Tag: quinoa

Sundried Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad {Gluten-Free}

We’ve been making the most of the last days of summer and have spent just about every weekend and multiple nights a week hanging out with friends and family.

We also went to the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night with thousands of other people, and it was AMAZING! I highly recommend seeing one of their shows if you get a chance. Their music is fun, upbeat, and makes you want to dance!

Zac Brown band

Because of all of this, I’ve really felt like a little social butterfly lately…and I’m loving it!

As someone who used to prefer being alone over being with people, I’m enjoying all of the socializing we’ve been doing. One of the commitments my husband, Bill, and I made at the beginning of the year was to be more intentional about spending time with friends and other couples, even during what is often a busy week.

Why the focus on so much more social time?

In his book Wellbeing, Tom Rath writes about the importance of social time in reducing our stress and worry and boosting our wellbeing. To have a thriving day, we need 6 HOURS of social time.  That includes time at work, home, with friends, talking on the phone, and even sending email (scrolling through Facebook doesn’t count) – anything that gives us an opportunity to directly connect with another human being. If six hours sounds kind of daunting, even three hours of social time cuts your chances of having a bad day to 10%. That’s reason enough for me to be more social!

We had a socially-packed day this past Sunday and easily hit the 6-hour mark by spending a few hours at church in the morning, going to a friend’s party in the afternoon, and visiting my in-laws that evening.

The party we went to on Sunday afternoon was a potluck-style party, so I decided to bring a new recipe that I had first taste-tested with my friend, Jeanne, on Friday night.

I was inspired to make this recipe when I was munching on the Tomato Basil version of Chickpeatos, one of my favorite snacks and a great substitute for croutons.

“Hmmm, wouldn’t it be great to combine those flavors into a salad?”

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So, off I went to experiment with a combo of sundried tomatoes (oh my gosh, so good!), fresh basil and a base of quinoa.

This recipe looks like Christmas in a bowl with its red and green accents, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate the transition from summer to cooler weather. You’re going to love it!

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Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (I use these)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or oil from sundried tomatoes jar)
1/2 cup Watusee Foods Tomato Basil Chickpeatos

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic together, then whisk in oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss quinoa with sundried tomatoes, beans, and basil with dressing and top with Chickpeatos.

Cherry Tomato, Asparagus & Quinoa Spring Salad

We just came back from an amazing weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, where my husband and dad (whose 66th birthday is today!) finished the Half Ironman Triathlon. They swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and then ran 13.1 miles! It was a HOT day, but they did it! All of their hard work is preparing them for the Lake Placid Ironman on July 24th. I’m working on a post about the experience from this weekend, so stay tuned for that post later this week 🙂

In the meantime, I wanted to share a recipe for a salad I’ve made a few times already this spring, mainly because of how simple it is. It’s a dish you could bring to a potluck or enjoy for lunch or dinner.

And it includes one of the veggies that is in season here on the East Coast – asparagus!asparagus-closeup

Asparagus is one of my favorite springtime foods that is incredibly versatile and easy to make. You can steam it, bake it, saute it, or grill it. You can even use it as an ingredient in soup, but I’ve yet to try that.

I came up with this recipe after spending a beautiful afternoon with my friend, Lisa, and her two kiddos. When I got home, I took a look at what was left in the fridge and decided to put this salad together. The ingredients are simple – quinoa, onions, garlic, tomatoes, lemons, and asparagus.

This recipe embodies the wise words of Julia Child…Julia Child Quote

Think of this recipe as a template or a guide. Start with a cooked grain like quinoa or rice + onion and garlic base + 3-4 cups of veggies of your choice + vinaigrette. The other day when I made it, I threw in some arugula. Another time, I might use spinach instead or sub in some roasted red peppers for tomatoes. Use what you have 🙂

Cooking does not have to be stressful, and using templates like this can make it more fun and freeing!spring-quinoa-salad-aerial-coverspring-quinoa-salad-closeup

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (will yield about 3 cups cooked)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus, woody stem (bottom 1″) removed and the rest chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves rolled and thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside.
  2. Add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions for about 5-6 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add tomatoes and cook for 6-8 minutes. Add asparagus and 1/4 cup water. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp tender and still bright green. Remove from heat. Add vegetables to quinoa and toss to combine.
  3. Whisk lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper together. Add olive oil and continue whisking until evenly combined. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle basil on top, and toss everything to combine. Serve warm or chilled.

5 MORE Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets Under $20!

Having the right tools in the kitchen helps to make food prep and cooking more efficient, easier, and fun!

