Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spring Roll Salad

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Working full time again has made it hard for me to keep up with my blogs!!  I feel so behind...but teaching again has really kept me busy and here in Saudi, that's such a good thing.  I must admit, I am amazed at how difficult it is to be a mom, wife and full time teacher.  Talk about trying to find balance in your life!  I'm so thankful I have a husband who is supportive and helps out...a lot.  
Of course, it's also taken a toll on my cooking style.  Thankfully, another lady who recently moved sold me her crock-pot.  What a lifesaver!!! (they don't exist here in me, I've looked and looked!)  I've been scouring the web for amazing slow cooker recipes. 
In the meantime, I will try and get caught up with past recipes that I've been making.  

Another fab find from Pinterest.  It's my go-to cookbook now.  :)  
This was a great salad.  I made it to take to a pot luck and there wasn't nothing left at the end.  (which made me kind of sad because I was hoping for leftovers)
I had to alter the recipe based on what I could actually find here, but the end result was still delish.  

By the way....what's your favorite slow cooker recipe?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup

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My Pinterest addiction is leading me to so many new recipes!  I love spending hours (I mean a few minutes...shhhh...don't tell the hubby!)  browsing all the different recipes floating around the net.  
This is one I'm SO happy I found.  Thanks to Closet Cooking, this recipe will now be part of my monthly menu MUST cook list.  (oh, perhaps I should mention that it's STILL in the mid 90's here with about 80% humidity)  Yeah, that's when we just crank up the AC (thank goodness the hubby's company pays that bill) and pretend its winter time here.
This soup tastes rich, but the only fat is coming from the cheese.  (I used fat-free milk)  The girls had three bowls each and requested some for lunch the next day.  I'd say that counts as a hit in this house!

You could totally make a few variations to this dish...try different types of cheese, add bacon (oh how I miss thee), spike it with some hot sauce...have fun!

Looking forward to making this again....may add some beef bacon (so not the same...but what can you do?) next time!  

What are some of your favorite Go-To soups?  Do you have some fall faves?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wild Rice w/Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

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My mom had brought us some bags of rice when she met up with me in Italy.  (because all we have here is Basmati and Arborio- and without wine, Arborio just isn't the same)  Anyway, I thought the rice she brought me was black rice (I mean it looked black to me!)  So, I googled recipes for black rice.
Let me just say, there aren't many choices out there.  Guessing black rice is hard to find.  But, still, thinking I had black rice, I chose to make this dish.
I just happened to have purchased a pomegranate a few days before and then all I needed was the squash.  The recipe is from Cooking Light and the reviews were a bit mixed.  But, it was the best recipe I could find, so I went with it.
Turns out my rice was just wild rice (really good wild rice, though, from Trader Joes)  I had no idea what this was going to taste like...and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  The kids kinda liked it, they weren't jumping up and down or anything.  But the hubby gave the dish two thumbs up.  I kept with what a review said and served the dish warm.  Great weeknight meal that didn't take long to prepare.  Not to mention, extremely healthy and vegan!  :D

  • Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup black rice*
  • 1 pound butternut squash
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika*
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes

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Yesterday my darling Bug was home from preschool and begging me to help her cook something.  I had found this awesome recipe for "pupcakes" (this is what she calls them and I refuse to correct her)
Anyway..get this..two ingredients.  You read that right...2.  Now THAT is my kind of baking!  So simple you could probably let your kid make it themselves (just help with the oven of course)

Lets just say that I was totally skeptical about how these would taste.  I read through many of the reviews and added a bit more pumpkin spice so the pumpkin flavor would stand out a bit.  Also, good luck finding apple cider here, so I had to use regular apple juice and it made the icing a bit sweeter than I think it was meant to be.  Nevertheless, these are moist delicious pupcakes!  Beyond simple to make and no added fat from oil or eggs.  

So, what are you waiting for??  Get baking already!  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sweet Potato Burgers

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Hi, my name is Staci.  I'm addicted to Pinterest.

There, I said it.  No denying it now, it's out there for the world to see.  Sigh...I wish I could say that it's a horrible addiction, but its totally not.  I love the things I've found on that website.  Everything from food to teaching ideas.  And thankfully, I found this awesome recipe on there as well.

