Crispy Quinoa Cakes and Arugula Fig Salad

Quinoa is not only a fad food. I believe it is here to stay in the Western markets. It is so versatile and delicious. Oh, it is also healthy :D. It is packed with protein and is gluten free. It is a very filling grain that mainly comes from Peru and Ecuador. It absorbs flavors well and is not only great accompaniment to a meal, but also can be the main attraction!

These quinoa cakes are crunchy, flavorful and pair beautifully with this salad. The peppery notes of arugula balance out the sweetness of the fruits and the saltiness of the feta cheese creates a perfect harmony of flavors. A must try! ๐Ÿ™‚



Here is my recipe:

Makes 8 cakes

3 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped

2 eggs

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking

ย quinoa ingredients

For the salad:

2 1/2 cups arugula

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

5 ripe figs

1/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup feta cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

juice of 1 lemon



1. Combine cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, bell pepper and shallots in a bowl. Add in eggs. Using the best tool in your kitchen, combine the ingredients. Allow to set.



2. Form mixture into 8 even patties. Use approximately half cup of mixture per patty. Allow to rest.


3. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Cook quinoa cakes on medium heat until browned and a crispy outer crust is formed. About 7 minutes on each side.ย  Allow to rest on paper towels (which will absorb the excess oil).


4. To make the salad, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil and juice of one lemon. Toss arugula in dressing. Arrange on plate and top with tomatoes, figs, blueberries and feta cheese.

5. Slice quinoa cakes and arrange on top of salad. Or serve along side the salad.

quinoa cakes

6. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Quinoa Cakes and Arugula Salad

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Summer Pizza

If you follow me on Instragram, you know I have a cherry tomato plant, a love for farmers markets and tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes. When I came home one evening and found that my tomato plant out grew the planter it was in, I knew I had to pick the tomatoes that remained on the plant and make something delicious. As per usual, Hussein suggested a pasta or pizza dish, so that is where I went. You can’t go wrong with pizza, can you?

This recipe makes enough dough for 2, 12inch pizzas. I prepared one with the recipe below and the other with a traditional pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. This cream cheese spread is SO good. It would be great as a dip served with a sliced up baguette and veggies.

If you are like my sister Mona and do not like tomatoes, feel free to choose a different topping! Use any toppings you like and leave out the ones you don’t. Cooking should be fun! Make something you and your peeps will enjoy ๐Ÿ˜€


Here is my recipe:



3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup warm water

1 egg, beaten

ย pizza2 pizza prep

For the tomato topping:

1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup greek yogurt

1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, finely sliced

1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest and juice of one lemon

pizza7 pizza5


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Combine yeast and water in bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

3. Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Using the bread hook attachment on your mixer, combine yeast and water with flour mixture. Add in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Allow to mix until a dough is formed.

pizza dough

4. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Pour 1 teaspoon olive oil in large bowl. Place dough in bowl and cover with damp cloth. Place in warm, dark place (I use the inside of my oven) and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

ย pizza22

5. Cut dough into two equal pieces. Roll on piece into a round on a floured surface. Place on pre-warmed pizza stone or pan.


6. Brush edge of pizza crust with beaten egg. Poke holes into the dough using a fork. This will prevent air bubbles. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


7. While pizza crust is baking, make the topping. Mix together cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, dill, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.


Cream cheese topping

8. Remove pizza from oven. Evenly spread cream cheese mixture onto pizza crust. The warmth of the pizza will help melt the cream cheese and make it easier to spread.

9. Top pizza with tomatoes and red onions.

10. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer Pizza by Amanda's Plate



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Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

The weather,the shorter days and the calender is telling me that summer is almost at an end. Summer always seems to fly by. Did you do anything fun this summer?

We had many fun adventures around the Pacific North West, including berry picking, hiking up Mt. Si and swimming in Lake Quinault. Hussein completed graduate school after an intense 18 months of full time work and a demanding MBA program. And I of course started my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Before the end of this warm, sunny, Bar-B-Q season, I thought I would share a simple steak recipe with an earthy, fresh chimichurri sauce.ย It is so quick, easy and satisfying that it makes the perfect week nightย dinner.


Here is my recipe:


A good cut of steak, I used strip steak

Generous pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper


For the sauce:


1 large clove garlic

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons oregano

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup vinegar



1. Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Heat grill or grill pan. Place steak on pan. cook for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. (I cook mine to medium rare, cook longer for medium to medium well)


2. In food processor pulse together parsley, cilantro, garlic and oregano. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and vinegar.


3. Allow meat to rest for five minutes before cutting. (I know it is tempting to just cut right in, but the juices will all be lost if you are impatient). Cut against the grain and serve with chimichurri sauce.


4. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

steak steakI served with oven roasted potatoes and green beans!

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Salted Caramel Brownies

Looking for a fudgey, rich, chocolatey and salty dessert? Well, look no further. My salted caramel brownies are the perfect treat! The brownies are so rich and decadent. I have made them alone several times but decided it was time to jazz them up. For a reason I am not entirely sure about, I got into a conversation about salted caramels with a nurse I work with. Having salted caramel on my brain, I knew the smooth buttery and slightly salty caramel sauce would pair perfectly with these brownies. A beautiful marriage of classic flavor profiles.

