Burns My Bacon: Quinoa, The Boss of Grains

Y’know what I’ve be eating a lot of lately? Quinoa. Y’know what tastes like mini packing pellets regardless of how it’s cooked or how much cheese you throw on top of it? QUINOA!

What the F? Why don’t I get it? Is it possible that over the last six weeks on the seven different occasions that I’ve eaten this crap that somehow I’ve been given bad examples of how it is supposed to be prepared? I’ve had it cold, hot and creamy, mixed in salads and served as side and main dishes, and each time I’m like, “Who really likes this shit?”

Why am I the only one who is out of the loop on this? This reminds me of when all my friends were way into Bruce Springsteen. I could never figure out what they were hearing that I couldn’t pick up in his music. I even recently went to a concert and I remember standing there looking around at everyone going apeshit over “Born in the USA”, and I kept thinking, “What is going on? There’s no chorus. It’s just the same flat tune repeated over and over with different words. Why don’t I get this?”

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A Healthier Risotto: Quinoa Faux-otto

Let’s face it. No matter how much I love to cook, some nights I’m just not feeling it. I’m tired, it’s getting late, I spent too much time watching reruns of Friends after work (whatever, not ashamed), I don’t want to go all the way to the grocery store in the dark, etc. You know the drill. On one such night, I was determined to make a delicious, inventive, and at least somewhat healthy dinner exclusively with things I already had in my fridge and pantry. Thus my quinoa faux-otto (faux risotto) was born.

This stuff is awesome because it’s rich, cheesy, and savory, just like regular risotto, but crammed with way more nutritional benefits than the traditional stuff. (Thanks, quinoa, I love you!) It also takes about half the time; no stirring required. Not that stirring is some great physical struggle—people complaining about stirring risotto is actually one of my culinary pet peeves—but this is great when you’re in a hurry or just feeling supremely lazy. My recipe reflects the produce and cheese I had on hand, but don’t be afraid to experiment with your leftovers. For example, I bet this would be delicious with some swiss, butternut squash, and bacon. Hmmm…

Quinoa Faux-otto with Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, & Parmesan

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Chenopod Cooking: Spicy Coconut Kale Quinoa

When it comes to side dishes, I’m a creature of habit. I’m obsessed with dark, leafy greens like kale and chard. I’m also really into quinoa lately. Fun fact, ES friends: did you know quinoa isn’t a grain? It’s a “chenopod” (What is that? Real talk: I’m not sure.) Apparently, it’s more closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweed. Maybe tumbleweed will be the next hot food trend! You heard it here first.

Anyway, since I use quinoa so much in my cooking, I need to find ways to keep it interesting. One of my favorite methods is to cook it in coconut milk rather than water or broth, which gives it a slightly creamier texture. To balance out the sweetness of the coconut, I add lots of salt and spices. This is a very adaptable base; you can mix in whatever herbs and vegetables you desire.

Spicy Coconut Kale Quinoa

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A Cucumber Salad for Cucumber Haters

The other weekend I was going to a little cucumber-themed dinner party with some friends. Yep, cucumber-themed. Pretty specific, I know, but I love dinner parties so of course I was down. Here’s a secret, though: I really don’t like cucumbers very much. They’re one of the few foods I generally shy away from (other foods that receive that treatment from yours truly? Celery, eggplant, and licorice). I wasn’t going to be a theme-wrecker, though, so I decided to make a salad including, but not highlighting, the cukes. I also was in the mood to be healthy (if you don’t count the approximately 6 glasses of white wine I downed that night, oops).

This salad was really easy to throw together and it was a hit amongst my friends. Quinoa has always been one of my favorite grains, and it used to be considered kind of exotic, but these days it’s pretty easy to find. I combined that with fresh herbs and ruby red grapefruit (which, unlike cucumber, is one of my favorite flavors). The result? Light, fresh, sweet, sour, a bit spicy, and waaaaay too easy to eat.

Grapefruit-Cucumber Quinoa Salad

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Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know Taste Delicious With Chocolate

There’s nothing better than chocolate, right? Or is there? Foodies have figured out that everyone’s favorite candy gets even better when combined with some surprising ingredients. Here are our top 10 favorite crazy chocolate recipes.

10. Avocado

It might sound gross, but avo mixed with chocolate chips makes an amazingly rich filling for Russell Warnick’s chocolate avocado pie.

 9. Eggplant

No, this is not a joke. Just give it a try. Salted fried eggplant drizzled with dark chocolate, from What You Give Away You Keep.

8. Goat Cheese

Chocolate is great. Cheese is great. Why the eff not? Macheesmo makes goat cheese raspberry brownies.

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The Search Continues: Bulk Bin #3387

Various Grains

The grains from bulk bin #3387 are about to be shown Who Is Boss. I’m tired of #3387 mocking me as I push past it to reach for properly labeled grains. I will figure out what the fuck this grain is and use that entire bag in one sitting. So. There.

In case you are wondering what I’m talking about, last week I pleaded for someone to come forward and name this unmarked grain I had sitting in my cabinet. To recap…

We had a few guesses:

NeeNee: really short grain brown rice or wheat berries
AW: some sort of barley
Maids: yellow dent corn from the Andes. Or Kamut.
dosdos, negged those guesses: I’m pretty sure farro is longer than that. Kamut’s pretty long and narrow. Wheat berries is a good guess but it doesn’t have the line down the middle splitting it in half like a little long booty…. I’m really leaning towards rice.
Danielle: Amaranth?
ajjelibean: Does raw sunflower kernels from Tree of Life sound familiar?

But no one could claim certainty and I have no idea what the Tree of Life is.

Although there were a few other tips. Olga from Mango & Tomato suggested I cook it like brown rice and Brit and westcoast thought I should think just a bit harder where I may have bought the grains to trigger an answer.

My guess is farro because I know that I’ve wanted to try it. But no one thinks that it looks like farro.

Oh well. So here is one last shot. Maids suggested that I show the mystery grain in comparison to other identified grains. See above. Please help.

Who are you bulk bin #3387?!?!

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