Tuesday, November 8, 2011

GRAIN-ola Bars

I've made these bars twice now and continue to add and adapt the ingrediens to what I currently have on hand. Don't sweat it if your out  don't have sesame seeds, swap 'em out for almonds or dried buckwheat instead.  These bars can be prepped and in the oven in under 20 minutes.  I like to cut, wrap, and freeze them so I can eat or pack the bars as needed.

Many of you have enjoyed the funny comments that my husband, Ben, makes about me trying to continuously feed him grains.  I'm happy to report that this recipe is "Ben Approved".  I slipped a wrapped one in his coat pocket the other morning and at 9:35AM, I recieved a text from him stating the following, "Just ate the granola bar, yum, yum!".  My response, "I knew you secretly loved sesame, buckwheat, wheat germ, almonds, and sunflower seeds."  :)

Adapted from: Bird Seed Energy Bars by Amy E.

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed - I used about 3/4 cup and did not pack down the sugar. 
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup honey - I used 1/4 cup of honey and filled the rest of the measuring cup with applesauce
  • 1 cup canola oil - (Still adjusting this - I used a combo of oils (coconut, olive oil, and vegetable oil - I still feel this is a bit much)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds (I used a 1/2 cupped of leftover cooked quiona)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I used 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup of dried buckwheat)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • I added 2 handfuls of slivered almonds           
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x14 inch ovenproof baking dish.
  2. Mix the rolled oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, and flour together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, canola oil, vanilla, and salt until evenly blended., and stir into the oat mixture. Stir in the flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips. Use your hands to mix the ingredients, and press the mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until the edges are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in the baking dish before cutting into 2 inch bars.               

Enjoy!  -amy w.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apricot Rice Cubes

Have you seen the Zuko 7-minute quick pop maker for $49? Check it out - www.zoku.com, it's a pretty fun idea.  I resisted the urge and instead, purchased an ice cube tray for $2.99 to create snack size popsicles. 

Ben thought I was freezing Kool-Aid to make sugar pops however, when you write for Grain Girls, rice, yes rice gets added! 

Apricot Rice Cubes

9 fresh apricots (1lb.)
3/4 cup coconut milk
Cooked rice

Food process apricots, coconut milk, and honey to taste.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of cooked rice to the bottom of each cube.  Fill with apricot mixture.  Freeze.  amy w.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Delicious oat/whole-grain pancakes on a Sunday morning, how perfect!  I even busted out the whip cream and asked Ben to run downstairs and pick a few fresh strawberries.  Yup, I sure do have illegally planted strawberries in front of my assigned parking space.  Everytime I see the maintenance people pulling weeds, I run outside to make sure they don't pull them out.  Last time they were here, Ben said they were picking and eating my strawberries while weeding! 

As you may know, Vicki and I are cooking through the book, Whole Grains Every Day Every Way by Lorna Sass.  She actually found out we created this website and emailed us about a year ago.  Lorna gave us permission to post three of her original recipes.  Since her pancakes turned out AMAZING, I decided this is a must post for everyone to try.  Vicki and I have been very pleased with her book and hope that you enjoy this recipe.

Stop yourself from purchasing Bisquick or Aunt Jemima instant "just add water mix".  You should already have the ingredients listed below in your pantry.  Lorna suggests you make a large batch and store.  This is exactly what I did.

Dry Mix
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3 1/4 cups whole - wheat pastry flour (100% ground wheat worked just fine)
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt

Place oats in a spice grinder, processor, or Magic Bullet and process to the consistency of flour. Mix all dry ingedients together.  Place 1 1/3 cups of the mix into each of the 4 Ziplock bags.  Refrigerate or freeze for up to 3 months.

