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Confession: up until recently I had never cooked quinoa. I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it. Was it more of a grain? A rice? A pasta? What exactly should I put it in?

I don’t know why I was so apprehensive about it, because as it turns out, quinoa is pretty awesome. If you can make rice, you can make quinoa.

I stumbled across this recipe for a vegan quinoa chili and it looked simple and intriguing. Turns out, it was also delicious.

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Confession number 2: I didn’t make it vegan. I added in spicy sausage. And topped it with cheese. I do not regret these decisions.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili
Adapted from Milk Free Mom

Ingredients:

1/2 pound spicy sausage
one 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
one 6 oz can tomato paste (or if you’re out like I was, about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce)
32 oz chicken stock
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup dry quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, cilantro, cheese for garnish  (optional)

Directions:

In a medium pan, crumble sausage and cook until browned. Drain grease and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste/sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic powder  and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, sausage and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper.

Raise heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about  30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Top with garnishes.

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This chili surpassed my expectations. It was SO good! I’m glad I added the sausage, though, as I think it might not have enough kick without it. If you’re looking to keep it meat-free, I might suggest adding a small can of diced chilies, or a small jalapeno. We put away about five servings and I froze at least two, so it makes plenty!

Happy eating!

Find me on Pinterest here.

Y’all. This pie.

Some friends and I had a girls’ night a few weeks ago where we stuffed our faces with calorie-heavy food and wine. Stretchy pants were mandatory, obviously. My contribution was ham and cheese-stuffed pretzel bites (recipe to come!) and this peanut butter chocolate chip pie.

It was a big hit. Friends raved about its light texture and delicious flavor and I was impressed at how easily it came together. Best of all, it’s a refrigerator pie, so after it was all mixed up all I had to do was toss it in the fridge for a few hours.

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The original recipe calls from a homemade graham cracker crust, which is probably pretty good. I happened to have a pre-made shortbread crust on hand, so I used that instead. Truth be told, I think I probably would like it better that way. Peanut butter and graham cracker makes me think of toddler food.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie
Adapted from Growing Up Gabel

Ingredients:

  • 1 ready made shortbread pie crust
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • ¾ cups mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract using a hand held beater. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture, folding in gently until combined.
  4. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread peanut butter mixture into crust. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

The pie is rich in flavor, yet light in texture. It’s decadent enough to feed a bunch, too, since we all found one slice was more than enough. It’s equally delicious in the morning (not that I would know or anything…)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie. Owen tested AND approved.

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Enjoy!

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Despite the fact that it’s 60 degrees here today, it really is winter and winter food means all things hearty and warm. I’m a big fan of lasagna, but I’ve never been big on assembling it. All the components take a while to make and it’s messy to layer and then if we don’t finish it right away, it tends to get soggy in the fridge.

Enter: Lasagna Soup. I’m pretty sure this is one of my earliest pins, and also one of my favorites. It has all the things I love about lasagna, but half the work.

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Tomatoes, meat, noodles, spice, cheese. And then some more cheese. Nom.

Lasagna Soup – Adapted from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Check out the link for the full recipe, but here are the changes I made:

- I don’t like too much onion flavor, so I used just half of a large yellow onion, not 3 cups. I found it to be plenty.

- Omitted the bay leaves because I never have them on hand.

- I was out of chicken stock so I used water instead. I have made it both ways and to be honest, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in flavor. If you don’t have stock, water will do!

- In my most recent batch I added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and wilted it down before adding the liquid. It’s a great base to sneak in some extra veggies.

This soup is a winner in our house and is really customizable to your taste. If you would put it in a standard lasagna, put it in your soup! I happen to like the spicy sausage in it, but a ground beef/chicken/pork would work just as well.

 

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Mmmm, look at the goodness right there. Serve with crusty bread because, why not?!

Happy eating, friends!

Find me on Pinterest!

 

As I look through this most recent roudup of Pinterest food finds, I can’t help but notice they’re a little carb-heavy. I think I must subconsciously be tying the cooler weather to our dinners! I promise you, we eat vegetables.

Crock O’ Ribs - by Crockin’ Girls

I actually didn’t pin this one (gasp!) but found it on the Crockin’ Girls website. Do you know it? It’s a wealth of slow cooker meals, which I really appreciate, especially having even less time now in the evening to prepare dinner.

