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Red Quinoa and Summer Squash Salad

4 Aug

In the summer, I am almost always tasked with the dreaded “Can you bring the side dish” question when planning Family Sunday dinners. I tend to spaz out – there are so many options and directions to go. And I want to try new things – but I want to ensure it is fresh and healthy.

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I love quinoa….actually, I love MOST healthy grains – farro, quinoa, barley, wheatberry….That reminds me, I have a great wheatberry recipe to post. Stay tuned on that one.

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What is quinoa? Quinoa is not really a grain – it’s more of a seed. It is also a superfood – it has a crazy amount of protein, fiber, and it is gluten-free. And it’s pretty darn delicious and versatile. I have a favorite quinoa recipe that I posted last year that I love to make for quinoa-newbies.

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This recipe is a bit more refined than my favorite punchy southwestern recipe. And the real stars of this recipe are the squash and the parmesan.IMG_1488

The dressing is so delicate and bright. I love lemon-based dressings and marinades so I gravitated towards it.

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The real recipe says to use fresh, raw summer squash. However, I knew we would be grilling meat and I decided immediately that I would also grill the squash a smidge to get it softened and boost the flavor. I am thrilled that I did that – the taste levels soared!

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Other than grilling the squash, this recipe was a cinch to put together! I grated my own fresh parm and shaved some slices as well to put on top. It looked beautiful and tasted even better. I believe my family adored it – this recipe will be making an appearance again before the end of the summer!

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Now you know what you can bring to a get-together when you get stuck with the dreaded side dish 🙂

Red Quinoa and Summer Squash Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red (or other) quinoa, rinsed in a sieve and drained
  • 2 tsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1-1.5 lb assorted summer squash
  • 4 Tblsp finely grated Parmesan, plus ¼ cup shaved with a peeler
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tblsp Sherry vinegar
  • 8-10 Tblsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn

 Directions:

Bring quinoa and 8 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, but not mushy – 12-15 minutes. Drain. Return quinoa to hot saucepan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and let cool.

Cut squash into 1/8” thick slices – some lengthwise and some crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 2 tsp salt, and toss to coat. Let sit until slightly wilted – about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Pat dry and set aside. (Here is where I differed – I cut them lengthwise, basted with olive oil/salt/pepper, and grilled them for just a couple minutes).

Whisk grated parmesan, zest, juice, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Combine squash, quinoa, parsley, walnuts, and basil in a large bowl. Pour dressing over, toss to coat. Garnish with shaved parmesan.

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Bobby Flay Cornbread Stuffing

2 May

My brother Marty has been DYING to get a spot on my blog. He has been wondering why I haven’t included any of his fabulous dishes here…..And I told him that I don’t really have any of his recipes that he makes in order for me to make them myself for the blog.

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But then I realized that I was wrong. He introduced our family to something delicious about 5-6 years ago on Thanksgiving. He showed up with the stuffing.

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He made 2 kinds: Jamie Oliver Fruit Stuffing (I don’t know what it was, but it was nutty and fruity and delicious) and a Bobby Flay Cornbread stuffing. I dont have pictures of the Jamie Oliver stuffing, but it’s not necessary because this cornbread and chorizo stuffing is the only one we need to focus on 🙂

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This Bobby Flay stuffing was off the hook. We hadn’t had anything like it before. Our mom makes our grandmother’s stuffing – which is AWESOME, but very very simple. So to have another option of stuffing – and one that was so flavorful – was something else!!

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This cornbread is so easy to make. We make it at least 2-3 times a year. Robb keeps this recipe in his recipe-box and when we have it, he always makes it. The key ingredient is a spicy chorizo that adds a lil pizzazz to the recipe!

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You can either make your own cornbread (beyond easy and what I like to do) or buy storebought cornbread and just let it air out and dry overnight.

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It mixes together so easily. And bakes to a nice golden brown. You can also bake it ahead of time and simply re-heat!

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We have now adopted this stuffing as an official dish at Thanksgiving (accompanied by our grandmother’s stuffing, too, of course). Even when Marty was away 2 years ago on Thanksgiving, Robb stepped in and made his stuffing for our dinner with the rest of the family.

