green curry chicken soup

Green Curry Chicken Soup

Wow, what a weekend! December is in full swing for our family. Saturday morning, the girls were in the Christmas parade downtown. Some very dedicated parents (not me, I totally slacked on this one) and teachers built an award-winning float for their school that the fourth and fifth graders got to ride on and belt out Christmas carols to parade watchers. They had a blast and they won the 1st Place Jingle Bell Music Award! Continue reading “Green Curry Chicken Soup”

Marinated Vegetable Salad

I don’t know about you but sometimes (okay, pretty much every time) I get a bit carried away at Costco and stray from my normal produce purchases. I know better. I’m usually safe with most fruit and a few items likes peppers, celery, onions and cucumbers but anything beyond that is destined to be half eaten then go bad and be thrown out despite my best intentions. Then I feel really bad about myself. Such was about to be the case with a just over 2 pound bag of asparagus that had reeled me in, so I had to come up with a plan to save at least a good portion of it. I’m quite pleased with the result.

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sautéed kale

Garlicky Sautéed Kale

 My daughter, Ella, recently declared that kale is her favorite vegetable because of this preparation so I feel extra compelled to share it. She’s highly suspicious of anything new and especially of anything green so getting her to try it was no small feat but once she did, kale was in. She now requests it. It’s super weird. I suppose it’s just another example of how a little garlic, butter, and cheese can make anything taste great. If you fear all the fat, by all means, use a little less oil and butter but if you’re trying to win over a nine-year-old (or a reluctant 49-year-old) I suggest using the full amount.

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chipotle beef chili

Chipotle Beef and Red Bean Chili

So, I was going to put this chili in a bowl, top it with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onion, you know, make it pretty, then take my cover photo but I totally forgot and by the time I remembered even the leftovers were gone. This happens more often than I’d like to admit and usually, I just won’t post the recipe until I have a chance to make it again. Sometimes you have to just move forward though and put the perfectionist tendencies aside if you want to get anything done. I’m working on that, thus the subpar cover photo.
spinach mushroom soup

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Soup

Jump to Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Soup

 Happy New Year! I hope 2016 is off to a good start. Mine started with the worst head cold I can remember. Followed by a sick child who didn’t end her winter break until Friday. Topped off with a husband who was sicker and whinier than all of us because, as he told my daughter, he’s a guy. What he is is a piece of work! That’s all behind me now though and I am blissfully typing away while all the whiny people I love are up at the ski mountain. Just me and my barky dog until this afternoon.

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fennel apple salad

Spicy Apple, Fennel and Kale Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

I’m kind of in love with this salad. This is a very good thing, for me to be in love with a salad right now, because we are in the thick of the holiday season and I need something to counterbalance all the festive food I’m definitely, hopelessly in love with. The ingredients couldn’t be more perfect. The fennel and ginger aid in digestion, the Serrano chili pepper helps boost metabolism and the apple cider vinegar is said to do both. And of course, kale is kale. The green apple, chili pepper, and dried cranberries contribute to a really nice tart, spicy, sweet balance of flavors.

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beet salad

Beet, Pluot and Spinach Salad with Sweet Onions and Lemon Ginger Dressing

Jump to Beet Pluot, and Spinach Salad

 
I just ate this for lunch. Delicious! I must be maturing because I thought I hated them, but now I’m even enjoying beets without the help of goat cheese or toasted nuts (both could be added, but I promise it’s not necessary). The real star of this salad is the pluot. In case you’re not familiar, a pluot is a hybrid of a plum and an apricot. It has the texture of a plum, but the flesh is slightly more firm and sweet, and the skin is not as bracingly tart but still has a good little pucker to it. They liven up and compliment the earthy, sweet beet. They are in season now, I picked them up at Costco, and you’ll know they are ripe if they feel a little soft when pressed.
 

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quinoa salad with lemon chipotle dressing

Quinoa Salad with Lemon Chipotle Dressing

 
 
Why yes, it is another quinoa salad! A perfect meal to have in your fridge on a hot summer day, best made ahead of time so the flavors can marry, and it can get nice and cold. It will easily keep for a few days, but be sure you don’t add the avocado and tomato until right before serving.

 

This salad has bold, fresh flavors with some smoky heat. I think you’ll find it simple to put together. It works as a healthy main or side dish, perfect for a picnic or bbq! I plan to make it for the holiday weekend. We will have friends in town, and it will be great to have on hand to eat in or pack to go to the lake if it’s too hot in town!

