Kale Tabouli

kaletabouli1 Did you know that kale is such a nutritional rockstar that it has its own day?  Yep, October 7th is National Kale Day! Ok, it’s a bit crazy but hey, everything else seems to have its own “National Day” so why not kale? Kale is really amazing in the nutrition department boasting so many vitamins and antioxidants for your body that it just boggles the mind. Here’s my top 5 good for you facts about kale….

  1. It is only a mere 33 calories per cup.  You can chop it up and add it to your dishes for an almost calorie-free nutritional boost.
  2. It is loaded with antioxidants.  It contains a lot of beta carotene (Vitamin C) which is known to reduce oxidative damage in the body.  Oxidative damage is believed to lead to aging and many diseases including Cancer.
  3. Kale contains substances that bind bile acids to lower cholesterol levels. Steamed kale is particularly effective for this.
  4. It contains Vitamin K which is crucial for blood clotting.  This is good if you’re an accident-prone gal like myself (hello tree-trimming incident this Fall).  So, your cuts heal faster without as much blood loss.
  5. Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin.  People who have diets rich in these two nutrients have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the most common eye disorders as we age.

Kale is quite easy to add to your diet.  Try chopping it up small and adding it to your salads like the tabouli salad I’m sharing here.  It is also great in smoothies, its taste disappears and it adds tons of nutrition. chicken.kofta4

5.0 from 1 reviews
Kale Tabouli
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian main course, Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa or couscous - cook according to package directions
  • ½ of an English (seedless) cucumber - diced
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes - diced
  • ½ of a red onion - diced
  • 1 bunch of curly leaf parsley - chopped (flat leaf parsley works also)
  • ½ bunch of kale, stems removed - chopped (see notes below on stem removal)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To de-stem the kale:
  2. Fold the kale leaf in half length-wise so that the stem runs along one side. Run your knife right next to the stem to remove it in one piece.
  3. Cook the quinoa or couscous according to package directions and place on a plate to cool.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. For the salad:
  7. Mix all the remaining ingredients into a bowl along with the cooled quinoa/couscous.
  8. Add the dressing and toss it with the salad to combine.
  9. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

So you go kale…..I’m polishing your crown as we speak.

5 Small Lifestyle Changes For Better Health……With Lasting Results

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How are your New Year Resolutions going?  Are you still a regular at the gym?  Are you eating healthier?  Are you being more positive and getting your sleep?  If you’re like many, by February, those good intentions for improved health begin to fall by the wayside. Well, all is definitely not lost.  Drastic lifestyle changes may be tempting but can be tough to maintain after a few weeks.  A more realistic approach is to make a few small and easy to follow changes that are more likely to become a part of your daily routine.  These healthy habits add up to a noticeable improvement in your overall health.

1.  DRINK MORE WATER

Water is a necessity for almost every organ in your body to work at his prime level.  It’s also great for beautiful and healthy skin, hair and nails.  To meet the recommended 8 cups of water per day it’s important to track how much you are drinking during a regular day.  If you’re drinking less than 8 (I know I was), try scheduling times to get in the rest.  For example, a glass of water before your morning coffee or tea really kicks off your day and gets your digestion revved up.  Try carrying a refillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day.  Often thirst is mistaken for hunger.  Therefore, drinking more water can actually decrease your appetite allowing you to consume less calories…..BONUS!

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Infusing your water with fruit and herbs makes a refreshing and visually appealing drink that’s easy to make in batches and keep on hand.  Make it by soaking the ingredients in a pitcher for 6 hours or overnight.  The longer you soak the ingredients, the stronger the flavor will be.  Cut the fruit into thin slices to expose more surface area to the water to help the flavors meld.  Squeeze the fruit and muddle the herbs to release even more of their flavor directly into the water.

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My favorites fruits include lemons, oranges, strawberries and pineapple.  For herbs I like mint, a pinch of basil, ginger and rosemary.  My favorite veggie infusion is definitely cucumber.

 

2.  EAT WHOLE GRAINS

Whole grains are actually the seeds of the grains.  Wheat, corn and oats are the usual suspects.  They provide fiber, are packed with energy-producing complex carbohydrates and several essential vitamins and minerals.  Refined grains, on the other hand, have been stripped of many nutrients through the milling process.  Also, the healthy outer shells of the seeds have been removed.  Easy changes like eating whole grain bread and pasta and brown rice instead of their white varieties really incorporate whole grains into your diet.  Plus they taste great, really hearty and satisfying.  Here are some of my most favorite whole grains:

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QUINOA (pronounced “keen-wa”).  It’s a versatile, gluten-free whole grain that’s great as a side dish or a main course.  Learn all about it here.

