Curried Quinoa with Chicken

•February 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

Hold onto your hats my Minnesota followers! I am going to challenge you, I am going to dare you to step away from the potato, put down the ketchup, ignore the roast in the freezer and try Quinoa. What!?! Quinoa? Q-U-I-N-O-A, pronounced KEEN-waa. Quinoa is a quick, healthy alternative to rice or pasta. 

It is an amazing “new” food that is a grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. Quinoa’s origins are truly ancient. It was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinoa was known then, and still is known, with respect, as the mother grain. We call it the “Supergrain of the Future.” 


Quinoa contains  more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Some varieties of quinoa are more than 20 percent protein.  


Quinoa’s protein is of an unusually high quality. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal … similar to milk! 


To learn so many more wonderful facts about Quinoa click here…  


Alright, now that we’ve had class and you’re getting ready to go to a much more exciting website, one that isn’t forcing these weird recipes at you, I ask you to please continue on. This dish combines pungent Mediterranean and Indian flavors for a quick, HEALTHY, AND DELICIOUS meal! 

As I tell my 7-year-old, just try it once. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it again. But you never know…you may just like it! 

Curried Quinoa with Chicken, makes 4 servings 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 small onion, chopped 

1 clove garlic, minced 

3/4 cup quinoa* 

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1/2 teaspoon cumin 

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 1/2 cups chicken stock 

1 diced cooked chicken breast 

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts 

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped 

1/2 cup diced cucumber 

1/8 fresh chopped parsley 

*Found in natural health food stores or in the natural/healthy/organic section of your grocery store 

*Make vegetarian by just leaving out chicken and use vegetable stock, plenty of protein with quinoa itself for a meal 


~I sauteed my chicken breast with just a bit of olive oil and toasted my pine nuts in a dry pan just until golden brown. 

Saute Chicken (or bake, grill, etc)


Toast pine nuts in dry pan over med-high heat (Watch carefully!)


~Stir together the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. 


~Stir in the quinoa, curry powder, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes until the quinoa is tender. 


Bring to boil, cover, lower heat, simmer...


~Once the quinoa has finished cooking, stir in the diced chicken, toasted pine nuts, cucumbers, fresh parsley and dried cranberries. Serve warm or cold. 



If you try this dish, please leave me a comment about what you thought of it…good or bad. However, I really hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!


Creamy Tomato Soup, topped with popcorn

•January 27, 2010 • 3 Comments

In Minnesota last week we were teased with balmy tropical weather of 30-some degrees. Honestly, we are thrilled with those temps in January. Only in Minnesota will you see people skipping around town in just a sweatshirt and jeans when it is 36 degrees because it is SO nice out. Sadly, as always, we were quickly brought back to the reality of winter in Minnesota. Today our high is going to be 8 degrees, a pretty typical January day.

When the weather is this frigid, nothing warms my belly and soul more than a kettle of homemade soup. Tonight I indulged in Creamy Tomato Soup. I received the original recipe for this soup over 10 years ago from a food demonstration being held at Macy’s. I am quite sure at that age I was much more excited about getting free food then whatever product they were selling and little did I know that this recipe would enter my permanent file when I had that little plastic spoonful of joy so many years ago. Not only is this soup yummy and comforting, but it is so quick and easy to make. You can have your hot bowl of soup in about 20 minutes.

But where does popcorn fit into this recipe? Once again, when I was young and poor I was enjoying a bowl of my tomato soup. I really wanted some crackers to toss into it, but my house had none. But what it did have was popcorn. My house always has popcorn! Honestly, I believe I am 75% popcorn. It is a staple food in my diet. So I figured…why not? I tossed some into my soup and I was hooked. I’ve been eating it that way ever since. Be daring…give it a try!

Creamy Tomato Soup, serves 6

4 Tbsp. butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 Tbsp. flour

2 cans of tomatoes

1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)

2 c. chicken stock/broth

1 bay leaf

1 tsp of salt

½ tsp of black pepper

½ tsp of sugar (optional)

3 c milk

1 c half and half

Fresh popped popcorn (optional)

~Begin by melting butter over medium heat in a medium sized pot. Add in chopped onion and garlic. Cook until soft.

Cook onions and garlic until soft

~Stir in flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes to remove “raw” flour taste.

Mix in Flour

Cook flour/butter mixture

~Slowly stir in broth. I used water and chicken bouillon. Use whatever you have- bouillon, stock, broth, etc. Turn heat up a bit and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Once it is to a boil it will be to it maximum thickness.

