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Quinoa & Roasted Carrot Salad

15 Mar

In order to balance out all of the baked goods that have somehow made their way into our house (what else was I supposed to do with the Nutella? Or with the knowledge that there’s a killer bakery 15 minutes from my house by foot), I have been looking for some healthy recipes to balance out the gluttony. I came across this quinoa and carrot salad my latest issue of Bon Appétit and decided it looked perfect! Not only could I make most of it ahead of time, I could make a large batch for leftovers.

I made a few changes to suit my own taste and am really happy with how it turned out. The carrots were sweet, the feta was salty and the pepper rings added some heat. (You can find the original recipe here.) It’s an adaptable recipe, so feel free to make your own changes and let me know how you liked it!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 c quinoa, rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tb apple cider
2 tb honey
2 ts finely grated lemon zest
1 tb fresh lemon juice
2 tb apple cider vinegar
5-10 pickled hot pepper rings, chopped

10 oz feta, crumbled
1 head Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves torn

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 450F.
2. Boil 4 cups of salted water and add the quinoa. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Add in the onion and cook an additional minute. Drain and let stand 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, oil a foil-lined baking sheet for the carrots. In a medium bowl, whisk the apple cider and honey. Add in the carrots and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and place on the sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and cool.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Slowly add the 1/4 c olive oil and whisk til smooth to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the carrots and hot peppers to the quinoa. Dress with most of the vinaigrette and stir to coat.
6. Place lettuce on a plate, scoop the salad on top and finish with the rest of the vinaigrette. Crumble feta on top.

quinoa and carrot salad

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Easy Roasted Chicken Thighs, New Potatoes & Veggies

30 Jan

With the foodNURDling around, I don’t have a lot of spare time or free hands. A few days ago, however, while he slept blissfully in the early evening I headed into the kitchen to make dinner. It felt so good to be back in there after weeks away from the stove.

I had some chicken thighs, some potatoes, sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes. I didn’t want to make a lot of dishes, so on to a large roasting sheet they were to go. In a large bowl, I made a quick marinade with olive oil, paprika, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper and tossed in the chicken and halved new potatoes. In went the potatoes into a hot oven, followed by the chicken and finally the peppers and tomatoes (with just a little salt, pepper and olive oil). Forty-five minutes later I have moist, aromatic chicken, beautifully roasted potatoes that are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside, and lovely, caramelized vegetables. There was almost no prep work and minimal clean up: perfect!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs (skin removed, if you like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
2 tb paprika
1 tb thyme
1 ts salt
1 ts black pepper
1 lb small potatoes, halved
1 sweet pepper, sliced
1 container of cherry tomatoes, scored on the top

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, oil, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Add in the potatoes and chicken and toss to coat.
3. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spread out the potatoes in a single layer on one side. After 15 minutes, add the chicken (skin-side down if you kept it) and stir the potatoes around. Bake 15 minutes.
4. After 20 minutes are up, add the vegetables to the sheet (with their own salt, pepper and olive oil) and flip the chicken over. Bake for another 15 minutes.
5. When the  last timer goes off, remove the sheet from the oven and enjoy!

chicken thighs, potatoes, veg

Easy, Fresh Asparagus & Corn Salad

20 Jul

We’ve made this tasty, simple salad at home a few times and it always goes down a treat. Now is the perfect time to make it, too, with fresh corn, asparagus and basil in abundance! (My mother-in-law happened to have both green and purple basil in her garden, so that’s what he used in this incarnation.) J made it as part of my birthday dinner last week for a few of us up at the cottage and everyone commented on how much they enjoyed it – I’m sure you and your guests will, too.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

4 ears corn, shucked
1 bunch asparagus, washed, trimmed
1 small red onion, diced
1 handful of basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade (very thin slices)

1/2 c sugar
1 c rice wine vinegar
1 ts salt
1 ts black pepper

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the corn and cook 3 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath to halt cooking process.
2. With the water still boiling, add the asparagus spears. Blanch again, for 1 minute. Remove and place in an ice bath.
3. Carefully remove the corn kernels from the cobs and place in a large bowl.
4. Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces and place in the bowl.
5. Add in the red onion and basil.
6. In a small, separate bowl, mix together the sugar, vinegar, salt & pepper. Pour on to the vegetables in the big bowl and mix thoroughly. Season to taste, if necessary.

