Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tasty Quinoa Cakes

Hello again!

I recently joined the land of Pinterest, where I have not-so-reluctantly wasted much of my time, and have collected many recipes that I am just dying to give a try. What I love about Pinterest is that I no longer have to have links saved to my inrernet favorites, plus I have the Pinterest app on my phone, so I am never without a healthy diversion from my everyday life.

I'm almost ashamed to admit how much time I've wasted on Pinterest, but after I got my boards set up for the most part, I'm not on there as much as I'd like to I was a few weeks ago. I do have a sneaking fear that if my boards were deleted or messed up in some way, I'd probably have an emotional breakdown and start thrashing around on the ground, sobbing my god-forsaken eyes out.

Now, it's one thing to pin a bunch of shit on Pinterest and look cool, it's entirely another to actually try this stuff out. I've tried a few things so far (workouts, hairstyles, clothing), but none of them were food-related until today. I'm really glad that I chose Joy The Baker's Kale and Quinoa Cakes as one of the first new recipes in my repertoire, because 1) I trust Joy, she's a wonderful blogger and her stuff is amazing, and 2) I've been seeking a protein-packed, nutritious pre- or post-run snack that wouldn't upset my stomach or leave me feeling guilty for consuming a pre-packaged protein bar from GNC. These are definitely a nice change-up from the normal.


Joy The Baker's Kale and Quinoa Cakes

1 1/2 cups raw quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bunch (about 3 cups) chopped dino kale
splash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon olive oil for frying, add a bit more as necessary
lemon wedges, olives or capers, spicy mustard, and greens for serving

Instructions: Place dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Wash under cool water for a few minutes. Quinoa needs to be rinsed or it tastes dirty. (My note: this is a huge pain in the ass, but so worth it. Expect to lose some quinoa down the drain in the rinsing process.)

In a medium saucepan place rinsed quinoa, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for about 25 t0 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. We’ll need about 3 cups of cooked quinoa for the recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add kale and toss until just slightly wilted, about 1 minutes. Remove from heat and add a splash of vinegar. Place kale mixture in a large bowl with prepared quinoa. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can speed up this process in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Add cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, break crumbs, salt, and pepper. Add beaten eggs and stir until all of the quinoa mixture is moistened. Add water to thoroughly moisten mixture. Quinoa should be slightly wet so it doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Scoop out mixture by the 2 tablespoonful. (I used a small ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture right into the hot pan.) Use clean, moist fingers to form into a patty. Create as many patties as you’d like. (Rinse your hands after every few patties… it makes making patties easier.)

(Sticky patties ready to fry)

In a large skillet over medium low heat, heat olive oil. If you pan is large enough, add four to six patties to the hot pan. You’ll need a bit of room to successfully flip them.


Cook on each side until beautifully browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Low heat helps the quinoa cakes cook slowly. Brown on each side then remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Serve warm with a lemon wedge, mustard, fresh spinach, and salty capers. It’s like a deconstructed salad. Serve them any way you’d like.

(All done! Let's eat!)

My thoughts: Delicious! I didn't have apple cider vinegar, so I substituted some lemon juice for that, and instead of parmesan I used romano cheese. Oh, and all I had on-hand were Italian bread crumbs, not panko, and I nixed the sun-dried tomatoes, but they still turned out really well, especially since I've only cooked quinoa a handful of time in the past, so I was a little nervous, but my fears soon subsided once things started coming together. I'm excited to start using quinoa more, even as a breakfast item, and I'm excited to start experimenting more with kale as well. I'm thinking kale chips are in my future.

If you'd like to follow me on Pinterest (no pressure), here's the link: Mehgan's Pinterest.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Time For Change


Wow, so much has happened over the past year since I last wrote a post here. I feel like I've come such a long way in such a short amount of time. First, I got promoted at work; a change that I'm still getting used to. I went from being a worker-bee to fulfilling a supervisor role. This is a position I've been striving to get promoted to for a long time, so it feels great. Second, my husband and I got transferred to Yorktown, VA. We've been here for a couple weeks now, and it suits us well. I love that I don't have to take a freeway to work, my commute is 17 minutes from my driveway to the parking lot at work, and there are so many little things that we're falling in love with everyday. Sitting on the back porch drinking wine and watching the fireflies (which we've never seen before in our lives). We learned how to break apart whole blue crabs, rather than just eating their leg meat like we had learned on King crabs when we were in Kodiak. We're looking forward to going running through the battlefields around where we live once the heat wave breaks.

The recipe I've chosen for this post is one that doesn't really make sense to cook during a heat wave, but we had a craving for it since we hadn't had it since the holiday season. My main reason for coming up with this recipe is it features an ingredient that I used to always think that I'd hate, but was pleasantly surprised that I love.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Raisins and Almonds

-5 strips of bacon
-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
-4 cups (or 1lb) brussels sprouts
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds
-1 cup of chicken stock or cooking wine

Instructions: Remove all yellowed leaves from brussels sprouts, then cut off the stems and cut sprouts in half. Cook bacon over medium heat until well done and crispy; set aside on a paper towel to cool. Turn heat to medium-low, then add the garlic. After a minute or two, add the brussels sprouts, raisins, and almonds. (Note: I like to add a bit of pepper as well, but try to stay away from adding salt since the bacon provides enough saltiness.) Stir ingredients together, adding a bit of chicken stock slowly to help steam the sprouts. Continue to stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the sprouts are well-steamed.

What I love about this dish is you can adapt it to the season. For summer, you could add a squeeze of lemon and some fresh herbs. And when I made this as a side dish for Christmas dinner, I used pecans instead of almonds, and cranberries instead of raisins. I also love that the different flavors play off each other really well to create this wonderful harmony of taste. The sweetness of the raisins, the saltiness of the bacon, the bite of the garlic, the bittery-butter flavor of the brussels sprouts, the crunch of the nuts. It's just an all-around fun thing to eat. I've actually considered just serving this for dinner with some romano cheese dusted on top, some crusty bread on the side and a nice bottle of wine (of course).