Renee's Cooking



Renee's Quinoa Salad - Single Serving


The basic ingredient for a quinoa salad is obviously cooked quinoa. Beyond that, whatever you want to add is up to you. I doubt I ever make a quinoa salad the same way twice, at least not intentionally. Cooking the quinoa is a little tricky because you have to watch it closely at the start for the initial boiling (happens fast) and then be patient to let the quinoa fluff some after you've cooked it.

 Quinoa directions:
1/4 cup unrinsed quinoa (I like the rainbow quinoa for the color variety)
1/3 cup water

Put the quinoa in a small non-stick sauce pan. Add water. Put the sauce pan on your stove top and cook on high to bring to a boil around the insides of the pan. Lower the temperature to the lowest setting possible. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit with lid on for another 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork.

Now comes the fun. I clear the fridge of a lot of leftovers at this point. Have grilled chicken, salmon, steak, shrimp, etc., left from a BBQ? (If you are a vegetarian, skip the meat, of course.) Slice it or dice it and put it on a plate or in a bowl. Have some fruit or veggies (pitted fresh cherries, dried cranberries, apple (chopped or sliced), fresh basil, corn on the cob (slice the corn off the cob), chick peas, fresh hulled peas, canned beans (kidney, cannellini, etc.) arugula, lettuce, blueberries, mandarin oranges, fresh asparagus tips, etc.)? Add these to the meat. Add the quinoa. If you want, add sliced almonds, pecan or walnut pieces, pine nuts, etc. Top with cheese if desired (cubed, shredded, or even some Parmesan shaken on top) (skip of course if vegan). Add dressing of choice with a little balsamic vinegar to give the salad a twang. Toss with a fork. Experiment with texture, color--just don't get too many things going at once, though. Enjoy!

Renee's Low-Salt Chili


 I make chili in a seven-quart Dutch oven, so adjust your quantities to the size of your pan and of course your taste

Canned beans (no salt added) of various varieties (approximately eight 15-ounce cans): Standard red kidney beans are great, but I like to change it up and also add black beans, red beans, cannellini beans, adzuki beans and occasionally garbanzo beans. I purchase the no salt added beans at Whole Foods where they give you a discount for buying 10 or more of the same label. I have also acquired a more limited variety of the no salt added beans at the hippie grocery.

Three 14.5-ounce cans of petite diced tomatoes - no salt added

Two 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce - no salt added

Two 6-ounce cans of tomato paste - no salt added

1 to 2 pounds of browned ground beef, drained and patted dry between paper towels

1/3 to 1/2 bag of frozen corn, no salt

1/4 chopped onion

2 or more tablespoons of chili powder

1 tablespoon of epazote (ground) (you can order it on-line or find it in a specialty spice store; this brings out the flavor of the beans to me)

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients and put on the lowest flame possible. Plan on cooking for a couple hours. I then put a lid on the cooked chili and let it sit for a few more hours. Fridge the leftovers and be prepared for better chili the next day. If you need a little saltiness and should not be eating salt, try putting just a little Parmesan cheese on top of your bowl of chili. Not much, because Parmesan has salt, but a little seems to heighten the taste.

Renee's Lemon Biscotti


 1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour* (you can use all-purpose flour instead if you prefer*)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel (zest)

6 Tbsp. soft or melted unsalted butter or margarine

2 eggs

1 tsp. lemon extract

4 squares premium white baking chocolate, chopped

(1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted* if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Soften/melt butter/margarine in medium bowl.  Beat in sugar, lemon peel and lemon extract.  Beat in eggs.  Blend in baking powder and salt.  Fold in flours, chopped white baking chocolate and almonds (if desired--remember some folks cannot eat nuts).

Divide dough in half.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Put each half of dough on cookie sheet lengthwise, stretched into long rolls roughly an inch to inch and a half wide parallel to each other, about 3 inches apart.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheet 10 min.  With a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into one-inch wide slices, roughly 18 to 20 pieces.  Place cut sides down on baking sheet.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake an additional 5 minutes or until lightly crisped.  Eat warm if you get a chance.  Cool remaining (yea, right, like there will be any left) biscotti completely before storing in a lightly covered container at room temperature.  Enjoy!

*Toast nuts in a 350 degree oven.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread nuts in a single layer on the ungreased foil.  Bake nuts 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted.

 Renee's Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) of oleo or butter (low salt or unsalted if possible), softened
2 cups of granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons of real vanilla
4 cups of regular flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour*
2 teaspoons of baking powder

Mix the first four ingredients thoroughly. Blend in flours and baking powder. Chill dough about an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough close to 1/8th inch thick on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin that preferably has been chilled as well. Cut the dough with cookies cutters. Put the cookies on an ungreased baking pan lined with aluminum foil. (If sprinkles are desired, sprinkle the cookies at this point.) Bake around 6 minutes until very light brown at the edges. Let cool. If you didn't sprinkle the cookies, prepare a powdered sugar frosting and frost the cookies once cool. Makes around six dozen medium-sized cookies.

