Quinoa Cups

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I am on Pinterest and it has been really inspiring to my cooking and crafting. I have tried a few recipes and crafts from there and this is one of the ones that has become a regular at our house. You can follow my boards here.

Heather over at Heather’s Dish, had a great recipe for these Tomato Basil Quinoa Cups. I love recipes like this because they are a great way to use up what you already have in the fridge while being simple and versatile.

I made my Quinoa Cups using spinach, mushrooms, basil pesto and sun dried tomatoes and three cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella and parmigiana). I pretty much followed her recipe outside of that but I added an extra egg to bind my extra filling in. Quinoa is super good for you and is different in texture and taste than rice or barley or anything else that we regularly cook with.

The cups were super easy to make and one batch made two dozen cups. We froze the extras to have for quick meals. We do the same thing with meatloaf. This makes dinner way too simple on nights that I don’t want to cook.

We put the mix into lined cupcake pans. I do not think that it is really necessary to line the pan because the little paper cups were super hard to get off when the Quinoa was hot. They were much easier once they cooled so I will not use the liners next time.

Please check out Heather’s blog. She is a lot of fun and has great recipes with tons of pictures.

Enjoy!


Nebraska Weekend

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Over President’s Day weekend, the husband and I made the trek north to see a good friend from college. I had never been to Nebraska before so we hit the road for Omaha. We had a great weekend and I really enjoyed seeing Trevor again and visiting a new city.

We arrived on Friday evening and Trevor treated us to dinner at a wonderful steak house called Fleming’s. This place was so good. A little on the high end of our food budget but it delivered. I had a filet and a mozzarella salad. Tasted amazing. Alex had a KC Strip and a Cesar salad. Trevor had a prime rib and a Cesar salad. All three steaks were fantastic. They were tender and had great flavor. I think that I would drive back up to Omaha just to eat there again.

The evening was perfect. Good food, good wine and great friends. I could not ask for more.

The next day Trevor took us up to the pedestrian bridge. This turned out to be pretty cool because you start on the bridge walking in Nebraska, you cross over the Missouri River and then half way, you cross into Iowa.

We took the ridiculous but to be expected tourist shots where we were in two places at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day started great and really just got better. We went to a yarn store, a tea shop, a few other shops and we ended up stopping at a super nerdy game shop where we purchased an expansion pack to Carcassonne. We ate at a great pizza place and then played games the rest of the day.

Trevor made us lunch on Sunday and we headed home.

We had a great weekend but I was sick most of the time so when we were not doing something awesome, I was curled up with The Hunger Games on my iPad. I could have have asked for a better weekend.


Sausage and Spinach Pie

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My mom is one of those cooks that no matter what she has in her refrigerator or her pantry, she can throw together a meal that is tasty and new. I am blessed to be raised in that environment because, while I am not as skilled as she is, I can usually find something to throw together.

This Sausage and Spinach Pie is an example of a “thrown together” meal. I took a bunch of left overs that we we had in the fridge and put this together.

I started out by laying out my store bought and rolled out pie crust. My grandma would be ashamed that I use store bought crusts but I have yet to consistently be able to make a decent pastry on my own. I follow her recipe and grew up watching her make pies but when I try to fly solo, I fail. Maybe I will do a crust lab and a blog post about it in the future.

After letting the crust warm a little on the counter, I rolled it into a pie pan.

Next, I browned some sausage links that I had cut up into bite size pieces. This trick of using links cut into pieces can also be used on Italian sausage or bratwurst, when you cut them and then brown them, they plump up like little meat balls. This works great if you are one link short of one for everybody in your family to make a meal.

I added a large yellow onion and some baby bella mushrooms that I had in the bottom of my fridge. I was pleased with the good crust that I got on the mushrooms, I thanked the sausage fat for that.

Next, I poured my sausage mixture into my crust and put a couple handfuls of spinach on top. I sort of tossed the spinach and sausage mixture together.

I then went about preparing what will bind my pie together. Eggs. I cracked 8 eggs into a bowl and scrambled them. I added a little milk and did some more scrambling until the egg mixture. I added salt and pepper to the egg mixture as well as some garlic. It is easiest to add it here since the egg will be covering the rest of the pie.

I folded over the edges to keep the egg  mixture in the pan and the pie is ready to start baking at 350 degrees. I was using a toaster oven which has a tendency to brown the tops of things a little more than my big gas oven. To avoid burned cheese, I add the cheese almost half way through the baking but before the eggs have started to bake up, the eggs were just starting to cook around the edges. If you are using a conventional (not toaster) oven, you can preheat and just add your cheese before you put the pie in the oven.

I added a handful of mozzarella, a sprinkle of feta and a sprinkle of parmigiana. I was trying to clean out my fridge, so I pretty much just used up the bits of cheese in the bottoms of the bags that I had. You can use whatever kind of cheese you like.

