Quinoa Casserole

22 10 2009

More recipes today 🙂  This recipe originally comes from a co-worker of my husband’s (original here).  I’m basically going to shamelessly copy it and add my own notes.  Everything here is Haley’s except for my notes at the bottom.

Quinoa is a small grain common in South American cooking. I like it because it is quick to cook, very healthy, and I prefer it’s taste to that of rice or other grains. It is also a complete protein on it’s own, which makes it a great ingredient for vegetarian dishes. I often use it in casseroles. The one below is a favorite–Mark particularly loves it.  (Note from Lauren: I am able to get Quinoa in my regular grocery store, it’s usually with the couscous, which can sometimes be found with rice and sometimes with pasta)

Here is my disclaimer for this recipe: I think that I do at least a little something different every time that I make this dish. I don’t measure any of the ingredients either, except the grains and water. Thus the quantities listed below are approximate at best. My recommendation is that you play around with your own substitutions and modifications, according to your tastes etc. So be brave, and enjoy!

  • 1 cup Quinoa (or part quinoa, part Bulgar wheat. I often do 1/2 and 1/2)
  • 2 cups water
  • dash of salt
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can Ranch Style beans (or kidney beans + Mexican spices like chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 can Mexican Rotelle diced tomatoes (or a little salsa, or something of the sort)
  • a few wedges of (light) laughing cow cheese (La Vache qui rit) or ~ 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Mexican spices: I use chili powder and cumin.
  • Salt (to taste)
  • grated Mexican cheese (~1 cup, or less for a lower-fat version)

Measure the quinoa, then rinse well**. Mix grains, water, salt, and cilantro in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed, and the quinoa is larger in size, clear, and has a visible white “tail”. Turn off the heat. Add in beans, tomatoes, soft cheese or sour cream, and spices. Mix well. Salt and season with more spices to taste. Stir in grated cheese if desired. Pour/spoon into a casserole or baking dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 min at 350 degrees. Remove cover, and bake about 10 minutes more, or until the cheese on top is melted.

Haley Notes:

  • Chicken also works very well in this dish. I have often put chopped chicken pieces from a rotisserie chicken into the casserole, and called that dinner.
  • Quinoa works well in other kinds of casseroles. I particularly like mixing it with spaghetti sauce and soft cheese (like laughing cow cheese, or goat cheese) and baking it, often adding black olives, mushrooms, spinach, or other vegetables.
  • A Quinoa Link

** Rinsing the grain before cooking it reduces the slightly bitter taste of plain quinoa. Just be sure you have a colander/strainer with small holes

Lauren’s Notes:

I made this dish for dinner last night.  Both The Hubby and I enjoyed it!

I left out the cilantro, neither of us like it, and just cooked the quinoa with salt.  I had planed to leave out the beans as well since The Hubby doesn’t like them but after discussing it he said I could leave them in.  We decided there would be nothing to bind the quinoa together with out the liquid from the beans.  After eating it The Hubby decided we should make it with just one can of beans next time.  I added chicken and sausage to the casserole, just cooked both in a skillet before adding to the quinoa.  The Hubby liked the sausage but I didn’t.  For the seasoning I used pre-packaged taco seasoning (and idea I got from another friend who also makes this casserole), though next time I’ll probably use half of the package as it was very salty.  I think veggies would make a good addition to this recipe.  It’s also very good served with tortilla or corn chips.

Give it a try, I hope you enjoy!


B&N Nook

21 10 2009




Quick and Easy Dinner

19 10 2009

Last night was the second time I’ve made this dish and it was good both times, in my book that’s a success!  This meal works really well for The Hubby and I because we always have the ingredients on hand so all I have to do is pull it all out of the fridge and throw it in a pan.


  • Cooked Chicken – I use about one breast per serving or if it’s already cut up about 1 cup
  • Pesto – about 1 tbsp per serving
  • Cooked Pasta – any kind you like, about 1 cup per serving
  • Minced Garlic – about 1 tsp per serving
  • Parmesan cheese – optional
  • Olive Oil


  1. Put olive oil and garlic in a preheated pan large enough to hold all ingredients.  Cook garlic on medium-high heat 1-2 mins until it starts to brown
  2. Add chicken and cook another 1-2 mins until chicken is heated through
  3. Add pasta and pesto.  Cook another 1-2 mins until pasta is heated through, stirring constantly so the pasta doesn’t burn on the bottom.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!


