quinoa with corn, avocado, tomato, & lime

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Corn and tomatoes.  I don’t know about you, but those are the two foods I absolutely CRAVE in August.  Last Sunday, I made this corn soup recipe again.  One of my favorite things about this soup is that you make your own vegetable broth, with plenty of extra to freeze and save or use right away for a different recipe.  Usually I like to make a risotto with my leftover broth — such as this zucchini risotto with shrimp or this red wine mushroom risotto.  But, lately my mom and I have been on a bit of a quinoa kick.  What we like to do is make a big batch of quinoa salad on Sunday and then take it to work for lunch throughout the week.

This recipe is really great because it is healthy, packed with flavor, and surprisingly filling and satisfying!  The jalapeño and lime adds a southwestern tastiness, and the avocado is what makes it feel like a complete lunch.  I find that without something containing some fat (healthy, unsaturated fat such as in avocado or nuts) in salads that I intend to eat as a meal, I am just not as satisfied!

all chopped up ready to go

quinoa with corn, avocado, tomato, & lime

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion, from one small onion
  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa
  • 1-2/3 cup corn broth (see recipe here) or store-bought vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • corn kernels from 2 cobs (cooked or uncooked, your preference — I used uncooked)*
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded, membranes removed, and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley (or cilantro if you like)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks

Method

Rinse the quinoa if not pre-washed.  Do this by placing quinoa in a fine mesh strainer (so seeds cannot fall through) and running under cold water until there are no longer suds. This removes bitter-tasting saponins from the seed. Then shake the quinoa dry in the strainer.

suds                                     no suds

Heat olive oil over in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add quinoa to the pan and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes, until quinoa is toasted and thoroughly mixed with the onions.  Add the corn/vegetable broth and turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and cover with a lid, simmering for 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Fluff quinoa with a fork, then transfer to a bowl and cool in refrigerator.

When quinoa is cool, add chopped vegetables.  Make sure to add the avocado last and squeeze the lime juice over it (the acid helps prevent the avocado from turning brown quickly).

*Quick tip on cutting corn off the cob:  Place the fat end of the corn perpendicular to a pie plate and slice down with a large, sharp knife.  The pie plate will catch all most of the flying kernels!

cuttin' the corn                                        kernels

How I eat it: cold for lunch, maybe with some fruit on the side for something sweet!

Recipe adapted from: Once Upon A Chef

quinoa close up

summer vegetable ceviche

vegetable ceviche ready to eat

Happy Labor Day! I know many of you are probably in denial about summer coming to a close.  Personally, I am looking forward to the start of autumn — pumpkin cookies, pumpkin beers, apple crisps and hearty soups mmm!  But, the tastes of summer don’t have to disappear right away. Here is a deliciously fresh salad that can perfectly complement any grilled meat, chicken, or fish, or can be eaten as a light lunch all by itself! It is crisp, sweet, and limey and a perfect way to wrap up summer.

Ingredients (yields 6-8 servings)

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen lima beans
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
  • zest of one limedressing
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 nectarines, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 avocado, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • raw kernels from one ear of corn
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

Method

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Boil lima beans until tender, 7-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.

Whisk together scallions, lime zest and juice, olive oil, and red pepper in large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve chilled.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine

How I eat it: Super cold! And it’s been a perfect side to a lobster dinner.

before mixing

cheddar cheese & chive puffs

What’s better than cheese? Seriously. The creamy goodness of brie and brown sugar in puff pastry, the salty taste of parmigiano-reggiano on pasta, fresh buffalo mozzerella in a caprese sandwich, or the bite of melted gorgonzola on a nice piece of steak  – I’ll ask you again: what’s better than cheese!?

I came across the basis for this cheese puff recipe while working out. Yes, working out.  What do I do to entertain myself as I elliptical? Watch Food Network. As I attempt to get in shape, I am also discovering new recipes that will do just the opposite.  It’s a vicious cycle. Last week I caught an episode of Barefoot Contessa and Ina was making cheese puffs for her new neighbor.  Even though I love Ina’s recipes, I just really can’t stand her scripted scenarios on Barefoot Contessa.  These shows don’t need a story line! Just show me how to make the food!

