June 24, 2013

... Southwestern Quinoa Salad

I'm becoming quite a fan of quinoa.  My first foray was the Superfood Salad, which I've made several times since.  I also made a Mediterranean version... unfortunately (for you) I ate it too quickly to write a post about it.  I'll make it again soon... promise!  The beauty about these salads is that they're quick and easy to make, they're pretty darn inexpensive (I made this one for less than $10), and they're good for you.  Win. Win. Win.

This one takes great southwestern flavors - avocado, red bell pepper, cilantro, black beans - and blends them together in a terrific salad that would be perfect as an entree or a side dish.  The cumin-lime dressing really brings it all together.

I've also started making my own tortilla chips.  I go back and forth between corn and flour tortillas.  Corn is better for you, but you don't come home with an obnoxious amount of tortillas if you buy flour.  Either way you go, you follow the same simple steps.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brush the tortillas with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  I like to add other seasonings to mine, too... a little cayenne pepper this time.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, but keep an eye on them because they'll brown pretty quickly.  They take a little (and I mean little) more time than opening a bag of store bought chips might, but just think of all the flavor combinations you can create!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad
serves 4-6

1 cup dry quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped into chunks
handful of cherry (quartered) or grape tomatoes (halved)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
small handful cilantro, diced
juice from one lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt, to taste

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare all other ingredients.  Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt.  Whisk it until combined.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.

When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from the heat and fluff it with a fork.  Add black beans and toss to warm them through.

Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Taylor's Notes:
It's as simple as that.  What's so great about this recipe is that it'll keep in your refrigerator for a week... if you don't eat it before then!  


June 23, 2013

... Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions

I realize I've been a little M.I.A. lately.  It's partially because I've just moved (if 7 months ago qualifies) and I've been busy with updating the house, getting settled, and waiting for my new dining room furniture to arrive.  Now that it has (hip hip hooray!!), I've been enjoying entertaining friends and family.  Today I got to host my dad, brother-in-law, nephew, and Grandma and Dale.  As breakfast / brunch is one of my most favorite meals, I'd say this might turn into a bit of a ritual.

Somewhat traditional breakfast ingredients - potatoes, eggs, bacon - are taken up a notch in a delicious frittata.  While the potatoes are roasting, take a few extra minutes to add Cinnamon Brown Butter Puffs and fresh fruit to the menu.

I don't mean to brag, but check out that frittata!  It was pretty darn tasty, but I'm convinced that what made it so good was the skillet.  I was lucky enough to get to use my Grandpa Jack's cast iron skillet (thanks for the loan, Dad!).  Whether you have a well-seasoned, well-loved skillet or a new one, I have no doubt your frittata will be a success, too.

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions
serves 6-8

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more for roasting potatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound bacon, thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4" matchsticks
1/2 bunch (about 3 or 4) scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk or cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a roasting pan or baking tray generously with oil, about 1 to 2 tablespoons.  Peel potatoes, and cut them into 1/4" - 1/2" slices, then halve them lengthwise into half-circle shapes.  Pile them in the prepared pan, and generously season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Don't worry if they don't fall into one layer - the combo of some steamy / softer and some crisp-edged potatoes will work great in this dish.  Roast 30 minutes, or until potatoes are mostly cooked (they'll finish cooking with the eggs), tossing once halfway through.  Let cool slightly.

Cook bacon in well-seasoned 9" cast iron frying pan until crisp.  Scoop out with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Add additional tablespoon oil to the bacon drippings in the pan, and reheat it over medium heat.  Swirl the oil and drippings around in the pan and up the sides, being sure to coat it fully.

Arrange roasted potatoes in your skillet.  If there are pieces with browned undersides, flip the toasty sides up.  Scatter bacon, then scallions and feta over potatoes.  Whisk eggs with milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium bowl, and pour over potatoes.  Cover skillet with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until puffed at the edges and set in center.

Serve right from the skillet in 6 to 8 wedges.

Taylor's Notes:
This is another winner from Smitten Kitchen.  It doesn't look like Deb has posted it on her website, but it's in her cookbook.  Buy it if you haven't already - you won't regret it.

I used small gold potatoes rather than the Yukon Gold, solely because my grocery store only offered a 5-pound bag of Yukon Golds and one girl just doesn't need that many potatoes.  I reduced the roasting time of the potatoes by 5 minutes, but other than that I followed the recipe.  And really, when it comes to recipes that come out of the Smitten Kitchen, that's exactly what you should do.


... Berry Parfait

Summer has officially arrived (well, let's be honest, it arrived before it was actually 'official').  Although I try to watch what I eat most of the year, there's something about swimsuit season that really brings it home.  I refuse to give up desserts, though, no matter what time of year it is.  This one may not be entirely healthy, but it's certainly not completely guilt-inducing.  

Berry Parfait
serves 6 (individual) or 12 (in one pan)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (1 1/2 sleeves of graham crackers, crushed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.  Press firmly in a 9"x13" baking dish (or individual parfait cups) and bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold milk
8 oz Cool Whip, thawed

Beat cream cheese with sugar and milk until smooth; fold in Cool Whip.

Berries!  Berries!  Berries!  I used one container each of strawberries and blueberries.

Spread filling mixture over graham cracker crust.  Top with berries.  Add a dollop of plain Cool Whip and a sprig of mint as garnish.

Taylor's Notes:
I've mentioned Pinterest a time or two, yes?  This recipe is an adaptation of one I  pinned.  I've linked the original recipe there, but I left out the vanilla pudding aspect of that recipe.  To me, it seemed like a little too much and I chose to make the berries shine rather than have them coated with pudding.  To pudding or not to pudding... that is your choice.