Fresh Plate

….Freshly prepared recipes, thoughts, and meditations

Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I got this recipe from an older issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. I’ve always cooked quinoa as a healthy side dish, but came across this recipe as I was looking for something a little more substantial than just quinoa salad. These cakes are crispy, filling, delicious, and a super healthy (not to mention speedy) dinner that works well during the week!

Quinoa Cakes w/Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

For the cakes:

1 large egg

2 T all purpose flour

1 1/2 T tahini (or other nut butter)

1 1/2 t red (or white) wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup grated sweet potato

1/2  10 oz pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1/4 chopped sundried tomatoes

1/4 chopped nuts (I love pine nuts, but any nut is fine)

2 oz crumbled feta cheese

2 T finely diced onion

1 T chopped fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 t salt

For the sauce:

1 1/2 cups roasted red bell peppers

1/2 cup toasted almonds

1 garlic clove

2 t red (or white) wine vinegar

Instrucions:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine egg, flour, tahini, and vinegar in a bowl. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mash together until firm enough to make into cakes. Shape mixture into 1/4 cup patties with wet hands (to prevent sticking). Bake on prepared baking sheet for 25 minutes (or until brown), turning once. (serves 6)

To make the sauce: Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Serve as a dipping sauce or pour right over the cakes. (makes 2 1/2 cups)

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Some thoughts

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for the last week.  It started last Friday when I woke up and learned about the theater shootings in my hometown…just a few miles away from where I live.  I didn’t know anyone who was there, but still find myself struggling to cope with the empathy and sadness.

I  consider myself an optimist. I have a great faith in humanity, give people the benefit of the doubt, and believe to my core that we are all inherently good people. Which is why when bad things happen in the world, I feel completely blindsided by my own naivete.  I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand tragedy, who really does?

Sadness

Sadness is the rock of loneliness that strikes the heart with icy pangs of cold, unyielding earth.

Pain is merely our cleansing of this uniquely human burden,

Known only to those who shine their colors in the bleakest of nights.
It’s in these moments that I look through the fog,
Seeking morsels of light just as the ivy ceaselessly reaches for life in the dim of the forest.
Still, a rhythm of love beats in my heart,
Sunshine through hope fades the harrowing dark.
Laura M.
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What I ate Wednesday

This week I’d like to share my breakfast for “What I ate Wednesday”.  I woke up a bit later than usual, which in turn throws off my meals and ultimately results in a complete lack of energy for the entire day (if not the rest of the week). I needed to nip this one in the bud as soon as possible. So here’s what I had:

-3/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt

-Frozen blackberries and peaches (tip: buy fresh when in season and freeze for later)

-2/3 cup multigrain granola (sweetened with just a touch of honey and maple syrup)

After this meal I had plenty of energy for a morning run and stayed full until lunchtime. Just the thing to keep me on track for the rest of the week!

Here’s the list of ingredients for the granola: oats, barley, rye, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, canola oil, rasins, honey and maple syrup.

 

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River Poem

The river runs in harmony, the way it ebbs and flows;

Trickling quite peacefully, with intention no one knows.

Rocks and stones, stand like thrones, that’s what people say;

But water knows no obstacles, standing in its way.

I walk along the river, humming gentle songs;

Echoing serenity, it dances right along.

Although its grace is fleeting, an ever moving pace;

I relish in its purity, as delicate as lace.

-Laura Montgomery

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Peanut Sauce

If you were to look in my fridge at any given point in time, odds are you’d see peanut sauce.  I am addicted to the stuff…so much that I have to remind myself to eat in moderation!  I got the original recipe from a friend as a sauce for asian noodle salad with chicken. I made a few modifications and now use it as a dipping sauce for fresh spring rolls and grilled satay. If you like strong asian flavors with a garlicky kick, give this one a try.

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:

1/4 cup all natural peanut butter (smooth works best)

2 T greek yogurt

2 T low sodium soy sauce

2 T safflower oil (canola or vegetable is fine too)

2 T hot water

2 t sriracha hot sauce (optional)

1 T unseasoned rice vinegar

1 T toasted sesame oil

2 t honey

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Directions: This one’s super easy…just throw everything into a food processor (or blender) and puree until you have a smooth sauce. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It gets a little thicker as it chills, so add a little more water to loosen it up if you’d like. It’ll keep for a week.

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The Importance of Sleep

My home is in Denver, but my husband’s job has us living in Calgary for a couple months over the summer. Instead of moving all of our stuff up here, we decided to rent a furnished apartment. So far its been pretty cozy…except for the bed! It (for lack of a better word) sucks! Its lumpy, way too soft, and provides little to no support for my hips and neck.  The very first night I noticed lower back & neck pain, tossing around, and I woke up feeling exhausted. On top of that, it doesn’t get dark here until well after 10pm so its a struggle to wind down in the evenings when its still pretty bright out. I figured it just needed some time to get used to.

