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Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups {Iowa Girl Eats}

19 Apr

Photo by Iowa Girl Eats

(Review by Marci)

I don’t really have a good story to go along with this post. I wanted something easy and something for which I wouldn’t have to go to the store. I found this recipe for Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups on Pinterest from Iowa Girl Eats. It seems to me that EVERYONE in the Midwest is really good at cooking. Maybe there is something in the water there? Anywho, I did not have ham but I did have sausage. Either one works well with eggs, so it’s all good. I was a little worried about the quinoa and how it would affect the texture and thus effecting whether or not my kids would eat. I was relieved that they loved it and asked for seconds! I love how versatile this recipe is and will be adding it into the rotation!

Creamy Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie {Chiquita Bananas}

5 Apr

(Review by Denise)

This should be called a milkshake. It is almost as good as getting a peanut butter shake at Lenny’s. In fact, it is better! This drink is guilt-free. (Peanut butter brings me no guilt.) With 18 grams of protein per serving (depending on your yogurt), I call it lunch. In fact, I’m drinking one right now for lunch. The slight tang from the yogurt is perfect, not overpowering. I use natural peanut butter with no sugar. I imagine it would taste different if you used Jiffy or something. Check out the recipe from Chiquita Bananas right here.

Pineapple Ginger Smoothie {Gimme Some Oven}

13 Mar

Click image to take you to its source: Gimme Some Oven.

(Review by Denise)

Breakfast for dinner was my favorite as a kid.  The other night I made Gimme Some Oven‘s Pineapple Ginger Smoothies to go along with gingerbread waffles. (Waffle review to come later this week.) The preschooler and I, in particular, love fresh pineapple. (And this one turned out perfectly ripe and sweet!) Check out the smoothie recipe here.

I don’t think I’ve ever followed a recipe for a smoothie before. I usually just keep frozen fruit on hand and mix and match without measuring. But this turned out to be a beautiful smoothie, in both color and consistency–not too thick or too runny. It also occurred to me that it would be an excellent recipe when you’re feeling sick. Ginger is so good for you, and pineapple feels soothing on a sore throat.

Verdict? Fail. Taste is everything and only my man could finish drinking it. The fresh ginger gave it too sharp a flavor for the rest of us. And even though he finished his, he said he didn’t like it. He thought it needed more pineapple. I think it needed less ginger. Either way, it didn’t fly for us. If you love that spicy ginger bite, though, give it a try and share what you think!

Coffee Bacon Sandwiches {Joy the Baker}

6 Mar

Coffee Bacon Sandwich

(Review by Denise)

Yes, you read that right. It really says coffee bacon. I would not be surprised if soon, because of Joy the Baker, urban cafes across the country will begin serving the stuff. Hipsters will line up at the doors. Eventually the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives will feature a place in San Francisco or Portland that serves it and Guy Fieri will say, “This coffee bacon just took me to Flavor-town. This stuff is money.” Check out the recipe here. While you’re there, just check out Joy the Baker. It is my favorite food blog. (She just released a cookbook, too!)

When I made the coffee marinade for the bacon, it scared me. It looked like tar. And don’t do what I did and try the stuff on your fingertip!! Gack! (That is, unless, you just love to snack on coffee grounds. In which case I suggest you may need a coffee intervention.) And the goat cheese spread? Have you gone over there yet and read the ingredients? There are no words. I made our sandwiches on a local baker’s sourdough bread. I knew this sandwich called for something other than plain ol’ bread.

Not burned bacon. Coffee bacon.

Verdict? Pass. As in, this is the best sandwich I think I’ve ever eaten. It was also the strangest sandwich I’ve ever eaten. One bite and I had to pause from chewing and reflect on all the flavors going on in my mouth. Every bite got better. My man and I were so sad there were only the two. How on earth did Joy invent this utopian sandwich? She is some sort of genius, weighing each flavor in a magical flavor scale until each one perfectly balances with the others. The Coffee Bacon Sandwich was edible harmony. I never knew that was possible.

Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola and Brie

2 Mar

(Review by Denise)

I am not an onion person. For 2/3 of my life I thought I was an onion hater. Then I learned something: onions don’t have to be raw, crunchy, and ruiners of burgers and quiche. They can be sweet! Caramelized onions are winners. For that reason, check out the recipe for Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola and Brie on Simply Recipes right here: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/caramelized_onion_tart_with_gorgonzola_and_brie/ (*Sorry folks, I’m having trouble with the hyperlink today.)

I confess: I was afraid of the puff pastry. Anything that involves flouring a countertop usually ends in disaster for me. But this was a cinch! I also learned that you can refreeze puff pastry as long as you thawed it out in the fridge like the box says. (I was going to make this on Saturday, but circumstances made it a nosh for Thursday friends, instead.) The scent of caramelizing onions is so wonderful. The scent of gorgonzola: not so much. But stinky cheese = yummy cheese. And Brie is brielicious.

Verdict? Pass. I think next time I will pay closer attention to Simply Recipes photo and not put quite so much onions on–but it was still delicious. One friend half-joked, “This is all for us, right?” Three of us came pretty darn close to eating most of it.

So…think you’ll try it? Have you already? Are you an onion convert like me?

Quinoa Burger

28 Feb

(Review by Denise)

Have you been eating quinoa? I was slow to get on this train, but we really like it. I struggle to get enough protein in my diet and quinoa seems a good addition. Enter: The Quinoa Burger by Eating Well Living Thin. Check it out here.

You should know that from the get-go I never intended to call this a “burger” like Linda does in her recipe. Afterall, you say “burger” and I say “Hodad’s.” (You simply must go there next time you’re in San Diego.) I knew that no matter how divine this quinoa patty turned out–it would never be a burger.  You should also note that I used zucchini instead of carrot (she gives the option) and I omitted the green onion. I normally despise cottage cheese but I was happy use it in this incognito way. Again, more protein for me.

Verdict? Fail. (I know, right?) I couldn’t even call it a quinoa patty, because the batter was liquid. Despite adding big spoonfuls of cooked quinoa to thicken it up, it never got away from pancake consistency. And then…they stuck to my well-oiled nonstick skillet like skillet sticking was going out of style. They turned out pretty pathetic looking. For a side dish I cooked up the rest of the shredded zucchini and some carrots in a skillet, and just added those veggies to the quinoa disaster skillet to incorporate the browned pancake bits. My man actually liked them, which usually warrants a passing grade here, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pass them. I reread the recipe and swear I did everything like she said to. Could the green onions really have fixed my problem? I have my doubts.

Please let me know if you had better success! Eating Well Living Thin received comments from readers who successfully made her recipe. Maybe you will have better luck than I did.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

24 Feb

(Review by Denise)

I’ve mentioned before that we use Emeals. They save us money and make meal planning easy. But their meals are often…canned. Think: Sandra Lee’s show Semi-Homemade. Last night’s dinner was crock pot easy-peasy: pork roast in the crock pot with a packet of taco seasoning and a bit of water. Shred. Fill tortillas.

But wait! Did you hear that? A packet of taco seasoning. Once again, Pinterest to the rescue! Lacey, AKA A Sweet Pea Chef, recorded her recipe for Homemade Taco Seasoning right here. I bet you have all the ingredients already. (I did.)

Verdict? Pass. It took all of two minutes to make, and I had the correct amount of meat to use the whole recipe. (I’m assuming, then, that one recipe=one packet of seasoning.) The man tried a sample of the meat before putting it in a burrito and said, “The flavor is great. Much better than the packet.” Smell ya’ later, MSG!

So…think you’ll try it? Maybe you already did. Let us know!