Grain and Veggie Salad over Shredded Cabbage

First thing first, this recipe is a knock-off of a tasty Trader Joe salad.  On our recent trip to Chicago I was looking for lunch food that we could take on the plane.

Trader Joe's has lots of tasty salads, but most of them have a mini dressing container.  Being paranoid, as I am, in addition to abhorring the idea that TSA might dump my lunch because my salad dressing was more than three ounces, I bought us Trader Joe's Vegetable & Grain Country Salad, purely because it was the only one that didn't have a dressing container.  Lunch disaster avoided.

Let me just tell you, that little salad tasted way better than either of us expected!  The other great part is, it holds up well without refrigeration for a couple of hours, which makes it nice if you're on the run.

Somewhere in the sky between Sacramento and Chicago I decided I was going to knock this salad off.

So here goes....

2 cups of cooked Bulgar wheat*
1 cup of chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 roasted red pepper, chopped small
1 small zucchini (or cucumber works too), chopped small
1 tbsp. fresh dill
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. white balsamic
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage

Start by roasting your red pepper.
Core the pepper and cut it in half.  Put each half face down on a piece of foil (or a pan) and roast in your oven on high broil until the skin turns completely black.  Remove from oven (use tongs) and immediately place into a Ziploc bag and seal.  Allow the pepper to steam for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from bag, peel off skin and chop.
In a bowl (not your serving or storing bowl), add cooked Bulgar wheat, garbanzo beans, roasted red pepper, zucchini (or cucumber) and fresh dill and mix well.
Stir in cherry tomatoes.
Add cumin, salt and cracked black pepper and mix.
Follow with olive oil and white balsamic and and mix well.
Layer the bottom of your serving or storing bowl with cabbage.  Pour the Bulgar wheat mixture on top and serve or store.

*Let's talk about Bulgar wheat.  I bought mine in bulk at our local co-op, but you can also find it here.  Watch out because the Bulgar wheat will super multiply when cooking.  Because I bought it in bulk I had no idea how much to cook in order to yield two cups and I ended up with a crapton.  I used this guide for cooking, which basically says 2 parts water to 1 part Buglar wheat.  I would use the boiling method as opposed to the soaking method (I started with the soaking method and ended up boiling it to get it cooked all the way).  This guide says 1 cup of uncooked Bulgar wheat yields about 3 cups cooked.  I would say that's about right.  So for my recipe which calls for two cups cooked you would need 2/3 cup uncooked.

Enjoy your grains!

*I've linked up at the following sites:
The Tasty Alternative
This Chick Cooks

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Pumpkin Banana Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze

I've been loving reading everyone's fall blog posts with fall leaves and fire places and pumpkins.
Fall just happened here yesterday.  We went from running the A/C to running the heat.

At the beginning of the month I decided to pretend it was fall anyway.
Even though it was over 100 degrees outside.
I know this is California, but 100 degrees at the beginning of October?!

Apparently Mother Nature didn't realize she was messing up all my fall recipe plans.
So, I fired up my oven and attempted to make bread anyway.
And then this happened.
I think it was Mother Nature saying "haha crazy lady cranking up your oven to make pumpkin bread on a 100 degree day!  I defeat you!".

Or maybe I just should have figured out you can't really fill a loaf pan all the way to the top really full and expect your bread to cook through.  Yeah.

And when you think, I'll show you bread! and you turn your bread out onto the cooling rack and it breaks wide open to reveal its doughy insides.  Blerg.
The bread and Mother Nature showed me.

So, when the weather got more fall-ish, I decided to make muffins instead.
I'm glad I did.  These are tasty and best served hot.

By the way, I'm glad it's now officially fall here.  My soup queue is totally overflowing and I'm ready to get my bake on.  Can you tell?

Yield: About 15 medium sized muffins

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used whole fat)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 overly ripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cinnamon Glaze

1 cup powdered or confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. milk

How to:

Begin by preparing the batter.
Mix yogurt and butter until well blended.
Add pumpkin and bananas and mix well.
Add sugars, pumpkin pie spice and egg, mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl mix the remaining dry ingredients and add to wet mixture.  Mix until well blended.
Lightly spray your muffin tin with oil and pour the batter equally into each muffin slot.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and turn out onto a cooling rack.
While the bread is cooling, prepare the glaze.
Mix the confectioners sugar and cinnamon.
Add milk 1 tbsp. at a time until well blended.
Drizzle over muffins and serve.

