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blissful eats with tina jeffers: Quinoa with roasted chanterelles, apples and squash

I’m craving an adventure.  Ever since I was lucky enough to scoop up some chanterelles for a steal I have been entranced with the thought of wandering down a mist covered path, the earth moist beneath my feet, looking under pine needles and discarded leaves searching for these jewels of the forest.  It seems so romantic, wandering a strange landscape, not a soul in sight, lost in the deep dark woods. 

I haven’t quite managed to go foraging just yet but I did take my camera and head out for a little hike in my part of the woods to satiate my desire for the great outdoors.  Sometimes I get caught up in the limitations of where I live, focusing on the fact that it’s too cold, too wet, and too dreary.  But I have to remind myself that there is purpose and beauty in the damp dark silence of a Portland fall.  It’s not something to run and hide from but to explore and appreciate. 

All my dreaming of mushrooms and secret forays into the woods led me to this quinoa recipe.  I was looking for a dish that would capture the best flavors of fall, rich earthy mushrooms, sweet tart apples and buttery winter squash.  I don’t usually think to use apples in savory dishes, it just doesn’t occur to me but I thought it would be a nice counterpoint to the earthiness of the mushrooms.  It’s hearty enough for a main course but would also be a delicious side dish to serve with roasted pork.  I plated myself up a huge bowl and set myself up by the fire, grateful that I was inside, safe and sheltered from the rain coming down outside.

If you’d like to see more recipes, visit me at my blog www.scalingbackblog. com, I’d love the company!

Quinoa with roasted chanterelles, apples and squash



½ pound chanterelles, cleaned, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh thyme leaves

¼ cup fresh parsley

1 tart apple, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 small (about 1 pound ) sweet dumpling squash, seeded and cut into ¾ inch pieces

1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 clove garlic finely minced

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 cup quinoa


Heat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Place the apples and squash on separate baking sheets, tossing each of them with a tablespoon of olive oil and a small handful of thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and golden brown.

Repeat with the chanterelles tossing with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, a few sprigs of the thyme, salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring 4 cups of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the quinoa and cook uncovered for 12 minutes, then drain the quinoa into a sieve and then place the sieve back over the pot, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it steam for 10 minutes, until fluffy and dry. 

Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes until the onions have cooked down and are caramelized.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes then deglaze the pan with the vinegar and honey. 

Add the quinoa to the onions along with the chanterelles, apples and squash tossing to combine the ingredients and let cook for a few minutes to heat everything through and let the flavors develop, top with the parsley and serve.


blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: Crunchy cabbage salad with peanut dressing

I am not a vegetarian but I find myself turning more frequently to meals built on a base of vegetables and grains and use meat more as a condiment.  Ultimately it’s more economical, better for my health and I actually prefer the variety of textures and flavors that a vegetarian diet offers.  I also enjoy the challenge of making a meal that my family will eat that isn't your typical meat and potatoes offering.  I don’t like to say anything is off limits when it comes to eating, but I do believe that consuming a variety of foods and  keeping portion sizes reasonable is the smartest way for my family to stay healthy and satisfied.

This salad is one of my favorite weeknight meals, it takes a few minutes to chop all the ingredients but comes together quickly and you can do a lot of the prep in advance.  Extra dressing is delicious tossed with some noodles or grilled vegetables.  For a non-vegetarian version try adding some shredded chicken or shrimp.

Crunchy cabbage salad with peanut dressing



For the salad:

1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded

1/4 head red cabbage, thinly shredded

1 carrot, peeled and grated

½ red bell pepper julienned

¼ cup cilantro leaves

¼ cup basil leaves

1 avocado diced

¼ cup chopped cashews

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds


For the dressing:

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 clove garlic finely minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon water


Combine cabbages, carrots, bell pepper, avocado and half the basil and cilantro in a large bowl.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl.  If the dressing is too thick you may need to add a little bit more water.  Toss the cabbage mixture with the peanut sauce and top with the reserved herbs, cashews and sesame seeds.


blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


Fall is one of my favorite seasons in the kitchen.  The air is crisp, the leaves are changing colors and the fall harvest has begun.  Time to hit the pumpkin patch and get baking!  This time of year signals a return to the comforts of home, a hot cup of tea next to a toasty fire and a seasonal inspired treat to enjoy.

These cinnamon rolls are filled with homemade pumpkin butter, cinnamon sugar and hazelnuts.  The dough is a challah bread recipe that I adapted by adding pumpkin puree and millet flour, they give the roll a beautiful golden orange color and slightly savory flavor.  Don’t worry if you can’t find millet flour, you can easily substitute all-purpose flour for the whole recipe.

Don’t be intimidated by the recipe, you do need to plan ahead but most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise.  If you want to eat them for breakfast, prep the dough the night before so you can just pop them in the oven first thing in the morning. 

As you’ve probably noticed by now if you’ve looked at any of previous posts I do use hazelnuts a lot in my recipes but feel free to substitute pecans or walnuts in the dough.  I use them not just because they are my favorite but because here in the Willamette Valley we grow 99% of all the hazelnuts in the country and I can buy them from a wonderful local grower.  I try to support my local merchants and farmers whenever I can and I love knowing where the food that I feed my family is coming from. 

If you make your own pumpkin butter you will have some leftover but don’t worry you can use it just like you would your favorite jam.  It is delicious on top of toast, ice cream, yogurt or mixed into oatmeal. 

