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

Millet Salad

Millet Salad (4) WM

Millet is a grass, it has a sort-of corn taste.  I found that it required a tad bit more water than stated in the cooking directions, which I account for here.  1 cup dry, raw millet yields about 3 ½ cups cooked millet.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup dry millet

2 1/4 cups water

salt

pepper

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

can black beans, drained and rinsed

avacado

tomato

bell pepper

feta or goat cheese

 

Directions:

1) Boil the water, add a pinch of salt & millet – cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes without opening the lid.

2) When the millet is cooked it will be soft; remove the cooked millet from the stove, leave covered and let stand for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes take the lid off and let cool completely.

3) While the millet is cooking, drain/rinse the black beans and chop the avocado, tomato and bell pepper.

4) After the millet has cooled add olive oil & balsamic vinegar – roughly 2 tablespoon of olive oil to 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar – add salt & pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.

5) Add the chopped black beans, avocado, tomato, and bell pepper  – stir to combine.  Crumble the feta or goat cheese on top of the mixed salad.

6) Serve chilled.

 

Millet Salad (1) WM

 

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Caprese Salad

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It has been raining all week here in Northern Colorado, but the weather is supposed to make a change for the better – just in time for the holiday weekend!  The nights and mornings are much more crisp, fall is totally in the air!  I love fall but am not really looking forward to the snow and the lack of summer produce like the wonderful tomatoes and basil used in this salad.  (the bowl & spoon are from Greece, how cool is that!  My husband’s parents brought it back for us several years ago.  Greece is on my list of places to visit…hopefully soon!)

This salad can either be layered in rows – tomato, cheese, basil – or mixed up like it is here.

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serves 4

time: quick, about 5 minutes unless you cut really slowly

 

 Ingredients:

1 tomato (or half & half of red & orange, or whatever colors – you can also use cherry tomatoes)

handful of basil, torn up

buffalo mozzarella (the kind in water, though regular mozzarella will work too but it’s not as good)

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

pepper

Lawry’s season salt

 

Directions:

1) Cut the tomatoes up into bite sized pieces, tear the basil up, cut the buffalo mozzarella into bite sized pieces (if you are doing the layering method slice the tomato & mozzarella into circles) and place is a shallow bowl.

2) Stir up the balsamic vinegar & olive oil, about 3 teaspoons of olive oil and 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle in the pepper & Lawry’s season salt to taste. Pour the vinaigrette onto the tomatoes, basil and cheese – gently mix in the vinaigrette.

 

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Chicken & Black Rice Bowls

chicken & black rice bowls (38) chicken & black rice bowls (36)

These rice bowls were really tasty – black rice has an amazing taste, it’s really similar to a wild rice.  Be sure to marinade the chicken overnight for an extra yummy taste.

 

serves 4

marinade the chicken at least 4 hours, or overnight

chicken & black rice bowls (18)

Ingredients:

for the marinade – marinade the chicken at least 4 hours, or overnight

2 1/2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
1/4 cups honey
1/2 canned chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of salt and pepper
chicken & black rice bowls (1)
black rice
2 cups dry black rice
3 cups water or chicken broth
pinch of salt
cook on the stove or in a rice cooker (this is my preferred method)
for the veggies
1 ripe avocado, sliced
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
cilantro, diced
green onions, sliced
handful of cashews
handful of dried cranberries
handful of crumbled feta cheese – we used Bulgarian feta which is really creamy
Directions:
1.Cook the rice per the instructions on the package.
2. Remove the chicken from the marinade, pouring the marinade into a pan and heating on medium-low heat and placing the chicken into a medium-high skillet coated with peanut oil.  Cook the chicken until no longer pink.
3. In the meantime slice all of the veggies.
4. Once the chicken is cooked and the sauce has come to a rapid boil scoop out the rice, sprinkle the veggies, cranberries, cashews, and feta on top and spoon the sauce over the rice and veggies.
5. Serve and eat.
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Braised Mediterranean Chicken

braised mediterranean chicken (2) WM

I have so many posts that I need to catch up on, it’s ridiculous.  I made this dish awhile ago, and as always it was pretty darn tasty.  And I always I made some substitutions from the original recipe and made it my own.

braised mediterranean chicken (3) WM

prep time: 25 minutes

cooking time:  75 minutes

Ingredients:

  • chicken thighs (enough to serve those who are eating, up to 6 pieces otherwise add more of the other ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves of smashed garlic (squeezed in a garlic press or minced)
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 lemon, sliced + a couple of slices for garnishing when serving
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • small container of mixed olives from the olive bar
  • handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Combine the salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic.

2. Make a few cuts on the sides of the chicken.

3. Rub chicken with crushed garlic, paprika, salt & pepper.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron pan on  medium heat; cook chicken with skin side down and brown for about 10 minutes.  Flip to cook the other side and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

6. Pour in the Marsala wine and turn up the heat to high until alcohol evaporates.

7. Add lemon slices, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cranberries and thyme.  Reduce the heat to and simmer for 5 minutes.

8. Transfer pan to the pre-heated oven.  Cook for 45 minutes or until chicken turns golden brown.  While cooking, baste the sauce over the chicken.

