Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quinoa Garbanzo Salad

Today's recipe is courtesy of a game of What's in the Pantry?

I am home right now with Amira for one more week.  I will return to finish out the school year and then have decided that I will stay home with Amira next year.  In planning for how to make this possible financially, I have been trying to cut down on grocery bills by using what we have already on hand in new ways and finding more vegetarian recipes with protein sources as they are usually cheaper than meat.  Today I found garbanzo beans and quinoa so I decided to make a salad with these.  I have followed a recipe for quinoa chickpea salad in the past, but did not have the ingredients for it so I decided to make my own.  It's a simple, light, and quick recipe that can be served as a side dish or a main dish.

New Recipe:

1 large can garbanzo beans
1 cup uncooked quinoa (cooked)
3 tbsp. olive oil
5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. tarragon
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1tbsp. honey
juice of one lemon
baby spinach

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the container (usually 1 cup quinoa /2 cups water).  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, vinegar, minced garlic, lemon juice, and tarragon.  In a large bowl mix the quinoa and garbanzo beans with the liquid mixture.  Serve over spinach.


My new Sous Chef

So after a long hiatus from posting (and basically from cooking as well)... I am back.  During my pregnancy all I had energy to do was work and grow a baby.  Eric picked up the slack and has become quite a good cook himself.  He is the  master of roasted chicken and has made excellent ones both in the oven and on the grill.  Now that Amira is here and growing well, I have more energy and a new Sous Chef!

Here is one of the first things we cooked together.  This recipe is adapted from one posted on The Post Punk Kitchen (  I used New Zealand Spinach which amazingly grew in our garden when we planted nothing.  We planted New Zealand Spinach last year, but didn't get much.  Then this year, we got TONS without planting a thing.  We think the seeds from last year stayed dormant until the rain started (finally) here in Austin.  Then it took off.  My mom used some in a veggie lasagna she made for us to freeze.  Eric's mom made two batches of hungarian creamed spinach with it.  We ate some of it in salads, and I used it in this recipe.
                               Amira in our patch of New Zealand Spinach

With this recipe I also discovered the joy of coconut oil.  It smells so delicious when cooking.  I have used it in other things since then and it is soooo good.  (It also aids in lactation supposedly so for us breast feeding mothers, it is a good thing.)

Vegan Chana Masala with Mushrooms and Spinach

Spice blend:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional, and more or less to taste)

For everything else:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced in medium pieces
2 jalapenos, deseeded and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 lbs tomatoes, diced

3-4 large handfuls of baby spinach (or New Zealand Spinach depending on what grows well in your area or what you get a t the store/ farmer's market)
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini mushrooms , but you can use whatever kind you wish)
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or two cans, rinsed and drained) note: 2 cups dried will give you the right amount
1 teaspoon agave
Juice of one lime, or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate

Cooked brown rice

First mix the spice blend in a small bowl.  

Prep all ingredients (onions, garlic, cilantro, ginger, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapenos) before beginning to cook.  

Once the ingredients are prepped, heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large pot.  (Enjoy the delicious smell as it heats up.)  Once it is heated, add the onions and cook until clear or browned.  (About 10 minutes)

Add the garlic, jalapenos, and ginger and saute until fragrant.  (About 1 minute)  Add cilantro and cook until wilted.  Add the spice mixture and toss them to coat the other ingredients.  Let them toast a little bit.  (They may stick to the pan a bit, but it's ok, it will come up in the next part of the recipe.)

Add the tomatoes and use the juice from them to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Scrape up the spices as you stir.  Add mushrooms, spinach, garbanzos, salt and pepper, and agave and stir.  Cover the pan and turn the heat up to medium high heat.  Cook until the tomatoes break down stirring occasionally.  (About 15 minutes)

Remove the lid and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.  It should be the thickness of marinara sauce, not too thick, not too runny.

When done, add lime juice (that's what I used) and stir.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve over a bed of brown rice and top with extra cilantro.  (I also serve it with naan at times, but you could use homemade pita bread which will be posted in another post.)

                                         Amira and I cooking this recipe

(I did not take a picture of the final product here.  When I make it again, I will post one.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Healthy (and heartburn friendly) greens with lentils and chicken

This recipe has become a new standard in our household.  The idea originally came from Everyday Food which my wonderful mother gets my husband and I a subscription to.  The original recipe was a bit bland in my opinion and to be honest I don't even remember what it was.
Eric has been really into buying greens this spring and summer, and I often do not like many of the healthier greens.  This recipe has changed that.  Additionally, Eric has been trying to go off of the heartburn medicine and control his heartburn with diet.  This dish fits the requirements of that restricted diet.