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I omitted the mushrooms because we don’t like them, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. The ribs fell apart like pulled pork and were very tasty. I paired them with cornbread and a quick white bean, tomato and basil salad.

Uno’s Deep Dish Pizza

Confession: I love Uno’s pizza. Yup, it’s a chain restaurant and hardly gourmet, but I love it. I used to frequent one in high school with friends or for dinner with my family and their signature deep dish pizza always felt like a special treat. There isn’t one close to us now, so I probably only go once a year, if that, but whenever I do, I’m a happy camper.

Imagine how excited I was to find out that Uno’s had released the recipe for their pizza! I HAD to try it.

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Well…

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…it did not disappoint. It wasn’t exactly the same in flavor as I remember (this could be because of small changes I made, like vegetable oil instead of corn oil and pamesan instead of romano cheese), but it was super delicious. I used a spring-form cake pan and I think it looks like the real deal!

Cheesy Zucchini Rice –  by Buns In My Oven

I liked the idea of this side dish. Cheese. Zucchini. Rice. I’m on board.

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I decided to make it a full meatless meal, so I added chickpeas and tomatoes. I also upped the spices a bit because I thought it was too bland initially. It was good. Nothing spectacular, but good. It also makes a TON.

Chicken Tamale Pie - by Pinch of Yum

YOU GUYS. This meal. This is the clear Pinterest winner by far.

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I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and just the thought of this made my mouth water. The only changes I made were the omission of cilantro (don’t like it), the egg substitute (used one real egg instead), and the garnish of Cotija cheese. Spicy chicken on top of sweet masa-like cornbread, smothered in cheese. Yum! It was so simple to put together and so, SO good. It received rave reviews from both boys and I ate leftovers for lunch for two days…and didn’t share a bite.

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Serve with a Corona, naturally.

Happy eating…and pinning!

Cheesecake. Yum. Am I right? So simple, yet so good.

I’ve been on a bit of a lemon-blueberry kick lately. The flavors just go so well together and are bright and summery, even if summer isn’t quite here yet. (Close, though! So close!)

We had dinner at my mother-in-law’s on Mother’s Day, and I figured I should bring a dish. She tends to make enough dinner to feed an army, so I wasn’t even going to bother in that department. Dessert, friends. That’s where it’s at. If you’re looking for something delish, simple and impressive without having to try too hard, these bars will do the trick.

 

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These came out really good and were even better after sitting overnight in the fridge. The only thing I did differently than the original recipe was to line the pan with foil rather than parchment paper, because I didn’t have any! Worked just as well. Interestingly, the blueberries took on an odd blue-gray color after being baked, but seemed to revert back to their original splendor later on. I can’t explain that one!

 

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
From Epicurean Mom

Ingredients

For Base:
Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoon sugar
1/8 tablespoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions

For the Base:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter.  Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners.  In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate.  Pour into the lined baking pan and firmly pat down with the bottom of a glass.  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until set.

For the filling:
Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar to the food processor and pulse until well combined.  It should have a smooth consistency.  Pour onto the cooked graham cracker base and then sprinkle with blueberries.  They will sink slightly but should be half exposed.

Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the center only slightly jiggles.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before Refrigerating for at least 3 hours.  Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars.

 

I’ve unofficially begun a Biweekly Baking tradition during the week. It’s usually cookies, but Owen and I have a playdate today and I think it’s nice to bring a little snack for the moms and/or the kids if someone is hosting you. Cookies didn’t really seem to fit the bill for that.

I recently got around to reorganizing my Pinterest boards a little to make it easier for myself to find recipes. I had almost 300 (!!) compiled in one big food board, and it was getting chaotic. During this process, I stumbled across a recipe for yogurt cake that I had pinned and forgotten about. Seemed like the perfect solution for my playdate offering.

The focus of this recipe is Greek yogurt – it uses two single-serving cups – and I think that’s what gives the cake it’s unique texture. My loaf did not come out bread-like or fluffy, which I was expecting based on the photo that accompanied the original recipe. Instead, it came out weighing a ton and is dense, moist and almost undercooked-looking (although it isn’t). Don’t let this scare you! It’s really delicious.

The original recipe offers add-ins to make the loaf lemon-poppy or with berries. She also made hers in two mini-loaf pans rather than one big one. I can’t say for sure whether or not that would affect the texture or not. I made one big lemon-blueberry. It was the right decision!

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This time I took my own photo. All artsy-fartsy and what not. Ha.

