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Quinoa Bowl With Balsamic Vinaigrette and Roasted Vegetables

April 20, 2015

Have you ever heard of a Buddha Bowl?



There are lots floating around lately in the healthy eating world. This website gives some examples as well as this definition from Urban Dictionary:

buddha bowl (n). a bowl which is packed so full that it has a rounded “belly” appearance on the top much like the belly of a buddha

 I am an 80/20 girl when it comes to healthy eating/indulgence, with delicious flavors a requirement 100% of the time and a weakness for anything French.  But, I love feeling great, so sometimes I need to make a big batch of this quinoa salad to have in the fridge for the week. Plus, one pot/bowl cooking makes life easy.

And, my husband loves this dish.


The basic building blocks of a buddha bowl are:

1. Grains – if you are eating legumes, use whatever you like. I love how the quinoa has protein and absorbs the dressing, but black beans, lentils, etc. are all great. I added chick peas too because I love them.

2. Protein – you can add your favorite meat or beans or tofu as well. I counted the quinoa and chick peas as protein.

3. Something Crunch – I used carrots and celery in this one, but nuts, onions, seeds, asian noodles, etc. are all yummy.

4. Something Creamy – avocado, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, are all good options. Hummus and dairy based dips are yummy too. Noodles also offer a creamy element.

5. Veggies – roasted veggies have a concentrated flavor, so I tend to love them, and nutty cauliflower is my favorite right now. I often make a big batch of roasted veggies on a Sunday and use them up during the week. Any raw veggies, lettuces, sprouts, and marinated veggies are all great too.

6. Dressing – lots of buddha bowls use tahini dressing but I went with more mediterranean flavors. I make it with Asian flavors too, and you can even stir store-bought pesto into the quinoa with yummy results. (Basil mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes go very well with this dressing.)

**I like to make sure I have something acidic – the dressing, olives, capers, etc. But my husband doesn’t love olives and capers so I add them myself.



The thing that gives this dish its flavor is the dressing, and when you add it to the warm quinoa, it absorbes all that goodness. Balsamic vinegar, dijion and garlic are are mixed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper – pretty simple. If you have favorite homemade dressing ingredients – lemon, shallots, scallions – you really can’t go wrong, but my husband loves balsamic so that’s what I use. It also gets better every day it sits.


Quinoa with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Roasted Veggies (printer version here):




2 onions, sliced into rings

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 carrots, diced

2 celery, diced

feta or goat cheese, crumbled



Preheat oven to 425.

Bring one cup water to boil, then add 2 cups of quinoa. (Cook according to package directions, usually for 15 min).

For Dressing (I use a 1:1 ratio for oil and vinegar, use what you prefer):

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed in garlic press

salt and pepper

Toss half of dressing with quinoa as soon as it is done cooking. Set aside in large bowl.

For Roasted Veggies (select 2 or 3 veggies):

Slice or cut up veggies in as uniform a size as possible for even cooking.

I used cauliflower, onions and cherry tomatoes.

Sprinkle with EVOO, salt and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Assemble Bowl: Stir quinoa, roasted veggies, chopped veggies and chick peas together. Add additional dressing to coat all ingredients. Sprinkle with feta or goat cheese, and capers if desired.


Things I Am Loving Right Now

October 26, 2012

Since you all know the reason this post is not about a savory fall classic with some sophisticated modern twist (see last weeks post), I decided to share with you some things I am loving right now.  (I love it when other blogs do this and I have never done it.) Oh and I can tell you I am coming out of the nausea!! I actually ate pasta with some feta, fresh spinach and salad dressing! That is practically a salad! Turning the corner :0) which means good food soon.

1. Boden – I love this company! Their clothes are like the UK J. Crew. A bit pricey, but you can wait for 20-25% off emails.  Plus they are great quality and wash really well.  I notice when the seasons change I reach for these pieces first the next year because they still look good.  They have kids clothes that are so cute but given that they are an investment I get stuff for the girls sparingly (like their tights).  They also have maternity so of course I just got some T shirts to get me through.