  • For a lighter version you could use sun-dried tomato pesto instead of the regular kind and leave out the cheese
  • Veggies would make a great addition, if they’re cold, add in with the chicken, if they’re hot already stir in at the end.



Jasper: You know what I was thinking? When you get back to London, maybe we could sneak off somewhere together. Maybe Venice. You and me in Venice could be good.
Iris: Do you mean that? I mean, are you free to do that?
Jasper: Darling, I’ve just traveled halfway across the world to see you, haven’t I?
Iris: [Iris & Jasper almost kiss before Iris pulls away] Yeah, that doesn’t exactly answer my question. So, are you not with Sarah anymore? I mean, is that what you’ve come here to tell me?
Jasper: I wish you could just accept knowing how confused I am about all this.
Iris: Okay, let me translate that. So, you are still engaged to be married?
Jasper: Yes, but, I mean…
Iris: Oh, my God.
[Iris gets up from the couch]
Iris: This was a really close call. You know, I never really though I’d say this, literally never, but I think you were absolutely right about us. Very square peg, very round hole.
Jasper: You cannot mean that.
Iris: The great thing is I actually do. And I’m about three years late in telling you this, but nevertheless I need to say it. Jasper. Wait, I need the lights on. Jasper, you have never treated me right. Ever.
Jasper: Oh, babe.
Iris: Shush. You broke my heart. And you acted like somehow it was my fault, my misunderstanding, and I was too in love with you to ever be mad at you, so I just punished myself! For years! But you waltzing in here on my lovely Christmas holiday, and telling me that you don’t want to lose me whilst you’re about to get MARRIED, somehow newly entitles me to say, it’s over. This – This twisted, toxic THING between us, is finally finished! I’m miraculously done being in love with you! Ha! I’ve got a life to start living.
[Picks up Jasper’s jacket, walking to the door]
Iris: And you’re not going to be in it.
Jasper: Darling.
Iris: Now I’ve got somewhere really important to be, and you have got to get the hell out.
[Opens the door]
Iris: Now!
Jasper: What exactly has got into you?
Iris: I don’t know.
[Pushes Jasper out the door]
Iris: But I think what I’ve got is something slightly resembling, gumption.
[Slams door shut in Jasper’s face. Lifts hands up and screams with joy]

My Internal Geek

16 10 2009

So, I read Wil Wheaton’s blog… there, I said it.  The only reason I started watching Leverage and The Big Bang Theory is because I found out he was going to have guess appearances on those shows.  I’m a geek at heart…  His most recent post deals with the death of his D&D character.  After I finished reading it my internal geek poped her head up from behind some book somewhere and said “I wanna play D&D” and then /whimpered in my head.

Just thought I’d share.  I almost Tweeted this but then I remembered my Twitter updates my Facebook…  Those are 2 very different groups of people!  I think my “internet” friends are less likley to mock my internal geek 🙂


I left the names in this time.  If the dialogue wasn’t enough the names should give it away for any geeks in the audience 🙂

Leonard: I may throw up on ya.
Jim: I think these things are pretty safe.
Leonard: Don’t pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait till you’re sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you’re so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.
Jim: Well, I hate to break this to you, but Starfleet operates in space.
Leonard: Yeah. Well, I got nowhere else to go, the ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I got left is my bones.

E-Readers: Fabulous or Foolish?

12 10 2009

Recently Tami and Bre did a podcast discussing E-Readers.  This got me thinking, which almost always leads to a blog post so here we are.  Their opinion, if I may summarize, is that E-Readers are good in theory, the technology is cool.  In practice however, they’re still likely to buy dead-tree books of titles they enjoy and DRM issues (as with all digital media these days) are a hassle.  My thoughts are much the same.  Allow me to elaborate:

A Story

My first, an so far only, experience with E-Readers was when I found the Kindle app for the iPhone.  I was practically giddy.  The Hubby and I had talked about the Kindle before, which basically came down to “I want one” and “I think they’re srupid.”  I’m sure you can immagine the circular conversation.  I promptly downloaded the app and bought my first Kindle Book, Twilight.  That month I read all 4 of the Twilight books, 8 of the Dresden Files books, and another fantasy book.  I spent $80 all told in a series of $5-15 (edited to reflect the more expensive new eBooks) purchases.  After that month I decided my impulse control wasn’t strong enough to allow me to use the Kindle on a regular basis.  I went back to dead-tree books.

