Update

Hi blog readers!

Right after coming up with a plan for January and being excited about a variety of new recipes and posts, I’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties when it comes to my camera and our computer.  I apologize for the the delay and hope to have things up and running again soon!

Thanks for your patience.

:) Jess

Millet: All Dressed Up

In yesterday’s post I showed you the basic way to prepare millet (a nutrient dense, gluten free grain!).  If you missed my step-by-step instructions, check out yesterday’s post here: Daily Ingredient: Millet

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Now that we’ve covered the nitty gritty, let’s get on with the fun part — dressing up this versatile grain!

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I looked through the cabinets and refrigerator and came up with a  combination of textures and flavors:

fresh, flat leaf parsley
dried cranberries
raw sunflower seeds
sesame seed sticks

I added these ingredients to my cooked millet, poured a simple mixture of grape seed oil & honey on top (about 1.5T oil, 1t honey), and finished the dish with sea salt and ground pepper.

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Yum!

And thanks, Mom & Dad, for the fun new dishes! :)

Daily Ingredient: Millet

As non-meat-eaters, our meals seem to follow a similar pattern:  a whole grain, plant-based protein, vegetables, and usually a flavorful sauce or dressing.   Because of this it made sense to start my month of ingredient-focused blog posts with a grain.

{ MILLET }

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Whether you’re gluten free or not, or looking for a simple side dish or interesting entree base, or trying to switch up your morning oatmeal routine, millet could be a good choice for you.  This cute little yellowish grain packs a lot of nutritional power.  It is rich in manganese, tryptophan, phosphorus and magnesium (especially important as it can can help to reduce migraines, lower blood pressure, and boost heart health).

I love that millet is versatile and yet simple to prepare.  It can serve as a substitute for fluffy rice, creamy mashed potatoes, rich risotto or hearty oatmeal.

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I buy my millet from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, but you can also find boxed millet in the grain section of most grocery stores.  Once I get it home, I transfer it to an airtight jar and keep it in my cupboard for several months.

Similar to most grains, you should rinse your millet before cooking it.  I simply poured the millet into a sieve and rinsed it with cold water for about a minute.

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For this basic millet preparation technique, the ratio to keep in mind is 1 cup millet : 2.5 cups water (or broth).

Combine millet and water in a pot and bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and set a timer for 25 minutes.

When the liquid is absorbed (but not to the point where the mixture is overly dry) remove from the stove and fluff with a fork.

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Then comes the fun part — dressing up this simple grain with additional ingredients. Tomorrow I’ll share an easy recipe using this cooked millet and a few fun toppings!

http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=53

January Format

I’ve never been a big New Year’s resolution person — dieting for a year or giving up chocolate has never seemed appealing or feasible.  However, I do like a fresh start, a chance to de-clutter and reorganize, and an incentive to come up with attainable goals.  I have a hard time picturing what I’ll be doing a year from now, but I work better with short-term goals and projects.  All this to say, I’m going to try a new, more organized and hopefully more helpful format for the blog over the next month.

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The next four weeks I will focus on specific ingredients — how they can boost our health, the best way to pick them out and prepare them, and a couple of recipes highlighting each ingredient.  Below is an outline of what you can expect each week:

Day 1: Ingredient Overview & Basic Prep (ingredients & recipes will include grains, beans, produce and dressings/sauces)
Day 2: Recipe #1 
Day 3: Recipe #2
I might add another post at the end of the week about something unrelated to the given ingredient – just for fun. :)

If you would like to add some healthy ingredients into your cooking repertoire for 2013, or if you’re eager to learn a variety of basic cooking techniques and recipes, I hope you’ll join me!

And now here’s one Christmas picture of my cute nephews in their new aprons preparing some delicious fake food!

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Cheers to 2013 and healthy cooking!

Gavin the Guest Baker

I love my twin nephews. They are adorable, spunky, hilarious, and they love to cook!  Since we usually spend time with both of them, we decided to do an afternoon of baking and hanging out at our condo with whoever woke up first from their afternoon nap — we got Gavin!

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He was so excited to wear an apron and get to work. :)

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We made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in the shape of Christmas trees.

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Gavin then dominated Craig in a game of matching, enjoyed  dinner with Moxie trying to lick his toes, and headed home in time for baths.

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We couldn’t have asked for a more fun or helpful afternoon guest!  Come again, Gavs!!

