I've been on a cooking rampage since the semester started. The baby, well, she's a toddler now at 14 months, started daycare, we started back teaching, and cooking something good at the end of a long day feels like the best kind of stress relief. I'm always hopeful the next recipe I try is going to be life changing. Nine times out of ten it isn't (recent ehhh recipes included Cornish pasties and tomato pie), but experimenting is always fun. I'm also thinking about trying to send good foods to daycare with S, and happy that she still eats everything. So today I was reading somewhere about quinoa, and how it's a super food. Packed with protein, full of all 8 amino acids, plus iron, fiber, calcium, vitamins, etc etc. Claims that it can lower your blood pressure or improve your memory.
I've tried cooking with it before and wasn't that crazy about it, but I decided to give it another try. You can use quinoa as a substitute in recipes that would call for rice. Picked some up at Whole Foods, and for dinner, made a risotto I normally make with arborio rice, roasted butternut squash, and chicken. I roast 1 squash at 400 for 45 minutes, saute a shallot and garlic in butter, add 1 diced chicken breast, cook it for a minute until no longer pink, then add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water. After ten minutes, added half the roasted squash, chopped up small. Salt & pepper to taste. Topped with parmesan cheese, the first bite was interesting, but after that it grew on me. Something about the smell or taste reminds me of cruciferous vegetables, but just a hint.
Then I had some uncooked quinoa left over, so for dessert I adapted a Martha Stewart recipe for quinoa muffins. And this one was worth writing about. May top a previous Best Ever Muffins recipe, since it's probably better for you and also has an interesting nutty crunchiness to it. You can replace blueberries with whatever you have on hand-- raisins, cranberries, dates would all be nice...
1 cup quinoa, rinsed (You have to do this or apparently it's very bitter)
1/4 cup vegetable oil,
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (or more!) blueberries
3/4 cup whole milk (I'll try using lowfat next time)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Boil 1 cup quinoa with 1 cup water for about 11 minutes or until water is absorbed. Preheat oven to 350.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add 2 cups of the cooked quinoa (you might have slightly more) and mix well. In a small bowl, beat milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture plus blueberries to flour mixture, mix just enough to get the ingredients together or the muffins will be tough.
Pour into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack.