Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kid Friendly dinner

I took my first spinning class this morning, so, in my mind, that makes me a biker.  And, clearly, now that I am a biker, I have a need for a high-quality protein bar to sustain me through my biking.  I remembered having found this recipe a few days ago, so as soon as I got feeling back in my legs....I hit the kitchen. 

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa, or about 2 cups cooked
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup protein powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup stir-ins like dry fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, or chocolate chips.

  • 1.  Rinse the dry quinoa in cold water, then let sit in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Drain the quinoa and add to the boiling water. Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for about 12 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.
    2.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked quinoa, dates, agave nectar, vegetable oil, flaxseed, almond extract, and salt. Process until relatively smooth (the quinoa is so small it stays slightly lumpy).
    3.  In a small bowl, stir together the protein powder, flour, and stir-ins. Fold this dry mixture into wet mixture with a spatula. The dough is very thick, like cookie dough, so use the spatula to press into prepared pan evenly.
    4.  Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until firm. Let cool, then slice into a dozen bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

    I just want to point out that these are called chocolate quinoa bars, yet there is only a minuscule amount of optional chocolate in the recipe.  Here's my chocolate quinoa bars.  Um, yeah.  Something went wrong.  Very wrong.  These puppies have no zip, zilch, nada.  Now, I am digging the ingredients....flaxseed, quinoa, agave nectar.  So, I am reworking this recipe and tweaking it for next time.  The bars I made aren't inedible.  They are just missing flavor.  Which makes me think the mini McGhees will love them.

    WAIT!!!  It just dawned on me.  Do you think that 1/2 cup of stir-ins means 1/2 a cup of each?  I think it does.  oops, I only put in 1/2 cup total of the stir-ins.  That could explain the missing flavor. 

    So, stay tuned.  Not giving up on a homemade protein bar.

    Last week's pasta sauce was so delish, I had to make another batch.  Here's a recap of the recipe.
    • one onion, diced
    • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 3/4 cup red wine
    • 3 cans plum tomatoes
    • basil
    • salt and pepper
    • sugar, 1 tsp
    1. Remove tomatoes from cans (keep the juice) and cut into chunks.
    2. In a pan, saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
    3. Add red wine, and let cook for a few minutes. Some of the liquid will evaporate. This is okay, just don't let it all.
    4. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Stir.
    5. Simmer 30 minutes.
    6. If you don't like your sauce chunky, remove the large chunks of tomatoes and puree in a food processor.
    7. Simmer on very low heat until ready to serve.

    This time I got all crazy and added in a handful of chopped spinach.  Tonight we had the pasta sauce with this meatball recipe

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup carrot bits (you can grind them in a food processor, grate then dice them, or mince them)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste

    1. Mix together ground beef and all other ingredients. You can use your hands, or if you have someone that owes you a can use their hands.
    2. Generously grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
    3. Roll the beef mixture into meatballs the size of golf balls. Place them in rows onto the greased baking sheet.
    4. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes or until brown all the way through.

    **sidenote**  I had some leftover bread from an breadmachine failure extra loaf in the pantry.  I let the bread dry out and then if I had a food processor, I would have used it to make breadcrumbs.  However, since I do not have a food processor, I put the bread in a bag and beat the hell out of it with a spoon. 

    Since Mr. McGhee wasn't home for dinner tonight and I, as the biker in the house, am exhausted from the waist down, I kept dinner real simple.  Meatballs with sauce, apple slices, edamame, and strawberries.  It was a perfectly pleasant, kid-friendly dinner, complete with listening to the kids argue over who loves edamame the most. 

    And dessert was sliced mango with dark chocolate, by request.  Love my little food nerds.