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Turkey Wrap with Thyme Onions and Cranberry Yogurt

11 Jan

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Well…the last year blog hiatus was unplanned. Lot of “life” things happened and the blogging fell on the back burner. The fun part is that all of the “life” things were good – a new house and a new baby came our way in 2015! I was pregnant for most of the last year and was REALLY tired the majority of my pregnancy, which really was silly because I sat all day for work (I commend any pregnant mama out there who is on her feet all day). Thus, I lost my drive for blogging as I spent many a night sprawled out on the couch with exhaustion from baking a human, or working alongside Luke to figure out the details / paperwork / DIY projects that come with a first house purchase, or making lists on lists on lists to prep for baby. Ruby Julaine arrived on October 2nd and it’s been a whirlwind of blow-out diapers, a hungry hungry baby, and giggles / cries / grins ever since.

Time does fly though and I’m now a mama to a three month old (what?!) and 9+ months into being a homeowner. I’m on my last few weeks of maternity leave and just love all the time I get with my little peanut. I’ve been finding time to have fun in the new kitchen while Ruby naps or while she’s strapped to my chest. Food is still VERY much one of my favorite things to read about, explore, talk about and share. I just have to be a bit more creative about how to sneak it into my day.

This blog started as a place where I could not only track the recipes that I knew would be “make again” for me because of how delicious they turned out, but to also share those recipes that I love, with you all. I’ve had a blast seeing what posts resonate with folks the most, creating and sending out Giveaway Packages and finding new and different ways to explore food.

As I prepared to delve back in to the blogging world, I knew that a different approach on the blog would be needed due to Ruby requiring so much of my free time. As all of my past posts will show, I used to photograph every step of a recipe. I always thought that was  cool on blogs that I read and I appreciated seeing those as I tried new recipes to ensure I was doing things the right way. But, I’ve realized that…

  1. it makes these posts crazy long at times
  2. often all of those pictures don’t provide anything better than a simple written description could

Thus – I’m trying a new approach going forward with a just a few summary pictures to capture a recipe and a more concise “How to Make” section.

Enough back story and rambling, what am I bringing to the blog today? This is a recreation of a “Twisted Turkey” wrap that I would get EVERY time it was offered at one of my past client’s cafeteria. It was a basic turkey wrap but with sautéed onions and cranberry mayo, which brought the wrap to another level. I always thought of it as a twist on a Thanksgiving dinner with elements of turkey and cranberry sauce used in a completely different way.

When I left that work project, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would have a craving for that wrap. So I made my own version, and I think you’ll LOVE it!

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I added my own healthy twist for the cranberries – making a cranberry yogurt instead of mayo. The base is a twist from my favorite cranberry sauce from Real Simple with Greek yogurt added in until the yogurt was smooth enough and the right taste. I also left out the bourbon from the base recipe (though you could keep it in and crank up the flavor even more!).

I also amped up the sautéed onions by taking a sub-recipe from my French Onion Soup Meatballs recipe, which I featured before on the blog. I have a vivid scent memory of making the onions the very first time I made those meatballs and I thought they’d be PERFECT for this wrap. I wasn’t disappointed!

I would recommend making a big batch of the sautéed Thyme Onions and Cranberry Yogurt in advance and then you’ll have both on hand to add to your wraps for the week and you can add these into other dishes too! The onions are great in sandwiches of all shapes and sizes or even on top of a steak and the cranberry yogurt is really tasty with granola and ice cream. 🙂

Ingredients (makes 1 wrap):

  • 1 tortilla
  • Handful of your choice of greens (I used iceberg lettuce in one wrap and spinach in another, up to you!)
  • 3-4 tomato slices
  • 1/2 cup of Thyme Onions (see below)
  • 3-4 slices of deli turkey breast
  • 2 Tbsp of Cranberry Yogurt

Thyme Onions:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 white onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used Shiraz)

Cranberry Yogurt:

  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries (I used fresh, but you can also do frozen)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • Greek yogurt to taste (I used about 1½ cups)

How to Make:

I recommend starting off with the Thyme Onions. These smell utterly FANTASTIC as they cook. Have a snack to munch while you make these, or you may be tempted to eat your hand. Seriously.

Slice your white onions by halving them and then slicing them into half-moon shapes. Add the olive oil to a big skillet and heat up over medium heat. Add in the sliced onions and the S&P. Stirring often, cook the onions until they’re caramelized – about 15-20 minutes – then add in the thyme, beef stock and red wine.

Turn the heat down to medium low and stir the onions frequently until there is little to no liquid left. Turn off the heat and set the onions to the side. They’ll be a pretty light purple (from the wine) and will taste SO good.

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To make the Cranberry Yogurt (my spin on cranberry mayo), it’s a combination of making a traditional cranberry sauce, like you’d eat at Thanksgiving, and then adding in yogurt until the result is the taste and consistency you want.

Put the cranberries, sugar and grapefruit juice all into a saucepan and simmer the concoction over medium low heat. You want to let this go until the cranberries burst and the sauce starts to thicken up, which takes about 20-25 minutes.

It works great if you have the onions and the cranberries all going at the same time as both need similar total time to cook and you can then stir and keep an eye on both things.

Once your cranberries are thick and the berries have burst, you’re ready to add in the yogurt. I love the creaminess and taste of Greek yogurt (not to mention the extra protein), so that’s what I recommend. Pour the cranberry sauce into a food processor (blender would work well too) and slowly add in yogurt until you get the flavor you want and the consistency you want. I added yogurt in 1/4 cups increments to see how things tasted / looked after each addition. I ended up adding about 1 and 1/2 cups total. But, this is completely up to you! Once you’re done, it’s a gorgeous pink color.

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The time has come to assemble your wrap! Spread the Cranberry Yogurt in a line down the center of your wrap and then, using the back of the spoon, spread it all over the tortilla. You can’t feel guilty about using lots of this delicious stuff, as it’s NOT the usual condiment of mayo. Yay!

Down the center of your tortilla, add your greens of choice and the slices of tomato. Then, lay your slices of turkey. Lastly, spread out the Thyme Onions on top.

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Fold up the bottom and wrap up the tortilla by folding one side of the tortilla over your ingredients and then gently rolling it up. Slice in half and enjoy!

This takes your normal turkey wrap and really kicks it up a notch in flavor. One of my favorite lunches to purchase is NOW my favorite lunch to make at home. Cheers!

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French Onion Soup Meatballs

8 Oct

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To carry on with delicious comfort fall foods, I have a main dish recipe that will blow the socks off your feet. Yes! Your socks will land in the other room and you won’t even care because you will be in the midst of devouring the most tender and savory meatballs.

Ok, so that may be a BIT of an exaggeration …a little bit…

But I can’t tell you enough how good these are so you must just trust me and make them yourself! Pleaseeee! And tell me how they turn out for you because I just know it’ll be a hit. A walk-off triple. Three and out for a rockstar defense. (Sorry, my husband’s coaching terms are rubbing off.)

Before we dive into meatball heaven here, I must disclose that I have a soft spot for meatballs. I don’t know what it is, but I think they’re one of my favorite comfort foods. I have favorite go-to recipes for tangy turkey meatballs with cranberry sauce  (one I’ve been meaning to share with you guys), another for BBQ meatballs that are great when you are sick and just want yummy, simple food and the ones I’ve shared with you here already – Spicy Turkey Meatballs, Barefoot Contessa style. Now I think I’ve stumbled into a fourth to keep in my arsenal of meatball go-to’s.

Now if you’re at all on the fence about meatballs (which, I’m sorry but I don’t QUITE relate), perhaps convincing you that these are like sinking your teeth into a delicious meat version of french onion soup, with the same drippy cheese and delicious cooked down onions. Except this…

…that cheese and onion that makes french onion soup SO good?!?

It’s INSIDE the meatballs!

Mind. Blown.

Right?!

So stay with me here, if you like anything I said above then all I can say is, you will love these babies. This recipe is adapted from the amazing recipe posted over at Cupcakes and Kale Chips. I cannot say how thankful I am for Brianne’s creation. My version is adjusted for ingredients we had in our kitchen and I note a few spots below that you could also experiment and make these your own.

Ingredients:

Onions / Filling (makes enough to stuff 15 or so meatballs, plus a bit extra):

  • 1 Tablespoon garlic infused olive oil (adds a little extra flavor, but normal olive oil works too)
  • 2 white onions, halved and sliced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup beef stock or broth (whichever you have on hand)
  • ¼ cup red wine (I used Shiraz as I’m obsessed and it’s always in our kitchen)
Meatballs (makes 15 or so meatballs):
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef (you could use ground turkey if looking for a healthier option)
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 Tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped plus extra to sprinkle on top, at the end
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella (divide 3-4 oz into half-inch cubes for your meatballs – about 15 small mozz cubes – and slice up the remainder to place on top of the meatballs)
  • ½ Tbsp garlic infused olive oil (again, to add some extra flavor but normal olive oil will work too)
Meatball Sauce: 
  • 1 ¾ cup beef stock or broth (again, whichever you have on hand)
  • ¼ cup red wine (Shiraz for me again!)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • S&P (to taste)

How to Make:

First thing that you’re going to get cooking is the onions. Halve and slice up the onions.
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After heating up the olive oil in a saucepan, add in the sliced onions, S&P and let it cook down and become fragrant for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to give this a stir with a spatula regularly to keep everything cooking.
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While your onions are cooking, start in on the meatballs. Mix ALL of the ingredients listed for the meatballs, except the mozzarella, together in a medium-sized bowl. Mix everything together using your hands or a spatula. Then, divide the meat mixture into 15 separate balls.
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Back to the onions, once they’re carmelized and looking GOOD, add in your thyme, letting it cook in with the onions for a few minutes.
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Then add in the wine and beef stock / broth. This is when it hits you…these onions are going to be out of this world. And why have you never thought to cook onions this way? What is it about red wine and beef stock / broth that makes onions smell and taste so darn good?! I do not know the answer to that, but I admit that I snuck quite a few onions from the pan while everything reduced down.
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Sigh, good stuff. Let the onions cook down until there’s not much liquid left in the pan. Then remove from heat and let it cool a bit.
While those onions are making your mouth water, it’s time to prep your mozzarella. Divide about 3-4 oz of the mozzarella block into 15 small cubes. Put these on to a plate or in a bowl. Next to your mozzarella pieces, place your meatballs. Once your onions are cooked down and cooled, add them to your assembly line. Add an empty plate to the end, where you can place your finished meatballs.
Now for the fun part! We are stuffing these meatballs, guys. And it’s an imperfect process and that is a-ok.
No stressing, ok?!
To stuff each meatball, take one of the meatballs and flatten it in the palm of your hand.
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 Grab a small handful of onions and place those in the middle of the patty.
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 Place one of the small mozzarella cubes on top and then gently pat the meat mixture around the stuffing to make it back into a ball shape.
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This doesn’t turn out perfect looking meatballs, onions might be visible and mozzarella might be visible and it’s ok! Guess what?! It makes everything melty and wonderful and it will taste the same darn way no matter what they look like. So have fun, and stuff all of your 15 meatballs!
Now for this next step, I used my cast iron skillet as it’s stove top and oven friendly. If you have one, I’d recommend you use it for this next step as it’s super simple. If you don’t have a pan that is both stove top and oven friendly, not to worry. You can start with a skillet and then transfer to a oven dish after. As you decide on your skillet / oven dish of choice, preheat the oven to 350.
Heat up a the olive oil in the skillet and place all 15 of the meatballs in, one by one. Brown them on all sides, flipping them to ensure they’re browned all over. And again, don’t worry if they break a part a little bit.
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Once the browning process is complete (and you’ve wiped that drool off your chin, because yes, these look and smell SO good at this point), mix up your sauce, whisking everything together. If you’re using the same pan from stove top to oven, then pour the sauce on top and carefully place in the oven. If you’re switching dishes, move your meatballs from the skillet to an oven dish and then pour the sauce on top before putting in the oven. Bake these delectable dudes for 15-20 minutes.
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While those are baking, slice up the remainder of your mozzarella cheese and chop up some extra parsley for the top of the meatballs.
After the 15-20 minutes go by, pull ’em out and place the mozzarella on top. Pop ’em back in and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Bake until the cheese starts bubbling and starts to turn golden.
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Pull the meatballs out, garnish with the remaining fresh parsley and serve it up to hungry people. These will disappear faster than you can even fathom. They are drippy, cheesy, flavorful meatballs. They will rock your world and warm your insides. They would be perfect alongside some fresh veggies and some bread or grain that will soak up the juices on your plate. Nothing should be wasted here, friends!
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I hope you guys give this a go. It’s a new favorite in our home and will be for decades (we’ve made it twice in the last two months)!!

