Cheating with Friends

Yesterday was a cheat day. No holds barred, eat all kinds of “bad for me” foods!

I met a few previous co-worker friends and we had such a great time, reminiscing, gossiping and eating fattening foods! I haven’t laughed that hard in such a long time! Don’t giggles and laughs burn off calories? haha. I wish!

But I’m back on track today, and feeling good!

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta – Review

ancient harvest quinoa pasta

I love pasta, but it’s tough to find a really tasty whole grain pasta. I love brown rice pasta, but I also like trying something new. So, I purchased a box of the Ancient Harvest brand of quinoa pasta. It’s a blend of organic (non-GMO) corn and quinoa flours. It’s totally gluten free, and looks and tastes just like regular white flour pasta!

It’s got a nice corn yellow color and I really appreciate that it’s made from simple organic ingredients.

When cooking, the water became a bit cloudy, but the pasta was not sticky or clumpy. I have a bit of a starchy problem sometimes when cooking brown rice pasta, but the quinoa pasta does not have that issue at all.

We ate it as part of our Meatless Monday meal with some tomato olive sauce and it really was delicious.

Even though it’s so much more expensive than regular pasta, I would definitely purchase it again. Looking at the Ancient Harvest web site, it looks like they also offer a wheat/quinoa blend too.

Amazon offers a 12 pack for $26.

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Apples & Almonds

UPDATED 2011-06-22:

I just made this quinoa salad for a reunion dinner tonight.

quinoa salad with tomatoes, feta, apples and almonds

Quinoa is a very small grain, actually it’s technically not even a grain, it’s a seed, but it’s always lumped into the hearty whole grain category. It’s gluten free and fairly quick to make. It smells earthy when cooking.

uncooked quinoa seeds

I found excellent cooking instructions for quinoa in the Lorna Sass book “Whole Grains Every Day Every Way“. Cook quinoa similar to how you cook pasta: use a large portion of boiling water and then drain.

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First Bread Dough Kneaded By Hand

INSPIRATION from the Kitchen Bootcamp – this month’s challenge is yeast breads. I tried to think outside the box and try something new…very timely since I think my wonderful (and old) bread machine died this morning. I don’t know if it’s recoverable, we’ll see if DH can fix it.

The ingredients were in the machine bucket, and I set it for “dough” and NADA. I could hear a slight clicking noise coming from the motor underneath the paddle, so initially I thought that maybe it was jammed or not placed correctly.

I tried, but I couldn’t get it to work, so I thought, well, maybe this was a sign. A sign to try something new and get out of my comfort zone.

So, I transferred all the ingredients into a large ceramic bowl and started to mix with a spoon. It was so dry; I started to mix with my hands. It was horrible. My hands were immediately clumped with sticky dough. I was trying to remember all the advice that I previously learned in books, on web sites and from other bread bakers. I decided that instead of dusting with a ton of flour, I would keep wetting my hands and try to knead that way.

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Campo de Montalban Cheese – Review

Yesterday, I made a sandwich for lunch with some Campo de Montalban cheese inside one of my strangely unique wheat rye sunflower caraway rolls.

I love cheese but let me tell you, this particular cheese really rocks! The flavor melded so well with the flavors of rustic wheat and caraway seeds in my bread. I savored every single bite!

Campo de Montalban cheese (the name brings a smile on my face because I immediately think of Ricardo Montalban) is a yummy blend of cows’, sheeps’ and goats’ milk from Spain. I purchased a little wedge from Whole Foods on sale last week for $10/lb, which was cheaper than the yummy raw sheeps’ milk Manchego cheese. I think I am enjoying the Campo de Montalban cheese more than the Manchego!

This morning, I thinly sliced a few pieces to put on my breakfast Bruschetta with olives, garlic and basil. It melted beautifully under the broiler, keeping it’s shape. It didn’t get runny or stringy. It’s a “hard” cheese, not as hard as Parmesan though.

bruschetta with olives, cheese, garlic, & basil

Nutritional Data per 1 oz serving

Calories 108 Calories from Fat 81
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 30mg
Sodium 160mg
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Protein 7g

Zucchini Onion Pancakes Recipe

For the Summer Lovin week over at I Heart Cooking Clubs – Cooking through Mark Bittman recipes!

The cookbook “How to Cook Everything” authored by Mark Bittman is available in a handy, easy to use, full featured iPhone app. I have been browsing the recipes, getting to know the app and I am totally thrilled with it! Highly recommended if you have an iPhone. I would love to see more cookbooks available like this!

Anyway, I saw the recipe for zucchini pancakes, and knew I had to try them. We received a medium sized zucchini in our vegetable CSA share last week, so it was the perfect time to try it.

medium zucchini

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Whole Wheat Rye Sunflower Caraway Bread

I found a great “cooking challenge group” called Kitchen Bootcamp. The challenge this month is yeast bread, so I’m trying to bake out of my comfort zone.

It’s tough because when I bake bread (twice a week), I just don’t have the time to experiment with new techniques, but when I realized my loaf pan was in the dishwasher, it forced me to improvise.

I baked 6 smaller loaves. Two in smaller loaf pans, and four rolls in 2 small glass baking dishes. I need more experience with baking smaller rolls, and this was good practice. Next time, I am going for real rolls!

This recipe isn’t 100% whole grain, but it’s still a very good source of fiber! No added sugar, except for 3 Tbsp of Orange Juice.

improvised with baking dishes

I didn’t have much trouble shaping the dough, but they did stick to the pans slightly, even when they were oiled. The bread tasted delicious though, and that’s all that matters in the end, right?

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Keeping Produce Fresh with Ethylene Gas Removers

Ethylene gas (H2C=CH2) is a harmless odorless, colorless, gas that is produced from both natural and man-made sources. Vegetables and fruit release the gas as they are ripening, but at the same time, the build up of the gas can hasten the ripening of produce.

Some produce produce large quantities of the Ethylene gas, some are more sensitive to the gas, and some do both.

For instance, lettuce releases a very low amount of ethylene gas, but is effected by the gas very strongly. Apples are very high producers, plus they are highly sensitive to the gas as well.

Ethylene Gas removal kits can absorb the gas from the area, so produce stays fresher longer!

I’ve been using Ethylene Gas absorbing kits in my refrigerator for years. I started out using the E.G.G. (Ethylene Gas Guardian) and when my supply ran out, I kept meaning to order them online, but it just seemed so expensive with shipping, so I kept putting it off.

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find the Bluapple brand refills at Whole Foods. A full year kit (8 packets to fill two containers for 12 months) was $10, so I saved on the S&H.

The cool part is the packets keep on giving even afterward. Open the old, used packets and sprinkle the contents on your plants. I just put a few older EGG packets on the tomato and pepper plants on our deck!

Meatless Monday – Quinoa Pasta with Tomato Puttanesca Sauce

Meatless Monday - quinoa pasta with tomato puttanesca sauce

We went meatless tonight (with a little bit of dairy) by eating a satisfying plate of quinoa pasta topped with tomato puttanesca sauce. I included some lovely kousa squash in the sauce, which was part of our CSA vegetable share this week. It’s a summer squash similar to zucchini.

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Pomegranate Season

Since I slowly started to eat clean only last July, I’m still getting to know certain foods and when they are available in stores.

The pomegranate is one fruit I am dying to try for real! I ate the seeds in the Chobani yogurt pomegranate flavor, but I want the real thing!

So it looks like September or October is the start of the season so I’ll be looking forward to that!