I had to make a conscious effort not to eat spoonfuls of this caramel sauce.. it is that good.

Don’t like nuts or salted caramel (this is a judgement free zone, so I will withhold my opinion) feel free to omit them! The brownies alone are enough to satisfy any sweet tooth ๐Ÿ˜‰


Here is my recipe


For the brownies

4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) melted butter, unsalted

1 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

brownie ingredients

For the salted caramel

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt



1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.ย  Grease a 9×9 inch pan or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Cream together eggs and sugar using mixer on medium speed. Add in vanilla and salt. Sift flour and cocoa. Combined with wet ingredients. Stir in pecans.


3. Pour half batter into pan and bake for 10 minutes.

4. To make the caramel, melt butter over medium-low heat in a pot. Stir in sugar and heavy cream. Continuously whisk and allow to come to a boil (a low boil with small bubbles). Stir in vanilla and kosher salt. Remove from heat.

caramelcaramel sauce

5. Remove brownies from oven and pour 1 cup of salted caramel sauce over the top. Pour remaining batter and return to oven for 30 minutes to complete baking.


6. Allow to cool. To cut throw brownies easily, use a plastic knife (it glides thru and does not crumble to brownie).

7. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

ย Salted Caramel Brownies

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Fiesta Chopped Salad

I am very much enjoying all of summers succulent fruit and vegetables. I have been fortunate enough to be able to go to many local farmers markets and buy the freshest of this seasons harvest.

As I looked at my fridge and pantry looking for inspiration for dinner, I decided I need to use as many vegetables as possible. As you already know from my guacamole post, I love Mexican cuisine. I came up with this easy, filling, flavor packed chopped salad with a cool avocado lime dressing. My husband, who typically does not consider a salad “dinner”, was full and satisfied with this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Feel free to add or omit any of the ingredients. Cooking should be fun and you should create something you will enjoy!


Fiesta Chopped Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • ½ cup corn
  • ½ cup tomatoes
  • ½ cup black beans
  • 1 cup tortilla chips or strips
  • ¼ pound strip steak, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon each garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, paprika and salt
  • ¼ cup Mexican blend cheese
Avocado Lime Dressing
  • 1 large avocado
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Combine steak with garlic powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper and salt. Cook in olive oil. Sprinkle cheese over top. Set aside.
  2. In food processor, blend together avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and salt until smooth.
  3. Chop vegetables. Drain beans.
  4. Arrange veggies and meat on plate. Toss with dressing before serving.
  5. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lavender Lemon Cupcakes

I work in an urban hospital, with some pretty awesome landscaping. Seriously, our hospital won national awards for the green landscaping around the different campuses. There are cabbages, all sorts of flowers I can not identify and shrubs of all shapes and sizes.

Each week, we receive “memos” detailing all the fun things happening throughout the system. I am told that I am probably one of few who actually read these, but I am always glad I do. Last week, my workplace held a lavender festival and I was able to pick my own lavender. I was inspired to create something delicious using the lavender I had picked.

I decided to pair the floral notes of the lavender with the acidity of lemon to balance it out. Here is what I came up with ๐Ÿ™‚


Here is my recipe:

Makes 12 cupcakes


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup butter,at room temperature

2 teaspoons fresh lavender


For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

3 tablespoons milk (plus more if needed)

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine salt (I ran table salt thru a food processor)

1 teaspoon lemon extract, if desired

a drop of wilton violet colored food dye

ย cupcake8


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time. Mix in milk, lemon juice and lemon extract.


2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Incorporate into wet ingredients. Add in lavender. DO NOT OVER MIX. ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Line cupcake pan and pour batter into cups. I use an icecream scoop. Each cup was filled with approximately 1/3 cup batter.

cupcake34. Bake cupcakes at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until golden and tooth pick comes out clean. Allow to cool on rack.

cupcake75. To make the butter-cream frosting, cream together butter, vegetable shortening, sugar and fine salt using mixer. Add in the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting comes together.

cupcake106. Add in food coloring (a little goes a long way).

7. Using Wiltons 2D tip, ice cupcake. I topped the icing with violet sprinkles and some fresh lavender.

cupcake 12

7. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚



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Chicken Lemon Rice

We have had a break in the heat wave this past week. After a very strange few days filled with thunderstorms, complete with lightening, it has definitely cooled off. The gloomy gray clouds called for a warm cup of soup.

I have received a request to make chicken lemon rice, so here it is! Do you have a recipe you would like to see me make? Leave me a comment or send me an email at!

This recipe gets its creaminess from eggs. I have attempted to make this recipe using cream, but there was a lot of separation, so I despite the difficulty of tempering eggs, it gives better payoff. It is really important that your eggs are at room temperature to begin with and then use your patience to temper them.ย  There is nothing worse than ruining a dish by being impatient.


I paired this soup with a crusty baguette!


