Cooking Quinoa

cooking quinoa
cooking quinoa
Light and Fluffy Quinoa

Cooking Quinoa

What is Quinoa

Quinoa is a protein rich whole grain. It’s a very important part of vegan diets because it’s also a complete protein. That means it has all the essential amino acids that your body needs to form healthy cells and create important things like body tissue and muscles. Bottom line, it’s really good for you.

 How to Cook Quinoa

The first thing you need to know about cooking quinoa is that you have to rinse it before you cook it. There’s a coating on quinoa that makes it taste bitter. Not a good bitter like broccoli rate but bitter as in nasty. If you ever try to grow it in your garden, this bitterness will be your friend because very few birds will steal your crops before your harvest them. Luckily this coating easily rinses off. So before you cook it, put it in a metal strainer and let some cold water run on it for a few minutes.

Now even if you rinse off the bitter coating you aren’t out of the woods yet when it comes to taste. You want light fluffy quinoa. Wet and soggy quinoa doesn’t taste as good and that means you won’t want to eat it as much. Then you’re body won’t grow you any new muscles. And the best way to make light and fluffy quinoa is to use less water and cook it slower than most instructions tell you to.

rinsing quinoa
Be sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking

For ever 1 cup of quinoa, add 1 1/4 cup water or broth. You can use chicken broth or vegetable broth but just plain water is fine too. I guess you could use milk or soy milk but I haven’t tried that. If you do, let me know how it comes out. Nothing beats Trader Joe’s veggie broth though for adding good flavor to your quinoa.

Heat up the pan and the liquid a bit but not all the way to a boil. Then drop in the rinsed quinoa and cover it up. Reduce heat to simmer and leave it alone for 30 minutes. I’m sure you’ll want to look at it and maybe mix it up but control yourself and don’t. After 30 minutes, remove it from the flame but don’t open it yet. Let it sit another 5 minutes.

I like to make a big batch on the weekends and put it in the fridge. then I can take some out and heat it up for breakfast quinoa or garlic veggie quinoa. I should post those recipes at some point too.

And that’s how you make delicious quinoa the right way. Well, this is how I like it anyway. Try it and see if that’s how you like it too.

Panini Burger

panini burger

If you’re only using your panini maker to make sandwiches, then you’re missing out. A panini maker is basically an indoor grill and a Panini Burger Recipe is a great way to prove it.

panini fried onions
Fry up those onions

A patty melt is a hamburger with fried onions and swiss cheese on sliced bread (usually rye) that’s cooked grilled cheese style.  Anything that’s cooked grilled cheese style makes a great panini sandwich.

Do you have to cook the onions and the hamburgers on the stove and then make move everything to the panini grill for the final press?  The answer is no.  You can fry up your onions and also cook the hamburger patties directly on your panini grill.  It is a grill after all.

And timing wise, it’s a lot easier too.  You don’t have to worry about cooking everything at once like you would usually do to ensure that nothing gets cold before you serve it.  When you cook panini style, everything heats up during the final press, so it’s actually less important to worry about timing.

I usually like to cook my onions first and put them aside.  Then grill the hamburger patties.  Grilling hamburgers creates a lot of grease so you may want to wipe down the grill before the next step.  But remember to always be careful when handling a hot grill.  A big wad of damp paper towels held in your hand while you’re wearing an oven mitt is a good way to wipe down your grill safely.
Once you have your fried onions fried and your hamburger patties grilled, you’re ready to put it all together.  Like I said before, most people will make a Patty Melt with sliced rye bread but since I’m not a big fan of rye and this is a Panini Burger Recipe, I like to use a hearty sliced Italian loaf or sliced sour dough bread.  Add a generous helping a fried onions and Swiss cheese to the bread then add the hamburger and put it back in the panini maker to grill it all together.

