Category Archives: dinner

Quinoa Salad with Beets and Cucumbers

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Happy Fathers Day!   I hope you are all celebrating the amazing father’s and men in your life.  After a filling family breakfast and looking at all the cards the kids decorated for Eric, we sent him off for a long hike with some of his good friends.   The kids absolutely adore their dad, as do I.

I think about my father often, but especially today.  This is my fourth father’s day without him.   I picture him playing bridge somewhere and passionately discussing politics while eating chinese food, or maybe a big plate of onion rings.   To this recipe he would say keen-what?  And I would reply, Keen-WAH, Dad – Try it, it’s really good for you.  You’ll like it .  And by the way, you would have loved the hike I went on today.   The Lupine were just incredible.  If only I could tell him about it.   If only he could hike with me again.

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I am not sure if I had even heard of quinoa four years ago.

This is a great summer meal.  It is perfect for lunch, dinner or potlucks.  It keeps well so you could make it on Sunday and take it to work for lunch over the next several days.  Also great to take camping for the weekend.

I had just roasted some beets and hadn’t decided what I was going to do with them yet.  I looked in the index under beets in this fabulous cookbook called La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre and came across a beet and quinoa tabouli, as she calls it.   Perfect.

Roasting the beets takes about an hour and the quinoa needs to cool down so this is not a last minute type recipe.   You need about an hour and a half- even though it’s really only 15 minutes of active cooking time.

I changed some of the ingredients, adding basil and cucumbers, and omitted a few others, but otherwise  followed her recipe.   This cookbook is truly one where every time you turn the page another delicious recipe appears after another.  I used red quinoa because it is what I had on hand but I think it would look prettier with white quinoa  (as Beatrice uses) and the beets would turn it a light pink.

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Enjoy!

Summer Quinoa Salad (serves 6)

adapted from La Tartine Gourmande Cookbook

1 Cup Quinoa (red or white)

2 Cups Water or Vegetable Broth

1 Large Beet, Roasted and diced

1 Cup diced Cucumber

1/4 Cup Feta crumbles

2 TBSP Pine Nuts (optional)

Vinaigrette

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP Basil, chopped

1 TBSP Mint, chopped

1TBSP Parsley, chopped

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

Wrap the beet (unpeeled) in tin foil and in a 400 degree oven and roast the beet for 45min.-1hour.   Let cool and then peel off the skin with your fingers and dice it. 

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa well in a fine mesh colander.  Add it to a pot with 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and a pinch of salt.   When it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat, let it stand for 5 minutes and then put it in a bowl to cool. 

In a small bowl, add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and stir well. 

Add the beets and cucumbers to the quinoa and stir well.   Pour the viniagrette over the salad and mix together.   Then add the feta crumbles and pine nuts on top.

 

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Radicchio wrapped Quinoa, Fennel and Avocado

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I just got back from a two hour hike with my friend, Dina.   It was so nice to catch up and be outside.   We are only starting to experience spring in Crested Butte.

This is what it looked like outside last week…

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And this is what it looks like this week!  Ahh,  much better.

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I prefer to exercise outside but it’s not always an option.   From cold weather to my two little munchkins,  I often workout on my treadmill.    I will occasionally watch  a Grey’s Anatomy episode or John Stewart while exercising but more often than not,  I watch cooking shows.   It’s true.    Something about it doesn’t seem right but I do…From Giada De Laurenttis, to The Pioneer Women, to David Rocco’s Dulce Vita I get inspired to cook as I exercise.   David Rocco’s show takes place in Florence  so I get to reminisce about the amazing year I spent living in Florence- almost 17 years ago!   That can’t be right?  Gasp…

My kids will wander in from the playroom and look genuinely interested in what they are cooking on the TV.  Or else they just love TV and will take whatever show they can get.   I am going to stick with my first thought because I want them to love cooking.  I am trying hard to instill in them a love of cooking.   Max is always asking what my favorite this or that is.   He knows my favorite food is pesto and that it is made using basil.   He recently tried it (after some pleading and maybe a little bribing) and said he “sort of likes it but isn’t in the mood for it right now.”   I’ll take it but I am not sure what happened because  when he was one or two, he loved it.   Did anyone else have a pretty good eater and then suddenly they stopped eating anything with a complex flavor?

Anway, the other day Giada was making a chicken salad stuffed in pasta shells.   It looked delicious but I didn’t have all the ingredients and I wasn’t interested in making pasta.  So  I took portions of that recipe and turned in into this.  Read the rest of this entry

Cauliflower Rice with Artichokes

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I  was experimenting a little bit with being grain-free just to see how I felt and saw various recipes for cauliflower rice on Paleo websites.  It is one of my new favorite things of 2013- although just to be fair I don’t have many new things in 2013 yet.  But still.  All you do is put your cauliflower in the Cuisinart until it is finely blended and saute for a few minutes.  Genious.