Here is my recipe:

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup long grain rice (I used brown rice and the hubby did not notice ;))

2 cups shredded chicken (good way to use leftover chicken, I used chicken breast)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

3/4 cup chopped onion

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock (use low sodium!! or omit the salt)

Chicken Lemon Rice


1. In large stock pot, saute` carrots, celery and onions in tablespoon of olive oil.

The combination of these three vegetables is referred to as a Mirepoix.

2. Add in stock and bring to a boil.

Chicken Lemon Rice

3. Once it is boiling, add in uncooked rice.

Chicken Lemon Rice 4. Allow mixture to come to a boil once again. Then lower heat to medium and allow to simmer until rice is cooked; about 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Add in shredded chicken, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Turn off heat.

6. Whisk together eggs and lemon juice. Add in ladle full of liquid part of the soup. Whisk well. Add another ladle full. Whisk well.

soup soup8

ย 7. Add egg and lemon juice into the soup. Turn on the heat to the lowest setting. Do not bring to a boil or the egg will scramble.

8. Add in the chopped parsley. Stir.

9. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Chicken Lemon Rice

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Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Year after year, one of the top ice cream flavors in the United States is mint chocolate chip. And frankly, this is rarely my choice for ice cream. I much prefer chocolate chip cookie dough, good ole plain vanilla or something fruity like mango or strawberry. I do however, love those mint chocolate Girl Scout cookies and Andes mints. I was at Target when I came across a section devoted to M&M’s. They had more flavors than I could remember. I gravitated towards the mint flavored ones and decided they would make for a great cookie ingredient!


Here is my recipe:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup softened butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 sugar brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons mint extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 11.4 oz bag Mint M&Ms

1 cup dark chocolate chips



1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in egg, one at a time. Mix until smooth. Mix in mint extract and vanilla extract.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Combine with wet ingredients, until well incorporated. Stir in Mint M&Ms and chocolate chips. mint 1

3. On lined baking sheet, spoon 1 tablespoon batter a few inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until done.

mint 2

4. Cool on baking rack.

5. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Very berry blueberry cheesecake

One of my favorite days in elementary school, was always book fair day. We would receive a thin paper catalog of the Scholastic books that would be available, a few weeks prior to the day of the fair. I would hurry home to tell my parents which books I wanted to get. There were a lot of extra chores done in the weeks and days leading up to the book fair. I wanted to be sure to have enough money to get all the books, pencils and stickers I wanted.

During the fourth grade book fair, I decided to buy a cook book. This was the first time that I had selected a cook book to purchase. My mom had many cook books at home and being the book worm I was, I would always select a chapter book when we went to the library or book store.

One recipe in particular has stuck with me since that time and that is the cheesecake recipe. That cookbook is long gone, but my first cheesecake remains.

The recipe has evolved a ton through the years, especially after The Cheesecake Factory displayed their rich, decadent desserts, using far more cream cheese then anyone used back in the day.


Here is my recipe:

4, 8oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla

pinch of salt


2 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers

4 tablespoons butter, melted


1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup blueberriescheesecake 9




1. Wrap 9 inch spring form pan with heavy aluminum foil. Be sure that the entire pan is covered in the foil and that there are no openings to the pan.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and meltedย  butter. Using back of measuring cup, press crumbs onto sides of your pan.

cheesecake 1

3. Bake crust in 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. This will help the crust set, so it remains firm when the cheesecake bakes. Place spring form pan onto a large cookie sheet and surround with 3 cups of water. This is called a water bath and will help contain moisture in your oven so the cheesecake does not crack.

4. Mix cream cheese on low setting until smooth. Add in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in flour.

ย cheesecake 3

5. Pour batter into pan and bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until top is firm and slightly golden.

6. Allow cheesecake to come to room temperature and then rest in the fridge for a minimum of 4-6 hours.

7. For cream topping, whisk together heavy cream, sour cream and powdered sugar. Spread onto top of cheesecake and arrange your favorite fruit.

8. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mac and Cheese

Is there anything more comforting on a chilly, gloomy day than a nice warm plate of Mac and Cheese? I certainly don’t think so. There are many variations to Mac and Cheese and so many ways to play it up. Like it spicy? Add some sriraccha. Like a more earthy flavor? Add some truffle oil or finely grated truffles. I like a classic, smooth Mac and Cheese. I have been working on this recipe for some time, so let me know what you think!

Here is my recipe:

2 cups pasta

1 egg, at room temperature

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 1/2 cups freshly grated cheese, I used sharp cheddar and Beecher’s Flagship

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

Amanda's Plate Mac and Cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt butter in large pan and whisk in butter to make a roux. This will create the base of the cheese sauce. Stir for a few minutes, until mixture is smooth and flour flavor has cooked off.

mac and cheese

ย 3. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.

4. Add milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg to the roux. Temper in the egg. It is very important that your egg is at room temperature and that you whisk quickly. You do not want scrambled eggs in here! At this point, this sauce resembles a bechamel; the classic French white sauce.

5. Mix in the grated cheese until smooth.

6. Drain pasta and add into cheese sauce. Pour into ramekin.

mac cheese 4

mac cheese 5

ย 7. Toss panko bread crumbs in melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of your delicious cheesy noodles.

8. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Then place until broiler for 1-2 minutes until panko is golden browned.

9. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚


Mac and Cheese

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