 

 

kale_farro_saladFARRO.  It’s another ancient grain, like quinoa, but it has a more rice-like texture.  It’s a nutritional powerhouse with a unique nutty flavor.  Farro was a mainstay in the diet of ancient Romans.  It is high in fiber and a good source of iron and protein.  It is easily digested making the nutrients easily absorbed into the body.  Try two of my favorite farro recipes here and here.

 

3.  EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

fruits.jpgOne great way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet is by making smoothies for quick energy-rich breakfasts and snacks.  Berries, bananas and citrus fruits are all great smoothie choices but for an extra nutritional boost try adding spinach, kale or cucumbers.  The fruit masks the flavors of the veggies.

If you avoid fruits and veggies because of the prep work they require, try making them more convenient by washing and cutting them up at the beginning of the week and storing them in bulk in airtight containers in the fridge.  veggies.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

4.  EAT HEALTHIER FATS

avocado.2Fat has always been thought of as bad, especially when you’re trying to get healthy.  However, fat is an important part of the diet when it comes from the right sources.  Saturated fats and trans fats are mainly found in cream, butter and processed oils.  They raise cholesterol levels and therefore can increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, come from vegetables and natural oils and are an important source of energy that can actually improve cholesterol levels.  Try replacing butter and fatty red meats with healthier alternatives such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and chicken.   Nuts.jpg

 

 

 

 

5.  EAT LEAN PROTEIN

canstockphoto4433902Lean protein is heart healthy and key for remaining satisfied and energized for long periods of time.  Since protein is vital for building muscle, this nutrient is highly effective when paired with exercise.  Fish, chicken and turkey are great protein choices.  White meat is generally a bit leaner than dark meat and removing the skin can help cut down on calories.  Baked, steamed, roasted and grilled are the healthiest cooking methods for your lean proteins.

There’s no better time than then the present to resolve to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle.  Do you have a positive change that you’ve made to your overall health?  As always, I’d love to hear about it.  Here’s to a healthy and happy 2015……..

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

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I’m going through one of those phases where I just don’t feel like cooking!  Yep, it happens to all of us once in awhile and now is my time.  It’s the holiday season and with that comes an elevated level of stress right?

So, ’tis the season for a super easy meal that’s delicious and on the table in a snap.  Don’t let the word casserole turn you off, this is a healthy one that’s packed with protein and whole grains….guilt free!  It’s so good for you that you won’t feel bad having a Christmas cookie for dessert!  The chicken can absolutely be omitted making it a vegetarian dish.

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The chicken I used here was, wait for it, canned chicken!  What, canned meat?  Let me tell you, it gets a bad wrap. It is all natural, preservative-free white meat chicken packed in water and it is your friend for a quick meal option.  I use it in casseroles, panini sandwiches, stirred into sauce over pasta and over greens for a nice entrée salad.

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This an extremely versatile dish, use what you have in your pantry.  Sub the enchilada sauce for salsa (I like the green salsa verde), green peas for the corn and white beans or chick peas for the black beans.  I’ve even omitted the beans all together and chopped up two black bean burgers instead.  Ground turkey is also a nice substitute for the canned chicken.  Make it your own.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole
 
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This guilt-free casserole is full of flavor and so healthy. Try omitting the chicken for a vegetarian main dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: Healthy Dinner
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 13 ounce can of canned chicken (all natural, white meat, packed in water)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ cup canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup frozen corn (I use roasted frozen corn)
  • 1 10 ounce can of mild enchilada sauce (or 10 ounces of salsa)
  • 1 4.5 ounce can of diced green chilis (I used ½ cup of jarred chopped mild chili peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro - chopped
  • ¾ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • ¼ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 Roma tomatoes - diced
  • low fat sour cream for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water or broth according to package directions.
  4. Cook the frozen corn according to package directions.
  5. In a large bowl mix the quinoa, chicken, black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, green chilis, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste and the cilantro.
  6. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  7. Stir in ¾ cups of the cheese.
  8. Put the mixture into the baking dish.
  9. Top with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted on the top.
  11. Serve immediately topped with the Roma tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro garnish.
  12. Store in the refrigerator for delicious leftovers for up to a week.