We are trying to detox our bodies of the mass amount of carbs we ate while in Italy, therefore, this "burger" is missing it's bun.  But, I didn't miss eating it.  These little burgers are fabulous and you get to enjoy the crunch of the panko and raw onion without some silly bread getting in the way.  (well, that's what I told myself)  

I altered the original recipe a bit (one was leaving out the bun) and created something the entire family loved.  The sweet potatoes we get here are not the bright orange I didn't get the deep color I was hoping for, didn't effect the taste though!  
We had leftovers and the next day I just threw a bit of oil in a skillet and browned them up a bit more, then popped them in the microwave to heat them all the way through.  They still had a nice, crispy outside.  
I've never been a big fan of raw onion, but somehow it tasted amazing on these burgers.  Nice thick slices of avocado and a drizzle of a sweet & spicy chili sauce topped it off perfectly.  We served them with a side of oven roasted cauliflower.  Filling, healthy, vegan....killer dinner.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Mini Meatballs

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It's kind of funny...I couldn't wait to get to Italy and cook all these great dishes that I haven't been able to cook in Saudi, but I come to find that I can't get everything I want in Italy either!  I couldn't wait to eat kale...but couldn't find it anywhere, no matter how hard I searched.  Broccoli too...seems to have just disappeared from the Como area! 
And just a little note about Lake Como....I'm in love.  Just in love.  We stayed in a town called my opinion, the best one on the lake...and it's just a short ferry ride to Bellagio and Varenna.  Menaggio (pronounced Men-A-jo) has a beautiful piazza and then you walk (uphill) all the way to our house.  We stayed where the old castle used to be in a 500 year old house.  It was so lovely and we made friends with the neighbors.  I was even lucky enough to be invited over for dinner!  It was great fun trying to talk Italian with them.  The food was wonderful.  (and yes, they even had the traditional Italian red and white table cloth)  :)

So, the next night I had to cook for myself and the girls.  No broccoli to be found, but at least they had cauliflower.  We'd already feasted on different tomato based sauces, so I wanted something different.  And keeping with the fact that I wanted to enjoy pork as much as possible, I figured some yummy meatballs would do the trick topped with a nice pesto sauce.  Had I been in my regular kitchen I would have made my own pesto, but with the serious lack of kitchen staples in my rented house, I went with the jarred kind.  Turned out wonderful and the girls really liked it as well.  Score one for mom!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Roasted Pasta Primavera

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Ciao!!!  Okay, so yes, I've been gone forever...well, 6 weeks.  It was Ramadan here in Saudi (their holy month where they fast from sunup to sundown) and that meant it was time for me and my girls to skip out of town.  We've been in Italy for the past 6 amazing weeks.  It was an incredible trip and I was able to spend time with my mom, stepdad and even my aunt and uncle.  I was apart from the dear hubby for 4 weeks until he met up with us.  We spent time in Lake Como (touring all the towns like Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio), Lucca, Pisa, Venice and ended in Positano on the Almalfi Coast.  
And now, here I am, back in Saudi.  (hoping that sounds more enthusiastic in words than it does in my head)  Ah, but if it weren't for living here, I wouldn't get to go on these amazing trips.  :)
While in Italy, I had rented a house and got to do quite a bit of cooking, so the next few posts will all be Italian style meals.  And it also means that I had very little choice (if any) of which plates to use for each, yeah, they all look the same.  ah well.    
First up....this super tasty pasta primavera.  Roasting the veggies brings out fantastic flavors and turns a simple dish into something spectacular.  This recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis, I had to tweak it a little because I couldn't find all the ingredients she called for, was a great meal.  :)  Leave out the cheese and you have yourself a fab Vegan dinner!


  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
  • 1 pound spinach flavored penne pasta
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saudi Sliders: Hashi Burgers (Camel)

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Yep, you read that right.  Hashi burgers.  Hashi, the Arabic word for camel.  Okay, so you're cringing right now...yeah, I get it...I did too when I first thought of eating camel.  I mean, its like a horse, right??  Not to mention the first time I saw a camel head hanging at the butcher station in the grocery store I about lost it...  But, I decided to do a little research and here's what I found about camel meat:

  • Camel meat is known for its large muscular fibers and high water content. It has a slightly sweet taste due to the presence of glycogen and is usually a deep red color.
  • Camel meat has two qualities which distinguish it from beef and mutton: it has lower fat and higher moisture content. Fat in camel meat amounts to 1-2% whereas in beef that number is 4-8%.
  • Camel meat has very high Iron content versus other kinds of meat.
  • As part of a healthy diet, Camel meat can help reduce risks of cardiovascular disease through lower intake of saturated fats.
So, bottom's wicked good for you.  The hubby and I decided to give it a try one night a few months back.  He bought a whole roast and smoked it on the Beast (his smoker).  While the meat actually tasted good, it was very tough to chew.  It probably could have used hours more to make it tender enough.  This time we decided to try it already ground up.  In Saudi, they sell Hashi burgers at the local fast food joints.  Never tried one, but figured we could have a go at making our own.  A google search did not provide me much to go the hubby and I winged it.  The end result???  A damn good burger.  Both kids loved it as well...and we flat out told them it was camel.  We plan to make them again and play with different seasonings and toppings.  My advice?  If you ever get the opportunity to give this a a little and go for'll be surprised.