Making a Panini Burger could make a huge mess in your kitchen unless you cook all the ingredients in your panini grill.  It’s a good recipe that will help you get the most out of your panini maker.

panini burger

Panini Burger (Patty Melt) Recipe


  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 hamburger patty
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 2 slices Rye bread or sliced Italian bread

Cooking Directions

  1. Add sliced onion to the pre-heated panini press and close lid. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes and set aside.
  2. Cook hamburger patty on panini press for 2 – 4 minutes and set aside.
  3. Add grilled onions, Swiss cheese and cooked hamburger patty to bread. Close sandwich and place in panini press for an additional 2 – 3 minutes or until bread is is nice and crispy and the cheese is melted.

Jalapeno Pepper Roaster

Jalapeno Pepper Roaster
Jalapeno Pepper Roaster

Have you ever wondered how to make stuffed jalapeno peppers without all of the stuffing oozing out in the oven or on the BBQ. Well, I did and cleaning up oozed cheese out of a toaster oven was not fun. But once I found this cool Jalapeno Pepper Roaster, I know how it’s done.

Now if you’ve ever had those deep fried breaded jalapeno poppers that you get at restaurants you know they’re delicious but not very healthy. I like to put them in the “You can’t eat them everyday” category. But if you make them roasted style, you can eliminate the deep fryer and the breading.

It’s actually very easy to make roasted jalapeno poppers with this pepper roaster. And it even comes with a tool to help you core the peppers. Just slice off the tops (the side with the stem) and use the corer to dig out the seedy insides.

Now all you have to do is stuff it with something. Cheese is always good but why not live it up a little bit and chop up some onions and sausage to go with it. Bacon is another great ingredient for your stuffing mixture. Be sure to try Cheddar, Monterey Jack or even Mozzarella cheese.

One thing to pay attention to is the size of the holes in this jalapeno pepper roaster. Don’t try to jam giant peppers into these little holes or else they won’t stay in the upright position while you cook them. If you’re picking jalapeno peppers right from your garden then make your selections based on the size. If you let your peppers grow too big, they won’t fit into the holes. The same is true if you’re buying them at the market.

Once you’ve got the peppers stuffed, just pop them into the roaster. It’s made from stainless steel so it’s safe for the grill, the oven or even a smoker. And there’s holes for 36 jalapenos, so invite some friends over.

Monte Cristo Panini

Monte Cristo Panini
Serve the Monte Cristo Panini with Maple Syrup on the side

The Monte Cristo is another great sandwich recipe that you can easily convert into a panini.  I used to love ordering a Monte Cristo as a late night snack at my local diner.  The combination of the sweet French Toast style bread and saltiness of the Ham and Swiss Cheese is great at any time of the day.

Monte Cristo Panini


  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Pinch Cinnamon
  • 2 slices  Bread
  • 3 slices  Swiss Cheese
  • 3 slices  Ham

Cooking Directions

  1. In a bowl, add the egg, milk, vanilla & cinnamon. Whisk until well mixed. Arrange the Swiss Cheese and Ham on a the two slices of bread to create a sandwich. Dunk the entire sandwich into the egg mixture to coat the bread slices.
  2. Place onto a preheated panini grill and close the lid. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a bowl of maple syrup for dunking or a serving of fruit jelly.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic book that was written by Alexandre Dumas and he had absolutely nothing to do with the Monte Cristo Sandwich.  But if I was locked up in prison for years, the first thing I’d do when I got out would be to fire up the panini grill and make a Monte Cristo Panini.

As usual, there are lots of options when making a Monte Cristo.  Starting with the choice of bread.  Since the bread will basically become French Toast you might way to try a nice egg bread like you’d get on Easter.  Or to make it heartier, go with a sour dough loaf and slice it thick.

Now it’s time for the sandwich part.  Ham and Swiss Cheese are the usual ingredients but it can also be made with Turkey.  Sometimes I have leftover gruyere from when I go on a fondue bender and so I’ll use that for Monte Cristo Panini the next day.  Gruyere is even better than regular Swiss.

Here’s the tricky part about making this sandwich in a panini press.  You can follow the instructions above to coat the entire sandwich with the egg mixture or you can coat one slice of bread and place it on the hot panini grill.  Then quickly add the ham and cheese and then coat the top piece of bread and place it on top. Cook it until it looks nice and crispy.

You can follow this Monte Cristo Recipe or come up with your own.  Either way, it’ll be great.