Modern Wife Test Kitchen: Quinoa flour

Welcome to the Modern Wife Test Kitchen! Today I will share with you some of my most recent happenings in the kitchen, this is where I test out new recipes and techniques just before turning out the final product. I guess you can call it an experiment of sorts. Well without further ado…

Did you know that you can make your own Gluten-free flours? This thought kind of hit me today. I’ve been working on a recipe to combine Quinoa, shrimp, and grapefruit in a unique way that wouldn’t be extremely complicated. And it hit me like a bolt of lightning, why not toast the Quinoa, then add in some oats and almonds and grind everything in a food processor to create a mealy type of flour to coat the shrimp in? Sounds easy enough right? I think the flavors will balance very well together, the nuttiness of the Quinoa will compliment the almonds and the oats will bring a sweet kind of mellowness to the mix. This new development has brought on several new possibilities to the current recipe I’m working on. I will leave you without any further details (I know how mean of me), but if you were in my kitchen at the moment you could expect to see grapefruit, oranges, lemon ginger loose-leaf tea, and various spices including crushed red pepper. That’s all for now,  stay tuned to see what this Modern Wife has up her sleeve!

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Holiday Nostalgia & Traditions

The wonderful and slightly romantic thing about being newly married is that your life experiences are intermingled in such a way that each new memory you create is a shared one. Each person in a marriage grew up with some sort of family tradition (albeit good or bad) that they have somehow kept alive over the years and now as an “adult” (we use that term pretty loosely around here) they continue to light that torch of family tradition into their marriage. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of being propped up on a kitchen chair to help my mother with her holiday baking. I remember feeling so grown up, though I could hardly see over the counter, as I carefully mixed the pecan halves into the pecan pie filling and pouring it into the pie crust. Pecan pie, is and always will be a Thanksgiving tradition for me. When Sam &I first started dating, (just before Christmas of 2008) the Linvilles invited me over for dinner and I brought them my mother’s famous pecan pie…and the rest as they say is history! I have been baking it for them ever since. And who can forget Christmas cookies. I’ll never forget the way my mother patiently instructed me to roll peanut butter cookie dough, and then dust the cookie balls in sugar, and finally smash the formed dough crosswise with the tines of a fork (as an artistic kid I loved that part). So last year in all my newlywed zeal, I set out to experiment with several different kinds of holiday cookies and lined the kitchen counter tops with dozens and dozens of cookies. The hubs, of course, loved this as he got to be the executive taste tester (who wouldn’t love that job?!). And this year I hopelessly continued the tradition, adding new and different recipes to the arsenal. They were the perfect holiday party tray and worked very well in gift baskets (don’t worry the hubs still got first tasting privileges). I love the thought of combining each of our favorite holiday traditions and also adding some new ones of our own. This Christmas I was able to visit my husband’s home town in Oklahoma, and see the famous Chickasha Festival of Lights, one of his families annual traditions. It was really beautiful. We also got our first Christmas tree this year, a beautiful Douglas Fir (which I am sad to say will meet his untimely fate with the wood chipper very soon) and have started a new tradition of buying Christmas ornaments each year to decorate the tree with little by little. So despite the holiday rush, it really has been a wonderful Holiday season. I can only smile at the year to come and hold the ones that I love close to me as time pulls us forward.

The Wonders of Oatmeal

Sometimes even the most mundane things can become pretty extraordinary. This philosophy is one that inspires my daily cooking (and living for that matter). It’s one that has fostered (in my opinion) some of my best ideas. Start with one simple ingredient, add a little of this to compliment it, and a little of that for a nutrition boost, and always add a bit of something unexpected..something to contrast what you’re working with but in a pleasant way. And there you go! Today’s recipe uses old fashioned rolled oats as the main ingredient, think of the kind your mother (or grandmother) used to cook on the stove-top. These are a pantry staple of mine for several reasons: they are inexpensive, easily available, they are multi-purpose, packed with nutritional benefits, minimally processed, natural and they keep very well. I’ve researched & tried many baked oatmeal recipes and frequently run into two major problems. One  is that the recipe is very simple on the prep end but uses low-quality (health-wise) ingredients, in other words, it uses loads of butter& white sugar without offering any healthful substance. And the second  conundrum is that the ingredients are healthful but not easily available to me and the process to prepare it is usually somewhat complicated. So as a solution to this I created my own version. I think it strikes the perfect balance between wholesome,versatile, and simple. And if that isn’t enough of a sales pitch let me also mention that they can be made ahead, portioned into little oatmeal squares, and tucked into your purse, bag, kiddos lunchbox etc. for those days when you are in a rush to get out the door. Pretty clever for a tiny little oat huh?

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bars

My recipe states that you should soak the oatmeal mixture over night before baking, I know this may seem strange or unnecessary, but the soaking time is very important to ensure the final texture is moist and together and not crumbly. If you are pressed for time another option is to make it early in the morning and allow it to soak during the daytime, then bake later that night. I have tried both, and in my experience both soaking methods work well.

–  1/4 c. unsalted butter
– 3 or more large eggs (I personally like the Omega3 enriched eggs because of their added nutrition, but regular eggs are great too)
– 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
– 2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. sea salt
– 1 c. raisins
– 1c. + 2 Tbsp. whole milk
– 3 c. Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (slightly larger than “quick oats”)
– Pure Maple Syrup
*Optional add-ins: crumbles of lean bacon,dried fruit pieces, banana slices, finely chopped apples, walnuts, nutmeg, allspice etc.
1) Melt butter in a Pyrex style glass measuring cup or bowl and set aside.
2) Grease baking dish & drop in eggs. Beat them well.
3) In the same baking dish, add brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well so the mixture is blended consistently.
4) Whisk in the melted butter, all of the milk, the raisins and any other add-ins you wish. Then add oats the the mixture. Equally combine all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight or for several consecutive hours.
5) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking, drizzle the top with a bit of maple syrup if you desire to add a bit of extra sweetness. Bake for 35 minutes or until fully cooked. When completely cool, you may create individual portable portions, simply divide into squares and wrap in parchment, then refrigerate to store. You will then be able to take these with you on-the-go, or enjoy them warmed as an effortless sit-down breakfast. I like to enjoy mine warmed with a bit of milk or plain yogurt, it’s delicious!