Ina used gruyere and parmesan in her puffs, but I decided to use sharp and flavorful New York style cheddar cheese.  Cheddar cheese is also less expensive than gruyere, which is always a plus! I also had some chives on hand that I threw in to add a little extra something. I’m planning on serving them along side this potato leek soup and a fresh chopped salad.

Cheddar Cheese & Chive Puffs

 Ingredients (yields ~20 puffs)

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 tbsp. chopped chives
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash

Method

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg over medium heat until scalded. Add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for two minutes over low heat. Transfer the hot mixture to a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Immediately add eggs, cheese, and chives and pulse until the dough is smooth and thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag (or freezer bag with one corner cut) and pipe in small mounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets. With a wet finger, press down tips on the top of each puff so that they don’t burn.  Brush the top of each puff with egg wash and sprinkle with a bit of cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown on the outside, but soft on the inside.

  

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Cheese Puffs

How I eat it: one after another after another..

Before I leave you for today, I must announce some exciting news: Just this weekend my last post featuring french yogurt cake was recognized on Bon Appetit’s “Bloggers Cook BA” page! I was so thrilled to see a picture of my cake and an excerpt from my blog as the caption. Make sure to click the link and check it out – I am picture 10 of 12 under the “Bloggers Cook BA… En Francais” section. You can also see how the cake, and other yummy Bon Appetit recipes, turned out for some other food bloggers!

potato leek soup

The crisp autumn air has finally arrived! I’ve been waiting for a little chill to make a warm, hearty soup.  Last Sunday seemed like a good day for a cozy meal.  I had the craving for vichyssoise (a cold potato leek soup) over the summer, but I never got around to it, so today I finally satisfied my craving with a nice, hot bowl of potato leek soup!

(I really liked this picture of my chopped leeks)

Last winter, I tried Ina Garten’s roasted potato leek soup.  It was good, but in my opinion the creme fraiche and the arugula overpowered the earthy potatoes and leeks. I decided to look for a recipe that really highlighted the main ingredients.  This recipe is combination of the really basic recipes that I found courtesy of Google.  So, thank you to the foodnetwork.com, allrecipes.com, and numerous food blogs for the inspiration. Many recipes use heavy cream to give the soup a nice rich, creamy flavor and texture.  I substituted heavy cream with half & half to make the soup a tad bit healthier while not totally eliminating the creamy goodness that I associate with potato leek soup.

Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients (serves 6-8)  

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 Yukon gold potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup half & half
  • salt and pepper to taste


Method

Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leeks and onions.  Stir until leeks and onions are tender and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Add potatoes and stir to thoroughly combine with the leek mixture.  Add vegetable broth and cook over medium-low heat until potatoes are tender, stirring often. With a potato masher, mash potatoes until broken up into bite-sized pieces.  (If you prefer a pureed soup, this would be the point to place the mixture in a food processor and process until desired consistency.)

Add half & half and salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

How I eat it: garnished with some chopped parsley (however, next time I’d like to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top!)

simple, homemade mac & cheese

Remember in this post when I said I was going to use the shredding disc on my food processor to shred cheese for macaroni and cheese? I did it. And it was awesome. Take a gander at my beautifully shredded cheddar cheese…

Funny thing about this dish: when I was a little girl I would only eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. (The Spongebob shaped pasta was my ultimate favorite!)  Even though I never tasted the goodness of homemade mac & cheese, I refused to eat it.  Oh, what a strange child I was.  It was in high school that I expanded my horizons and learned to enjoy Annie’s White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese and finally in college I ventured out and tasted some non-boxed dishes.  Caseus in New Haven serves an especially good macaroni and cheese (although, I more strongly recommend their outstanding grilled cheese).

I really like this particular recipe because it is really all that you need when you’re craving some classic macaroni and cheese — it’s the basic pasta, cheddar cheese, and milk.  No crazy ingredients and not too many spices.  I actually made this for the first time with Mike’s mom when we were upstate for 4th of July.  Thanks to her for finding this recipe!

Recipe adapted from My Recipes

How I eat it: as I used to eat Kraft Mac & Cheese — along with some hot dogs!