If you missed my first post about 5 must-have kitchen gadgets – like the AvoSaver, garlic rocker, and an awesome dicing knife – click here to check it out!

Today, I’m sharing 5 MORE of our favorite kitchen gadgets (under $20!). We use these at least weekly, if not daily!

Fine mesh strainer, peeler trio set, stainless steel cup, onion saver, and microplane grater

Fine mesh strainer, peeler trio set, stainless steel cup, onion saver, and microplane grater

  1. Microplane Zester/Grater – We use this tool to grate ginger and turmeric root and to zest lemons, limes and oranges. We are thinking about getting these gloves because if you’re not careful with this thing you can definitely cut yourself.
  2. Swissmar Swiss Trio Peeler Set – There are few things more frustrating in the kitchen than a really dull vegetable peeler. Since we eat a lot of vegetables, we peel a lot of vegetables, so we use these peelers on a daily basis. I use it to peel the hunk of ginger root that I put in my smoothies in the morning. We also use these gadgets to peel butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and eggplant.
  3. Stainless Steel Blender Cup – Bill and I make smoothies for breakfast most mornings, and sometimes we make a pretty hearty serving that doesn’t fit into a regular cup. Like most people, we like our smoothie to stay chilled. We looked online for one of those cups that restaurants give you when you get a milkshake and they make too much, and we found this one! We use it every day, and it does a great job keeping our smoothies nice and cold.
  4. Onion Saver – We eat lots of onions. Onions are one of the healthiest foods you can eat and are anti-cancer powerhouses. We dice them up in just about every stir fry, soup and saute we make, and we LOVE chopping them in big chunks and roasting them by themselves or with other veggies. They are SO good! Sometimes we don’t use the whole onion at one time, so we store the leftovers in this little onion house.
  5. OXO Good Grips Fine Mesh Strainer – The main reason we use this strainer is to rinse quinoa. We eat a decent amount of quinoa in the Druckenmiller household, and this fine mesh strainer is great because none of those pesky little quinoa seeds can fit through the holes, so you can rinse your quinoa worry-free! Check out this post about how to make quinoa and this one for my absolute favorite quinoa recipes!

We have an Amazon Prime membership, so we get free two-day shipping on just about everything we order from Amazon and just pay an annual fee of $79. We ordered a cast iron skillet on Amazon once, and those things are super heavy…but we didn’t have to pay any shipping! We love being able to price shop, and the 2-day shipping is awesome for everything from gadgets to cookbooks to dishwasher detergent packs.

A big thank you to my friend Jessica for introducing me to it two years ago! She used it as a way to get the least expensive diapers for her son, but we use it for everything from superfoods and kitchen gadgets to Christmas gifts and cookbooks!

Kitchen gadgets can be an affordable way to make your life that little bit easier. However, if you’ve got some extra money to spend, then why not consider upgrading your kitchen using an automation system like Creston? You can control everything form your television screen to the lighting, entirely remotely and at the touch of a button. A friend of mine has recommended this great crestron system in london if you’re tempted to learn more about turning your property into a smart home.

Do you have any favorite kitchen gadgets you can’t live without? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

How to Make Quinoa Taste Delicious: My Favorite Recipes!

In my post the other day, I shared the secret to cooking perfect quinoa every time. No more overcooked mush!

Knowing how to cook quinoa by itself is great, but for many of us, eating it plain has been our only experience with this little super seed. When we think of quinoa we think “bland, boring, and tasteless.”

It doesn’t have to be this way! Today I’m going to share how we make quinoa dishes taste delicious.

Quinoa with roasted red onions, carrots, white sweet potatoes and garlic with Swiss chard

Quinoa with roasted red onions, carrots, white sweet potatoes and garlic with Swiss chard

Here is my favorite way to prepare quinoa. It’s not super technical (i.e., no measurements – AHH!), but that’s okay. Part of the FUN of cooking is experimenting and giving yourself permission to not follow so many stinkin’ rules 🙂

  1. Cook one cup of it. It expands to 3-4 times its size so 1 cup dry = 3-4 cups cooked.
  2. Chop & roast some veggies (I love using red and vidalia onions, garlic, carrots and sweet potatoes or butternut squash, broccoli and cauliflower are great, too!). A few pinches of thyme, rosemary, and/or sage give roasted veggies great flavor. Use whatever veggies, herbs and spices YOU like!
  3. Chop up some greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach, etc.).
  4. Put the quinoa and roasted veggies in a large skillet or saute pan on the stove and turn heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the greens. Toss everything together for a few minutes with tongs until the greens cook down but are still bright. Add a few splashes of water or veggie broth to prevent sticking/drying out.
  6. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of 1/2 – 1 whole lemon or splash raw apple cider vinegar over the mixture and stir (acid = bite/flavor!).
  7. Top with toasted nuts/seeds (I like pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and pine nuts), and for something sweet, dried cranberries or raisins.
  8. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (you may need more) as well as sea salt and pepper to your liking.
Quinoa with roasted butternut squash, yellow onion, and garlic with toasted pecans and kale

