• Mexican Quinoa Salad

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    Don’t be scared of quinoa if you’ve never had it.  Quinoa is very healthy for you and has lots of fiber and protein, and it’s actually very tasty.  There are a couple of varieties: red and white.  I personally prefer the red just because it visually looks more appealing and looks more gourmet.  The red quinoa is harder to find and is generally more expensive than the white, but use what you like.

    This salad is very flavorful and makes for an excellent side dish.  It’s also great for a picnic or potluck because it doesn’t need to be kept cold.

    Recipe adapted from Jeanette’s Healthy Living.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. uncooked quinoa (whatever color you prefer)
    • 2 c. water
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 3 c. corn
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 1/2 c. cooked black beans
    • 1 c. cojita or feta cheese, crumbled
    • 3 TBSP fresh cilantro, minced
    • 3 TBSP scallions, minced
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • a few dashes of cayenne pepper (can omit)
    • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
    • sea salt, to taste
    • fresh ground pepper, to taste

    Directions:

    1. Rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly in cold water before cooking.  Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
    2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute corn and garlic until corn has some brown spots (that’s the caramelization that makes the corn even sweeter). Transfer to a large bowl and toss in the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients. Season to your liking with additional chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

    Mexican Quinoa Salad:

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  • Taco Pizza

    This taco pizza is quick to make and can be customized to your liking.  It’s so tasty and so easy! The picture above has half with just beans, cheese and tomatoes, and the other half has beans, cheese, taco meat, and tomatoes.  But the possibilities are endless….add jalapenos, avocado, sour cream salsa, etc.  Be creative!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 package (13.02 oz) refrigerated bread dough
    • 1 lb. meat or veggie meat crumbles
    • 1 packet of taco seasoning
    • 1/2 c. water
    • 1 15 oz can of refried beans
    • 1 c. shredded cheese
    • 1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
    • Other toppings: lettuce, jalapenos, olives, avocado, sour cream, salsa, etc.

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 425*
    2. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Remove dough from package and unroll in center of cookie sheet. Press dough to form 10×14 rectangle.  With a fork, poke dough about every 2 inches.  Bake 8-10 minutes or  until crust browns.
    3. Meanwhile, in a skillet cook meat if using until no longer pink.  Add taco seasoning and water and stir until mixture becomes thick.
    4. Heat refried beans with some water so that they are spreadable.
    5. Spread beans evenly over crust leaving 1/4 inch border around edges.  Add cheese to the beans then top with the meat mixture, tomatoes, and any other toppings of choice.
    6. Cut pieces and serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and enjoy!

    Taco Pizza:

     

     

  • Lebanese Fatoush Salad

    We love Middle Eastern food.  Our love for Middle Eastern food really developed when we were living in Baton Rouge (who would’ve thunk it!), and then we moved to Houston, and there was a delicious restaurant down the street from our townhouse.

    This salad is so good, and even the kiddos loved it (and the dressing)!

    Salad Ingredients:

    • Butter lettuce
    • 1 red pepper, chopped
    • 2 mini cucumbers, sliced
    • Red onion, thinly sliced (not too much)
    • 3 TBSP mint, chopped
    • 3 TBSP parsley, chopped
    • Pita chips

    Salad Dressing Ingredients:

    • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 2 TBSP lemon juice
    • salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Directions:
    1. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
    3. Add dressing to salad and top with pita chips.

    Labanese Fatoush Salad:

     

  • Spinach Pie

    If you like spanikopita, you’ll love this spinach pie.  My Grandma Boden used to make a spinach pie (it didn’t have the cheeses in it), and I loved it, and I really love this one too.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 rolled 9 inch pie crust, room temperature
    • Olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 lbs. frozen spinach, defrosted
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/4 c. small curd cottage cheese
    • 6 oz. feta, crumbled
    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*.
    2. Spray pie plate with cooking spray and unroll pie crust and place in pie plate.
    3. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat; add onions and cook until they turn translucent and begin to caramelize.
    4. Add the spinach, and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain spinach and onions well.
    5. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and then add remaining ingredients and add the spinach and onions.
    6. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 90 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.

    Spinach Pie

     

     

  • Herbed Pasta Salad

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    I love pasta salad, and I especially love pasta salad that has bold delicious flavors.  This pasta salad certainly has bold delicious flavors.

    I’m not sure why it’s a common sentiment that a little bit of dried herb goes a long way, but I think that’s the furthest from the truth.  I think if you use just a little bit of the dried herbs, your food won’t have much flavor, and we’re all about flavor!  Don’t be scared off by the amount of dried herbs…trust me, it’s delicious!

    A friend of mine made a similar pasta salad for an event we went to, and while she didn’t have a recipe, she told me what she put it, and this is my version.  This is a great one to bring for a potluck or picnic too.

    Ingredients:

    • 14.5 oz or 16 oz pasta of choice
    • 1/2 c. olive oil
    • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 4 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 2 tsp. dried parsley
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 4 oz. crumbled feta
    • 1 lb of grape tomatoes, halved.

