Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

I made this up last week. A friend has teenagers who’ve gone vegetarian, and is wracking his brains to figure out what to feed them. I was thinking of his dilemma while cooking and this was the result. I will tell you it is AMAZING eaten hot, and so-so eaten cold. By “amazing” I really mean tasty hearty healthy filling down-home food. I’ve been keeping the leftovers in the fridge, and heating them up. Just as good as the first time!


Part One

2 cups cooked quinoa
15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed
1 cup corn
1 cup sweet peas (frozen is fine)
1/2 cup chopped sweet bell peppers (I used a mix of colors)
2 medium onions, chopped, and sautéed in EVOO (olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used home pickled garlic cloves)
1/3 cup grated cheese
oregano & basil (to taste, I used fresh from the garden, not sure how much)

Part Two

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used kefir)
salt & pepper (to taste)


2/3 cup grated cheese (I wanted feta, but was out)



You know how to make quinoa, right? Roughly like rice — 2 parts water for 1 part rice or quinoa, with 1 teaspoon salt per two cups of water. With quinoa I like a couple tablespoons extra water, and I cook it by bringing it to a boil, boiling it for about 5 minutes with the lid on, then turning the heat off, leaving the lid on, and coming back later (anywhere from twenty minutes to eight hours).

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

I mixed the ingredients in the Part One section all together (cooked quinoa, beans, peppers, corn, onion, garlic, cheese, and herbs). You can substitute storebought herbs if you wish, but it is summer, and I have fresh ones in the garden. I’ve found I really LOVE the blossoms of the basil plant – such a strong spicy flavor for the basil!

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

This is when everything is mixed in together.

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Beat the eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a separate bowl.

Then, I lined a 13″x9″ cake pan with parchment paper, and spooned the quinoa mixture into it. Pour the egg mixture over the quinoa mixture, and top with the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Indulge in a healthy feast!

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Posted in Gluten Free, Quinoa, Savory | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2-4-6-8 Easy Lentil Soup

2 cups dried lentils
4 cups chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
8 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste.

Boil until lentils are soft.

See? Couldn’t be easier, could it? Actually, I bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on medium heat until soft and the water has reduced to an edible texture. But you knew that already, didn’t you? You may sautée the onion and garlic if you wish, but you don’t need to. I usually just toss them all together and boil/simmer merrily away.

Me, I love to eat this served on a mound of rice that has a pat of butter tucked inside. I’ve also been known to just bring a quarter cup of this to eat cold in my lunch, to round out whatever else I brought.

The recipe is very flexible, and you can do more creative things with it. Throw in some chopped greens! Add some curry spices. Whatever you like, you might want to try it. Feel free to play around. I always come back to this, though. It has bonded with my soul.

Simple soul food, hearty and healthy. Please note, this will make you a bit gassy the next day unless you add a pinch or two of ginger during the boiling. Doesn’t look like much, but tastes like a little bit of heaven.

2-4-6-8 Lentil Soup

Posted in Gluten Free, Soups | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Banana Foster Quinoa Pudding

Black Sheep Tavern

Our church choir traditionally has a Mardi Gras party with potluck. This is my first time since going gluten free. They are going to TRY making a gluten-free roux for the big pots of gumbo, and I struggled with what to bring as a dessert. Someone else was already making a quinoa salad, and I wanted to make something both gluten free and semi-traditional Cajun Mardi Gras dessert. I make a lot of Cajun food (well, since we are descended from the original Beausoleil of Louisiana, that scamp).

But desserts are not so much my thing. (Despite evidence to the contrary on this blog. I guess because I make desserts relatively rarely, I tend to make a big deal out of it when I do!) Most of the traditional Cajun food is really everyday fare. I make loads of rice pudding, for example, but that is breakfast in my mind, so I didn’t want to bring that and call it party food. The actual Mardi Gras party food type of desserts were mostly either way too much work for me, or hard to transport. After considerable digging, I found a recipe for a Banana Foster Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce. Evidently this was originally from the magazine Bon Appetit, which also seems appropriate, n’est-ce pas? I didn’t want to make it with actual bread (those gluten free breads are EXPENSIVE), and quinoa is healthier anyway. So. With some fair amount of trepidation and experimentation and sheer fortitude, I decided to substantially modify the recipe to make this. It looks fabulous. I will know better how well it worked after the party. In the meantime, I don’t want to forget what I actually DID! So here it is.

