Yam & Quinoa Fritters with Zesty Black Beans

 

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Looking for something unique to make for dinner? Perhaps it’s “Meatless Monday” and you are tired of the same old dishes.  I love yams and I love quinoa, but I have never come across a recipe that combined them until now. Adapted from makingthymeforhealth.com food blog, Sarah created these fritters, however with any recipe I find I modified it.

They are a little messy to make, when you are forming the fritters, but overall an easy meal to make. The flavors all compliment each other so well, you will be treated to a tasty treat, plus you are getting so many nutrients from the beans, yam and quinoa your body just won’t know what to do with itself.  These are vegan (and can be made gluten free),  however any meat eater is sure to enjoy these this tasty meal. The salsa mixed with beans makes them saucy and flavorful. Like things spicy? Then sub out the mild salsa for a hot one. This is an easy dish to customize to your tastes.

One of the things I love about this is that you can do all the prep work ahead of time, even a day or two. If you pre-cook the beans, yams and quinoa, then all you have to do is assemble and form the fritters. Or you can make the fritters ahead of time too and keep them in the fridge to cook them up as you need. The last batch I created, somehow made so many fritters that I ended up freezing them for later user. When you refrigerate or freeze, separate the fritters with wax paper so they don’t stick together.


Prep Time: 20 minutes        Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes        Makes about 15-20 fritters depending on size

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cup dry quinoa (before cooking)
  • 2 med-large sweet potato (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt & pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon each)
  • juice of one lime
  • Egg Replacer for 2 eggs or 2 tablespoons flaxmeal + 6 tablespoons water
  • 32 ounces salsa (your taste preference)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans ( or two cans)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil for frying
  • Vegan Sour Cream (or regular sour cream for non-vegans)
  • 1-2 Avocados (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the quinoa: either use a rice cooker (1 part quinoa to 1.5 parts water/stock) This takes about 20 minutes and comes out flawless. I use water with a couple tablespoons of vegetarian chicken stock. If you use only water, add about 1/4 tsp salt and any other seasonings you prefer. Pour the quinoa and liquid in at the same time and press “Cook”.  Put cooked quinoa into large mixing bowl, and let cool. If you prefer you can prepare on the stove-top.
    • STOVETOP: Add quinoa to a medium size saucepan along with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil (keep an eye on it or it will boil over), turn heat to low and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, fluffing with a fork half way through. Put cooked quinoa into large mixing bowl, and let cool..
  2. Meanwhile, peel and cut the yams into 1 inch cubes. Place the yams in your Lekue Steamer or other microwave save container with a lid.  Add a tablespoon of water, close your Lekue or loosely cover other container and microwave for 8 to 12 minutes (time will depend on your microwave wattage). Allow to cool for at least five minutes, then mash with fork or potato masher.  Put yams into the same large bowl with the quinoa.
  3. If your beans are canned or cold (from pre-cooking) heat the black beans and salsa either in a microwave safe bowl, or on the stove-top, by pouring them together and then allowing it to simmer on the low setting until hot.
  4. Chop the cilantro and the green onion and place in the same bowl and yams and quinoa.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs, ginger, lime, egg replacer, cumin and salt & pepper,  to the mixing bowl then stir until well-combined.
  6. Taking about 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, form small patties with your hands and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  7. Once all of the patties are formed warm the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook each fritter for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and firm.
  8. Serve cooked fritters on a bed of the black bean salsa.
  9. Top with sour cream, avocado and a sprig of fresh cilantro.

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Summer Reading #2 – The Royal Spyness Series

::: The Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen :::

I am completely addicted to book series. If they are well written, well narrated, historical and a murder mystery or adventure,  then I am smitten.  That’s exactly what happened with Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series. I have listened to them all through my Audible.com account and I just can’t get enough. In fact I am eagerly awaiting her latest episode, Queen of Hearts to be released next month.

Let me take you back to the beginning. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, is the  daughter of the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. Her father has since passed on, and as a young woman in the 1920’s and 30’s she is of course, penniless, as all wealth would go to a male heir, in her case her brother, even though she is the King’s cousin and is thirty-fourth in line for the throne.  Georgianna has been taught only the things a fine young lady would learn: the perfect curtsey, what fork to use and when, how to dance, and what outfit to wear at each corresponding meal. But her brother (and his overbearing wife, Fig) cuts off her allowance, so she leaves Scotland for London where she begins her journey and winds up a novice sleuth.