Now that we’ve been here for a little over a month, I’m no more used to it than that first night. In fact, the pain has gotten worse and I’ve noticed some serious changes in mood, energy, eating habits, exercize routine, and overall health. I guess I’ve always known that it was important, but experiencing a lack of sleep first hand (along with poor quality) has really driven the point home for me. Although the mattress plays a big part in this, I’ve got to find a way to make it through the next 5 weeks. At this point, I’m ready to try sleeping on the floor just to give myself some relief!

Here are some things I’m going to try this week:

1. Create a bed time routine to kick start “sleep mode”…and stick to it

2. Turn off the t.v. and read a book or meditate instead

3. Sip some herbal tea to wind down

4. Try to stick to a reasonable sleep schedule on the weekends (this always throws me off)

5.  Settle into a hot bath or shower with a few drops of lavender essential oil

6. Put on some soothing music, prefereably instrumental

7. Make my own “sunset” by closing up the shades an hour before bedtime

I really hope this helps! Not getting enough sleep is really taking its toll on me.

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Black Bean Salsa

Whenever we get a craving for mexican food, this salsa always makes its way to the table. I usually double the recipe because chances are my husband will eat atleast half of it on tortilla chips as I make dinner!  It’s always a hit as a dip at parties and works great on burritos, taco salad, and fish tacos.

Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:

1 (14 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 tomato, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 t finely minced garlic

2 T olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 t cumin

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

Salt/Pepper, to taste

Directions: Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently fold together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This salsa will keep for 3 days and gets better (and juicier) with time!

Variation 1: instead of the bell pepper, try using a poblano or anaheim pepper

Variation 2: add 1/2 cup of corn into the mix

 

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Lavender infused honey

I just started growing lavender in my garden and have been looking for some ideas to put it to good use in my kitchen. I stumbled onto an interview with Kelly Ripa where she’s talking about some of her favorite foods and one of them is lavender infused honey.  I’m not going to say honey isn’t deliciously floral on its own, but I gave it a try by dropping just a bit into the honey jar (stem and all).  The results were amazing! The lavender perfumes the honey with a fresh, astringent aroma. It was lovely drizzled over yogurt topped with fresh blueberries and granola!

Another variation to try: a sprig of rosemary or a bay leaf!

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“What I ate Wednesdays”

I try to eat as clean as possible during the week. Things like: eating plenty of  fruits and veggies, measuring portions, and getting enough protein are essential to keeping up my energy (and mood)! While I always have the best of intentions on Sunday, I’ll admit that by the middle of the week things don’t always go according to plan. So I’ve started “What I ate Wednesdays” to keep myself in check.

Here’s a snapshot of my dinner from this week’s “What I ate Wednesdays”!

On the menu:

Pan seared wild salmon fillet

Side salad w/greek dressing – spring mix, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, and carrots

Unsalted cottage cheese with just a bit of pepper

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Tomato Mango Bruschetta

Ok, I’ll confess: I’m a picky tomato eater! Thats right…I’ll hold out on fresh tomatoes (opting for canned all year long) until those few precious weeks during the summer when they are at the peak of homegrown ripeness. I have a special place in my heart for the heirloom varieties! I slice and season with just a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper.  They are a cool, fresh side at almost all of my meals during the hottest months of the year.

Sometimes I like to spoof ’em up a bit with a simple bruschetta. This is my version of the classic Italian dish. I’ve been putting mangoes in mine for as long as I can remember! Their sweetness tames the acidity of the tomatoes and is a compliment to the fresh basil.

Tomato Mango Bruschetta

Ingredients:

2 medium tomatoes (any variety, the tastiest you can find)

1 ripe mango

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1 clove garlic

3 T  balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt/Pepper

Directions:

First, chop the tomatoes into small, bite sized cubes. Then, peel and chop mangoes into cubes (same size that you did with the tomatoes). If you don’t know how to cut up a mango, check out this link for instructions (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cut_a_mango/).  Place tomatoes and mangoes into a large bowl.

Next, finely chop the basil into very thin ribbons and place into the bowl as well.  After that;  smash, peel, and finely mince the garlic before adding to the bowl. Drizzle in the vinegar, oil, and salt/pepper to taste. Gently fold all ingredients together, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. It’ll keep for 3-4 days, and gets better with time as it macerates.

There are numorous options for serving. In my opinion, the best application is on grilled bread that has been sliced and rubbed with a bit of garlic. Sometimes I take it a step further and pile on top of grilled fish, chicken, or grilled pizza dough. And when I don’t have anything to put it on…I’ll add some cubed buffalo mozzarella and eat it as a side salad on its own!

 

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