2lbs ground Hashi (camel) meat
2 Tbs Ras-El-Hanout (Moroccan spice blend)  *or make your own...see recipe below
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
optional: caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, cheese

*Ras-El-Hanout: (this makes 2 Tbs)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sald
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
(mix all together with a whisk until well blended)

Preheat your gas grill or get your charcoal grill ready.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently.  Form into patties (I made 5 slightly large ones) and gently press your thumb into the middle of each patty to make a small indention.  Place the patties in the fridge for 15 minutes.  *Note, the patties were still quite moist and fell apart a bit on the grill...but not too much)  Grill the patties on one side for about 10 minutes per side.  Top with your fave toppings and enjoy!

Read about my first time seeing camel in the store on my travel blog:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quinoa Pasta with Pomodoro Sauce

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Back from a lovely 4 weeks in Vegas with my family and friends.  It was so nice to be able to go out to eat at fun restaurants.  I devoured tons of sushi.  Did a bit of cooking, but not much.  But, I did buy some great items to bring back with me for cooking.  One big one was quinoa and quinoa pasta.  (I also brought back panko bread crumbs, some hot sauces, saffron, and wild rice)  So, now I'm back here in Saudi and my cooking cap is on and raring to go!
I couldn't wait to cook up the quinoa pasta and I wanted to find a nice sauce to go with it.  This was just perfect.  I amped up the protein even more by adding cannellini beans.
An incredibly simple sauce with monster flavor.  The hubby likened it a bit to vodka sauce...minus the vodka and cream.  
Leftovers were great too!  Happy cooking!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
Kosher salt
3 large fresh basil sprigs
12 ounces quinoa pasta
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino


Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil. Add beans and toss to coat, next add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

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Last week the hubby and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary.  It's been an amazing seven years...with babies, new homes, travels, moving abroad...the roller coaster called life.  We love the ride.  Since there isn't anywhere even close to being worthy of a celebration spot here in Yanbu, I knew I would be cooking my own dinner.  I didn't really mind...well, a little...I mean, who doesn't want to get all fancy dressed and head out with the one you love for a night on the town.  But, yeah, well, real world here, and that just ain't happenin' for this anniversary.  We'll celebrate properly when we are in Italy in August (now that's the way to have an anniversary dinner!)  
So, time to find something to cook for the four of us.  (well, what was I going to do with the kids?...guess I could have banished them to their room with chicken nuggets and a movie...but nah, we decided to celebrate as a family) anyway....
I found this awesome blog by a chef who takes killer food pix.  I was just roaming around, checking out his recipes, when I found this one.  I love all shapes and forms.  I've never made a stuffed tomato before, but his recipe made it seem so simple.  
I had to switch it up a bit seeing as how I can't get my hands on any sausage here, so instead of lamb and sausage, I used lamb and leftover quinoa that I had.  I was worried it would lose some of the flavor...but oh man...these were some tasty bites!
You can do a couple of variations...use all quinoa and make it vegetarian...or go all T-Rex and use both sausage and lamb.  If you're a bit fearful of lamb (which you shouldn't be because it's fabulous) sub in some good ground beef.  You could also add a bit of cheese to the top for extra gooeyness... ;)
I rounded out the meal with a nice tossed salad and some oven roasted green beans (my fave way to cook fresh green beans)  It was perfect.  Happy 7 years baby!  Here's to many, many more!  
  • For the tomatoes:
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes (mine made 8...depends on the size of your tomatoes)
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (or 1/2 lb ground sausage or ground beef)
  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 3-4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (your preference here)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 sprig rosemary, leaves chopped
  • 1/2 sprig thyme, leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (use 3 if cooking with quinoa)
  • hot pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F

Slice the top off the tomatoes, scoop the inside out (discard seeds, but chop and keep the pulp).  Sprinkle the inside of each tomato with salt and set upside down on a rack to drain.

Sautee the chopped onions in olive oil until soft and translucent.  In a bowl, combine the onions, chopped tomato pulp, quinoa, lamb, breadcrumbs, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, thyme, hot pepper flakes, olive oil and a bit of salt.  Stuff the mixture into the tomatoes and put the top back on.

