Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach
Quinoa (keen-wa) is an ancient grain-like seed that originated in South America over five thousand years ago. This tiny seed is chock full of tons of valuable nutrients, including all eight essential amino acids. Add in lots of other highly beneficial attributes, vitamins and minerals, plus the fact that it’s gluten-free and easy to digest and it’s pretty easy to understand it’s recent rise in popularity.

However, quinoa is still a bit new to my diet. Mostly because I don’t know what to make with it. Slowly I’m learning how to incorporate this versatile seed into my everyday meals. This salad is bright, fresh and easy. And did I mention that it’s also tasty and healthy? Say hello bikini body!

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • generous handful of baby spinach
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • handful of pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Following the directions on the package, cook quinoa in the chicken broth. The quinoa should come to a boil, then cover it and put it on a low simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. Once the quinoa is cooked it will absorb all the broth. Add remaining ingredients to a large resealable bowl and shake until contents are well incorporated. Serve cold.

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Green Monster Smoothie

Green Monster Smoothie

Just in time for St. Patty’s Day, I present to you with this lovely green monster smoothie. While I don’t intend on drinking these this Sunday (hey, I *am* Irish after all!), these smoothies have been my go-to for breakfast or lunch on most other weekends. They make a great, nutrient-packed meal replacer, as you are pretty stuffed after drinking one. I like them because they’re easy and quick to make when I don’t have much in the fridge or I’m nursing a hangover, much like I will be this Sunday. As always, ingredients are easily customizable to what you have available. I’ve subbed frozen spinach for fresh, greek yogurt for milk and so on. One thing to note from my experiments though, whether it’s fresh or frozen, you always need a banana. That’s what she said. HA! I just said what you were thinking. But seriously, you need a banana to help “overpower” the flavors of the other ingredients. I’ve tried it without banana and it just tastes like a weird milk and spinach smoothie. Gross.

Green Monster Smoothie

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 banana, cut in thirds
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Add ingredients to a blender and blend, blend, BLEND! Depending on your blender, it may take a few minutes to get everything smooth or you may need to stir the mixture up halfway through. I like my smoothies to be drinkable through a straw so you may need to add or subtract liquid until you reach your desired consistency.

Spicy Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

The inspiration for this meal came from the one poor little butternut squash that’s been sitting on my counter since November, just begging me to be cooked. The truth is, I’m so squashed-out from all that we got from our farm share that I just couldn’t bear to eat anymore for at least a month. I knew I probably only had a few weeks left before my squash started to go bad so I searched my cupboards (AKA Pinterest) for a dish that wasn’t overly squashy. The original recipe calls for adding bulgar to add bulk and to replace the beef, but I chose not to add it. I love chili, so I knew I’d only be kidding myself into thinking it was something that it’s not. That being said, this soup definitely stacks up against the competition. It makes a hearty weeknight meal or reheats easily for lunch. Bonus: It’s 100% vegetarian/vegan if you use vegetable broth and omit the optional greek yogurt topping.

Spicy Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from The Bitten Word

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen fire roasted poblano peppers
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, depending on desired thickness
  • juice of half a lime
  • coarse kosher salt
  • greek yogurt (optional)
  • sliced avocado (optional)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle chili powder and coriander over; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, poblanos, squash and oregano. Add broth and lime juice. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with greek yogurt and avocado slices.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin Spice Granola

What’s super easy to make, healthy and also makes a really tasty snack? GRANOLA!

I really can’t understand why I ever spent money on granola in the past. I guess just always assumed I couldn’t make it at home. Well, you already know what happens when you assume. That’s right. I’m a total ass for never making this before. There’s a whole heck of a lot less sugar in my version then there is in the store bought stuff. Plus, you know all the ingredients that are going into it and it’s totally customizable. Oh AND it’s WAY cheaper! My grocery store charges almost $7 per pound for the pre-made stuff. My version probably costs around $2! It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

• 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
• 1/2 cups nuts or seeds
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoons pumpkin spice
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup dried fruit or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the oats and nuts or seeds. Add in all ingredients except dried fruit or chocolate chips. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 to make sure all pieces bake evenly. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before adding dried fruit or chocolate chips.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

This dish is a bright and colorful take on the traditional breakfast staple. Plus, sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E and potassium. Bonus! Tastes great and healthy! I wish I could say that about everything.