 

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5 Delicious recipes to help you love kale

Kale Collage I’ve more than made peace with kale; I’m actually enjoying it and not just because its a nutritional powerhouse but because it’s delicious.  It’s delicious in these recipes anyway! I still live by the belief that people who eat kale are beautiful.  The “kale glow” if you will. Click on the photos below for the recipes.  I hope you enjoy them and here’s to you developing a new love……for kale. kale_farro_salad swiss.chard.pasta.3 kale.pesto.crostini1 kale.pesto3 kale 1

Roasted Vegetable and Farro Salad

roasted vegetable farro salad 1This salad is also a wonderful main course on its own or served along side a veggie burger on toasted sourdough or asiago cheese bread.  Speaking of which, and this is totally off the subject, I love the asiago cheese bread from Panera.  It’s truly decadent treat.  I buy it but the loaf at my local Panera.  Try buttering it on both sides and then toasting each side until golden brown and crispy on a skillet over medium heat.  WOW!!  It’s highly, highly addictive and makes a bowl of soup way better…thank you Panera, you hit a home run with this one!

Ok, I seriously digressed there.  This farro salad is colorful and really comforting with the roasted veggies, bite of the roasted chick peas and the soft nutty farro.  I added some roasted kale here as well not only for added nutrition and color but a nice flavor as it comes out crispy when you roast it until browned.

Roasted Vegetable and Farro Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian main or side dish
Cuisine: Farro and Vegetables
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups of dry farro, rinsed and drained
  • 3 carrots - peeled, sliced lengthwise and diced into approximately 1 inch pieces
  • ½ of a large head of cauliflower - cut into small florets
  • 1 can of chick peas rinsed and drained
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 cups of chopped kale - washed and patted dry
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Pour the farro into a large saucepan and add water to completely cover it with at least one inch over the top. Bring the farro to a rolling boil with the cover on and cook at a low boil for approximately 15-20 minutes until tender to the bite. If your farro comes in a package, cook it according to package directions. Drain the water off the farro and set it aside until the veggies are ready.
  2. Place the veggies and the chick peas onto sheet pans lined with foil (if they're not non-stick). Lightly drizzle the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. I add about ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the chick peas for extra flavor. If you do not like the heat, you can omit this step. Roast the veggies and chick peas in a 400 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes until fork tender and the chick peas are golden brown. Stir and flip the veggies and chick peas around with a spatula after about 10 minutes. This is a good time to check the tenderness of them as well.
  3. Toss the kale with some olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Sprinkle it with salt. Cook it on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes until browned and crispy.
  4. Mix the veggies, chick peas and kale into the farro and gently stir to combine all ingredients. I think this would also be nice served drizzled with a honey balsamic dressing. That recipe is on the next post.

 

 

Whole Wheat Cous Cous with Blue Cheese and Olives

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Cous Cous is such an easy side dish.  It is pretty plain tasting on its own so I’m always going to the pantry or the refrigerator for a few ingredients to stir into it to give it some color and lots of flavor.  Tonight I chose some big, course chopped green olives stuffed with pimento and some crumbled blue cheese.  I prepare the cous cous per package directions adding a splash of olive oil and some all purpose vegetable seasoning for flavor into the water before boiling it.  Often I will replace the water with vegetable or chicken broth for added flavor.

This would also be good with a simple red wine vinaigrette mixed through it.

Colorful Farro and Kale Salad with a Honey Balsamic Dressing

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Flavor explodes out of this salad!  It can be used as a side dish or a vegetarian main dish as the beans and farro contain good sources of protein.  All the different textures make it fun to eat and the colors just remind me of Spring, even though it’s still darn cold here!  All together now let’s chant “Bring Spring, Bring Spring.”

I’ve added a lot of extra touches to the ingredients in this salad.  It’s just an option and not necessary.  The salad is excellent with the radishes, chick peas and golden raisins as is.  I would however toast the pine nuts.  The nice thing about this salad is that the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and you can assemble it quickly before your meal.