~Stir in tomatoes. Again, whatever you have on hand is fine. Today I had a can of stewed tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes. If you wish, add in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. This will help give the tomatoes more depth.

Stir in tomatoes and paste


~At this time also add in your bay leaf, salt (judge accordingly, based on the stock you used), black pepper, and sugar. The sugar helps level out the acid in the tomato.

Add in your seasonings

~Lower heat. Simmer 10 minutes

~At this point, if you want, you can add your soup into a blender to purée into a thicker, creamier soup. For me, it is thick and creamy enough. Plus, I love the chunks of tomatoes throughout. But you do what is best for you and your taste buds!

~Stir in milk and cream. Bring back up to temperature.

Stir in dairy

~Once warmed through pour yourself a bowl and top with popcorn! The popcorn gets soggy pretty quickly, so my technique is to toss a few kernels in at a time and scoop them right up into my spoon. I think it’s a great spin on plain ol’ crackers. If you’re feeling really nostalgic, whip up a grilled cheese sandwich!

Stay Warm and Enjoy!

Spiced Kettlecorn

•January 16, 2010 • 3 Comments

This recipe I cannot take credit for, it came from Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog… Well, it isn’t her recipe either, but she gives credit to the creators of it on her blog. If you’ve never checked out her blog, I suggest taking a lookey lou. She offers great tips on all aspects of life. It may be a great recipe, a cute store to check out, or a new way to meditate. Stop by her blog, you’ll like it.

Anywho, back to the point of this post…POPCORN. I know I already posted a recipe today, but since it is Saturday night I am going to assume I am not the only 30-something sitting at home, in front of the TV watching another episode of Divine Design on HGTV. If your weekend highlights have come to this as well, let me at least offer you a new twist to an old favorite. Hope you like it as much as I do….

Spiced Kettlecorn, makes 15 handfuls

My Spiced Kettlecorn

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add the oil, corn kernels and sugar stirring to make sure everything is well-combined. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on medium-low (anything higher and you will have burnt popcorn/caramel) heat until kernels stop popping. Be sure to shake the pot once or twice to make sure the kernels are cooking evenly. Remove from heat and immediately add the salt and spices, tossing to coat.

Jenna’s (who is definitely not Italian) Italian Wedding Soup

•January 16, 2010 • 2 Comments

I hope the title of this post is enough of a warning to Italian’s possibly reading my blog. I am not Italian, not even close. I have sauerkraut in my blood, not pasta. I crave beets, not tomatoes. I season with dill, not basil. So please be aware that I cannot tell you if this is even remotely close to what an Italian would make, but I did my best and Italian or not I hope you enjoy this recipe….

“Italian” Wedding Soup, makes 8 servings

Ingredients for Italian Wedding Soup

1 lb. box of pasta


1.5 lbs ground beef

2 eggs

¼ c. bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese

1 Tsp. dried basil

1 garlic clove, chopped

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper


1 white onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 box frozen chopped spinach or 2 cups fresh spinach

1 c. diced carrots

2 c. beef broth

8 c. chicken broth

TOPPINS’, optional

Parmesan Cheese, shaved or grated

Lemon Wedge

~Begin by cooking your pasta in a separate pot. Do you have to cook it separately? No. Why do I then? Because I feel if the pasta is cooked before adding it into your soup the less broth it sucks up. You may enjoy it, but I don’t prefer my soup to resemble more of a casserole the next day because all the broth is in the lovely little pores of my now mushy pasta. You choose what works best for you.

Cooked Pasta

~While pasta is cooking begin making your meatballs. Mix together in a large bowl all the ingredients listed above for the meatballs. OK, here is another decision for you to make…brown meatballs in a pan before adding into soup, bake meatballs in oven before adding to soup, or add meatballs directly from mixing bowl to soup. What’s the right answer? Any of the above.

I chose to pan fry mine for these reasons. I like my meat to be browned a bit for extra flavor and I like to cook off a bit of fat before adding it into my soup. Baking them will basically do the same. And just adding them in will simply cook them all the same. Again, you choose what works best for you. If you chose to pan fry or bake them, do not worry about cooking them all the way through. You are just looking to add some color to them. They will finish cooking in the soup.

Another tip, I use my cookie scoop to form my meatballs. It is an easy way to make sure your meatballs are basically the same size.

