Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Herbs, Cucumber, Cheese and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I  still love quinoa and I am often on the lookout for new recipe with the protein rich grain/seed! Here is one I just came up with this weekend for a light lunch on a hot summer day. Packed with nutrients, this salad will not leave you hungry!
Quinoa Salad with Herbs, Cucumber, Cheese and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

Dressing-Whisk together the following -
2-3 TBSP Lime or lemon juice
3 TBSP olive oil, may use more if needed
Zest of 1 small lemon (or maybe lime would work too)
1 tsp. Lemon pepper
½ tsp. Garlic powder
Generous pinch of cumin, smoked paprika, optional
Salt to taste
1 Cucumber
1 Tomato
½ cup Parsley, minced
 About 2 Tablespoons basil or other fresh herbs, minced
½-3/4 cup Sweet peppers, diced, either the small ones or bell peppers  

½-2/3  cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2/3  cup Smoked Gouda or other cheese, cubed, optional
Kale chips for garnish, optional (or premade kale or seaweed chips)
Green leaf or romaine lettuce for serving

Note: All of these amounts are flexible; this is just to give you an idea.

First rinse and cook quinoa. You can use any method you like.  I know some people have trouble with having mushy, soggy or overcooked quinoa. This does not have to be!! Try one of the methods listed in this note.*

Once quinoa is done you can add the dressing and then refrigerate until cool

Peel or mostly peel cucumber then slice in half lengthwise twice, quartering. Cut the seeds out. Chop.
Cut up tomato, squeezing out some of the seeds. Chop.
Seed and dice sweet peppers.

Preheat oven to 3 50 and roast raw pumpkin seeds in a bit of olive oil, salt and pinch of cumin and smoked paprika if desired.  Roast until crunchy, about 8-11 minutes.

If you have a leaf or two of kale, make a mini batch of kale chips. Wash the leaves, dry, cut of stems and into pieces. Rub with just a hint of olive oil. Turn oven down to 300 and bake for 10 minutes or so until fully crisp but not browned.

After quinoa has cooled a bit add the cucumber, tomato peppers and herbs. Throw in any fresh herbs you would like. Mix it all together. Taste and adjust lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. If you need more oomph you may splash a bit of vinegar or crumble some red pepper flakes in.

Plate and nice sized scoop of salad on a bed of green leaf or romaine lettuce and top with crunchy seeds and creamy cheese cubes and a sprinkle of kale chips if desired. Of course for dairy free you may skip cheese.

*Start by rinsing quinoa. I buy pre rinsed but still make sure to rinse well to remove the bitter residue that is a naturally occurring pest and mildew deterrent.

One way to rinse is to use the finest mesh sieve and place it in a bowl to soak and rinse. Some quinoa may fall through, but the bowl will catch it. However you do it, Rinse several times and then you are ready to cook.

Next it is time to cook the quinoa. Here are three ways you can cook quinoa for any recipe.

Method 1- My favorite is to use a rice cooker and cook as you would rice. The rice cooker works wonderfully with little effort or guessing when it is done, making nice fluffy “grains.”

Method 2-Another way is to cook it according to package instructions in a good sized pot with a tight lid. I bring salted water to a boil, stir in quinoa, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Some varieties may take up to 20 minutes. But check for doneness and when the grains are tender, remove from heat. If there is any water you may drain this with a sieve. This is my second choice for how to cook it.

Method 3- I saw this on a Rachel Ray cooking show years ago but I am not sure which one. It takes a bit more work but comes out as nice as it does in the rice cooker and is my preferred method without rice cooker.

 Rinse quinoa  in a fine-mesh sieve then pour it into a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook until almost tender, about 12 minutes; drain in the sieve. In the same pot, bring enough water to reach about 2 inch to a simmer over medium heat. Set the sieve with quinoa in the pot. Cover with a kitchen towel, then the lid, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.

Whatever method you use: DO NOT OVERCOOK Quinoa! Check it just before it is supposed to be done and only use the amount of water specified. If there is any water left after quinoa is cooked, try draining it with a sieve. You want it dry and fluffy...



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Roasted Corn Kernels Off the Cob

I love fresh sweet corn on cob yet there are times when I would like to eat it sans cob. Sometimes it is because I want to use the cobs to make corn broth for chowder. Other times, I just don’t want the messiness of eating off the cob or Great Aunt Matilda is coming and would like things a little more refined. Whatever the reason, I will now try to use it more because I LOVE the way fresh roasted corn tastes. It is so good, I came home tonight and had some for a snack.

