Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tasty Quinoa Cakes

Hello again!

I recently joined the land of Pinterest, where I have not-so-reluctantly wasted much of my time, and have collected many recipes that I am just dying to give a try. What I love about Pinterest is that I no longer have to have links saved to my inrernet favorites, plus I have the Pinterest app on my phone, so I am never without a healthy diversion from my everyday life.

I'm almost ashamed to admit how much time I've wasted on Pinterest, but after I got my boards set up for the most part, I'm not on there as much as I'd like to I was a few weeks ago. I do have a sneaking fear that if my boards were deleted or messed up in some way, I'd probably have an emotional breakdown and start thrashing around on the ground, sobbing my god-forsaken eyes out.

Now, it's one thing to pin a bunch of shit on Pinterest and look cool, it's entirely another to actually try this stuff out. I've tried a few things so far (workouts, hairstyles, clothing), but none of them were food-related until today. I'm really glad that I chose Joy The Baker's Kale and Quinoa Cakes as one of the first new recipes in my repertoire, because 1) I trust Joy, she's a wonderful blogger and her stuff is amazing, and 2) I've been seeking a protein-packed, nutritious pre- or post-run snack that wouldn't upset my stomach or leave me feeling guilty for consuming a pre-packaged protein bar from GNC. These are definitely a nice change-up from the normal.


Joy The Baker's Kale and Quinoa Cakes

1 1/2 cups raw quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bunch (about 3 cups) chopped dino kale
splash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon olive oil for frying, add a bit more as necessary
lemon wedges, olives or capers, spicy mustard, and greens for serving

Instructions: Place dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Wash under cool water for a few minutes. Quinoa needs to be rinsed or it tastes dirty. (My note: this is a huge pain in the ass, but so worth it. Expect to lose some quinoa down the drain in the rinsing process.)

In a medium saucepan place rinsed quinoa, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for about 25 t0 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. We’ll need about 3 cups of cooked quinoa for the recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add kale and toss until just slightly wilted, about 1 minutes. Remove from heat and add a splash of vinegar. Place kale mixture in a large bowl with prepared quinoa. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can speed up this process in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Add cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, break crumbs, salt, and pepper. Add beaten eggs and stir until all of the quinoa mixture is moistened. Add water to thoroughly moisten mixture. Quinoa should be slightly wet so it doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Scoop out mixture by the 2 tablespoonful. (I used a small ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture right into the hot pan.) Use clean, moist fingers to form into a patty. Create as many patties as you’d like. (Rinse your hands after every few patties… it makes making patties easier.)

(Sticky patties ready to fry)

In a large skillet over medium low heat, heat olive oil. If you pan is large enough, add four to six patties to the hot pan. You’ll need a bit of room to successfully flip them.


Cook on each side until beautifully browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Low heat helps the quinoa cakes cook slowly. Brown on each side then remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Serve warm with a lemon wedge, mustard, fresh spinach, and salty capers. It’s like a deconstructed salad. Serve them any way you’d like.

(All done! Let's eat!)

My thoughts: Delicious! I didn't have apple cider vinegar, so I substituted some lemon juice for that, and instead of parmesan I used romano cheese. Oh, and all I had on-hand were Italian bread crumbs, not panko, and I nixed the sun-dried tomatoes, but they still turned out really well, especially since I've only cooked quinoa a handful of time in the past, so I was a little nervous, but my fears soon subsided once things started coming together. I'm excited to start using quinoa more, even as a breakfast item, and I'm excited to start experimenting more with kale as well. I'm thinking kale chips are in my future.

If you'd like to follow me on Pinterest (no pressure), here's the link: Mehgan's Pinterest.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Time For Change


Wow, so much has happened over the past year since I last wrote a post here. I feel like I've come such a long way in such a short amount of time. First, I got promoted at work; a change that I'm still getting used to. I went from being a worker-bee to fulfilling a supervisor role. This is a position I've been striving to get promoted to for a long time, so it feels great. Second, my husband and I got transferred to Yorktown, VA. We've been here for a couple weeks now, and it suits us well. I love that I don't have to take a freeway to work, my commute is 17 minutes from my driveway to the parking lot at work, and there are so many little things that we're falling in love with everyday. Sitting on the back porch drinking wine and watching the fireflies (which we've never seen before in our lives). We learned how to break apart whole blue crabs, rather than just eating their leg meat like we had learned on King crabs when we were in Kodiak. We're looking forward to going running through the battlefields around where we live once the heat wave breaks.

The recipe I've chosen for this post is one that doesn't really make sense to cook during a heat wave, but we had a craving for it since we hadn't had it since the holiday season. My main reason for coming up with this recipe is it features an ingredient that I used to always think that I'd hate, but was pleasantly surprised that I love.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Raisins and Almonds

-5 strips of bacon
-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
-4 cups (or 1lb) brussels sprouts
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds
-1 cup of chicken stock or cooking wine

Instructions: Remove all yellowed leaves from brussels sprouts, then cut off the stems and cut sprouts in half. Cook bacon over medium heat until well done and crispy; set aside on a paper towel to cool. Turn heat to medium-low, then add the garlic. After a minute or two, add the brussels sprouts, raisins, and almonds. (Note: I like to add a bit of pepper as well, but try to stay away from adding salt since the bacon provides enough saltiness.) Stir ingredients together, adding a bit of chicken stock slowly to help steam the sprouts. Continue to stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the sprouts are well-steamed.

What I love about this dish is you can adapt it to the season. For summer, you could add a squeeze of lemon and some fresh herbs. And when I made this as a side dish for Christmas dinner, I used pecans instead of almonds, and cranberries instead of raisins. I also love that the different flavors play off each other really well to create this wonderful harmony of taste. The sweetness of the raisins, the saltiness of the bacon, the bite of the garlic, the bittery-butter flavor of the brussels sprouts, the crunch of the nuts. It's just an all-around fun thing to eat. I've actually considered just serving this for dinner with some romano cheese dusted on top, some crusty bread on the side and a nice bottle of wine (of course).


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Love New Gadgets!

 Hello again!

My sister in-law got us this amazing Le Creuset Dutch Oven for our wedding, and I was so, so excited to use it, I just didn't know what for. I spent quite some time looking online for recipes specifically for my new gadget, but alas, I couldn't find anything that sounded tasty.

Then I started thinking about food we like to eat out, and stuff we haven't had in a while. A bell went off. Indian food!! There's a great place in Ft. Lauderdale called Royal India that we just love, but hate how far away it is. My wonderful husband loves their tandoori chicken and rice, while I am in love with their lamb curry and naan bread. On several occasions, I have literally licked the bowl of lamb curry clean with pieces of naan bread. It's that good.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it now.

While I know I'll never cook as well as the folks at Royal India do, I was craving their food nonetheless. I peeked into my cupboards and in my fridge, and then just started whipping things together. I'm actually kind of proud of the end result, and look forward to tweaking this recip in the future so that it's more authentic. Possibly incorporate different meats and add-ons.

Mehgan's Curried Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes -

-2tsbp olive oil
-1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
-2 to 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
-1 small white onion, diced
-1/2 bag of baby carrots, cut into thirds
-1 can of chicken broth
-1 bay leaf
-3 to 4 cloves of garlic
-1/2 cup plain yogurt
-1tbsp tomato paste
-1tbsp curry powder
-1tsp chili powder
-1tsp ground cumin
-1tsp garam masala
-1tsp salt
-1/2tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions: In a blender, place the 1/2 can of the chicken broth (reserve the rest for later), bay leaf, garlic, yogurt, tomato paste, curry powder, chili powder, cumin, garam masala, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pulse until blended well, then set aside. Warm a large skillet or dutch oven over low to medium heat, adding the olive oil, potatoes, onion, carrots and the other 1/2 can of chicken broth. Cook with the lid on until the potatoes and carrots begin to get soft. Once they're nearly fork-tender, add the chicken and blended curry sauce. Replace the lid, reduce heat to low and continue to cook for about a half hour. If it looks a little too watery, let cook down with the lid off for an additional twenty minutes or so. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice, with naan bread as an added bonus.

