Easy, healthy, sometimes indulgent recipes

Author: Bianca

Greek Style Quinoa

greek style quinoa

Incredibly easy, healthy delicious greek style quinoa that makes a great side or perfect as a meal on its own.

Well, I cannot believe it has been months since I have posted something.  I have a list of good excuses, but they are just excuses so I will not go into details. I can say, I will try to do a better job with posting something more often.  It is a personal goal that I have not done a great job meeting in any way. 
A few weeks ago we had a potluck at work. It was great fun. Everyone did a great job bringing something delicious and as we are a group that likes to eat, there was an enormous amount of food.  As for me, I got carried away and singed up for way too many things. My kitchen looked like Christmas and Thanksgiving combined and cleanup was not pretty.  One of the dishes I made was this greek style quinoa because I thought it would be easy to travel and its flavors are familiar enough that everyone would like it.  The other thought was, usually these types of get togethers have so much unhealthy food that it would be nice to have a healthy dish.  Luckily, it worked out.

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Pumpkin Pie

This spicy, delectable pumpkin pie embodies the comfort and warmth of the fall season.

pumpkin pie

What is it about pumpkin pie that is so comforting?  I love baking this pie.  I have a slight obsession with ginger so I really love making the pie extra spicy. Out of all the Holiday pies, pumpkin is always my personal favorite. It is the crown jewel, a reward after an abundant pumpkin season.  For this recipe, I use my homemade pumpkin puree, but that is only if you happen to have it and canned works perfectly.  Also, this year, I am doing a graham cracker crust in place of a traditional crust. I have found that graham cracker crust stands up better to the pumpkin filling and it does not get soggy.  It is important to pre-bake the crust and then bake everything again with the filling.  This really is super easy and it comes together in minutes and it bakes for about an hour. It can be made a day ahead and refrigerated or made the day of the Holiday.

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Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Homemade pumpkin puree is yet another pumpkin recipe that I am about to send your way.  I am in a heavy “use the pumpkins before they are ruined” mode.  Now that the pumpkin seeds are done, it is time to move on to the actual pumpkin. Making home made pumpkin puree is surprisingly easy, though it does take some time. 

pumpkin puree

Homemade puree is slightly sweeter than canned and of course, it is hard to beat fresh over canned, but it is hard to beat the convenience of canned. In many cases, I use canned and do this when I have an overload of pumpkins.

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Foolproof Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a perfect reward that comes from an overabundance of fall pumpkins.

pumpkin seeds

It is the same story every year. I buy way too many pumpkins, little ones, big ones, medium ones, it is a pumpkin overload. In addition, there are always multiple pumpkin patch family trips that yield even more pumpkins. I am in the process of baking the pumpkins that are still good, but seeds came first. Pumpkin seeds are my favorite snack. It takes some effort to get the seeds cleaned out and separated, but it is sooooo worth it.  I am doing my basic recipe, with just oil and sea salt, but these can be made with any seasonings. Feeling the pumpkin flavor? Mix the seeds with some sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Interested in a little bit of a bolder spicier flavor?  Mix the seeds with cumin, salt and a touch of chipotle powder.

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Paleo Nut and Seed Granola

Paleo granola? Is that even possible? No oats? No sugar? I am not by any means strict Paleo follower, but I find more and more that I love cooking Paleo inspired recipes.  When America’s Test Kitchen was running a cookbook sale, I ordered a few cookbooks and this one came from the Paleo Perfected cookbook. Confession, it was more than a “few” cookbooks, but best not discuss that part right now.  I made some modifications, increased the cinnamon, used pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds. What I love about this recipe is how easy it is to swap out different nuts. This would work great with almonds and hazelnuts. Also, other fruits would work well, like dried cherries or dried pineapple.

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No Knead Bread

No Knead bread is not a new thing. In fact in went through an incredible Instagram photo binge ever since the New York Times interview when New York Baker Jim Lahey invited Mark Bittman for an interview.  That recipe can be found here.  I adapted this recipe from the original. Yet, when all this happened, I somehow missed it.  It took a visit from my uncle who lives in Europe for me to discover it. He simply said, “Didn’t you see this on YouTube?” Actually, no, but now that I have I can’t live without it.  The beauty of this bread is in its simplicity and minimalism. It does not require special artistry, just time and patience.

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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Easy “power” quinoa salad with fresh summer vegetables.

quinoa salad

I must apologize for taking a long break from writing on this blog.  It is not for the lack of recipes, it is simply due to lack of time to take pictures of what I cook.  But here we are, it is the end of summer, and my all-summer-long-activity has been packing lunches on a Sunday.  I have also been pretty lucky that my garden has been abundant in peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. I planted way more than that, but other plants did not do so well. You know all those people that bring their amazing zucchini to the office, well that isn’t me. Mine did nothing.However,thanks to my other plants doing so well, I came up with this quinoa salad. This is also a great way to use up what is in season, meaning if you get it for cheap at the grocery store or farmer’s market, it is a great way to plan ahead.

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Strawberry Mojito

Super easy summertime strawberry mojito, made with fresh mint and juicy, ripe strawberries.

strawberry mojito

Summertime just calls for these types of cocktails. Long hot days, abundance of fresh fruit and herbs just beg to be mixed in a summery “I want to getaway to a tropical place”  type of a drink.  This drink evokes that feeling for me.  It is not too sweet, the mint makes it refreshing and the rum gives it just enough of a tropical feel that is reminiscent of a perfect getaway.  

In addition to eating fresh strawberries, mixing them in smoothies, plain yogurt this cocktail is a great way to use up extra berries from the Farmer’s Market

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Vegetarian Lasagna with Squash and Spinach

Vegetarian Lasagna with summer squash and baby spinach that is wonderfully healthy, nutritious and makes a great make ahead meal.

vegaterian Lasagna

I originally saw this recipe in Rachel Ray magazine which an also be found here.  This dish caught my attention because I knew that my summer garden would  yield lots of zucchini and yellow squash and I am always looking for creative ways to use summer produce.  I love how easy this vegetarian lasagna is to customize and I can make this on a Sunday and have dinner for several nights.  Additionally, the large amount of basil gives the finished product such a fresh, inviting summery flavor and it makes it difficult to stop with just one serving.  Of course, you could switch up the herbs, but when it comes to gardening the one thing that always thrives for me are herbs, so for me basil is plentiful. 

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Burrito Bowl With Cauliflower Rice

Light and fresh burrito bowl made with cauliflower “rice”

burrito bowl

This burrito bowl is my go-to take to work kind of a lunch. It is so easy to prepare, it can hold its own as a wonderful leftover and it can be made ahead. If that is not enough, it can really be customized many different ways. I was inspired to make this dish because of my deep love of Moe’s Burrito Bowls.  I wanted to make something similar and I had the idea of cooking this on  a Sunday and packing it ahead of time for the entire week.  Anytime I am able to pack my lunch on a Sunday, I feel like I am getting a present on a weekday.

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