Quinoa and Spinach Patties

I really like quinoa.  I am still searching for a good recipe to try for creamed quinoa (like the dish from Zig Zag and La Nueva Palomino).  If one of my recipe blogs that I follow features a quinoa recipe, I am usually a sucker to bookmark it and try it.  This year, one of our interns is a vegetarian, this recipe popped up one day, and I couldn’t resist adding it to my menu for the week.

I got some non-excited responses from Greg and the kids, but after lunch, the reaction changed.  It was a hit!  Even Manuela, who shared with me a month ago that she has never liked quinoa in her 50+ years of living here, liked it and asked for the recipe.  Success!

I will just post the link to the recipe: Quinoa and Spinach Patties

My patties looked exactly like the picture.  I used fresh spinach that I just steamed in hot water.  One note is to prepare the quinoa ahead of time (it is supposed to be cooled when you add it to the mix).  I bought the perfect-sized little wheat buns, added a slice of melted cheese and barbecue sauce, and we went to town.

She suggests serving it with an avocado salad.  I did just that.  I have no clue what salad recipe she uses, but here is the one we like here in Peru:

Avocado Salad

  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small block of mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

1.  Mix avocado, onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese in a small bowl.

2.  Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Quinoa and Spinach Patties

Rainy Season Chicken Pot Pie

It has rained almost all afternoon today, and it is only the second day of the new year. That is early compared to the other three rainy seasons we have been present for here. I hadn’t planned on making this dish because it was a comfort food. Actually, I really like chicken pot pie, I bought the ingredients on my market run this morning, and Greg has been a little under the weather so it seemed like a good meal for him. My mom never made this when I was growing up so I didn’t have a family recipe to pull from. I received this allrecipes.com email in my inbox this past week, and I am so glad I did! It uses biscuits instead of a pastry crust. I used my high-altitude recipe from this site and they turned out great. I am a fan of the biscuit topping.

My only note after making it my first time is that I need to make it in a deeper dish or a larger dish. The filling overflowed while the biscuits were still cooking. Other than that, poifect. If you are looking for a comfort food for a cold winter day or a cool rainy day, try this one out:

Mom’s Fabulous Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust

Rainy Season Chicken Pot Pie

Stupendous Beef Tenderloin


This recipe has definitely made it into my list of “special occasion recipes” folder. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com. It is worth seeing the comments if you don’t believe me, “It was soooooooooo incredibly good.” Here is the link if you want to see it with the original title: Fabulous Beef Tenderloin.

The cut of meat is super expensive here (“lomo fino” to all my Peruvian friends), but so worth it for a special occasion like Christmas or New Year’s. I bought little hoagie style rolls and we ate mini-steak sandwiches for 2 days afterward. If there was an Arby’s Super Gourmet restaurant, I am pretty sure they would serve something like these.

I followed the recipe exactly and got excellent results. The only critical feedback I received from Greg is that he wished I had doubled the sauce. I totally agree with him. There wasn’t enough of the sauce to drench our mashed potatoes for every meal. 🙂 And what I really love… it is super easy. So easy that I am not going to make you go to the link if you don’t want to. I can type it out from memory.

Fabulous Beef Tenderloin (serves 6)

1-3 lb beef tenderloin (or 1.5 k lomo fino)

3/4 c soy sauce

1/2 c melted butter (but we will be doubling the bottom 2 ingredients next time)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place tenderloin in shallow baking dish and pour sauce over the meat.

2. Bake 10 minutes, and then flip over continuing to cook the roast another 35-40 minutes. Baste occasionally. (when interal temp is 140 F it is medium). Cook to desired doneness. After taking it out, allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

We like ours medium and 40 minutes was PERFECT. If you are looking for a yummy, special meal try this out.

Stupendous Beef Tenderloin

Alfredo Sauce Pasta (my twist)

Chicken Alfredo is one of my favorite pasta dishes. Recently, as a mom that has nights when I really don’t feel like cooking, this has become one of my favorite one-dish meals to prepare. I took two recipes that I had saved and combined them. The easiest version I prepare just has bacon, but if I have time to add grilled chicken I do. It is multiple steps, and this is how it all goes down for me…

You will need:
half a stick of butter
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup parmesan (real grated parmesan is the best)
1 package of frozen bacon
1 onion (diced and I always use red onion)
1/2 pound of pasta
generous handful of peas
large pot of boiling water
1 large grilled chicken breast (cut up)–optional

1. Take a package of frozen bacon and cut up into bite-size pieces (thanks for teaching me this trick, Deborah Bills!). Start frying in a skillet.

2. While bacon is frying, boil a pot of water in order to cook the pasta (bow-tie is actually my favorite for this dish). Also start melting the butter in an additional pot. Yes, that is three burners going at once.

3. When bacon is looking unfrozen and starting to cook, throw the cut onion in with it. When the water is boiling, put the pasta in with a generous handful of frozen peas (my pasta cooks for 16 minutes and I love using the boiling water to cook the peas at the same time).