Real Life Voeden

For any of you out there who subscribe to Voeden (my friend Tina’s delicious weekly meal plan subscription), here’s a little glimpse into behind-the-scenes Voeden.

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Tina tested a few of her winter recipes today, and Craig and I were looking for something to do for dinner, so we ended up being taste testers and enjoying a fun Voeden double dinner date!  Voeden subscribers have lots to look forward to in the next few weeks – flavorful pizzas and creamy quinoa just to name a few!

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A major Voeden supporter kept a close eye on our dinner.

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After dinner we walked through the rain to see Life of Pi in 3D.  The cinematography was amazing, and as dog lovers I think all four of us were mesmerized by the animals in the movie.

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All in all, a wonderful start to a holiday break!

Holiday Dip

Guacamole is usually my go-to appetizer.  I make it when people come over for drinks, I offer to bring it parties, and I thoroughly enjoy eating it. :)  It’s easy, healthy and delicious.  Recently I decided to switch things up.  We were invited to a holiday party and I offered to bring 2 appetizers: guacamole & tortilla chips and an eggplant dip & pita chips.

This recipe, featured in Plenty, was simple and SO delicious!

First, I burnt an eggplant under the broiler for an hour.  I actually did this the night before and let it cool in the fridge overnight.

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The next day I drained the inside, fleshy part of the eggplant for about 1/2 hour.  Then I chopped and mixed it with a big spoonful of tahini, 1 minced garlic clove, the juice of a lemon, and about 2 T of honey (the recipe called for pomegranate molasses, but I didn’t have any so I substituted honey and a little extra lemon juice).

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I also added a handful of chopped parsley, a couple of diced cucumbers, and a handful of cherry tomatoes.

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To give this dip a sweet and tart crunch, the recipe calls for the seeds from 1/2 pomegranate.  At this point I was ready to eat the dip myself and only bring the guacamole. But I didn’t!

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I packed it up and added some extra parsley and pomegranate seeds on top — perfect Christmas colored ingredients!  It was a big hit, and I think people actually ate more of the eggplant tahini dip than the guacamole.  It’s worth trying something new!

Christmas Gift: Cookie Mix Jars

I’m not a huge Pinterest person, but every once in a while it’s fun to look at all the recipe, craft, decorating and style ideas.  One of my frustrations with Pinterest is that sometimes it seems like well photographed projects get pinned over and over again, but I’m not always sure how trustworthy the instructions are.  I’m here to tell you that I completed a project after being inspired on Pinterest, and I it turned out well!

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I saw some cookie mix jars on Pinterest, but I Googled a bit to find a recipe with tons of positive reviews (over 500!) — I didn’t want to risk giving a not-so-good gift.  I finally decided on this recipe, and Tina agreed to be my cookie-mix-making partner.  We made 24 jars, so we bought our ingredients in bulk.  Below is the recipe for a 1 liter jar:

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Cranberry Pecan White Chocolate Chip Cookie Jar Mix (taken from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
5/8 cup all-purpose flour (we used a mixture of white and wheat)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (mixture of white and wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (we used white & milk chocolate)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1.  Layer the ingredients in a jar.

2. Attach a recipe with the following instructions:

Beat 1 egg, 1/2 C soft butter and 1 t vanilla.
Add jar contents.
Refrigerate for an hour or overnight. *I added this step, but I think it helped the cookies to hold their shape!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease cookie sheet.
Form cookies.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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We used scraps of fabric to make the jars look a little more fun, and I’m planning to tie some bright ribbon around the top as well.  This was a fun project to work on, and the results were not only cute but also delicious!  I made a batch of the cookies and they are really good!

Are you making any homemade, edible gifts for the holidays?  Please share!

Pizza Perfect

There’s nothing better than pizza after a long day!

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And it’s even better when it’s Whole Foods‘ Wednesday pizza special — $9.99 for a 1-topping pizza.  We decided on whole wheat crust with spinach as our topping of choice.

What’s your go-to dinner after a long day?

 

Protein Packed Quinoa Salad

I decided to switch things up tonight and share a video recipe instead of photos.  There was a technical difficulty in the middle, so try to ignore the change in volume and brightness!  Also, somehow it cut out me zesting the lemon.  If you make this, add some zest!

If you don’t feel like watching the video, here’s a photo:

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I was inspired by quinoa salads in a couple of cookbooks and made my own variation with pomegranate seeds, almonds, edamame, cucumbers and lemon/tahini dressing.  I also sprinkled some fresh parsley on top!