Nowinsky Chili

20 Sep

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Chili is a staple of fall. I don’t care who you are or what you think about that, in my world, it just IS. And when my husband and I were musing about fall foods a few weeks ago, both of us had the “lightbulb” moment of…”let’s make CHILI!”.

Now, having a solid chili recipe in your arsenal is essential. It’s something that could vary a little bit every time you make it, but in theory, you still have the same overall chili outline.

I did not have a chili recipe that I could fall on without looking up something to get me started.

My mother in law has one. A GOOD one. One that the entire Nowinsky family knows and loves. One she tweaks every time she makes it, sometimes with steak and sometimes with ground beef. She had never even written it down until we probed her for the basic outline so that we could give it a try.

This is foolproof, guys. It really is. You put in meat, spices, beans, veggies and liquid…you let it slow cook for several hours…and it becomes chili. That’s the basic premise. And you get to use Bloody Mary mix. (A newfound favorite drink. De-lish!)

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It will also fill your entire kitchen with a chili aroma. That’s a bonus because let me tell you, the way it tastes will warm your insides and make you ooze happiness.

Ok, ok, that’s dramatic. But it WILL be good. And you WILL want to make it again.

We are diving in the chili-making process with a cannonball…here…we….

….GO!

Ingredients:

  •  3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 16 oz tomato juice
  • 16 oz Hair of the Dawg (or any other Bloody Mary mix)
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 6 (or so) dashes of hot sauce

How to Make:

First, it’s time to brown the meat. And not just the meat, we browned it with 1 Tbsp of each of the dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and chili powder.

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Yum.

While that’s browning, chop up your white onions and celery stalks.

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When the meat is mostly browned (my own technical term), add in your onions and celery and low that cook on low for about 15 minutes.

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Now, this makes a large batch of chili. So for us, we divided it amongst our largest stockpot and crockpot. But if you have a BIG stockpot, this will all fit nicely. If not, I do think splitting amongst two big stockpots or between your stockpot and crockpot, will work too. It did for us!

Now, take your meat/onion/celery mixture and pour into your stockpot/crockpot. Now, we get to add everything else!

Add in the tomato juice (not pictured in step format, but I promise it went in) and the Bloody mix, which adds a nice amount of spice (we like Hair of the Dawg…it’s sooooo tasty)…

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…and then the canned diced and peeled tomatoes…

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…and the chili and black beans…

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…add in 1 Tbsp of garlic powder….

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…and the remaining 1 Tbsp of basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and chili powder.

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Give everything a BIG stir and then, for a final touch of ‘zing’, add in some dashes of hot sauce (not pictured, but is an essential final step). We did about 6 dashes, but you can do more or less depending on your affinity for the condiment.

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Now, if you’re doing this as an all-day crockpot item, I recommend doing this is on low for 6-8 hours. The longer and lower heat, the better!

If you’re like us, and wanting to eat this for dinner and you’re making it early afternoon, you can easily do this in your crockpot on high for 4 hours.

Now, for the stockpot option, leave that on medium-low for a short cooking time of 4 hours, or on low for a long 6-8 hour batch.

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The good news is that this is flexible and you can tweak it depending on the time you have and the cooking method you plan to use!

When you’re ready, this is great to serve with a little sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese and a big slab of cornbread. We really enjoyed dipping and eating our Beer Bacon Cornbread with this chili and it was perfect.

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So if you too are ready for fall foods, you want something to warm your insides and make your kitchen smell like heaven, you need to make yourself a big batch of Nowinsky chili.

You WON’T be disappointed!!

Rainbow Chicken Salad

24 Jan

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OH baby. I can’t begin to tell you how delectable this salad is. I literally am so excited about this salad that I made it a few hours ago and am writing the blog post now. And yes, that means I’m enjoying a wonderful Friday night in. Judge away, I’m fairly pleased about the situation.

