Vanilla Cinnamon Quinoa

Today is a big day for me. I went to the gym for Day 3. I consider this a bigger accomplishment than Day 1 or Day 2. It's harder to stay motivated when you're sore and tired. And I have a confession. I hadn’t been to the gym or done any workout whatsoever (unless you count walking around Manhattan in search of food) since our vacation in Aruba. And we know that that was a fruitless endeavor since I spent the week eating cheesy, ham-filled bagels and giant slices of red velvet layer cake. Mmmm...cake.

Sure, I generally try to counterbalance my unflinching palette which is easily distracted by Belgian fries, shortcakes, pizza dip and carrot cake, with dinners like fish tacos or substituting thick and calorie-filled bread with deli flats. But in my experience the only way to truly counteract the pounds from packing on is to get my butt moving at the gym. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t seem to get easier to motivate myself to go. In general, I hate it. But it’s a necessary evil. The good news, though, is that my reward after the gym is a healthy, filling and delicious breakfast.

And since my famous scrambled eggs are unlikely to survive my morning commute, I turned to a new, protein-packed breakfast that would travel well and cook up as I get ready for work. The answer? Quinoa. If you recall, I first sampled quinoa in my provolone stuffed chicken with pesto article and it occurred to me that this versatile item could easily be made sweeter and less savory, essentially as a fun change up from your standard oatmeal.

So instead of cooking my quinoa in chicken broth, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Dressed up with some cinnamon and vanilla, this breakfast is hearty, filling and tasty to boot.

Vanilla Cinnamon Quinoa
2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk of your choice, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, plus more for adding on top
1 C dry quinoa, I used the organic variety
brown sugar to taste, I used brown sugar Splenda rather than the real thing which I could eat by the spoonful
vanilla extract, just a splash to taste
cinnamon, sprinkled on top
chopped figs, or fruit of your choice (berries would also be great!)

In a mesh strainer, thoroughly - and I mean thoroughly - rinse your quinoa.

Meanwhile, bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to simmer. Though the original recipe that I referenced suggested covering the saucepan at this point, I recommend against this unless you want a reappearance of the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man all over your stove. Take it from those with experience (ahem, me). Now I have a pile of sticky scalded almond milk all over my beautiful new stove. Bah. Anyhow, the quinoa will absorb most of the liquid in about 10 minutes or so. Once it has, stir in brown sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste.

Top with fruit if ya like and enjoy!ο»Ώ

So what do you think? Have you ever had quinoa for breakfast? What delicious eats do you start the day with?

Gorgonzola Fig Crostini

Yesterday, I wrapped up some fun, low key Vday ideas. One of my favorite parts of the list? Staying home, cooking and eating together...but who am I kidding? This is never relegated only to Valentine's Day. Admittedly, this is one of my favorite activities. I also think that for a special occasion, it's nice to have multiple courses. Even if you start out with one small hors d'oeuvres and a glass of wine before dinner, it just makes the whole meal feel much more special. For this Valentine's Day dinner, I'm preparing a new find that I tested out for Superbowl and I have to tell's pretty fabulous and destined to become a Humiston household staple. It's Gorgonzola Fig Crostini and mark my words, after one bite, you'll be hooked. It's no secret that I harbor a borderline obsessive love for all things sweet and savory and have been known to dabble in crostini from time to time. This recipe is the perfect way to fulfill both. And you may remember that I mentioned my new found taste for fig jam in January Favorites. I received more than a few questions about where to find it. Since I've been unable to find it for a reasonable price, I made my own. Scroll down for the super duper simple tutorial.