Whole Grain Pancakes
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup of well-shaken buttermilk, plus more if needed. 
(If you do not have buttermilk use regular milk and add 1 tsp of vinegar)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet (1 1/3 cups) Whole-Grain Pancake Mix (see recipe above)

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Blend in the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.  Add the pancake mix, and stir just until the mixture forms a lumpy batter.  Avoid overmixing.  Heat griddle over medium heat and coat lightly with oil. Make pancakes!!!!  - amy w.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cabbage soup and a glass of wine, therapy for a long drive

To think I thought Seattle traffic was bad and Michigan would be a piece of cake. Apparently not! This morning it took me 15 minutes door-to-door; tonight was over an hour to getting home. I was the kind of frustrated only a glass of wine and some soothing food would fix, so the soup was on. I had all the right ingredients to make a simple soup on hand, in my kitchen. Making a soup is such a simple process, and yields so much product with flavors as simple or complex as you want them to be. After a soothing half hour at the counter and stove, I sat down to a tasty and healthy meal with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (nothing fancy, so I won't bore you with the details) and let my drive stress float away. After all, I'll be doing it again tomorrow.

As a side note to impromptu recipes: I seem to still be too nervous to try out food experiments on the boy for fear of a bad reaction, things I did not concern myself with too much while living with the girls. Thanks ladies ;) Apparently I love you as testers for strange concoctions, admittedly not always with good results. But tonight was just me and a bottle of red (No, of course not the whole bottle! ... I wouldn't be writing this right now, that is for sure!) so I just threw the cut veggies in the pot, and let it rip. With a decent return on my investment of time and resources, I'm am pleased to count this soup experiment successful!

Cabbage/Potato/Millet Soup
(I really roughed this out, so feel free to take the idea and run with it in any direction you wish ;)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 Carrots, diced
2 Celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Stalks from a bunch of broccoli* (I just had it in the fridge, but feel free to omit)
1 Quart of Chicken or Vegetable stock
1 Tb Vinegar (I learned in school, you've gotta have the acid! use apple cider or champagne for this one)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dry oregano (and whatever herbs/spices sound good to you!)
1/2 cup Millet
3 Red potatoes, peel and dice (if you do this while the mirepoix sweats, you won't end up with brown potatoes)
1/4 head Cabbage, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion, carrots, celery & a pinch of salt, and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. 
2.  Stir in the stock, add the bay leaf, oregano, millet & potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes.  Then, stir in the cabbage and cook for 10-15 more minutes, or until potatoes, grains and veggies reach desired textures. Salt and pepper as you see like. That's it!

*When trimming broccoli stalks, I do end up with a lot of waste, as it is a fairly fibrous part of the veggie. Better to use it, than toss it though! I did not blend this soup and the pieces are eaten whole, so I want it all gone. Trim all the exterior of the stalk, so you just have the middle portion that is much lighter in color and dice like you would normally. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Thank you Diana.....creator of this granola recipe, grower of green kale, and rockin' mountain biker.   She emailed me this granola recipe several WEEKS ago and I finally had a chance to make it, why did it take me so long?  Diana made this recipe up based on various store bought brands. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Grainy Granola
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats (uncooked)
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup buckwheat (uncooked)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sliced almonds (or nuts of your choice)

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 to 1 cup sweetner to taste. (Try maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, agave, etc. and try combos of 2 or more. I like ~3/4 cup total. It depends on how sweet you want your granola!)
1-2 tablespoon coconut oil (I use 3 tbsp because it's really good for you!! you can also use olive oil, sunflower oil, or another healthy oil)
1-3 teaspoon cinnamon (depends how much you like it)
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and mix. In small saucepan over medium heat, combine the wet ingredients and bring to a boil, mixing well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with a large spoon to coat.
  • Spread mixture onto large baking sheet(s) lined with wax paper. Bake at 350 for ~20-25 minutes or until desired "toastiness". Take out and allow to cool completely.
  • Mix in raisins or any other dried fruit that you like. Store in airtight container.

