Tag Archives: make ahead

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes

8 Oct

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-3

When I open my refrigerator on a lazy weekend morning (or any morning during this federal government shutdown!) and see healthy ingredients left over from the week’s meals, I pat myself on the back and pretend I planned the whole thing. Then I usually scramble up whatever is there, with a few eggs. Pretty good, but I wouldn’t mind a little sparkle now and then.

This recipe for Quinoa Breakfast Cakes gives those healthy ingredients some purpose. Try it first with the ingredients and ratios as set forth here, and then try to mix it up just a bit, substituting a different herb for the basil, sweet potato for the white potato, or Gruyere for the Parmigiano Reggiano.

If you make a whole batch on the weekend, they will last for a few days into the week – just reheat them in a pan or in the microwave, and enjoy the cakes on their own – definitely a healthy breakfast in their own right – or with some scrambled eggs and salsa. Before your coffee is done brewing, you are on your way to THIS:

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-6

Pretty good-lookin’ weekday breakfast, right?

p.s. I won’t tell a soul if you also eat these for lunch or dinner. Or snack.

Ingredients:
– 1 medium sweet onion, diced
– 2 c minced portobello or cremini mushrooms
– 1 c baby spinach, chopped
– 2 c cooked quinoa
– 1.5 baking potatoes, skins removed, chopped, boiled, and mashed (or use 3/4 c leftover mashed potatoes)
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– 1/4 c Parmigiano Reggiano
– 10 leaves basil, chopped
– 1/4 t red pepper flakes
– 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

How do I make it?

  • Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is warm, add extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the onion and saute they start to brown and are softened.
  • Add the mushrooms and spinach, and cook 2-3 minutes more, until the mushrooms are tender and the spinach is bright.
  • Transfer the onions, mushrooms, and spinach to a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and stir to evenly distribute.
  • Form into patties (this recipe will make about 12, give or take). Make sure the patties aren’t too thick, or else the egg won’t cook through (1/2″ – 3/4″ thick should be great).
  • Wipe out the skillet, and re-heat over medium-high heat. When warm, spray with olive oil and place 4 patties in the pan. After about 5 minutes, check the bottom of one of the patties. If it is browning, flip it, and repeat with the others in the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Continue with this process until you have cooked the entire batch.

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-4

Original recipe: Adapted from December 2012 Women’s Health Magazine, “Eat Smart: Quinoa Meatballs”

If you like this, you may also like:

Quinoa Casserole 1  Food_023_

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Broccoli Chicken Quinoa Casserole

6 Oct

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Are you a cheesy casserole person? Would you be if the calories, fat, and sodium usually associated with said cheesy casseroles were not an issue?

Count me in on the latter scenario.

Usually when a recipe involves little more than combining a few ingredients and then baking, I would rather just eat all of the ingredients separately – who needs to dirty another dish? But here, the synergy works, and it is worth the extra step on a cold autumn night. Casseroles like this are also great to bring to work for lunch. I mean, if you are not a furloughed federal employee this week.

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Ingredients:
– 2 c cooked quinoa
– 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
– 1 pound broccoli {crown chopped in to florets; stem peeled with a vegetable peeler and sliced in to small discs}
– 1 1/2 c low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese {p.s. I don’t like cottage cheese on its own, but it was great in this dish – if you want to switch it up, try ricotta cheese instead}
– 3/4 c grated cheddar cheese
– 1/4 c panko breadcrumbs
– 2 T grated Parmesan
– 1 t extra virgin olive oil

How do I make it?

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, it thins out – swirl it around the pan to coat the bottom, and add the cubed chicken in one layer in the skillet, making sure to not crowd the pan, so the chicken can brown {you want to avoid adding too much chicken, which would cause the chicken to steam instead of brown – it will still be cooked if it doesn’t brown – it just tastes better when it is a little crispy on the outside!}.
  • Saute until the chicken is browned on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken cubes and repeat on the other side of the chicken, another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and repeat as necessary with the rest of the chicken – you probably will not have to add more oil though.
  • With all of the chicken removed from the pan, add the chopped broccoli and cook until the broccoli is lightly softened and bright green, about 2 minutes. Add just a little water (1-2 t) if there is not enough liquid left over from the chicken. DO NOT over-cook, because the broccoli will cook again when you bake the casserole, and you don’t want it to get mushy!
  • While you are working on the chicken and broccoli, in a small bowl, combine the panko, grated Parmesan, and one teaspoon of olive oil, and stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Remove from heat, and in a large bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, cooked quinoa, cottage cheese, and 1/2 c grated cheddar. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with freshly-ground pepper.
  • Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and press it down, and spread the remaining grated cheddar over the top. Top with the panko mixture.
  • Bake until breadcrumbs are lightly browned and cheese is melted through, about 15 minutes.