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Keeping in fashion with shows such as Downton Abbey, these books take you back to a time and place that seem to real and alive that you sometimes feel as if you are right there with Georgiana. All the glorious characters are present, just as they are in Downton Abbey, as are the palaces, the opulence, the poverty, the servants, the romances, the fashions, the history, and the hierarchy.  If you are looking for something to fill the void when Downton is off for the summer, this is the perfect filler.
 
Each book takes you on a foreign journey that is just lovely, and not too gory or lusty. Bowen has the perfect balance that gives each character their moment to shine. Below is the order of books and besides just grabbing all of them at your local bookstore and plowing through them, I highly recommend listening to these on audoibook.  Because if you do, you will be treated to one of the best audiobook narrators in existence, Katherine Kellgren.  (Insert photo here: –> ) KatherineKellgren3 (2)
 
 Katherine Kellgren has recorded over a hundred audiobooks, including winners of the Audie Award, the American Library Association’s Odyssey Honor, the Earphones Award, the Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, and ForeWord Magazine’s Audiobook of the Year.
 
Katherine does ALL the voices, in each and every book in this series. She prepares and studies each new dialect, and person wholeheartedly and authentically. She perfectly performs each job she is give, and really gets in to the heart of each character. They all seem so real, as if we are listening to a blip in time and these people actually existed. Go out and do something nice for yourself and listen to these books! Don’t forget, I told you all about audiobooks in an earlier post, but in case you forgot, check out Audible.com and my blog post regarding that: Time for Some Summer Reading.
 
For ease of reference here are the order of the books to date.
  1. Her Royal Spyness (2007)
  2. A Royal Pain (2008)
  3. Royal Flush (2009)
  4. Royal Blood (2010)
  5. Naughty in Nice (2011)
  6. The Twelve Clues of Christmas (2012)
  7. Heirs and Graces (2013)
  8. Queen of Hearts (August 2014)
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Coming in August 2014

Buttermilk Pie

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The first time I ever heard of Buttermilk Pie was earlier this year. I was dining with a group of friends at one of my favorite place, The Freemont Diner, and Buttermilk Pie as their pie of the day. We all took a chance, not knowing what it really was. OMG, it was the most delicious thing my taste-buds have ever experienced. The sweet creamy filling, had traces of nutmeg and cinnamon and their flaky crust was the best pie crust I have ever devoured. I was almost like if you took creme brulee and turned it into a pie – this would be that pie.

I knew after that day, that I would need to research this new amazing treasure and find out exactly what’s in this pie. Well lo and behold, as I was going through a magazine the very next day, a Penzeys Spices Catalog which I had for several months but hadn’t bothered to look at yet,  there was THE PIE…. the Buttermilk pie! I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Was the universe telling me I needed to make this pie? yep, I am pretty sure it was, and I did.


::: Buttermilk Pie :::

Adapted from Colleen Dyroff as Published in Penzeys Spice Catalog

This is one of the easiest pies I have ever made, the ingredients whisk together so quickly.

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 3 Tbls all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt

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Ingredients for crust:

Note: I used a frozen store bought crust once for this pie, and it just wasn’t the same. The homemade crust really makes a huge difference.

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 2-4 Tbls milk or water
  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions for the crust:

  1. Prepare the crust first – cut the butter into small pieces, place in Kitchen-aide mixer bowl or food processor
  2. Add the flour, salt, and sugar to the butter, blend slowly until combined
  3. Add the milk or water slowly until dough holds together
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes
  5. Sprinkle counter or rolling mat with flour and gently roll out the chilled dough
  6. Roll until its a large enough circle to fit in pie pan
  7. Carefully transfer to dough to pan and press down to fit into the bottom
  8. Trim edges of dough if needed
  9. Crimp or scallop the edges of the crust for decoration

Instructions For the Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs
  3. In Kitchen-aide mixer, combine melted butter, sugar, flour, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, nutmeg and salt
  4. Mix on low until smooth
  5. Place pie crust on cookie sheet in case of bubbling over
  6. Pour into prepared pie crust
  7. Place cookie sheet in over, and bake for 50-60 minutes, until its puffy, golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. There will be a lot of bubbling, as it gets close to being done that will subside. Cool on wire rack
  9. Serve warm or refrigerate
  10. Serve with fresh berries and/or whipped cream

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The Empowerment Plan

Today on Facebook, I read an article from A Mighty Girl about this amazing young woman, Veronika Scott, who is doing something to help the homeless in her home town.  She created an item that is so unique I am sure that there will be some copycats coming out in the near future.  I am so impressed with her concept and the fact that she hires the homeless, I just had to share this with you today.