Form mixture into meatballs


~Meanwhile, sauté your chopped onion, garlic, and carrots over medium heat in your stock pot with a drizzle of oil. Saute until tender. Once tender, add in broth and bring to a boil by turning heat up. Once to a boil add in meatballs, lower heat to a slow boil. Boil for approx five minutes.

Saute garlic, onion and carrots

~Next, add in spinach. I used frozen because, again, it’s what I had on hand. If using frozen, you can speed up the process by putting it into the microwave for a couple minutes to thaw it a bit before adding to soup. If using fresh, remove stems and roughly chop if you wish.

Thawed, frozen chopped spinach


~Stir in pasta. I used bowtie because I had it in my cupboard. Use what you like.

~Simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes just to let flavor combine. Feel free to add any salt at this point if you feel it is needed. Depending on the broth you use, you may need a pinch more of salt or none at all.

Simmer, allow flavors to meld together


~Pour a bowl of soup, top with shaved parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Enjoy…oops, I mean Buon Appetito!

Jenna's Italian Wedding Soup

Click on link below to help…

•January 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Help for Haiti: Learn What You Can Do

Meatloaf, Jenna Style

•January 11, 2010 • 7 Comments

I have created Interactive Blogging! With this post you will chose how it starts, that way I don’t have to disclose what really happened that lead me to making this meal. Are you ready! Set! Go! 

  1. In order to continue my quest to be the perfect 50’s housewife, it left me no choice but to make a meal for my husband that June Cleaver may have made her own family. It’s not that I want to eat this, but in order to keep true to my blog I had no choice. Besides, in 1954 this would have been a perfectly complete meal. Here is my recipe for….
  2. I survived one day of eating really healthy. Yes, I hang my head in shame. But as noted in my previous post I was not holding my breath on this resolution of eating healthy and losing weight. Below you will find our supper, although delicious, it definitely won’t be found in the Biggest Loser Cookbook this season. I never said I was perfect. Here is my recipe for…..
  3. I am going to share with you a meal I made for my husband. Now, because it isn’t a really healthy meal I did not have a single bite of it. I stuck to eating my carrots and celery sticks. I am set on keeping this New Year’s resolution even if that means my husband drooling over his meal and I picking out that stringy celery stuff from my teeth. Here is my recipe for…..


Meatloaf Muffins, makes 20 

I like to make food in muffin pans as it is easy to freeze and reheat single servings later. This recipe does make a fairly big batch as I like to make it on a Sunday and have meatloaf sandwiches throughout the week. If you wish, feel free to bake this in a loaf pan or two. Another great use for muffin pans is with stuffing (thanks Rachael Ray), everyone gets the delicious crunchy, crispy sides of the stuffing this way. Again, also great for freezing. 

Ingredients for Meat Muffins


3 lbs. ground beef 

1 lb. ground pork 

1 c. quick cook oats 

1 c. baby carrots 

3 stalks celery 

1/2 onion 

2 tsp crushed garlic 

1 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp black pepper 

2 eggs 


3/4 c. ketchup 

2 Tbsp yellow mustard 

2 Tbsp brown sugar 

1 Tbsp Worcestershire 

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

~Begin recipe by putting into a large bowl ground beef, pork, and oats. I do like to pulse my oats, 7-9 times, in my food processor before adding to meat. Simply because I am a bit weird about seeing breakfast in my supper. Mix until meats have just started to come together. The best tools for this are the ones God gave you. Take your impeccably clean hands and squish away! 

Meat and Oats


~Next, and this is a secret ladies, is my way of sneaking veggies into my meatloaf. I promise you that your husband and kids will have no idea.  Add your carrots, celery, onion, and garlic into the food processor. Blend until finely chopped. This will also help add moisture to your meatloaf. 

Secret Ingredient...VEGGIES!


Veggies in disguise


~Add the finely chopped vegetables into the meat mixture, along with two eggs, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. If mixture appears to dry, you can add in1/4-1/3 c. of milk 

~Once mixture is combined, roll into balls (about a palmful) and put into an ungreased muffin pan. Stir, in a small bowl, the ingredients for the glaze. Brush onto each muffin. 

Brush on Glaze


~ Bake in preheated oven for approx. 45 minutes. If you wish, feel free to put on more glaze halfway through baking. 

All ready to eat!


~Serve your muffins along side boiled new potatoes tossed with parsley and butter, as well as stuffing and corn. I get a helping hand by making stuffing from a box and thawing out frozen corn. No shame in getting a helping hand here and there! Enjoy your meal! 