Feel free to modify with other ingredients/flavors. I LOVE a giant bowl of granola with a few scoops of yogurt and milk in the morning. I have some pomegranate seeds that I froze in the fall. I like to take them out for a few min then mix in the bowl right before eating. Yummy!!!    -amy w.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Toasted Almond Crackers & Hummus

I'm addicted to making crackers and storing them in a large mason jar. When I get home from a trail run, bike ride, or work, I'm starving and need an instant snack.  Instead of digging a spoon into a bowl of homemade chocolate ice cream or a eating a spoonful of peanut butter covered in chocolate chips (yes, it still can happen), I stretch my hand into the half gallon mason jar that sits on my counter full of fresh crackers.   I dip the crunchy crackers into homemade hummus and it hits the spot. 

If you are looking for a simple fast cracker, I posted this recipe several months back - Thin Wheat Crackers .  If you need a cracker with a hint of sugar, try my recent favorite - Toasted Almond Crackers.  Amy Pennington is an amazing author, gardener, and cook.  We have her book, Urban Pantry listed under our "book tab" so be sure to check it out.  Her recipes are simple and pantry friendly.

Now, for the homemade hummus.  I've adapted this recipe from The Vegan's Cook Bible.  I often double the recipe so I have even more to freeze in small containers.

Roasted Vegetable Hummus
4 cloves, garlic
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, quartered
Olive oil
1 can chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Peanut Sauce or Tahini
1 tsp ground cinnamon
dash sea salt
1/4 cup of apple juice (add before processing)
1/2 tsp honey

On a baking sheet lined with foil, combine all the veggies, drizzle olive oil over and toss well to coat.  Roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until soft and browned.  It's ok if the edges of your veggies are slightly burnt and crisp.  Let cool.

Combine veggies, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and additional ingredients.  Blend until smooth.

Transfer into smaller containers and freeze.  Enjoy!  - amy w.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meals of the Quinoa variety

Currently I am a solo dweller in a two bedroom condo amidst a rain-soaked Michigan spring and deep into a month long job search. My eating patterns over the last few months have had more changes than Oprah's had hairdos! In March, still in culinary school, I was enjoying those student lunches as often as possible, sampling bakery treats after class and through two jobs, barely cooking for myself. When I finished the program, I began an attempt to "clean out my cupboards" in preparation for my move, meaning I ate whatever I had stuffed into my space in the kitchen (Karen being the lucky recipient of all that I couldn't get through!). Then there was the road trip of fast food, intertwined with my homemade granola bars and gluten free muffins, a last purchase from the Flying Apron Bakery. To say I was craving consistency in my food-life is an understatement.
Basic Quinoa

As I settled into Michigan and regained use of a kitchen, I began to cook...and cook, and cook. There was someone here, always ready to eat (and bear the grocery bill burden!), give his complements to the cook and help with dishes. We had a good rhythm. Now, as he's off to Japan for a three week work trip, I am alone in a "new" place for the first time in my life. Certainly able to enjoy most of the time while sipping my morning coffee, reading and getting into the interview phase with a few positions. What I didn't knew about myself, was what my cooking style would be when no one was around. The answer is a combination of interesting & simple. I try odd combinations of things and haven't really gotten from anywhere in particular. Basically applying the simplest of methods to the foods I'm most comfortable with. This sort of leads to lots of dishes based around one ingredient, the first of which has been Quinoa!

Quinoa Salad
I made this pot of basic quinoa, cooked in water with some leftover caramelized onions and already prepped carrots and celery. Nothing spectacular, but even at this simple and plain state, it was enjoyable. However, that was not the intended end use. For that first dinner, I added sesame dressing to about a cup of quinoa, stirred in chopped spinach, halved cherry tomatoes and sliced scallions. The next morning for breakfast, the basic quinoa mixed up with more spinach and topped with two farm fresh, poached eggs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar turned out to be excellent (poached eggs on grains being something I picked up from our girl Lorna!). That evening, tossed with scallions, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, spinach, roasted beets and a hard boiled egg, I had a filling & healthy salad, made with the couple of local veggies I've been able to find.

