Exotic vegetables!

Just for fun: meet Leo. Hubby and I completely lost our minds after the Thanksgiving holiday and brought home this 80 pound dog from the Humane Society. He’s eleven years old and we decided we could be his forever family for the last few years of his life. He’s old and grey like us!


In my never ending yet inconsistent quest to eat healthier I picked up some new cookbooks at my local library, one of which was Meat on the Side by Nikki Dinki (2016, St Martin’s Press). I do not know this author; I did not buy the books; this is just me experimenting with recipes in my kitchen.

The recipe I made first was Roasted Grape, Arugula + Goat Cheese Baked Potatoes. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? I had grapes sitting in my fridge that needed using and they were just past good eating but had not turned into raisins.I had a large bag of potatoes and had just bought goat cheese and mixed greens (includes arugula) at my field trip to Whole Foods the other day. I do not usually shop at Whole Foods as it is a bit out of my price range for regular groceries.


I could not find the recipe as an on-line link. So here is what you need:

  • 4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped arugula
  • 4 ounces soft garlic and herb goat cheese log
  • 1/4 cup honey

Rub the potatoes with oil, salt with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, prick with fork and bake in 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes, or until done.

Toss the grapes with the other tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Place on a brimmed baking sheet. 25 minutes into the baking of the potatoes put the grapes in the oven to roast.

When the potatoes are done, slit the top and smush open. Fluff with a fork and mix in the arugula. Then divide the cheese and grapes among the 4 potatoes. Drizzle with honey. At each of those steps the recipe instructs to add more of the salt. Serve immediately.


My end product does not look as nice and neat as the picture in the cookbook. But it is quite tasty. This was our supper so we each ate two stuffed potatoes. The warm grapes were quite pleasant.

I did not add the entire amount of salt that she called for in the recipe. I used only 1/2 teaspoon: on the outside of the potatoes and then on the grapes. I used plain goat cheese and not flavored. I used mixed greens and not just arugula. I used both red and black seedless grapes.

Most of the recipes in this cookbook are odd/different combinations of vegetables. I like the idea that she developed her recipes with the vegetable as the star and the meat as the condiment. I might try her Pumpkin Pancakes and Beet Hummus. But truly, these recipes are a bit more unusual for my ordinary home cooking. Interesting to read and think about though.

“Eat your vegetables, or no dessert!”

Bah Humbug!

Happy holidays to all! And I celebrate Christmas but you may not. So happy to you what you celebrate. Many people celebrating happiness and family and togetherness.

It’s been awhile. I thought I would make myself write. I have not been in a pleasant mood.

For our pre-thanksgiving feast I made a boxed cake and used tubs of store-bought frosting. Does it matter? I did not even read the ingredients. There could be high fructose corn syrup and unnatural colors and flavors in there! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I did make the pie crust from scratch and the traditional “Betty Crocker” pumpkin pie. Didn’t buy whipped cream though! I bought a nice little package of pearl onions to make creamed onions but did not do that either. And no homemade rolls. Cinderella was feeling lonely and tired. Everyone enjoyed the meal anyway. We had grilled Ribeyes, baked sweet and russet potatoes, green salad with lime dressing, cornbread (made earlier for lunch with homemade soup which no one ate), layered rainbow sprinkle cake and pumpkin pie. And granddaughter put two candles on the cake, one for her (3) and one for her daddy (33).

So now Hubby is making a Stroganoff with the leftovers from the Rib eye steaks. My idea but he is doing the work. He had the day off; I went to work.


Mise en place: 

  • leftover ribeye, cut from bone, 8-10 ounces
  • one onion, chopped fine
  • one half green pepper, chopped fine
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire, divided
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 package egg noodles, cooked

Melt butter and saute onions until translucent. Add peppers and then mushrooms. Gave it a stir and then threw in the meat. Another stir and then add a dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce. Add the sour cream and yogurt. Mix and add Worcestershire all over low heat. Stir in cooked noodles. Serve in bowls. Enjoy!


Yummy dinner and all I had to do was type the instructions.

Note to cook: take a healthy sip of wine between each ingredient!