Just bake the pie until the egg does not jiggle and the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. I had to watch mine and put aluminum foil on the top to keep my cheese from getting too brown because I used the toaster oven.

The baking took around 45 minutes at 350. It might take a little longer in a conventional oven.

Enjoy. We sure did.

 

 


Super Sunday

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Today was a huge day. I got so many things completed or close to complete. I am pretty proud of myself.

I started out the morning with trying a recipe that I saw on Pinterest.  If you are not on this site, you should be. It is more addicting than StumbleUpon so consider yourself warned. I saw this recipe and, of course, I didn’t actually pin it so I improvised this recipe.

I placed one can of flaky biscuits in a bundt pan with plenty of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon on top. I poured melted butter over the sugared biscuits and then baked them. I was pretty happy with how they turned out. I had to hide the last one to take to work for breakfast in the morning. I served the biscuits with apple sauce, yum!

I jumped right into working on a “Love” quilt that I am making. This was really just a procrastination of doing what I needed to do, which was finishing the “Love” wall hangings that I have been working on.

I finally got myself motivated to finish these up after wasting some time graphing out this “Love” quilt on graph paper . These projects were another Pinterest find. It was a great find too because I found this great blog and started subscribing to it in my google reader. Sew Mama Sew has a great site with tons of freebies and helpful information, be sure to check her out.

She teamed up with Kelly from Kelbysews to offer a tutorial and a few free letters for a True Love ~Love Mini-Quilt. The mini- quilt uses paper piecing. I am new to this skill but it keeps cropping up in my projects recently so I thought it would be fun to make a couple of gifts using the free pattern.

I made the first block using up the decorator fabric samples that I have been trying to work through and some green cotton that is probably older than I am from my Grandma’s stash.

This turned out so cute and I felt so good about actually being frugal that I made a second one out of some fabric that I purchased to make my roommate at the time, an apron. The apron got procrastinated and then I didn’t have a sewing machine. When I finally sat down to make the apron. I cut it out wrong and ruined the pieces to finish.  The fabric was still fine, it was just too small to make an apron without a seam in the middle. The whole project was shoved into a Rubbermaid container just waiting to become something lovely. I thought that it was only appropriate to use the fabric that I purchased for my roommate to make something else for her. I made her this love block using the non-traditional valentines colors. This is labeled as a “Mini-Quilt” but I thing that it would make a really nice wall hanging to put up in February.

I am not sure why the block looks so mis-shaped, It is actually a nice rectangle but I think that the ground  under the pic made it look lumpy. Sorry about that.

I liked this colors in these blocks so much, I made a second set for myself. I am currently working on turning it into a quilt, along with some other heart blocks. That is another post.

After finishing these and eating lunch, I set out to taking a shawl off the blocking board. I started this shawl, seriously, two years ago. I recently set out to rid myself of knitting UFOs (unfinished objects). This was on the list. I started it two years ago to give as a gift and luckily enough, that person’s birthday has not happened yet this year so I can still give it to them.

For the shawl, I used Citron which was published in Knitty in 2009. This is my second time using this pattern. It is a lot of fun to knit until you get to the end and then it takes forever.  I did like how the yarn pooled on this pattern. The stripes get smaller as the shawl gets bigger which makes for a pretty fun effect. I am happy with the result.

Continuing in the battle against UFOs I found a lone sock in project bag with some yarn. I finished the second stock today. These are a two year old birthday gift for a friend from work.

This evening, I was feeling pretty accomplished but still motivated. I started on quilting the baby quilt that I am making for baby Lawson. I will have a whole post on that when I complete it. This will be my first quilt doing the quilting as well as the piecing. I will let you know how it goes.


Rosette Rolls

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My dear friend Taylor bought me a wonderful little cook book when I was a sophomore in college. It is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. The more that I use it the more I like it. The best part, besides the wide range of recipes entailed, the book is not bound but it is in a binder type book. This is so nice because I can take one page out and use it, then put it back when I am done.

I have a long and detailed history with bread making. Bread making and I, we have gone though phases when we were hot and heavy. I was making bread a few time a week using my grandma’s sour dough starter. We have since cooled our relationship to a casual friendship, I am still good at making bread but I do it maybe once a month.  I have made a “butter horn”bread type of recipe before but it was more involved than this recipe and I am very happy with the result of these.

Ingredients
  • 1      cup whole milk
  • 6     tablespoons butter (room temperature)
  • 1      package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
  • 2     eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3     tablespoons sugar
  • 4     cups all-purpose flour (not unbleached)
  • 1      tablespoon kosher salt
  • Melted butter
  • Softened butter
Directions1.Heat the milk to 120 degrees F to 130 degrees F; add the butter and set aside to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Add cooled milk, eggs, and sugar to dissolved yeast and stir to blend. With a wooden spoon stir in 2 cups of the flour and the salt; stir until smooth. Add 2 cups of remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring vigorously for 3 to 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and only slightly sticky. (Only if needed, after 3 minutes of stirring and dough is overly wet, stir in 1 tablespoon flour at a time.

