How to Cook Quinoa

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Quinoa is so hard to pronounce but so easy to cook.  Yesterday, I had two people, several hours apart, ask me if I knew how to cook Quinoa.  This leads me to believe that, although Quinoa has been around for many years it is still kind of a mystery to many people.  So today’s post is a quick tutorial on everything you need to know about Quinoa.

  1.  The proper pronunciation of the word is keen – wa.
  2.  Quinoa is often lumped in with the grains but it is actually a seed.
  3.  Quinoa is covered with an extremely bitter substance called saponin.  So always rinse your Quinoa very well.
  4. Quinoa is on of the few plant based sources of complete protien.
  5. Quinoa is often used as a substitute for rice
  6. 1 cup raw Quinoa is about 3 1/2 cup of cooked Quinoa.

 

Basic Quinoa

Ingredients

1/2 cup Quinoa, rinsed very well

1 cup water

In a small saucepan combine the quinoa and water.   Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium.  Cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. 

An Indoor Herb Garden

Every spring since I started at my current job, I think about starting an indoor herb garden.  Every year I get carried away in my planning, decide it will be too expensive and did’t do it. This year was different.  I decided to plant an indoor herb garden, decided on the 4 herbs I would most likely use the most of, thyme, oregano, basil and parsley, and planned accordingly.  Last week I bought the pots and soil.  Today I bought the plants.  Tomorrow, I will plant the plants.  I am really excited to see if I can make this work.  I have never tried to grow anything and green thumbs don’t exactly run in my family so we will have to see.

Does anyone have any tips for an indoor herb garden? Let me know in the comments.

Triticale, Rye and Spelt #3 Carrot Raisin Muffins

986Have you ever gotten such a good deal on something you almost feel guiltily  for taking it?  A few weeks ago I was at the library looking through the book sale cart, books that are too old to put on the shelves but too good to throw away, and I found an almost like new copy of the 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking.  I was so excited.  My copy of Joy is falling apart.  I have wanted to replace it but the 40 dollar price tag is beyond my budget at the moment.  I figured I could swing 15-20 dollars for it and it would still be an incredible deal.  When I went to check out my other books and pay for the cook book, the librarian told me it was .5o cents. 50 CENTS!!!!! I asked “Are you sure? This is a 40 dollar cookbook. I can’t take it for .50 cents. ” The librarian assured me I could indeed take it for .50 cents and not feel guilty about it.  I did a little happy dance all the way home.  Every time I go back to the library I expect the librarian to tell me I owe her more for the cook book. LOL!

As I looked through the cookbook I found some muffin flavors I hadn’t tried before.  I was working on a muffin recipe made with spelt flour that needed a little more flavor, so I decided to try some of the muffin flavors from Joy of Cooking in my spelt muffin recipe.  These are my new favorite muffins.

Carrot Raisin Spelt Muffins


Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp oil
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 6 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Mix well. In another small bowl, combine the milk, egg and oil. Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients, mix until just moistened. Add the carrot and raisins, mix well. Fill each cup in the muffin pan 2/3’s full of batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove for the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Honey Apple Bran Muffins

911I have 5 pounds of wheat bran in my pantry. I have no idea what I bought that much wheat bran for but it is there in my pantry so I have to find a way to use it up. So I was delighted to find a recipe for Honey Apple Bran muffins.  Unlike most bran muffin recipes this one didn’t add a lot of excess sugar to disguise the fact there is bran in the muffins.

Honey Apple Bran Muffin

Ingredients

1/2 cup wheat bran

1/2 cup flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

6 TBS milk

2 TBS canola oil

2 TBS honey

3 TBS lightly beaten egg

1 cup tart apple, peeled and chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non – stick cooking spray, set aside. In a small bowl, combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix well.  In another small bowl, combine the milk, oil, honey and egg; mix well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir until the ingredients are just moistened.  Fill each hole 2/3 full of batter.  Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

 

How to Find Time to Cook

The most common question I get asked as a food blogger isn’t do you have a recipe for this? The most common question I get is how do you find time to do all that cooking and baking? Sometimes it isn’t easy to find kitchen time. Life can get crazy and put a lot of demands on your precious time and energy. Here are some ways I found that help me find time to cook even on my busiest days.

1. I make cooking a priority. We will always find time to the things that are important to us, whether it is binge watching a season of Supernatural, playing 12 hours of World of Warcraft a day, or spending more time with your kids.

2. I menu plan. I can hear you all groaning from here. How can I add one more thing to my schedule? I will do a more in depth article on menu planning in the future. All I will say for now is menu planning doesn’t help find time to be in the kitchen so much as help you use your time in the kitchen efficiently. By menu planning I know what I am going to have so I don’t waste time trying to decide. I just get cooking. I also know I have all the ingredients for what I want to make when I menu plan. So those last minute, time consuming trips to the grocery store are eliminated, for the most part.

3. I cook when I have the most energy.  I generally have the most energy when I get up in the morning so I often cook first thing in the morning rather then when I get home at night when I am totally wiped from work.  I usually can handle reheating something where as I tend to do things like forget the baking powder in my pancakes when I try to cook at night.

4.  I have a group of really quick recipes. When I started blogging, I had a feature called what to cook when you don’t feel like cooking. While none of the recipes I post are particularly time consuming, these particular recipes come together very fast. I call these recipes my fast five.  I always have the ingredients on hand and the recipe are taped to the inside of cupboard door so I never have to take time to find them. Develop your own fast five and you will be able to always have a non processed food meal even when you don’t want to cook. I am adding quick recipes to this list all the time.  It’s probably more like the fast fifty by know. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Italian Tomato Sauce
2. Sloppy Joes
3. 30 Minute Chicken Soup
4. Bean and Cheese Burritos
5. Arroz Con Pollo

5.  NCO -Neat, Clean, Organized Nothing wastes more time in the kitchen then having to search for ingredients and equipment or having to do dishes before you can cook something. I’ll be totally honest this is where I fail more often then I succeed but I keep on trying.

Most days I cook at least one meal. However,  I have a confession to make,  there are times when I go through the drive thru or grab a package of Hot Pockets and some chips for dinner.  I love to cook but there are days when I would rather come home from work, plop my butt on the couch and watch 3 hours of Supernatural before I go to bed and that is okay.  I always get up the next day and start cooking again.