But back to salad, delicious, wonderfully delicious salad.

So, what’s all in this salad, you may ask? You’ve got a mix of juicy fruits, tangy dressing, crunchy almonds, and a delicious feta cheese that cuts through it all. Oh yes, and the chicken! Juicy chicken to absorb all of the flavors.

If you can’t tell, I’m having a slight relationship with my chicken salad. Sigh.

Moving on!

I found this amazing little gem on Pinch of Yum, a great blog with so many recipes that I want to take a whack at. This will not be the last recipe of theirs that I try, I just know it. I’ve made a few tweaks to their original recipe in my list of ingredients below, but didn’t have to make too many changes. Love this recipe!

Prepare yourself….here we go…

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups purple grapes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2-3 big handfuls of lettuce, chopped (I used a spring mix but you can do what you wish!)
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic

How to Make:

First up, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and the chili powder. Get both sides nice and covered with seasoning. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, and sizzle up. Get the chicken nice and brown on the sides, flipping as needed to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.

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Once it’s done, remove to cool, then cut it up into chewable sized pieces. Yes, also known as bite-size pieces. But you knew what I meant.

Now, to prep the rest of the salad!

Slice the grapes in half…

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Measure the cup of blueberries…

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Measure the 1/2 cup of slivered almonds…

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Measure the 1/2 cup of feta…

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Wash, rinse and pat dry a few good hearty handfuls of lettuce…

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Then arrange as you desire in a large bowl. I went with the pretty route, taking a leaf out of the Pinch of Yum‘s book. Their picture on the blog looked similar which is what inspired me in the first place. This is also where the ‘rainbow’ in the title of the recipe comes from.

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Now as you make the dressing, you can refrigerate this beautiful bowl of salad. For the dressing, you’ll want to use a food processor to get things all creamy. You’ll add all of the dressing ingredients to the food processor and give a few seconds on full blast. I loved the taste as I stuck my finger into the bowl of the food processor (cord unplugged mind you) and basically swooned.

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Ok, ok, that’s dramatic. No swooning but i do believe there was a “yummmmmmmmm” noise that escaped. You will understand when you make this dressing.

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Now, all that’s left to do is grab the bowl of salad and drizzle on your dressing. Use a spatula to mix everything all up, get the dressing all coated over the chicken, the lettuce, all the other salad pieces.

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Then, serve up!

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Dig your fork in…and…

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Yes, you will see why I love this salad. You will love this salad too, friend. You will too.

Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce

20 Aug

 

Can I just say that peanut sauce is one of theeeee best things. Ever. Of all time. YUM.

I had never made peanut sauce before, just thoroughly enjoyed it at restaurants or at friends’ houses. But I was intrigued and also desperately wanted to give it a try. When I came across this pin on pinterest, I knew it was meant to be, baby!

Beef.

Peanut Sauce.

HEAVEN.

Ugh, SO GOOD.

Ok, so Spoon Fork Bacon is a blog I’ve featured before and they have some of the best recipes I’ve tried. Truly. They have unique ingredients but simple steps and the resulting food is just AWESOME. Highly encourage you to go and check out their blog and give ANY of their recipes a go. You won’t be disappointed!

I didn’t tweak their ingredients at all, so trust in their ingredient list. I did!

Ingredients: Serves 3-4

(Don’t be intimidated…this seems like a long list, and it is, but the receipe is super, super, super simple. Take a deep breath. Read on.)

Meat:

  • 1 lb boneless and trimmed New York strip steak, cut into ½ to 1 inch cubes

Satay Marinade:

  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 stalk lemongrass, chopped (You’ll find this by the other fresh herbs…took me a bit of wandering to find it)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and diced baby ginger
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup reserved marinade
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1-3 Thai chiles, seeded (If you can’t find Thai chiles, just find a different pepper that falls in your ‘spice’ tolerance. If you’re clueless, Google. That’s what I do!)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Garnish:

  • Chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • Thinly sliced green onions

Items You Need:

  • 7-8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes (Don’t skip this step! This ensures your skewers don’t go up in flames.)

How to Make:

Ok, now if you haven’t run away in terror after reading the ingredient list, I’m going to show you how easy this is to make.

Once you’ve chopped up that New York strip, toss the meat into a large bowl. Season it up with some salt and pepper and set it to the side for the time being. I forgot to photograph this step. Whoops.

Now that looooonnnggg list for the marinade? Put ALL those things into a blender or food processor. Don’t freak out. It’s not the prettiest image. I fully understand.

And put your finger on blend. Hold that button until the whole thing looks smooth. *Warning –  ignore the color (blame the peanuts)  and just close your eyes, dip in a finger [with the blender/food processor UNPLUGGED] and give the marinade a try. SO GOOD, right? Now you just wait for the peanut sauce.

Take 1/3 of this mixture and save it for that peanut sauce.

The rest you can pour over your cubed beef. Toss the beef with the marinade so everything is evenly coated. Now, set those marinating beef cubes in the fridge for about 4 hours. You want nicely saturated meat, so be patient!

While you’re killing time and trying to not think about the delectable meat taunting you from the refrigerator, we’re going to make some peanut sauce.

You know that looooooonggg list for the peanut sauce? Put ALL of THOSE things into your blender or food processor.

Blend away until this looks smooth and a fairly similar to the marinade in color and consistency.

Give the sauce a try and I challenge you to not make a verbal comment after. I think mine was something like “HOLY CRAP”. Something like that. Maybe a bit more colorful. I don’t recall, I was in peanut sauce heaven.

