Sunday, March 30, 2014

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

I have never taken off time during Spring Break, but this year I did and it was great!! I went home-home and had an awesome reunion with some women I grew up with, our kiddos and our mamas. It was wonderful - time filled with scooters, wading pools, lots and lots of rock throwing (my mom's driveway is pebbled and my son LOVES to throw rocks at her fence. It's awesome) and delicious food! While sitting around watching the babies play, one of the grammies got an All Recipes email and we all had to have the featured Black Bean and Quinoa Salad. The minute I got home I had to make it again... it's the taste of vacation!

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette - from All Recipes

For the Salad
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
10 oz halved cherry tomatoes - about 2 cups
15 oz rinsed black beans - 1 can
5 green onions, chopped - about 1 cup
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 limes, juiced - about 3/4 cup
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper

First cook the quinoa. Boil the quinoa in the water, cover and turn down to a simmer. Simmer covered for 25 minutes, or until tender and the little "tails" are released from the grain.

Next chop tomatoes and green onion and drain beans. Add these to a large bowl. Chop the cilantro, and set it aside. 

When the quinoa is done cooking, spread it on a plate to help cool it. This salad is great served at room temperature, so no need to chill the quinoa, but if it's really hot, it will wilt the veggies.

While the quinoa cools, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper (I used about an 1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper and just a dash of salt.)

Add the cooled quinoa to the veggies in the large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the cilantro and stir a bit more to combine. 

Eat at room temp, or chill and serve cold. Both are delicious and the left overs are wonderful! I think this vinaigrette would make a great marinade for lighter meats, or as a dressing for fish tacos.

Here are a couple of my other favorite quinoa salads...
Ginger Miso Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mini Bacon and Caramelized Onion Frittatas

Sometimes, you get a little sick of the same old pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast on the weekends.  This time, I decided to change it up a bit.  I have these mini Dutch ovens at home that are perfectly sized for individual portions.  They’re cute, dainty, red and prevent overindulgence.  Yes – they’re awesome! 

Frittatas are basically a crust-less quiche.  They are a good option when you want to stay on the healthier side and don’t feel like making a pie-crust.  This morning, I maybe got about 4 hours of sleep (remember I have a 4 month old) so I needed something quick and honestly, something I couldn’t mess up easily.  I was exhausted!  I reached in the fridge and grabbed ingredients I had and put them in a frittata.  Boom!  Done.  There are endless possibilities for frittatas so I encourage you to experiment and try what you like best!

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, thinly sliced
¾ tsp salt, divided
3 eggs
¼ c milk
cooking spray
½ tsp pepper
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
½ c shredded cheddar
¼ c chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375F.  Heat a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add olive oil, onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook onions, stirring regularly, until caramelized and browned (15-20 mins).  Let onions cool slightly and roughly chop.

Tip: Low and slow is best for cooking caramelized onions.  Frequent stirring allows for even browning.

Combine eggs, milk, remaining salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined.  Coat 2 mini Dutch ovens (cocottes) with cooking spray.  Add half of the bacon, cheese, caramelized onion, and parsley to each of the mini Dutch ovens.   Leave a small amount of each ingredient for garnishing the top once done cooking.  Add half of the egg mixture to each of the mini Dutch ovens.

Place in the oven and cook at 375F for 10-15 minutes or until the center is just set.  Top with any leftover ingredients for garnish.  Serve hot.

I often cook for two since it’s just my husband and I.  Little Syd isn’t quite eating big people food yet :)  Double up the recipe for 4 servings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lightened Up Crockpot Stroganoff

When my brother and I were little, our dad lived on a boat. It wasn't a huge boat, but it was an awesome boat! We went back and forth to the Channel Islands. We jumped off the top of it, gauging the swells as they rocked the boat back and forth. We watched Police Academy movies, versions 1 through 197. We listened to gulls, we watched the fog roll in, we played cards and we ate stroganoff. 

Stroganoff was about all my dad cooked, and he made it from a Hamburger Helper box, and he called it Pop Slop, but we loved it. I've been making several non-box versions of stroganoff for years, but this one is particularly good. And it's a lot lighter than a lot of other recipes, but keeps all of the creamy, rich sauce - the best part of the meal!

Lightened Up Crockpot Stroganoff - adapted from years of practice and Cooking Light
Prep time - 20 minutes. Cooking time - 7 hours
Serves 4-6

1 pound bottom round steak sliced thin (I found meat sliced for Carne Asada works great and it's already sliced thin)
1 cup chopped onion
12 ounces chopped mushrooms, about 3 cups
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnishing
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups liquid - I use a combination of red wine and beef stock
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pound cooked egg noodles

Slice meat, mushrooms, onions, parsley and garlic. Add everything to the crockpot. 

In a small bowl mix liquids (if you don't want to use wine, just use more liquid) and mustard. Pour over the meat and veggie mixture and sprinkle on dried dill, salt, pepper and flour. 

Stir everything to combine.

Cook on low heat for 7 hours. Turn off the crockpot and let the meat mixture sit for 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream and more salt, pepper and parsley if needed.

Serve over hot cooked egg noodles and enjoy!

This is another great recipe for cooking ahead on weekends to prep for busy work weeks. I love being able to start a meal before lunch, enjoy the day and have a nice meal ready in the evening!

My tiny gentleman loved this meal too. He's a good eater as it is, but rich and creamy noodles is totally his thing. 