9. Serve with regular or Israeli couscous and garnish with fresh lemon slices.

braised mediterranean chicken (4) WM

Whipped Feta & Veggie Crostinis

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Whipped feta is pretty much amazing.  It is just feta cheese and cream cheese.  After you whip it you add it to bread (or toast) and add any veggies (or fruit) that you want.  It’s that simple.

Ingredients:

10 oz. feta cheese (plain, not flavored)

8 oz. cream cheese (soft, not the log kind)

Directions:

1. Dump the feta cheese and cream cheese into a food processor and blend until creamy.  This will take, I don’t know maybe close to 10 minutes – you’ll want all of the lumps to be gone and the whipped feta to be absolutely creamy.

It’s up to you what to do with the whipped feta.  I sliced some whole wheat bread, spread the whipped feta on top, placed some sliced tomatoes & bell peppers on top, put a fresh basil leaf on top and ground some fresh black pepper over the veggies.  You could add some honey while blending the feta and cream cheese and use fruit instead of veggies – the options are endless!

Garden Raviolis

garden raviolis (1) WM

Someday I am going to make raviolis from scratch, but until then I’ll buy them pre-made.  This is a great recipe because it takes pre-made fresh raviolis, doesn’t dump a bunch of sauce on them and instead uses oh so fresh summer veggies.  What more could you ask for.  Really.

prep time: approximately 7 minutes

cooking time: approximately 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 bag pre-made fresh cheese raviolis (the size depends on how many people are eating)

1/2 container cherry tomatoes

2 shallots, cut into wedges

4 garlic gloves, peeled

1/2 zucchini, sliced into bite sized pieces

olive oil

salt

pepper

fresh basil

grated cheese (if desired, it was kind of overkill considering the cheese raviolis, I’ll skip next time)

Directions:

1. Place all vegetables onto an oiled baking sheet in a pre-heated 425 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, boil water for the raviolis and cook.

3. After the raviolis are cooked and the veggies are done combine in a pot with the fresh basil leaves and gently stir together.  Add more olive oil if the ravioli are sticking to one another.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Tomato & Feta Toasts

tomato and feta toasts (1) WM

I cannot believe how amazing this salad / toast was.  In fact, I want one right now.  I’m pretty much drooling.  This recipe will be a go-to summer salad recipe.  See, there are so many amazing ways to eat your veggies!

prep/total time: approximately 20-25 minutes

 tomato and feta toasts (2) WM

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

handful basil leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

sliced tomato or cherry tomatoes

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 lemon, juiced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

pinch of kosher salt

feta cheese, crumbled

goat cheese, crumbled

toasted French bread, 2 slices each person

handful pine nuts, toasted

handful of arugula per person

Directions:

1. Chop, slice, and grate all needed ingredients.

2. Mix the olive oil, pepper and salt together, stir in the chopped, sliced, grated ingredients.  Gently fold in the crumbled cheeses.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Slice and toast the bread.

4. Toast a handful of pine nuts – careful not to burn, you only want them golden brown.

5. Place a handful of washed arugula on each plate.

6. Place the toast on the sides of the plate.  Arrange the cucumber on the bed of arugula, and scoop out the cheese and olive oil mixture on top of the toasts and arugula.  Enjoy!

tomato and feta toasts (3) WM

Corn, Chorizo, and Shrimp Salad

This is a pretty amazing salad.  One that is a total crowd please and is totally easy to prepare (I like that!!).

corn, chorizo, shrimp salad (3) WM

prep time: approximately 15-60  minutes

cooking time: approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients:

4 ears of fresh corn or 3 cans of corn, drained

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled

1 package Spanish chorizo sausage

2 bunches green onions, chopped

handful basil leaves, chopped

handful red cherry tomatoes (or regular tomatoes sliced)

handful yellow cherry tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons Sriracha

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

juice from 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

1. If you are using fresh ears of corn, peel and boil for 60 minutes, then slice the corn kernels off.  Otherwise open the cans of corn and drain.

2. Add the peeled shrimp into a pan of boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes, until they turn pink.  Drain.

3. Cook the chorizo sausage.  Drain.

4. Slice, chop, mince, grate all needed ingredients.

5.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir well, taste and add any additional seasonings.  Keep chilled and serve chilled.

Fettuccine with pesto, mint, pistachios, and tomatoes

This recipe was awesome!  I had never thought of adding pistachios and mint to a pesto dish before.

pesto pistachio (1) WM

prep time: approximately 10 minutes

cooking time: approximately 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box fettuccine (or fresh fettuccine)

1 pound shrimp, raw

handful of fresh mint leaves

1-2 cups prepared pesto

1/4 cup shelled pistachios (I could only find salt & pepper pistachios which I was hesitant about, but they were amazing!)

cherry tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese if desired

Directions:

1. Boil the fettuccine noodles until al dente – approximately 10-12 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, slice the cherry tomatoes, wash the mint leaves, shell the pistachios and grate the cheese.  Boil the shelled shrimp – once the water has come to a boil drop the shrimp in the water and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes (until pink).

3. Once the noodles are done, drain and stir in the pesto sauce.  Stir in the tomatoes and cooked shrimp.

4. Dish out the noodles with tomatoes and shrimp and sprinkle the mint leaves, pistachios and cheese on top.  Enjoy with a nice side salad.

pesto pistachio (2) WM