4. When butter has melted, add cream, stir and turn off burner when mixture has thickened. Add half of the parmesan cheese to melt in the mixture.

5. When pasta is done, drain water from pot and add the crisped bacon and onion. Toss well. Next, add the cream mixture. After it is all looking yummified, add the other half of the parmesan cheese. Add your grilled chicken too if it wasn’t a crazy busy night. (My husband prefers to have the sauce doubled, but I don’t mind not having it drenched in butter.) Enjoy your one-dish meal!

Alfredo Sauce Pasta (my twist)

Quinoa Chili


This was DELICIOUS. We love chili. We love black beans. We love lots of vegetables and eating healthy. Quinoa is a food that has become popular as one of the “super foods” in the world. It is pronounced “keen-wah.” Guess what? We live in the area of the world where they get quinoa. It is a type of grain, but it cooks very similarly to rice. I am just going to post the link from allrecipes.com:

The recipe for QUINOA CHILI

Also, this chili comes out really thick. I added about 4 extra cups of beef broth to the mixture so that it would be more soup like and tripled the spices. Left-overs are delicious with tortilla chips or as a mixture to add to Spanish rice in a tortilla. Oh… and we added Rotel cheese dip to ours—even better!

Quinoa Chili

O’Charley’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

I have been wanting to make this salad in Peru for a very long time. I am not sure where all O’Charley’s is located, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the states. They have some killer yeast rolls they serve warm, and they never disappoint me in their salad category. To my friends in Texas, their menu reminds me a lot of Cheddar’s. Back in the day when Greg and I were living off of one salary and paying for two masters degrees, we would occasionally splurge to have a date night and share this salad. They would serve you unlimited rolls so we always got our fill. (On a side note, I forgot that we used to go on dates whenever we pleased without worrying about childcare–oh the days!)

So, if there is a dish that communicates love to my husband (there are more than one), THIS is definitely one of them. I found the recipe on line. I will just share the link with you if interested, and share any extra tid-bits I learned along the way with some pictures.

Click here to see the site with the recipe

First of all, I lucked out on all the ingredients. Greg and I both love foods with ingredients we would never think of putting together, and we love a lot of weird ingredients. We recently got a new grocery store here in Arequipa that carries Craisins from the states. Also, the mandarin oranges are delicious right now. My girls can eat about 5 in one sitting–deliciously sweet. Pecans are outrageous price-wise all year round, so this salad will have to be a special occasion salad for Arequipa as well.

First, I made the candied pecans. We LOVE candied pecans. In fact, they have become a traditional Christmas treat for us. I have a recipe that uses butter, sugar, and egg whites, but I don’t think I will be using that recipe anymore. These were so EASY to make. I almost feel like I should post a separate recipe for “Honey Toasted Pecans” all on its own. All you need is 2 cups pecans, 1/4 cup honey, and 1 tsp salt. They also only take about 20 minutes to cook–much shorter than my other recipe.

I allowed them to cool on foil and then chopped them for the salad. I couldn’t keep myself from snacking on “a few” before we ate lunch, though. Oh, and 2 cups was way more than we needed for four good sized salads. I actually could have gotten away with using 1 cup.


It is hard to say which ingredient “makes” this salad, but the chicken absolutely rocks my world. After eating this salad, Greg asked, “How did you make that chicken?” He wanted to know because he said it was the best tasting chicken I have ever prepared here. Well, for starters, it is the first time I have fried chicken here in Peru. But what makes this chicken so delicious is that it is pecan encrusted. Don’t you love that phrase? That is the kind of phrase that smart menu makers put on a dish title to suck me in immediately. You cut 2 lbs of chicken into strips, roll them in flour, place them in egg, and then drench them in the deliciousness of bread crumbs, pecan crumbs, nutmeg, and orange juice. Can you say “yum?”


Now comes the part where you assemble the ingredients: Romaine lettuce, mandarin orange slices, dried cranberries, bleu cheese, and honey roasted pecans. Does it get much better than this?


The answer is yes. It does get better than this… add the pecan crusted chicken tenders on top. And if you can believe it, it still gets better…


This is our middle child (2 years old), drinking the rest of the balsamic dressing left in her bowl. I make my own, and I have found a recipe that we really like. Here it is if you are looking for a good balsamic dressing recipe: Shelia’s Best Balsamic Dressing. And for the record, I ALWAYS double this baby. It is the perfect finishing touch to bring all of the ingredients together.


And I, of course, had to get a picture of her when she came back up for air.