Also Hubby says  to add fresh snap peas when dish is hot for additional favors. ANd what is weird is that he dreamed all of this last night!

Timman Z’affaran

I have the privilege of being a part of a coalition of people who are helping in the resettlement of refugees from the war-torn Middle East. You are all entitled to your opinions, but this blog is about cooking, not the politics.

So at first we thought the refugee family would be from Syria so my task group leader gave me a recipe for Syrian meatballs. But the family is coming from Iraq. So I wanted to find a recipe that at least says it is Iraqi. So this I found from Food.com: Timman Zafffaran

I thought it would be prudent to practice the dish before having to deliver it to the family’s new home the day of arrival. So this is an Americanized version. The dish I make to deliver to the family will not have the American substitutes. It will be made with halal meat and basmati rice.

The first step is to make the Baharat, Middle Eastern Spice Mixture. You can find the recipe here: Baharat. I gather all the whole spices to grind for this mix. And the house smells wonderful while I am grinding these in the small spice grinder that has been lying unused in the cabinet for ever! (We bought it eons ago when we thought we would grind our own coffee beans. Yeah right!)

Cardamom seeds are mucho expensive. So I “google” for a substitute: equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg or cinnamon and ground cloves. That I can handle. So I grind the spices and grate the nutmeg. I am making half the recipe because that is how much whole peppercorns I have. This makes a good cup of spice. That will be enough for a container to give to the family, some to keep for my own kitchen, and some to give to my son to take to Alaska for his next job.

  • 1/4 cup whole peppercorns (some of these are directly from Vietnam)
  • 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) whole coriander seeds
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon bark; I grind up quite a few cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 whole nutmegs
  • 1/4 cup ground paprika

I forget to toast the spices but they still smell wonderful. Mix the whole spices except the nutmeg and paprika. Grind these up a 1/2 cup at a time. I find I need to grind them three times in my little grinder to make them fine. Then grate the nutmeg; this should make about 1/8 cup. Mix the grated nutmeg and the paprika with the ground spices and store in an airtight jar. This is the Baharat.

Now for the Iraqi Saffron Rice with Meat. One reason for practicing making the dish is to determine if the recipe, as is, is sufficient for a family of six. I make the recipe “as is” with the exception of the amount of meat. I use one pound of ground turkey, and not 275 grams which is a little over 1/2 of a pound. The recipe calls for rose water, which is not a staple in my pantry. I “google” for a substitute: vanilla extract.

  • 2 cups basmati rice (I use brown rice for this preparation, but will buy basmati rice to prepare the dish for the family)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron thread (I have saffron from a spice market from my trip to Armenia)
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (I use 1 tablespoon vanilla extract + 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1/3 cup oil ( or ghee or butter); I use butter
  • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat, lamb or beef (I am using turkey for this preparation but will buy Halal beef or lamb for the family)
  • 1 teaspoon baharat mixed spice
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cups raisins
  • 3 cups chicken stock (I actually use 4 cups for the 2 cups of brown rice)

The directions are a bit fussy but I follow them pretty straight forwardly. Cover rice with cold water and soak while preparing the onion and meat. Pound saffron threads. I was not sure what this meant so I mushed them around a bit with the mortar and pestle. Put these in the rose water to steep. Heat half the oil/butter in a skillet and toast the almonds. Make sure they do not burn. Remove from the pan and put on a plate and reserve. Add onion to pan until transparent. Increase the heat and add meat and cook until “crumbly”. Add baharat, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and raisins, and cook for one minute more. Add tomato paste at this time as well. Remove from heat and cover with lid.

Meanwhile add the rest of the butter to a large pan along with 2 teaspoons of the saffron/rose water mixture and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let rice cook. For brown rice this took 45 minutes.

Fold the meat mixture into the rice, cover the rim of the pan with two paper towels (??) and set lid on tightly. Leave on low heat for 5 minutes.

Put in serving dish and sprinkle with browned almonds and the rest of the saffron-rosewater.

This will make enough to serve a family of six with half of them under the age of 10. My family of three (all adults with good appetites who generally eat more than a designated “serving”) devoured it all and we were very happy with the various flavors and textures.