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Original link: Adapted from http://thescrumptiouspumpkin.com/2013/03/28/easy-quinoa-cheddar-bake-with-chicken-and-broccoli/

If you like this, you may also like:

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-3Marinara Quinoa with Chicken-1Quinoa Casserole 1Food_013_

 

How to: Make Pumpkin Puree

29 Sep

Pumpkin Puree-8

The changing of the seasons from Summer to Fall is more than breathing the crispness in the air, pulling out sweaters and boots from the back of the closet, and paging through pictures of friends’ kids on Facebook dressed like small animals. Although I do love all of those things!

I also love the first sugar pumpkin of the season. Slicing off the top, chopping it in to pieces, roasting the seeds, and pureeing the flesh and baking away. Pumpkin recipes abound in this season, and I try to keep a bowl of pumpkin puree in the fridge so I am always ready to try something new or make a trusted favorite.

Here is how to do it in under 15 minutes! Start with a sugar pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are also called pie pumpkins, and they are much more manageable than the jack-o-lantern sized. A regular knife will make short work of a sugar pumpkin – they are about 6-9″ in diameter.

Sugar Pumpkin-1

Slice off the top of the pumpkin using a chef’s or santuko knife, and discard the stem. Chop the rest of the pumpkin in to chunks – size is not important. I find it easiest to work with the pumpkin when the pieces are not very round – it makes it easier to slice out the pulp and seeds. I use a serrated knife for that task. {You can separate the seeds from the pulp and save the seeds to roast!}

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-8

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-7

Place the chunks of pumpkin on a microwave-safe plate, skin side down and flesh side up. Cover with saran wrap and microwave for 8 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Be careful when removing the saran wrap – it will be steamy under there!

When it is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh off of the skin into a food processor using a spoon. Add a few Tablespoons of water, and process until smooth. That’s it! It should keep in the fridge for a week or two, or in the freezer for a few months. One sugar pumpkin will make approximately 1.5 c of puree.

Pumpkin Puree-1

If you like this, you may also like:

Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp-47 Cup Food ProcessorRicotta Cheese_015_

Gyros

15 Sep

Gyros-2

While some food makes for a memorable meal based on the taste alone, other dishes are favorites in large part due to the memories associated with them. For me, Gyros falls in this second category, and the memories take me back to the local Gyros joint in my home town. I used to love watching the cylinder of meat turn around the rotisserie spit, disappearing for just a moment to allow the magic to happen, appearing again darker and crispy after the rotation, just in time to be sliced off in thin strips by a man in a red shirt wearing a paper hat, wielding an aggressively-sized knife. It could have been a sword for all I knew – I was smaller then, it seemed enormous.

Gyros is one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t have it often, but when I do, I look forward to the rich flavors and texture of the crispy edges of the meat, wrapped in a doughy pita. I can’t imagine that the gyros served at a hole-in-the-wall (where gyros is at its best) is very healthy, so I am thrilled that I have found a workable recipe that tastes just right with a mix of lamb and extra-lean ground beef.

I am not even 1% Greek, so while I offer you no authenticity, I do offer you a home method that makes a great make-ahead meal. No rotisserie spit required! As you will see, the recipe is made in two stages: first, a loaf is baked (about easy as baking any meatloaf); then, slices from the loaf are sauteed in a pan to both crisp them up and pull some moisture to the surface. You can make the loaf on the weekend and then slice and heat it on a Monday or Tuesday for a quick weeknight meal, or if you wrap it well, you can even freeze the loaf, defrost it in the fridge for a day, and saute it that night {I have not had opportunity to freeze a loaf for more than a few days, so have no suggestions as to how long the loaf can be frozen, but I would assume you would be safe at a month – but how could you wait that long?!}. Here is another tip: It slices better when it is cold!

Serve as pictured here with thinly sliced kirby cucumbers, grape tomatoes and red onions, and crumbled feta on a pita; or use as a protein on a Greek- (or any-) style salad. I don’t naturally gravitate toward sauces, but a traditional tzatziki would be great with this Gyros recipe.