In the end, I had 3 meals and some snacking in between, all from 1.5 cups of dry quinoa, as it triples in volume when cooked. Try it out, mix it up anyway you like. Especially if you're alone and no one else has to eat it! After all, what do you have to lose but one fairly inexpensive meal. There is so much to learn & gain when playing with your food. Keep in mind, that most grains work like this, a blank canvas for your interpretation. No longer is white rice your only option. Now, what do I want tonight...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Buckwheat Kind of Day

Get your morning groove on with a bowl of buckwheat.  A gluten-free alternative that is high in protien and fast to cook is my kind of grain.  But wait, don't do too many things at once while buckwheat is cooking or you will end up with mushwheat!

Toast It - 1 TBS. Olive oil or butter +  1 cup buckwheat groats
Boil It - Add buckwheat to 2 cups of boiling water
Simmer It - Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes
Leave It - Allow the grains to set covered for at least 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Make a large serving buckwheat on Sunday.  For a quick breakfast during the busy work week, scoop 1/3 cup of buckwheat into a bowl and top it with raspberry Noosa yogut and Bare Naked granola.

amy w.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rye-Sotto, the method...

Risotto is usually made with arborio rice and Pilaf is usually a rice dish. But, both do not have to be made with rice. Technically speaking the name refers to the method of preparation, not the dish itself or the ingredients. So, you can make a pilaf with any grain you really want to, like farro for example, one of my favorite local Seattle products. You can also make risotto with something else...like Rye berries.

Arborio rice is traditional in preparation of risotto because it is very starchy. As you cook it, slowly adding stock and stirring, you release the starch from the outside of the grain into whatever dish you're cooking. In the end a delicate & creamy texture results from your efforts at the stove-top, babying this simple dish of rice.

I have learned from experience, that the same result does not easily (or at all) happen with other grains. I've tried farro, spelt and now rye berries with the same, sad results. None of them has the superior starchy texture of arborio rice, so no matter how long I spend stirring the dish and slowly adding stock, it didn't create that creamy texture I was after. Sure, adding reduced cream or cheese in the end will give that stick-together-grain look, and it is delicious! But, alas I can not have dairy. In the end, I settled for what could have been made via the pilaf method (add the liquid all at once, put a lid on it and put it in the oven) even though I had put in the time stirring and adding. The dish is delicious, really! Like I mentioned, make it creamy by adding some parmesan cheese in the end, it would be amazing!

Today I'm heading out to visit my very first Michigan Farmer's Market! I have been anxiously searching and waiting for one nearby to open and it appears that less than two miles away on the other side of Walled Lake, there will be two markets! Wish me luck ;) Go cook some grains!  -Vicki

Rye-Sotto (or pilaf, either way is fine by me!)
1 Cup Rye Berries, soaked overnight (or whatever grain berry you have or find)
2 Strips of Bacon, cut into strips ... or 1 Tbl Olive Oil (use butter if you can, adds creaminess)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Onion, small dice
1 Carrot, small dice
1 Celery stalk, small dice
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Cup of white wine or 2 Tbl Vinegar (white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
5 Cups Stock, veg or chicken or beef (whatever you have or like the most!)
1 Sprig fresh Thyme
2 or 3 Sage Leaves
*any other seasonings you want to add...I love adding onion powder, house-made seasoning salt, oregano or an Italian seasoning blend. Have fun and experiment!
1/2 bunch of kale, cut into small strips without the tough center rib (chiffanade)...make kale chips out of the other 1/2 of your bunch ;)

-Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon (or oil or butter) cooking until crispy and removing with a slotted spoon. To the warm fat, add the onion and a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes until both are brightening in color. Add the garlic and stir another 30 seconds. Meanwhile, in a 2 qt pot heat the stock on another burner and keep it just below a simmer.
-Turn the heat up to medium-high on the veggie pot and toss the rye berries into the pot, stirring to toast and warm the grains, about 2 minutes. Add the wine or vinegar and stir until the liquid mostly evaporates. Ladle a cup of the stock into the pot and stir to coat the grains, then add the thyme and sage sprigs.** Let it it simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding stock, 1cup at a time and stirring often until you've used all the stock. Test the grain for doneness, adding more liquid (water is fine) if it needs it.
-Add the kale into the pan and cook for another 8-10 minutes until softened. Garnish with the bacon, some chopped scallions or stir in some cheese!
**OK, so like I mentioned, I learned that this method (unless you're using the arborio rice) can be a little frustrating as the grain doesn't get creamy, even after an hour of effort. So, after you add the herbs, you can pour all the stock in, put a lid on it and place the pot over low heat or in a 350F oven for about an hour and get essentially the same result. Check it at about 45 minutes, adding liquid if needed and cook as long as it takes to soften the grain to your desired consistency.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Story of the Lentils

Let's go back though to January and the first (and only) time I visited Scott in Michigan before I moved here. As we planned our weekend over the phone he asked if there was anything in particular I would like him to pick up at the grocery store. Of course I said yes and gave him a small list. Later in the week we were talking and he mentioned getting the groceries, the lentils being particularly challenging to find. Wait, what? The lentils, I had "asked for", they were hard to find, but with some help he managed to get them. Well, let me tell you, I did not ask for lentils. He thinks I did, but I did not! Either way, that weekend we made dinner, but not with lentils! They remained in the cupboard for the last 4 months, a source for many jokes between us over that time. Last Sunday as I planned out our first week of meals I looked through his pantry. There it was, a bag of green lentils and figured those must be part of the plan. Lentil soup was something I knew I could make without a recipe. So, on Wednesday night we had on a big pot of lentil soup with rosemary-olive oil bread (a Britt favorite!). We both had soup for lunch the following day and I froze a quart of it for later; I do not know how to make a small pot of soup!

I'm sitting here in my chair at Scott's house, basking in the rays of sun and the quiet around me. I think I'm discovering just how much I like alone time (shh, don't tell him that!). It's beautiful outside and I'm gearing up to head out to the nursery for some plant starts, inspired by the weather of course. There's a head cold working it's way through me, so only low impact trips today. Maybe I'll sit on the balcony for a little while first. Yeah, that sounds good.
Still to come... posts on Rye-Sotto, and Quinoa-Rice Milk breakfast "porridge". I have yet to locate my Grain Girls book in amongst my packing. I know I put it somewhere "easy to find", so of course I can't find it!

Lentil Soup, makes about 3-4 quarts
1.5 cups lentils, soaked for about 30 minutes to an hour
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots, small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 bell pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, 28oz (I like fire roasted for added flavor)
Chicken or Vegetable Stock, 1 quart
Water, as much as needed (see below)
Herbs (fresh or dried) Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Cooked pasta, I used Orecchiette Rigate - "little ears" (optional, & gluten free without pasta)

-Heat a large pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, sweating for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds before adding the carrots, celery and bell pepper. Cook all the veggies for about 10 minutes.
-Add the can of tomatoes, the stock, the lentils and enough water so everything is submerged with room to spare. The lentils will soak up the liquid and you may need to add more. Add your herbs, spices and another large pinch of salt (seasoning throughout cooking ensures great flavor) and bring it up to a boil.
-Turn down to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Taste the soup and continue cooking only until the lentils are not gritty. Season to taste. Serve over cooked pasta and with Rosemary-Olive Oil loaf (a Brittany fav!) like we did.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Popcorn for the Sweet Tooth

CrUnChY caramel coated popcorn with a sprinkle of almonds.....delicious! But wait, the aroma of fresh popcorn popping and warm caramel simmering on your stove is another reason why you should prepare this delightful snack.

So what are you waiting for? Turn to page 286 in Lorna's book titled Popcorn-Almond-Caramel Balls. *sigh*, you don't have the book. Since I can't post all of her lovely recipes, click on the link - Caramel Corn and whip up a similar recipe.   -amy w.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Balcony Garden Too, in the Midwest

I am once again a Midwest resident. After 5 years in Seattle I find myself back in the great state of Michigan. Two important guys in my life have brought me back, Dad and boyfriend, Scott. Leaving the ladies behind in Seattle was no easy task and the bf is really being supportive in making sure I'm enjoying things here. So this weekend we started a garden. Nothing big, just a couple of containers with some herbs and one small pot of peppers.  If we can manage this then maybe we'll go bigger next time?

