Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Southwestern Quinoa

This post is going to be a bit short, but I spent most of last week sick and take boards tomorrow (the giant test over ALL of nursing, no biggie!), which adds up to a decided lack of cooking on my end this last week. So I thought I'd follow up my last post with another quinoa recipe- this time, with a Southwestern twist to it. Over the last few years that I've been using quinoa, this has tended to be the recipe I use most, since it requires a little less cooking time and I've run into fewer people who dislike these flavors than the Greek flavor or eggplant texture (crazy, I know, but they're out there!). If you want to add a little extra protein, a grilled chicken breast that was marinated in a chili-lime sauce was a welcome addition for the carnivore in my life.
The one thing that made a very big difference in this recipe was adding fresh cilantro. It's not something I always have on hand, so it's often forgotten by the time I get this made. I came across a Gourmet Garden tube of cilantro when I was in the grocery store getting ingredients and decided to give it a shot- absolutely worth the money. Fresh spices always make a huge difference in how a dish tastes, and the tube varieties make it much easier to store them without the risk of wilting before you get it all used.

Southwestern Quinoa
Serves 4-6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, rinsed (can also use fresh or frozen)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Cilantro, salt, pepper, & paprika, to taste
1 Tbs each, lemon and lime juice
1 avocado, diced
Non-fat Greek yogurt and shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

1. Rinse and add quinoa to 4 cups boiling water. Stir, cover and simmer on med-high until liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combing the black beans, corn, vegetables and garlic.
3. Add lemon and lime juice, season the mixture to taste.
4. Spoon quinoa into a bowl or onto a plate and cover with vegetable mixture.
5. Top with diced avocado, Greek yogurt and cheese, if desired, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Greek-style Quinoa

As I mentioned a few posts back, I succumbed to peer pressure sometime in July and decided to start training for my first half-marathon. I ran cross country way back in high school (starting to quickly realize how long ago that really was!), so I've put in a few long runs in my lifetime, but can safely say that I haven't run 8+ miles since those workouts 10 years ago! Luckily, the bulk of my training is taking place during boards studying and the month afterwards, when I really don't have many responsibilities (responsibilities... or excuses?) to get in the way of my training plan. Thankfully, as much as I dislike that winter follows fall, Iowa took a decided turn into fall temperatures this weekend, which makes long runs outside much easier to deal with.

What this means on the foodie side of things is paying better attention to what I eat - this sort of training requires quality food. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is one of my favorite ingredients- similar to rice, it's easy to cook while prepping veggies and provides a blank canvas as far as taste goes. Quinoa is also a complete protein, which is hard to come by for us vegetarians. To date, I've only used quinoa for savory lunch/dinner dishes, but I'm eager to throw some cinnamon-sugar, raisons and almonds in it and try it for breakfast as the temperatures start dropping. Quinoa can be used in place of pretty much any grain - rice, pasta, etc, to add protein and fiber (quinoa has double the protein and fiber of rice!) to your meals without being as high in carbs as the other options.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Arugula-Blueberry-Gorgonzola Salad

I meshed this salad together from several different recipes I came across during my post-graduation week-of-nothingness bliss. I'd never thought to put blueberries in a salad before seeing this recipe, and was a little apprehensive about it even while making it. Pancakes, cereal, yogurt, baked goods, by the handful... sure, blueberries are awesome. But mixed in with peppery arugula and intense gorgonzola? Turns out they add just enough sweet, creaminess to the salad to tone down the other intense flavors and really pull the salad together.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grilled Peaches & Pineapple

Eish, somehow three weeks have passed since graduation and my last post. And what have I been doing with myself, you ask? Well, mostly studying all day, every day for boards. That coupled with training for my first half-marathon in October has pretty well kept me shockingly busy, or I'm just lazy with the time left over after a full day of lectures, 100+ pages of textbook reading and miles of running. Either way, I'm back and have a bunch of recipes to post to get you through the end of summer (seriously, where did it go?! I'm quite irked about this!) and into the awesomeness of fall.

Grilling fruit is a really great way to utilize an already fired up grill at your end-of-the-summer dinners, or possibly carry over into tailgating season, without heating up the house to bake something. Perhaps the weather is different where you are, but August in Iowa tends to run in the 90s, both for temperature and humidity, so heating up the apartment more is something I avoid as much as possible! As usual, I forgot to take my camera to get some finished shots of this delicious, juicy dish, so this picture is courtesy of the website Learn How To Cook.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars, and Graduation News!

Hello again! Sorry for the brief hiatus, but life here's been a tad crazy with some very big, exciting changes. For starters - I graduated on Friday!!!! After 18 months of extreme sleep deprivation, countless missed social events, more stress and tears than most of us care to claim, my entire class and I received our Masters in Nursing. A particularly special part of the day was the pinning ceremony that preceded actual convocation (symbolizing the change from student to practicing nurse), in which my almost 4-year-old cousin Ellie pinned me. What makes this moment so incredible is that Ellie was born with a severe heart defect, requiring three open heart surgeries - the most recent of which almost took her from us. But those sad, terrifying days are behind us and my happy, gorgeous little miracle girl took her job of pinning me very seriously. Just the week before I mentioned to her that I had to go to the hospital the next day to work, to which she replied "but you can't be a nurse until I pin you!"
To add to all the graduation excitement, I had two job interviews last week! I interviewed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Neonatal ICU and Peds ICU. Either job would be an incredible opportunity and I was thrilled to get both interviews. I'll hopefully hear back early next week, until then I get to spend this week doing absolutely. anything. I. want. .... very, very odd concept! The top of my list being to finish re-doing the living room decor, read at least one book and cook like crazy before I have to start studying for boards next week. I've long been hinting at a revamped blog, so hopefully that will also come into being here soon -- new chapter of life, new blog look.
It's quite fitting that this is the post-graduation recipe I'm posting, as it comes from one of the girls in my program. I did add strawberries to what were originally just rhubarb bars, and they were very popular when I took them to the hospital! I love the flavor combination you get mixing sweet strawberries with tart rhubarb, and the little bit of corn starch is an important ingredient to help absorb the extra water the strawberries add. If you're looking to make this healthier, you can use an egg substitute, decrease the amount of sugar and/or play around with a butter substitute for the crust (though I advise caution on this- I've had little luck with crusts using anything other than real butter!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mint Summer Fruit Salad

This was my third dish for the baby shower, my new favorite fruit salad and a little something to maybe entice you to try making over the weekend. I'd never really worked with mint before, but it was exciting to have a good reason to buy a bunch of it at the Farmer's Market that weekend. Plus mint is a fantastic summer flavor! Even though I was a bit nervous about it beforehand, it got rave reviews from everyone at the shower and I highly recommend it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spinach-Feta Flatbread Bites with Tzatziki

A few months ago I received an email from TastingTable with a recipe for Spinach-Feta Cigars, a twist on the Greek grape-leaf wraps, which sounded delicious but I decided it was a recipe worth saving for an event rather than to whip up for a random dinner. Aaaand then life got really busy and various social events like dinner parties and game nights stopped happening, nevermind the general lack of time to make something slightly more complicated than throwing random veggies in a bowl and dousing them with olive oil, vinegar and calling it a 'dinner salad'. But these bite-sized tastes of Greece were definitely worth holding on to the recipe for!