If you’ve never tried Farro I really urge you to try it.  It’s another ancient grain, like quinoa, but it has a more rice-like texture.  It’s a nutritional powerhouse with a unique nutty flavor.  Farro was a mainstay in the diet of ancient Romans.  In fact, it is believed to be the original ancestor of all other wheat species.  It’s sometimes called “The Mother of all Wheat.”  Farro is high in fiber and a good source of iron and protein.  It is easily digested making the nutrients easily absorbed into the body.  Farro can be used in stews, casseroles and salads making it pretty versatile.  It is a good substitution for brown rice and wheat berries and it can even be used to make a delicious risotto!  Farro is easy to prepare but still exotic enough to impress the heck out of your friends and family.  I buy mine in a package and it’s usually the organic variety.  The package has cooking directions on it and following those directions, it always turns out good.  I often use low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and a couple of teaspoons of all purpose no-salt spice blend in the cooking liquid for added flavor.

Colorful Farro and Kale Salad with a Honey Balsamic Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian Main Dish/Salad
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • (These amounts will prepare 4 servings if using it as a side dish or 2 portions if using it as a main dish).
  • 4 servings of prepared Farro - cook Farro according to package directions.
  • 4 (or more) cups Kale - Please see my post for the "Best Dressed Kale," that's how I prepared the kale for this salad.
  • 4-6 Radishes - thinly sliced. I actually used pickled radishes. However, it is not necessary in this recipe. The crunch and flavor punch of the radish on it's own is enough.
  • ¾ cup Golden Raisins - try soaking the golden raisins for about an hour in your favorite white wine or the wine you're serving for dinner for a wonderful flavor. For a sweeter flavor soak them in a Moscato. It will definitely be the touch that puts the dish over the top.
  • 1 can of chick peas drained and rinsed - I roasted mine in the oven. Place the chick peas on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle some olive oil on them and mix it with your hands so all peas are coated. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the chick peas are lightly browned and a bit crispy to the bite.
  • ½ cup Toasted Pine Nuts - Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts with no oil. Toast them until lightly browned (you'll begin to smell them).
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese for garnish - I use my veggie peeler to make ribbons of parmesan.
  • For the honey balsamic dressing: (makes 1 cup of dressing)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Prepare the kale with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder and Kosher salt according to my "Best Dressed Kale" recipe. The kale should sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes for it to soften up and for the flavors to set in. Cook the farro according to package directions. Set aside, allowing it to cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir the golden raisins, chick peas and pine nuts into the kale.
  3. Cover the bottom of your plate with the farro. Place a mound of the kale mixture on top of the farro.
  4. Place the thinly sliced radishes on the farro, around the kale mound. Grate some ribbons of parmesan onto the top of the kale mound for garnish. Drizzle the kale and farro with the honey balsamic dressing (recipe below).
  5. For the Honey Balsamic Dressing:
  6. Place all ingredients in a small Mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake the jar until the honey dissolves and the dressing becomes smooth.

 

 

 

Mexican Feast

 

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It’s been Mexican week around here.  I love Mexican and I’ve had the urge to make some of my restaurant favorites at home with tons of flavor and healthy, fresh ingredients.  The results were a hit.  The refried beans in particular were just fabulous.

I made both chicken fajitas and turkey tacos.  The turkey tacos were garnished with roasted corn (frozen variety, cooked per package directions), black beans, chopped cilantro, red onion, romaine lettuce and some of my favorite all natural prepared salsa.

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I have experimented for years on a homemade taco seasoning mix.  I absolutely hate spending a dollar or more for the dried envelope of taco seasoning that’s filled with preservatives and sodium.  Here’s the blend I like:

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients: For 1 pound of ground meat

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp chipotle powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Brown the meat and drain off the fat.  Add the seasoning mixture with 2/3 cups of water.  Mix well and heat through until the water is mostly absorbed.

Note – If you’re using turkey, often times there’s not enough fat to drain off.

These refried beans were honestly the star of the Mexican feast.  They just explode with flavor and mixing refried beans with whole pinto beans gave the dish nice texture.  They were so good that I loved just eating the beans with plain corn tortillas.  My friend said these were the best refried beans he’s ever had.  So many times the beans you get at a Mexican restaurant are lacking in flavor and really look unappealing.  These would also be great as an appetizer served with some corn or flour tortillas or in a quesadilla or as a bottom layer for a layered Mexican dip.

Refried Beans
 
Author:
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegetarian
Ingredients
  • One 16 ounce can of fat free refried beans
  • One 15 ounce can of pinto beans (I used no salt added), rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup prepared salsa - I used a salsa verde that is all natural and preservative free
  • ⅔ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese - divided
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 tsp cumin
Instructions
  1. Combine the refried beans, pinto beans, cumin, white parts of the scallions, salsa and ⅓ cup of the cheese in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium low heat until heated through, stirring frequently.
  3. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ⅓ cup cheese.
  4. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the cheese melts, approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the green parts of the scallions and serve.