Banana Foster Quinoa Pudding, Take 1

(with optional Caramel Rum Sauce)


1 cup uncooked white quinoa
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bring ingredients to a full boil in a medium sized pot. Boil for three to five minutes, then remove from heat and set aside for either overnight or a couple hours.


3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups half&half (or 1/2 cup each whipping cream and milk)

Beat together vigorously.


4 large “just ripe” sweet bananas

Peel. Carefully, slice lengthwise. Then slice crosswise in lengths of about 3 inches.


What I did for the caramel part in the pudding is a bit more complicated than most folk will want to do. I made the traditional “Cajun” boiled can my mama and grandma always made. This is done by taking a can of sweetened condensed milk, put it in a deep pan covered with water by several inches, and then boil it for at least seven hours. Yeah. Right. So, there is a simpler alternative.

Buy one can of Nestle’s La Lechadera. Take out half of the can of “dulce de leche”, and heat it gently in a small pan with just enough milk to make it possible to stir it. It should not be soupy, and it should not be gloppy or pasty.


In a well-buttered baking dish (I used a 9x13x2 ceramic dish), layer half the cinnamon quinoa. Take half the banana chunks (the less pretty ones), arrange on top of the quinoa layer, and press down into the quinoa. Spoon the caramel mixture over the bananas.

Add a second layer of cinnamon quinoa, with a second layer of bananas. The pretty ones, this time. Press them down into the quinoa gently until they disappear about halfway into the quinoa. Again, spoon the caramel mixture over the bananas.

Beat the custard mixture again, and then very carefully, slowly pour it over the quinoa-banana layers. There may be more custard than needed.


Bake at 350*F for one hour and ten minutes, or until the center is set (only jiggles slightly) and the edges have started to pull away from the pan.


The original recipe said it served 8 people. Wow, well, those must be awfully generous fotball-player size portions! I think it is more like 16 servings. You can serve with caramel rum sauce, or whipped cream, or both, or neither.

For the Caramel Rum Sauce instructions, see the original recipe at Chik’N’Pastry.

My Name is Puddin’ Tain:

And with that, I am off to a party!

Posted in Fruit, Gluten Free, Quinoa | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 3

Just in case anyone is thinking this might be a pie made with peach yogurt from the store, nope! This is a pie made with peaches and yogurt, as two separate and distinct things.

In summer, I often make this blueberry cream pie that is a wonderful family favorite. I’ve tried substituting raspberries and other berries successfully, and wondered about other fruits. I tried apricots once, and that didn’t work, but I still wanted to try peaches. I’ve been thinking about making a peaches and cream pie for YEARS.

Today I decided to make it. Was half way through, when I realized I didn’t have the right ingredients. Sent kiddo to two neighborhood stores, neither of which carried heavy cream. So, well, what do you do? Improvise!

There is a local dairy that sells their own yogurt in jugs, thicker than heavy cream, but more liquid than the yogurt sold in cups (no gelatin). I started with that … and improvised all over the place, so this recipe is less of a permutation of the blueberry cream pie, and more a completely new concept.


Step One: Peaches

1 – 10 inch pie crust (not graham cracker crust, real pie crust. Me, I use a gluten-free crust)
~3 cups fresh, ripe, juicy peaches, skinned, pitted, and diced large

You may wish to slightly precook the crust. Peel the peaches the usually way, by dipping first in boiling water. Remove the pits, and rather than slicing, dice almost cubeshaped and about an inch in size. Fill the cooled crust with the diced peaches, reserving the juice. I’d sliced the peaches, as you see in the picture, but the slices tend to stick together. I found that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the cream to get in between the pieces. Because the peaches were so fresh and tender, they made a lot of juice while I was handling them. I saved this to use in the cream portion of the recipe. (NOTE: Save the juice! I mean it!)