Place the tomatoes on a tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 30 minutes and serve!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pasta with Zucchini, Fennel & White Beans

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I've been meaning to try cooking with fennel for a long time now.  I'm not a huge black licorice fan (and that's what fennel smells like to me), but it's in so many recipes I figured it just has to be good, right?
Right.  Now, I'm not sure I'd like it full force and eat it raw, but becomes much more mild in flavor.  This dish is super easy to make and is surprisingly packed with flavor (which you wouldn't think if you looked at the ingredients.)  Don't skimp out on the mint...really adds a nice touch.  Great weeknight meal!

  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat penne or similar short pasta, reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.

  • Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Quarter zucchini lengthwise. Toss the fennel and zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, turning once, until soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.

  • While the pasta is cooking, Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

  • When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. Add the vegetables, beans and 1/2 cup pasta liquid to the pan with the garlic and place over medium-low heat. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the pan. Toss thoroughly and add tomatoes; toss until just warm. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and mint. Season with pepper.
  • recipe adapted from Eating Well

  • Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Lentil & Veggie Tacos

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    I've been having a lot of fun roaming the net in search of yummy, high protein, meatless main dishes.  When you have a husband who refuses to eat soy, you really have to broaden your search.  
    I was really happy to find this recipe (from Peas and Crayons blog).  The whole family enjoys tacos...and well, living here, they can be a real "treat."  For one, there aren't any real Mexican restaurants here in Yanbu (and Taco Hut at the mall...though good, just doesn't cut it).  Two, you can't always buy taco shells at the grocery store (isn't that awful??)  So, when we can make a taco...we do.
    Very simple recipe with lots of room for adding your fave toppings.  Loved the idea of making my own seasoning so my family didn't end up devouring a bunch of MSG.  I can tell you honestly, we didn't miss the meat...not one bit.  (and there wasn't a single taco shell left)

    The filling also would be great wrapped up in a corn or flour tortilla.  You could sub out the refried beans for black beans (I know some stores sell refried black beans)

    1 cup of dried 
    16oz no fat refried beans
    1 cup diced onion
    4oz mushrooms, minced
    1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/2 cup of your favorite enchilada sauce (store bought or make your own) 
    taco shells (or tortillas)
    a splash of oil

    For the seasoning:
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/4-1/2 tsp dried cilantro [I highly suggest trying this stuff on everything!]
    1/4 tsp salt

    Topping Ideas:
    shredded lettuce or cabbage
    diced avocado
    feta, cheddar, pepper jack (pick a cheese!)  
    diced tomatoes
    greek yogurt

    Rinse and sort 1 cup of lentils.  
    Heat 3 cups of water in a pot until it's just about to boil, add lentils, and reduce to simmer for 15-25 minutes or until tender (when done, drain and return back to the pot)  For whatever reason, mine took forever to cook...and still had a bit of a bite to them in the end (because I couldn't wait any longer...four hungry people to feed!!)  
    While the lentils are simmering, get going on the rest of the meal.
    Saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic with a bit of oil until tender.  
    Next, add seasoning blend (the one you made) and enchilada sauce at the end and stir.  
    Then, combine them with the lentils, along with the refried beans and heat on low, stirring gently to incorporate.  
    Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  Stuff into shells, pile on the toppings and enjoy a fabulously healthy NO MEAT dinner.  :)

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Pineapple-Carrot Muffins

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    Many of you know my feelings on baking... I love to bake, it hates to turn out right.  So, I tend to shy away from baked goods.  You'd think the control freak in me would love the preciseness of baking...yeah, not so much.  
    Therefore, I must have been in a weird mood when I decided I just wanted to...bake something.  I've had a can of pineapple in my cupboard for the last 5 months...I figured it was time to put it to good use.  There are not very many healthy snacks to be found here for my kids and I'm desperate for something else to give them aside from granola bars.  I love muffins, all kinds, but I know they can be just has bad as eating a fist full of cookies.  
    When I found a recipe claiming both pineapple and carrots, I figured, well, at least there's some veggies in these!  If I could find whole wheat flour, I would have used that too, but I'm stuck with good ol' AP flour.  The recipe was super simple, the girls helped me, and we turned out some pretty tasty muffins.  They are good at room temp, but I find them much tastier after 10 seconds in the microwave...and if you're feeling a little devilish, slide a bit of butter over the top...crap, I was trying to make something healthy wasn't I?  
    These have mass potential to be tweaked...think of adding, raisins, oats, cranberries, or strawberries.  Try some slivered almonds on top!  I'd love to hear what you'd come up with!

