Monthly Archives: July 2013

Quinoa Salad with Corn, Black Bean, Avocado, and a Chipotle-Lime Dressing


Wow wow wow….this summer is flying by!  July is drawing to a close and I have barely caught my breath.  But it’s been such a good summer…I dare say the it may be best I’ve had.  I’ve gone for many summer walks, the temperatures have been wonderful other than one intense week of 90’s, my pears are growing like crazy on the tree in my yard, we’ve gone trout fishing (catch and release) in some gorgeous Michigan rivers, and we have had some wonderful dinners with friends.  It’s pretty magical to sit outside on the patio until the sky is dark and the fireflies come out.


It has been a summer of music!  We’ve taken the ferry to Manitowac, WI for Acoustic Fest (photos above!) and enjoyed Buttermilk Jamboree, NorEaster Festival, and Roots on the River.  I have met so many incredible people at these festivals and feel so invigorated by these new friendships.

Grand Rapids

My work has begun to feel more routine and I really enjoy getting to know my coworkers.  I’ve flown around on the corporate plane doing research in stores in Indianapolis, Michigan, and Ohio and feel like I’m making a difference for a company I believe in.  Yes, things are turning up.


I’m really excited to share the good news that Grand Rapids Magazine plans to publish an article about me in their October issue this year.  I’ve been interviewed for content and in two days a great local photographer is going to do a photo shoot with me!  I can’t tell you how excited I am!  I’ve never had a photo shoot before!  Wish me luck!

Tosebo Montage

A couple of weeks ago, I whipped up this quinoa salad after having one at our friend’s camp, the Tosebo Camp For Boys, over the fourth of July weekend.  The salad is very healthy and has the perfect combination of textures and flavors; crunchy, soft, sweet, and spicy.  It was the perfect meal for hot days when I stayed far, far away from the stove.  This is a great dish for potlucks, one dish dinners, and lunch and is easily adaptable to your taste preferences.  Enjoy!


Quinoa Salad with Corn, Black Beans, Avocado, and a Chipotle-Lime Dressing; Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup multi-colored quinoa (red, black, white)–or any color
  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 cups black beans (I cook my own but you can use canned)
  • 1.5 cups corn kernels, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green onion, chopped (or you may use red onion, finely diced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put quinoa and water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Immediately turn down to a low simmer and cover.  Simmer the quinoa in the water until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  I’d check it as it cooks–sometimes I feel that the water absorbs better than other times and I’ve burnt it from time to time!
  2. Mix the quinoa, black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the oil, lime juice, chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, agave nectar, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Serve topped with more cilantro and cubed avocado.


Mulberry (or any fruit) Cobbler

DSC_0265 It’s been five and a half weeks since I started my new job.  Time has flown by.  I’m getting just about up to speed with my questionnaire and report writing.  I’m used to waking up at 6:15 now.  I even kind of like getting dressed up for work.  The other day I wondered what my co-workers would think of me if they saw me out in the “real world” or bumped into me grocery shopping.  In the summer I’m usually in cutoffs and a tank top–it would be funny for them to see “Aura in the wild,” dressed like I normally did while working at home.  Last week my coworkers challenged me–they hear me talking about food so much and said I was all talk, no action (as if!) so I brought in a pan of blueberry banana baked oatmeal.  That showed them!  It was great to stand amidst the cubicles eating breakfast with my new colleagues, especially because it has been a while since I made baked oatmeal.  It was a dish that was welcomed back in this house, no problem, and probably the recipe I have cooked most often from my blog.  You can find the recipe here if you are interested!


Warning:  if you plan to make baked oatmeal for a function, for work colleagues, or for anything that requires you to take the whole pan, please, please promise me you will make a pan for your family.  Let’s just say that filling the house with the aroma of baked oatmeal early in the morning and then whisking it away did not go over well!  I ended up making another pan that same evening to avoid further pouting (and I’m talking about adult pouting).

Life has been busy, busy, busy.  And a little frustrating at times.  I spent about 6 hours looking at refrigerators online this week, was ready to click the “buy” button, and then realized that the width of the refrigerator wouldn’t work in my kitchen….and then realized that the width of most side by side refrigerators wouldn’t work in my kitchen….and then stayed up really late until I found one (one!!!) that would fit, though it may require removing the baseboard to the left of the fridge.  Spending hours this week fridge shopping has made me feel like my life is a little less than exciting of late.  So I’ve decided (this evening) that I need to start focusing on adding more enjoyment and me time back in so I don’t feel shackled to the grown up parts of my life.

Cobbler before going in the oven.

Cobbler before going in the oven.

That thought (and a late evening walk downtown with the pup) made me recall a few weeks ago when Drew and I took a leisurely walk downtown on a gorgeous Saturday morning.  We stopped to get coffee, met up with a friend that brought a special treat from the Upper Peninsula, walked across the river, ran with Poppy (the pup) up and down one of the big mounds in Ah-Nab-Awen park, and finally (and best of all!) picked and ate as many mulberries as we could stand until our fingers were black.  Turns out, the pup is crazy for mulberries and ran in circles everytime we gave one to her.  It was pretty wild to see my little mulberry junky flipping out over the berries (I do have to say though, that Poppy is a very healthy dog–she loves quinoa and steamed veggies and the occasional sprinkling of blueberries in her dish).  It was about as perfect a morning as anyone could ask for.  And in my moments of frustration, I’ll try to remember that simple and beautiful morning and recreate it on as many Saturday mornings as possible this summer.


We were invited to dinner that week and we were tasked with dessert.  Drew went back to the mulberry trees downtown to pick several cups of berries and we whipped up this cobbler.  The biscuits are rich but not nearly as unhealthy as some can be and the mulberries were beautiful in the skillet and a unique taste and texture for us compared with other berries in cobblers.  Keep in mind that you can make this dish with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums……you name it.  Just choose your fruit and mound the biscuits on top, bake, and voila–a simple and well-loved summer dessert.  Mulberries are about to be out of season (and the sidewalks are stained black with fermented and trampled mulberries) but now that blueberries are in season in Michigan (woooohoooo!) you’ll want to make this dish pronto.


I based my recipe off of a Cooking Light recipe from July 2002–for the original blueberry cobbler recipe, click here.

Mulberry Cobbler

Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh mulberries (or blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums,etc.)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (I buy non GMO)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind or 2 tsp lemon juice

Topping Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (non-aluminum)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon Demerara sugar (or course sanding sugar)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare filling, combine first 4 ingredients in a cast iron skillet or an 11 x 7 baking dish if you don’t have a cast iron skillet.
  3. To prepare topping, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through baking soda) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in yogurt to form a soft dough.
  4. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto blueberry filling to form 8 dumplings. Brush dumplings with milk; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until filling is bubbly and dumplings are lightly browned.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8:  288 delicious calories, 8.3 grams of fat, 4.9 grams of saturated fat.