Kaleidoscope Sugar Cookie Variation: Make one half of the sugar cookie recipe above (or make two logs if you make a full recipe). Split cookie dough into six equal portions into bowls that can withstand food dye. Poke a small impression into the top of each ball of dough. Put drops of food color into each impression, depending on the colors (and intensity) you desire (red, blue, yellow, orange (mix yellow and red), green (mix yellow and blue), purple (mix blue and red) are the logical choices). Thoroughly blend the coloring into each ball of dough. With lightly floured hands, roll out each ball lengthwise into a rope (not flat!!) onto a lightly floured two and a half foot piece of wax paper until each dough color is roughly a two-foot long rope. Lay the six ropes side by side on the wax paper. Lifting up a long edge of the wax paper, roll the separate ropes over each other to make one two-foot long log. Gently slide a hand along the edges of the length of the log to make the ropes stick together more cohesively. With both hands, slowly and gently roll the log back and forth on the counter or table top, eventually wrapping the log in the wax paper.  Refrigerator for several hours or overnight. If the log has flattened a little on a side, repeat the gentle sliding of your hands across the surface to restore the rounded log shape. Slice the log perpendicular to the counter into 1/8 to 1/4 inch circular slices. Turn the log after a few slices so you don't flatten the log. The thicker you make the slices, the longer they will need to bake. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with regular granulated sugar. Estimated baking time is approximately 6 or 7 minutes, depending on how fast your oven is.

Renee's Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 sticks (1 pound) butter (must be butter!) softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

8 ounces (approximately 2 1/2 cups) dark brown sugar

8 ounces (approximately 2 1/2 cups) light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons real vanilla

3 eggs

3 cups whole wheat flour*

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

12-ounce bag of Ghirardelli's milk chocolate chips

12-ounce bag of Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips

(2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts if desired)

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add vanilla and eggs and beat for 3 minutes.  Mix in salt and baking powder.  Mix in flours.  Mix in chocolate chips (and nuts if desired--remember some people cannot eat nuts).  Chill dough.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cookie sheet with foil--do not grease foil.  Drop 1 inch round balls of chilled cookie dough on foil.  Bake 11 minutes.  Very important--Upon removing baked cookies from oven, slide cookie cooling rack under foil immediately.  Do not cool cookies on the cookie sheet.  This quick transfer to a cooling rack will yield moist, chewy cookies.  Leaving cookies on the cookie sheet will cause the bottom of the cookie to continue cooking and cause a crunchier bottom and possibly a dry, over-baked cookie.  Store cookies in tightly covered container.  

Renee's Dark Chocolate Brownies

3 sticks butter or margarine (1 1/2 cups) softened

3 cups granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon real vanilla

5 eggs

1 cup whole wheat flour*

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 ounces (1/2 bag) of Ghirardelli's milk chocolate chips

(1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 13x9x2 inch metal pan (if possible, and insulated pan).  Cream together in large bowl butter/margarine, sugar, vanilla and eggs.  Mix in salt and baking powder.  Sift cocoa into bowl (sift or you'll have bitter chocolate globs) and mix in.  Then add flours and mix in.  Add chocolate chips and mix in.  Pour batter into pan and spread until level.  Bake 50 minutes and check for doneness.  If needed, bake an additional 5 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Frost if desired or sprinkle on powdered sugar.  Cover pan after brownies are cool.  Cut into squares.


Renee's Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 medium (or two large) mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup of low fat (or soy) milk

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons Canola (or other salad) oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

(1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.  Beat together mashed bananas, milk, oil, vanilla and egg.  Mix in flours, sugar, baking powder and salt (batter will be thick).  Last of all add the chocolate chips (and nuts, if desired) by hand.  Pour/scrape into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake 55 to 60 minutes.  Remove from pan carefully while still hot to cool on a wire rack.  Cool thoroughly before cutting into slices and placing in a covered container.  (NOTE:  This recipe produces a moist loaf of banana bread that is still lighter than most.)  

Renee's Italian Salad with Bacon and Provel

For dressing:

1/4 cup vinegar (I like to mix half balsamic and half either red wine or cider vinegar--use your favorites!)

1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup oil (I use canola and/or olive oil)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar (adjust to your level of sweetness)

1 package of dry Good Season's Italian dressing

Mix the ingredients above for dressing just before putting on the salad.

For salad:

1 head of iceberg lettuce chopped

2 heads of romaine lettuce torn, preferably with spines removed

1 bound package of green onions (usually around 10 onions, give or take) chopped finely

2 packages of real bacon bits (or 1 pound of bacon if you prefer, fried, drained, and crumbled)

1/2 pound or more of provel ropes, crumbled

1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, either fresh or from the shaker container

Pour on dressing, toss, and serve immediately.  Feeds around 20.

Renee's Sugar-Free Gelatin Poke Cake

4 eggs

1 package (16 oz.) sugar-free yellow cake mix

1 small box of sugar-free vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1 cup milk, preferably 2%

1/4 cup canola (or your favorite vegetable) oil

3 Tablespoons of whole wheat flour*

1 Tablespoon real vanilla

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder


One 3 oz. package sugar-free raspberry (or other red) gelatin


2 containers sugar-free (or fat-free since the topping has very little sugar in it) frozen non-dairy whipped topping

Blend the first seven ingredients in a larger mixer bowl.  Then beat at medium speed for two minutes.  Pour into greased and floured 13 X 9 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes.  Do NOT underbake.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Dissolve gelatin as directed on the package.  Poke holes in cake all over with fork tines.  Pour warm gelatin over cake.  Chill cake at least 4 hours.  Spread topping over cake and refrigerate.

*Note: On any of the recipes calling for whole wheat flour, you can use all-purpose flour instead.e.