2.  Eat, Live, Run –  This girl has been doing her food blog for years and it rocks.  She has this cozy approach to food that makes you want to get into the kitchen.  I guess the name was because she used to run I lot (which I do to) but then she moved on to yoga (which I also love) and has become a certified teacher, so lots of interesting health notes go into her blog. Plus, her photos are amazing, which leads me to my next point….

3. The Canon Rebel –  My husband got me this for my birthday! Love him.  I have to learn how to use it, but I can’t wait to get started.  Expect awesome food and awesome photos in the future.

4. Little Kid Pajamas – They are just so stinking cute.  We just broke out a bunch of new warm cozy fleece ones.  Clearly this was not shot with a Canon Rebel or cooperative kids, but you get the idea.


5. This Julia Child Recipe for Soubise – I literally have never heard of this before I read about it a few weeks ago. An onion and rice casserole? Must. make. soon. If you make it before I do, let me know how it is!

6.  The holidays are right around the corner but it means I get to break out this delicious side dish I have been making for the last few years. I think the Soubise recipe reminded me of it, but this is the Humble Onion, right?  It is from Giada, and it is Roasted Cipollini Onions with Balsamic and thyme.  You can find and print the recipe here.  A new tradition that we love and smells like the holidays when it is cooking. But you can make this anytime.  SO good with steak!

7.  In case you were looking for a blog to make you feel inadequate, check out Soule Mama.  She has 5 kids, runs a farm in Maine, and has beautiful photos and ideas throughout her blog.  She has written 3 books and edits a quaint Maine literary magazine called Ploughshares.  Did I mention she has 5 kids? And she makes all her own quilts.  I am pretty sure she shears her own sheep and turns the wool into yarn.  But she is not annoying like Martha Stewart, probably because she learned how to do all this from her mom and grandmother so she is down to earth about it.  I will never be this woman, so it is interesting to peer into her life.

8. Cider Donuts.

9. I wish I could say I am reading this great book, but lately I have been reading books on the craft of writing.  And blogs. I can always tell when I am not in the middle of a good book, because I get a little twitchy and grouchy. Like I haven’t talked to my best friend in a while.  (Note from later the same day: Just started Ann Pachett’s novel ‘Run’. Like her other books I am loving it. All is right with the world now). In the meantime, I find great essays at Kristen Armstrong’s blog on Runner’s World called Mile Markers.  She is so insightful and positive, like the cheerleader older sister I wish I had.  She always makes me stick to working out because of the emotional dividends it gives.  My favorite quote: “I run to burn up what I don’t need and ignite what I do.”

10.  Halloween.  Candy and cuteness!



What Can I Bring?

September 5, 2012

Quick Trivia for you:


What do Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, Julia Child, and Ina Garten all have in common (besides being inspiring cooks)??



Wait for it…..



Wait for it………………



Answer:  They all had/have NO ‘families’ to cook for. None.  The only ones coming to their dinner table are a well-fed husband or friends (Martha has the only child in the bunch, a well-fed adult daughter, but no husband).  This fact makes me laugh when I think about home cooks that try to be perfect or hold themselves up to some bar that is just not possible for us mommies. (Please no complaints about how a married couple are a family or friends are our families. I easily concur. My point here is opening your 40th jar of play dough while you are cooking can slow things down a bit.)

In order for good food to get made at my house, it needs to be simple (or a weekend).  It also doesn’t mean we have to eat frozen meals either. Or frozen appetizers (ok, sometimes, I am thankful for them. But often they are kinda gross).

But now that I know how easy these are to make, I am never bringing their frozen counter part again!


Consider this a road-tested appetizer…I just brought them to a Labor Day party and people were grabbing them off the tray as my husband walked in with them.  Kids and adults both dug in. Michael from Germany told me in very good English how much he loved them four times.  AND they were super easy! They took me exactly 30 min. from pulling out fridge ingredients to walking out the door.

I don’t know about you but I sometimes leave parties hungry lately! I vow to bring something substantial from now on because chips and salsa and cold grill meat aren’t doing it for me.  Thus was my thought process when I settled on bacon and onion egg quiches.

It is the same as large quiches (which are also one of my favorite make ahead meals. I made 8 for our post-wedding brunch).

