Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunny Afternoon

I took Ayla out to play fetch this afternoon, instead of a walk. Nothing special, but the light was nice.

And she was happy, as usual.

Silly puppy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tartlette's Quinoa, Roasted Pepper, and Avocado Cream Verrines

I like layers: in my hair, in what I wear (it is the Bay Area after all), and especially in my food. One of these days I'm going to make a 14-Layer Cake.

But layered food isn't just for dessert. I love lasagna, especially with well-defined layers. And I really liked Tartlette's Quinoa Verrines. I pretty much followed her recipe, though I used Greek yogurt and an entire avocado. So whip some up for dinner; life's all about layers.

Quinoa, Roasted Pepper, and Avocado Cream Verrines

1 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cups water
1 pepper, or a mix of baby peppers
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 avocado
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Combine the quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil; simmer until the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes, and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the whole pepper(s) with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and peppere, and roast until it starts to blister, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then cut in half, remove seeds, and cut into smaller pieces as desired.

Mash the avocado with the lime juice, cilantro, onion, and yogurt in a non-reactive bowl until smooth.

Layer the quinoa, peppers, and avocado cream in glasses. Feel good about eating something healthy and pretty.

Related recipes:
Quinoa with Black Beans and Sweet Potato
Tempeh Provencal
Acorn Squash Tacos

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Red Velvet Chocolate Squares

Oh man, are these good...

You wouldn't think they're good for you. They're sugar free and have no dyes. Sweetness is provided by agave nectar, which doesn't spike your blood sugar. And they're made with with beets, which gives the red hue to these confections.

Don't let that scare you though. The beet flavor is a subtle earthiness. The squares are smooth, dense, and rich. And really, really good. Try it, you'll like it.

Red Velvet Chocolate Squares
adapted from Costco Connection Magazine

1/2 c. Beets - I used roasted fresh, but the recipe calls for canned
1 c. Canned red beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. Unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs, but the recipe calls for 3/4 c. liquid egg substitute
3 Tbsp. Whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c. Agave nectar
1 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray an 8x8x2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the beets, beans, cocoa powder, eggs, and flour in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, 1-2 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add the agave nectar, butter, vanilla, and almond extract. Process until combined, about another minute.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 300F and bake another 5 to 8 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come ot with a little soft batter clinging to it, not clean or it's overfilled.

Let the cake cool completely in the baking dish on a wire rack. Then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, it gets better with time. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011


The usual: Ayla smiling out the back window when I drive. She's such a happy dog, especially when I take her on errands with me. I noticed some white on her muzzle recently. I didn't think Dobes gray with age, but I guess I haven't seen many old Dobes. Ayla is only 5, not yet a senior. You can't be getting old on me yet, girlie. Though I may start calling you Grey Goose in addition to your other nickname, Monkey.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grilled Pear and Carmelized Onion Pizzas

The return of warmer weather has us on the patio as often as possible once again. Chris is still trying to stay away from eating meat, so finding satisfying grilling options for him has been a little bit of a challenge. There's always veggie or bean burgers, veggie dogs, kebabs, my favorite Quorn Chik'n fillets, and tofu. We recently tried something a little different.

I've made grilled pizzas before, here. This time I pre-baked the dough rounds in the oven though. And its topped with grilled pears, caramelized onions, feta cheese, and mascarpone. Its very light and fresh, and the grilled pears are to die for.

Grilled Pear Pizzas
1 recipe dough, or store-bought fresh dough
1 onion, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 pear, medium to thickly sliced
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. agave nectar
Black pepper
Mascarpone cheese
Feta cheese

Caramelized onions: Put the onion slices in a pan over medium heat with the butter and cover, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about 20 minutes. Add in the brown sugar and turn the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until the onions are as caramelized as you like, adding more butter or oil as necessary to keep them from sticking and burning.
Combined the melted butter, agave nectar, and pepper in a bowl, and toss the pears in the mixture. Set aside.
Separate your pizza dough into personal-sized rounds pre-cook in the oven, undercooking slightly.
Fire up your grill, and grill the pear slices on both sides so they are hot and have some nice char marks. Grill both sides of you dough rounds as well (do these on low heat - they don't need to cook very long and will burn easily otherwise).

Assemble your pizzas: Take one of the grilled dough rounds, spread with some mascarpone cheese, sprinkle on some feta, and top with grilled pears and caramelized onions, as well as a little chopped cilantro if you like. Then put it back on the grill for a few minutes to warm the cheeses. Serve with a green salad, and enjoy the advent of spring!

Related Recipes:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soak Up the Sun

The weather was so nice today that Gretel, Ayla, and I spent the afternoon on the patio.

I think Gretel must have a solar panel on her belly.

We listened to the birds and squirrels.

And we soaked up the sun.

We were content.


I also snapped some photos of the plants growing on our patio. My grapevine is starting to take off; the petunias are as hardy as ever; the Princess lilies are budding; the avocado tree is sprouting all over; the various marigolds we just planted as doing well; there are flowers on the tomato; and I think our Mr. Lincoln rose might bloom sometime soon; even the shamrocks are flowering. Its very pretty... too bad its supposed to rain again. I hope everything makes it through just fine!

Monday, April 4, 2011

What We Eat

I often wonder what everyone out there generally eat for their everyday dinners. This is one of our favorite meals, and it takes about half an hour to forty-five minutes to make, a lot of it unattended: sauteed veggies, mashed potatoes, and a protein which is usually baked tofu or a Quorn Naked Chik'n Cutlet as you see here. I've written about Quorn products before, and I've loved every one that I've tried. If you're looking for a vegetarian protein source I highly recommend these.

This meal is very flavorful and very satisfying. Here's a quick method:

1. Set the oven to 425F.

2. Get a pot of water boiling. Peel two baking potatoes and one sweet potato, cut into very large chunks, and add to boiling water.

3. Put the Chik'n Cutlets on a sheet of foil. Pour some balsamic dressing or other sauce or herb combination of your choice over the cutlets, then flip and pour more on the other side. Fold up the foil into a package. Put in the preheated oven to cook for 20 minutes.

4. Slice up some veggies of your choice - here I used leek, yellow squash, and red cabbage. Melt some butter in pan and saute the veggies. I put the leek in first so it would get soft, then added the squash, and at the end added the cabbage and some minced garlic so it would stay relatively crisp. Season with salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon juice. Set aside.

5. Drain the potatoes when they're soft. Put a tablespoon or so of butter in the pot you cooked the potatoes in and let it melt, then toss in some minced garlic. Add in the drained potatoes and a few tablespoons of milk and mash, adding more milk if necessary.

6. Layer it all on a plate and enjoy!

So what do you have for dinner?

Related Recipes: