The Food Groupie Club

Hi my name is Sarah and I'm addicted to food. I have been a chef professionally for about 12 years now and am currently teaching cooking classes at a culinary school. I seriously love to cook and eat good food. The problem with cooking and eating like the professionals though is that it can be kind of intimidating for a home food enthusiast. My goal is to bring good food into every-day homes. Anyone can make healthy, good quality, good tasting, and good looking food with the right know-how. So here you made easy by a professional!

I will be featuring some of my favorite chef's recipes in my posts and will note in the post what book was used. Their books that I use will be listed in my must have cookbooks tab.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Ok, I know I disappeared for a while..... I will confess.... I've been lazy and haven't been cooking. Ooops. Hopefully Chipotle has been happy for our business these past few weeks. I did host "Meat Fest 2011" a few weeks ago, but there was too much to do so I didn't take any pictures. It was awesome though. Yes, it's a whole festival celebrating meat. We had baby back ribs, tri-tip, chorizo hamburgers, sausage, and bacon mac n' cheese, BBQ corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, and watermelon. I love being able to bust out the smoker. Anyways,  I'm back on the cooking wagon though and we have our weekly menu planned out again, so sorry Chipotle if your sales are down this week.  

I decided to just ease back into the food blog by doing a post on Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah. You sound smarter when you say it right). 

If you haven't ever heard of this magic grain you are probably living under a rock. This has been around for-ev-er (say it like they do on 'the sandlot') but its just recently gotten a lot of media play. Quinoa is a whole grain that is a great substitute for rice. Its VERY low-carb and high in protein {and gluten free}! See, its a magic grain. It can be used and cooked just like rice as a side, filling, or stuffing.  There are a few things to know about it though otherwise you might be unpleasantly surprised, and maybe quit it before you really gave it a good chance.

#1: Don't just simply follow the package directions. The first time I tried cooking this, the package said to cook it just like rice, and said it could even be done in a steamer. I chose to try it in my rice steamer. I did not like this at all. It had very little flavor and was mushy. I seriously was wondering what all the hype was about. This package also says to basically steam it. Blegh. 
One thing you need to know about cooking, that usually if something isn't good, its not prepared properly. I learned a trick  from one of the chefs I work with that made me change my mind on this product. Toast it first. The package should say this but does not. Toasting brings out the flavor and makes it have a better texture after cooking. This is a simple task that works miracles. Just spread it out in an even layer on a cookie sheet and toast it in the oven at 350 until its golden brown and smells nutty.

#2: After toasting, put it in a mesh strainer and rinse it really good. Apparently it has a bitter coating on the outside that will go away with a good rinsing. I have a friend though that says she never rinses her's and she's never noticed any bitterness. Everything I've ever read about this says to rinse it though, so I'll stick with that. 
#3: Finally down to the cooking. I cooked this pilaf style, not steamed. I small diced 1 large red bell pepper and 1 small onion and sauteed it in a pot with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil until the onions were translucent. Then I added the quinoa and cooked that slightly in the oil (about 1 minute) and added the water. You can add a little chicken base or use chicken stock instead of water if you want a little savory undertone to it.  Cover with a lid and let it cook until the water evaporates.  The bag said to do a 2:1 ratio water to quinoa just like rice, but since it was mushy last time, I cut it down to about 1 1/2:1 and it was perfect. Side note....... This stuff expands like crazy. A little goes a long way. 1 cup will feed like 4-6 people. I used 2 cups and cooked up it fed 4 adults, 3 kids, made 3 boxed lunches for the next day and still had enough to make another meal for 3 out of it. When you buy it, the bag isn't that big so you might feel like its kindof expensive. Just remember it goes more then twice as far as rice. 

One more thing.... my friend Michele gave me a great idea for the leftovers. There was about 1 1/2 cups cooked leftovers after the 3 boxed lunches. She said to add some corn, black beans, avocado, and fresh tomato to it and serve it in a corn tortilla.  Quinoa tacos!! Genius.  They were awesome.... Plus dinner only took me about 10 minutes to make.  Great healthy meatless substitute to beef tacos. I also added some sour cream and cheddar on top.  So if you want to make your life really easy........ Cook a bunch and you can use it in a couple other meals for another day.


  1. How did you know that I have been hemming and hawing about buying a bag of this stuff and trying it out? There is a mango quinoa salad recipe on that sounds amazing too if you are interested...

  2. I am psychic :) I'll look up the mango salad. It sounds awesome.


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