You saute bacon and onions:


Make an egg and cream and cheese mixture, plus parsley (it counts as a veggie right?):


I cut out circles from store bought pie crust, and placed them into a mini muffin pan.


I cooked the crust for 5-7 min first, then added the egg mixture. But you know what? I had extra filling and cooked about 10 of these with no crust, just some cooking spray in first. They were delicious! So if you are on a cave man/Paleo/low carb diet, or just forgot crusts at the store, these can be made with no crust.

Bacon & Onion Mini Quiches:

(adapted from a recipe found here)


    • 1 package pie crust (2 crusts)
    • 6 slices bacon, diced
    • 1 onions, finely diced
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 cup cream (or use milk or fat free cream to go lighter)
    • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (fresh is best!)
    • salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Cook the onion and bacon over a low heat until the onion is softened.
  3. Allow to cool a little.
  4. Mix together with the eggs, cream, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper.
  5. Using a pastry cutter or glass, cut 12 circles from each pastry sheet.
  6. Use these to line a mini muffin pan.
  7. Cook for 5 min. in 375 degree oven.
  8. Place about 2 teaspoons of the egg and bacon mix in each pastry base.
  9. Bake in a moderate oven for about 12 minutes per tray (or until puffed, golden and set).
  10. repeat with remaining pastry sheets and mix.

FYI:  The green leaves on the tray are Hydrangea leaves. I love this time of year when they are so big!

New School Year Dinner

August 31, 2012

Hiya!  Happy New School Year!

If you are a mom you know that brings the relief of structure, and the confines of it too.  Like a well-oiled machine, our home and kitchens need to be set up to handle the daily grind that is around the corner.  Maybe it is the life-long habit of new school clothes and supplies, but fall brings on the feeling of newness in every area.  I love it. The past week has me organizing our mud room, our pantry, drawers and of course, closets, in anticipation of the busy early mornings and quick family dinners.

I have also found a ton of wisdom from other moms on various blogs.  My new favorite site is Like Mother Like Daughter. This mom shares her lifetime of insights from feeding a family of nine.  She makes biscuits out of a little left over squash, has posts like Make Dinner Every Night and Like It, and Make Menus, Really.  She shined a light on the very loose meal planning I do, and suggests that families start by making a master list of meals they like, and when you meal plan, pull from that list.

I love this idea, and am going to make my families master list this weekend.  I am inspired to add a few new ones to it and I hope you are too!  This meal will DEFINITELY be on the list:

Pork Chops with Balsamic Honey Glaze, and Butternut Squash with Sage and Blue Cheese


I just made this last week when I found this easy recipe for butternut squash as a savory side (or a full meal if you are so inspired!).  Literally, just chop and roast this gorgeous orange vegetable, add cheese and you have a silky, luxuriously rich vegetable at your table.  And since it goes well with pork, I made boneless pork chops with Giada’s Agrodolche Glaze for pork chops.  This glaze is heaven and is one of those flavor combinations that you keep remembering because it is so good!

For the Butternut Squash, start with these ingredients (the sage is from my herb garden!):



That’s it! So easy.  In fact I got it from another food blog that titled it ‘Relaxing’. Find it here.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Gorgonzola
Serves 4

2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1 lb)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 leaves of sage, finely chopped
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.
Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Roast squash for 20 minutes, or until tender. Sprinkle gorgonzola on top. The heat of the squash will melt gorgonzola. Serve.
While that was roasting away, I remade a version of pork chops that Giada De Laurentiis made a while back, and it is so good, I think I might make it again soon because I am hungry for it just thinking about it!  I left out the red pepper flakes for my kids, but if you like a kick it is super good.  This recipe is from the Food Network, and she called the glaze ‘agrodolce’, an Italian name meaning sweet and sour.

Pardon me while I geek out on you, but I was curious about this so I looked it up on Wikipedia. They write:

Agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from “agro” (sour) and “dolce” (sweet). Agrodolce is made by reducing sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar. Sometimes, additional flavorings are added, such as winefruit, or evenchocolate. The sauce is thought to have been brought to Sicily by the Arabs. It can be high in fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar, used for lamb, and served over rigatoni or wide noodles, such as pappardelle.  Though the term “aigre-doux” could refer to any sweet and sour sauce in French cuisine, a gastrique is very similar to agrodolce.[1]

If you want to find the Food Network link for easy printing you can find it here.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
  • 4 (8-ounce) boneless pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, pale green and white parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pork: In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Add the pork to the pan and cook until cooked through. for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, honey, garlic, scallions, and rosemary to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved. Simmer for 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange the pork chops on a platter and drizzle with the glaze.