Now don’t eat up all the peanut sauce before you’ve grilled your meat. You may be tempted to do so. Not worth it. Even with a spatula like that.

Patience, people.

Once your meat has fully marinated for the 4 hours (or close to that if you’re not willing to wait that long), skewer about 5-6 cubes of the beef onto each bamboo skewer.

Now, the Spoon Fork Bacon instructions – “Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Pour oil into pan and grill skewers for 2 minutes, on each side. Repeat until all skewers have been grilled.”

I do not own a grill pan and have -5 on the grilling abilities scale. However, I came up with a process that worked. I just grilled them up on the stove top in a big pan with oil, turning them as instructed – every 2 minutes. But if you own a grill pan, I bet that route works even better.

Once your skewers are all done, place them on folks’ plates or on a big serving platter. Scatter some chopped dry roasted peanuts and chopped green onions over the top of the skewers and drizzle some peanut sauce all over as well. Admire how fantastic this looks while wiping that little bit of drool off your face. Yeah, we all know it’s there. No judgment.

Pour your peanut sauce into a serving dish (a ramekin works real well however mine was wedged in the dishwasher) and top it with some additional chopped dry roasted peanuts.

Serve this up and be prepared for people to be amazed with your skills. Only you’ll know it didn’t take much skill…just that index finger pushing the ‘blend’ button. But shhhhh, they don’t need to know that. 😉

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

1 Aug

Hola friends. I realize I’ve been a very poor blogger this last month. Boo. Hiss. I know.

But the good news is I have a bunch of wonderful posts to share with you over the next few weeks to make up for the slllooowww posting in July.

Do you forgive me?

I hope so.

To make it up to you, I’m sharing a delectable meatball recipe from one of my favs from the Food Network – the Barefoot Contessa. The woman knows her stuff and you just KNOW her recipes will result in a happy stomach.

Backstory to why I decided to make these babies…a few weekends ago, a bunch of my girlfriends and I were celebrating a very good friend of mine – Andrea – at her bachelorette party. We did a fun-filled cabin weekend with the meals divyed up amongst the group. I volunteered to take on Saturday evening (which meant I was going to do as much prep as possible BEFORE Saturday…c’mon…it was a bachelorette party…prep was needed). The decision was to make it simple and tasty – spaghetti and meatballs, salad and garlic bread. I figured with the spaghetti, garlic bread and salad all needing very little prep (I cheated and bought a few pre-mixed bags from the store. I know what you’re thinking. Lazy. Yes I know. But SMART considering) the meatballs could be the star feature.

I searched through my cookbooks, blogs, magazine clippings. I couldn’t find the right meatball. I was getting frustrated. It was also about 8:00 PM the night before I was to depart for bachelorette party madness and I was recipe less. And grocery item less.

Until Ina.

Thank you Ina.

These are in her “How Easy Is That” cookbook and they’re keepers in my book. I modified her recipe a little bit on purpose and a little bit by accident:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes crust removed (I kept the crust on because I felt like it. You can go crustless if you’re into that.)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk (Ina suggest whole milk but I just couldn’t do it and have the rest of the container leftover. I’m not into whole milk. Ish. I went 2%.)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (85-percent to 92-percent lean <— Ina’s suggestion)
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage (Ina recommends the sweet variety but I couldn’t find it, used normal stuff and it was still delicious.)
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 1 cup freshly grated aged Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (I forgot to get this…oopie…so used dried parsley. It worked.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the meatballs
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

How to Make:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees first. Prep your sheet pans (with either Pam or parchment paper) second. Or reverse that. I won’t tell.

In the mixing process, your first task is to assist your bread into becoming crumbs.

Enter in the FOOD PROCESSOR. The crumb making machine.

 

Wow.

Now take those lovely crumbs and put them and your milk into a small bowl. You’re going to let those two ingredients sit and become one for about 5 minutes. Sounds weird, but trust in Ina. She’s a smart cookie.

Now, in a different bowl that’s more in the ‘big’ category, time to mix up everything.

First, in goes the pork sausage…

Then the ground turkey…

…prosciutto (probably my favorite ingredient in these balls of meat)…

then the bread/milk concoction (after it set for its 5 minutes of course)…

 …Asiago cheese…

…parsley (fresh if you’re with it when you’re grocery shopping, unlike me)…

…oregano…

…red pepper flakes (the wonderful KICK part of the recipe)…

AND finally…1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.

Admire your lovely mountain of ingredients. Post admiration, mix everything up. I prefer to use my hands for these type of steps (vs. a fork or spatula) because I personally think it gets mixed more thoroughly. You really want the spices to be as evenly mixed as possible too – you’d hate to get one SUPER spicy meatball and one that’s bland. Not cool.

Once you feel like the whole mixture is lightly but thoroughly mixed together, add in the olive oil and the eggs. NOW you can use a fork or spatula to mix those wet ingredients in. Be gentle, but make sure it’s fully mixed. No skimping.

Now, time to make some balls. Ina recommends about 2-inch meatballs. She also suggests you brush the meatballs with olive oil prior to popping them into the oven. I forgot that step. Whoops. BUT you can still have tasty meatballs without it. Trust me!!

Bake these guys for 35 to 40 minutes or, as Ina puts it, “until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.”

Then serve these to a bunch of hungry, sunburned people. At least, that’s what I did.

Bacon-Gruyère Meatloaf

18 Jun

Oh baby. Meatloaf. One of God’s gift to man, if you ask me. I mean, a loaf…of meat. If meatloaf is wrong…I don’t want to be right.

You catch my drift. I LOVE meatloaf.

