Tag Archives: quinoa

Season-Straddling Quinoa Salad

20 Sep

I received a bag of red quinoa in the mail from a swap — that I’ll write about soon! — and I knew it would be perfect for a tasty salad. I rarely make grain salads because I find that many don’t keep well texture-wise. They get too clumpy and dry, especially rice. Similarly, I may be the worst architect of pasta salad in the world. I can’t remember the last time I made one that was much more than just edible. Quinoa is a good exception, however. It maintains its fluffiness well, and I find it far more filling cold than other grains. I think maybe it’s the quantity of the individual grains (or seeds, really, I guess).

(As a side note, the quantity discussion reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke: “I can’t eat spaghetti, there’s too many of them. No matter how hungry I am, 1,000 of something is too many.”)

Anyway, I adapted this recipe from one my friend and former book-group leader shared. It features a nice combination of summer and fall items, so I chose a ridiculous name to reflect it.

Season-Straddling Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped (peeled if preferred)
  • 1/2 a container of cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 green onions, sliced (green and white)
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup pecans

This is a very easy recipe. Just cook your quinoa in 2 1/2 cups of water. When it’s ready, put it in a large bowl with everything but the pecans. Chill and eat topped with pecans. Serves 6.

The salad keeps very well in the fridge and welcomes substitutes. You can use any color of quinoa, but the red gives it a nice color contrast with the greenery.

On another food note, yesterday I showed you the soup I made, but I wanted to mention the ways I have mixed it up in subsequent eatings. On Tuesday night, I reheated it in the slow cooker and added half the giant bunch of chopped rainbow chard, another 1/2 cup or so of chickpeas, and an additional chopped hot pepper.

And then I got home late last night, so instead of making the kale salad (on tonight’s menu now), I whipped up a serving of polenta for one (boil 1 cup water, whisk in 1/4 of cornmeal, and cook over a simmer, stirring constantly until it’s very thick, about 10 minutes). I then ladled a cup or two of soup over the top, mixed it all together until warm, and seasoned with additional pepper.

Mr. X calls polenta gruel, and I know it looks hideous, but I think it’s delicious. So there.

What’s your favorite way to upgrade or reinvent leftover soup?

What I Ate Wednesday

19 Sep

I decided to give this trend a go roughly 10 years late to the party. I’m like that with every trend. I ignore until it’s been around so long that it isn’t a trend any more, and then I’m ready to jump on board.

Apparently part of WIAW is writing a little about the month’s theme, and September’s is “fall into good habits.” Since August, my goal has been cooking with the veggies I receive in my CSA share each week and only eating out once per week. It’s going well, though there have been a few hiccups along the way, so recommitting to my plan is still on the list for September. My non-food goals include budgeting (ugh), getting out of the house more (kind of a conundrum when we’re also trying to spend less), and doing creative projects. Someday I’ll have to do a post about my clothing makeovers, if that would interest you.

And now, food. We are covering Monday here, and once again I started the week off with overnight oats:

It was about 1/2 cup of oats soaked in enough almond milk to cover overnight, plus vanilla and cinnamon. In the morning, I add peanut butter — currently obsessed with this one — and cut up banana. Not terribly exciting or photogenic, but I love it.

I was running around on my “lunch hour” (in quote marks because I’m salaried and, therefore, don’t really have a lunch hour — and it was also 2:00) doing errands, so I grabbed a bag of Pop Chips, which I forgot to photograph. They were the jalapeno flavor, my favorites.

Back at the office, I ate my quinoa salad:

I will share a recipe tomorrow. It turned out really good — basic, but tasty.

Towards the end of the day, one of my employees was putting out snacks for a training that evening. I couldn’t resist a handful of these ridiculous Flipsides Pretzel Crackers:

Then I made the long drive home to enjoy dinner with my insanely cute husband.

It was a simple meal of soup and bread, but it was made 1,000 times fancier by our . . . NEW TABLE! Here is the meal all plated (well, bowled) and displayed:

The table is not actually new, just new to us, and we can’t say THANK YOU enough to Chris and Jessica, our friends from Bakersfield, who gave the set to us. We feel like real grown-ups now.

Back to the meal. The soup was inspired by this stew, but I switched it up a lot by throwing together things in the pantry and the fridge. It ended up being a really nice taste of summer.

To make it, I added one can of fire-roasted tomatoes, half a chopped onion, four minced cloves of garlic, two chopped yellow squashes, half a container of chopped cremini mushrooms, leftover cooked garbanzo and black beans (maybe 3 cups total), the remnants of a bag of barley (probably 1/4 cup), three hot peppers, and spices (salt, pepper, thyme, and herbes de Provence) to the crock pot and put it in the fridge. We then cooked it on low for about eight hours the next day. When I got home, I stirred it, added about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast and one bunch of chopped parsley, and then let it simmer while I reheated the focaccia in the oven:

We each had seconds on the soup (X another full bowl, me a half bowl). We also realized the pickles I mentioned two weeks ago were ready.

I had one bite since I’m not a pickle eater, but he ate several.

The verdict is that they are very good! We will try making them spicy next time, just for fun.

Dessert was the last of the watermelon (this x2):

That was my Monday in food. I will be back tomorrow with some recipes. Tonight I’m attempting to make a kale salad that will be filling enough, so we’ll see how it goes.