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Even if it’s not thanksgiving time, I suggest roasting a chicken (or turkey) and making this excellent stuffing to go along with it.

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Bobby Flay’s Cornbread Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound chorizo sausage, diced
  • 2 large Spanish onions, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large loaf staled cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
  • 2-4 cups homemade turkey or chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Directions:
1) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until golden brown, remove the chorizo to a plate lined with paper towels.

2) Add the onions, celery and carrot to the pan with the fat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft then stir in the chorizo.

3) Place the cornbread in a large bowl. Add the onion mixture and two cups of the stock. The mixture should be quite wet; if it appears too dry, begin adding the remaining stock, a half cup at a time. Stir in the sage and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4) Scrape the mixture into a buttered 10-inch baking dish and bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven until set and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

Flour Tortillas

9 Mar

I am sure the last thing you think about making from scratch when doing mexican is flour tortillas……well I am here to let you know how EASY it really is.

When cooking for my Mexican Supper Club night, I planned to do Beef Enchiladas. I bought flour tortillas from the store as a back-up just in case I didnt have time to make my own.

But I always had a feeling that I was going to make my own no matter what. It turned out that I had some extra time and I just went for it!

It was BEYOND easy to put together. They took a little longer in the frying pan than I thought they would. But all in all, they turned out AMAZING.

The key when you are sauteeing them in the frying pan is to make sure you have a damp towel on top of saran wrap on top of the plate of cooked tortillas so they stay a bit pliable when you go to use them.

Making your own tortillas is SO much better for you than using store-bought. They taste fresher and dont contain any chemicals or additives. They have a better texture, too, and are great to use in almost any recipe!

And I am so bummed that I didnt take any pics of the finished tortillas. I’ll have to update in the future when I make them again. But here is a pic of my yummy beef enchiladas!

Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ¾ cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 6 tblsp Crisco, cut into 6 pieces
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tblsp water, heated up to 110 degrees
  • ½ tsp vegetable oil

Directions:

Combine flour and salt in bowl – stir. Rub shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until combined.

Turn dough out onto counter and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Roll 2.5 tblsp dough into 1.5 inch balls. Transfer balls to plate and refrigerate until firm, wrapped in plastic.

Working on lightly floured counter, roll out balls to 8-inch rounds. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until just smoking. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Lay 1 round in skillet and cook until surface begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate and cover with dish towel. (NOTE: It took my tortillas about 3-4 minutes per side to cook)

At this point – go on and use them for whatever dish you plan to make.

Herbed Mushrooms in Wine

19 Feb

Robb and I LOVE having mushrooms as a side dish. We sautee them mostly – and sometimes we’ll keep it simple with a regular butter/shallot sautee…and sometimes we use this other mushroom recipe that we love. We like to use a mixture of mushrooms – white, portabella, oyster, maitake, etc….

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But we were looking for something a smidge different that used a bit less butter but offered more taste.

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Robb went onto AllRecipes.com and perused some recipes and found this gem! As soon as I looked at it I knew it would be great.

I didn’t know how great.

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This mushroom side dish is DELICIOUS and so simple. I was able to use fresh herbs from the garden still (thank god they haven’t died yet). The wine tasted great with the shrooms, too! And the salt really pulls the flavor of the wine through.

Herbed Mushrooms in Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tblsp non-salted butter
  • 1.5 pounds fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (I used oregano and thyme and basil)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tblsp fresh chives or parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place mushrooms in the skillet, season with Italian seasoning, and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Mix the wine and garlic into the skillet, and continue cooking until most of the wine has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with chives. Continue cooking 1 minute.

Rustic Roasted Tomato Salsa

17 Feb

Who doesnt love salsa? Seriously…..find me someone who doesnt LOVE salsa.

Robb has the Rick Bayless “Mexican Everyday” cookbook. It has become one of our mexican cooking bibles.

We’ve tried a couple of his salsas, and we landed on this one as being the best. (I usually end up adding a bit more heat to it, too – as you can see by the additional random spicy peppers in the pan above)

This tastes divine – you can taste the roasted garlic and peppers. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients. And it’s simple to make. I made it for Mexican Supper Club back in October and it was a huge hit. I made a regular batch and then I made a SPICY batch for John and I.