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 1

Step Two: Cream

~1/4 cup peach juices, reserved
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain yogurt

Whisk sugar, salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon into the preserved peach juices. When smooth, beat in the 2 eggs, and last add and blend in the yogurt. Pour over the peaches. If needed, gently tease the peach cubes to allow the cream mixture to settle in.

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 2

Step 3: Bake! Eat!

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes. Check at 30 minutes. If it is starting to get a much darker brown around the edges than in the middle (as shown in this picture, I recommend reducing the temp to 350 degrees for finishing. The pie is done when (as with any custard pie) a toothpick inserted halfway between the rim and the center comes out clean, and the center only jiggles very slightly.

I know, it smells heavenly, and looks delicious, but you MUST WAIT for it to cool before slicing.

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 4

It was so good, I ate three pieces in two hours. I promise, I’ll eat something healthy for dinner. But wait! What’s not healthy about peaches and yogurt? Maybe I should ….

Posted in Fruit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Watermelon Shrub

Watermelon Shrub, Done

Ever cut a watermelon, with no room in the fridge, and can’t get people to eat it? Here’s a solution I just made up, and with which I’m quite happy. 🙂

I’ve been making all these infused vinegars, and had half a left over watermelon. Of course, I started thinking, watermelon infused vinegar! But watermelon has so much water in it compared to other fruits, I thought it might need special handling. Surely someone else has done this before, right? So I started searching. And I wasn’t finding anything, other than watermelon rind pickles, which are one of my other specialties, but not quite the same thing. Hmmm. If other folk are not doing this, there is probably a good reason why it isn’t working.

I started to think about it hard, came up with some ideas, and let the ideas marinate overnight. I wasn’t sure the watermelon could stand up well to the vinegar. I tried mixing a tiny bit together straight, and it was less than a joy to consume. Needed sweetener. I thought about making a shrub, but usually when I make shrubs, I add the sugar after the fruit steeps in the vinegar, and bring it to a boil. We boil watermelon when we make the pickles. Boiled watermelon neither smells nice nor tastes nice, so I wasn’t thrilled with that idea.

Then I thought, hmmm, if I boil the sugar before mixing it with the watermelon, that might work. So I made a simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water. Boil. Cool.). Off to experiment!

I never expected this to come out so well on the first try (especially since I’d just tried making a watermelon smoothie that was a real flop), but I am delighted with the watermelon shrub. Tasty, lovely … I enjoyed it so much, I even took a spoon to taste some of the frothy solids I strained out. Yum. I wanted to start very plain and simple, but I have ideas of variations that sound appealing to my tastebuds. Cucumber. Mint. A curl of lemon or orange rind. Basil. Clean bright tastes. Perhaps make the simple syrup with a little spice in it?


3 cups puréed watermelon
1 cup simple sugar (instructions above)
1 cup white vinegar (alternatives: Japanese rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or similar clear light-coloured neutral-flavoured vinegar)

Make the simple syrup well beforehand, so it has a chance to cool to room temperature. Purée the watermelon in the blender or food processor. Add the other two ingredients, and blend again, briefly. Remove from blender, and strain through cheesecloth, as shown (although preferably into a nonreactive bowl instead of a metal bowl).

Watermelon Shrub In Progress

I served mixed half and half with water, but I like things tart. It would be lovely over shaved ice, or perhaps mixed with a bit of chilled white wine. I can also easily imagine this as a thirst quencher after a workout or run, mixed with a bit more water so you can guzzle it right down.

Watermelon Shrub

YIELD: After straining, the five cups of liquid shrink to one nice quart.

Watermelon Shrub

Doesn’t it just have the loveliest color?

Watermelon Shrub

Of course, AFTER I did all this, I realized that I hadn’t looked to see if anyone else had thought of making a watermelon shrub. Well, duh. Yes, they have. So here are a few other recipes for the same idea. The Garden Design recipe is most similar; Living the Frugal Life is a classic traditional shrub; and the Bring Me a Shrub recipe is most adventuresome, adding pepper and other spices. But mine is faster and easier. You can literally drink this within minutes of thinking of it.