My thoughts: I was fresh out of jasmine rice, so I decided to make my curry with couscous. My husband calls it "ghetto rice" haha, but he still likes it, and probably prefers it over rice anyway. I love the different spices in this dish, and everything combines really well. I think next time, I'll add some peas, just to get in more veggies, and possibly double the recipe since the leftovers didn't last very long in our house!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Not For The Lactose Intolerant!

Welcome to my 100th blog post! Wow, I can't believe it's been that many. When I started this sad little blog four years ago (almost exactly!) I had no idea the ups and downs I would go through. But, through it all, I've remained an avid fan of cooking and baking. It's still as therapeutic for me now as it was the day I decided to sign up for Blogger. I considered starting a new one after my divorce, but no...I'm too stubborn, and I didn't want to lose all those beautiful recipes. Maybe one day I'll get around to making a new one, but I like this little blog of mine. It somehow seems like home to me.

Now enough of all that sentimental crap! Let's get on to the recipe, shall we?

This recipe is something I just threw together one night I knew what ingredients I had, I just hoped they'd taste well together lol. Being that I'm lactose intolerant, I can't have many dairy things, but when I went to make this, I basically just said "F--- it, I'm hungry, and I want some cheese". It's not entirely from scratch, but that's ok. When you've had a long day, this recipe will be there for you.

Mehgan's Cheesy Mexican Casserole -

-1box of Zatarain's Black Beans & Rice mix (you'll need 2 3/4 cups water & 2tbsp butter or margarine for this)
-1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
-4oz. Velveeta
-1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
-1/4 cup sour cream
-1tbsp lime juice
-1tbsp chili powder
-1tsp cumin
-1tsp paprika
-1tsp cayenne powder
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions: In a 2-quart saucepan, cook rice as directed on the box. While that's cooking, preheat oven to 350F. Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, then cube the Velveeta. Place in bowl, along with the tomatoes, sour cream, lime juice and spices. Once the rice mix is done, mix into the chicken mixture and combine well. Place contents of bowl into baking dish (I used the lovely Le Creuset baking dish that my sister in-law got us for our wedding), top with the cheddar cheese, and then bake for 15-20 minutes. I like to broil mine the last couple minutes of cooking, so that the cheese gets all browned and bubbly, but be careful doing this - it burns fast. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with cilantro if you want to be all fancy-like. :)
My thoughts: Another hit! And it's so, so easy. The ingredients are stuff that I almost always have on-hand that go great in other dishes as well, but just so happen to work amazingly in this meal. I'm sure it's not the healthiest thing on the planet, but it could be worse. Just make sure to take your Lactaid if you're lactose intolerant like me!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I can't believe this is good for me...

Hello ladies and gentlemen! My apologies for the long delay in posting; I just have not had the motivation to try anything new. However, I did try a new recipe recently that I absolutely fell in love with. Not only because it's super-duper easy, but also because it's delicious.

A friend of mine recommended this Chicken Pot Pie recipe from Weight Watchers, and I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. "Diet food" just never sounds very appealing to me. I was at the grocery store, and decided on a whim to pick up the ingredients to make this, and I am so, so glad I did.

Weight Watchers Chicken Pot Pie -
-2 servings butter-flavor spray
-1 tsp butter
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 cups mushrooms, sliced (optional)
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
-1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
-1 cup canned chicken broth
-3 cups roasted chicken breast, chopped
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk, divided
-4 rolls reduced-fat crescent roll dough, unrolled

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a 10-inch round (I used square since that's what I have at home haha) shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Coat large pot with cooking spray. Add butter and melt over medium heat. Add onion and mushroom and cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, thyme, sald and pepper. Add frozen vegetables, broth and chicken. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
In a small cup, combine flour and 1/4 cup of evaporated milk, stir into chicken mixture. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup of evaporated milk and cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
Spoon chicken mixture into prepared dish. Unroll crescent rolls and arrange dough around inside edge of baking dish to form a border (there will be a hole in the middle). Bake until rolls are golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

My thoughts: YUM! I rarely eat second helpings of anything, but this I couldn't resist. The only thing I might change if I make this again is I think I'll add more herbs (parsley, rosemary, bay leaves and possibly Herbs de Provence). And it would be so easy to double this recipe into a 13 x 9 inch pan if you need to make more than 6 servings. Two thumbs up!