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.

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