Monday, March 25, 2013

Quinoa Vegetable Salad

Are you afraid of QUINOA?? I have to admit I was. I was very resistant to trying it - who wants to eat something that looks like that? Ew. Plus, it's supposed to be really good for you. Double ew. Not that I'm against eating healthy - I actually strive to serve my family healthy, well rounded meals every night - but I'm not a freak about it - and I'm certainly not going to serve something that doesn't taste delicious - and we all know that sometimes "healthy food" means it's flavorless and well... ew.

The other thing I didn't like about quinoa was that all the recipes I've read say that you have to rinse it and even though that isn't a big deal - I just didn't want to have to fuss with it. Then, I found "C&F brand Premium organic quinoa" at Costco - it has been rinsed and is ready to go - I just put it in my rice cooker and voila!

BUT - I am here to tell you that I actually LOVE QUINOA!! Yes, it's true. The trick is to pair it with things you love AND a delicious, tried and true dressing.

I planned to have the left overs for lunch the next day - all that protein!! But, there weren't any leftovers:)

Quinoa Vegetable Salad
1 cup quinoa - prepared per package directions
Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Orange bell pepper, diced
15 oz can of garbonzo beans (chick peas)
Green onion, diced
1 c corn
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to eat. I generally make the quinoa ahead of time so it can cool down and then go into the fridge with the rest of the components for a nice cold, light salad.

*I LOVE Watts Brothers organic super sweet white corn, in the freezer section. It's so good my kids eat it frozen or run under some water for a minute to thaw for a snack all the time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Garden Spinach Herb Tortilla Chips

I made these for St. Patrick's Day with and my trusty shamrock cookie cutter. I served them with fresh salsa. They were the first things to go - and I have to mention that the majority of them were eaten by my husband and his friend.

Because I cut them into shapes - I had lots of scraps left over - which I saved, because I don't like to waste things - but I didn't know what I was going to do with them. A few days later I was worried that they were going to go bad, so i put them on a sheet pan and made little chips with the scraps as well.

I have to tell you - they were gone in the first day. My kids LOVED them - even my 14 month old loves them! They couldn't be easier to make - and a healthier version than traditional tortilla chips! My kids ate them with salsa, sour cream, pink sauce (salsa + sour cream mixed together), guacamole and also loved them plain.

The Garden wraps just happen to be my favorite flavor, but I've also seen Sun Dried Tomato Basil, Jalapeno Cheddar, Multi Grain, Zesty Garlic Herb (ooh don't those sound wonderful!) So go crazy!!

Garden Spinach Herb Tortilla Chips
Mission brand Garden Spinach Herb Wraps
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Cut or tear the wrap into chip sized pieces. Drizzle a sheet pan lightly with olive oil. Place the tortilla bits on the sheet pan, then turn them over so both sides get a little of the good stuff. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes depending on preference. Enjoy!!  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chicken and Cream Cheese Taquitos

My son saw the chicken mixture in a bowl on the counter and said "what in the world is for dinner?" "Trust me buddy" as we sat down to eat - he gave me his usual list of questions (what is in it - how did you cook it, etc.) with my assurance that is he didn't like it - he didn't have to eat it (which is how I get my kids to eat everything) he took a bite and exclaimed "Holy man that is good!" Chances are if my picky eater loved it - your picky eater may too.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest with a link HERE - I just tweaked the recipe to suit my family. 

Chicken and Cream Cheese Taquitos
3 cups cooked shredded chicken (rotisserie is the best but you could used canned too)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c salsa
3 green onions, diced
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded*
Salt and pepper, to taste
9 - 10 (6-inch) flour tortillas
Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

In a large bowl mix together the chicken, cream cheese, sour cream, salsa and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Working with one tortilla at a time spread 2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture on 1/3 of the left side of the tortilla (the side that you will roll first) and spread out like a log. Roll up starting with the chicken side first and set seam side down on a platter. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled and rolled.
Add enough oil to a large skillet to generously cover the bottom. Heat on medium to medium-low heat, cook tortillas in batches, turning to brown each side. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Serve with: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, salsa verde - whatever you have that sounds good!

*Would also be really good with Pepperjack cheese

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tropical Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

It's started warming up here - FINALLY - and it's put me in the mood for some spring/summer food - particularly salads.

I wanted something that hit my tropical, citrus, crunch but didn't kill my sweet tooth, which meant I needed some good "neutral notes" and a bit of spice.

