chocolate quinoa cake

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in My Kitchen

So, I’ve never baked a cake before. It sounds crazy considering my love for desserts and the rest of my repertoire – big cookies, little cookies, scones, quick breads, etc.

It wasn’t long into my search for THE FIRST cake recipe when I came across chocolate quinoa cake. A deeper search revealed blogger after blogger raving about this stuff. Obviously, I had to give it a try.


Ordinarily, food bloggers’ sites are filled with beautiful photography of their kitchen creations, but I think it’s high time you see the good, the bad and the ugly in my kitchen. Because, truthfully there’s usually more scenes like this than there are the perfectly arranged ones. These pictures are more true to most of the kitchens out there.

I tried to save the face of my first cake by adding a little coconut. I thought it would hide some of the imperfections in the icing. I was wrong.


After one bite of this cake, I didn’t give a rat’s a** about what it looked like. It was so moist. Seriously. SO. MOIST. The quinoa gave the cake it’s own unique texture, unlike any other cake I’ve had before.

Despite the looks, James was endlessly raving about how this might be the best cake I’ve ever made ( I think the cake got to his head, and he forgot this is my first). Night after night, he cut himself a piece and went back for a few extra nibbles. When I requested that he save the very last piece for my dad – the ultimate dessert critic – I thought he might even cry like a two year old who doesn’t want to share his toys with the other daycare kids.

I don’t blame him. This cake was so good, it could be eaten for breakfast, in the afternoon with coffee, or like most prefer it, after dinner for dessert.

chocolate quinoa cake with vanilla frosting

Now a quick bit about the frosting – the original recipe called for a chocolate cream, the main ingredients being cocoa powder and heavy cream. Not having any heavy cream in my refrigerator, I went a little rogue and whipped something up using the ingredients I had on hand. I think the next time I make this, I’ll still opt for a vanilla buttercream frosting instead of the chocolate cream because the cake itself is already very, very chocolatey. It’s so sweet (and filling because of the quinoa) that you really only need a few bites to be satisfied. Unless, of course you live with James. Then a cake that might serve 12 will only serve 6 – 8.

Alright guys, get one last look at this mess of a cake, and then get in the kitchen to start your own. I promise you’ll want to try this. And, hey, if it doesn’t look pretty, you don’t have to worry about it because it will soon be in your belly. One forkful will turn into two large pieces of chocolate quinoa cake before you know it.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 8-12

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Originally posted by Barefeet in the Kitchen


  • 2 c cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 c butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T milk
  • coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  3. Combine milk, eggs and vanilla in food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  4. Add cooked quinoa and butter. Puree until smooth.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients - sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt - in a large bowl.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans, and place on a center oven rack. Bake 30 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool longer.
  9. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.
  10. In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with electric mixer.
  11. Stir in vanilla and 1 T milk.
  12. Gradually beat in the remaining milk until the frosting becomes smooth.
  13. Once the cakes have cooled, spread a layer of frosting on top of one of the rounds. Top with the second cake round.
  14. Spread the remaining icing around the rest of the cake starting with the top and working your way down.
  15. Sprinkle or pat coconut onto the frosting.

Two Quick and Delicious Dinners You Won’t Be Disappointed You Tried

Some women love shopping for clothes. Others love picking out a fantastic new pair of earrings. Me? I love grocery shopping. Especially when that grocery shopping includes a trip to Trader Joe’s.

I don’t do our regular grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s because I prefer to go to markets where I can get locally grown fruits and vegetables. I do; however, go to Trader Joe’s to stock up on frozen items for those nights that I just don’t feel like cooking. This includes both frozen fish – which means James is cooking on the grill 🙂 – and frozen pastas, veggie burgers, etc. that I can quickly throw into a frying pan.

Slowly, but surely each time I go to Trader Joe’s I find myself starting to grab for more and more regulars – dark chocolate covered almonds, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, ginger mints, black bean pasta, marinated mushrooms. Two of those regulars fall under the easy dinner, frozen food category:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Sage

Mushroom Ravioli with Mushroom Truffle Sauce

OH. MY. GOSH. Both of these pastas just absolutely wowed us. There were definitely some subtle eye battles at the dinner table over who was going to get the last of what was still in the pan. So packed with flavor, and so satisfying – especially with a large leafy green side salad – I hope these two items never get discontinued or there will certainly be tears in our house.