Mango Basmati Rice

25 Jun

Let’s face it: rice is…well, it’s just rice. It’s not the most exciting ingredient. But what it lacks in flavour it makes up for in versatility, transforming from modest to extraordinary with a few extra steps. This is a modified version of Tyler Florence’s recipe: I used peanuts instead of cashews as that’s what I had around. He also calls for mint, but you could use cilantro or basil, too. I served this with lemon curry chicken, but it would go well with shrimp, pork or fish dishes.

Ingredients

1 c basmati rice
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed w/ side of the knife
kosher salt
1/2 lb green beans
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 c cashews
1/4 c mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 mango, peeled, pitted & chopped
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
black pepper

Directions

1. Put rice in a sauce pan with the ginger, 2 cups of water and 1 1/2 ts salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir, turn down the heat, cover and cook 12 minutes. (If serving cold, spread the rice on a baking sheet and bring to room temperature.) Discard ginger.
2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the beans. Fill a large bowl with ice water and add just enough salt so that you can taste it. Boil the beans for three minutes and then place them in the ice water for another minute or so to stop the cooking and maintain their bright green colour.
3. Place the mango, red onion, mint and cashews in a large bowl. Stir together with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add in the rice and beans, seasoning with the lemon juice. Re-season with salt & pepper if necessary.

Rich, Tangy BBQ Sauce

23 Apr

I’ve gotten pretty proficient at making pulled pork and I happen to like mine on the saucy side. I have two default recipes that I tend to use: one has a tomato-based, Mexican-flavoured sauce with onions, garlic, jalapenos and spices; the other is marinated in a spice rub over night and cooked in the slow cooker with a little water and some liquid smoke. Since I’m making the pulled pork myself, I thought I ought to make some BBQ sauce, too! I had molasses in the fridge and figured that’d be a good place to start! This recipe makes more than enough for a 3lb pork shoulder and would also be great on ribs!

Ingredients

1/2 c  molasses
1 1/2 c brewed coffee
1/2 c Dijon mustard
2/3 c ketchup
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tb Worcestershire
2 tb hot sauce
2 tb brown sugar, if necessary

Directions

1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, reducing by about half. You may want to help the mustard dissolve in the sauce by pushing the small clumps that may form up against the sides of the pan.
3. Taste and season as necessary. Add more hot sauce if you like it hotter, the brown sugar if you like it sweeter, etc.

The Best Freaking Cornbread Recipe

28 Mar

I mentioned off-handedly today that there will be cornbread on the menu this weekend. When asked if I had the recipe up, I realized I didn’t because I don’t make it: J does. The first time he made it, we ate half the pan and we could’ve eaten more but calmer heads prevailed thereby preventing us from exploding. (For the record, it would’ve been worth it.)

This is actually a recipe from the Joy of Cooking, but J adds creamed corn, either chipotles or jalapenos for some heat, green onion, as well as shredded cheese. Scrumptious, I promise. If you can get your hands on a cast iron pan, do so. It’s the best vessel for cooking cornbread as it will make the edges nice and crispy. Be sure to get it screamingly hot, too: that’s the key.

Serves 4- 6 (If you bother sharing)

Ingredients

2/3 c sugar
2 beaten eggs
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 c yellow cornmeal
1 tb baking powder
3/4 ts salt
1 tb melted butter
1 c milk
1/2 c heavy whipping cream or buttermilk

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400F and place a cast-iron pan in the oven.
2. Mix sugar and eggs in a large bowl. In smaller bowl combine, the flours, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture – do not over-stir.
3. Add butter, milk, and cream (or buttermilk), again stirring just until mixed.
4. Carefully remove the now-hot pan and add the butter. Let it melt and then add in the complete mixture.Place in the oven and cook 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted through the thickest part of the bread comes back clean.

A whole pan o' delicious

Making Couscous a Little More Interesting…

3 Feb

I quite like couscous for a number of reasons, but I especially love how versatile it can be and how quick it is to make. I got into a discussion with a coworker the other day about this and started coming up with different ways to cook it aside from the standard water with some salt. Here are a few options we talked about…

Cooking liquid:

  • Orange Juice
  • Apple Juice
  • Vegetable/Chicken broth

Extra goodies:

  • Chopped almonds
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Currants
  • Chopped apricots
  • Fresh herbs – cilantro, parsley, thyme, mint
  • Veggies – frozen/fresh peas or corn (use a little more cooking liquid and add these in with the couscous)
  • Spices – cumin, paprika, chili powder, curry powder
  • Feta cheese

Really, you can try just about anything with couscous. Like quinoa and rice, you can adapt it to fit whatever flavor profile you’d like. What do you, fine readers, do with your couscous?

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