 

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Mexican Rice Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 medium onion chopped

1 green pepper chopped

1-2 cloves minced garlic (optional).  I grate my garlic on the microplane into the pan

1 cup of rice – long grain white.  I used brown rice the last time (pictured above) and it turned out nicely.

2 cups chicken broth

1 10 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 tsp turmeric – this gives the dish that beautiful golden yellow color and, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory…bonus!

1 tsp cumin – I LOVE the smoky flavor of cumin.  I tend to go closer to 2 tsp but make it the first time using 1 tsp then adjust it the next time if you’d like a little more cumin flavor.

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Sautee green pepper and onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and the rice and stir frequently for 3 minutes.

 Add the broth, tomatoes, tumeric and cumin and bring to boil.

Turn the heat down and simmer until all liquid is absorbed.

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A couple of other nice sides are a lime vinaigrette cabbage slaw and a cilantro-lime sour cream.  The cabbage slaw has such a nice fresh taste with the lime juice and it’s so easy.  It can be used as a side but it’s also great on top of your taco for some crunch.

 

Fresh cabbage slaw recipe:

1/4 – 1/2 head of thinly shredded green cabbage (depending on how big your cabbage is).  A mixture of green and purple cabbage is nice also.

3 grated carrots

1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced

juice of 1 lime

generous drizzle of olive oil

lime pepper (A beautiful blend but it can be difficult to find.  I order Durkee brand through Amazon).  If you cant find lime pepper use freshly ground black pepper and the zest of 1 lime, it works as well.

kosher salt

drizzle of Agave or raw honey

fresh chopped cilantro (this is to taste, I used about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

Mix the cabbage, carrot and onion in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over the mixture.  Juice the lime on top, sprinkle with the lime pepper and salt and drizzle the agave (or honey).  Mix everything together with tongs until evenly coated.  Add the cilantro and gently stir it in.

 

For the Sour Cream garnish:

Mix together 1 cup of sour cream, the juice of 1/2 of a lime and some chopped cilantro to taste.

This fresh Mexican feast really brought my friends and I out of the winter doldrums with the fresh flavors and bright colors.  And hey, if you’re feeling really adventurous, a margarita goes great with the meal.  Check out my homemade margarita recipe.

Ole!

 

Mexican Turkey Cutlets with Sauteed Peppers and Roasted Corn Farro

IMG_0425Well, I’m basking in the knowledge that at least for one night, someone in the world thinks I’m a creative food genius.  I have a friend that’s been home recovering from surgery.  Last night I took him this meal and he loved it!

This was a throw together dinner made from pantry and refrigerator items that needed to be used up.  I bought some turkey cutlets and ground turkey this week as it was on sale at the supermarket.  And, I don’t need to tell you how much I love turkey!  The turkey cutlets are boneless and can be cooked similar to pork chops or chicken breasts.  I’m always worried that they’ll come out dry so I like to marinate them or come up with a healthy sauce to cook them in.  As I was standing in front of the refrigerator looking at the ridiculous amount of condiments in the door I pulled out a jar of all natural salsa verde and this dish was born.

Ingredients for the Mexican Turkey Cutlets:

3 large turkey cutlets – 1 package

1/3 of a jar of salsa verde – mine was a medium spice level

juice of 1/2 of a lime

3/4 – 1 Tablespoon Cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 1/2 cups of shredded Three cheese or Mexican blend cheese

Directions for the Mexican Turkey Cutlets:

Lightly spray the bottom of a covered casserole dish with cooking spray or drizzle with a little olive oil.  Place the turkey cutlets into the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper and the crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

Put the salsa verde into a bowl and stir in the cumin.

Cover the turkey cutlets with the salsa verde mixture.

Bake in a 400 degree oven, covered, for 25 minutes.

Uncover the turkey cutlets and cover with the shredded cheese.  Bake uncovered for another 3-5 minutes until melted.

Serve the turkey cutlet over the roasted corn faro (recipe below) and surround with the sautéed peppers, mushrooms and onions.

