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A Fancy Salad Made With The Simplest Ingredients

9 Sep

Looking for a quick & healthy lunch or dinner idea? Try this simple but hearty salad with chicken, diced apples, almonds, cranberries, pinenuts & cheese (mozzarella & cheddar). Serve with a honey mustard or balsamic dressing.

I chose the ingredients based on items I had in my fridge & pantry. Feel free to substitute based on what you have.

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Everything But The Kitchen Sink Salad; A Simply Simple Super Salad

13 May

I know what you are saying. She started off so strong and then poof, fizzle and gone. Penny’s blog, like so many others before hers, had disappeared just as fast. Well hold on darling because Penny’s no quitter. However, I am a master Jack of all Trades which means…I’m busy as hell. Lol, like most moms I know, I am a first class circus act. What’s my specialty, juggle, juggle, juggle. I’m always juggling being a mommy of my two super adorable but very active girls, a wife to a great guy, my community service involvement and of course my own very stressful job.

However, I don’t quit. I just acknowledge my priorities. Which means things I want to do, prefer to do and wish I could do more often, sometimes have to be put aside so I can complete things I have to do. Blah, blah, blah, enough already. I said all that to say…I’m here. Even when I don’t post for a month. I’m here.

So let’s talk about some food. Just because I haven’t been around does not mean I haven’t been cooking. Well, to be honest I haven’t been cooking quite as much. Having major surgery will do that to you. Oh yes, long story short, I had a surgery but I’m all better now. Anyway, my lack of cooking has not resulted in a lack of inspiration. So today I was inspired to make a yummy salad.

This salad was no frills but chock full of yummy goodness. I call it the “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” salad. It’s quite easy and can be eaten as a side dish or add chicken or fish and turn it into an entree. Plus this salad is extremely healthy, yet you won’t be hungry afterwards.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups Chopped Lettuce (I used an Iceberg & Caesar blend. I like these varieties because they are pretty firm.)
1/4 cup Black Beans
1/4 cup cooked Corn
1/2 of a chopped Cucumber
1/2 of a chopped Tomato
1/4 cup Cheese (I actually just cut up a cheese stick)
A small handful of corn chips. I used blue organic corn chips.

Simply mix all of the ingredients together (except the chips) and then crumble the chips on top of the salad. I served this salad with a an Asiago Peppercorn dressing which complimented the beans and corn perfectly. Next time I make this salad I will likely add some chopped avocado. So, if you are looking for a nice summer salad that won’t make your waist expand then try this one. Bon Appetit!

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Below is a picture of this salad served with a Turkey Burger. Look for the Turkey Burger recipe in an upcoming post.

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Great Grains

18 Mar Culinary Jewels: Red Quinoa Salad

Sometimes, I yearn to be inspired. However, inspiration for me does not just show up on demand. Instead, it just arrives, like a random thought. Minute in the bigger scheme of things but significant enough to make me feel an internal spark that is completely fueled by creativity.  One day not so long ago I felt that spark upon seeing a picture of a beautiful salad.  Despite not knowing exactly what it was I was inspired to try this beautiful yet unique dish.  The salad was not made with lettuce, croutons or covered with a heavy dressing.  Instead it was made with a grain I had never heard of called Red Quinoa.  I could barely pronounce it.  I felt like Kanye West, “Pass the versaychee” (instead of Versace).   I asked my favorite chef at Wegmans about the “Kwuh-No-Uh” only to later find out from one of my vegetarian friends that it was actually pronounced “Kwin-wah”.   I may not have been able to pronounce the name of the grain but I knew I wanted to make salad. 

This salad was so colorful that it looked like a bowl full of jewels.  I was immediately inspired to try this dish.  I thought to myself, this salad makes me feel healthier just by looking at it.  I felt like I had already lost 15 pounds and was ready to go on a 5 mile run.  So, of course, I decided to make this superfood that would give me super powers.  Well, unfortunately much to my chagrin, no 5 miles runs were or are in my future (although I will walk the heck out of any trail) and for darn sure no 15 pound weight loss. 

 However, all illusions were worth it as this is one tasty dish.  It is also easy to make and since Quinoa is a superfood, (It contains more protein than any other grain) it is super duper healthy and good for you.  I try not to eat much pasta and while I love my veggies on the side, I was happy to have an additional side dish to add to my rotation.  I ended up serving my salad with juicy, tender, pan seared scallops.  As I enjoyed each morsel I felt like I was eating lunch at a a fancy cafe instead of in my kitchen.  Something about this dish just transported me to another calming relaxing place.  Of course, that could also have been due to the fact that my children were in their respective daycare and school and I was home with a rare day off.  Wow, I need to have another day like that soon, but I digress.   

Pan Seared Scallops With Red Quinoa Salad

Pan Seared Scallops With Red Quinoa Salad

 Now, I must be clear, I can not take credit for creating this salad.  It is a recipe completely created by Wegmans (www.wegmans.com).  However, I enjoyed it and I thought you might enjoy it also.  I also I chose to use Garlic Expressions vinaigrette instead of the lemon dressing they recommended and I added half a cup of chopped cucumber.  If you know me, then you know I can rarely make a recipe without adding my own touch to it.  So without further adieu I present to you the recipe for this delicious salad.

