Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Diced Dates

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

What to do with spinach and quinoa that you are bored with and don’t want to eat? You add blue cheese, bacon and sweet dates of course! Now, you and I both know that blue cheese and bacon do not a healthy meal make so I really wasn’t even planning on sharing this. So I’m telling you this as a warning: don’t do what I did kiddos. I remember this day exactly, I had already had pancakes for breakfast so I guess it was really a curse-you-diet kind of day…

First, get a big pot of water going for the quinoa and cook per instructions. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes once done.

I like to add 1/2 tsp tumeric to my quinoa. This adds a little flavor and also makes it this nice, bright color.

Then sautee the spinach. Harmless so far.

I would do a very hearty handful, this stuff always disappears when cooking.

Oh, but then here comes the bacon.

I oven bake my bacon at 375° for about 12-15 minutes. Break apart into smaller pieces.

And it’s all over with the blue cheese…

Crumble however much you like. There are no measurements and no judgements here.

I kept the dressing very simple: tbsp balsamic vinegar, tbsp olive oil, tsp honey, tsp dijon mustard

This was the right ratio but don’t feel the need to use all of it since you don’t want to mask the taste of the ingredients!

And then mix it all together and toss in some sugary, sweet diced dates, just for the heck of it.

How can something so wrong taste so right?

Now don’t say you got it from me–can’t have my name associated with so decadently transforming what could be a healthy lunch.

Hummus and Arugala Pizza

August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Leftover arugala from your Arugala, Diced Dates and Blue Cheese salad? Lightbulb moment: I wish I thought of eating my salad in pizza form before. Recipe adapted from Gourmet Made Simple (Don’t you love when you rediscover an old cookbook fave?)

I do envision myself baking my own dough one day but I had just returned from Barry’s Boot Camp so today was not that day. I used Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat.

I favor extremely thin, crispy pizza crust so next time, I will take the time to really roll this thing out nice and thin

While the crust is going (10-12 minutes), you can whip up the hummus.

Blend the following:
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic
cayenne pepper to taste

 

Add more chicken stock if necessary so the mixture is smooth and easily spreadable.

In a large bowl, toss 4 c. arugala with the following:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard

Season with salt and pepper to taste

Top it all off with Parmesan curls and enjoy!

For whatever reason, I always think of meals in terms of entertaining. To make this less messy to eat as a party app, I would pre-cut in two-bite pieces.

Shrimp BLT Tacos

August 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

You’ll notice the “L” in BLT is missing.I guess if you are going to forget one ingredient, it may as well be the L…

 

File it under “easy, healthy, weeknight dinners”. These are so tasty and so quick to prepare and clean up that you can make them no matter what you have on schedule that evening.

I used about 1 piece of bacon per taco.

I have found that oven baking bacon is easiest for control. 10-15 minutes at 375° (depending on how crispy you like prefer bacon).

Just run them under water for 20 seconds and let stand for 5 minutes to thaw.

 

While the bacon is going, you can get started on the other ingredients. I used Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp which are pre-cooked, peeled and deveined. I heated them up in a skillet with some salt and pepper so they would be warm with the tacos.

I’ll admit it, I fried my tacos. Just a 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil and high heat for 10-15 seconds per side will puff these guys up. Make sure they are FLOUR tortillas.

 

Now for the avocado crème from Gourmet Made Simple.

1 avocado, diced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 sour cream
1/4 tsp ground cumin
The ingredients call for 1-3 tbsp water depending on desired consistency which I did not include since I preferred the chunky texture. I did add 1 small clove garlic which I definitely recommend.

Blend avocado, lime juice, sour cream, cumin and garlic in blender or food processor.

I preferred the chunkier texture.

Serve with diced tomatoes and top with fresh chopped cilantro.

Best enjoyed outside on a mild August night with a glass of wine and someone to share with :)

Arugala with Diced Dates and Blue Cheese

August 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

This week I inadvertently made a transitional salad. I didn’t realize the combination would have subtle hints of fall to come while still being sweet and peppery enough for August. I used store-bought diced dates so the process was a cinch, just a matter of whipping up the dressing.

Toss arugala with diced dates. BOOM two ingredients done.

I quickly learned shredding was not the way to go–blue cheese is much easier to crumble by hand.

Dressing from Gourmet Made Simple:

1 shallot minced (unless you are a huge fan of shallots, I would maybe use 1/2)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vegetable stock 
1 tsp honey

I personally thought my shallots were not “minced” enough, I prefer a finer texture but the larger pieces provide much more of a bite.

Whisk it all together. I actually used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock since I had it on hand. I can’t imagine the overall effect is very different but it is worth a test!

The sweetness of the dates and creaminess of the blue cheese balances the peppery arugala and bite from the shallots for a perfect warm-weather-turning effect.

I think it’s good now through October.