2.Cover the surface of the dough with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Cover the top of the bowl with a second piece of plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours).*

3.Lightly butter 24 muffin cups. Gently press the dough to deflate. With lightly buttered hands pinch off generous 1-inch pieces of dough. Fold the dough over, turning and tucking the edges to form a ball. Pinch the seam together to seal. Dip in melted butter and arrange three dough balls in each muffin cup. Let rise until fully doubled (about 1 hour).

4.Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until well-browned. If needed, to prevent overbrowning, cover rolls with foil during last few minutes of baking. Remove from oven. Brush with softened butter. Return to oven for 1 to 2 minutes.

5.Remove rolls immediately from cups to a wire cooling rack. Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 24 dinner rolls.

 

I took a less work intensive method in making my rolls. I used my bread machine do to the kneading and initial rise. I rolled out my dough and formed the rosettes using the method described in the cook book. I did find a good tutorial at Redhead Recipes blog though here is the link.

For some reason, I only want to make bread on a cold day and in the old house that I live in, there is not a warm snuggly spot to rise dough. I am terrible at using the oven to rise my rolls, I always end up with half cooked little steamed dumplings so  I engineered a little hot box for my rolls in my hall way above my floor heater. I put the pan on a chair above the floor heater after turning the heater on and up to 80. I aimed the humidifier on the rolls so there was a nice and warm, moist place for my yeasts to get happy.

My little engineered yeast incubator worked great. I ended up with some beautiful rolls and a very happy husband. I had to make a second batch the next day because we ate so many of them.

 

 


Another Garden Post

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Here is another update on the garden.

Everything is growing and starting to produce food (YUM!)

The first harvest of the year was kale. It is actually kind of late for kale but I am trying to get a last minute crop in. Kale gets pretty bitter in hotter weather but I think I will try to make some kale chips or other preservation method when that becomes the case.

Yes, I know how awesome my hair looks in this picture. Just check out the kale. We love greens, kale included, but some people do not. My favorite recipe that includes kale but hides it is Tuscan Bean Soup from American’s Test Kitchen.

We made a pretty good dinner with our Kale. Here is a progression of the kale from our garden to our plates.


Garden Take 2

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I wanted to give you all an update on how our garden was going.

We had quite a bit of rain and everything is growing. It is kind of crazy because all the plants, especially the broccoli will be noticeably larger.

We went to a garden plant sale at a wholesaler and got some great deals to finish planting. We added peppers (too many varieties of hot to mention), sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, butternut squash, zucchini squash, yellow zucchini squash, okra, and all sorts of tomatoes. I am sure that I am forgetting something here. Here are some pictures to show our progress.

All the plants were pretty mature when we planted them so I needed to pull extra dirt up around them and prevent weeds.

Alex found himself a little friend. We were turning over our compost pile and found this guy feasting on some ants. We relocated him to the cabbage patch to have him help us keep bugs away.


Urban Gardening

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I have always been a farm girl. A garden that is less than an acre, would be, quite frankly, an embarrassment where I am from. I have had to change my views a little since moving into a less isolated setting, our yard is less than a quarter acre. This year, my husband, and I (more me than him) decided that we should plant a real garden. Last year, I had a container garden that was less than successful. I hoped to be more in my element by actually planting a real garden.

We selected a little area in our back yard and began the process of begging, borrowing or stealing a tiller. We ended up finagling a new friend into helping. RJ (@YoungShepherd) and I met kind of randomly when he won a flock of goats and mentioned in his blog that he was in NE Oklahoma, I am very close to NE Oklahoma so I shot him a message telling him that I would be more than happy to help him with his flock. We have stayed in contact since.  Please check out his blog.

We went and picked RJ up at the animal shelter where I volunteer sometimes (his mom works there, she is a great lady). We all got back to the house and put him straight to work. He had to give Alex a lesson in tilling.

We had barely gotten started tilling, and we discovered some what of a road bump. We found an old fence post. The previous residents of this house must have been over-achievers, they encased a basic chain link fence post in three feet of concrete. We had to dig down the entire length of the post and then go buy a sledge hammer to escavate it from the middle of our garden. It was quite the ordeal.

We finally got the stupid post out of the ground and decided to take a break. We had lunch and I gave RJ a drop spindle lesson. He is wanting to learn some fiber working to get ready for his mohair sheering in the fall. RJ helped us finish up by working in some compost and some fertilizer. Our little garden was really starting to shape up.