 *My recipe has been created by combining some of the world’s best chefs recipes- my mother, my mother-in-law, and Ms. Stewart. Thank you for inspiring me!

Steak Salad with Gorgonzola Crumbles and Dried Cranberries

•January 9, 2010 • 4 Comments

ME: Can we leave for your parents an hour late?


ME: I have NO jeans to wear. I need to finish washing that pair.

HUSBAND: What do you mean NO jeans? You have 7 pairs right there, not to mention 4 pairs of yoga pants, 5 pairs of dress pants, and who knows how many fleece pants you have.

ME: I know, I know. But none of them fit.


ME: (Crying begins) I ate too many Christmas cookies, cheeseballs, hams, turkey legs, mashed potatoes, ice cream, pies……………………….

The holidays are done and I am pretty sure I gained at least five pounds. No, seriously. Of course my New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and have that bikini worthy body by the time summer roles around. But you and I both know, the odds are stacked against me. Sure I will eat a salad tonight and be certain the next 10 nights I will also be eating something just as healthy. But I won’t kid myself. Next weekend when I am talking to my mother on the phone, crunching in her ear, and she asks “Are you eating carrots?” I will tell the truth and say “No mother, I am finishing my second bag of Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion Chips.” (Crying commences once again)

But in the meantime, I will pretend that I am going to lose the weight, that I am going to eat healthy all the time, that this year is the year! While I am in this state of mind I am going to share with you my favorite salad. The salad I reach for when my body is begging me for greens. I heart my steak salad!

Salads are such a great go-to meal because your imagination is your only limit. As you will see with my recipe you can easily change each ingredient to fit your tastes. I really feel that way about most recipes. Don’t feel that you can’t try a recipe because you don’t like a certain ingredient, just change it or remove that ingredient all together. Experiment when you’re cooking! Take risks! Push boundaries! Be that dare-devil you wish you could be when facing the rest of the world! This is your chance! If you don’t like steak, use chicken. Gorgonzola makes you gag, use feta. Allergic to dried cranberries, use apples. Pecans make you cringe, use walnuts. Use my recipe as a starting point…make it so you crave it all the time, just as I do.

Steak Salad w/Gorgonzola Crumbles and Dried Cranberries, serves 2

Ingredients for Steak Salad

1 bag of chopped romaine lettuce

1/2 lb of steak (with salad you can pick whatever is on sale), thinly sliced

1/2 c. diced cucumber

1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion

1/2 c. gorgonzola crumbles

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1/4 c. chopped pecans

1 tsp. chopped garlic

1 tsp. canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

balsamic vinegar and oil to drizzle on top

~Begin your dish by thinly slicing your steak. If you have time put it into your freezer for 15-30 minutes. This partial freeze will make it easier to slice thinner. Always make sure to cut your meat against the grain. What the heck does that mean, you ask? Look at your meat. You can see that the meat has a “grain” (like wood) that will run in a certain direction. Whatever direction it runs, cut it the opposite. This will help keep the meat tender. You will cut against the fat and muscle instead of with it, making it much less chewy in the end. Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper.

Thinly Sliced Flank Steak, against the grain

 ~Once steak is sliced, add oil and garlic into a pan over medium-high heat. Add steak quickly so you do not burn the garlic. Cook steak to desired doneness. Remove from heat when steak is browned and done to your preference. Even if you eat your steak well-done, this will not take long as it is cut so thin.  Note: if it isn’t -63 degrees below zero, feel free to grill your steak.

Brown Steak with garlic

 ~ Once the steak is done, your salad is pretty close to being done. Another reason why this recipe is so great….easy! Dice your cucumbers and slice the red onion. I like to buy hydroponic cucumbers, also known as english cucumbers. You will find these wrapped in plastic. When you can’t get fresh cucumbers from the garden these are second best. The skin is thin so there is no need to peel them and seeds are very tender, easy to eat.

Hydroponic Cucumber, diced

Red Onion, thinly sliced

~We’re rounding to home now…divided lettuce into large bowls, top with steak, add cucumbers and onion, sprinkle the gorgonzola crumbles, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans over top. Note: I forgot about the pecans until I was eating the salad. Don’t forget. These add a much needed texture to the dish.

Toppings have been added

~All we have left to do is drizzle your desired amount of balsamic vinegar and oil over top.

Steak Salad!

Your meal is complete! This salad would be great served with a slice or two of french bread slathered in butter (hmm…is that the start of the slipperly slope to the bag of chips).