Quinoa sausage filling

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 16 oz cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sm-med. apple, diced
  • 1 salad bag of fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C. toasted pine nuts
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 C. dry quinoa

Cook 1 C. of quinoa according to directions, using chicken broth instead of water. Meanwhile:

Start to brown sausage in a large pan (not nonstick), with a little olive oil, medium high heat.

When most of the pink is gone, add in onions, mushrooms and garlic. Add salt and pepper.

Let this mix cook down all the way, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms and onions are soft, the water has evaporated, and a brown fond develops on the bottom on the pan as the meat begins to brown. Let a good amount of fond build up, turning down the heat slightly if needed.

Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup of water, scraping up all the brown bits. Add in the diced apple, spinach, and let cook down until the spinach is completely wilted and incorporated into the mixture.

Add quinoa and pine nuts to the pan, mix to combine. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan, mix.


This quantity and proportions served to use up what I had on hand. It made more than a quart of stuffing, which could probably stuff 6-8 delicata halves. I plan to freeze what we don’t use. Halving this recipe would probably be a reasonable place to start if you don’t want to batch cook.

Don’t skip the chicken broth in the quinoa or the parmesan in the mix. I think both are pretty crucial to the overall seasoning.

Freshly made quinoa always seems to be more wet than leftover quinoa. If you use leftover quinoa, you might need to moisten the mix a bit more before adding the parmesan.


Basic Banana Bread

This is my favorite basic banana bread.  Last time I made it I was out of vanilla, so I subbed almond extract and cardamom and ended up baking one of my favorite loaves ever.

A single batch of this nearly overfills my standard loaf pan, especially if you include the nuts. Last time I had a lot of bananas, so scaled up the recipe by a third, then split into two loaves. Worked great. (Room for more batter if ever want/need to scale up to 1.5X sometime.)

  • 2 C. very ripe bananas, mashed; about 4 or 5 medium bananas (455 g.)
  • 1/2 C. vegetable oil (99 g.)
  • 1 C. sugar  (200 g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 T. milk
  • 3/4 t. almond extract or 1 t. vanilla
  • 3/4 t. cardamom or 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (250 g.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, add the oil, sugar, eggs, milk, and extract, stir to combine.
  3. Mix in the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (and nuts, if using.) Make sure ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  4. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

Kale Pancetta Bean Soup

Into the Instant Pot:

  • 1 pound Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans
  • 2 qts water
  • 1 carrot, halved or in thirds
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1-2 stalks of celery + leaves, very roughly chopped
  • 2 t. kosher salt

Manual pressure, high, for 30 minutes, natural release (did 32 min. first time, probably needed a little less time)

Skim off the aromatics, pour beans and cooking liquid into a pot or bowl to hold. Rinse out Pot liner, return to Pot.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 4 oz. package of diced pancetta
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • large bunch of kale, cut into thin ribbons, stems removed
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • salt + pepper
  • apple cider vinegar

Turn on Saute function, add pancetta. Render out the fat. Add onion and garlic to the pot, saute until soft. Deglaze with chicken stock. Add the carrots, kale, and beans + cooking liquid.

Manual pressure, high, 5 minutes. 10 minute natural release.

Using saute function, reduce the soup to desired thickness. Add salt (probably at least 1 t. additional kosher) and 1-2 t. of apple cider vinegar.


Next time, maybe saute the pancetta first, saute onions/garlic, add dried beans for the cooking time, and then finish with the carrots/kale for 5 min, the reduce.  Save some steps now that the beans’ cook time is a known factor. (Maybe broth wouldn’t be as flavorful without the first round of aromatics?)


Favorite Hummus

Smitten Kitchen’s proportions are my favorite, but I generally add more lemon. And I can’t seem to NOT skin the chickpeas anymore. It really does make a difference.

  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (1 3/4 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (or 2/3 C. dried)
  • 1/2 C. tahini paste (Once Again brand is my current favorite. Made from dry roasted sesame seeds!)
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste. (I often  use a whole lemon, unless it’s particularly big or extra juicy, then half.)
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 t. table salt, or more to taste
  • ~1/4 cup water or reserved chickpea cooking water
  1. Peel chickpeas.
  2. In food processor, blend chickpeas until powdery clumps form.
  3. Add tahini, lemon, garlic, salt. Blend to a thick puree.
  4. Drizzle water while machine is running, until desired consistency.