Would I make this loaf again? You bet. I’m really enjoying it. And the perk of it being so dense is you can slice small, thin slices to make it stretch further, or make yourself feel better about eating five slices in a row. Not that I would know anything about that.

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Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf (my comments in bold)
From Fresh From the Oven

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 containers of 5.3oz organic Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (more if you are making a big loaf cake) (I used just about 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. (Don’t skip this step. Mine slid right out no problem when cooked.)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.

Add in blueberries and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. (Mine was still loose in the middle at 50 minutes. I think my total cooking time was about 57 minutes.)

Meanwhile, cook the 1/4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a foil-lined sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

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Eat, enjoy, share with friends. Although if you’re my playdate friend, you’re only getting a few slices, because I can’t stop eating it. Sorry!

Time for another round of Pinterest recipes! The good, the bad, and the adjusted.

You can read the last Roundup here.As always, all photo credit belongs to the original poster.
The weather here has been beautiful lately — just straddling the line between late spring and early summer, despite it only being March. On one particular warm day after spending the entire morning playing outside with Owen, I had just put him down for a nap and was relaxing on the deck when I got the craving for a frosty beverage. Of course, being pregnant means I can’t have the exact beverage I had in mind, but I thought this one might be a decent baby-friendly substitute.

Pina Colada Smoothie by Paula Deen

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I really liked the short list of fresh ingredients in this smoothie: pineapple, coconut milk, bananas and honey. That’s it. Unusual for Deen the Butter Queen, no? I don’t keep coconut milk in the house so I bought a can especially for this recipe. It was a little on the pricey side for one can, I thought (just under $4), but it keeps well in the fridge. I have about half left over and another recipe in mind to use up the rest.

Overall, I enjoyed this virgin pina colada-ish drink, but if I make it again I would add more honey, or maybe a teaspoon of sugar, as it was a little under-sweet for my taste. Also, it says it serves 2, but I poured it all into a tall glass and drank the entire thing myself!

Cake Batter Cookiesby Stephanie Cooks

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I live with a Cookie Monster. Michael can go through them at top speed and they never last more than 2-3 days in the house. I usually just add cookies to the shopping list, but they really started adding up. Plus, homemade is always so much tastier. The only problem is, sometimes homemade takes more time than I have. Which is why this recipe struck me as interesting.

The main ingredient is boxed cake mix, which means you basically just have to toss in a few things and you’re done. Hardly any measuring at all. And because there’s so many different flavors of cake mix, you can really use your imagination here to come up with a combo you love. I followed the recipe this time and used yellow cake mix and a peanut butter/chocolate chip mixed bag.

Verdict? These are SUPER easy and quick to make. This was a big plus for me. However, at least following the recipe the way I did, they pretty much taste like boxed cake mix. Which…duh. Of course they do. They weren’t UNtasty, but I think unless you are a big fan of that cakey taste, you’re not going to love them. Michael actually said he thinks because they taste so much like cake, they might actually be better with a frosting rather than with chocolate chips. Might be worth trying it again and going that route.

For what it’s worth, I thought they tasted much better the next day…and I was the one who ate most of them; not Michael! Do with that what you will.

Sugar Saucers - by Annie’s Eats (which has quickly become my new favorite food blog)

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As far as cookies go, it’s hard to go wrong with a good sugar cookie. They make a great base for frosting, and are equally good with sanding sugar, or even plain. These came together easily (got to love that Kitchenaid mixer), and I’ve made them twice already. They are definitely going into the Cookie Monster’s regular rotation.

What I like best is the subtle hint of citrus from the lemon rind (although the next time I used a lime, and might like that even better!) I topped the last batch with green sugar for St. Patrick’s Day, and our mini-monster got his hands on one. The first bite was met with a big “MMMM!!!”, so I suppose they are toddler-approved as well.

Man-Pleasing Chicken by Witty in the City

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Chicken is my go-to protein and I always try to buy it on sale. When I snagged a pack of thighs for cheap, I knew I wanted to try this recipe. I was a little hesitant though, because it calls for half a cup of dijon mustard and…I don’t like mustard. At all. I think it’s pretty gross. I mean, I’ll cook with it in tablespoon quantities usually, but half a cup? This made me nervous.

Well, I had no need to be. This was SO GOOD. And really, REALLY, it wasn’t mustard-y. There was a slight spicy flavor from it, but nothing overpowering. The dish lived up to its name — all the men in my house were pleased, from Michael to Owen to Kodiak, who got a few scraps at the end of the meal. I served it alongside rice and broccoli, and every plate was left clean. I also had one piece left over, which I sliced and served cold on a sandwich to Michael the next day.