We kept things simple, two long boxes that will hang over the balcony filled with parsley, basil, thyme, oregano and chives. As the engineer (or money manager?!) he's indicated that the "garden" in order to pay for itself, will have to yield more than $50 in produce this summer. Yikes! You need me to yield that much cash value in herbs and 1 pepper plant?! If that's not pressure, and challenge, to keep me watering the small things I don't know what would be! Bring it on. I'll be avoiding long viney things Amy did last year, hoping to retain space for BBQ patio dinners for two this summer :) So far he's into the challenge as well. Tonight after dinner he said, I'm gonna water the kiddos! and happily refers to the pepper plant as his baby. Well, OK then. Together we'll keep these things alive. Hopefully we'll get some sprouts soon as we're little bit late planting our seedlings.

Here they are in the kitchen while we wait out the fear of possible frost.
Happy Gardening and Happy Easter! -Vicki

Monday, April 18, 2011

Balcony Gardening - Round Two

Another year, another garden! I've decided to try flower boxes, which I can hang on the railing instead of using white 5 gallon pails.  I plan to have three boxes containing plant herbs, lettuce, and strawberries. 

Earlier this month, Ben told me he did not want the pails taking up space on our tiny patio.  Little did he know that I had a plan to hang everything and continue on my merry gardening way. I think while he is away at a conference in 2 weeks, I will just plant a few of the pails anyhow.  I'll make sure to refrain from the pumpkin and zuchinni plants that took over our entire patio last year. 

Visit one of my favorite blogs Life on the Balcony for helpful information, video tutorials, and crafty projects. Not in the mood to read a blog,  pick up Amy Pennington's book titled Apartment Gardening.  "Grow squash on your patio, flowers in your window box, and pick blackberries from your parking strip". 

Start your garden, we'll talk grains shortly! - amy w

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Farro & Roasted Asparagus Salad

You know you need to bring that Easter dish to Aunt Sally's gathering.  Skip the marshmallow jello, condensed chicken soup casserole, and Velveeta cheesy potatoes.  Instead, bring a fresh wholesome dish bursting with spring flavor.

Farro & Roasted Asparagus Salad -modified from Mike Roberts
1 pound asparagus
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked farro
5 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 medium garlic clove - pressed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse asparagus and pat dry.  Lay out a single layer in a baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 garlic cloves pressed.  Roast in a preheated 450 degree oven 10-12 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.

Cool and cut into 1/2-inch pieces on a diagonal.

Cook farro in a pot large and put about two to two and a half cups of salted water per every cup of farro. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer with a closed lid for 20 to 40 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Toast almonds in a small dry skillet until golden.

Combine the asparagus, farro, the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, the nuts, parsley, and Parmesan.  Cover and refrigerate.

One hour before serving bring the salad to room temperature.  Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and pepper.    -amy w.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bread Prices on the Rise

I can't complain about gas prices since I commute 3 miles to work.  If traffic lights are working in my favor, I can leave 10 minutes before works starts and stroll into the office with plenty of time. However, it looks like gas prices are really beginning to effect food prices, so, the Whipple household is taking action one step at a time!  Several weeks ago, I told Ben that bread making will now be on the weekend chore list....well, my chore list! I think his list may be a bit longer than mine already, so I'm OK with adding one.  It's been 3 weeks now and there is no going back!
This week, I encourage you to bust out your bread machine and put it to work.  Back in 2001, during my college years, my mom thought it would be a genius idea to buy me a bread maker.  It sat on the shelf.  I then moved to Salt Lake City and the bread maker moved to a shelf in my parents basement.  FINALLY, one year over Christmas, I had the idea that the bread maker should be taken on the airplane as a carry on and moved to Salt Lake.  Why not, I could save $10 in shipping costs.  I convinced Ben, "Mr. I always think ahead," that people take large items all of the time as a carry on and I could do the same.  Well our ride drops us off at the airport and the lady behind the ticket counter would not allow me to proceed, saying it will cost me $50!  Ben gave me the "I told you so eyes," but knew it was a smart idea to keep all comments to himself.  Well, the bread maker made the journey and plopped out of luggage return and then sat once again in my Salt Lake pantry for another two years.  In fact, four weeks ago when I started using it, fumes from burnt plastic streamed out of the vents!  Ben swore he could taste plastic infused bread but I think he was just trying to get me going. :)