Share your favorite Trader Joe’s find in the comments! It always seems they have another well-kept secret around the next grocery isle, and we don’t want to be missing out, so please share.

Sicilian Sesame Cookies

In an effort to expand both my baking repertoire and knowledge of my heritage, I picked up a book from the library on Italian desserts. I really enjoyed how the book broke down which region each dessert was from, and was fascinated by how simple many of the recipes were – some containing as few as three ingredients. There were even some desserts that I think many American’s would find quite silly, but that I found to be quite intriguing, such as spaghetti pie.

Another reason I picked up the book is because my favorite cookies of all time – wait I don’t actually know what they’re really called – are Italian Sprinkle Cookies. I believe I’ve also heard them called Italian Anisette Cookies. Regardless, my grandmother makes them for holidays, namely Easter and Christmas, and she always sends me home with a plateful of them. That plate doesn’t last but a day in my house. I’ve even tried putting half the plate in the freezer to enjoy at a later date, but that never works.

I was really hoping the book filled with Italian dessert recipes would open my eyes to some similar cookie delights to my all-time favorite Italian Sprinkle. One of the recipes that immediately caught my eye was a favorite of Sicily, the Sesame Cookie.


Apparently, these cookies have many different names in Sicily, including:

Biscotti regina, or Queen’s Cookie

Strunzi di sciocca, or Chicken’s Poop

Strunzi d’ancilu, or Angel’s Poop

While I’d say these cookies are rightfully named the Queen’s Cookie, tasting so elegantly delicious right out of the oven, my husband would probably agree more with Chicken’s Poop. With little appreciation for most chocolate-less desserts, James ate these cookies topped with small pieces of recently homemade dark chocolate (recipe coming soon!). I thought them delicious as they were – with a hint of lemon and a brilliant nutty taste from the sesame seeds.

sicilian sesame cookie recipe

I warn you if you decide to make these that you will not be able to eat just one. While I can maintain slightly more control with these cookies than the Italian Sprinkles, they’re still just as dangerous. I’d highly advise indulging when they come warm out of the oven, placing a few in a Tupperware container to live on your counter for a week, and placing the rest in the freezer for a dessert emergency.

I will also warn you that these cookies can be a little frustrating to make. The dough is very flakey, and halfway through you might want to give up and toss the cookie sheet across the kitchen like I did. But, stick with it because the end result is so worth the trouble!

Sicilian Sesame Cookies

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 24 cookies

Sicilian Sesame Cookies


  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 8 T butter (1 stick)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 T honey
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 c sesame seeds


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Add egg YOLKS, milk, honey, lemon and salt and knead until dough forms.
  3. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cover with sesame seeds. Toast the sesame seeds in the oven until light golden - about 10 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, beat egg whites with 3 tablespoons of water.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 4 portions. Roll each section out into a log about 1 inch thick. Cut each log into ½ inch sections.
  7. Dip each cut piece of dough in egg whites, then roll in sesame seeds and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

hiking zion canyon

Foodie Versus Fitness Adventures in Utah

Where was I last week?

James and I were hiking the national and state parks of southern Utah, namely Zion and Bryce Canyons. My favorite hike by far was through Kolob Canyon, part of Zion. I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones.


The landscape at Bryce Canyon was incredibly different. There were valleys and valleys full of rock formations called Hoodoos.


Each day we hiked about 8 to 15 miles, and each day we packed a lunch to enjoy on a rock. Then we’d head to an easy dinner joint for a little indulgence. Being a foodie, I usually like to try as many new local restaurants as I can while on vacation. But, this time, I was dieing to go back to the same place twice: River Rock Roasting Company.

Primarily a coffee shop with a great view, the River Rock Roasting Company makes a killer veggie sandwich complete with avocado, tomato, red onion, cucumber, sprouts, lettuce and vegetable cream cheese. Add a little salty crunch from a pickle or a kettle cooked potato chip and you’ve got a wham bam dinner.


Not only was their food great, but we found ourselves there in the morning ordering coffee…

IMG_2214 …and in the evening to enjoy a  crisp pale ale.


No worries – I didn’t let the foodie side win on this trip. We definitely worked hard for all the food and booze. Many of the hiking paths had fairly easy terrain through narrow canyons.


But, there were also many rocks to climb over, under and around.


Hiking boots were an absolute must on this trip. I’m so glad we did our research and made the investment, or I think we would have had extremely sore legs and feet.