Something about this combo is just SCREAMING for a flatbread variation…

 

 

 

 

Mom’s French Toast

August 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes you just crave the foods you grew up on. Like any 13-year-old girl normal, adult woman will tell you, a birthday is not really a day but rather, can extend into a series of events all revolving around the “birthday girl.” In this spirit, I trekked up to Philadelphia to continue to celebrate my now long-gone birthday with family and friends. Lucky for me, I was treated to exactly what I was looking for–my mom’s french toast.

Perfect with bacon and eggs.

As this is a mom recipe, it is not measured or recorded but rather eyeballed and felt so I took my camera to document the process. What I love about this version is that there is one bowl and a skillet involved. I can definitely manage that clean-up.

Match the egg count to how many people you are feeding. For 4 people, we used 4 eggs (two slices per person)

Then milk is added and whisked together.

I would say about 1/2 cup for 4 eggs.

The real secret is a dash of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract.

About 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla.

Once you dip the bread (I like a hearty, grainy variety for texture), it’s off to a heated skillet to brown on each side.

About 5 minutes per side should do the trick over medium.

Add some butter and heated syrup and a sprinkle of confetioners sugar and you are good to go.

And yes, I still get a “It’s Your Special Day” plate.

If you are hungry for more (HA) be sure to check out my guest post today on the fabulous Once In a Blue Room blog  (while the beautiful Emily is away in England-jealy). She is style and design oriented so everything on there is adorable, fabulous or genius–usually all 3!

Salmon with Lemon-Pepper Sauce

August 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

I was craving fish after some heavy meals and found this recipe online. I didn’t even do the watercress salad (I hate tarragon. Can I say that?) but the salmon was absolutely delectable. I’m talking probably the best salmon I’ve ever made.

I cut the recipe down for two only using my non-exact math way so what I used was something like this.

For the marinade:
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2/3 tablespoon honey
1/3 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing
1/3 tablespoon chopped shallot (and by shallot I mean scallion)

I wish I could say I used scallions instead of shallots because that’s what I had on hand but in reality I was just confused at the grocery store.

I always debate whether to throw up the raw fish pics. But marinating is the most important part! About an hour, turning occasionally.

Before and After. Roast until just opaque in the center about 14 minutes. Sometimes I’ll throw on the broiler for just a minute to get it darker on the outside.

For the Lemon-Pepper Sauce:
1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Pepper Sauce

The recipe says this is quintessential spring but I thought this was perfect outside on a summer night.

Honestly, the salmon was so perfect, I don’t even know if it needed the lemon-pepper sauce. But I did think it provided a nice balance to the warm, sweetness still lingering from the honey marinade with it’s cool, tart, creaminess.

Sunday Brunch Menu

July 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love chalkboards. This is meant to host our Nashville bucket list but it’s too fun to not update!

This Sunday we hosted  a little brunch in exchange for getting some prints and pictures that had been lying around the house finally hung (and as an extra bonus got to have a little dog run around!). I thought 1:00 seemed a little late for the french-toast-casserole-route so the dishes leaned more toward savory–save the scones.

I like to plan out my oven time so I know how long before people start to arrive I have to start getting things in. With the quiche taking an hour, I wanted to get the scones in first so that we’d have something to munch on if it went over time.

Some people are just not scone people (my mom) but I thought these had just the right touch of sweetness and a tartness from the lemon and cran combo. I used the recipe from Candice Kumai’s Pretty Delicious which focuses on health conscious recipes so with 4 grams of protein and only 4 grams of fat, you really don’t need to feel guilty ending (or starting) brunch on a sweet note.

I like the triangle shape so as not to be confused with a biscuit. They just beg for a spot of tea.

This was the first time I tried making a quiche. I found this recipe by Martha Stewart but am not a huge fan of leeks so filled my quiche with zucchini, tomato and gruyère instead. I’m guessing any veggies that float your boat would do.

I sauteed the zucchini for 5 minutes in a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and basil and tossed in some sliced plum tomatoes for the last minute.

 

I got caught using a frozen pie crust when the filling overflowed on me but it turned out just fine.

The Skinny Mini BLT’s were also from Pretty Delicious. I love the extra health kick from the avocado and the cookie cutter shapes were a really cute idea!

The book recommends toasting the bread and oven-baking the bacon at the same time to save time. I would take the toasts out before the bacon though, mine were just a tad overdone.

The spicy-sweet honey mustard was perfect with the saltiness of the bacon. 1/2 cup dijon mustard with 1 tbsp. honey.

To round out the meal, I kept the spring salad simple and used the ole’ fried goat cheese trick. All in all, very easy to complete. I wouldn’t necessarily call anything “make ahead” in the sense where I would do it the night before, but all of these recipes are PERFECT for entertaining because nothing has to be served hot out of the oven. I just let them collect on my counter as I moved onto each new recipe.

I haven’t gotten great at presentation. I bet you could go nuts with cute china for the scones and little plates for the BLT’s

 

 

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