Garden Design: Summer Cocktail: Watermelon Shrub:

Living the Frugal Life: Shrub:

Bring Me a Shrub: Shrub #9: “Kim”:

Posted in Fruit | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Vinegars! Of Many Flavors …

Pic of the day - Vinegars & Pickles

Just because I haven’t had time to write, doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. Oh, I am so busy! This will be known as the Vinegar Summer, I suspect.

Briefly, backstory. I went gluten free almost a year ago. In making this dietary switch one of the things I’ve found is that I’m really not using my jams, jellies, and fruit butters. Oh. So do I want to make lots of jams, jellies, and fruit butters? Probably not. Well, what ELSE am I going to make with all this fruit? I mean, I am still making some of the sweet spreadable things, and I use small amounts in unusual ways (something for a different post), but I found I am buying and craving unusually flavored condiments. Grapefruit infused vinegar, cilantro infused olive oil … The obvious next step was to start figuring out how to make my own. I made one last year – raspberry vinegar. It has been quite lovely, but I don’t remember what I did.

I’ve been exploring various recipes, and finding absolutely no consistency at all. Some use a ratio of 1 part fruit to 3 parts vinegar, others reverse that ratio. Some use soft vinegars (balsamic or rice vinegar), others use whatever is handy, or base the vinegar choice on color rather than taste. Some say to mash the fruit but don’t mash too much, others say chop it in chunks, others (for small fruits) say to use the whole fruit. Some say to wash and remove stems, others say to leave on stems and seeds to make the vinegar nuttier. Some add sweeteners, some add salt, some add spices, some add nothing. Some say let the flavors infuse for a few days, some for a few weeks, some say a year. Some say the infusion (sitting and waiting, really) should happen with the jar in the window for sunlight, others say it should happen in a cool dark space. Some say the vinegars must be used within a couple weeks and stored in the refrigerator, others say they can be stored in a cool dark place forever (and everything in between). And that is just for the vinegars infused with fruit! Once we get to the once infused with spices, it is a completely different matter.

I thought there would be a pattern — that vinegars made with a high fruit ratio would say they had a short shelf life, for example. Nope! None of the expected or logical patterns proved out in the recipes. Even more confusing, I have found all of these variants represented in various mixes for recipes making infused vinegar with the same fruit! So the rules aren’t dependent on even what fruit is being used. This is very perplexing.

So I am experimenting, rather like I did for my high school chemistry project. I am starting with a one-size-fits-all approach. I will test and see what happens, and then adjust and report out (I hope).

I am starting with a standard ratio of 2 cups of pureed fruit to 2 cups of standard white vinegar. For a couple fruits, I am making extra batches with the same ratio but different vinegars, to compare. I am, to start with, not adding anything else. What I have going right now:

sweet cherry
black raspberry

I just bottled the pansy yesterday, but that should be a separate post. I’m also on a kick this year of pickling onion things. I made pickled garlic scapes, and leeks, and am planning to pickle some garlic cloves and various onions. We’ll see what happens. 🙂 So far, having a blend of mistakes and wonders. Let me tell you, just taking peaches and blending them with vinegar makes for an absolutely heavenly frothy tasty mix. I took some, mixed it with a little of last year’s raspberry vinegar, and some of last week’s basil infused olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Heavenly!

Posted in Fruit | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Inspired by Ceviche

Inspired by ceviche …

1 T olive oil
1 C onion, diced
1-1/2 t sea salt
2 T green olive tapenade
1/2 C home canned tomatoes
1/4 preserved Moroccan lemon, chopped fine
6 oz scallops
6 oz ham, chopped

Served on rice or quinoa.

Sauté onions in olive oil. Add salt, tomatoes, tapenade, lemon. Simmer on low for ten minutes. Add ham and scallops just before rice or quinoa is finished.

Posted in Gluten Free, Savory | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment