Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (22) wm

Quinoa is an ancient grain from the Andean region of South American, including Peru.  While my husband and I were in Peru last month we actually didn’t eat any quinoa – our guide for the Choquequirao trek said that most of the quinoa is exported out of the country and what remains is expensive.  While at home in Colorado we eat a lot of quinoa, mainly in salads because it’s not so great on its own.  This is a quick and easy salad, perfect for those warm nights.

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (3) wm

Serves 4-6

time: roughly 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked per package directions

cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2  orange bell pepper, sliced in bite-size pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in bite-size pieces

green onion, sliced thinly

cucumber, peeled and sliced in bite-size pieces

kalamata olives, sliced in half

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

black pepper

kosher salt

feta cheese

pine nuts

 

Directions:

1) Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions – remove from heat and let cool.

2) After washing the vegetables cut them and set aside on the cutting board.   Slice the kalamata olives in half.

3) In a serving bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt.  Stir, and add additional olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper or salt if needed.

4) Toast the pine nuts to a golden brown.

5) Add the quinoa and vegetables to the olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture and stir well to combine.

6) Top with the toasted pine nuts and feta cheese (if you won’t be eating all of the quinoa salad just add the pine nuts and feta cheese to each plate).

 

 

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (40) wm

Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Bell Pepper & Pine Nuts  (6) wm

German Potato Salad

 

 

German potato salad (24) WM

After spending two weeks in Peru, we are back in Colorado.  Our trip to Peru took us on a 4 day trek to the Incan ruins of Choquequirao high in the Ande mountains, to South America’s largest zip line in Santa Theresa, to amazing hot springs over looking the river in Santa Theresa, to the not so tourist town of Quillabamba, the gorgeous city of Cusco, to the very tourist city of Aguas Calientes and Machu Pichu, to the hot, humid and noisy city of Lima, and to other small towns in between.

We left Colorado with several weeks of 5″ of snow and cold weather – and now we are back to sunshine and warm weather!  It will be nice and sunny until this weekend where we’ll dip 20-30 degrees and have snow…so is the life in Colorado.

I actually made this recipe last summer but didn’t get the chance to post it.  My husband and I made it again last night, and as before it was delicious!  If you are looking for a potato salad that does not have mayonnaise, look no further.  This recipe uses red potatoes, bacon, white vinegar, sugar and whole mustard seed mustard.  It is sweet and tangy.  Read below for the directions.

German potato salad (2) WM

Serves 6-8

time: 1 hour, roughly

Ingredients:

15 small to medium red potatoes, washed and poked with a fork

6 slices bacon

1 small red onion, diced

1 cup white vinegar

6 tablespoons water

9 tablespoons white sugar

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

6 tablespoons whole mustard seed mustard

2-4 hard boiled eggs

1 bunch dill, washed and chopped finely

 

Directions:

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, once boiling place the red potatoes in the water and boil for about 20 minutes / until soft when poked with a fork.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Once cool slice into bite sized cubes.

2) Boil the eggs for about 20 minutes, drain the water, cool the eggs then slice them into bite sized pieces.

3) Heat a skillet to high and cook the bacon, being sure to not burn the pieces (turn the heat down if needed).  Once the bacon has cooked place on a paper towel lined plate and press out the extra grease.  Break into little pieces and set aside.

4) Drain most of the bacon grease.  Add the diced red onion and cook for about 5 minutes until slightly brown.

6) Place the cooked & cut up potatoes pieces into the pan with the cooked onions and cook for a little over 5 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so.

6) In a small bowl mix together the white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, and mustard.  Stir into the potato and red onion mixture in the skillet.  Remove from the heat.

7)  Scoop the potato mixture into a serving bowl.  Stir in the chopped eggs, bacon pieces and chopped dill.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately (this potato salad can be served cold, but it’s better warm).

 

German potato salad (10) WM

 

German potato salad (15) WM

 

 

Orzo & Wild Rice Pilaf

Orzo & Wild Rice Pilaf (11) WM

What a thought to mix orzo and wild rice!  It’s a pretty good combo.  Add sun dried tomato pesto, kalamata olives, feta cheese and toasted pine nuts and it’s amazing!

  • 1 cup wild rice & water (or chicken broth) per package instructions
  •  1/2 cup orzo pasta & water per package instructions
  • coconut oil (or other high-heat oil)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • Sun dried tomato pesto
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Bulgarian feta (if you can find it, if not regular feta)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

1) Cook the wild rice according to the package directions.  It usually takes close to an hour to make in my rice cooker, so plan accordingly.