Amber’s Granola

My favorite.

3.0 C. oats
1.0 C. raw buckwheat groats
0.5 C. raw sunflower seeds
1.5 C. pecans, roughly chopped
1.0 C. walnut halves

1/2 C. coconut oil, just melted
2/3 C. maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon (very heaped)
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. fresh ground nutmeg
1.5 t. kosher salt (heaped), divided
3/4 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. almond extract

1/2 C. dried cranberries

Mix the oats/seeds/nuts in a large bowl.

Separately, mix the wet/spices (I do it in a big pyrex measuring cup), but only use 1.t of the kosher salt here.

Pour the wet into the dry, mix, pour onto parchment covered baking sheet, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 t. of kosher salt.

Bake at 350* for about an hour, stirring once, after 15 minutes, then rotating the pan once again after.

I think this granola tastes best with some color on it – I like to let it get fairly golden brown.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle dried cranberries over the top of the pan and let cool. Try not to eat the whole pan.


Amber’s Wendy’s Chili

My slight adaption of a Wendy’s copycat chili recipe.  Our household chili.

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3 (16 oz) cans of beans – pinto, black, kidney, etc.
  • 1 C. diced onion
  • 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • 1- 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2-3 t. cumin
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1 16 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 t. black pepper
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 C. water
  1. Brown the meat, drain any excessive fat.
  2. Add onions and celery, saute until starting to soften.
  3. Add spices, saute for a minute or so, then add tomatoes, water, salt and pepper.
  4. Bring  to a simmer, and cook for a couple of hours.  

(Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of masa harina/fine cornmeal for flavor and thickening. )

Creamy Chicken and Potato Chowder

This was so easy and so good.  I doubted the thickening technique, because boiling low fat dairy is always a risk, but I looked away for too long and the whole mix was at a rolling boil and it didn’t break!  Win.

Adapted from a Taste of Home.

  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 C. chicken broth (I use Better than Bouillon Chicken base)
  • 1# potatoes (about 2 med.), cubed.
  • 2-3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 C. cooked chicken breast/leftover rotisserie meat
  • 1/2 C. frozen peas
  • 1/2 C. frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cup milk
  • dried parsley
  • fresh chives, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute onion in butter until soft.
  2. Add broth, potatoes, and carrots, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for ~15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add chicken, corn, peas, a few shakes of parsley. 
  5. Combine flour and milk, stir until smooth, stir to soup pot. 
  6. Bring mix just to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. 
  7. Add small handful of fresh with chives.





Cauliflower and Aged Cheddar Soup

This soup is amazing. I’ve made it twice, and this last time is perfection; I’ll never make it another way.  Rosemary instead of the original recipe’s thyme is just the best.  Use a good cheddar, but this soup is really good even without it (and without, it’s vegan!)

Adapted from Closet Cooking.

  • small head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 t. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 16oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 C.  chicken stock (I like Better than Bouillon)
  • 1 1/2 C. aged white cheddar, shredded

First, roast the cauliflower and garlic:
Rub garlic cloves with a bit of the oil and seal up in a small foil packet. Toss florets with oil then sprinkle with salt and spread in single layer on baking sheet.  Put the foil packet of garlic on the sheet along with the cauliflower. Roast for about 35 min around 375*-400*, tossing florets a couple of times, until cauliflower is turning golden brown with some darker brown spots.

Saute the chopped onions in a soup pot over medium heat until translucent – about 5-7 minutes.  Add rosemary.  When cauliflower and garlic are done, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the onion mix and mash with the back of a spoon. Stir to incorporate garlic.  Add in the beans, the cauliflower, and the stock.  Add salt (1/2 t. or so.) Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.

With an immersion blender, puree soup to a smooth consistency, then stir in shredded cheese.



Pantry Salsa

I love this salsa.  It uses canned tomatoes, so it’s not going to win any foodie awards, but it tastes better and fresher than most jarred versions.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman.

1  10oz can of Rotel (tomatoes w green chiles), mild, drained
1  14oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 C onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 fresh jalapeno, (seeds and membranes removed for mild)
1/2 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
juice of 1 lime

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.

Makes about 3 cups. Refrigerator for an hour before serving.