The recipe says to cook it at 450 degrees for 40 minutes, but that seemed like a long time at a high heat for thighs to me. I ended up doing 22 minutes at 450, then 5 under the broiler. It didn’t get as crispy as the photo, but it was certainly cooked through and juicy. My one big tip if you make this is to line your pan with foil. The sauce pooled around the chicken, but any that went to the edges burned on thick and took an entire night of soaking plus LOTS of elbow grease to scrub away. Foil is your friend!

Another Roundup complete! Happy eating! And as always, you can find me on Pinterest here.

Another pin done! This time I decided to try out a recipe for Cookie Dough Dip.

Sounds amazing, right? Only here’s the secret: it’s made from chickpeas.

I’ll admit, that sounded pretty gross to me. While I like chickpeas (hummus? LOVE.), using them in a sweet dish didn’t seem all that appealing. But the recipe promised that it was a healthy recipe that didn’t taste healthy, and the comment section was filled with raves.

I had pretty much all the ingredients, so this was an affordable dish.

The original recipe comes from Chocolate Covered Katie and is as follows:

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained) (250g)
  • 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
  • tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (You can get away with using only 3 T. If you use peanut butter, it’ll have a very-slight “pb cookie dough” taste, so if you don’t want this, you can sub oil.)
  • up to 1/4 cup nondairy milk (Start with 1 T, and add more as needed)
  • Sweetener (see original post for notes on sweetner)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 to 3 T oats (or flaxmeal) (You can omit, but also omit the milk if you do)

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

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I had peanut butter in the house so I used that, and almond milk. I also followed Katie’s suggestion of using 2/3 cup brown sugar as the sweetner (see her post for other options.)

The verdict? Well, initially I didn’t really think it tasted anything like cookie dough. It was ok, but…eh. But I had made it, so I stuck it in the fridge to try again later. After about an hour, I gave it another shot and was pleasantly surprised. I definitely think this dip tastes better served cold. While it’s nothing like eating raw Tollhouse, it is very reminiscent of cold peanut butter cookie dough. If I make it again, I might try it with almond butter (if I can justify coughing up almost TEN DOLLARS for it) and light brown sugar (I used dark).

I’ve been eating it with a spoon, but it would probably be tasty on a variety of fruits/graham crackers/cookies. Michael is not a fan, but he doesn’t like chocolate, so I wouldn’t take his word for it.


You can follow me on Pinterest here!

Oh, Pinterest. What did we do without you? A virtual pinboard where I can save everything from paint colors, to living room inspiration, to recipes, hair tutorials and pictures of pretty, pretty wreaths. There are SO MANY WREATHS on Pinterest, have you noticed that? And I never once had a desire to make one until I started seeing them all lined up pretty, taunting me with their DIY-ness.

For the record, I don’t DIY. I mean, I didn’t. Until Pinterest. Because of Pinterest, I decide that my new mantle needed to be autumn-ized and so, I went out in the yard and collected acorns. And sticks. And put them in glass. With pinecones. That are spray painted gold. All next to teeny tiny pumpkins.

ZOMG, I’M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. And what’s worse? I LIKED IT.

So yeah, Pinterest is a total time-suck of wonderfulness and I love it. You can follow me on it here if you’d like.

I started to wonder, though, how much of what I pinned were things I would actually do, versus things I just thought were cool? I mean, how many wreaths can one person make? (Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.) So I decided it was time to actually put my pin where my mouth is (what?) and pick one.

I picked this one: A smoky eye tutorial.

I’ve attempted the smoky eye thing in the past with not much luck, but this made it seem super easy. As pretty as it is, I decided to do a day version, as the pinned version is really more evening and less afternoon at the playground. Mine came out definitely NOT as glam as hers, but for a little mom-glam during the day, I think it worked out well.

Yeah, just ignore the awesomness of these photos. I don’t know how the girl in the tutorial got such great eye pictures on her own. I could not. Where’s the pin for how to do that, hmm?

Anyway, I deem this pin a SUCCESS! I’m definitely going to try a fancier version next time we go out, but for what this is, I’m happy.

Have any of you actually done something you pinned? I think I’m going to make this a semi-regular feature when (if) (no, really. When.) I actually do another pin.

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