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Cooking from the Cabinet

Do you ever have those days where you are tired of the go-to meals you regularly fix? I’m having one of those. Looks like it will be time for a kitchen adventure where I cook from what I have on hand. Here is what is speaking to me: frozen corn, frozen kale, enchilada sauce, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, quinoa. Maybe I’ll make a Southwest-style quinoa salad. I also have a package of mixed dry beans. Would prefer to add in black beans, but I will see what I can do with what is on the shelf. If it turns out well, I’ll post my “recipe.”

I’m thinking I need some cooking inspiration. Do you have any tasty but simple go-to meals to recommend?

4/18 UPDATE: I cooked 1.5 cups of quinoa in a liquid mixture of 1.25 cups of water and 1 cup of enchilada sauce. (Bring to boil then simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes. Turn off heat. Fluff with a fork and then cover to allow quinoa to steam for another 5-10 minutes.) Next, I added in a can of black beans I found in the back of the cabinet, half of an onion (chopped) and half of a green bell pepper (chopped). I added in about a cup of corn kernels, and a bunch of chopped, fresh cilantro. For seasoning, I added a bit of Himalayan salt and some powdered cumin. I stirred it all together and put it in the fridge for the flavors to blend. The verdict: It is delicious! The only thing I feel that would make it better is adding avocado. Yum!


Recipe: Toasted Coconut Pecan Granola

Some people love to be in the kitchen cooking and creating. I am not one of those people. I do not enjoy cooking for the sake of cooking. I definitely do not enjoy washing dishes and cleaning up the mess. I prepare food because I need to eat.

When I was single, one of my “classic” meals was a plain Boca burger patty, a can of green beans, and carrot sticks. When I got married, I quickly learned that my simple tastes were just that: mine. Some people need more flavor profiles and more variety. So, over the past few years, I have made more of an effort to actually attempt “real” meals even if they remain on the less complex side of the spectrum.

This week I decided to try to make granola. Sure, I could go buy breakfast cereal; but I don’t for two reasons: 1) Cereal costs more than I want to pay; 2) I don’t really know what the ingredients are. Instead of buying another box of organic granola, I resolved to make my own.

Many of the granola recipes I looked at had ingredients I don’t have on hand: wheat germ, bran flakes, lecithin, dried cherries… So, I decided to try to make a granola based on what I did have in my cabinets. I must say, I’m pretty pleased with the result. (Mr. Honey is not as excited about my recipe as I am, but he’s not really a breakfast person anyway.) I call it…


Toasted Coconut Pecan Granola

4 c rolled oats
2 c sweetened, shredded coconut
2 c chopped pecans
1/4 c golden flax seeds
1 dash salt

1/2 c coconut oil (melted)
1/3 c honey
2 t vanilla extract

Turn oven on and set at 350. Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and toss until everything is evenly coated. Pour onto a baking sheet/bar pan and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes then stir. Bake another 10 minutes and stir. Bake 5 more minutes and pull out of the oven. Allow granola to cool and then store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Profile (thanks to SparkPeople’s Recipe Calculator)
Serving size: 1/2 cup

Calories: 303
Fat: 22 g
Sodium: 33.7 mg
Potassium: 94.6 mg
Total Carbs: 25.8 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Sugar: 6.9 g
Protein: 4.2 g


A few notes…I use organic ingredients for the most part. And, I learned today, don’t let the granola go more than 25 minutes in the oven. If you do, it goes from toasted to roasted really, really fast. Finally, no matter how good it tastes, it is important to limit the amount you eat. Granola is a calorie-rich food. For me, a half cup of cereal with some almond or soy milk and fresh fruit makes a hearty meal.