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat; then add salt and pasta, and cook until al dente; then drain.
    2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine olive oil through feta and stir to combine.  Mix so that some of the feta actually breaks down in the dressing (emulsifes) and the dressing becomes a bit “creamy;” then add the tomatoes; then add the pasta.  Toss to combine and taste.  Correct seasoning to taste.

    Herbed Pasta Salad:

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  • The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese

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    I saw this pasta salad in the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  I’ve now made this quite a few times, and I’ve adapted the recipe to our liking.

    It is delicious, and I love the addition of the lemon zest.  It’s a great summer pasta salad, which would be perfect for a picnic or potluck.  We’ll definitely be making this one again.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. olive oil
    • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
    • 2-3 shallots, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic presser
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 2 lbs. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used radiatore)
    • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1/2 c. basil, chopped
    • 1/4 c. mint, chopped
    • zest of 3 lemons

    Directions:

    1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sugar.  Add the tomatoes and gently toss.  Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of slated water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.  Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
    3. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss.  Stri in the basil, mint, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally until serving.

    The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese:

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  • Tex-Mex Chowder

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    This chowder is quite tasty.  It’s vegetarian, which is nice.  Most chowder recipes have bacon or ham hock in it for flavor, so it was nice to find a recipe without those ingredients.  This chowder had lots of flavor too.

    This recipe comes from The New Vegetarian Grill cookbook.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 2 c. water or more to cover potatoes
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
    • 1 red pepper, halved
    • 1 green pepper, halved
    • 2 green chiles (2 poblanos or 1 poblano and 1 jalapeno or 1 poblano and 1 anaheim)
    • 2 c. whole milk
    • 1 TBSP cilantro, chopped
    • salt and pepper to test

    Directions:

    1. Prepare grill
    2. Combine potatoes and water in a medium size saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside; do not drain.
    3. Combine garlic, cumin, and oil in a small bowl. Brush the mixture on the corn, bell peppers, and chiles.
    4. Grill the corn, bell peppers, and chiles, turning occasionally, until tender and grill marked about 10 minutes.
    5. Scrape the corn from the cobs and add to the pot with potatoes.  Remove the outer skins from all peppers and dice, then add to potatoes.  Stir in the milk and cilantro.  Simmer over medium heat until the flavors have blended, at least 15 minutes; do not allow the soup to boil.
    6. Use an immersion blender and puree.  Season with salt and add more cilantro if desired.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes.

    Tex-Mex Chowder:

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  • Latkes/Potato Pancakes

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    Last year I made delicious latkes.  This year I wanted to try a new recipe, and since -s remembers his mom making potato pancakes when he was little, we asked her for her recipe.  By the looks of the recipe it looks like it came with her 1970 Osterizer blender! ;)

    Delicious!

    So what’s the difference between a latke and a potato pancake?  For me, a latke is more like formed hash browns, like the ones I made last year, and potato pancakes are smooth…more like pancakes.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 c. cubed raw potato
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 TBSP flour
    • 1/2 small onion
    • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt

    Directions:

    1. Put 1/2 c. potato cubes, eggs, flour onion, baking powder and salt into a blender; cover and pulse on chop mode until smooth in texture.  Add the remaining potatoes and pulse on chop mode until mixture is smooth.
    2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Put spoon fulls of batter into pan and fry until golden brown.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

    Latkes/Potato Pancakes:

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  • Black Beans and Rice

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    Black beans and rice are a great winter food.  They are warming and very filling.  They are also very healthy.  The key to this dish is to soak the black beans in water over night.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. dried black beans
    • water
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 7 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 1-2 jalapenos, diced (can omit)
    • 2 TBSP dried oregano
    • 6-7 c. chicken or veggie broth
    • Hot cooked Rice
    • Pico de gallo to top the dish (simply mix some tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, salt and lime juice together)

    Directions:

    1. Place black beans in a pot and cover them with water and soak overnight.
    2. Place soaked beans, onion, garlic, jalapenos, oregano, and broth in a slow cooker, and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or until beans are soft and tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
    3. Serve over hot rice and top with pico de gallo.

    Black Beans and Rice:

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  • Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai

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    I love Pad Thai, and the nice thing about this dish is that it is quick and easy to make.  It’s certainly a bit more adventurous than my kiddos are willing to try, so I just set aside some of the chicken for them, and they were happy with that.  You could also skip the chicken and make this a vegetarian dish.

    This recipe is adapted from a recipes in 30-Minute Suppers Winter 2010 by America’s Test Kitchen.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, sliced thin
    • 8 oz rice stick noodles
    • 1 head of broccoli florets
    • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 3/4 c. water
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1/4 c. lime juice
    • 2 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce
    • 1 c. bean sprouts
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

    Directions:

    1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and saute until cooked.  Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile blanch broccoli in boiling salted water.
    3. Cook noodles in boiling salted water.
    4. After chicken is done cook eggs, stirring constantly until scrambled.  Transfer to plate.
    5. Add water, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken, noodles, broccoli, and egg; toss to coat.  Then add bean sprouts and top with cilantro.

    Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai:

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