1 cup dry lentils
2 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
1 pkg. chicken breast tenders
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh oregano (minced)
2 tsp. fresh rosemary (minced)
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bunches of kale (I like the curly leaf kale)
1 small onion (diced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
salt to taste

There are 3 parts to this recipe: chicken, lentils, and kale.  Marinate the chicken tenders in lemon juice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. rosemary, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. thyme.  Combine water and lentils and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat and simmer covered until the lentils are soft.  Drain the lentils if necessary.
Meanwhile, prepare the kale by tearing into small pieces and removing tough stems.  Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan.  Cook onions until soft.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add 1 tsp. each oregano, rosemary and thyme.  Add the kale and cover.  cook over low-medium heat until the kale cooks down.  Add salt to taste.
While the kale is cooking, saute the chicken in a skillet until cooked through.  When all three parts are done, mix the drained lentils with the kale.  Shred the chicken and serve on top of the kale lentil mixture.

Close up

When making this recipe, I used herbs form our garden which somehow survived our three week trip without being watered.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it can also be made vegetarian because the lentils are a good protein source.  Just leave out the chicken.

Happy eating!

Quinoa for breakfast (a twist on hot cereal)

I am back from our wonderful long trip and ready to start posting eating experiences again.  I will be posting about the food we ate on our trip slowly, but surely, but first, here is a new breakfast (or healthy dessert) recipe that I discovered, and of course, altered a bit.  Quinoa is high in protein for a grain and therefore makes a good breakfast option.
I found the idea for this on

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups apple juice
1/2 apple- chopped
1/2 pear- chopped
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
salt to taste

Rinse quinoa.  Combine quinoa and water in a pan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and continue cooking covered until all of the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).  Meanwhile, chop the apple and pear.  When the quinoa is cooked, add apple juice, apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, chopped apples, and chopped pears.  Cook uncovered until it boils down to desired consistency (about 20 minutes).  Add vanilla and serve warm.

(The original recipe called for raisins instead of apples and pears, so feel free to add those if you wish.) 

The taste is yummy and a bit tart.  You can sweeten it if you wish.  You could also add milk or soy milk to make it a bit creamy, but I ate it just plain and it was good.  


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Ingredients from the Farmer's Market

New ingredients:
Beef Short Ribs

Graduation Party (bringing a dish to share)
Dinner with friends at home

On Saturday morning during our semi regular foray to the farmer's market downtown, Eric and I decided to purchase grassfed beef short ribs from Fredericksburg Farms even though I was not sure how I wold prepare them.  I figured mushrooms would go well so I bought some of them too.  Turned out to be a great purchase.

We also were convinced to try sorrel at the tasting booth by this teenager who is part of the Urban Roots Program.  Urban Roots is a a very cool program in East Austin to help young people living on the east side help create positive change in themselves and their community.  For more information, check out this website  Anyway, this kid told us that he really liked sorrel because it had a sour taste.  Eric and I tried it and we both liked it so we went back to the Urban Roots stand and bought some sorrel.  That night we took a salad to our friend's graduation party.  I made it with lettuce, sorrel, cucumber from our garden, tomatoes from our garden, mint and chives, from our garden, and a homemade dressing also using herbs from the garden (oregano, basil, and rosemary).  I highly recommend sorrel in a salad.  Try it!

Back to the short ribs...
I started looking for recipes online, but didn't want to barbecue the ribs.  Eventually I found this recipe at

2 lb. beef ribs
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp black pepper (ground)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions (diced)
2 carrots (peeled and diced)
2 celery ribs (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
11/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cup beef broth
11/3 cup dry red wine
6 plum tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped) 

I added 1 lb. of baby bella mushrooms and some oregano and rosemary from the garden.
1 Sprinkle the short ribs with half each of the salt and pepper.
2 In a shallow Dutch oven, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat and brown the short ribs.
3 Transfer to a plate and drain the fat from the pan.
4 Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat.
5 Cook the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and remaining salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. (I added the mushrooms, oregano, and rosemary here)
6 Stir in the broth, wine and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
7 Return the short ribs to the pan.
8 Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
9 Transfer the ribs to a plate.
10  Bring the sauce to a boil and boil until reduced to about 5 cups, 12 minutes.
11  Meanwhile, remove the meat from the ribs. (I cut most of the fat off too and threw it away, but you can include it if you want.)
12  Dice the meat and return it to the pan.
13 Stir in the parsley and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes.
14  Discard the bay leaves.
15 Serve over pasta. (I used pappardelle)

The meal was delicious and enjoyed by the friends as well as by us.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011


A little about me:
I love cooking, eating, exploring, and learning about food.  I love food from all over the world and from many different cultures.  I love local food and healthy food.  I love food from Farmer's Markets and our garden.  Thanks to my husband, we eat mostly organic food.  I love vegetarian and meat based meals.  I love enjoying good food with friends and family. 
Cooking and enjoying food out are things that I do to relax.  Finding new ways to use ingredients is thrilling as is finding new ingredients to use!  I almost never use a recipe as is.  I always tweak it a bit.
I decided to start this blog in order to share my love of food and cooking with others.  And, on a selfish note, it may help me capture those changes I make so that if they turn out to be good changes, I  can repeat them in the future.
I have many other interests as well, but let's keep this focused on the food, shall we?

About the name:
My brother is an amazing chef and has introduced me to so many things in the world of food that I would not have experienced otherwise.  I am awed by his knowledge and skills and inspired by him.  I have nowhere near the culinary know-how that he does, but I do alright for my husband, family, and friends.