 

 RED QUINOA SALAD RECIPE

1 pkg (7 oz) Food You Feel Good About Red Quinoa (Grocery Dept), cooked per pkg directions, chilled
1 pkg (12 oz) Food You Feel Good About Just Picked and Quickly Frozen Super-Sweet Corn, thawed
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
2 plum tomatoes, 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, cubed small
1/2 cup Food You Feel Good About Lemon Vinaigrette (Produce Dept)
1/2 tsp pepper and salt

Directions:
Add cooked quinoa, corn, cilantro, green onions, and tomatoes to mixing bowl. Fold in avocados and dressing; mix until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

Nutrition Info: Each serving (1 cup) contains 210 calories, 27 g carbohydrate, (4 g fiber), 5 g protein, 9 g fat, (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, and 240 mg sodium.
Calories: 210

Culinary Jewels: Red Quinoa Salad

Culinary Jewels: Red Quinoa Salad

Fighting Childhood Obesity With Turkey Breast, Jambalaya and Quesadillas..i.e…HOMEMADE MEALS!

22 Feb

So, I was listening to my favorite radio program, NPR’S “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin. On this particular day they were discussing a study that showed that there was a link between working moms and overweight children. You can read the interview here: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/15/133777158/Study-Finds-Link-Between-Working-Moms-Overweight-Kids

My first thought was Ouch! Another shot at the working mom who, like most moms, is just trying to do what she feels necessary for her family. However, I could not help but also think about the children. Being the closeted nerd that I am, I have read articles and listened to countless radio and tv programs discussing study after study showing that our children are having higher rates of juvenile diabetes, cholesterol, and other obesity related diseases. So while I felt the sting of the working mom guilt, I knew that the most important thing is the well-being of our children. 

While I was thinking about this study I thought to myself that this just further proves that we (mothers and fathers) need to try hard at staying away from the fast food and cooking more at home. Now, I must say that I enjoy cooking and when I can really get into it, it is a source of relaxation for me. However, at 5:30pm after a long day of work, when I have just walked into the house and I have a 4.5 year old begging for a snack and a 1.5 year old clutched to my leg like a koala bear, I am as stressed as any mother out there. My husband doesn’t usually get home until a little after 6pm and it is my goal to have dinner on the table no later than 6:45pm. I must also admit that while I do prefer cooking, there are times when I decide to stop at Chick-fil-A.  As the saying goes, it is what it is and we do what we have to do.

However, there is also another saying that I love “Failure To Plan Is A Plan To Fail”. It is with this quote in mind that I try to plan out my meals. I think by taking the time to plan meals for our families, we can help prevent some of the potentials discussed in that study.

Now, I’m not saying that I have a calendar with all 5 days planned out. However, I do try to note in my head or on paper at least 3 meals that I will make during the week. I also try to pick meals that can be made in a larger quantity so we can leftovers the next day.  Finally, one of my secret weapons in the fight against the fast food drive in window is to make dishes (like meats or stews) the night before.  Meats taste better and are more tender if they are allowed to rest and the ingredients in stews (such as my jambalaya below) can better blend together and deliver a tastier dish.

So here are a few ideas for all you busy moms, dads and caregivers, that can help you during the busy work week.

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey!  Roasted turkey breast is one of the easiest items to make.  The recipe is to simply season it and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 – 170 degrees.  I like to also use broth to baste the turkey as it keeps it moist.  There, that’s it!  One of my secrets is to make this the night before.  Now you have a turkey breast that you can carve for sandwiches, cube for salads or just eat with your favorite side dish.

 

Above is a shot of the turkey breast after it has been carved.  I also made a very light gravy using 2 cups of broth, a tablespoon of the turkey drippings (don’t tell my husband I use drippings, he despises the idea of drippings used in food.  But what does he know this is my kitchen, haha) and one tablespoon of cornstarch.  In a saucepan just whisk the cornstarch into the hot liquid and viola.  You can adjust the thickness and taste of the gravy by adding more drippings and cornstarch. 

Above is the same turkey, now it is cubed.  Along with some fresh veggies and we turn that into…(see below)

A Yummy Turkey Cobb Salad in a tostada bowl.  The recipe is simply all of the items (cubed turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, cheese) shown in the above picture and lettuce inside of a tostada bowl.  The dressing I used is a mixture of equal parks guacamole (or you could just mash some avocado) and parmesan ranch dressing. 

Now to the left is a shot of my famous Quesadillas.  Well, they are not really famous but they are a staple in my home.  Now the trick with good quesadillas is to find great tortilla wraps.  You want some that are pliable and not dry.  I find that Trader Joes has the best tortilla wraps.  Their handmade tortilla wraps are never dry and they fold easily.  Now for this recipe it is simply the tortillas and cheese on a hot pan.  Actually, I have stuffed the two closed quesadillas with tomatoes.  You can stuff it with veggies, meat or anything you desire.  I like to spray the pan with Pam and once it is hot put the tortilla on it.  Then I add cheese to half of it and once it starts to melt I fold it.  I then flip it so it is golden brown on both sides.

My final exhibit is below.  It is actually a version on Jambalaya.  It is simply shrimp, chicken & turkey sausage in a tomato & chicken broth sauce.  I also added onions and served it with rice and a few quesadilla wedges.  You can also add corn, peppers or any number of veggies.  Here is a link to a more detailed recipe for jambalaya  http://www.gottarubit.com/2010/12/gottarubit-jambalaya/ .  This freezes well and taste even better the next day. This is another great dish to make the night before.

So I hope these dishes will inspire people to cook more at home and fight the urge to visit the place where you hear “May I take your order please”.  LOL, Bon Appetit!