Look at that face and that empty bowl. Does it look like she enjoyed it? I will admit that my kids are not picky eaters, but this was a great family recipe. We all loved it. If you live near an O’Charley’s, go order this baby. But if you don’t, this recipe is so worth the time if you like a good salad. I considered making their yeast rolls, but got lazy and bought the fresh baked croissants at the bakery this morning (we may not have O’Charley’s, but I seriously doubt that many of you can buy fresh baked croissants.) I will live it up here while I can. 😉

O’Charley’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

Almost Perfect Iced Coffee

I love the Pioneer Woman. I haven’t made one of her recipes yet that I have not liked. I love coffee, especially frufru coffees like frappuccinos and lattes. So when she posted a recipe for Perfect Iced Coffee, I decided I would try to make it. Well… the recipe is a little time consuming, and I just don’t have a lot of extra time in this stage of my life right now. I was reading my beautiful cousin Jane’s blog, and she states that she just used her own coffee and added a key ingredient that PW recommends in her recipe.

Yesterday morning, I tried it. DELICIOUS! And I plan to try something that a commenter said on PW’s post. The commenter uses left over coffee to make coffee ice cubes. She then uses those cubes instead of ice cubes to keep the delicious coffee flavor instead of a watered down effect. I plan on trying this but putting it into the blender to make a frap for myself.

This is NOT for the dieters out there. Sorry. But if you are looking for a delicious caffeine high without the cost of StarBucks, this is for you to try. Thanks PW, the commenters on PW, and Jane for a delicious, cheap way to make my own frufru coffee!

First, here is the link to PW’s recipe: Perfect Iced Coffee

Here is my shout out to my cousin-in-law’s site: You and Me


Almost Perfect Iced Coffee (servings: 2)

freshly brewed coffee
ice cubes or coffee cubes
sweetensed condensed milk
2 medium sized glasses

1. Brew strong coffee: 4 cups water, 5 large scoops of freshly ground coffee.

2. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

3. Pour cold coffee over desired amount of ice cubes and add 1 Tbsp of sweetened condensed milk (or more). I like to see the coffee turn to a creamy color. Stir well before adding more. It takes a little while for the condensed milk to mix in with the coffee.

4. Kick back and have a ton of energy for the day!

Almost Perfect Iced Coffee

Mom’s Hot Chocolate Mix

I grew up with 4 other siblings. Every winter my mother would make a huge batch of this mix. Cold weather plus five kids equals a lot of mugs of hot chocolate. Our intern, April, loved drinking this beverage and I told her I would add it to my list of recipes here. It is so easy to put together. For my missionary friends in Peru I have added the metric measurements. Just make sure you have a large container to store it in. It will last you the whole winter season…

Hot Chocolate Mix

2 lbs Nestle Quick (908 grams)
1 lb powdered sugar (3 1/2 cups)
11 ounce jar of Coffee-Mate (1.4 cups)
8-qt box non-fat dry milk (10 2/3 c)

Mix all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Mix 1/3 cup of mix with mug of hot boiling water.

Mom’s Hot Chocolate Mix

Andrea’s Marvelous Mini Meat Loaves

This is a huge shout out to Andrea Muse. She served this dish to us when we were home on furlough, my mom had told me how delicious they were, and Andrea put the recipe in the Cedar Lane cookbook. If you have never tried this recipe you need to. They live up to their name. They are great to make for a dinner party. I like to serve them with the Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese recipe and steamed brocolli. Delish! And soooooo easy…

Marvelous Mini Meat Loaves

1 egg
3/4 c milk
1 c finely shredded cheese
1/2 c quick oats
1/4 c chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
sauce: 1/2 c brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp mustard, 2/3 c ketchup

Mix egg, milk, cheese, oats, onion, salt, and beef together. Roll into 6 small loaves. Place in a greased Pyrex. Mix ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard together to make the sauce. Pour sauce on top of loaves and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Andrea’s Marvelous Mini Meat Loaves

High Altitude Cupcakes


Maggie’s birthday is quickly approaching, and I thought I would try a new cake recipe today. I found the cake recipe on allrecipes.com. I made revisions based on a website’s recommendations for baking at high altitude. The icing recipe is one that you must try. It is from the Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen tab–love her!

I made these cupcakes today for our house church gathering. We like to celebrate with dessert if anyone has a birthday in the week. They were a hit. The icing wasn’t the best I have ever tasted (sorry, but cream cheese icing will always be the best), but it was really good. The cupcakes weren’t the best cake I have ever tasted (welcome to high altitude baking). They were a little dry still, BUT they did not overflow in the pan like other recipes I have used. I think I could still work on tweaking this recipe.

They were good enough that I would try these recipes again.

Basic White Cake Mix

(For altitude of 7500 ft: reduce baking powder 1/4 tsp, reduce sugar 3 Tbs, increase milk by 3 Tbsp, increase oven temp by 25 degrees F)


That’s the Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had

You really do beat the tar out of the frosting to get it to be the right consistency, but it works. It resembles whipped cream. Greg commented to me that he thought it even tasted a bit like whipped cream. ummm… whipped cream


And now on to the finished product…


And the girls had a blast adding the finishing touch… the sprinkles.


High Altitude Cupcakes