Quinoa with roasted butternut squash, yellow onion, and garlic with toasted pecans and kale

For anyone who likes to follow recipes with numbers in them, check out the yummy ideas below for some seasonal quinoa dishes! We made the first one this week for dinner 🙂

Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale & Quinoa Skillet – This is a perfect, warming winter dish. We cooked it in our cast iron skillet and made a few changes to the recipe. Roasting whole sweet potatoes in the oven took a long time, so next time, we’ll chop them up, toss them in some coconut oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 400F. Also, we added a few squeezes of lemon juice and some toasted pumpkin seeds to the dish just before serving, and it was delicious!

Quinoa with Caramelized Butternut Squash & Roasted Brussels Sprouts – These are a few of my absolute favorite things 🙂

Quinoa Fried Rice – Bill and I prepare variations of this all the time. We throw in whatever veggies we have on hand, so don’t feel like you’re stuck with this recipe as is – modify it to include your favorites!

Super Simple Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili – Is it time to change up your chili recipe? Give this one a try!

I have lots of other quinoa recipes on my Pinterest boards, so check them out!

Roasted sweet potato, quinoa and kale skillet

Roasted sweet potato, quinoa and kale skillet. Yum!

The Secrets to Cooking Perfect Quinoa…Revealed!

Quinoa is everywhere these days.

Popping up in funny Miller Lite commercials in the form of “queen-o” burgers.

Receiving props worldwide with 2013 being deemed “The International Year of Quinoa.” (Seriously, there is such a thing!)

And showing up on grocery store shelves in everything from cereals to snack foods.

All the while driving people crazy with its less than phonetic spelling!

Here are some fun facts about this hearty little seed:

  • It’s pronounced “KEEN-wah.”
  • It’s technically a seed or pseudocereal and is harvested from a plant related to beets and spinach.
  • It comes in a variety of colors (red, white, black, orange, brown, pink, pale yellow).
  • It’s a complete protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids) and is packed with nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
  • There is a naturally occurring, bitter outer coating on quinoa called saponin that needs to be rinsed off prior to eating, otherwise it will be bitter.
  • It doesn’t contain gluten, the sticky protein found in barley, rye, wheat, and a few other grains, so it is safe for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerances.
  • Swap it out to replace rice or couscous to change up your recipes.

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Where do you buy quinoa?

I buy a big 4 pound bag for $10-$15 at BJs Wholesale Club, and it lasts for months. You can find it cheap at Trader Joe’s and in the bulk section of grocery stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods as well as in natural food stores like MOMs and Roots Market. All major grocery stores sell it these days, but it’s cheaper to buy it in bulk at the stores above or wholesale clubs than in a box at Safeway.

Want to know the secrets to cooking perfect quinoa every time? Follow these steps!

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or low sodium vegetable stock (some people find using a little less liquid – 1.75 cups – works well, too, but I’ve always used two!)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Optional ingredient: Instead of sea salt, use a thumb-size piece of kombu (you find this seaweed online or at any of the stores listed above). When you add kombu to grains (and beans) while cooking them, it infuses them with minerals, makes the grain more digestible, and reduces acidity and gas!

  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. This gets rid of the bitter coating, so it is an important step!
  2. Put the rinsed quinoa, water and salt (or kombu, if using) in a pot.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. DO NOT STIR THE QUINOA WHILE IT IS COOKING. It will not cook properly if you do. If you want to check on it, just remove the lid and tilt the pot a little – if the water hasn’t been absorbed, keep simmering.
  5. When all the water is absorbed and the curly white tail “pops” off the quinoa, you know it’s done!
  6. Remove the pot from the heat, and discard the kombu (if using).
  7. Fluff quinoa with a fork. Let it cool slightly (10-15 minutes) before serving.

For the more visual learners, check out this one-minute video that shows you how to cook quinoa!

Unfortunately, many people’s first experience with this nutrient-packed seed is eating it plain, and they are often so scarred by that experience that they never to try it again.

I love quinoa, but I don’t like plain quinoa it’s boring and bland!

In my next post, I’ll be sharing my favorite way to prepare this super seed along with a few other delicious recipes, so stay tuned! Hooray for no more boring quinoa! 🙂

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