Gorgonzola Fig Crostini with Carmelized Onions
*Adapted from Recipe Girl
1/2 C Fig jam, at room temperature
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese (crumbled or soft), at room temperature
1+ tsp heavy cream, half and half, or milk
1 Baguette, sliced into thin pieces
1 large onion, sliced not diced
1 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Turn your baguette slices into crostini by drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper and baking at 350 degrees for 5 minutes on each side. Separately, place gorgonzola crumbles in a mixing bowl along with a splash of desired dairy (whether cream or milk). I used merely a splash at a time just to hold the gorgonzola together so that it would be in spreadable, rather than crumbled form come spreading time. Place gorgonzola in a small dish and fig jam in another dish (again, if you can't find fig jam at your local grocery store, or simply do not want to pay $9 for a jar, scroll down for a tip on how to make your own) and crostini on a plate. In a small sautee pan, heat olive oil and add onions. Cook them on very low heat, stirring occasionally until they get brown, sweet, and delicious. Admittedly, when I made this last week, I did not give mine enough time to actually carmelize (which is why they are white in my photo, not golden brown). What can I say? The game was starting and I had to shake a tail feather. Though next time I plan to give 'em the full time the deserve, the onions were still soft and delish even if they weren't fully browned.

Put it all together:
Spread some gorgonzola on your crostini. Place a dollop of fig jam over the cheese. Top with a bit of carmelized onions. Enjoy!

And now for the Fig Jam tutorial. This was seriously so easy and so tasty. Let me know if you give it a try!
Fig Jam
*Adapted from Recipe Girl
1 C dried Black Mission figs
2 C water
3 tbsp granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt

Cut stems off of figs.

In a food processor, combine figs and lemon juice, pulsing until it looks like this:
In a saucepan, combine chopped figs, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for a long time. The original recipe said 25 minutes, but after that time lapsed, mine looked like this:
Not exactly jammy, if you will. So I let it go for another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally or when it looked like it was necessary. Essentially, you want it to reduce enough so that it's thick and spreadable, not watery like the above photo. After the second 25 minute simmer sesh, it was ready to go, looking gorgeous to boot:
I mean, really, doesn't that look good enough to eat? And yes, there are a LOT of seeds in this bad boy. But don't worry, you hardly even taste them or notice they're there for that matter, and that's coming from a bona fide seed-hater. So is that simple enough for you? I'm going to go ahead and assume that this will also be out of this world on a grilled cheese sandwich...

So that's my Valentine's Day hors d'oeuvre. It's pretty, chic and tasty to boot. Oh, and notice the deep red and soft white colors involved? It's really the perfect holiday treat.

January Favorites

I can't believe that January is coming to a close. While it means another winter month down, and two to go, I still hate the feeling that time is flying past me in an instant. Despite the quick passage of time, over the last month I've enjoyed some pretty fabulous eats. Whether in my own kitchen, out at a fun, new restaurant, or just ingredients that I find myself intrigued by, today it's all about January Favorites.

Clockwise: peanut butter & apple, spicy sweet potato wedges, figs, Earl Grey Creme, pizza, snickerdoodle muffins

Natural peanut butter & apples - A truly fantastic snack that brings me back to childhood. I'd pretty much eat peanut butter anything, and spreading it on some naturally sweet apple slices is just the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Spicy sweet potato wedges - These were part of my Eat Better Week and they are a fabulous, spicy twist to a classic dish. These basic sweet potato fries are bumped up by the addition of cumin and cinnamon - a perfect winter flavor.

Figs - This is a new flavor and ingredient for me. After all, I can't recall eating figs, other than those of the Newton variety, until recently. Fig jam to be exact. Added to grilled cheese or as a garnish on fabulously cooked meat at Fig & Olive, this is a subtley sweet flavor that I need to explore further.

Earl Grey Creme - I raved about this in A Cup of Teavana and that's because it's been a veritable staple in my drinking repetoire this month...and I can't wait to continue my love affair with the gourmet tea.

Gourmet Pizza - This one is of the Keste variety (check back next week for the Restaurant Roundup). I won't give too much away, but let's just say that this one gives Otto a serious run for its money.

Snickerdoodle muffins - I made these at my holiday brunch, but after finding one tucked away in the freezer, they just had to get a shoutout. After all, a nutmeg, cinnamon, and crystallized sugar topping makes this decadent treat the perfect winter muffin.

So there you have it - the foods I enjoyed the most this past month. What about you? Have you discovered any new foods lately? Any old favorites that made a comeback? Or anything that you want to explore further in February?