I’m a Geek

After listening to the podcast I was trying to organize my thoughts into something cogent that I could write a comment about (I quickly realized that I needed to make a blog post!).  A question floated to the top.  Why do I want an E-Reader?  I bounced that around for a while…  Convience of carrying many books around in a small package… cheaper than new dead-tree books… free previews of books…  portable web browsing… All that’s great but what it really came down to is that I’m a geek at heart.  I love technology.  I love bright, shiny, new things.  I want the latest and greatest.  Once I realized that it was just my inner geek I was able to more rationally evaluate the idea.


Love it or hate it, I think DRM is here to stay.  I don’t have a problem with DRM, but I do have a problem with how much is charged for digital media.  Paying for 1’s and 0’s has never set well with me.  Looking at it objectively, $5 for a digital book seems ridiculous from a major publisher, there’s no paper, there’s no shipping, there’s almost no overhead for the ebook that’s not already going to be spent for the dead-tree book (indie publishers/authors I think it’s ok, for example Wil Wheaton charges $5 for digital copies of his books; it’s an issue of volume).  I feel like I’m getting riped off. 

Ok, back on topic, I was talking about DRM.  I regretted almost immediately that I couldn’t share the books I bought in Kindle versions.  For me, talking about a book with a friend is half the fun.  I actually have a solution for this.  What if you could “beam” your eBook to a friend and it would “delete” your copy as long as your friend has it.  You could even put a time limit on the borrowed file (no more borrowed books lost forever).  It would exist just like a dead-tree book.  For every book paid for, only one copy exists and I can share it with anyone who has an E-Reader.  Just like with a dead-tree book I could buy/sell/trade it as I saw fit.  As with everything some will figure a way to thwart the system, but that’s nothing new.

Thin Ice

E-Readers are expensive.  There’s no way around it.  I can go to Wal-Mart and buy a laptop for less than a Kindle.  E-Readers don’t really do anything else.  Sure they have portable (and with the Kindle, free) web browsing, but I get that much better and on a better screen with my iPhone.  I’m not going to drop my data package on my cell phone bill because I get an E-Reader.  Some play MP3’s… meh, I’ve got an iPhone and an iPod for that. 

I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on a uni-tasker who’s function I’m not even sure I like.  That’s the bottome line for me.


Guy: That thing is a damned hazard! 
Girl: It’s just a toaster!
Guy: Well, insertion of bread into that so-called toaster produces no toast at all, merely warm bread! Inserting the bread twice produces charcoal. So, clearly, to make proper toast it requires one and a half insertions, which is something for which the apparatus doesn’t begin to allow! One assumes that when the General of Electric built it, he might have tried using it. One assumes the General might take pride in his creations instead of just foisting them on an unsuspecting public.
Girl: You know something? Nobody gives a rat’s ass that you have to push the toast down twice. You know why? Because everybody pushes their toast down twice!
Guy: Not where I come from.


9 10 2009

Some days you just wish you hadn’t gotten out of bed.


Free Trivia

1 10 2009

It occurs to me that I should have saved my “How we met” story for today.  I have a couple of post ideas floating around in my head… they need a little more time to marinate… should be juicy and tender next week…  Maybe I should eat lunch 🙂


“Three days ago, I loathed you. I used to dream about you getting hit by a cab. Then we had our little adventure up in Alaska and things started to changed. Things changed when we kissed. And when you told me about your tattoo. Even when you checked me out when we were naked. But I didn’t realize any of this, until I was standing alone… in a barn… wifeless. Now, you could imagine my disappointment when it suddenly dawned on me that the woman I love is about to be kicked out of the country. So Margaret, marry me, because I’d like to date you. “