2) After the wild rice has started to cook, boil about 1.5 cups of water for the orzo.  Add the orzo once the water has boiled and cook on medium heat until cooked through (it’s pasta, so it should be al dente).

3) When the wild rice and orzo have finished cooking combine and fluff in a large bowl.

4) Heat up a small skillet and toast the pine nuts – be sure not to burn them.

5) Use the skillet from toasting the pine nuts and add a bit of oil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the crushed garlic.  Saute for a minute until it is golden brown, be sure to not burn it.

6) Stir the sauteed garlic into the wild rice and orzo mixture; scoop out about 2-3 tablespoons of the sun dried tomato pesto and stir until combined.

7) Add a bit of salt and pepper (to taste) and kalamata olives to the wild rice, orzo, garlic and olive oil salad.  Stir to combine.

8) Scoop out the wild rice and orzo pilaf onto individual plates and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and feta cheese over the tops.

 

Orzo & Wild Rice Pilaf (16) WM

Orzo & Wild Rice Pilaf (6) WM

Tahini Cauliflower

tahini cauliflower (8) WM

This year was the first time that I had tahini.  I was sold. Wikipedia says that tahini is a paste made from ground hulled sesame seeds and is used in North African, Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine.

I wanted to add a little extra something to plain old cauliflower.  I added a bit of tahini and lemon juice to sauteed cauliflower – the result was fantastic!!

 

tahini cauliflower (4) WM

Serves: 2-3

time: about 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

head of cauliflower

6 tablespoons tahini sauce

salt & pepper if desired

coconut oil

black sesame seeds

 

Directions:

1) Wash the head of cauliflower and cut into bite sized pieces.

2) Heat up a skillet with a small scoop of coconut oil; let the oil get warm and then put the cauliflower in.  Cook on medium-high heat until the cauliflower is soft, but not mushy, and golden brown.

3) Put the from the skillet into a serving bowl.  Add the tahini sauce and stir, add more if you’d like (or less).  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper into the tahini cauliflower and mix if you want.

4) Serve hot with a little black sesame seeds sprinkled over each serving.

 

tahini cauliflower (10) WM

Sauteed Zucchini

Sauteed Zucchini  (36) WM

Zucchini is pretty dang good.  I love sauteing the veggie, and this recipe added a little extra something to my normal olive oil, salt & pepper “recipe”.  My husband thought there were too many capers, I thought the amount was perfect – so I would use a little to start and then add some more if needed.

 

ServesSauteed Zucchini  (12) WM

Sauteed Zucchini  (16) WM

serves 4

time: about 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

3 zucchini, cut into thick-ish round slices

olive oil

3 garlic gloves, smashed

small handful of mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon capers, chopped

pine nuts, lightly toasted

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

salt

pepper

feta or goat cheese

 

Directions:

1) Slice the zucchini into thick-ish rounds.

2) Heat a skillet on medium-high heat; drizzle in some olive oil. When the pan/oil is hot place the zucchini in the pan in one layer.  Continue cooking the zucchini until both sides are brown and the zucchini is soft.

3) Meanwhile, chop the rest of the ingredients and brown the pine nuts lightly.

4) Remove the cooked zucchini from the skillet, add in the chopped veggies & browned pine nuts, drizzle in a bit of balsamic vinegar, add salt & pepper to taste.  Stir to coat the  zucchini. Sprinkle the feta or goat cheese on top.  Serve immediately.

 

Sauteed Zucchini  (20) WM

 

Sauteed Zucchini  (28) WM

 

Asian Style Green beans

Spicy Plum Pork Chops (20) WM

These green beans are quite simple & tasty – remember not to over cook them, you want them to still be crunchy.

 

Ingredients:

fresh green beans, a handful for each person

coconut oil

garlic

salt

pepper

peanut oil

toasted sesame seeds

 

Directions

1) Wash the green beans and snap off each end.

2) Heat a skillet with a bit of coconut oil.

3) Once the oil is hot throw in the green beans and crush a few garlic cloves.  Sprinkle in salt & pepper.

4) Saute for a few minutes until the green beans are tender but still crisp.

5) Remove from the heat and sprinkle a little bit of peanut oil on the green beans; stir to coat.  Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top of the green beans.  Serve hot.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits (23) WM

I love homemade buttermilk biscuits, but for some reason I haven’t made them in awhile – my husband said that this is the first time I’ve made them with him and we’ve been together for 8 years.  So…it was about time that I made buttermilk biscuits again!!

