Archives for May 2013

Quinoa Balls with Lettuce, Apples and Carrots | Drizzled with Balsamic Glaze

My brain has been overflowing lately with recipe ideas. I started jotting them down in a notebook that I carry with me everywhere and it seems to be helping. My perpetual problem however, is the lack of productive hours in a day in which to make these recipes come to life. If the body didn’t need sleep, I’d be GOLDEN. But alas it absolutely DOES need sleep and I don’t buy into the YOLO (you only live once) and ISWID (I’ll sleep when I die) acronyms the “kids” are using these days. So, unless I invent some cool way to be productive with no sleep at all, I’ll have to simply keep my eye on my 2013 goal.


As I discovered at the start of 2013, I cannot simplify – it is not in my DNA and it just doesn’t feel RIGHT. There is only one life we live and I want to live mine to the fullest and be as happy as I can be; which includes learning as much as I can, sleeping as much as I need to, and experiencing as much as I can. So, in my pursuit of a full and productive life I strive to be more efficient! One of the ways I’ve learned to do this, is to tuck recipes away in the DRAFTS section of my blog so I can pull them out of my back pocket when those pesky too-full days (or weeks) pounce on me! So without further ado, here is an oldie but goodie from the Zucchini Runner draft vault.

Added some diced apples

Quinoa Balls with Lettuce, Apples and Carrots drizzled with Homemade Balsamic Glaze

3/4 c. dried, rinsed quinoa
1 1/2 c. water
1 medium onion, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 medium tomato, diced small
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Chopped fresh thyme to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. almond meal
2 tbsp. ground flax meal + 6 tbsp water (flax egg)
1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped

Balsamic Glaze (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F

Follow your package instructions for cooking the quinoa. (Typically you combine both the water and quinoa in a pot, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and cover; cooking for 12-14 minutes. Unlike rice, you can remove the lid and check on the moisture level during cooking.) Combine the flax meal and water in a small dish and set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, add a little water and the chopped onions. Cook until the onions become translucent. Add garlic and toss to combine. Add diced tomato, tomato paste, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring once or twice. It may be necessary to turn the heat down to low as well.

Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl, and pour the tomato mixture on top. Stir well to combine. Sprinkle almond meal over mixture and pour flax egg on top. Stir again. Lastly add fresh chopped parsley and gently toss to incorporate.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, to avoid using oil and to prevent quinoa balls from sticking. Scoop out the mixture using a cookie scoop or large spoon, and make approximately 24 balls. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the balls begin to firm up and become golden brown on the edges.

Serve over a bed of your favorite greens – fresh or steamed will work! I topped mine with fresh cut carrots and a diced apple. I also drizzled with some balsamic glaze. (You can quickly make your own glaze by heating 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan with 2 tbsp. maple syrup. Cook on medium heat until the liquid starts to thicken, but remove before it gets too thick, as it will continue to thicken when removed from the heat. It should take less than 5 minutes. Use immediately on this recipe and store the rest in an airtight container in the fridge for future use. Lasts for about a month.)

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Peach Yummy v2013

Growing up my parents would take our family on cross country road trips every summer. Sometimes we would stay in a hotel once we reached our destination and other times we would camp. I have very fond memories of sitting around the campfire and watching my mom bake her delicious Peach Yummy, a camping tradition. It was amazing and simple; the perfect treat to make kiddos happy. Canned peaches and some Bisquick plopped on top was all she’d need – partially hydrogenated goodness – ahhhh. You would get your serving of gooey peaches along with a Bisquick biscuit. This was heaven on earth, especially when camping. She never made it at home either, so it was an extra special treat!


This is my oldest sister, diligently tending to the peach yummy! I love her pants, but what I love even more is her eagerness to help mom bake at age 5!


Ten years later, here’s me… sitting down in the middle of a trail, not wanting to continue the hike into our campsite. 🙂 Maybe they bribed me with peach yummy to get me going… 😉

Last weekend, I started my own family tradition of sorts. Mr. Zucchini Runner, my cousin and her son went to a local peach orchard and picked our very own peaches straight from the tree! You better believe as soon as we paid for those peaches one went straight into my mouth! It was so juicy and tasted like warm peach pie – it was THE BEST peach I’ve ever had in my life. Hands down. Apparently, Arizona has the perfect climate to grow peaches. Who knew?!


My “nephew” checking out our box of peaches for “bugs”, based on my request. He was so sweet. This was the only way I could distract him to take his picture. 🙂

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This experience was pretty magical, especially when looking back. It’s like childbirth I suppose, you only remember the good stuff. I’ve already forgotten that the festival was a disorganized mess, 85°F with full blazing sun and a line of traffic outside the farm for a mile that took an hour to get through.

The peaches WERE worth it though.


The peaches sat like this on the stovetop… for a while… with no heat… awaiting their destiny.

Peach cobbler seemed like a good option, so I cut and peeled 10 peaches, to make about 4 cups of sliced, fresh peaches. As I sat staring at them in the skillet, I was trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with them next. I called my mom to get some inspiration and see if there was a way I could recreate Peach Yummy, only healthier. 😉 After some brainstorming, she suggested I just use my granola mix as the topping. I was sold and it would be easy!! (During the brainstorming, I also decided I needed to make some peach ice cream too – stay tuned!)

Peach Yummy v2013

4 cups (~10 small peaches) peeled, pitted and sliced
2 cups oats
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened, coconut shreds
1 tea. cinnamon
2 tbsp. Earth Balance Coconut Spread
1/4 c. maple syrup
Dash or two of salt

In a skillet over low-medium heat start to cook the peaches until they reduce in size and cook in their own juices. This will take roughly 20 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut shreds and cinnamon and stir to incorporate. Measure the coconut spread into a small glass dish and microwave 10 seconds at a time to soften. Once it is soft, not melted, add the maple syrup and stir to help melt the coconut spread. Pour syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir well, ensuring to coat the oats with the liquid.

Measure out 1 cup of the oat/granola mixture into an 8″x8″ baking dish. Layer cooked peaches on top. Layer remaining oat/granola mixture on top of peaches. (Note: I had quite a thick layer of oats… if I make this again I would either cut back on some of the oats or set some of the topping aside and just bake it on a cookie sheet for granola. 🙂

Cover with foil and bake in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, keeping a close eye on the topping to ensure it doesn’t get too dark. You want it crispy and slightly brown. (Click on any image below for a more detailed description and enlarged photo.)

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I also poured almond milk over my serving when I got home from work today and it was super yummy!

I also poured almond milk over my serving when I got home from work today and it was super yummy!

Peach Ice Cream

I didn’t forget about the ice cream, don’t worry! Homemade ice cream is so easy to make, even if you don’t have an ice cream maker. You can make popsicles if you have molds! In a blender combine 1 can of full fat coconut milk and 3 peeled, pitted and sliced peaches, 3 tbsp of maple syrup and a dash of salt. Blend until completely liquified and place in refrigerator to chill for about an hour. If you are using popsicle molds, you can just pour directly into the molds and place in the freezer for 30 minutes, removing to add the sticks if necessary, and then placing them back in the freezer to firm up solid!

If you are using an ice cream maker, you can follow your machines instructions to make the ice cream. I added 2 chopped and peeled peaches to the ice cream in the last 5 minutes of churning. It turned out great and I loved having the little frozen peach chunks in the ice cream. Enjoy!