Are any of you grain-free?  It is an adjustment but I do notice a difference in how I feel.   I have been wheat free (again) for the last few weeks and mostly grain free but not totally.   As someone who loves to bake, that poses a bit of a problem- until Almond Flour came into my life.  I was a little obsessed with almond flour this holiday season and cooked probably a dozen things from this cookbook- almond flour pizza crust, almond flour quiche, almond flour biscotti (dynamite!), almond flour pancakes…it’s good stuff and a great alternative to wheat flours and less healthy gluten free flours.

Anyway, now I have an alternative rice to add to the mix.   This is a quick and easy side dish – takes 15 minutes tops- and you can add whatever flavors you like.   Read the rest of this entry

Artichoke Soup with Polenta Croutons

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I have decided to let go of my goal to exercise in the early morning before the kids wake up.    I am tired of being disappointed in myself before I have even stepped out of bed.   Who am I kidding?     It’s hard enough for me to get up at 5:30 or 6am with a good night sleep so it’s highly unlikely when I have been up with my daughter half the night.

About a month ago, we stopped letting Cecilia crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night and instead I bring her back into her room, half asleep, bumping into furniture and mumbling things I shouldn’t be.    She used to climb into our bed and we would hardly realize she was there but then she developed a kicking, whining 3 year old habit that just wasn’t working for us.   So the rules changed.  Now it feels like we have a newborn and sleepless nights make mommy very unproductive and forgetful and not as sweet as I want to be.    I think my kids slept better as babies than they do now.   Last night (for maybe the first time) I was in bed last night at 7:55pm and asleep by about 8:05 which meant that I got a solid 4 hours of sleep before my daughter woke me up for the first of 3 times starting at midnight.   And that is why I am able to write today 🙂

Cecilia says things like, “Mommy, I’m little.  I’m not a big girl.  I can’t sleep in my room all night,” and  typical things like “I scared” and  “Just lay with me a little bit and sing one song.”   But her excuses are becoming more creative.   She has decals of little pigs and birds in her room and her latest reason for not being able to sleep in her room is that the animals on her wall are talking too much.   I moved one of the pig decals away from the head of  her bed so the pig wouldn’t be so loud.   She’s a funny one!

I think (desperately hope) things are going to start to look up.   Mostly thanks to a clock.  The clock and my constant talks with her throughout the day about sleeping, plus a little bribing and a sleep chart with fun stickers and a trip to the toy store if she sleeps in her room for 7 nights in a row.   Oh my goodness.  I told Cecilia that a  nightlight clock was coming in the mail for her and it would help her sleep.   I thought the clock would arrive the next day but it took a whole week.   So everyday she would ask if her clock was here and said “Mommy, when the clock gets here I can sleep in my room alllllll night.”  But that meant that since the clock wasn’t here yet, she wouldn’t be sleeping in her room all night.  It was a long week anticipating that clock.   And now we have had the clock for about a week and I have thankfully seen some improvements.   But it’s baby steps.     She earned a couple stickers on that chart but let me tell you, she did not like it when I put an X on the chart.   Although I like how early my kids are going to bed now with daylight savings, my five year old, Max now wakes up at about 5:30 every morning.   Oh boy.   The 8pm bedtime for Mom might become regular.

It’s been a while since I have written and now you probably know why.  Here is an Artichoke Soup that I hope you enjoy!

And if you have any tips for me regarding kids sleep I am all ears!

It’s pretty easy and quick to make.

Artichoke Soup with Polenta Croutons- 4-6 servings

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

2 TBSP Coconut Oil

2 Celery Stalks – chopped

1 medium onion – chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

3 Cups Vegetable Broth

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

12 oz. package of frozen artichoke hearts (or use canned artichoke in water)

1 Cup Kale or Spinach -chopped

2-3 garlic cloves -minced (only if you like garlic!)

For the Soup- Heat Coconut Oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the celery, onions, salt and pepper and cook for about 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add the Broth, Coconut Milk, and Artichokes and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.   Pour the soup into a blender one cup at a time and puree.  Add the chopped kale or spinach last and pulse a few times.   Return Soup to the saucepan and add addition broth if it’s too thick.   In a small saucepan with a 1/4 tsp of Coconut oil, saute the garlic for several minutes.  Add to the pureed soup.   Serve with Polenta Croutons.

Polenta Croutons

1 Cup Polenta

3 Cups Water

1 tsp Salt

Prepare polenta according to package- 1 cups of Polenta in 3 cups of boiling water (or broth), stirring continuously until cooked.

Spread prepared polenta onto a greased baking sheet so it’s about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.   Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, until it is golden and crispy.  Cut with a pizza cutter and put a few pieces in each bowl.

Tomato, Green Chili and Corn Tart

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Eric and I bought a bunch of Hatch roasted green chilies from a women on the side of the road in Taos, New Mexico thinking we would freeze most of them for later use.    Now we are wondering why we didn’t buy more!   First I made a batch of Green Chili Sauce and used it for a quick meal one night with a package of premade polenta, green chilies, cheddar cheese.  I had to go to a meeting that evening so I prepared the dish and left Eric with instruction to bake it for about 30 minutes.  I got home at the tail end of dinner to an almost finished baking dish.   It tasted somewhere between an enchilada and a tamale and had plenty of heat.

