Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quinoa Skillet

It was 8:30 pm and we hadn't had dinner yet. On the verge of giving in and ordering a pizza, I hunted through the pantry and came up with these items: quinoa, black beans, and tomatoes canned last summer. Then from the freezer, roasted green chiles from last summer's farmers market and frozen corn, and from the fridge-red and green peppers and a sweet onion.

Jim chopped, I cooked, and we both really enjoyed this healthy meal! Quinoa is a powerhouse grain-high in protein, a good source of fiber, balanced in essential amino acids, and best of all tonight, fast cooking. What follows is my best guess at the impromptu recipe that emerged from this pantry hunt...


1 c. quinoa, rinsed well
1 1/2 c. water or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
several green chiles, diced
1 c. frozen corn
1 can black beans
1 1/2 c. tomatoes (I used some I had canned but a can of diced tomatoes would work great here)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

1. In a saucepan, combine rinsed quinoa, water or broth, and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 min. or until all water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

2. While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add peppers and onions and cook until soft. Add green chilis, corn, black beans, tomatoes, and spices and let simmer until everything is heated through.

3. Stir quinoa into pepper mixture and adjust seasonings. I went light on seasonings so you may want to use more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Best Chai EVER

I love chai, but I do not love the highly processed and overly sweet commercially available chai that you find everywhere. With the recipe below you can adjust the sweetness and the spices to your taste, for example my favorite chai spice is cardamom so I use more of that. Give this a try and let me know what you think!

10 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 pieces of crystalized ginger
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/3 cup honey or agave (more or less according to taste)
4 bags good black tea (PG Tips is my favorite tea bag, or loose tea is great too)
1 1/2 cups soy milk, or milk of choice

Place 3 cups water in a small saucepan; add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla bean and scrapings. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer until mixture is aromatic, about 15 minutes. Whisk in honey or agave; drop tea bags in pan. Turn off heat, and let steep 3 minutes.

Strain tea through a fine strainer into a warmed serving pot. Heat milk in same saucepan over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Pour into serving pot with the tea, and stir well to combine. Serve immediately, with more honey on the side if desired.

Often I will make a double batch of this and keep the tea concentrate in the refrigerator just waiting to be combined with milk, hot or cold.

The Cambric

As I set my sights on summer, I am about to post a recipe for my favorite winter drink: The Cambric. This is also fantastic on a camping trip or sitting around the fire on a cool evening roasting vegetarian marshmallows with your closest friends.

What is a cambric? It is basically a drink made of sugar and steamed milk, flavored with tea. Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to this drink in her Little House series of novels about growing up in a pioneer family. It was a popular drink in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the wide availability of the ingredients. Widely considered a children's drink, it often served as a "gateway" beverage to stronger teas and coffee.

As I kick off summer sitting in the Salida Cafe in Salida, CO enjoying their version of The Cambric, I will share my own. There are endless variations and possibilities for this, so experiment. Let me know if you come up with something you love!


Soy Milk (or milk of choice)
Natural sweetener of choice (I use raw sugar, agave, or sucanat, Salida Cafe uses a shot of vanilla syrup, not so natural, but pretty yummy)
Tea of Choice (I have to admit, I am totally addicted to Earl Grey and haven't been able to talk myself into trying anything else. Although a simple tea bag or two will do, this loose leaf Earl Grey from Dragonwater Tea Company (also available at Wabi Sabi in Taos, NM) is SO amazing! Other spicy teas would also be great-Good Earth Original, any chai, etc.
Optional: A tiny bit of vanilla, or better yet, include 1/2 vanilla bean while steaming the milk

Steam the milk (stovetop, microwave, or if you have a steamer that will froth it too...heaven)
Dissolve sweetener in hot milk
Steep tea (I like mine strong so I use more than the suggested amount for a cup of tea)

Mild, slightly sweet, creamy, delicious.....bring on the summer camping!