Trust me, it's a weird shift that first week. The loaf sat in fridge until at least Wednesday before one of us attempted to cut it. Before making the change, Ben even ate both end pieces of the last loaf of store bought bread, which NEVER happens. I remember gasping when Ben told me that he sliced two pieces of homemade bread for his sandwich. In fact he said he liked it.  It looks like it will be smooth sailing on our way to eating only homemade bread.

Measure out 2 bowls of dry ingredients so when the first loaf is done, you can toss in the second. Keep one in the fridge and freeze the second loaf for mid-week.  -amy w.

Honey Wheat Bread -  Modified from Toastmaster Recipe Book
1 egg, room temp plus enough warm water to equal 1 cup
2 TBL oil
3 TBL honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour...Oooh yes, I grind mine!
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp Quick Rise Yeast
1 TBL Vital Wheat Gluten 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pasta in the Making

Ever get the urge to make your own pasta?  If the Italian grannies can do it, so can you.  After receiving a KitchenAid pasta making attachment for Christmas, I decided to give this whole pasta thing a go! 

The first attempted dough recipe almost broke my mixer.  Let's just say, I had no idea what consistency of pasta dough was appropriate for the machine. After feeding the dough in, it became stuck in the attachment and I thought I was going to fry the motor. It made a low droning sound and I almost burnt my hand when I felt the top of the mixer . I panicked once I realized that I probably forgot to fill out the warranty and turned it off immediately.  I was pretty annoyed at this point, so I threw the clump of dough away. No pasta for dinner that night!

After a few more rounds of pasta dough and egg adjustments,  I figured out a recipe that has been working quite well.  I've used the pasta attachment to make angel hair, macaroni, and alfredo noodles.  The noodles are great, but I'm already over the fancy attachment. I was trying to figure out why I dislike the attachment and then I read this review on Amazon, which pretty much describes my experience perfectly. 

"The object is to continue to drop walnut-sized pieces of dough into the tube, while also catching the pasta as it comes out of the machine. Because it tends to get warm and stick together in one huge blob, people on the KitchenAid boards have suggested sprinkling the emerging pasta with flour. And for this, you need three hands. Those of us lucky enough to have been born with three arms may find it a breeze, but the rest of us will struggle. And this is not even to mention the additional mess (and wastage) of the sprinkled flour! By the time I was finished (or rather, surrendered), the place looked like an explosion in a flour mill!)."

From now on, I am sticking to the basics and using my rolling pin! (See discussion below for details) The grannies in Italy know best and they will tell you this! Good thing my grandma does not subscribe, I can already hear her telling me I should have used her recipe and directions.  :)

Whole Wheat Pasta
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 5 minutes.  Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky (I had to add a few teaspoons).  Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 4 minutes.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow the dough to relax in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.

Divide the dough into 3-4 sections, keeping the unused dough wrapped tightly in the fridge.  Roll the dough out thin, like a stick of gum.  Fold the dough in half and cut long strips.  Allow the cut pasta to dry for 45 minutes on a towel or thick string. 