Gyros-3

Ingredients:
– one medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
– 1 lb extra lean ground beef
– 1 lb ground lamb
– 1 t dried marjoram
– 1 t dried oregano
– 1 t dried rosemary
– 1 t dried thyme
– 1 t cumin
– 1 t garlic powder
– 1 t kosher salt
– freshly ground pepper, to taste

How do I make it?
  • Preheat the oven to 325 and spray a loaf pan with olive oil spray. Set the pan aside. You will also need a larger pan or casserole dish, to set the loaf pan in when you are baking the meat. There is no need to spray the larger pan.
  • Process the onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer it to a fine mesh strainer, and press out and discard the liquid. Set the onion aside for just a minute.
  • My food processor is not big enough to process two pounds of meat with no liquid, so I mix the meats and spices in a bowl until evenly distributed.
  • Then, in two batches, process the meat and the onion (using half of the processed onion each time) until it looks less like ground meat and more like a smooth spread. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl and make sure all of the meat gets near the blade.
  • Press the mixture in to the prepared pan.
  • Place the loaf pan into the larger pan or dish and place in the oven. Carefully fill the larger pan with water.Trust me, do this once it is already in the oven. Use a tea kettle or pitcher.
  • Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170.
  • Remove from the oven and drain off any fat.
  • Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack, and now comes the interesting part. The original recipe calls for a brick wrapped in aluminum foil to be placed directly on the surface of the meat. I do not have a brick in my small apartment {nor do I have a tarp, which is unrelated but came up recently}, but I recovered thusly: cover the cooked meat with aluminum foil, and then place a second loaf pan on top of the cooked meat (which is hiding under the tin foil). Place a heavy pan on top (it will balance well on the broad base of the loaf pan). Let this structure sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The temperature will raise during this time, and more fat will probably rise to the surface – drain that off as well.
  • At this point, you can wrap and refrigerate the loaf. If you plan to freeze it, wait to do so until it is no longer warm.
  • When you are ready to serve, slice pieces from the loaf as thin as you can, and heat them in a large pan sprayed with oil. Don’t crowd the pan, or else the slices won’t brown as nicely. Once they have browned, flip and repeat. You won’t need to add more oil, the meat should make enough liquid to cook the next batch with. Transfer to a plate covered in paper towel, and repeat the browning process as needed.

Original links: Some combination of these two – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gyro-meat-with-tzatziki-sauce-recipe/index.html and http://galleydoor.blogspot.com/2012/11/gyro-flies-pepsi-gyro-flies-pepsi.html

Serve with:

Food_013_

Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Whole Wheat Flour}

9 Sep

WWChocChip-1

Isn’t it interesting how everyone’s chocolate chip cookies turn out differently? One hundred people using the same recipe – Nestle’s Tollhouse for example – will turn out one hundred variations … never mind the infinite recipe options for a good ol’ fashioned chocolate chip cookie using butter, flour, sugar, and egg.

But my own chocolate chip cookies always turn out the same as my last batch, and I have always been fine with that. Sure I have tried some variations – browned butter coming to mind – with success, but I have found myself revisiting my standard recipe time and time again.

I am pleased to announce that I am ready to shake things up a bit, with both whole wheat flour and hand-chopped chocolate chunks.

I have a non-local friend who was in need of a pick-me-up; when I asked if I could send cookies, he mentioned that he is not eating white flour but would love whatever I sent (… and that his partner is partial to chocolate chip. Good man!). I thought I would give a wheat flour recipe a try, just for something a little different, before trying a non-traditional cookie recipe. I hoped I would find a cookie to fit the bill – I did not imagine I would find a chewy, chocolatey new addition to my repertoire!

My search turned up a straightforward recipe, which intrigued me with its simplicity. I was at first skeptical, so I made my first batch a half-recipe’s worth. The batter (of course I snuck a bite) had a deep molasses flavor. I was a little worried, it was a little strong for me. But the flavor baked out evenly, and with my first bite of one of these freshly-baked cookies, I was immediately kicking myself for not making a full batch. Another half-batch followed quickly after.