Sweet n’ spicy eats

19 Mar

In my last post, I shared some recent restaurant eats. Today, I want to focus on some homemade stuff. We are trying to get back in the swing of cooking again (again again). Here’s what I’ve been brewing in my kitchen:

X’s Spicy Portobello Chili for the billionth time! Every time I make it, I change something because that’s just how I am. I’ve been working on thickening it up lately, so this batch contained:

  • Olive oil spray instead of regular olive oil
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps instead of 5 (shh! don’t tell the mister)
  • Closer to 1 cup of water instead of 3
  • 1 can of chickpeas and 1 can of black beans, our current favorite combo
  • 4 chipotle peppers instead of 2, per his request
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder instead of 3
  • No cumin instead of 1 tablespoon because I’m out and way cheap

But everything else is the same ingredients-wise and preparation-wise. This time, I also used my new Le Creuset Dutch oven for the preparation, and I love how it deliciously caramelizes the onions. Thanks to my work committee who bought it for me as a wedding present!

Our pantry and fridge were pretty bare this weekend, but I still managed to concoct a tasty vegan breakfast Saturday morning:

Breakfast quinoa with a few chocolate chips (maybe 7), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, two pinches of brown sugar, hefty sprinkling of cinnamon, and toasted slivered almonds. Perfection!

That same day, I made an easy lunch that we both absolutely loved — and it’s one I can add to the quick and easy tag for the first time in forever! Behold:

Barbecued Mushroom Wraps

  • Olive oil spray (or use water or veggie broth)
  • 1/4 of a large onion, sliced thinly
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 Portobello mushroom caps, washed and chopped (cremini ‘shrooms work, too)
  • 1 cup of prepared barbecue sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (optional)
  • Hot pepper sauce (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Four whole wheat tortillas

Spray a medium pot or skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, cooking until softened. Add the garlic for about a minute. Now add the mushrooms and cook for about two more minutes. Pour in the barbecue sauce, chipotle (if using), hot pepper sauce, chili powder, and black pepper, stirring to combine. Let it do its thing while you heat up the tortillas. I add them one at a time to a dry skillet over low heat, about 20 seconds per side. When they’re pliable, plate ’em and fill with the barbecued mushroom concoction. Enjoy!

Serves two hungry people.

I served ours more like tacos than wraps because, frankly, I suck at the wrapping thing, and I wanted to maximize the amount of filling we could use.

I have been using a Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce recently, but my other favorite cheap-ish, healthy-ish one is Bull’s-Eye Kansas City Style. It’s still kinda high in sugar, but it doesn’t contain any corn syrup or anything else too nasty.

What’s your favorite kind (or style) of barbecue sauce? I’ve always preferred the molasses flavor of KC-style, as long as it isn’t too sweet.

Breakfast KEEN-wah

18 Sep

Until yesterday, Marcello had been feeling neglected again, so I made it up to him with another bike ride today. I will make such a wonderful mother.

We added a little less than a mile to yesterday’s jaunt for a total of 5.3 miles and about 130 calories burned.

I never look like the majority of other riders. First, my bike is nearly twice my age and shows it — in a sexy older man kind of way, of course. Marcello is the George Clooney or Harrison Ford of the bicycling world. Also, I tend to wear jeans and cotton flats instead of the gear sported by the real enthusiasts. Today, I took it a step further: I was Donna Reed on two wheels.

Yes, I wore pearls. Well, glass pearls on the Anne Boleyn necklace I made myself. No shame, no shame at all. I had already showered so I could hit up the farmers market, so I opted for my other favorite, slightly scandalous method of cooling off:

Be thankful I spared you the undies shot.

By now, I may be posting my playlist more for my own enjoyment now than anyone else’s, but I persist. My Nano is not always the best at being random on shuffle, nor does it tend to hit my mood all that well, but I have to give My Little Grape mad propz for its song selection today. Other than playing two Rolling Stones songs (no cardinal sin in itself), this playlist was a perfect mix of mid-tempo, retro (or retro-feeling) songs and some slightly more upbeat modern tracks:

  1. Lily Allen, “Knock ‘Em Out”
  2. Goo Goo Dolls, “Acoustic #3”
  3. The Monkees, “I’m a Believer”
  4. Outkast, “Church”
  5. Joshua Radin, “Brand New Day”
  6. The Rolling Stones, “I Got the Blues”
  7. Vampire Weekend, “Cape Cod (Kwassa Kwassa)”
  8. The Rolling Stones, “Tell Me”
  9. M.I.A. featuring Afrikan Boy, “Hussel”
  10. Dar Williams, “Christians and Pagans”
  11. Simon & Garfunkel, “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her”

Afterward, I needed some real fuel. Coffee and sweat only keep the hunger at bay for so long. Since it was already after 11:00, I opted for a breakfast-lunch hybrid (some people call that brunch):

Sweet quinoa, topped with maple syrup and cinnamon. Fact that should embarrass me: I pronounced it phonetically (quih-NO-uh) for about a year. It’s KEEN-wah so you don’t sound like an ignorant Okie, too.

Quinoa is a grain in the same way that tomatoes are vegetables and peanuts are nuts: in use, not in biology. I’m a big fan of it for a number of reasons, including its extreme ease to make, its fluffy texture, and its delicately nutty flavor. It also cooks up a lot faster than true grains, so it’s good to have around for a quick meal.

This is my first time sweetening it up, and I have to say I’m a new fan. I think I’ll try it with a sliced banana and some of the Justin’s nut butter next time. You could also add raisins if you like to take delicious things and make them disgusting. I don’t judge.

To accompany it, I enjoyed a delicate cup (or four) of Celestial Seasoning’s Honey Vanilla Chamomile, left over from my party, from my awesome teapot in a delicate cup:

Pinkies up!

And sorry to cross-polinate cross-promote, but I’m doing a giveaway on my craft blog. Head over to vote for my Indie Emporium logo and have a chance to win something from me!