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Here is an excerpt from A Mighty Girl:

Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika’s design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic.”

Not only did her design win a International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s become the core of Veronika’s nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats. Now, three years later, the 24-year-old social entrepreneur expects that her team of 15 seamstresses will produce over 6,000 coats in 2014 — all of which will be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets.

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Self Heating & Waterproof

You can read the full article on Facebook: A Mighty Girl


Blogger David Merritt, posted an article on his Blog (Goodness Determined) about Veronika way back in 2011. I wonder why it’s taken the rest of the world so long to hear about such an incredible person.  One would think that she would have been bigger news way before now. Oh, I forgot, Obamacare, Anjelina Jolie, Meg Ryan, Tom Cruise, missing planes, war, the Pope, The Hunger Games, Fashion Week in Paris, gas prices, milk prices, the national debt of Greece, Government bailouts, Kim Jong-un inherits a country, WikiLeaks, hurricanes, earthquakes, sports, sports and more sports, the rich are getting richer, the Olympics, Gay Marriage, Russia, and the Royal Wedding have all been far more important than something of this nature. Who wants to see good things on the news anyways, right?

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You can watch a brief video on You Tube about Veronika, and how this project came into fruition here: http://youtu.be/mo-kvh1w60w

I noticed she has a lot of sponsors, Including, GAP. Which makes me wonder what THEY are doing to help the homeless situation. Does GAP employ homeless people and train them so that they can go out into the world and be self sufficient?  Does GAP merely provide a warehouse for her to run her shop in? Or do they merely want their name on a “Good Thing”. I’m sure we will never really know.  However, with young people out there like Veronika, the world isn’t such a bad place after all.  Now all we have to do is get more programs like this going in more cities across the states and get more people involved to help make it happen.

Time for Some Summer Reading (or Listening)

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30 Seconds Of Women Over-Apologizing, Followed By 30 Seconds Of Them *So* Destroying That Stereotype

I was on Facebook yesterday and saw this video on my home page. Why do women say they are sorry all the time? This clip totally reminded me about a segment in a book I recently listened too again, Libba Bray’s The Beauty Queens. (Yes, I said listened to a book.) When I was doing the corporate-commute-manager-work a lot of hours thing, after a year of music I got tired of the same songs. The radio is pretty damn repetitive, playing some songs at least every hour of every day. So the next few years I turned to books on tape.

I started with borrowing some cd’s from my mom. My first one ever was “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and it was astounding. One guy does all the voices and it is truly amazing. There’s just so much more information in a book than they can shove into a movie. I also found that books on tape, especially while driving, kept me calmer and more focused and made the time go by much faster when commuting.  Eventually I started using Audible.com for all my listening pleasure. You pay a monthly fee and get one credit a month. (Almost all books cost one credit.) You get bonus credits for joining, and they have offers where you can get 3 credits for about $30 bucks, which is a savings of $15, basically a  book for free. They sometimes have free books, and books sales for as low as $4.95; so sometimes I just purchase a book if its less than about $10 dollars. Overall a huge savings from buying the actual CD’s that can cost up to $60 a book! They are yours to download on any mobile device or computer and to listen to as many times as you want. You can even even listen to a free sample excerpt from each book so that you can test drive it. There are some books that the description and reviews sound amazing, but that the narrator is truly dreadful. The narrator makes all the difference!

Now that I don’t commute, I crave the drive. I am dying to know what happens next in my book. I have less driving time now so I don’t get through a book as fast. In addition to listening when running errands,  I also listen when I am  cleaning the house, doing dishes, or cooking; it keeps me entertained and motivated. I still read actual books from time to time, in fact I started two books this summer.  But a book that is performed really well is just as good as watching TV to me.

I’m so sorry,  I started this blog post telling you about how women shouldn’t be apologize for everything then I went off on a tangent, so there must be a rule where I should feel bad and profusely ask for your forgiveness, right? Well that brings me back to what I wanted to share with you today, The Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray who is one of my favorite authors.

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Imagine Survivor, Lost, Pirates, and a Beauty Pageant all rolled into one! It’s a very unexpected ride with the survivors of the Miss Teen Dream Pageant plane crash.  It’s completely witty and laugh out loud hysterical at times. I really recommend the book on tape, Libba Bray does an outstanding job at portraying all the character voices herself! My favorite character is probably Tiara. There’s LMAO footnotes, ROFL commercials, and I also love how she handles “The Corporation” which pretty much owns EVERYTHING in the USA. And yes, they have a whole section about why women need to apologize for everything.