Now, my mama makes killer meatloaf, and I don’t know if this recipe is quite up to the standards that is her magnificent recipe. However, it comes pretty darn close.

What makes this so good?

Bacon.

Delicious, fantastic, bacon goodness.

Yes.

So, I found this recipe in a new cookbook – it’s a compilation of the many recipes my favorite magazine puts out each month: Real Simple. This cookbook features appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts for every season.

Never mind that this recipe is technically “Fall”.

I wanted meatloaf. AND I had all the ingredients. That happens 2% of the time I decide to make something, so I took that as a sign that I must…make…meatloaf.

Also, this is an incredibly easy recipe, hence the magazine’s title “Real Simple”. Their recipes are always delicious and require very little skill in the kitchen. And no fear if you don’t have access to this fabulous cookbook (though I do highly recommend) you can see the recipe on their website here.

Geniuses they are.

Ok, enough with the rambling, let’s make some meatloaf!

The original recipe has a suggested side of roasted carrots and onions, which I passed on. I had plenty of veggies to make a side salad with, so I went that route. But if you’d prefer the carrot/onion side concoction, check out the original recipe. Looks quite tasty!

Ingredients (I made a 2/3 variation of this as I only had access to 1 lb of meat. But here is the full-fledged version, which serves 4)

  • 1 1/2  pounds ground beef chuck (I used ground turkey instead, but I would imagine ground beef chuck would make this even more delicious)
  • 1/4  cup  bread crumbs
  • 1/4  cup  ketchup (You may also want some extra to have around to dip your meatloaf in, if you’re into that sort of thing.)
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped (Or if you’re extra skilled, the recipe calls for ‘coarsely grated’. I preferred the chopping method)
  • 2  slices bacon, chopped (<— Best part!)
  • 2  cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  large egg
  • 3/4  cup  grated Gruyère or Cheddar (I had cheddar on hand, so that’s what I used. My imagination tells me Gruyère would be just as, if not more, tasty)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

How to Make:

This recipe is so easy, you may not even believe it.

First things first…preheat that oven to 400 degrees. Also, heat up a skillet to cook your bacon.

Fry up your bacon first. While it’s sizzling you can start mixing your other ingredients.

In a medium-ish sized bowl, mix up all of your ingredients EXCEPT 1/4 cup of your shredded cheese. Also toss in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Once your bacon is all finished up and you’ve let it cool so you don’t burn your fingertips off, crumble it up and add it to your meatloaf mixture. Don’t try to crumble it before it’s cooled down. Who does that? (Oops.)

While cooking your bacon, you may or may not decide to fry up 3 slices…and consume 1 of those while you’re waiting for your bacon (and fingertips) to cool. I mean, bacon is good. Why not enjoy an extra slice?

Once your bacon is thoroughly mixed in with the rest of your ingredients…

…spoon your meatloaf into a sprayed pan. The recipe recommends a 8″ x 4″ pan. Then, sprinkle that remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top. Admire how pretty it looks. Sigh.

You must now patiently wait for your loaf of meat to cook. 40-45 minutes to be exact.

You could also use this time to consume that lovely 3rd piece of bacon.

Just trying to help.

As your kitchen starts to smell like glorious bacony-cheesy-meat, perhaps whip up whatever side you are planning on enjoying. For me it was a lighter side salad to balance the rich meatloaf, but roasted veggies (such as the carrots/onions in the original recipe) would be great if this is being made in the Fall or Winter. That’d make for one cozy meal. As it was 90 plus degrees when I made this…didn’t want the ‘cozy, cold weather’ feel for dinner. But that’s just me.

My younger brother likes soup when it’s 90 degrees. Some people just like warm, cozy food at all times of the year. Weird, but that’s life I guess.

Ok, back to meatloaf. Pull that baby out once it’s done. Let it stand for about 10 minutes and try to not cut into it and take a bite. I solemnly swear I did NOT cheat and take a bite. I was very tempted though.

Before you slice this up, pat the top with a paper towel to get the grease off. I had a few little pools on top (as seen in the glow of the picture above), nothing ridiculous. You can also ‘pour’ it off, but I just envisioned my meatloaf landing upside down in the sink. That would happen to me.

Slice this up, serve with your choice of side and enjoy!

Ahhhh….meatloaf.

Steakhouse Pizza

23 May

I couldn’t fall asleep tonight, so a blog post it is.

Pizza. Steak. Pizza. Steak. Used to be a tough decision to pick one, right? No longer my friends, these two are combined into a fantastic, delicious, utterly divine concoction. This is another Pioneer Woman recipe, so you wouldn’t expect anything less. Right?!

Try to not drool while watching this pizza come to fruition. There may be a tad bit of drool on my keyboard before I’m done writing. Don’t judge me.

Here we go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 homemade or store bought pizza crust (We used a great store-bought dough, but you can make this from scratch if you’d prefer to be more legit. If you do want a good store-bought  type, look over in the cheese/bagel section, which I know sounds weird. That’s where we found our gem and it was GREAT.)
  • 1 whole skirt steak or flank steak (Big enough to have chunks scattered consistently around your pizza. You don’t want three sad little pieces. Get a new big one.)
  • Salt And pepper, to taste
  • 2 whole red onions, sliced thin (Trust me. This sounds like a lot. It won’t be.)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (Plain marinara if you can)
  • 12 ounces, weight fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin (Fresh mozzarella if you can!)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (Yes, this one you want to shred yourself. It’s so much better that way.)
  • 1/2 cup good steak sauce (If you’re a 57 sauce person, A1 person or whatever other steak sauce person, use that. This is where you get to personalize it a bit.)

After seeing that list of ingredients, I hope you’re already trying to keep in the drool. I know I am.

How to Make:

Before you do anything – grab your beverage of choice.The blackberry margarita was the perfect cooking beverage, but you may prefer something different.

Next grab that pizza dough…grab the pan it’s going on (have the debate with yourself of circle or rectangle?) and roll out your dough. I prefer the hand-roll/press method. It helps to throw a little flour on the dough and on your hands as you spread it out on the pan. (Please note I do have my tasty margarita close by.)

Just don’t take your floured hands and wipe them on your dark jeans. Who does that?!

Once you have your dough successfully pressed into the entire pizza pan, you may move to the next task. Onions!

Slice and slice some more. Try to keep them in rings. It’ll look prettier on your pizza than diced pieces would.

While you’re already slicing, slice up your fresh mozzarella. Don’t worry if it falls apart a little bit…it’s all getting melted anyway.

Back to the onions. Once sliced, you’re going to caramelize. Saute them up in your 3 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of your balsamic vinegar. Cook ’em up over medium-low heat until they look “dark and caramelized” (according to P Dub). This will take just about 10 minutes. Once they’re finished, bring ’em off the heat and set them aside.

If you’re exceptional at multi-tasking, you can grill your steak while the onions are caramelizing themselves. OR, if you have a sous chef like my wondrous SIL Laura, you can have her do this while you watch your onions and stir them, drink your margarita, realize you have flour on your dark jeans and then attempt to wipe them off, drink more margarita, stir the onions. Either method works however. I think you know my preferred method.

We unfortunately didn’t have a working grill, so we used the stove top. It was a great plan B. We cooked the steak until it was medium rare. Set it aside for a few minutes before you slice it up.

Last step before the assembling begins – make your sauce. So, because this is not your ordinary pizza, it doesn’t get an ordinary sauce. Mix your marinara with the Worcestershire and the remaining 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar.  Then….spread all that goodness on your awaiting pizza dough.

I was a very poor manager of my cooking surfaces, and resorted to using a chair for this sauce spreading. It happens. The chair worked very well. You must be flexible, right?

You may have a great spreading mechanism, but I’ve learned from a few people that by using the bottom of a large spoon or the bottom of a soup ladle works very well.

Once your dough has been properly sauced, it’s time to layer on your onions. Spread these out into a nice, thick layer. The caramelized onions will have a less stringent ‘onion-y’ taste so don’t stress about the vast quantity of onions. It’ll be delicious. Have faith.

Now you’re going to layer on your slices of mozzarella. Spread those out nicely so that when they melt, it all melts nicely together into one layer of cheesy wondrousness. (That’s not a word, I realize.)

Admire your work. Sip your beverage. Now, lets bake it!

Pizza needs to bake for 12-15 minutes. Look for the mozzarella to be nice and melty and the crust should start to look golden brown.

Now it’s time for steak! (You may have snuck a few pieces prior to this step. No one will know. It’s ok.) Make sure you cut your steak up into edible pieces so when you’re biting into a pizza slice you don’t choke. That would put a damper on the meal.

My brother Doug was very excited about this pizza. Or the steak. Perhaps both.

One more step before you dig in, shred your fresh parmesan all over the top to give the pizza  a nice dusting.

What a beauty this is! Shall we eat?

Before you slice this up, you can pour on your BBQ sauce of choice. We were all so dang hungry, we completely forgot about adding in the sauce. Silly. I partially blame the margarita.

Either way, this pizza is divine. It’s tangy…its got great chunks of delicious meat…melty, perfect cheese and if you’re not forgetful like me, you’ll have the sweet taste of the BBQ sauce intermixed too.

Make some steakhouse pizza tonight!!

Crab Cake Sliders with Pineapple Kiwi Salsa

20 Apr

Crab. Spice. Kiwi. SLIDERS. Need I say much more? Are you in? That’s how I felt. All I needed was to see this picture and I knew it was the perfect dinner for a warm April night.

Similar to the Quinoa Salad I posted yesterday, this has three concoctions that you need to make which all combine to make the most delicious, delectable, mouth-watering sliders. The recipe is from one of my favorite sites – How Sweet It Is. Definitely high on my list of blogs to read every week. Love her blog, recipes, ramblings etc. Love. It. All.

Read it.

Ok, good chat.

Ready to make some crab cakes?!

Ingredients:

For the crab cakes (I halved the original recipe) – makes 4-5 sliders:

  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat
  • 4 saltine crackers, crushed (I used large, textural multigrain crackers…which was perfect)
  • 1/2 large egg (I know what you’re thinking, but if you crack it in a separate dish and only use roughly half…it works.)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon plain greek yogurt or mayonnaise (If you go the greek yogurt route I put emphasis on plain yogurt. No vanilla yogurt. That’d be weird)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil (for cooking the crab cakes…NOT for mixing in with the crab cakes)
  • 4-5 whole grain slider buns or dinner rolls

For the pineapple kiwi salsa:

  • 1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 pineapple rings, chopped (I bought a can of pineapple rings – this is the easier route than using an actual pineapple)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • the juice of half a lime (about 1 Tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the spicy lime sauce:

  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (Again, no vanilla yogurt. Gross. Just plain.)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or more if desired)
  • zest of half of a lime
  • juice of half a lime

How to Make:

I worked backwards, making the salsa first, then the sauce and then the crab cakes. I didn’t want any cold crab cakes! That’s just not right. So, salsa first.