    I couldn't wait...had to take a bite!  ;)


      • 1/2 cup white sugar1/4 cup brown sugar
      • 1/3 cup cup canola oil1/3 cup applesauce
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (whole wheat would work well too...just cut the amount in half)
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup grated carrots
      • 1 cup drained, canned crushed pineapple


    1. Stir together sugar, oil, and applesauce.
    2. Stir in the eggs until well combined.
    3. Stir in vanilla.
    4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
    5. Stir into sugar mixture just until combined.
    6. Stir in carrots and pineapple just until combined.
    7. Spoon into well greased muffin tin, filling to top. (I used liners, but I think next time I'll try without...the liners pulled away a lot of the muffin)
    8. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 20 minutes or until done.
    9. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Quinoa and Roasted Beet Tabouli

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    I don't know how I stumbled upon this recipe, but I'm so so glad I did.  This was actually my first time cooking with quinoa and I had no idea what to expect.  The roasted beets were the reason I wanted to cook this in the first place (we're beet freaks)  And I was even more lucky that the store had cherry tomatoes in stock.  (yeah, you never know what will be at the store on a daily basis here in Saudi)
    I enjoyed this recipe so much I was upset that I had to share it with my family.  Luckily (ok, well not really) my girls weren't gaga over more for me!  (selfish, I know)
    I added a bit more beet than the recipe called for and the original recipe had you boil the beets instead of roasting...which just isn't good enough for me.  I adore the taste of roasted, I planned out the extra time needed.  (feel free to boil away if you're short on time)
    Excellent recipe and I can't wait to make it again...maybe once we're growing our own cherry tomatoes and I can get some whenever I want.  :)

    For the vinaigrette: 
    Sea salt and pepper 
    Juice of 1 lemon or lime 
    6 Tbs. olive oil 
    2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley 
    1 Tbs. chopped cilantro 
    1 Tbs. chopped chives 
    1 Tbs. chopped mint 

    For the tabouli: 
    2 Tbs. pine nuts 
    1 cup (7 oz) uncooked white quinoa 
    2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 
    Sea salt 
    1 large beet
    1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half 
    1/4 red onion, finely chopped 
    3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled 

    Make the beets:
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
    *note: do not wash the beets!
    Rub the beets with a bit of olive oil and wrap in foil.
    Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45-60 min (less or more depending on the size of your beet)
    Remove from the oven and let cool.  Then peel the skin and chop into chunks.  (yes, your fingers will turn pink, but it washes off)  

    While the beet(s) roast(s), make the dressing and cook the quinoa.
    Make the vinaigrette:In a small bowl, combine the sea salt and pepper with the lemon juice and oil, and whisk to emulsify. Stir in the herbs. Dress the salad with this vinaigrette and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Add more dressing if you like and serve with the pine nuts.

    Make the tabouli:Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until lightly colored and fragrant; remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
    Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain it in a colander. Add it to a pot and cover with the broth and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, or until all of the water or broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and keep covered for 5 more minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff it with a fork; let cool. Add the beet and toss gently. The quinoa will take on a pretty pink color. Add the tomatoes, onion, and cheese. 

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Enchilada Quinoa and Chicken Stuffed Peppers

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    Found this great blog...Ambitious Kitchen.  She's got all kinds of great recipes, and many very healthy ones.  When I found this recipe...for the stuffed peppers, well, I couldn't make them fast enough!  I'm being very stingy with my quinoa...I only brought back two boxes from I want to use it with a dish I know I'm going to like.  (and I did)
    This would work great as a vegetarian dish as well...just use all quinoa.  I made these following her recipe, but the recipe below shows how I would make it next time...mine came out a bit dry this first round.  It was a hit with the whole family...I use a very mild (homemade) enchilada sauce, so the hubby had to spice his up a bit.  The girls really liked the filling but weren't big fans of eating the pepper...though they both took three bites.  Rules are rules and all.  ;)
    We served it up with a side of chips and homemade guacamole (hubby's recipe).  Great dinner!

    3 bell peppers, cut in half and seeded
    1 cup cooked quinoa
    1 pound ground chicken or turkey
    1/2 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
    1/2 onion, diced
    1/3 cup egg whites
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    2 teaspoons cumin
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1 cup red enchilada sauce
    1 cup reduced fat cheese of your choice, divided (we used gouda because it was all I had...tasted great too!)
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
    2. In a large bowl combine chicken, quinoa, egg whites, onion, cilantro, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese, and enchilada sauce. Mix well.
    3. Stuff each pepper half with the mixture. Top pepper with 1 tablespoon of enchilada sauce and 1 tablespoon of cheese. Bake for 45 minutes.

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