foodgeek's diary


Quick Quinoa Pilaf

Posted by foodgeek on December 6, 2011 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a quick post of a quick side/appetizer that I quickly whipped up using ingredients on hand for a potluck Christmas party. I got a couple of requests for the recipe at the party so I figured, why not put it on the blog!


The reason this is a quick recipe is because everything I do lately, cooking or otherwise, has to be quick due to lack of time. Life with my 3 year old, Grace, has become much more hectic since we brought her home from China a year ago. I cannot believe it has been that long. Time flies when you're having fun! And fun it is, albeit hectic and chaotic, life is so much more fun these days with Grace, the love of me and my hubbab's life. I could go on and on about that but let's focus back to the subject here - my quick quinoa pilaf recipe.


But first, here's a pic of my little jujube enjoying her bowl of quinoa, bless her little heart.


I am not a big fan of quinoa myself. At least not by itself. The hubby likes. The wee one likes it. I am just so-so on it. I can't pin-point what it is I don't particularly like about it. It's similar to couscous, and I love couscous. But quinoa? I can take it or leave it. But the hubby likes it so much, the bargain fiend that he is bought a boat load of it when it went on sale at Henry's (now called Sprout's).


Hoping to make a little more space in the pantry by making as much of the quinoa as I could, I have pretty much mastered the proper way to cook quinoa just right to make it nice and fluffy, not mushy.


To give you a quick (there's that word again!) background on quinoa, I looked it up on my favorite reference website, wikipedia. Quinoa is "a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds". It originates from the "Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru." It is known for its high protein content.


Quinoa is cooked much like rice, and is best cooked with less water than what a lot of recipes I have found call for. I use a ratio of 1 3/4 cup of water to 2 cups of quinoa. I usually add about a teaspoon of olive oil to it and about a quarter teaspoon of salt. Be sure to rince the seeds thoroughly prior to cooking to remove the bitter exterior coating. I simply use a fine mesh sieve and run cold water over the seeds until the water runs clear.


The easiest way to cook quinoa is by using a rice cooker. Simply put the rinsed quinoa, water, olive oil and salt into the rice cooker, and set to cook. If you don't have a rice cooker, you can cook it over a stove over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is transparent and tender, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let it stand off the heat covered for about 10 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork. 


To make the pilaf, I first sauteed minced onion, garlic, thyme and about a teaspoon of sugar in some melted butter until the onion is softened and slightly caramelized. I then mixed in the quinoa until heated through, then added some cranberries, raisins and toasted pecans. It is as simple as that.


This recipe, or concoction as I like to call it, is versatile enough that you can add just about anything to it, such as dates, apples, currants, chopped dried apricots, slivered almonds, etc., etc., etc. This could even be made into a main dish by putting in some mushrooms, some veggies, cooked ground beef, chicken, chickpeas. I am brainstorming here as I write, can you tell?

If you make this recipe, come back and let me know your own concoction.

Pork in Tomato Sauce

Posted by foodgeek on October 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I recently came across a cookbook called The Everything Rice Cooker Cookbook by Hui Leng Tay, when I went to check out Border's close out deals. I did a quick peruse and found some rather interesting, good sounding, mostly Asian recipes. At 40% off, I went ahead and added it to my pile of cookbooks to be purchased.


I have a rice cooker, which I have not used for anything more than cooking white and brown rice. Being born and raised in the Philippines, rice has been a regular staple in my home. But since I've lived in the US, I have gotten away from my daily diet of rice and "something else". These days I have added more pasta, potatoes, and even quinoa to my side dish options, instead of rice. With the rice cooker cookbook, I figured I can use my cooker for something other than rice, especially now that it is not being used so much. 


The first recipe I tried was the Chicken Barley Soup which turned out not only quite good, but easy to make! So I went on to try several other recipes, all of which were very good. I now wish I had this cookbook when my kitchen was being remodeled!


Recently pork was on sale at Sprouts. I had never tried a pork recipe from this cookbook so figured this would be the time. Looking at the different pork recipes, I chose Pork in Tomato Sauce. Ingredients and work seemed minimal.Sure enough, it was, both easy to make and good! It probably took about half an hour to make from start to finish. I had it for my brown bag lunch at work today over brown rice. It seems to taste even better the next day.


This stew recipe was so super easy, I just had to take a minute to share my "adaptation". Here are the basic ingredients:


½ pound pork tenderloin, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

½ teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon ketchup

½ cup water

1 teaspoon corn flour

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 



Combine the pork with soy sauce, salt, pepper, and honey. Leave to marinate in fridge for 30 minutes. I marinated it overnight since I had just finished cooking another dish for dinner and wanted to make this dish the following night.


In a separate bowl, combine ketchup, water, and corn flour. Set aside as sauce.


Add the oil to the rice cooker, cover, and set to Cook. When the base of the cooker pot gets warm, add the pork and fry about 8 to 10 minutes until browned and partially cooked through. Dish out and set aside. Leave the remaining oil in the pot.


Add the prepared sauce to the pot, stir well, cover rice cooker, and allow to reach a simmer. Once simmering, return the pork to the pot, cover rice cooker, allow to reach a simmer, and let it simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes. If mixture bubbles too vigorously, switch to Warm and continue to simmer for the remaining 8 to 10 minutes until the pork cooks through and sauce reduces (thickens).


I didn't go too far off on this recipe except that I did add some frozen peas towards the last few minutes of the cooking. In the future, I might saute some potatoes and carrots in the beginning, set it aside, proceed with the recipe, then add the potatoes and carrots towards the end to heat through and finish cooking. I might also saute some onions and garlic in the beginning as well. The ketchup is already seasoned and salty enough that I chose not to add anymore salt. Another idea would be to add some bokchoy at the end.


This very versatile and adaptable recipe is now my new favorite quick recipe. The best part is that my two year old loved it!