oil (I love the word drizzle), and sprinkle your favorite seasonings on top. I like to use Costco's no-salt seasoning (is that cheating?). Even just a little salt & pepper is delicious. Toss asparagus around a little to distribute oil & seasonings, then roast at 450 for about 12 minutes, turning half-way through. How can you not love the perfect "crunch" of roasted asparagus?


Craisin Salad

I say yes to anything with cashews and feta cheese in it! The recipe for the dressing comes from an old neighborhood cookbook I have. Other than the dressing ingredients, I don't really measure anything else. Just use your best judgement--and enjoy!


Leafy greens--Fill a large bowl with your favorites (I usually use almost a whole head of romaine and some baby spinach)
2 crisp apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (or more) dried cranberries (craisins)
1/2 cup (or more) cashews
Feta cheese (however much looks good!)

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs onions, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Toss the salad ingredients together, then mix dressing ingredients together in a blender. Drizzle dressing over the salad, toss it, and serve immediately.

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