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My favorite part is the chocolate chunks (see, e.g., that square right above this sentence). The chocolate chip selection at my local grocery stores is not as awesome as I would prefer (I am not sure what I am looking for – but some variety would be nice). I never thought to make my own! Thanks to this recipe, I tried it out. How had I never heard of this method before? I used a thin Ghirardelli baking bar and chopped each square into smaller squares with my 7″ chef’s knife – make sure to sweep all of the shards that result from the chopping in to the batter, the flecks will only add to the cookie.

Ingredients:
– 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
– 1 c packed dark brown sugar
– 1 c sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 t vanilla
3 c whole wheat flour
– 1 1/2 t baking powder
– 1 t baking soda
– 1 1/2 t kosher salt
– 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into small squares

How do I make it?

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat until just blended.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla and briefly mix.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just blended. It’s a lot of flour, so do it in small increments so it doesn’t poof out of the bowl!
  • Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again until blended.
  • Add the chocolate and beat on low speed just until evenly distributed.
  • Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoon. Roll each scoop into a ball with your hands and flatten it gently on the cookie sheet using your hand. Place them a few inches apart on the cookie sheets, as they will expand to large chewy awesome discs.
  • Bake for 15 minutes (check at 12 minutes) until the cookies are golden brown on the outsides, and smell delicious.

Original link: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2011/10/whole-wheat-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly “link up party” called Our Growing Edge, which is an online way to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. Our Growing Edge is the brain child of Genie from Bunny Eats Design, and this month is hosted by Marnelli from Sweets and Brains. The posts for September’s link up can be found here. New for me with this post: whole wheat flour in (delicious) cookies, and hand-chopped chocolate chunks!

Bagel Bake {Bagel + Egg Overnight Casserole}

24 Aug

Bagel Bake 1When my friend from law school SYH heard I started a blog, her first question was, “Is the Bagel Bake on there?! Tell me the Bagel Bake is on there.” She had had the bagel bake once, over four and a half years before. The Bagel Bake was also proclaimed by Bachelorette MMH to be her favorite.

It is just that kind of awesome.

With just those two examples, you can see that the Bagel Bake has become a fan-favorite among my friends. I discovered this recipe many years ago, and since then, one delicious weekend morning at a time, it has become a staple at most brunch-type gatherings where I have any input into the menu. It is easy and satisfying, has a wide appeal, and can be altered a bit to suit your tastes. And you prepare it the night before! Who wants to cook first thing in the morning after a night of merriment? Not I.

If you take just a few minutes to assemble these ingredients tonight, THIS will be on your table tomorrow morning with no hassle at all. Planning on needing to shake off the cobwebs from an awesome night? Serve with some coffee (aka the most asked-for brunch item at MH’s Bachelorette Bash) and fruit, and you will be set for the day (because you will continue to snack on this all day – I assure you).

Bagel Bake 2

Ingredients:
– 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled or chopped
– 1/2 – 1 c diced sweet onion, cooked in a bit of extra virgin olive oil (or a bit of bacon grease) until softened and starting to turn brown
– 3 bagels, any type, sliced into pieces thinner than halves (depending on the size of the bagels and how you slice them, you may want to have a few more on hand)
– 1 c shredded cheddar cheese (or put the ends of a variety of cheeses left over from a cheese platter through the shredding disc on your food processor and use that!)
– 12 eggs (this can be changed up to substitute some egg whites for whole eggs. But I recommend at least 10 eggs total – 2 egg whites count for one whole egg)
– 2 c skim milk
– 2 t chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
– 1/4 t freshly ground pepper
– 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

How do I make it?

  • Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Arrange 6 bagel slices to cover the bottom – it is fine if you have to rip them to make sure they fit. I like to put the bottoms of the bagels on the bottom of the pan.
  • Cover the bagel slices with the bacon, the onion, and the 1 c cheese. Top with the remaining bagel slices.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and pepper, and add the parsley and stir to distribute.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bagels. Press down on the bagels so they soak up the egg and milk.
  • Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  • When you are ready to bake it in the morning, remove it from the refrigerator and press down on the bagels again. Let it come to room temperature a bit while you preheat the oven to 400.
  • Bake until the eggs set, about 45 minutes. It will puff up and brown and look awesome. You won’t be able to wait to eat it, but use a spatula to press down in the middle to make sure the eggs are not runny.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve it up!

More information please?

While the recipe calls for bacon and onions, when entertaining for a crowd, sometimes I only put the bacon and onions on half, so vegetarians or the non-onion crew can also enjoy. It takes no more time to do so, you just sprinkle the good stuff bacon and onions over half. You could also add spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, or other small chopped vegetables you have on hand. I would add them raw; they are in the oven for up to an hour, so they will cook during that time.