Chop up your kiwi, red onion, jalapeño, pineapple rings and cilantro. Toss them all together in a bowl and then douse them with the half of the lime.

Set it off to the side and marvel and how fantastic it looks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Perhaps have a taste test. Or two. Or seven.

Now for the sauce! Measure out your plain greek yogurt and pour it into a separate small bowl. Juice the other half of your lime and dribble in your Sriracha sauce. (I am not a huge fan of Sriracha sauce and now have a giant bottle in my refrigerator. If you live nearby, come and grab it. It’s yours. I only needed it for this recipe and have no idea when I’ll ever use up the entire bottle. It will take 27 years. Serious.) Zest your lime and sprinkle it in with the rest of the sauce and stir it all up. I popped this in the refrigerator while we made the crab cakes.

Crab cake time baby. Combine all ingredients except for olive oil (I was a moron and didn’t read the directions and combined this with my ingredients. Don’t be like me. Read the directions.) in a bowl and stir it all up until it’s all thoroughly mixed together. A spatula works best for this task.

Heat up a skillet on medium heat and drizzle in your olive oil. While it’s heating up, form the crab cake mixture into small, thick patties. You should have enough for 4-5  patties. (Note my awesome plate below…it’s from one of my best friends and says ‘big’ and then a picture of a giant smiling cheese. I giggle every time I use it. The end.)

Place them in your skillet and cook until they turn a lovely light golden color. This takes just about 4 minutes on each side. Your kitchen smells just grand at this point. Mmmmm…crab.

Once the sliders are ready to be eaten, put ’em on a plate, grab the salsa and sauce and begin assembling!

I slathered the sauce on both top and bottom buns and then placed the salsa in a nice, round heap on top of the crab cake patty. Bun on top and you are about to taste heaven.

Mmmmmmm….

Blueberry & Mango Quinoa Salad

19 Apr

Have you ever had quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)?! I never had, but have been hearing about it for quite some time. It’s usually in any list of ‘super foods’ due to its many health and nutritional benefits. But what are those benefits and why is quinoa so great?!?

Get this…it has twice the protein of rice. Wow! It also has all nine essential amino acids, contains vitamin B12, B6 and E, magnesium, iron and zinc. It’s also high in dietary fiber AND….it’s not technically a grain (no gluten in those seeds!) so those gluten-free can still enjoy these tasty little guys.

I found all of these fun facts in my Power Foods cookbook. It also has tons of quinoa recipes which I’ll need to start trying out! The cookbook has both delicious recipes and fantastic photos so I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start cooking healthy but is not into giving up taste. (Here, here!)

So, enough on the health lesson, quinoa is good for you but how does it taste? Similar to a rice or couscous, it’s all about how you cook it. I found a delicious looking recipe on pinterest that caught my eye and gave me the incentive I needed to buy and eat quinoa for the first time.

The pin took me to a great vegetarian blog, Veggie Belly,  that I encourage you all to look through, no matter if you’re a vegetarian or not. If this recipe is any indication of the taste of her other recipes, it’s bound to be a great site to explore.

Here we go…let the quinoa experiment begin!

Ingredients:

I didn’t alter the ingredients from the original recipe at all, so below is exact wording from Veggie Belly in all aspects of the ingredients and amounts. There are three separate things to make for this salad, broken down below by the ingredients needed for each:

For the quinoa
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water

For the fruits and veggies
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup cubed ripe mangoes
½ cup cubed cucumbers
1/2 tablespoon dried cranberries

For the lemon basil dressing
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
10 Basil leaves, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

How to Make:

Combine the quinoa and water in a skillet and bring it up to a boil.

I had mine at medium/medium high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and cover. I had mine moved down to low heat for this. You’re going to now let it simmer for just about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready to go when you lift up the lid and all that you see is quinoa and no water. You’ll then “fluff the quinoa” according to Veggie Belly – aka – stir it up from where it’s set in on the bottom of the skillet. You can let it cool completely or eat it slightly warm if you’d like too.

While you’re waiting for the 15 minutes of simmering time to pass…instead of the usual distractions of Hulu, making your bed or pinteresting (maybe that’s just me that does those things while killing time?!), you’ll want to chop your fruits and veggie.

Now, I had absolutely no idea how to slice a mango. As you can see, it was a day full of new experiences for me. You may be well-versed in mango slicing and can then skip this next piece. My sous chef for the day shared some wisdom about how this is done properly. Slice the mango the long way, on either side of the long, skinny pit. For each side you sliced off, you can then cube it as my super, expert sous chef does in the pictures below. We then decided the leftover middle chunk left around the pit was best for gnawing at instead of trying to also cube it for the salad. But up to you and how you like to use all parts of your mango.

Ok, I expect you know how to cube the cucumber and well, the blueberries just have to be measured. Combine those three things (and I even threw in the dried cranberries too) in a small bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to add them to the quinoa.

Last step – the dressing. Add your lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil to a small bowl.

Chop up the basil – which I do by rolling the leaves all up together and the chopping them all at once. Add your basil to the rest of the dressing and set it aside until you’re ready.

We were eating immediately and were doing so by the lake I live by. We plopped all three mixtures into little Tupperware containers and then once we got to our designated eating location, mixed everything up together in two bowls, one for each of us.

If you’re a person who likes only a bit of dressing, you don’t have to add it all. We used about 91% of it though (It was yummy and I couldn’t resist. At all.) and I didn’t find it too liquidy or oily in the slightest.

This was perfect for a light lunch for two – great for any Spring or Summer day.

Let me know what you think of the quinoa – I liked it and am looking forward to trying another recipe with it soon!

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