I served this with mixed vegetables dry roasted in a skillet with a sprinkling of baharat. We enjoyed the meal with red wine and good conversation.


I will be preparing this again in a week’s time. This has given me an interest to try to make some other international dishes that are not similar to American cooking, although American cooking does not have a single description. The middle eastern spice mix may be good on fish dishes. I will be looking closely at my Mediterranean cookbooks but I also have one from South Africa, Georgia, and a collection from RPCV from quite a few countries. The adventure begins!

Special Sauce

There are two young women out there who will know what this is about. I’m not naming names but you know who you are but it is not my story to tell! (ooh, how mysterious!)


We use ketchup for cheeseburgers and hot dogs, although Hubby doesn’t understand why one would put ketchup on hot dogs, only mustard and onions, and maybe relish. I grew up putting mustard (the bright yellow variety), ketchup, and pickle relish on my hot dogs. Sometimes I would buy chili dogs but I don’t remember having them at home. I love a good hot dog with good chili, cheese, and onions. My aging belly is not always happy about that though! 😦

Now that I am reading ingredient lists I have found that there is High Fructose Corn Syrup in a lot of ketchup and pickle relish. So I wondered how easy it might be to make my own. I saved this recipe after reading the book and blog of 100 Days of Real Food:  http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/.  This recipe is from a cookbook that I may just have to buy, NOT that I need another cookbook! http://www.freshstartnutrition.com/?s=ketchup (Just want to be sure the proper people get the credit for the recipe.)

I gather my ingredients and mix the spices. This way I can put everything in the crockpot in the morning and have homemade ketchup for cheeseburgers that evening.


As the day wears on the house is filled with the aroma of tomatoes and then, a distinctly ketchup fragrance. It even tastes like ketchup! I am not sure why I am surprised by this, but I am. Now what container should I use to store this homemade concoction?

On our burgers…


So now I am wondering if I should make our own mustard? Naah…I’ll just buy the whole grain variety when I can find it again.


Buckwheat, and no, not the Our Gang character!

In my effort to eat healthier, mostly to lose some weight and for heart healthiness, I try new grains. So a while back I picked up a box of buckwheat. I’ve added quinoa to my repertoire of cooking and some barley and bulgur. Oats and cornmeal have always been in my pantry. Rice, too, but now it is always brown rice and not white. Being a novice at using buckwheat I merely follow the recipe on the back of the box. One can cook up a pilaf or cook it up as a hot cereal. I go for the pilaf.

As I am reading the box I read that this is wheat and gluten free. How can it be wheat free if it is called buckwheat? What is this stuff? The internet is a wealth of information for us traditional cooks. Buckwheat is a type of seed called a pseudocereal; another of these pseudocereals is quinoa. These are seeds that are eaten like cereal grains, hence the name. This buckwheat was processed into groats: “100% pure roasted whole grain buckwheat”. Buckwheat is not related to wheat so it is gluten free. Who knew?!

Buckwheat 002

This pilaf recipe instructs that 1/2 cup each chopped onion and sliced mushrooms or other chopped sauteed vegetables can be added to the buckwheat when the liquid is added to the cooking process. Well, I select onion, celery, and other vegetables to add. I like to add more vegetables than a recipe generally calls for because it makes me feel like I’m eating healthier.

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 smallish carrots
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 2 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup buckwheat cooked according to package directions: this uses 2 cups broth or water, 1 egg, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons butter


Buckwheat 004
about 3 cups of vegetables

The preparing of the buckwheat itself is not a one dish deal! First an egg is slightly beaten in a separate bowl, the buckwheat is added, and stirred about for the groats to get coated. This then is put in a skillet at medium to high heat and stirred constantly for 2-3 minutes so the egg dries on the buckwheat. You will smell this roasting but keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Meanwhile bring the liquid (I used 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup water) and the pinch of salt and pepper to a boil. The butter will be used to saute the vegetables which is also on the stove at the same time! I kept changing the pots around so the final cooking would be in the big enough skillet with a lid. Ay yi yi!