 Roasting makes each kernel sweet, and full of flavor while it also enhances texture with a subtle caramelization and slight crunch to the tender kernels.  You just have to try this! Plus, you won’t end up with corn all over your face J

Roasted Corn Kernels Off the Cob

4 or 5 ears of corn
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tsp. of butter (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450.

Husk and wash the ears of corn.
Over a very large bowl, hold an ear by one end and cut off kernels of the lower end with a large, sharp knife. Turn the ear over and cut off the rest.   It is okay if you leave a few on because you can make a wonderful corn broth with the cobs. Add the cobs with water to cover and salt in a stock pot and let them simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Strain and use to make corn chowder—yum! You can freeze for later.
Use foil, if desired to line a very large rectangular jelly roll/cookie sheet with an lip around the edge.  Rub just a bit of oil on the pan.  Place the corn in a single layer. If you have too much corn, get another pan. Don’t crowd. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and mix it in well so that corn has a light coating of oil but not too much!!
Place corn in the 450 oven. It takes about 12 to 18 minutes to roast. Turn/stir as needed so it begins to brown evenly  and check after about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter, if desired, and let it continue roasting another 5 minutes or until it is a bit firm and beginning to brown or crisp here and there. Remove and serve.
This roasted corn is an excellent side dish. But if you have enough you can use it in salsa, sprinkled over soups or salads, in “Spanish” rice with black beans and tomatoes, etc.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Butterscotch Blondies


 These soft and chewy Butterscotch bars are sort of a cross between a cookie and a carmely brownie. It is a family favorite. My daughter used my old recipe and  baked them to bring to our fourth of July cook out where they were happily received by all.

As you may know, I like to make nutritious dishes-- most of the time. But every once in a while (well, maybe slightly more often...) I want to make something the tastes wonderful but may have a bit more sugar or contains something I seldom use, like shortening. Today is one of those days!  I have tried making these with something besides shortening and it just did not work as well! You could try half shortening and half butter or coconut oil but it will affect the texture. I try to only make these when there will be a big crowd because then I won't be tempted to eat half a pan :-)
I don't know where the original recipe came from but I got it from a friend about 25 years ago and have changed a few things.
Butterscotch morsels are a delicious butterscotch chip similar to chocolate chips but if they are not available in your locale, these are wonderful even without the morsels. You could substitute toffee bits or chocolate chips.

   Butterscotch Blondies

 ½   cup   shortening
1 ¾    cups brown sugar, packed
2    egg          
2   teaspoons   vanilla extract
1 ½   cups    flour
1   teaspoon  salt
2   teaspoon  baking powder
 1 ½   cups  butterscotch morsels ( Nestle’s )
1    cup     nuts, chopped -- optional

Preheat oven to 350.

Place shortening  in a medium  mixing bowl and heat in microwave until melted.( You may melt shortening on stove or in oven if preferred.)

 Mix in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into another bowl and blend well.  Gently fold and thoroughly blend into sugar and shortening mixture.  Fold in morsels and nuts.

Grease 13x 9" pan and press mixture evenly into pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes at 350'. Check that blondies are set and starting to firm up like brownies. If not, bake them another 5 minutes.


Cool a few minutes then cut into pieces while warm, but do not remove until blondies are cool.





Monday, July 1, 2013

Carrot Parsnip Soup with Ginger

I love soup! It is velvety smooth and full of flavor. I love making it is fall or spring but it is really good year round! It is nice to have a favorite soup which is made from things that are available year round like carrots and parsnips.

Carrot Parsnip Soup with Ginger

4 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium, organic)
1-2 cups water
2-3 TBSPN of ginger paste, crushed fresh ginger
1 tsp. garlic (about 1 clove), crushed
1 large can of coconut milk, maybe an extra little one
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

In a large pot, heat vegetable broth and a cup or two of water. Add sliced parsnips and carrots. Simmer for about 20 minutes then add ginger and garlic. Simmer another 15-20 minutes until vegetables are very tender.

Put a colander into a bowl or pan. Spoon carrots and parsnips into colander placed over a pan or bowl and drain, reserving broth. Put vegetables, about 1/3 at a time into blender with a bit of the coconut milk.  Put pureed vegetables back into pan and add coconut milk along with enough broth to get it the right consistency.  You can serve this thick and creamy or thinner. Add spices to taste.