Alex and I took RJ home and checked out his goats and chickens. That kid has some great livestock. We cannot wait to go back and see them all again.

We got back to the house and promptly started planting. I had started quite a few plants in containers and we got everything put into the ground. Alex rocked our green beans and purple green beans.

I was a good supervisor in my work boots.

All together we planted a row of green beans, purple beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, head lettuce, celery, green cabbage and red cabbage. We were exhausted at the end of the day. We got a really nice rain to help everything get started the next day. We could not be happier.


Butter Horns

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I was in a baking mood and I was bored since my hubby is out of town so I got a little creative to make him a little surprise for when he gets home tomorrow.

Here is the recipe:

4-5 Cups of Flour

2 1/2 teaspoon of yeast (1 pack)

1 egg

1 1/4 Cup of Milk

1/3 Cup of Butter (+ a little for melting)

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 Cup of Sugar

I used my mixer with a bread hook but you can make the dough in a bread machine if you like.

Place half of the flour in the mixer along with the yeast.

Place everything else, except the rest of the flour, into a sauce pan and heat until just warm enough to melt the butter ( do not add the mix if it is hotter than ~130*F, you will kill your yeasts).

Pour liquid mixture into the flour and begin the kneading.  Add remaining flour as needed to create a nice ball that is not all sticking to the side of the bowl.  Let the dough knead for ~3 minutes.

Then just let your dough rise. I am impatient so I put mine in a 170*F oven that I had pre-heated and turned off.  I boiled some water and placed it in a pan then put the whole mixing bowl into the hot water and warm oven.  This worked really well except that I had the bright idea to put a damp paper towel on the top to keep the dough from getting hard. I do not suggest trying that. It was a pretty epic fail.

Let this rise until the dough as more than doubled in size.  Dump the risen dough onto a floured surface. I used my counter with some parchment so I didn’t have a huge mess. Roll your dough out into a pretty big circle.  You want your dough to be about a half an inch thick when you are done.  You are then going to cut this up like a pizza.

Take each pizza shaped slice and loosely (very loosely, do not make this tight) roll them up into little cresent shaped rolls. Bake in a 350*F oven until golden brown.

When these guys are hot out of the oven you will want to slather them with butter on the top.  I just took the whole stick and kind of colored the top with butter. I used less than a teaspoon but that was the simplest way for me. I am sure there are health codes that tell you not to do this but it sure tastes good anyway.

Enjoy. Please put your pictures in the comments 🙂


Real Simple October Food Experiment

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The boys (Alex and Josh) and I have been a little bad about cooking dinner and eating together this semester, so we decided to cook through the Real Simple magazine menu for October.  I absolutely love this magazine and we thought that by having to cook every week night we will eat better and eat out less.

Week 1

Monday: Tilapia with Peppers and Olives

We really like this meal and it was a good way to start off our month of cooking at home.  We do not often eat fish, mostly out of cost and laziness.  I did a stint of pescitarianism a year or so ago and loved it so it was really nice to have  a fish dish to start off. The fish was yummy and we decided to add some rice because we are pretty hungry people and wanted a little extra. The onion and pepper mix was perfect to go with the fish, we omitted the olives because we are lame and don’t like them.

Tuesday: Beef and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

I had never tried bok choy before and I really enjoyed trying it.  The bok choy is pretty tangy and went really well with the salty of the steak in soy sauce glaze. This was one of my favorite meals of the week and Alex was the chef this night.

Wednesday: Spicy Orange-Glazed Drumsticks with Green Beans

I really really looked forward to this meal all week. I love spicy and orange so this was right up my alley. The green beans were super yum and it was great with the compliment of corn bread. I loved the sauce, chicken kind of weirds me out for strange reasons but I think this would be really good in other recipes.

Thursday: Roasted Pork with Brussels Sprouts and Apricots

This meal was a little bit of a stretch for us because green vegetables generally are not welcome with the boys (Alex is a better sport than Josh, he will want that noted).  I love Brussels sprouts and this was a really great recipe for them. The pork was yummy as all tenderloin is but the sprouts were the star of the show for me.  The tangy of the sprouts with the sweetness of the apricots and almonds definitely did it for me.

Friday: Spaghetti with Sweet Potatoes and Ricotta

All I have to say about this is WOW. I never would have thought that sweet potatoes and spaghetti could rock my world the way that this did.  I am not a huge fan of ricotta cheese but I gave it a chance with this and oh it was so good.  The nutty sharpness of parmesan cheese with the sweet softness of sweet potatoes and then you throw pasta into the mix, it is hard to go wrong really.  I will definitely be making this dish again. It was super easy and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

The food experiment is going well thus far. We have not been taking pictures of all of our meals this week but I will still do a review of  our favorites at the end of the month and I will do my best to have Alex do another guest post 🙂

For all these recipes please visit www.realsimple.com.