Add this all together, stir, cover with a lid,and simmer for 7-10 minutes. This took only 7 minutes for me. I threw in about a tablespoon of red pepper flakes with the water because I thought it might need a bit of spice and red pepper flakes are my secret ingredient for most vegetable dishes.

Buckwheat 007

And I serve this with grilled chicken thighs sprinkled generously with Soulard Grill spice mixture from the Soulard Market Spice shop in St. Louis. (So sis, if you are reading this, we’ll need more of this when we meet up in August. So will son-in-law. Just saying!). And with freshly cut honeydew melon.

The pilaf was good. I am glad that I added the red pepper flakes. Even so, it was not overly spiced. And by adding all those extra vegetables I have leftovers for workday lunches. One cup of uncooked buckwheat will make 4 cups cooked so I think 2-3 cups of vegetables can easily be added. But why coat with the egg? For the breakfast cereal instructions this is omitted. I suppose it is so that the groats stay separate and don’t mush together like a porridge.

This pilaf recipe is a bit fussy in the process of cooking but makes a lot so is worth it. Heating up the leftoers will be quick and easy!

Plain cooking

plain cooking 003Ever have one of those days that you are tired at the end of a work day, motivation to “create” dinner is just not there, there’s another tragedy in the news, and the weather forecast is early spring turning back into winter? I did not want to sit down and brood over the local tragedy so I made myself fix dinner. We have been using up what groceries are in the house so the fridge is on the empty side. Luckily the last of the meat (chicken thighs) was thawed in the fridge. And there was one lemon and a bit of sad looking parsley. I was trying to keep fresh herbs in cups of water in the fridge but I am not successful at that yet. They just don’t stay looking fresh. What am I doing wrong?

I have made a lemon chicken recipe before:  https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2015/12/03/making-do-a-lesson-in-humility/. But this is slightly different and does not require marinading. I basically just layered chicken thighs, lemon slices, and garlic cloves in a baking pan. Squirted it all over with the lemon juice, sprinkled on some of the chopped sad looking parsley for a bit of color, and baked for 35 minutes at 350 F. I chopped up the last romaine heart, salvaged one carrot from a batch that were trying to sprout, and the remainder of the celery for a side salad. Now the fridge feels good and truly empty! But there is dinner…

The next day was a grocery shopping day. I was trying to think about what we needed only for the week otherwise I over buy. This is one reason I go to the discount grocery stores. More food for less money! But so much food can inhibit my creativity as well. There can be too much to choose from. This is often when I revert back to basic “non creative” cooking and baking such as throwing a roast in a pot, opening cans to make turkey chili, pre-breaded fish fillets, spaghetti and then leftover spaghetti, and sometimes scrambled eggs for dinner.

But now there is food in the house so we will see what this week brings!



The Macaroni and Cheese Pot

easter brownie bites and mac and cheese pot 001

We all have memories of food from our past and there are foods that bring back memories for us. I thought I would take the time to write about some of these.

The picture above is the pot that I used bringing up my kids to make their supper of macaroni and cheese. I would use Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the box. There were often different shapes of the pasta available. This brought tears to my eyes when I saw that my daughter posted that picture and commented on her Facebook page when she used it to make mac and cheese for granddaughter. My son reminded us that dinosaurs were the premium shape. Dinosaurs were all the rage for my son at a certain age. I even have dinosaur cookie cutters! His favorite dinosaur was the Ankylosaurus. Can you name the dinosaurs below?

march 016

march 017“If cows could, they’d give Milnot”. This is the ad for Milnot which is a “nondairy” filled milk product. It was shelf stable and used primarily for cooking and baking. Mom had this as a pantry staple as well. It was probably less expensive than brand name evaporated milk. Milnot would be whipped for “whipped cream” mostly on top of Jell-O for special occasions. Put the mixer beaters and a metal bowl in the freezer in advance. It was also a key ingredient in fudge which would be cooked up in the fudge pot. Now my daughter has the fudge pot AKA the Macaroni and Cheese pot.