Ingredients:

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Ingredients for the Roasted Corn Farro:

1 cup Farro – rinsed thoroughly in a fine mesh colandar

3 1/2 cups of water

1 Tablespoon al purpose vegetable seasoning

small dash of olive oil

1/2 of a 16 ounce bag of frozen roasted corn – I like the roasted corn if you can find it (Trader Joe’s) as it has a nice smoky flavor and the kernels are blackened adding nice color to the dish.

Directions for the Roasted Corn Farro:

Place the rinsed Farro and the water in a 2 quart saucepan.  Stir in the dash of olive oil and the vegetable seasoning.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn the heat down and simmer at a low boil for 15-20 minutes until desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, prepare the frozen corn according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Drain the farro completely.

Combine the roasted corn and farro, stir lightly until combined.

Ingredients for the Sautéed Vegetables:

1 yellow pepper

3 small green peppers

1/2 of a large onion

2 cups of button mushrooms

olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions for the sautéed vegetables:

Cut the pepper and onion into large bite size pieces (see picture above).

Remove the mushroom stems and slice.  I do use the stems also.  I gently pull out the stem and cut off the tough end of it.

Drizzle the bottom of a nonstick skillet with olive oil (2 turns around the pan).  Heat oil over medium heat.

Add the peppers and onion and sautee for approximately 6 minutes until the peppers are browned and still have a bite to them.

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Add the mushrooms and sautee 2-3 minutes more until softened.  I do not like my sateed veggies too soft and or mushy.  If you like them softer then by all means sautee them to your desired level of tenderness.

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Plate the chicken breast over the farro, topped with the peppers and mushrooms.

Muy bueno!

 

 

So much quinoa in so little time…

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If you’ve read my pantry page you know what a big fan I am of quinoa.  It’s an ancient grain that’s full of protein, gluten-free, easy to prepare, delicious, and so versatile.  It can be a main dish or a side dish.  I love bringing quinoa to the table and amazing my guests with how yummy it is.  They almost always leave saying that they look forward to making it themselves.  I then take off my super-food cape and tights and put them away for their next appearance!

Quinoa Facts

How much cooked quinoa does 1 cup dry quinoa yield?
1 cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.

How much liquid do I need to cook quinoa?
To cook 1 cup quinoa, you need about 2 cups liquid.

How long does it take to cook quinoa?
1 cup quinoa will cook in about 20 minutes.

How do I make quinoa less bitter?
Nearly, if not all, of the natural bitterness of quinoa’s outer coating can be removed by a vigorous rinsing in a mesh strainer.

How do I make better-tasting quinoa?
Quinoa is really excellent when cooked in vegetable or chicken broth. Also, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup dried quinoa when cooking. Try adding other spices or aromatics during cooking as well: A clove of smashed garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary, a dash of black pepper.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa (white, red or black)

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups liquid (broth or water)

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

2 tsp all purpose vegetable seasoning (optional)

Instructions:

It is important to rinse the quinoa. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hand while rinsing, and rinse for at least 2 minutes under the running water. Drain.

Why rinse quinoa? Rinsing removes quinoa’s natural coating, called “saponin”, which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Although boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, it doesn’t hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse at home. I have read some recipes that suggest soaking the quinoa but, in my experience, this is not necessary.

Dry and toast quinoa in a 2 quart saucepan. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the drained quinoa. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, letting the water evaporate.  I have omitted this step for the sake of time and while it doesn’t taste a lot different, the quinoa definitely does have a wetter heavier consistency to it when cooked.  Toasting it will make a fluffier quinoa.  That’s a long way of saying, I’d toast it!

Add liquid, salt and seasoning if using and bring to a rolling boil.

Turn heat down to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and you see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa seeds

Remove the pot from the burner. Let stand for 5 minutes, covered.

Fluff the quinoa gently with a fork, add your add-in ingredients (or not) and serve.

 

Here are some ideas for add-in ingredients to make your quinoa into a festive side dish…

quinoa salad

Ingredients:

roasted red peppers, chopped

crumbled feta cheese

canned/jarred artichokes cut in half

toasted pine nuts (place pine nuts in a single layer in a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook until fragrant and slightly browned)

Served over a bed of arugula.

Try drizzling your favorite balsamic, Caesar or Italian vinaigrette over the top before serving.

 

IMG_0090

Ingredients:

Red and yellow heirloom tomatoes

crumbled feta

shredded basil

balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over the top

 

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 Ingredients:

sautéed green pepper and onion

roasted red pepper

frozen roasted corn cooked per package directions

black beans

 

 

 

 

 

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