Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quinoa, Mango & Black Bean Salad

I've told you many times about my beloved Eating Well magazine. I think it's the best health-inspired food magazine out there, taking down Cooking Light in a round-one k.o. (Sorry, Cooking Light enthusiasts, I'm just not a big fan.)

I really appreciate that Eating Well doesn't try to mimic the flavors of richer, worse-for-you foods, but instead focuses on enjoying the real food you're actually eating. E.g., they don't suggest that fat-free Cool Whip and blended cottage cheese make a great mascarpone substitute for "tiramisu." If you're going to eat tiramisu, eat tiramisu. But if you're going to eat clean, why not have some grilled peaches and save the good stuff for a special occasion? That is my humble of humblest opinion, anyway.

OK, enough of my rant. Here's an Eating Well recipe I really enjoy. I'm always looking for interesting lunch / brown bag options and this keeps well for a couple days, so it's perfect for that purpose.

Make some on Sunday, have it for dinner and take the leftovers to work for lunch on Monday and Tuesday. I like it in pita bread. If you do use a pita, though, make sure to pack it separately and stuff it right before you eat. Otherwise, you'll end up with a soggy mess.


Eating Well's Quinoa, Mango & Black Bean Salad

Serves Two
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

1/2 cup quinoa (see note below)
1 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small mango, diced (see tip below)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 cup canned black beans, (see tips for two below), rinsed
2 scallions, thinly sliced


  1. Toast quinoa in a small dry saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly. Return the quinoa to the pot and add water. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk orange juice, cilantro, vinegar, oil, ginger, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add mango, bell pepper, beans and scallions; toss to coat.

  3. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add to the mango mixture and toss to combine.

Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip
This salad can be made up to two days in advance (cover and refrigerate). Serve chilled.

Quinoa, a delicately flavored grain, was a staple in the ancient Incas' diet. Toasting it before cooking enhances its flavor, and rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa's natural, bitter protective covering.

To dice a mango:

  1. Slice both ends off the mango, revealing the long, slender seed inside. Set the fruit upright on a work surface and remove the skin with a sharp knife.

  2. With the seed perpendicular to you, slice the fruit from both sides of the seed, yielding two large pieces.

  3. Turn the seed parallel to you and slice the two smaller pieces of fruit from each side.

  4. Cut the fruit into the desired shape.

Tips for Two
Refrigerate leftover canned beans for up to 3 days. Add to green salads and soups; mash with garlic powder and chopped fresh herbs for a quick dip; make spiced pinto beans.

Per serving: 422 calories; 9 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 74 g carbohydrates; 15 g protein; 19 g fiber; 258 mg sodium; 642 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus
Vitamin C (210% daily value), Vitamin A (50% dv), Magnesium (22% dv), Vitamin E (20% dv).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'Back of the Box'

This past weekend, Emily and Curtis hosted a great getaway at her parents’ amazing house overlooking Hood Canal in Silverdale, Wash. The boys golfed on Saturday while the girls (and our token male, Paul) took in the new Christmas Carol movie, courtesy of Far Away Entertainment, Emily’s gracious employer. We also tooled around Bainbridge Island and poked our heads into the fun boutiques that dot the downtown area, so fun! Saturday night, each of the six couples contributed to a terrific potluck and we all left a little fatter and happier than when we arrived. My friends, aside from being wonderful cooks, also are ardent bloggers. Here are some of the other recipes from the weekend:

Our contribution comes courtesy of Hershey’s Chocolate, another winning “back of the box” recipe. I’ve discovered that you can rarely go wrong with these types of recipes — Toll House Cookies, Bisquick Waffles and Knorr Spinach Dip are some of my other favorites — all awesome.

I say “our contribution” instead of “my contribution” because even though Morgan didn’t actually help make anything, he kept my wine glass full while I baked and came up with a brilliant idea …

I’ve made this cake a few times in the past, always topped with shaved dark chocolate. Morgan suggested we top it with a crushed Heath bar this time, so we went that route this weekend. It ruled. He is secretly a culinary genius and that’s why I married him. Plus, he’s really handsome.

This is a no-fail recipe and the most moist chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. I will never again use a chocolate cake mix.


Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 30 min
Ingredients:2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (I have used at least 2/3 cup milk each time I’ve made this; depends on your consistency preference)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Your Face, Second Place!

I did it. I finally won a contest … Like, first place won! Our friends, Missy and Kelly, hosted the second annual Taps 'n' Apps Challenge (beer and appetizer pairing) and Morgan and I took home the big prize!

You may recall last year’s string of second-place finishes; gougeres (from the first Taps 'n' Apps Challenge), crabaroni and cheese, and caprese burgers. Frankly, it was getting a little ridiculous and to that streak, I say good riddance.

When we were driving home from the party, Morgan said, “Honey, I know what it is … the key to winning is inspiration. We just need to continually be inspired.”

After I almost spit out my coffee upon realizing that I’m married to Joe Paterno, I decided he was right. All we needed to do was travel halfway across the world to find and “experience” a first-place worthy recipe.

Our friend Natalie first introduced us to Obatzda in Munich this summer. It’s a super decadent cheese spread, very popular in Bavaria, served with big soft pretzels at all the beer gardens. While we were gobbling it down in Hofbräuhaus München, we were actually chatting about this party and hoping Missy and Kelly would host round two, knowing (or at least really, really hoping) we had found a winner.

Now, even just reading the ingredient list might give you a mild heart attack, but don’t freak out. It’s not “everyday” food and if you’re already chugging beer, who’s counting calories? So mash up your cheese, butter and beer, and go to town. My friend Emily pointed out that it’s perfect football food, and I totally agree. Our other piece of luck — aside from finding the inspiration — came in the form of living close to the best grocery store in the world, Central Market. Special props to their beer buyer, a very wise man who chose to import Hofbräu hefeweizen. When I saw it on the shelf, I suddenly heard angels singing and knew God was smiling on us. I think our outfits helped the cause, too.

We did have some serious competition (you can read all about it here), especially the mini carne asada, green chili, spicy caramelized onion and feta paninis — my personal favorite — and the tough game made the win that much sweeter. The paninis won best stand-alone appetizer, the other category, and rightfully so. Droooool. Missy also whipped up some terrific pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. So cute!
So without further ado, I give you Obatzda, which we paired with the oh-so-great Hofrbräu hefeweizen. I recommend using a food scale to make Obatzda, since I don't have the volume measurements. It's truly a "to taste" mixture. This is as accurate as I can come to what we entered. It's a lot of adding, tasting, mixing, adding some more, etc. ...

Pair this with Hofrbräu hefeweizen for a true winning combination.


  • 500g ripe Camembert (Cambozola is the commonly-found imported Bavarian Camembert)
  • 40g soft butter
  • 200g cream cheese (e.g., Philadelphia)
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • Salt, black pepper to taste (Cambozola is already super salty, but some American Camembert needs extra salt)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 6-8 Tbsp. wheat beer (or to taste)
  • Caraway seeds
  • Soft pretzels for serving (in Munich, they always serve Obatzda with thinly sliced red onion rounds, too, but I wasn’t sure how to eat them)
Let the butter and cheese come to room temperature, mash the first seven ingredients together and top with caraway seeds. Best if it rests for a day in the fridge so the flavors can meld.