Ellen’s Yummy Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad has become my potluck staple. It’s extremely easy to make and always gets rave reviews and recipe sharing requests.The recipes come from Ellen, a woman I worked with at the Falls Brook Centre over ten years ago.  We’ve lost touch since then, but I always think of her when I’m making this salad.
Ellen’s Yummy Quinoa Salad (adapted from Ellen Ruby)
  • 1 cup quinoa – any colour (you can also use 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/4 cup wild rice, and 1/4 cup brown rice)
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 can corn nibblets
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • Optional: 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Optional: 1 chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp cider or rice vingar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook and cool quinoa (this can be done hours in advance, just put in fridge until ready to assemble salad).
  • Add red pepper, corn nibblets, feta and optional parsley and jalapeno pepper to quinoa.
  • Mix together garlic, vinegar and oil for dressing and add to salad.



Simple Meals – Beef Vegetable Quinoa Soup

I love quinoa. It’s often called a “superfood” because it has the perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids.  It’s also gluten-free and a great source of protein.  We eat quinoa a few times a week as a side dish and my potluck staple is a quinoa salad recipe, but I hadn’t ventured further than that. That’s why I was so happy when a friend lent me her cookbook “Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood” and I found this wonderful soup in it.

We tend to like our food extra herb-y or spicy and often double or triple the amounts called for in recipes. If you would like to make the original recipe, halve the herbs in the recipe below, place them in cheesecloth tied with a cotton string, and remove once the soup is cooked.

Beef Vegetable Quinoa Soup (adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood)


  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup diced stewing beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup green peas (frozen or fresh)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste.


  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
  • Place the beef in the pan and brown for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onion, carrots and celery.  Cook until the onion is opaque, about 10 minutes.
  • While this is cooking, removed the rosemary, thyme, and parsley from the stems and grind the herbs (we used a mortar and pestle, but you could use an electronic grinder).
  • Add quinoa, beef broth, and herbs (including bay leaves) to vegetable mixture.
  • Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the red pepper and peas.  Simmer an extra 8 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
  • Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.


Gluten-Free Update

For the past two months Chris has been trying out a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. I’m still eating some dairy and gluten for my lunches so I can’t comment on how it feels to have switched to a completely gluten-free diet, but in terms of meal planing and preparation it hasn’t been too difficult. From day one, I looked at it as an opportunity to search out new recipes and try out different foods.

As I wrote last month I started baking gluten-free muffins following a recipe from the Gluten Free Girl  I am also using one of her recipes to make granola bars, and boy are they tasty!

One of our favorite discoveries has been homemade corn tortillas. I made them one night to go with a beef and rice dish that we’d normally eat with store-bought crispy tortillas.  Well, no more.  The homemade corn tortillas were so easy to make and very tasty.  All I did was buy a bag of corn masa mix (the brand sold here is “Maseca”) and follow the instructions on the bag – simply mix flour with water and salt, roll out, and cook in frying pan. So easy.  The instructions say to use a tortilla press, but I just rolled them out between two sheets of parchment paper.

Another hit is a creamy gluten-free dairy-free pasta that I made for lunch this weekend. I found the recipe on the From Scratch Club website and substituted buttercup squash when I couldn’t find pie pumpkins.   Chris has been eating dairy-free for over two years and had not eaten a  creamy pasta since then. The dish was amazing.

The most difficult has been eating out.  We have not gone out to as many restaurants as we usually do and have mostly had friends over to our house to eat gluten-free meals.  We went to Pizza Delight to try out their gluten-free pizza and Chris said it was very good.

I’m looking forward to trying out some new gluten-free recipes this month!

Do you have any great gluten-free recipes to share? 

Simple Meals – Spicy Rice and Beans

This is a recipe that my friend Jill shared a few years ago when we all tried a vegan diet for a while.  We’ve all since gone back to an omnivore diet, but discovered many great vegan recipes during that time.

Spicy Rice and Beans has become a staple in our house.  I love the flexibility of the recipe and how easy it is to throw together.

Spicy Rice and Beans (by Jill N-N)


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery (I omit this if I don’t have any in the fridge)
  • Can of sweet corn
  • Any extra veggies you need to use up
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. basil (or more, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 can black beans (or 2 cups cooked black beans) and/or
  • 1 can chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup veggie broth or  1 can of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • Heat the olive oil.  Once heated, cook the onions for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and vegetables and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add herbs and spices and mix until everything is coated.
  • Add tomato paste, vegetable broth or diced tomatoes, beans, rice and salt. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.


Great-grandmother baking – Gateau a la Tibodo

I visited my aunt and uncle a few weeks ago on our cross-country ski trip to Charlo.  It was a very nice visit and at one point during the visit my aunt offered me a recipe book that had belonged to my great-grandmother Annie. The recipe book was given to my great-grandmother in 1968 by her daughter-in-law, my grandmother Imelda.