Bagel Bake 3

Original link: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Bagel-and-Cheese-Bake/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=bagel%20and%20cheese%20bake&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe%20Search%20Results

Caprese Skewers

16 Aug

Caprese Skewer-1

How about a no-cook, easy, crowd-pleasing appetizer? How about another way to serve and eat cheese?

Yes, please?

These Caprese Skewers are great for cocktail parties – for any party really. When entertaining, I like to have a few things prepped in advance (and one fragrant dish in the oven as guests arrive so it smells inviting). This dish takes just a bit of assembling, but you can make the skewers in advance and pull them out of the fridge at the last minute as your guests start arriving. Or do you have a trusted friend who always arrives early and asks how they can help you in the kitchen? This is the perfect task for them.

For MMH’s bachelorette party, we had wine, cheese, and cheese-themed snacks laid out as people arrived at the house. Everyone had a skewer in her hand within minutes (and because we had made a trip to Costco for the weekend, we all had skewers in our hands all weekend.

Ingredients:
– grape tomatoes
– small mozzarella balls (approx 1″ diameter), in marinade (called bocconcini)
– small basil leaves

How do I make it?

  • On each skewer, layer: tomato, basil, cheese; tomato, basil, cheese. You can do another round if you want, but it becomes more of a commitment after two rotations.

Skewer Sunset

More information please?

One pint-sized carton of grape tomatoes will match up pretty well in number with a small bucket of marinated bocconcini (try Trader Joe’s if it is convenient for you). And if you are having a larger gathering, one Costco-sized carton of grape tomatoes will match up with a Costco-sized bucket of marinated bocconcini.

I recommend using small basil leaves rather than cutting or ripping larger basil leaves, because the exposed cut edges will brown and not look as appetizing as small full leaves.

Present the skewers on a plate, or in a vase or pitcher (cheese side up!).

As the assembler from MMH’s bachelorette bash, bridesmaid NB, noted, the oil in that bucket does wonders for your cuticles. Always looking at the bright side.

Fave: Food Processor

10 Aug

At a recent Cooking Club, AWP asked the group: “What kitchen appliance can you not live without?”

I answered first, and quickly.

“Food processor.”

Sturdy, dependable, versatile, fast. I present to you: my food processor. Available on Amazon.com for $69.99, shipping included. In my opinion, that is a great value for this product. [Note: Rats, looks like that price was temporary. Click on the next link to find out today’s price.] Click here to purchase!*

7 Cup Food ProcessorI am happy just looking at it.

Food processors are so versatile. I started using it to make home-made hummus (after a failed experiment with a potato masher) and blend soups. Once I started making green smoothies and needing a little more room in the work bowl for the leafy greens, my food processor stepped right up. Who knew that Chocolate – Hazelnut Spread would come together in the work bowl in seconds, with the very slight heat from the blade melting chocolate? Not me – you should have seen my face.

If you keep it on your counter, at the ready, you will find all sorts of uses for it. Once you are comfortable with the primary blade, try the shredding disk. Did you know that when you buy pre-packaged shredded cheese, it includes several ingredients other than “cheese”? And pre-packaged shredded cheese is generally not gluten-free. Hmmm… Even if the ingredients are natural, I always choose fewer ingredients in a product when given the choice. I opt to shred my own. You can shred an entire block of cheese in 10 seconds. Done. Carrots? Done. Broccoli stems for slaw? Done. The work bowl of my food processor is in the top rack of my dish washer nearly every time I run a cycle.

We can talk about the slicing disk, and the dough blade later – you should be convinced by now anyway! Oh, we will also talk later about processing your own chicken for chicken burgers – I know I would rather know where my ground meat comes from, if it is an option!

To answer the question I often receive of “When would you use …” – here are some recipes I have posted to date where I used my food processor:

Food_050_

Green Goddess Dip – Used to blend the ingredients together

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Chocolate – Hazelnut Spread – Used to blend the ingredients and melt the chocolate

Spinach Walnut Pesto

Spinach – Walnut Pesto – Used to blend the ingredients

Quinoa Casserole 1

Quinoa and Egg Breakfast Casserole– Used to shred the cheese

Cherry - Coconut Scone

Cherry – Coconut Scones – Used to combine the ingredients into a course dough

Pumpkin – Gruyere Focaccia – Used to shred cheese and puree pumpkin

Middle Eastern Bison Pita Sliders

Middle Eastern Bison Pita Sliders – Used to make the filler for the meatballs

* I have not been compensated for this post, but – if I did the links correctly – I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price of purchases made through the link to my aStore. Checkout is 100% through amazon.com and I will not see your credit card information.

