Musings about life, love and genealogy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

February 24, 2015 |

Honestly, I have been doing more than just cooking and baking since I’ve been home. Promise. But, the luxury of being home has afforded me the opportunity to give much needed exercise to both my body and my culinary muscles. Yes, I’ve done some sewing. I’m still stitching up my new 18th century stays and recently attended a great colonial clothing workshop with Burnley & Trowbridge in Williamsburg. Yes, I’ve done some crafting, and my latest altered art shadowboxes are featured on Etsy, but with all these great recipes pinned and waiting, I have had no choice but to momentarily indulge my inner Julia Child. So, I ask you to indulge me for a few more foodie posts.

One of my favorite new recipes has been a Chocolate Quinoa Cake with a coconut chocolate frosting. I know you’re grimacing at the idea of using quinoa as cake ingredient, but you need to trust me on this one. It’s flourless and super moist. When I made it for Jason’s birthday, he was halfway through his second piece before he asked if it was healthy.

I pondered - if the cake is chocolate heaven, why not Chocolate Qunioa Cupcakes? Using a recipe I modified from Making Thyme for Health and my brand new Hamilton Beach Texas Size silicone baking cups, I served up six delectable, wonderful proportions of (nearly) guilt-free chocolate goodness.

The decision to make these cupcakes can’t be spontaneous, unless you’re like me and always have a spare can of coconut milk in the fridge; your coconut milk needs to hang out in the coldest part of your refrigerator overnight so the cream separates.


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance, melted (or use 3/4 c. coconut oil only)
  • 1 cup organic palm sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a half and half mix of Hershey’s Special Dark and Ghiardelli Unsweetened Cocoa)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2- to 1 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil


  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions (about 3/4c. quinoa will yield enough for your cupcakes).
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare your baking cups with a non-stick spray. (I use Pam).
  3. Wisk together the eggs, almond milk and vanilla extract for ten seconds to combine.
  4. Add the cooked and cooled quinoa along with the melted and cooled Earth Balance and coconut oil (could also use all regular butter) then blend until completely smooth, about 30 seconds to one minute.
  5. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt).
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and blend together with a hand mixer until well-combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the baking cups and bake for 28-30 minutes (until a toothpick in the center comes out clean).
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.


  1. Grab your refrigerated coconut milk and open the can. DO NOT shake or turn the can upside down before opening. (Save the remaining coconut milk. You can use it to lighten the frosting later.)
  2. Scoop out the solid parts with a spoon, placing them into a bowl. With a hand mixer, beat the coconut milk until it is the consistency of whipped cream.
  3. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together. When melted, fold in the coconut milk and mix thoroughly. Transfer the melted chocolate/coconut mix to a bowl and let it cool on the counter. Cover and refrigerate the mix for about an hour (longer is better, but I know you can’t wait to get your hands on these babies!).
  4. When your ready to frost the cupcakes, remove the chocolate/coconut from the refrigerator and beat on high for thirty seconds to one minute, until a fluffy icing has formed. If you’d like the frosting to be lighter in color or texture, add a tablespoon or two of the saved coconut milk.
  5. Roll the cupcakes out of the silicone cups, frost and enjoy!

These cupcakes may not be haute French cuisine, but I’m fairly certain Miss Julia would be proud.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mother Nature 2, Massachusetts 0

February 4, 2015 |

The New England Patriots may have beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, but when comes to the Snow Bowl, Mother Nature is kicking New England’s butt.

In less than a week, a second storm has tackled Massachusetts, and another 8-12 inches of snow threatened to sideline the Bay State. But Mother Nature pulled her own version of the Quarterback Sneak, and the 8-12 inches became 20. And there’s another potential storm brewing for Thursday. If this keeps up, we’re going to start measuring snowfall in yards, not feet. Someone definitely needs to throw a penalty flag!

My hubby watched the weather report to determine his next play - muscle the snow blower and crush his way to the end zone of our driveway (again), or grab another cup of coffee and take a knee. My defense to Mother Nature’s offense? A great, healthy, hearty soup.

This Vegetable and Farro soup is more like a stew, steeped in a flavorful stock and thick with nutritious vegetables.

It’s definitely an MVP in our kitchen.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 sliced carrots
  • 3/4 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped into thick pieces
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 carton (32 oz) low sodium chicken
  • 1 carton (32 oz) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) no salt diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. farro (rinsed)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 package (10 oz.) chopped spinach (defrosted)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cannelloni beans, rinsed
  • Salt to taste
  • Asiago or shaved parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the vegetables and salute for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped garlic and garlic paste and salute for another 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, farrow and seasonings (including the hot sauce) and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes until farro is tender.
  6. When about ready to serve, add in the spinach and beans and cook for 15 additional minutes.

If needed, add more broth or water to thin the soup (the farrow will absorb the liquid as the soup rests) before serving.

Sprinkle with cheese and team the soup with some crusty bread for a winning combination!