*I'm linked up at the following sites:
The Healthy Home Economist
New Life on a Homestead
Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Hey What's for Dinner Mom
Midnight Maniac
Delightfully Dowling
Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl
Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Wiener Tales
Real Food Forager
Growing Home
Lady Behind the Curtain
We are that family
Tasty Traditions

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Chicago: Architectural Boat Tour

I am a note-taker.
Things just don't seem to stick unless I write them down.

Remember that trip to Chicago we took?
As part of our day in the city we went on the Architectural Boat Tour with Wendella Boat Tours.

This is an instance where I probably should have taken notes.
But I didn't.
Had I taken notes I might be able to tell you what this beautiful building top is all about.

I can tell you that this is a famous Chicago water taxi.

It's a funny thing about me and note taking.

Sometimes I'm not even writing anything of value down.  Just doodling.

But for some reason the act of putting pen to page makes things stick in my brain that otherwise wouldn't.

Thankfully for us, I do remember a few things....
Like these corncob shaped buildings.  Where the interior walls are rounded and the apartments are shaped like a piece of pie.  Also that in some 70's move they drove a car right off the ledge of that parking garage towards the middle.

Droppin' serious knowledge of Chicago's architecture for you there.

Sometimes my boss will want to tell me something and he'll preface it by saying, "you don't need to take notes."

But "I do need to take notes", my brain says.

This is The Merchandise Mart.  I only know this because I took a picture of the sign.


These are cool buildings huh?  I wish I could tell you some stuff about them.

So I do remember something about this building because it intrigued me.  These are condo's that were first sold in the early 90's for around $300k, not bad considering they are literally on the water.  They were designed by a famous architect (insert name here __________).  And, they don't know their current value because they haven't been turned over since they were originally sold.  Those must be pretty sweet places. 

Anyway, back to note taking.  When I'm not doodling sometimes it helps me just to write down key words from the conversation.

Maybe I'm a note-taker because I'm a bad listener?

I can seriously hear The Cyclist laughing right now.

It is probably partially true that I am sometimes a bad listener.

But I don't think that's why I'm a note-taker.

I think I'm a note-taker because I'm a reader.
But before I drop that theory on you, let me just say, I'm pretty sure this lady is the Goddess of Wheat or something.
She's a famous statue, just in case you didn't know.

Oh, and this is the Chicago Tribune.  (See it's written down, I remembered it.)

So anyway, I'm a note-taker because I'm a reader.

My theory is that I've spent so many years enjoying things in print, that they have to be in print to stick in my brain.

Or, there has to be something visually memorable about them.
Like this building for instance, that was designed to look like a waterfall.

Or this building that (I think) was designed by the same guy who designed the corn-cob looking building.  
These look like crazy space-pods to me.

It reminds me of where Mork & Mindy would live.
Oops, maybe this lady is the Goddess of Grain?  Shoot.

Oh yeah, remember when The Cyclist did this?

Well here is a view of those crazy glass boxes from the boat....

I wasn't zooming in or anything.

This is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Center...

I know this guessed it...

So the moral of this story is, I should have taken notes.

Or maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't have.

That's right.  Maybe if I gave you detailed info on all of these buildings, you wouldn't bother to do the boat tour yourself.

Which would be a shame.  Because even with my best note-taking abilities, I certainly couldn't be as informative and knowledgeable as our guide was.

If you are in Chicago, you should really do this tour.  It's an excellent way to see (and learn about) the city and the views are amazing.

Not that I am the best example of learning about the city or anything.

Here is something else I do remember...this was The Cyclist's favorite building on the tour... you know why Chicago is often referred to as The Windy City?

It's not because Chicago is windy.... is because after the great Chicago Fire which destroyed nearly the whole city (and jumped the river because it was so heavily polluted, eventually creating the reason for the rivers flow being reversed), the politicians wanted to rebuild and make it great.  So, they invited all of the best architects in the world to come and design amazing buildings (the World's Fair has something to do with this too).  The politicians then traveled across the states and constantly bragged about how great of a city Chicago was....thus making them seem like blowhards, thus gaining Chicago the name of The Windy City.
So I guess I did learn something.

Really though, if you are in Chicago, I highly recommend this tour.  Be careful how you time it though, while the boat tour is available basically all day, the museums close around 4 (we missed the museum).

Happy Travels!


P.S.  Thanks for all of your kind notes about my break last week too!

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