Please comment and let me know your favorites on your families master list! I am forever curious about other mainstays in the life of busy families!

Vanilla and Ginger Roasted Plum Compote

August 20, 2012

There is so much fresh produce lyinging around, and sometimes garden vegetables get all the attention.

But my heart right now lies with plums.  We had close friends visiting this weekend. On the menu was beach, food, and fun.  We had a ton of each! I made this recipe after we had a great session of Iron Chef Mussels – two great family chefs, my mom and Mark, my friend’s husband, both competed for the title and well, you’ll have to read my next post to find out more.  This is what I made for dessert to cap off the meal:


I have been wanting to make this since I read the recipe last spring, and each time I buy plums we eat them before I can make this. Finally I bought waaaay too many which turned out to be just enough to make this delicious and EASY compote.

The smell of this fruit simmering with vanilla and ginger rivals mulled cider or wine, and the fragrant taste of all those complex flavors over ice cream tastes like a world class desert.


Vanilla and Ginger Roasted Plum Compote

(adapted from the FineCooking In Season cookbook)

Serves 6

6 firm-ripe black or red plums, halved and pitted

Unsalted butter for baking dish

3-4 T. sugar

1 t. lemon zest

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. rum, preferably dark

1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

1/2 t. grated fresh ginger

Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425. Slice the halved plums into four wedges each.  Generously butter an 8×11-in. backing dish (or one just large enough to hold the plums).

In a mixing bowl, toss the plums with 3 T. of the sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, rum, vanilla, ginger, and salt.  Toss well.  Taste one of the plum wedges;  if it’s still tart, sprinkle in the remaining 1 T. sugar.  Pour into the baking dish and roast, gently stirring occasionally, until the plums are tender and juicy, 10-20 min.  Don’t overcook them or they’ll fall apart.

Let the plums cool for at least 5 minutes or up to an hour before serving.  Serve them hot or warm with vanilla ice cream and juices spooned over the top.



I am also hoping to try this plum recipe: Brown Butter Upside Down Cake.  So I can marry my obsessions with both brown butter and plums.

Check it out here or go to

What are you doing with your in season produce? I would love to hear about it in the comments!



Granola Bars

August 15, 2012

Every once in a while, a recipe comes along and changes something big in our day to day. This recipe is it for me.

Every mom knows the pull to pick up expensive, processed snacks for their little ones.  My mom mostly had fruit and graham crackers for us when I was little, and on days when my kids are begging me for snacks I think how did she do it? (This did lead to some disgusting sugar-craving fueled concoctions. A bag of frozen rasberries and a bag of coconut don’t make for a great snack, just a lifetime aversion to both. Hence why I left it out even though the recipe calls for coconut).  But I am still always filling my cart with Nutri-NOT Grain Bars and other expensive empty calories.

Enter homemade granola bars. Seriously habit forming, as nutritious as a bowl of oatmeal. What’s not to love?


These bars are so easy, and they are such a great thing to make with kids – very hands on, messy, and delicious.



This recipe is from Ina Garten, but I made a few kid friendly changes when I made it. I added apricots, cherrys and cranberries, and I used toasted pecans instead of almonds.  You can use whatever fruit and nuts you like.  I also cooked the butter and honey in the microwave instead of the stove in an easy to pour container:


It made me wonder why do it any other way, especially when it pours into the mixture so well? (Be sure it boils at some point when it is in the microwave).


For a girl who LOVES mixing ingredients together, this was a dream come true…even my son wanted in when it involved mashing something.



SOOO yummy, my husband couldn’t stop eating them. Part of the can’t get enough taste is from toasting the oats and nuts first.

Why do we buy granola bars again?

Granola Bars

(adapted from Ina Garten, printer friendly link here).


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.