One of my favorite things to do – besides acting – is cooking. I love, love, love spending all day in the kitchen preparing delicious food.

I wasn’t always in love with (or good at) cooking. And I’ve had my fair share of kitchen disasters. There was the time in high school that my sister and I tried to make mashed potatoes. We cooked the potatoes, then put them in a bowl with some milk and proceeded to mash with the electric beaters. Sounds good, right? WRONG. We didn’t cook the potatoes long enough, so they were too hard to really mash. We ended up with a soupy-potato-like liquid filled with chunks of super hard potatoes – sounds delicious, right?

Anyway, a few years ago, before I started acting again – I found myself unemployed with no hobby.  So, I taught myself how to cook! And, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty darn good at it!  I love cooking because its a creative, in the moment process that you can get lost in for a few hours (or 30 minutes if you’re making a quick meal) – and end up with a satisfying result that can be shared with others.

I’ll share with you one of my favorite recipes… I had just started cooking quinoa – and after having it with dinner one night, my sister said – you should make a stir fry with this instead of rice – and I did!

Quinoa Stir Fry
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large zucchini, chopped (about 2 cups)
1.5 cups of fresh or frozen green beans, partially defrosted if frozen, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Dry the Quinoa in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat, about 10 minutes
Add garlic and olive oil and toast the quinoa, uncovered 2 minutes
Add the carrots, cover and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the zucchini, cover and cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Add the green beans, cover and cook 1 minute.
Add the soy, teriyaki, and sesame, mix well and cook, uncovered for 1-2 minutes, until vegetables reach their desired level of doneness.
Remove from heat and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.

I like my vegetables tender-crisp so the cook times reflect that level of doneness – it is easily adjusted to your tastes. It is best to make the quinoa a bit ahead of time so it has some time to dry out (otherwise the first step will take more time). 1/2c dry quinoa will yield about 2 cups cooked. To cook: boil water in a medium pan, add RINSED quinoa and let boil until cooked, about 12 minutes, drain water.

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