This week I made a tart using cherry tomatoes, roasted green chilies, and fresh sauteed corn.   I did cut a corner and used a frozen pie crust.  I know it’s shocking.   But true.  It was gluten free though which is really neither here nor there, but if you are GF, it is good to know that there are frozen pie crust options at the store.

I brought this to a friends house that night and actually finished baking it there because I was running late.   When I took it out of their oven, my friend starting digging in with a tortilla chip and eating it as an appetizer.  Not quite how I imagined it going down… but it worked.   And it disappeared pretty quickly.   So you could forgo the crust and make this into more of an appetizer/dip kind of dish. Read the rest of this entry

Veggie Tacos with Peach Salsa

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Rain Rain Rain.   I am not complaining.   At all.    I am just saying there’s been a lot lately.   June was all sunshine all the time and as much as we needed the rain, it did feel nice.   But one drop of a match and the  whole town might have caught fire.   The flowers were not making their usual colorful appearance and riding the trails left one inhaling a lot of dust.  I started to wonder if it was ever going to rain again.

It did.

July seems to be making up for things.   Flowers are blooming, trails are hard packed and the grass seems pretty wet.  And I just heard they lifted the fire ban in town.   This July weather is reminding me of my years in Portland, OR.   One day after working in my ceramic studio and  listening to the rain singing on the windowpanes, I got into my car and there was a puddle of water at my feet.   My sunroof seal had well…unsealed.   Lovely.    That was a wet drive home.

The best part about rain is when you get to see one of these…

So as I again listen to the sound of rain on my roof,  I am thinking about Portland.   I remember eating some pretty tasty tacos in Portland.  That is what I am making today.  Tacos.   These are vegetarian but feel free to replace the tofu with chicken or fish.

Rain makes me a little sleepy.   That and my little munchkins waking me up several times in the middle of the night because they had a nightmare or are scared of monsters.   Who even taught then about monsters?  I would like the have a word with that person.  Anyway,  as I was cooking the tofu, Read the rest of this entry

Polenta-Stuffed Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

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Here is one for all you garlic lovers!

Walking into a house to the smell of garlic roasting in the oven is so pleasing and comforting.

Garlic is said to have many healing properties and it is my go-to remedy when I start feeling a cold coming on.   My mom gave used to give it this to me as a kid and I still use it today.   You chop up a clove of garlic, put it on a spoon with a little raw honey on top and swallow it down.   I swear by it.   If you are worried about garlic breath, just have your significant other do it too.

This is such a great meal and not too time consuming.  I love polenta (as  you may have noticed) and how versatile it is.  You can eat a bowl of it like porridge with raisins and nuts, or with melted cheese and basil,  you can put it in the fridge so it gets hard and  make polenta cakes or fries, or as you will see here, you can use it as a stuffing.    This is another recipe I adapted from RIPE by Cherly Sternman Rule.  I have tried this with Chard and with Kale and while both taste great, the Chard leaves are bigger and make for easier burrito wrapping.  You could top if with your favorite tomato sauce if you don’t have time to make mine.  One night I was in a hurry and I used a spicy salsa and that tasted great too.  So do what you have time for.

Happy Eating!

Polenta-Stuffed Chard(serves 4-6)

3/4 Cup of Polenta-   the cooked polenta needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour

1 TBS Butter

1 tsp salt

pepper

1 Cup grated Parmesan  -divided

6 Large leaves Swiss Chard

Garlic Roasted Tomato Sauce (makes about a cup and a half)

1 Onion,  thinly sliced

4 Large Tomatoes

2 whole, unpeeled Garlic Cloves, top 1/4 inch chopped off

1/8 + Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 TBS Vegetable Broth or Water – or more

salt and pepper to taste

To Make Tomato Sauce: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   On a baking pan, lay out a sheet of parchment paper (for easy cleaning).   Lay out the onions.  Core and quarter the tomatoes and lay on top of the onions.  Place the garlic bulbs around the tomatoes and drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt.   Bake for 45 minutes or until tomatoes look shriveled.    Squeeze out the insides of the garlic cloves into a blender.  Put the tomatoes and onions in the the blender and all the juices.  Blend until smooth.

To make the Polenta-Stuffed Swiss Chard: In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 1 tsp salt to a boil.  Whisk in the polenta and reduce heat.  Cook until thick, about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.  Remove from heat, stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of  grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of pepper.     Let cool for a 10 minutes.   Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a square pan.  Pour the polenta into the pan and smooth the top.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and boil some water.   Remove the thick stem on each piece of Chard by making  a v-shaped cup down the middle.  Put leaves in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.   This makes the leaves easier to work with.  Remove after 3-4 minutes and pat dry.     Cut the Polenta into about 8 rectangular pieces.   If the piece is too big for the Chard, just make it smaller.

Spoon 1/4 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking pan.  Lay a piece of chard on a cutting board and place a piece of Polenta horizontally on the bottom part of the leave.  Fold the leave on each side over the polenta, encasing it as you would make a burrito.  Transfer to the baking pan, seam side down.  Repeat until finished.   Pour another 1/4- 1/2 cup of sauce over top the chard burritos and then sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes, the put under the broiler for another 1-3 minutes to brown the cheese.  Serve hot.