 

Quinoa Salad with Lemon Chipotle Dressing

(serves 8 – 12)

 

2 cups quinoa, rinsed (use any color, I actually mix white and red cause I’m cool like that)
3 cups water
salt
 
1/3 cup chopped sweet onion (like Walla Walla, Vidalia or Maui)
2 cups diced bell pepper
1 cup diced cucumbers
 
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn (fresh, cooked or frozen, thawed)
1 can black olives, drained and sliced in half
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
 
Dressing
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
4 – 6 chipotle peppers in adobo
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
 salt and freshly ground pepper
 
Garnish
fresh diced tomato
fresh diced avocado
more cilantro to pretty it up
 
Place 2 cups quinoa, 3 cups water and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring often, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook about 15 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water, stirring occasionally.
 
note: The directions on the package your quinoa comes in will likely call for a 1 to 2 ratio of quinoa to water. I find a 1 to 1.5 ratio makes for a nicer texture with a little crunch and no mushiness.
 
red and white quinoa
cooking quinoa
 
If you need to cook the corn, do so at this time by steaming, boiling or grilling it on the cob then allow it to cool. If using frozen, simply allow it to thaw before adding it to the salad. 
 
Remove lid, fluff and set aside to cool.
 
fluffing cooked quinoa
 
Chop onion, core and dice bell peppers, peel and dice cucumbers (remove seeds if necessary, depending on the variety) and place in large work bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

 

coring bell pepper
diced bell pepper
diced veggies
 
Remove 4 – 6 peppers from the adobo sauce and chop into small pieces. Refrigerate remaining peppers and sauce (I remove them from the can). If you’d like more heat in your dressing, you can add some of the adobo sauce.
 

 

goya chipotle in adobo
chopped chipotle in adobo
 
Grate garlic over a medium work bowl.
 
grated garlic with microplane
 
Add the chopped peppers and lemon juice.
 
lemon chipotle dressing
 
Stir in the oil, salt, and pepper to taste, add more heat with adobo sauce if you like. The flavor of the dressing should be bold as the quinoa, beans, and veggies will absorb a lot of flavor.

 

lemon chipotle dressing
 
Add black beans and corn to the veggie mixture.
 

 

chopped veggies with black beans
 
Add 4 cups cooked quinoa and dressing, stir to combine, then taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. If it seems too dry, add more lemon juice and olive/canola oil. If you feel like it could use more quinoa, you should have about 2 cups remaining that you can add as needed. (I always need to have some plain that I can give my girls).
 
adding dressing to quinoa
 
Slice olives, chop cilantro.
 
olives and cilantro
 
Stir in olives and cilantro.
 
tossing quinoa salad
tossing quinoa salad
 
Chill before serving. Or don’t, it’s good at room temp too, just better as it sits in the fridge.
 
Garnish with avocado, tomato and fresh cilantro.

 

tossing quinoa salad

 

 

These days, many of us have no idea what it’s like to have to fight for our freedom. Unfortunately, as a result, complacency, cynicism, and entitlement abound. Let us remember, our country owes us nothing, but we are indebted to our forefathers and our military. The very least we can do as we celebrate Independence Day is to practice gratitude and pride in our country. It is very flawed, but it is ours, and we are all responsible for it, it is not responsible for us.

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”
Franklin D Roosevelt 

Have a safe and happy 4th! 

Roasted Beets, Roasted Radishes, Beet Greens and Goat Cheese with Quinoa

I’ve just recently begun getting reacquainted with beets. I didn’t eat many as a child and if I did they came out of a can, mushy and tinny tasting. I had no tolerance for them. My mom must not have liked them either because I recall seeing the same can of beets in our pantry for so long it looked like an antique, a faded white label next to all the dark green. Of course, over the last few years, beets have become the darlings of the culinary world so I’ve decided to step ever-so-cautiously onto the bandwagon. So far I’ve only tried them roasted, mostly in salads at local restaurants and they inspired me to come up with my own version. Someday I may even branch out and try them raw or pickled. The health benefits are worth more experimentation for sure (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/25/beets-health-benefits.aspx). Oh, and don’t throw away those beet greens! Treat them like you would chard or kale, thinly sliced, raw or sauteed or throw them in your juicer for a super healthy boost.
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