I don’t remember my great-grandmother as she passed away while I was still a little girl, but I’ve heard lots of stories about her, especially how she was a great gardener with a large vegetable garden and beautiful rose bushes.

Yesterday I decided to try her recipe called “Gateau a la Tibodo” which is a fruit cocktail cake.  Since we’re still trying out a gluten-free diet I substituted the wheat flour in the recipe with a mixture of quinoa, almond, and all-purpose GF flours.

The end result was very tasty – just enough sweetness and a nice crunchy top with the walnuts.  Chris gave it two-thumbs up!
I loved following a recipe from Memere’s recipe book.  I was thinking of how she would have baked this same cake in her kitchen and shared it with her family.  It made me feel close to her, even though she passed away more than 30 years ago. I’m looking forward to trying out more of her recipes.

Gateau a la Tibodo (from great-grandmother Annie)


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour (to make it gluten-free I used 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose GF flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 14 oz. can fruit cocktail (including juice from fruit cocktail)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or more, I used 3/4 cup)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.   Mix in egg and fruit cocktail.
  3. Pour into greased 9-inch square cake pan (or similar size pan).
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar, then walnuts on top of mixture
  5. Bake for 45 minutes (top should brown, but not burn).
Merci Grand-Memere!

Do you have a favorite family recipe? 

Meat Pie Making with Mom

My mom and step-dad have been making meat pies in November for as long as I can remember.  It’s a three-day affair with the end product being 20 or so meat pies to give out to family and eat throughout the winter.

Chris and I have been helping them for the past four years on ‘assembly day’ and in return for our help we get to take home five meat pies. Chris loves these so much that he says he could eat them every week all year.

That is why this year my mom offered to come up to our house in January and help us make additional meat pies.  It would also be an opportunity for me to learn how to make pie dough.  Usually Mom makes it the day ahead and when I get there all I have to do is roll it out. My stepdad also spend a few days and evenings beforehand cooking and preparing the meat (usually beef, pork, and turkey).

This weekend we realized how much work my parents put into preparing for ‘assembly day’.  We spent two evenings and a full day cooking and preparing the meat and filling,  making the pie dough, and assembling the pies – a lot longer than we had expected!

I’ve always shied away from making my own pie crusts and usually buy pre-prepared ones from the store which never taste as good.  Part of this stemmed from intimidation and part of it probably stemmed from my previously stated reluctance to like anything my parents did and enjoyed.  Thankfully I’ve long grown out of that stage  and loved having Mom come over and show me how to make pie crusts. Mom – who used to be a home economics teacher for years – was great at teaching us the little tricks that turned the dough from OK to awesome with just the right amount of crispiness.

Thanks Mom!

We also madegluten-free meat pies which I’ll talk about later this week.

Do you have a family tradition that involves baking?

Simple Meals – Fried Rice with Eggs (and a search for the perfect baked tofu recipe)

This post was initially going to be about the baked tofu in the picture.  Over the last year, I have been on a quest to find the perfect baked tofu recipe.  I’ve tried various pre-made sauces and home-made marinades, but none of them have that “wow” taste to them.  Chris gifted me a vegan cookbook for my birthday (we’re not vegan, but eat a lot of meatless and dairy-free meals) and it has a tofu marinade recipe in it that’s different than the other ones I’ve tried. It sounded so good.   I thought it was the one.

I marinated the tofu the night before and thought about it all day, looking forward to its ginger-garlic-sesame oil-tamari goodness.  Sadly, it didn’t taste as good in real life as it sounded. It wasn’t tasteless, but it wasn’t what I’m looking for.  So the search is still on.

While I was baking the tofu, I decided to look for a fried rice recipe to go with it as a side.  I opened one of my favorite cookbooks – How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  I love this cookbook for its simple recipes on pretty much anything I can think of.  And everything turns out so good. My cookbook is filled with notes in the margins: “great!” “make again” “so tasty”.

This rice is simple, but oh so tasty, and it more than made up for the disappointing tofu.

Fried Rice with Eggs (from How to Cook Everything – Mark Bittman)

4 servings


  • 3 Tbsp peanut oil (or canola or other oil)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 3 to 4 cups leftover or cooked rice, cooled
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat for one minute.
  2. Add garlic, ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute
  3. Turn heat down to med-high and add the rice, stir frequently for three minutes.
  4. Make a little hole in the centre of the rice and pour in the eggs.  Gently scramble eggs with rice.
  5. Once eggs are cooked, add soy sauce and stir.  Let cook for a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


If anyone has a “wow” baked tofu recipe, I’d love to try it out!

(ps. I’m not being compensated for the cookbook review, but I do think it’s an amazing cookbook. I use it at least once a week for easy last minute side dishes and more involved main dishes).