Here I used some frozen leftover honey baked ham that I defrosted the night before. I also used frozen poblano peppers from my farm share from over the summer. Sigh. I really miss our weekly bag of fresh veggies. I also miss those long summer days. This whole dark-when-I-go-into-work-dark-when-I-get-home thing is really cramping my style. First world problems. I know, I know. That’s what lack of sunshine will do to you!

Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix until well combined. Spread mixture onto a large rimmed cookie sheet and bake in oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with an over easy egg or, since I was out of eggs, a sprinkle of feta cheese.

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Since everyone is still on their new year resolution diets I figured the first official recipe post of 2013 should at least be something healthy, right? I LOVE making a big batch of minestrone and having plenty to bring in for lunch for the week or freeze for a later occasion. This version has been healthified and lightened up by using veggie pasta over regular pasta. I think the original recipe might’ve come from Martha Stewart, but I’ve been making it for years now. Feel free to experiment, use the veggies you have on hand, fresh or frozen. You really can’t screw this soup up!

Minestrone Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 4 cups low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped zucchini, green pepper, yellow squash mix (I used frozen, leftover from my farmshare)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Eden Organic small vegetable shells
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (omit for vegans)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth and water. Stir in the green beans and vegetable medley, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans, pasta and baby spinach. Cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Dip

Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Dip

Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Dip

Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Dip

Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Dip

Our farm share recently provided us with a TON of peppers that they wanted to pick before the first frost. I ended up cutting and freezing most of them, but I decided to try roasting a few, too. This was my first attempt and it was pretty easy to do, but rather time consuming from start to finish. The best part for me was picking off the skins after the peppers had cooled down. My husband loves to get on me about always picking at things, like my cuticles or grosser things that we don’t need to get into right now. So it only makes sense that I’d find picking off pepper skins enjoyable. Can you say weirdo?!

Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Dip

  • 3 red carmen peppers, halved with stems and seeds removed
  • 2 ounces of gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • handful of fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place peppers, cut side down, on a foil-lined broiler pan. Set broiler setting to high and place peppers under heat for 5 minutes. Remove from broiler when the skins are bubbly and charred. While hot, carefully place peppers in a ziplock bag, seal and set aside for 20 minutes. When cool, remove as much of the skins as you can from the peppers. They should easily ‘pinch’ off, but if they don’t that’s ok. Chop the peppers into smaller pieces and place in the bowl of a food processer with remaining ingredients. Pulse until almost smooth. This can be served hot or cold. If serving warm, place mixture in an oven safe dish and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until bubbly.

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Quinoa and Apple

Supper Club Place Setting

Service for 10!

Supper Club Menu

The menu!

Supper Club Attendees

The gorgeous group of attendees!

Sausage, Quinoa and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sausage, Quinoa and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

I mentioned last week that I hosted my first-ever Supper Club. As the host, I was responsible for the main dish and everyone else brought sides that went with our theme for the month, Fall. I decided to go with stuffed acorn squash because I could make all the ingredients the night before and just reheat the day of. I’d say it worked out pretty well. So well that we ate and drank ourselves into mini food comas and we even had leftovers for a few days. Bonus!

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Quinoa and Apple

  • 6 acorn squash, rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 pounds spicy chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash in half crosswise; scoop out seeds and save for Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half so they can stand upright. Season the inside of each squash well with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place each half, cavity side down on a cookie sheet and bake until tender when pierced, about 45 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add remaining olive oil, chicken sausage, apples, peppers, jalapeño, onions, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper. Stir often until apples are tender when pierced, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cook quinoa according to package directions, substituting the chicken broth for water. When cooked, add quinoa to the apple-sausage mixture. Fill each squash equally with sausage-quinoa-apple mixture and bake, uncovered, until filling is slightly browned on top, about 15 minutes longer.

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Last Wednesday I hosted a supper club at my house and served stuffed acorn squash as my main dish (more on that later). I never knew you could roast any seeds other than pumpkin, but since I was roasting six acorn squashes I didn’t want all those the seeds to go to waste. After some googling, I learned that acorn squash seeds actually are edible, along with butternut squash seeds. Seriously. Who knew? There so many things I’ve learned by having my CSA and this is just another thing! These came out great and would make a tasty snack or the perfect accompaniment for a fall meal.

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

  • six acorn squashes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • generous amount of salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half using a large butcher knife. Scoop out the seeds from the halved squash. In a colander, run the seeds underwater, separating them by hand and discarding any bits of squash left attached. Place clean seeds on a kitchen towel and allow them to completely dry. On a cookie sheet, spread the seeds out, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until well coated. Bake for 10 minutes or until the seeds begin to brown.

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