Quinoa Chili Salad

Let’s talk about quinoa (KEEN-wah), shall we? It’s pretty neat.

Some fast facts about quinoa:

  • It’s gluten free. It’s closer related to spinach than it is to any grain.
  • It is a complete protein: it has all 9 amino acids packed into each little seed.
  • It’s high in magnesium (good for heart health. helpful to counteract high blood pressure or high cholesterol)
  • Antioxidants! Quinoa is super high in them, so it will keep your red blood cells safe from free radicals that want to attack.
  • Any benefit that can get from eating whole grains, you will get from eating quinoa, only it’s gluten free.

Convinced yet? Aside from it being good for you, it’s super easy to make. You cook it much like rice or couscous (1 part quinoa, 2 cups liquid), but it cooks up in about 15 minutes. Any dish that you want to eat with rice, you can substitute quinoa.

Here’s a quick and tasty weeknight dinner to get you started on your love affair with quinoa. This is an easy dish to make ahead, as you can serve it hot or cold. It can be the main dish, or you can use it as a side.

Quinoa Chili Salad

Adapted from fANNEtastic Food

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup broth (veggie or chicken)
  • 1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Step 1: Prepare your quinoa. Combine 1 cup quinoa in 1 cup water and 1 cup broth. Boil, then reduce to a simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (12-15 minutes).

Step 2: While that’s happening, chop your veggies and mix them all up with the seasonings.

Step 3: Allow the quinoa to cool a little (it doesn’t need to be cold, you just don’t want it piping hot). Combine all ingredients with the quinoa in a large bowl.

Serve! You can eat this as a hot or a cold dish. As an entree, it will serve 3; however, as a side dish, it could easily serve up to 6.

I wanna know: Discovered any new-to-you, awesome foods recently?

 

Kale Chips

After all that St. Patrick’s Day (over) indulging, I needed a green fix. And not a green beer, green frosting and sprinkles kind of fix. I needed a hearty dose of green. Lettuce green.

It’s confession time. Kale has always scared me. I tried it in smoothies a few times, and decided that I preferred spinach. I made a salad out of it once, and decided that romaine was more my thing. The bottom line: kale is for the hardcore greens eaters. Of which, I am not one.

After seeing many a recipe around the interwebs for kale chips, I decided to give kale a second chance. The verdict? I’m pretty glad that I did.

Kale Chips

(Not original in any way, but who knows where it came from first. It’s so simple!)

You will need:

  • one bunch of curly leafed kale (99 cents at my grocery store)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt, to taste

The steps:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

2. Wash and dry kale leaves. Peal the leaf away from the hard stem. Keep the leaves, discard the stems.

3. Pour 2 Tbs. olive oil on the kale and sprinkle with salt. I went a bit overboard on the salt, so be aware that a little goes a long way. Massage the oil into the kale (which really means, squish it all around so that the kale gets nice and oily and bright green).

4. Lay the leaves in a single layer on cookie sheets. Try to get the leaves as stretched out as possible, so that they’ll bake more evenly.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crispy. Consume!

Regarding this healthful snack, I’ve heard several responses ranging from “They’re just like Doritos!” all the way to “They taste like burnt leaves.” I’d say that I fall somewhere in the middle. I will definitely eat all the “chips” I’ve made. And I will probably make more again soon (with less salt). All that said, they probably won’t be something that I turn into a snacking staple.

I wanna know: What’s your idea of a healthy snack? Do you have a go-to that you make or purchase regularly?

 

Black Bean Burgers

I really like a good burger. Thick, juicy, straight off the grill, with all the toppings. Contained by two toasted buns trying valiantly to hold it all together.

While I know that a veggie burger will never, ever take the place of a good beef burger in my world, I believe in equal opportunity eating. I had to give it a try! The verdict? Not bad! I will gladly consume the leftovers, and would definitely make these guys again. They don’t do the same thing for my soul as a tasty, grill charred burger, but it was still yummy!

Black Bean Burgers

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

You’ll need:

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbs. tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg (or 1/2 Tbs. flax+1 1/2 Tbs water, mixed, and left for 5 minutes)

1. Process or blend 1/2 of a can of black beans, set the other half aside

2. Add garlic, tomato sauce, cumin, and salt, pulse until combined.

3. Stir in egg (or flax), bread crumbs, remaining beans, and corn.

4. Form mixture into patties, and fry burgers in a small amount of olive oil, 3 to 4 minutes on each side over medium heat.

This recipe makes 3 burgers. Topping recommendations: avocado, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, onions… the sky’s the limit! Serve traditionally on a bun or in a bed of spinach.

Happy Monday!

Strawberry and Banana Stuffed Crepes

My mom used to make crepes almost every Saturday mornings. I didn’t fully appreciate what a treat they were. Thanks, Mom!

When I was home, I decided to take a stab at it. It took me a few tries, but I got it eventually! First attempt:

Total fail. Lesson learned–make sure your pan is hot enough.

I used the Betty Crocker recipe for the batter. Check out all those dough and batter stains. That’s how you know that a cookbook is well loved.

By the third crepe (or so), they weren’t looking too awful.

Then Baby Sister showed me up. Apparently my burner still wasn’t hot enough. Well done, Baby Sister!

Without further ado, here you go!

Crepes

From Betty Crocker Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbs. butter, melted
  1. Mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients.
  2. Use a whisk to make the batter smooth.
  3. Pour 1/4 cup batter into hot, greased pan.
  4. Swirl the pan immediately to spread out the batter.
  5. When the batter is almost cooked through, use a large spatula to flip.

For a great video how to, check out this clip.

Now, once your crepes are done, keep them toasty in a warm oven, and make your filling. Simply chop strawberries and bananas and warm them in a skillet.

Fill each crepe with the warm strawberry/banana goodness and whipped cream. Roll them up! Top with more creme and fruit, if you so desire.

Happy breakfasting!

I wanna know: Did you have a favorite breakfast when you were a kid? Is it still a favorite?

Port Cheese Dip

Looking for a unique cheese dip for Christmas this year? Well here you go! Darcy and I tried this wonderful recipe when we went to St. Julian for a wine festival this summer and got to see Laura Kruella do a cooking demonstration.

Process (or use your blender):

  • 1/3 cup port wine
  • 2 Tbs butter

Add:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Process until smooth. The dip needs to be refrigerated for 3 or 4 days before it will be edible. Just a warning: if you taste test immediately after you make it, you will be sure that you messed something up. You didn’t. Just let the flavors sit together for a while, and they will be tasty! Serve with your favorite cracker.

Mix it up

Please make this avocado pasta. It’s quick. It’s relatively healthy, depending on the pasta you use. It’s tasty. And it really is done in 15 minutes. No complaints here.

I decided to change up my lunch routine today. Usually, I make a salad or have a bowl of leftover soup. But today, I wasn’t feeling it. Dinner is going to be late. I needed something that was going to stick to my ribs. So I made pasta. With avocado. And it was brilliant. And will most assuredly stick to those ribs well into the evening.

I followed Angela’s recipe, and it led to this wonderful dish. Creamy. Delicious. To make the avocado goop, I didn’t use a food processor as she recommends, and I mashed it with a fork. It worked!

The only downside? No leftovers. Avocado doesn’t really do well if you want to save it. The upside: if you have leftover avocado goop, use chips and eat it like guacamole.

Happy Wednesday, friend!