So, lets get back to food, because it’s pretty much all I can ever think about. James and I hiked many miles in silence enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. Every once in a while, James would turn back and ask what I was thinking about. Most of the time my response was NOTHING. And, I really meant it. I can do and try to do that when I go on vacations like these. I try to just be present in the moment and leave all life’s SH** at the start of the trail.

There were other times; however, when my response would be SANDWICHES or LUNCH. I always looked forward to our daily lunch and snack breaks – a moment to re-fuel and re-energize. We made a lot of forest friends during these breaks. The squirrels and chipmunks in Utah have no shame – they want your food and they want it now. So, we shared.


For James, lunch was always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For myself, it was mostly crackers and cheese, beef jerky, an apple or an orange and some snap peas. Snack time usually consisted of a handful of nuts or a Kind bar (the bars involving dark chocolate are the best).

We had a few more dinners that were a little more epic than those lunches or the veggie sandwich and worth sharing. These included a sushi night.


And, a Mexican night. I don’t even remember what this dish was called, but it was fantastic. With salsa verde, this was easily one of the best dinners James and I have ever had. I know that because we didn’t speak a word to each other until our bellies were full and the food was almost gone.


Of course all of these fabulous dinners were followed by dessert.  Yes, I had ice cream every night ok. I’m not proud of it, but just take another look at the landscape we hiked. We earned it.


Ok, we didn’t climb up that, but we climbed for miles and miles around these hills to get to the top of them.


Our longest and most strenuous hike was to see the beautiful Kolob Arch. Along the way, other hikers kept telling us it really wasn’t worth the trek, but I was pretty awed by it.

IMG_2178  IMG_2204

I was also pretty wowed by the color on the rocks. This one cave in particular looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.


While it was hard not to spend every day out on the beautiful trails, we knew we needed to let our bodies relax. So we spent one morning lounging along the side of the lake in Sand Hollow State Park, and then another day at the spa.


After a week of hiking bliss and foodie indulgences, if there’s any advice I can give, it’s never ever forget your rain pants.


Ok, but seriously the weather is a little wonky in southern Utah. It will be sunny and 75 one minute and the next thing you know it’s raining. The rain doesn’t last long at all – certainly not long enough to ruin a hike – but it does sneak up on you.

avocado deviled eggs

Spicy Avocado Deviled Eggs

On a whim, I decided to hard boil some eggs the other day. I hadn’t had one in a while, and I thought it’d be good to have an easy-to-grab healthy snack in the refrigerator.

However, the following day when I opened the fridge, the hardboiled eggs just looked sad – they needed some spicing up. And fortunately, I was in the mood for a little afternoon project.

I recalled seeing some recipes for avocado deviled eggs floating through my Facebook, or on Pinterest – somewhere – so I thought I’d give the idea a try. I mean why not mix two of my favorites: avocado and eggs?

Wanting to keep the recipe simple with a little twist, I only added a few ingredients to the avocado – namely chia seeds.


The list of health benefits from these teeny tiny seeds is unreal:

  1. Keep you feeling full
  2. Balance blood sugar and ensure steady, constant energy
  3. Add healthy omega-3 oil to your diet, which is important for heart health
  4. Add age-defying anti-oxidants to your diet
  5. Best of all, chia is one of the highest plant-based sources of complete protein


When you combine these health benefits with those of avocado and eggs, you’ve got yourself an insanely delicious, guilt-free snack!

After making these, I popped them in the fridge for a little while, so that when I pulled one out to try I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh it tasted. Yum!


If you feel like getting wonky in the kitchen this afternoon, I invite you try these colorful treats.

Spicy Avocado Deviled Eggs

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 12 deviled eggs

Spicy Avocado Deviled Eggs


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T dried basil
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 t white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of hot sauce


    Hardboiled Eggs
  1. Place 6 eggs in a saucepan and fill with water to about one inch over the eggs.
  2. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for 12 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour hot water out of the pan, and refill with ice water.
  5. Once the eggs have cooled, gently crack and peel them.
  6. Cut each peeled egg in half and carefully remove the yolks with a spoon.
  7. Avocado Filling
  8. In a small bowl, or on a cutting board, mash the avocado with a fork.
  9. Mix in minced garlic, dried basil, and chia seeds.
  10. Mix in white balsamic vinegar.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Place scoops of avocado filling where the egg yolks used to be in the hardboiled eggs.
  13. Drizzle filled eggs with hot sauce.