We served this on the side of buttermilk fried/baked chicken.  Amazing combination.  You can find the buttermilk chicken recipe here.

timeButtermilk Biscuits (13) WMtime: 30 minutes

makes 6 biscuits

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1) Heat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a round baking pan with oil.

2) Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl. Using your fingertips (or a pastry blender, I need to get one!) mix the butter into dry ingredients until combined – try to not have any big clumps of butter and lots of dry flour.

3) Add the buttermilk and stir, then knead with your hands until all of the dough is moist.

4) Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto a clean & dry surface, turn the bowl over and dump the dough onto the floured surface.  Roll the dough to about 3/4 inches thick.  Cut out round biscuits using a cookie cutter or glass.  Place each biscuit into the sprayed round baking pan.

5) Bake about 12/15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown on top.  Serve warm with honey & butter!

 

Buttermilk Biscuits (19) WM Buttermilk Biscuits (2) WM

Broccoli Rice

Broccoli Rice (9) WM

During the World Cup hosted in Brazil, I decided to make a Brazilian dish.  I made Cachaca marinaded chicken and broccoli rice (arroz de brcolis).  From what I read, Brazilians eat rice every day.  I love broccoli and it was a really neat combination to plain ‘ol rice – I would have never thought to combine the two!  This meal (and the World Cup) made me miss Oasis Brazilian Steak House in Medford, MA – it was about two blocks from us and we would go there regularly for their pay-by-the-pound BBQ.  It was out of this world! Especially the fried plantains.  Another favorite was Muqueca in Cambridge, MA.  Muqueca is a Brazilian styled seafood stew that is so, so, so tasty!!!  We went there when it was super freezing / beginning of a snow storm…ah, the memories!

Onto the broccoli rice!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium bunch broccoli, crown only, chopped finely
salt to taste
3 cups cooked white long-grain rice, hot

Broccoli Rice (28) WM Broccoli Rice (26) WM

Directions:

1. Cook the rice according to the package directions (about 1.5 cup dry rice).

2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Saute until they are soft but not browned.

2. Add the chopped broccoli;  cover the pan and let the vegetables “steam” for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the rice and salt, stir to combine the garlic & onion and heat the rice if it has cooled at all.  Serve immediately.

Broccoli Rice (2) WM

Pancetta, Cranberries & Candied Walnuts Brussels Sprouts

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As a child I hated Brussels sprouts.  That’s because my grandma boiled them, and probably only put salt, pepper and butter on them.  Yuck.  Now, I have learned to either bake or pan fry them with olive oil and to add some other seasonings – the seasons that I add are still pretty basic, but man oh man do they make these round little green veggies amazing!

pancetta, cranberry, walnut brus spr (19)

I typically only put olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic & onion power on Brussels sprout when I eat them for dinner.  But for Thanksgiving this year I decided to add a little bit of color and a lot of flavor to these vegetables that so many children and adults hate.  I wanted to make my friends believers of these little things.

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So, here’s what I did.  This served about 12 people, since it was Thanksgiving and we had so many sides.  I think this amount would serve 4 or so if it’s just for a regular meal.

Ingredients:

pancetta, one package

Brussels sprouts, 1 pound

salt

pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

dried cranberries (sweetened or unsweetened, your preference)

candied walnuts (or pecans)

grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.Wash the Brussels sprouts, chop of the stem end, then slice each into 4ths.

2. Cut the pancetta up into little squares and begin to heat in a large skillet.  Once the pancetta is hot, add the sliced Brussels sprouts.  Stir and sprinkle with the seasonings, stir again.

3. Add 1/4 cup of water and cover for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid and let the Brussels sprouts get crispy.

4. Right before serving stir in a handful or two of the dried cranberries, the candied walnuts and the grated Parmesan cheese.

5. Scoop out into a fancy dish and sprinkle with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve warm.

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Slow Cooker BBQ Black Beans

slow cooker BBQ beans (1) WM

BBQ’d black beans sounded kind of weird, but we went with the recipe and they actually turned out really well!  We will make these again!  They were a hit at our BBQ!

slow cooker BBQ beans (4) WM

prep time: 20 minutes

cook time: 2 – 2.5 hours

serves: a lot!  reduce the amount of beans if you want less

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans black beans in their liquid
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook the bacon until crisp, then remove excess grease on a paper towel.  Break into small bite-sized pieces.  Set aside half.

2. Add all ingredients into a crock pot, stir.

3. Cook on high for 2 – 2.5 hours.  When serving add a little bit of the reserved bacon pieces onto each bowl.

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