Things made this time last year…
Faux Pho

Zucchini Chips with Dill Tzatziki

Friday, March 14, 2014

Semi-Homemade Crab Alfredo

For a long time, I didn’t think there was any space for semi-homemade dishes in the blog world.  So when I’m at home making dishes with jarred marinara sauce, canned enchilada sauce, or pesto made fresh at the grocery store, I am definitely not thinking “blog-worthy”.  Well, apparently I was wrong!  (Thank you Facebook NPC-ers!)  I went to a great market near Portland’s alphabet district called Zupan’s and came across some great quality items that were fresh made.  One of those items was alfredo sauce.  The sauce was mild and creamy, which provided a great base for a delicious Semi-Homemade Crab Alfredo.

When you use pre-made additions, it’s important to buy quality ingredients.  Look for items that are fresh, made in-house, and organic or all-natural.  When I found the alfredo sauce, I knew I wanted to make an awesome seafood alfredo so I bought wild lump snow crab.  I know wild seafood is more expensive but the taste is amazing!  If you want your semi-homemade dish to stand up to its fully homemade equivalent, I recommend buying the best!  Of course, if you decided to use Bertolli jarred alfredo sauce and farm-raised lump crab, it would still be pretty awesome :)

½ lb whole-wheat linguine
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1 small lemon, juiced
½ lb lump crab meat
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
16oz pre-made alfredo sauce
¼ c chopped parsley
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Heat butter and juice from ½ a lemon in a large skillet over low-medium heat.  Add crab; break into large chunks, and sauté until warmed through.    Add garlic, salt, and pepper.

Note:  The crab will soak up nearly all of the butter and lemon juice mixture.  Yum!

Add alfredo sauce and heat until light bubbles form. 

Optional: I added about ¼ c Parmesan cheese here to build up a sharper flavor in the store-bought alfredo sauce.  This step is optional depending on the type of pre-made alfredo you use and your own taste preference.  You can also add salt and pepper as needed.

Add pasta and juice from remaining half of lemon.  Stir well to combine.  Remove from heat.  Stir in 1/8 c parsley.  Garnish plates with remaining parsley and Parmesan cheese as desired.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tangy Parmesan Salmon and Roasted Root Veggies

This is one of the easiest, fastest ways I like to make salmon... or chicken! It's a little more rich and than a lot of the other salmon recipes Antoinette and I have posted on this blog, but it's delicious and served with a bunch of veggies, it's a great dinner - especially for a chilly evening, or a night that just needs some comfort food. 

As for the root veggies - oh my goodness. This is another thing that I came to love especially after I moved from southern California (land of the never ending farmer's market) to the Pacific North West. When tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings and roasted in a hot oven, root veggies get super sweet, soft and amazing in all ways. We heart the root veggies. 

Tangy Parmesan Salmon
Serves 2
Preheat oven to 400

2 salmon filets
1 tablespoon mustard - regular yellow mustard or Dijon
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mayonaise
Salt and Pepper

In a small bowl mix together mustard, Parmesan cheese, mayo, zest and salt and pepper. Place salmon on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread in a thick layer on salmon and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until the thickest part of the salmon is cooked to your liking. It may need a few more minutes. I like nice browned spots on the top of my salmon and usually flip the broiler onto low for about 2 minutes towards the end of the cooking. 

Roasted Root Veggies
Serves 2 a lot of veggies
Preheat oven to 400

1 bunch of beets - I used beautiful stripy chioggia beets
3 carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper - about a 1/4 teaspoon of each

Peel beets and carrots and chop into equal sized pieces. Toss the veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 35-40 minutes.

That's it. We ate this with carrot and zucchini fritters. It was wonderful and perfect for a chilly night!

A few things about this recipe...
This topping is great on salmon or chicken! I tend to cook chicken in a shallow baking dish with this topping, rather than on a baking pan. I also bake the chicken at 375 for 25-30 minutes instead of the hotter, shorter time I bake the salmon. 

The root veggies are especially wonderful with some fresh rosemary! We like onions, bell peppers, all kinds of squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, anything!

Things made this time last year...
Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

Biscuits are a breakfast staple in our house.  We usually make them twice a month on the weekends…well, my husband does.  He makes a mean homemade biscuit!  Needless to say, he was showing me up in the kitchen and you know I can’t have that!  I took his regular (but super awesome biscuit) and raised him a Sweet Cinnamon Biscuit. 

These biscuits are delicious!  Kinda like cinnamon rolls, you roll them out and put a layer of butter and then top with a cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Everyone knows what happens when you put those items together…can we say, MAGIC!  They don’t need anything, but a drizzle of honey will have you coming back for more.  Try them for yourself!

Oh, and don't worry, I'll put the plain Jane biscuit on the blog one day :)

2c sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ c vegetable oil
¾ c buttermilk
¼ c butter, very soft
½ c granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
honey, optional

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and mix well.  Stir in vegetable oil.  Add buttermilk and stir just until blended.

Note: Dough will be very sticky!

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Roll dough into a 15x8” rectangle (eyeball it).

Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a 9” round baking pan lightly.

Spread butter over the dough.  Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well.  Sprinkle over butter.  Roll up rectangle, jelly roll fashion, starting from one long side.  Pinch seam to seal.

Cut the roll into 1 ½” slices.  Arrange the slices, cut side up, in prepared baking pan.  Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 mins.  Remove from oven.  Drizzle honey over the top if desired.  Serve hot.