Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Hello everyone,

Sorry I've been a blogging bum. It's time to talk about my annual Thanksgiving menu!

I pretty much do the same things every year. I say "I" instead of "we" because I tend to be a bit of a control freak about Thanksgiving and insist on doing the majority of things by myself. Don't come near my kitchen!!

However, this year we're going to ditch some of the "Americana casseroles" and kick things up a notch :) We are having 16 people over and I hope they enjoy it!

The "if it's not broken, don't fix it"/ same every year items:
25 pound butterball turkey, brined overnight ala Alton Brown and made on the grill by Dad
bread stuffing with everything delicious (no raisins... ugh)
turkey gravy
corn pudding
homemade cranberry sauce
homemade applesauce

The updated recipes new to this year:
Broccoli gruyere gratin (instead of broccoli ritz cracker/velveeta casserole)
Paula Deen's sweet potato casserole (just a bit naughtier than my regular casserole) - with marshmallows, of course
Roasted Brussel sprouts with bacon and bread crumbs (instead of green bean casserole) - made by Granny
A variety of homemade rolls (instead of sister Shubert's) - made by Debbie

And for dessert:
Paula Deen's pumpkin cheesecake (instead of the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe)
Chocolate pecan tart (instead of our pecan pie and chocolate pudding pie)
Pear pie with sharp white cheddar crust (well we had to have a third pie) - made by Mom

This year we also decided to ditch the garlic mashed potatoes. They are pretty time instensive towards the end of the meal prep and I dont' think we're lacking for carbohydrates, do you?? To satisfy the hubby's garlic obsession, we will definitely be having garlic rolls.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


This post is dedicated to BREAKFAST, "the most important meal of the day".

It used to be that I ate the same exactly breakfast every. single. day.
1.5 cups of cheerios. Skim milk. 1/2 oz almonds. Green tea. Over and over and over and over.

If I varied from this breakfast, my tummy would be in torture for a week. Then, my life changed for the better when I discovered these:

Thank you, wonderful probiotics!! Now I can enjoy a variety of breakfasts :)

During the work week, breakfast usually consists of one of the following:
  • Chocolate banana breakfast shakes (especially in the summer)
  • Cereal with milk (bran flakes with craisins, quaker oatmeal squares, Quaker Corn bran, mmm)
  • Whole wheat toast with some smart balance or organic jelly; orange juice
  • Quinoa with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar
  • Very rarely or on a very special occasion (birthday, etc): Chick Fil A Chicken Biscuit or Lucky Charms (what, I'm human, I have NEEDS)
  • And my recent favorite.... Ezekiel English muffins and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter!


Weekends are for things that take longer like whole grain french toast and Oaty waffles :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quinoa stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

Hello, all!

Remember these guys from the Pumpkin Patch?

The green & white ones are called Sweet Dumplings. Have to love the name :)

Tonight's recipe was adapted from a recipe on

Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash with Gruyère Cheese

  • 2 small winter squash (Sweet Dumpling, acorn)
  • olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped English walnuts
  • handfull of fresh spinach
  • about 1 cup cooked quinoa (or other whole grain like rice or couscous)
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Carefully cut out the top of each squash (like a pumpkin) and remove the seeds/stringy bits. A grapefruit spoon works great for this!

Spray the inside of each squash with cooking spray (or smear with olive oil) and put face-down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soft (my squash were bigger and took about 25 minutes).

Meanwhile, prepare yourself about 1 cup of Quinoa*. Or rice, or cous cous.

Quinoa usually uses a ratio of 2:1 fluid to quinoa. I used 2 cups chicken broth 1 cup Quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine strainer (to remove the bitter saponins) and then combine it with the chicken broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. This amount will make MUCH more than you need for this recipe - I made extra quinoa because I like to eat it with cinnamon sugar for breakfast :)

Next, chop up an onion. Sautee up in a pan with some olive oil til tender. Add the walnuts and spinach until it is wilted. Mix in about 1 cup quinoa, or however much looks like it will fit in your squash!

After my squash was cooked, I cut them in half to be able to stuff them better. Don't you love my cute little Le Crueset dishes?

Next, the recipe calls for them to be topped with the shredded Gruyère and put back in the oven for 20 more minutes until the cheese is all melty (see suggestions below). Here is what they looked like when they were done. Mmmmm!

If I make this recipe again, I would do some things differently next time. Including:
  • Buy smaller squash. Mine were a little big so didn't have as "sweet" of a flavor. You could also use acorn, butternut, or any sweet squash
  • Use quinoa that is less dry - I would suggest cooking it a few minutes less so it still has some broth. After being cooked in the oven it dried out a little (you could also solve this by topping it with foil)
  • Mix in the cheese with the quinoa instead of putting it on top. I think that would really make this recipe next time :) Oh, and use MORE cheese.

*What is quinoa? Pronounced "keen-wah", it is often mistaken for a grain. However, quinoa is actually a seed native to South America. Like soy, it is unique in that it is one of the only sources of a complete protein that is not from an animal. It has texture similar to cous-cous. I buy mine in bulk for a great price from guess where?... Costco.

Finally... we carved pumpkins last weekend. Not to brag, but I am a self-proclaimed "master" pumpkin carver. However, this year Adam's pumpkin took the cake. I apologize for the lack of picture quality!

Fresh Market Disappointment

Hello readers!

Today I needed a quick lunch so I drove over to the Fresh Market and picked up a brown rice California roll from the sushi counter. The good news was, it was pretty tasty.

The bad news was the ingredient list: I have accepted the fact that most california rolls use imitation crab meat. This imitation crab meat, however, contained sorbitol (why do you need a sugar alcohol in crab meat??), as well as monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is listed later on in the main ingredient list, and the pickled ginger apparantly contains aspartame (Equal). What?? Let's say I won't be eating that for lunch again.

I realize that Fresh Market doesn't necessarily have the "product standards" that a store like Whole Foods does (no high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial sweeteners). I looked at their website and they just say that they strive for "quality foods" - ok, not a regulated term.

However, if you're going to put up the front that you're some type of health food store (which many people believe Fresh Market is), can you at least not have aspartame in your pickled ginger? MSG?? Seriously. For the price you charge, you can afford not to cut corners with cheap, unhealthy ingredients and actually use the real things.

Ok, enough bashing. I did pick up some Gruyere cheese that will be featured in a recipe later. Ingredients: milk, enzymes, rennet, salt. Now that is a real food. But it was also made in Switzerland where they generally have higher standards anyway :)