Boil water, add salt, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until al dente. Due to the large amount of pasta created in one session, I've been freezing the dried out pasta and cooking from frozen.  -amy w.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Salmon-Quinoa Baby Cakes

Could there be a more healthful recipe title than this?  Wild caught Alaskan salmon with its super high content of healthy fats, paired up with complete protein grain quinoa. Amazing!  At least that is what I'm hoping for. As I'm nearing the date to my final menu project for school I've been practicing this one quite a bit.  It's a recipe I adapted into a delicious starter course on my menu.  It will be served very similar to the photo except on a bed of mache (recently discovered favorite lettuce!) with a mustard aioli.

The process is pretty simple: Cooked quinoa and diced, sauteed vegetables (carrot, celery, onion), with small diced salmon.  Blend a bit of your quinoa and salmon in a food processor with the egg to get a gluten free binder too! I added tarragon and parsley to my version of these cakes and really love the flavor paired with mustard aioli.  I found forming the cakes in a mini muffin pan helped keep the cakes together. They are first baked in the oven and then removed and quickly pan fried in order to get a slightly crispy crust.  There is no real recipe here...try mixing cooked quinoa with various other mix-ins and herbs for a tasty starch side, very high in protein.

I hope you give them a try and enjoy!  -Vicki

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breakfast "On the Go"

I'm up everyday at 5:40 and out the door by 6:40.  By the time I pack my lunch, grab yoga clothes, and make a fruit protien shake for mid-morning, I'm left searching for what I can eat in under 5 minutes.
The past two weeks have been a breeze.  Lorna's 5-minute steel-cut oats with gingered fruit compote on page 247 was exactly what I needed.  In her introduction to the recipe, she explained how everything could be prepared in advance.  On Sunday night, I brought 4 cups of water and a dash of salt to a boil.  I stirred in the cup of steel cut oats and cinammon.  After everything was combined, I placed the lid back on and turned off the heat.  The pan was left out on the stove overnight and I woke up the next morning to breakfast for the entire week.  It took me 10 minutes from start to finish by the time I heated the oats back up, stirred in milk and divided everything into small containers.  I can't wait to add fresh peaches and cherries from the Farmer's Market!

Inspired by the 5 minute prep time, I took steel cut oats to the next level and found an oatmeal/fruit bar recipe (pictured above).  Once again I prepared everything on Sunday night, cut and wrapped the bars so I was ready for the week. I even had extra to freeze. This recipe can be found on one of my favorite blog sites, Nourished Kitchen.  Enjoy!  -amy w.   

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oat & Turkey Soup with Tex-Mex Flavors, pg. 126/ Split Pea Soup

Soup season is in full force.  I can't think of a better way to enjoy my Sunday evening after skiing than kicking up my feet while watching Netflicks with a big bowl of soup on my lap.  I usually only cook slow cooker soups.  Recipes that I can toss together all at once and come back several hours later to a soup that is ready to eat.  I'm not one to stir a big pot over the stove continuing to add ingredients.  Lorna's soup was not made in the slow cooker, but rather one I could toss together fairly fast and then freeze extra for an upcoming Sunday.
I started this soup in a large pot and cooked the onion and celery.  I then added the cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles along with several seasonings including cinammon. Once I could smell the spices, I poured the water in the pot along with the 3 chicken thighs.  The turkey simmered, and the oats cooked.  As usual, I never follow the full directions so I added several items in my fridge.  For this soup, I added leftover kamut, butternut squash, fresh cilantro and parsley.  The Tex-Mex flavors came together nicelly and I will for sure be making this in the future. 
While skiing last weekend, my friend Jackie had the pefect idea, soup bowls in the "brown bag" lunch area.  Enjoy.    
Split Pea Soup w/Couscous
Modified from Fix-It and Forget-It
1 lb. pkg. split peas
6 slices of thick ham
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
4 potatoes, diced
1 qt. water
1 qt. chicken broth
Seasoning (pepper, bay leaf, allspice, sugar)
1 cup couscous, cooked (add to soup before serving)

Directions: Wash and sort split peas, removing any stones.  Combine all ingredients except cooked couscous in the slow cooker.  Cover in slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours.  Add couscous to soup before serving.   -amy