Salsa is already a party food staple. Why not make your own at home? It’s so much healthier for you and you can modify it however you like!

Dip into it!!!!

Rustic Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 2 jalapenos (or 4 serranos/1 habanero)
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion
  • One 15 oz can diced tomatoes- fire roasted, in juice
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 tsp of fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp Salt

Directions:

Remember to wear gloves when you handle/chop the spicy peppers – dont want to burn your skin or touch your eye later on!

Set small skillet over medium heat. Lay the chiles and garlic in the skillet and dry roast until soft and blotchy black in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles and 15 mins for the garlic.

While chiles and garlic roast, scoop onion into strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake off excess water and pour into medium bowl.

Pull stems off the roasted chiles and peel papery skins off the garlic. Scoop them into the food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the tomatoes with their juice, re-cover and pulse a few more times, until the mixture is as coarse or smooth as you want your salsa to be.

Pour the mixture into the bowl with the onion. Add cilantro and stir thoroughly.

Thin with water if necessary to give salsa an easier consistency (I typically do not do this). Taste and season with lime juice and salt – I tend to go heavy on these two items.

NOTE: If making salsa ahead of time, refrigerate and don’t add onions and cilantro until ready to serve.

Guacamole

11 Dec

There are a zillion different ways to make guacamole. There are a zillion recipes – each with varying twists and levels of heat, sometimes just variations on amount of the same ingredients to use.

For Supper Club in October, I decided to make a simple guacamole. I found the recipe in Cooks Illustrated Mexican issue.

I think most guacamole is really good. Although I grew up not liking it – and didnt like avocados. I mostly didnt like them because there wasnt much taste although there were a lot of calories. But as of 5 years ago, I realized the wonder and awesomeness of the avocado.

When cutting avocados, it’s best to slice down the middle and break apart. Then slam your knife into the seed and twist it in a circle and pull it out of the fruit. Then slice each half of the avocado lengthwise all the way across as it sits in your hand, then move the avocado sideways in your hand and slice lengthwise the opposite way. Then you can scoop it all out easily!

This recipe was rather delicious. It wasnt too onion-y, it was flavorful and thick, but not too thick.

This is a really easy dip to bring to a party if need-be. It will be wildly popular with your friends as they dig in with their chips. And it’s SO easy to make!

Ole!

Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • 2 tblsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tblsp lime juice
  • Salt

Directions:

Mix everything together and mash to your desired consistency. Sprinkle lime juice and salt last and taste.

Can be made ahead 1 day as long as saran is placed DIRECTLY ON TOP of guac (so guac doesnt get brown and gross) and refrigerated. Return to room temp before serving.

Mashed Chipotle Sweet Potatoes – Thanksgiving Part Deux

28 Nov

I saw this recipe on one of the blogs I follow (http://www.hardlyhousewives.com) and knew I needed to bookmark it to try.

It was my job to bring the sweet potatoes to Thanksgiving this year, and I had already picked out my official recipe to try, but this NEEDED to be made and brought as well.

This looks amazing. And I knew it would taste so good, too!

I love recipes that have a little spice and kick to it.

And this one is healthy and simple!! No-brainer……look at all the flecks of pepper in there!

Here are some pics of my brothers and my dad from Thanksgiving! None of us could get focused for a pic…..I think we were all moving around too much.

 Fun times! I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season!

Mashed Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1-4 Canned Chipotles, chopped
  • 2 Tbs of Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbs of Honey
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  • Wash and place potatoes (skin-on) in a large pot full of water that covers them. Boil them until they are fork tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain pot and place potatoes on counter/plate to cool off.
  • When potatoes have cooled off, remove skin and discard.
  • Cut potatoes and place in bowl/pot and gently mash.
  • Put on gloves and chop peppers and place in potatoes. Stir together. Start out with 1-2 peppers and then taste to determine level of hotness. You can always add a little more heat by adding some of the sauce the chipotle peppers are canned in. I think for 5 potatoes, I used about 4-5 peppers…I like it hot!
  • Add your butter and honey and a healthy pinch of salt/pepper. Taste and then adjust.
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