I have written some posts on the recipes from my childhood including Best Ever Chocolate Cake, No Bake Chocolate Cookies (in This is Childhood), Missouri Mix, and Candied Orange Peels. And since I have my mom’s recipe notebooks, I probably make a lot of the things she did. I believe my sister has a better handle on what came out of mom’s kitchen since she got to spend more time with her. In high school the grades went on split shifts so I was in school from early in the mornings to noon-ish. Then I babysat in the evenings. My sister had the mornings home with mom and went to school in the afternoon to early evening. Poor mom, she had four kids in four different schools one year!

Growing up, our household used oleomargarine and not butter. When my younger sister was in High School and I had gone away to college, our parents located a farm nearby where they could purchase raw milk. So they bought the milk, skimmed off the cream and Mom made butter. Butter to me had a sour smell and taste. Now, of course, it tastes wonderful, but at first, not so much. I remember bringing frozen homemade butter back with me my junior and senior years at Baylor because I was living in apartments. Later as an adult when I learned that I had high cholesterol there were new products out on the market designed to reduce bad cholesterol, i.e., Smart Balance; spreads made of olive oil, flax seed, and the like. My household prefers real butter but I admit that we did frequently use “butter like substances” as they come in spreadable forms and with the idea that they are heart healthy. They are handy to take on camping trips as well. Another “fun fact” is that cookie dough made solely with butter will crack when sliced frozen. Cookie dough made with Crisco slices neatly right out of the freezer. Mom always had the store brand of “Crisco” to use for baking and frying as well. She fried chicken, beef liver, and steak!

Miracle Whip recipe
Mom’s potato salad: she used pickle relish instead of pickles

And now for Miracle Whip. This is a salad dressing that is making a comeback in the grocery market. We did not use mayonnaise growing up, it was always and only Miracle Whip. This would be spread on bread for sandwiches, dolloped on our lettuce wedges, and as a key ingredient in egg salad and potato salad. Miracle Whip was less expensive than mayonnaise and this is probably why it was a staple in our house. Mom grew up in the Great Depression and was very conscious of costs.

mayonaise 002This was also used to make mayonnaise chocolate cake. This cake recipe was developed during the WW2 when eggs and oil were scarce as they went to the war effort. Mom made this cake once in a while. I have made it with Real Mayonnaise as well but it is nothing to write home about, nor was it part of the standard dessert cooking in our home.


I remember Mom trying to get us to eat our Cream of Wheat for breakfast by promising a treat afterwards. The treat I remember was green grapes, but she would not tell us what it was before we finished breakfast. I did not like Cream of Wheat. Come to think of it, I don’t think I got to eat any of those grapes! I was stubborn and wouldn’t eat the hot cereal. Now I love oatmeal; I haven’t really had cream of wheat anytime lately.

Food, the stuff of nurture.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

chicken cordon bleu 011

With a name like “cordon bleu” one would think this dish originated in France, perhaps at the famed cooking school. I went looking through my cookbooks to find the recipe to have some history to write this essay. I found that it was absolutely NOT in any of my “French” or “professional” cookbooks!

The only book I have with the recipe is Joy of Cooking. And Joy calls it a classic. So Hubby and I went looking on the internet and found that it is not French, nor very old. It was first seen in print in the NY Times in 1967. The veal recipes date back to the 1940s. The origin is thought to be Swiss. We learn something new every day!

Hubby has always talked about this as one of his specialty dishes. He had made it once before in our time together but not for years. He doesn’t use a recipe, just goes with what is there. His other specialty dish is a stuffed meatloaf. He doesn’t use a recipe for that either.

This past weekend he had the opportunity to make this dish as we had two chicken breasts in the freezer and had gotten them out to thaw. These things are huge! He ends up using only one of the breasts for this dish. He pounds the meat after sandwiching it between two sheets of plastic wrap. And here you can see the flattened chicken breast next to its counterpart.

Hubby then layers this with sliced ham and sliced cheese. The “recipe” for cordon bleu would use Swiss or Gruyere but we have Provolone available and use that. He rolls this up jelly-roll style before placing it in the dish.