Cucumber – Avocado Salad

5 Aug

Cucumber - Avocado Salad 2This Cucumber – Avocado Salad is mega healthy, crazy tasty, and super fast.

And yes, it deserves all of those edgy adjectives.

This side dish is made with only a few ingredients, all healthy {I am not worried about the one teaspoon (max) of sugar}! If you use a mandolin or vegetable peeler, you can shave the vegetables in seconds, and have this dish ready in five minutes MAX. If you use a knife, it should still be pretty fast, but be sure to cut the cucumber and onion as thin as possible. You could also try dicing the cucumber and onion, but I like the texture of the thin slices, and they are easier to spear with a fork.Cucumber - Avocado SaladIngredients:

– 1/4 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
– 1 t white wine vinegar
– 1/2 – 1 t sugar
– 1 c cucumber, very thinly sliced
– 1/4 – 1/2 c red onion, very thinly sliced
– 1 ripe avocado, diced

How do I make it?

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, vinegar, and sugar. You can use a spoon or fork, I am sure, if you don’t want to dirty a whisk.
  • Add the cucumber and onion, and stir to coat the vegetables with the yogurt mixture.
  • Add the avocado, and stir to cover.

More information please?

I always use unpeeled seedless cucumbers. See the nice color it adds? It also provides a good crunch. If I am in a pinch with a regular cucumber, I peel it, slice it the long way (so it looks like two … canoes or something) and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. I have never appreciated cucumber seeds.

One of my frustrations with gathering my favorite recipes and figuring out the best method by which to organize them (one of my primary reasons for starting this blog) is that they all originate from different sources – magazines, emails, blogs, cookbooks, you name it. This recipe was hiding within another recipe – buried in a recipe for Chicken Burgers (also delicious). I have nothing against the chicken burgers, but this Cucumber – Avocado Salad should have been highlighted as a headliner, not barely visible as a nameless backup dancer (described only as “avocado mixture” : ( ). Pretty hard to organize recipes even by title, when working with a back-bencher. That is why on my blog I will try to break all recipes or composed meals down to the building blocks. I hope you agree it is helpful!

Cucumber - Avocado Salad 3Original link: http://www.self.com/fooddiet/recipes/2013/03/spicy-chicken-burgers

Spinach – Walnut Pesto

28 Jul

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Traditional pesto is made with basil, garlic, parmesan reggiano, olive oil, and pine nuts – but there is nothing that says we can’t mix that up a bit. I find that pesto made with all basil is just a bit too basil-y for me – and pine nuts are disproportionately expensive recently.

That brings us to Spinach – Walnut Pesto. Equal parts basil and baby spinach, and a handful of toasted walnuts. I am sure I will offend someone with this, but it tastes the same to me! And I like the added health benefits (no matter how small) of spinach and walnuts.

Ingredients:
– 1/4 c walnuts, chopped, and toasted in a pan or in the oven until they smell fragrant
– 40 basil leaves (about 1 c)
– equal amount of baby spinach {just measure the piles if your baby spinach leaves are very different in size from the basil}
– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1/4 – 1/2 c parmesan or parmesan reggiano cheese, grated or shaved

How do I make it?

  • Place the toasted (cooled) walnuts, basil, baby spinach, and garlic in a food processor, and pulse until the walnuts and garlic are chopped very finely.
  • Add some olive oil, streaming it in if you can, while you pulse the food processor.
  • You can either process the cheese, or stir it in, depending on your tastes. There is not much difference, really, but it is up to you.
  • Use as much or as little oil and cheese as you would like! It can be thick or thin – there is no wrong way to make a pesto.

More info please?

Spread this pesto on any sandwich or burger; serve as a dip with crackers or veggies; or heat a pan with some oil over medium heat and add spaghetti squash, using two forks to separate the spaghetti strands and incorporate the pesto (a little pesto goes a long way on this one!). Or use as a pizza topping with some ricotta cheese and roasted vegetables!

Spaghetti Squash w Spinach Pesto