As most the fruit I craved aren't in season - I used the best product I could find. In the case of the mango and pineapple, I found a flash frozen blend in the freezer aisle, used canned mandarine oranges - but everything else was fresh.

My kids all raved about it! My son isn't big on salad dressings and usually dress all of his salads with a drizzle of honey - hey - just as long as he's eating fruits, veg, protein and fiber - right? The picture is of my picky sons plate - light on the chicken and sans the honey - but you get the idea.

Tropical Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped and rinsed*
1 c mango, diced
1 c pineapple, diced
1 c mandarine oranges
1 c sweet corn
1 c black beans, rinsed
1 c tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/4 c green onion, diced
1 jalapeƱo, diced (seeds or no seeds based on preference)
Grilled BBQ chicken (leftover from last night)
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette linked HERE - adapted from HERE

A salad is a salad - so there really aren't instructions if you've ever made or actually eaten one before. But I have a few tips. I wanted to get the most out of every ingredient and that took some foresight.

As a friend of mine said a few years ago after I converted her into making her own salad dressing said "I think the difference between a good salad and a mind blowing salad is home made dressing." I couldn't agree more. Home made dressing is easy and probably less expensive than the bottled stuff and most importantly has less preservatives and chemicals. As 2 of my kids have food allergies, it's also a huge benefit for me to know exactly what goes into everything - and when it's made from scratch...

That said, if you make your own salad dressing, make sure you give your dressing time for all the ingredients to combine their flavors, to thicken and - to get nice and cold.

Salad dressing in the bottle is convenient and sometimes necessary, if you chose to use bottled, make sure it's had enough time in the refrigerator to give you what you and your salad want - cold.

The mango and pineapple were frozen, so I thawed them per pkg directions on the counter - never, ever, ever thaw fruit in the microwave - ever. Then I made sure to drain the beans and the oranges and put them in the fridge so they would be nice and cold by dinner time. I diced the green onion and the jalapeno beforehand as they don't necessarily need to be chilled and as the tomato and avocado had been refrigerated since I brought them home - I waited until service to dice them.

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

I tend to like creamy salad dressings and creamy pasta dishes but I loved this Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. It gives you that hit of citrus, vinegar, herbaceous, sweet and salty that we all love.

I was inspired by this recipe HERE

But as the words inspiration and adaptation are two of the greatest words in my vocabulary - I had to mix things up a bit - to suit my tastes and my family's tastes - isn't cooking with inspiration amazing?

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
 *or from a bottle
1/4 c. rice vinegar

4-5 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. sugar
* I added more to taste - I didn't let my dressing sit long enough before serving
1 c. EVOO (or my fav blend - Kirklands Mediterranean mix of grapeseed, olive oil and canola oil.
1/2 c. roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed

Combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but still maintains some of its texture. 

Oh yeah.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Avocado, White Bean and Tangy Slaw Wrap

I saw an idea similar to this one on pinterest. Though, when I looked the recipe I saw that chili's in adobo sauce was the main flavor element. I've tried chili's in adobo sauce many times in many applications and I've finally decided that it's not something that will ever please my flavor pallet. 

With that said - I made a few changes to this recipe HERE to make it suit my tastebuds. Because that's what you do don't you?? Find and idea and then change it to suit your tastes or the tastes of those you cook for. 

There are so many ways to use a few basic ingredients to make a fab lunch or light dinner - see *below for another wrap I made today!

Avocado, White Bean, and Tangy Slaw Wrap
1/4 t salt
Pinch sugar
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 – 2 ½ c coleslaw mix (undressed)
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 avocado, pit removed and scooped out of skin
2 T minced red onion
Wraps or tortillas ( I love Garden Spinach Herb)

Whisk first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix and cilantro, toss to combine.
Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in onion.
To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 c of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap and top with about 2/3 c slaw. Roll up.  Serves 4

*I was hungry for that avocado white bean combination again - but didn't have what I needed to replicate the above recipe. SO. I made a wrap with 1/2 avocado, mixed with a light drizzle of my favorite oil on the planet (Costco's mediterranian blend - grape seed, canola & olive oil), light drizzle of a good balsamic vinegar (Costco also has my fav), dash salt, dash sugar. Mix together to incorporate all the flavors into the avocado mash. Spread avocado down the middle. Top with diced beef steak tomato, shredded carrot and the green parts of a green onion. It was so delicious!!


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