The book on tape is done so well, at times I felt like I was watching a movie. It’s rated Mature Teen but adults will totally LOVE this as well. (Aren’t TEEN books the only ones anyone reads anymore?) Besides it’s also the:

  • 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Young Adult Literature
  • 2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author
  • 2012 Audie Award Nomination for Best Teen Audiobook

If you still don’t believe me just look at these reviews!

“Libba Bray not only breaks the mold… she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I’d go anywhere she wanted to take me.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This is Libba Bray, a writer much more interested in subverting that paradigm—girl-on-girl psychological violence as spectator sport—than playing into it…Beauty Queens is a madcap surrealist satire of the world in which her readers have come of age—reality TV, corporate sponsorship, product placement, beauty obsession—but ultimately, it’s a story of empowering self-discovery.” –New York Times Book Review

“{a} hilarious romp into an examination of femininity and feminism, sex and sexuality…sure to be popular.” –Booklist

“Out-there satire…Lord of the Flies with an evening gown competition, anyone?”–Publishers Weekly

“While the foibles of today’s media/celebrity/political culture are the clear target of this stinging satire, the teen cast is funny and endearing in its own right…The humor is both dark and madcap, including footnote asides and commercial scripts that keep the laughs coming.” –Kirkus Reviews

Go out there and LISTEN TO A GREAT BOOK! I’m sorry, you can read one if you want to, I’m not trying to force you to do anything.

If you have the time, also check out this article: An Interview with Libba Bray

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Libba Bray, Author

Pear Bruschetta

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This is a wonderful and easy appetizer to make, especially when you can get a good deal on some red pears. All the flavors work so well together and compliment each other. The creamy cheese with the sweet pears, the toasted smokey bread and the pears make this a mouth watering dish that is so delicious I actually eat for dinner alone. Be prepared to impress your guests with this stunning taste sensation!

The first time I ever had this I was at some Italian restaurant many years ago and  it was with made with the marscapone. It was heavenly. The ingredients so simple, I knew it would be easy to recreate at home. The first time I made it, I bought cambozola cheese for some reason and I loved it even more. Cambozola has a stronger taste and is still creamy and spreadable, but it’s not quite as pungent and blue cheese.  Sometimes I have trouble finding one or the other, so I use which ever was available. 

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your area, they carry a balsamic glaze that is out of this world. Even though I love to make as much from scratch as possible, I do love the convenience of not having to whip up some balsamic reduction just for a snack.

For a dinner I make 2-3 larger pieces per person. For an appetizer or afternoon snack, I make 1-2 small-medium sized pieces.

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Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze


 ::: Pear Bruschetta :::

Makes enough for 2-6 people

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Ingredients

  • 1-2 ripe red pears
  • cambozola or marscapone cheese
  • 1 loaf of rustic, sourdough, or french bread or baguette
  • honey
  • balsamic glaze
  • 6-12 fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • drizzle olive oil (optional)

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Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Slice bread loaf into about 1/2 inch slices and spread out on baking sheet
  3. Bake slices for about 10-15 minutes, or until toasted to your liking
  4. Wash and dry the pears, then slice into no more than 1/4 in thick
  5. Chop about 1/4 cup pecans and set aside
  6. Once the bread is done, let cool for about 5 minutes
  7. Spread a thin layer of cheese on each toast
  8. Place 2-3 spinach leaves on top of the cheese
  9. Drizzle a little honey over the spinach
  10. Place 3-5 slices of pears on top of the spinach
  11. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic glaze on top of the pears
  12. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans

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Support the Arts & Send a Kid to Dance Camp

We have all been there before;  our child wants to do something, or we need to pay for something important and we just don’t have the extra cash to pay for it. My daughter has a friend from school and dance class, Olivia, that just moved to a new state and wants to go to a dance camp so she can meet all the new people and make new friends. She will also gain the experience of knowing what’s expected of her in her new dance company.

Since her whole family has moved and is strapped for extra cash, Olivia has started a Go Fund Me account on her own. She is a sweet, talented and funny girl who would truly benefit from getting to have this experience.

If you can find it in your heart to send even $5 or $10 to help her reach her goal, it would be amazing. THANK YOU – Every little bit helps! http://www.gofundme.com/bgj0bw

Support the ARTS!


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Olivia – Help her go to dance camp

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Olivia and my daughter Audrey – at Oaks Park in Portland, Oregon