We have switched out the square pyrex dish for a smaller casserole pan for the cordon bleu. I cover the extra breast with foil and bake it along side. Hubby then beats an egg and pours that on top. I hand him the bread crumbs, and he chooses the spices he wants. He sprinkles on the crumbs and then the spices. All in between he is washing his hands and the cutting boards to wash away the chicken juice! He puts this in the oven at 350 F and we let this bake for about an hour. I check it with a thermometer to be sure it has reached 160 F internal temperature.

chicken cordon bleu 010

The cheese is melted nicely and the meat is tender. I served this with a green salad and we had a nice meal. And the bonus is that I also have a spare chicken breast already cooked to make chicken salad or pot pie or soup for later in the week.

Bon appetit!



Easy dinner: leftover beef stir fry

I wanted to make something light for dinner. The scale keeps telling me I am gaining weight. I’m sure Girl Scout cookies have something to do with that. One can not have just one or two or three of those Thin Mints! So I am thinking “bunches of vegetables” but something for meat as well. Taking a peek into the freezer finds a bit of leftover steak and a stir-fry frozen vegetable package. That’s the start.

stir fry dinner 001The package of frozen veg is not going to be enough if I want this meal to be mostly vegetables. So I add a package of mushrooms and an onion. And then I decide I will cook some brown rice after all, thinking that I have a package of “instant” brown rice that will cook in 10 minutes. Nope! So I put regular brown rice on and figure that will give me time to prep the vegetables and cook the stir fry.

I cook the beef strips briefly and then remove them from the pan to cook the vegetables. I add the Teriyaki sauce to the meat and when vegetables are mostly tender I put it all back together with more Teriyaki. The best guess I have for this throw together meal is:

  • about a pound or a little less of beef steak, cut into strips
  • 1 package frozen stir-fry vegetable mix, this one is a sugar snap pea combination
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of Teriyaki sauce, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice, cook per package directions

This is a super simple dinner to prepare. Technically one could just cook the meat and throw it in with the frozen package, douse it with Teriyaki or Soy Sauce and the meal would be ready in 15 minutes. I chose to do a little bit more work that than. Note: brown rice takes twice as long to cook as white rice. My timing was a bit off but it’s all good!

stir fry dinner 009
served over rice

Seems to me I’ve been serving most of our dinners in bowls lately. Just works out that way I guess…and it saves on serving dishes to set around the table…and then to wash. There seems to always be dishes to wash!


Quinoa 2

Continuing on my quest to use interesting ingredients and healthy ones I have made another quinoa dish. This one I found on food.com: http://www.food.com/recipe/southwestern-quinoa-vegetable-casserole-304705

This is an easy to prepare recipe as it is mostly assembly. I added ground beef and an onion so that had to be browned before putting it all in the dish to bake. I actually followed the directions exactly but for that. Sort of.

  • 1/2 pound ground beef, browned
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used the store brand; the name brand is Rotel.)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained (I forgot to buy black beans most recently so I substituted a can of pinto beans, drained.)
  • 1/4 cup sliced jalapeno
  • 1/2 can vegetable broth (I used chicken broth because that is what I had on hand.)
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for serving

I had only whole cumin seeds and whole coriander in my spice cabinet so I got to use the mortar and pestle that my son brought back from his international travels. I believe he brought this from Morocco. So these are “roughly ground”!

Preheat oven to 400 F. After browning the onion and beef, all the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream are mixed together in a 2 quart casserole.

quinoa 2 007Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and stir. (I was not sure if this meant to remove the foil for the next cooking segment, so I covered the dish again. Bake for another 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

At the 30 minute mark the quinoa still looks quite small and raw. But the next 20 minutes finished cooking it perfectly.

After the 20 minutes remove the foil, cover with cheese and broil until cheese is melted about 1-2 minutes only. Serve with sour cream.

quinoa 2 008

I served this with tortilla chips to add some crunch. This makes four servings so I will have leftovers. I’ll serve the leftovers with a big salad and freshly baked cornbread or rolls.

Note: This dish has heat. It is very spicy. I might leave out the jalapeno next time or use a can of regular diced tomatoes without the chilies.