The cream cheese frosting is totally optional, but if you want to take these over the top it really makes these the ultimate in decadence. 

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

Makes 13 large cinnamon rolls


For the sponge:

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

2/3 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ¼ cup millet flour



3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for mixing

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 eggs

4 ounces (1stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature


1 cup pumpkin butter*

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon

1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 cups powdered sugar 


Pour the yeast into the bowl of a standing mixer.  Heat the milk just until it is warm to the touch, about 100 degrees, and pour it over the yeast.  Add the pumpkin, honey and millet flour and stir to combine.  Add the all-purpose flour to the top of the sticky dough, then the salt.  Do not stir.  Let the sponge sit for 30 minutes until the flour begins to crack. 

Crack the eggs and add them to the sponge.  Mix on low until the flour is incorporated, if the dough is sticking to the sides, add one tablespoon of flour at a time-it may take up to ½ cup until the dough will pull away from the side of the bowl.  Once the dough has come together increase the speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes, the dough should be shiny and smooth.

Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and wait to add the next piece until the butter is fully incorporated.  The dough will come apart slightly and then come back together, don’t panic. 

For the first rise, scrape the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise for 2 hours.  Punch dough down and let sit for 10 minutes.  Roll out dough into a square about 10 inches by 16 inches. 

Spread the pumpkin butter all over the surface of the dough. 

Combine the sugars with the cinnamon and evenly distribute on top of the pumpkin then sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.  Starting at the 16-inch length, roll the dough into a tight log.  Cut the log into 13 pieces, each about 1 ¼ inches thick. 

Place the rolls into a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. 

Alternatively you can refrigerate the rolls overnight then remove them in the morning, let them come to room temperature and then proceed with the next step.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  When the oven comes to temperature bake the rolls for 25-35 minutes until the rolls are puffed and a beautiful golden brown.  

While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese frosting if using.  Combine the cream cheese and butter in a mixer and blend until smooth, add the vanilla and then gradually add the sugar a little at a time tasting until you are happy with the flavor. 

Let cool slightly and then serve warm or top with cream cheese frosting if desired. 

To make your own pumpkin butter:

1 (28-oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 cup apple juice

2 teaspoons ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup light brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  


blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal


I am not a fan of oatmeal.  I know that most people love starting their day off with a nice steaming bowl of oats, but I’ve just never been a fan.  I love the flavors but I like a little texture and crunch in my food and oatmeal has always seemed a little too mushy and little too bland.  I was inspired once again by Heidi Swanson and her recipe for baked oatmeal. 

I wanted a version that my son would like, so I adapted our favorite granola recipe and the result is this baked peanut butter oatmeal.  It’s a great way to start the day and it will keep well for several days so all you need to do is heat it up and top it with some milk.  The variations are endless, I think next time I’ll make a pumpkin spice version.  Whether you are looking for a new way to enjoy your morning oats or if like me have never loved traditional oatmeal try this recipe, you won’t regret it.


Baked peanut butter oatmeal

Adapted from Super Natural Everyday



2 cups milk

3 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup peanut butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar plus more for serving


Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a 9x13 baking dish.

In a small saucepan combine the milk, butter, peanut butter and brown sugar and cook just until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a bowl combine the oats, cereal, half the hazelnuts, the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Whisk the egg into the cooled peanut butter mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until combined and then pour into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts and tubinado sugar.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the mixture is set.  Top with some milk or heavy cream and some extra sugar for serving.


blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: Deconstructed Hummus Salad

I try to eat a healthy diet most of the time but I must admit that all the desserts I've been posting here are starting to affect my waistline and not in a very positive way.   I am definitely a live to eat kind of person, I love food and I hate to worry about counting every calorie.  When the time comes for me to fill my plate with more greens and less chocolate I turn to the big salad for help.  I find that I can fill my bowl to the brim, eat to my hearts content and lose weight in the process.  The trick is to fill the bowl with mainly greens and vegetables and limit the amount of cheese, meat and heavy dressings. 

I love hummus, but eating nothing but pita bread and chickpea dip for dinner isn’t such a great idea and the calories add up quick.  That's when the inspiration for this salad came to me.  It’s a kale and chickpea salad topped with crunchy toasted pita chips and a creamy tahini dressing.  It's super filling, healthy and tasty.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, a single cup of kale packs 5 grams of fiber and has a high concentration of antioxidant vitamins A, C and K.  Health benefits aside, this is a great departure from the standard iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad.  So if you are looking for something a little bit different, give this salad a try, you won't be sorry.  

For more recipes, visit me during the rest of the week at scalingback.com

Deconstructed Hummus Salad



  • 1 bunch lacinto kale
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 2 whole wheat pitas  

for the dressing:

  • juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt



Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender, puree until smooth and check for seasoning.  You may need to adjust the amount of lemon juice or salt if the flavors aren’t popping. 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray or brush the pitas with olive oil and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly browned and crispy.  When cool enough to handle, lightly break the pitas into bite sized pieces.

Remove the inner ribs of the kale, tear into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add ¼ cup of the dressing to the salad then knead the salad with your fingers to really incorporate the dressing into the kale, it’s helps break down the leaves and makes them more tender.  Add the chickpeas and pita chips to the salad and toss gently to incorporate.