Growing Out On A Limb

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Quinoa l’Orange Salad

I first saw this in an Oxygen magazine but never snapped a pic and put it in my recipe collection here.  I seem to crave it so I’ve made it several times since.

It’s really simple to make, really clean, and fresh-tasting… it tastes like summer to me for some reason.  And of course quinoa is super healthy.  The picture doesn’t make it look like much but it’s definitely worth a try!


The original recipe is here (and below).  I usually just zest and juice an orange to get the juice and the rind called for in the recipe.


2 cups water

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup celery, diced

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup orange juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 Tsp fresh grated orange rind

1/4 tsp sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Add quinoa.  Return to a boil and simmer until water is absorbed, approximately 15 mins.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add tomatoes , celery, and parley to a bowl.  Mix together with quinoa.

Whisk together remaining ingredients to make the dressing.  Pour over salad and toss well to combine.



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Spiced Lentil, Tomato, & Kale Soup

One of my favorites (and Brian too), I just had to get it into my recipe collection here.  It’s so easy to make, so healthy, and so tasty … I could eat the broth alone and be satisfied.


The original recipe is here and printed below as is.  The first time I made it, it was a touch on the hot side, but other than adjusting the spices and using vegetable oil instead of coconut oil, I don’t change anything.


1 tsp oil (coconut or otherwise)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 sweet onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4-1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, to taste

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

14-oz can diced tomatoes

5-6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

sea salt and pepper, to taste

2 handfuls torn kale leaves


Saute the onion and garlic for 5-6 minutes over medium heat.  Add in the celery and saute for a few more minutes

Stir in the bay leaf and the spices (add some now and some later if not sure about the heat level).

Stir in the tomatoes (including juice), broth, and lentils.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Stir in kale and spinach.  Season to taste.


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Coconut Cupcakes

Another Easter dinner dessert.


I had a craving – coconut cupcakes.  I had a perfectly good coconut cupcake recipe that I used for Emery’s birthday and they were delicious.  But I stumbled on this one and it had rave reviews and I’ve never made an ‘Ina’ recipe I didn’t like so … here’s coconut cupcake recipe number two.  This one puts flaked coconut right in the cupcake which gives them a slightly crunchy texture.

What I didn’t count on was this recipe making like 28 cupcakes and enough cream cheese frosting for that many cupcakes and a dozen more pumpkin ones I had to make just to use up the icing.  I would have realized if I had read the ingredients list carefully ahead of time.  Fair warning for next time.


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

14 oz flaked coconut


2 x 8-oz pkgs cream cheese

1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 pounds icing sugar, sifted



Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in 7 ounces of the coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill each liner to the top with batter.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then put on a baking rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and extracts.  Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.  

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Fruit Flan

A good friend of mine gave me this recipe a few years ago and I had forgotten about it until I needed something for an Easter dinner dessert.  It’s not the best time of year for fresh fruit but I managed to find strawberries, blueberries, and kiwis that worked fine.  (The original recipe says you can use canned fruit but personally, I wouldn’t make it if all I had was canned fruit to work with).




1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted

1/2 cup butter, softened


1 pkg cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup whipping cream

3 cups fruit

Glaze (optional)

1/2 cup apricot jam, filtered through a sieve (other jams can be used, making sure it goes with the fruit you have chosen)

1 Tbsp lemon juice



Combine flour and icing sugar.  Cream butter in a bowl and gradually blend in the flour mixture.  Use your hands to form a smooth dough.  Press evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch fluted flan pan with removable bottom.  Prick well with a fork and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake on bottom rack of oven at 425 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.  Cool completely in pan on rack.


Beat cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Whip cream until stiff peaks form; fold into cheese mixture.  Spread evenly in baked crust.

Arrange fruit attractively over filling.


If desired, melt jam and lemon juice together until smooth and brush over fruit.  I forgot this step for Easter dinner (hey, it’s easy to do with two kids running around) and it was very yummy even without the glaze.

Serve at room temperature.


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Naan bread


This bread is so delicious that it is definitely worth the effort to make your own at home.  I’ve always thought that naan bread was made on the inside walls of a huge ceramic oven (so obviously not something I could do here) but this recipe is so easy and so much better than what you get in the store (and so much more satisfying to eat too).  And the only ingredient that I might have to go to the store for is the greek yogurt, so it’s one I could make almost anytime.

Original recipe is here:  This is an awesome site if you haven’t stumbled across it before.  


2 tsp dry active yeast

1 tsp sugar

1/2 cup water

2.5-3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

1 large egg


Start the yeast, sugar, and water in a small bowl, letting it sit until it is froth on top.

Stir in the oil, yogurt, and egg.

In a larger bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the salt.

Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.  Then add the flour a half cup at a time until you can no longer stir it with a spoon (1 – 1.5 cups later).

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter.  Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking (around 3 cups of flour total).  The dough should be smooth and soft but not sticky.

Cover the dough and let rise until doubled in size (about 45 mins).  After it rises, gently flatten the dough and cut it into 12 equal pieces (the original recipe says to cut it into 8 pieces, but I like it a bit flatter so cut into 12 pieces last time).  Shape each piece into a small bowl.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray lightly with oil.  One ball at a time, roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Place the dough onto the skillet and cook until golden brown and bubbles have formed.  Flip to the other side and cook until golden brown.

Note:  Roll out only one ball at a time.  Mine isn’t getting as bubbly as the original recipe either… maybe try lower heat next time?  Also, added italian seasoning during the last batch and it was good!  



Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I made these cupcakes for Emery’s birthday party.  The cake was so moist and fluffy and the choice of cream cheese frosting, it is definitely a keeper and therefore making it to my recipe book (i.e. my blog).  The original recipe is from Joy of Baking, a site that I have used before for great recipes.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon or lime zest (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin with paper liners (12 muffins).

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.

Beat the butter until soft.  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat just until combined.

Evenly fill the muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp milk, if needed

Garnish:  2 cups sweetened flaked coconut


Beat the butter until smooth.

Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and well blended.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the icing sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy and good spreading consistency.  Add a little milk if frosting is too thick.

Pipe frosting on cupcakes.  Garnish with coconut.


Spider Pancakes

In the spirit of Halloween, we made Spider and spider web pancakes this weekend!

The only trick to these is to put the batter from whatever recipe you like into a squeeze bottle.  I’m not sure we’ll ever have plain old pancakes again!  The possibilities are endless… letters, cars, Christmas trees, snowmen.

Oliver thought these were pretty fun.  But as long as there is syrup, he is happy.

Look at me, whipping out another idea I saw on pinterest.  As much fun as it is to browse pinterest for ideas and inspiration, it’s much more fun to actually knock a few of them off the list (and in most cases, less time consuming!).