Mexican Quinoa Casserole


I was totally lost for dinner ideas last week. I had an abundance of quinoa but that was about it. A trip to the store and a few canned goods later, I had an idea. I was going to make some kind of Mexican quinoa casserole. It was great! You’ll have to forgive the loose measurements below, as I was wingin’ it.

The Food: Quinoa, Black Beans, Corn

Ingredients:

3/4 C. dry Quinoa

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can corn, drained

1 can diced green chiles

1/2 jar salsa (I used medium)

1/2 C-ish grated cheese (I used colby jack)

Heaping spoonful fiesta ranch yogurt dip (My roommate’s concoction. Mix dry packet fiesta ranch dip w/ non-fat Greek yogurt)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In saucepan, combine 3/4 cup dry quinoa, 1/4 t salt and 1.5 C. water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 18-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well to make sure everything is incorporated. Pour into greased casserole dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top. I kicked the oven up to 375 for the last 5 minutes because I was getting impatient. *Optional, top with crumbled tortilla chips. Enjoy!

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The Food: Mexican Quinoa Casserole

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Roasted Garlic and Rosemary French Bread

There is nothing more enticing than warm, fresh-from-the-oven bread. It’s just so simple. And delicious. A few months ago, my mom made some homemade French bread, which although scrumptious, I immediately started thinking about how to embellish. So when I was home last time, we decided to get a little creative.

The Food: Rosemary and Garlic

The recipe my mom uses is a simple food-processor recipe much like this. For the garlic, we roasted 4 cloves, still in their paper, coated in olive oil and wrapped in foil at 400 for 30 minutes. Once they’ve been roasted they just slide out of the paper. We chopped up two sprigs of fresh rosemary and chopped the garlic too, (which is a little tricky because it’s sticky). We added the rosemary and garlic to the dough while kneading it, although I think we could have added it in the food processor stages. The hardest part about this recipe is the time it takes for everything to to proof and rise and bake, but the end result is totally worth it.

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The Fare: Roasted Garlic and Rosemary French Bread

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This bread was so yummy! The recipe we used yields two loaves, so next time I would add more rosemary and garlic to enhance the flavor. I used the leftovers the next day for a grilled cheese and added a little fresh rosemary inside. Homemade bread is a really exciting thing to make.

Superfoods

Remember that one time I wrote about how great Gwyneth Paltrow is? Well she has inspired me again. The latest Goop newsletter to grace my inbox was about cooking with “superfoods.” In the newsletter GP writes that as the new year begins she is neither detoxing nor dieting, but rather trying to better incorporate these foods into her diet. And I’m right there with her. So when confronted with a nearly bare fridge at lunchtime yesterday, I decided to supplement leftovers with some superfoods (spinach and walnuts), and voilá! a delicious, filling and superfood-fortified lunch. Read on.

P.S. My apologies in advance for the vague measurements. As with most of the things I make, it’s mostly handfuls of this and that thrown together. (Isn’t it more fun that way?!)

The Food: Mom’s Leftover Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

Brown rice

1/2 onion, diced

1-2 stalks celery, diced

1 green Pepper, diced

Three large handfuls of spinach (that’s just for one person!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

Handful chopped walnuts

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Part 1. The leftovers. Momma’s rice pilaf consisted of brown rice, sauteed onion, celery and green pepper.

Cook the rice (2ish servings) according to directions. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in sauteé pan. Put 1 clove minced garlic and the diced onion in. Cook onion down then add celery and green pepper. Put it all together! (This makes a great side dish as is by the way.)

Part 2. Julianne makes lunch.

In sauteé pan, toss the handfuls of spinach and the other clove of minced garlic in with some olive oil. Wilt spinach. (This happens incredibly fast.) Then, toss approximately one bowlful of the “leftover” pilaf into the pan to mix it all together, and in theory warm up the leftover rice.

Once you dish it up, sprinkle your chopped walnuts on top and add a little grated parmesan. I also season mine with sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and a touch of garlic salt for some extra garlic flavor, although you could season with any number of delicious spices.

The Fare: Superfood Rice Pilaf

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Added bonus of eating this — chewing all the walnuts and cooked spinach takes time, so you eat slower, which is something I always need to remember to do anyway. Here’s to starting the new year off right!

-J

Baked Mac n’ Cheese

My dad tends to get nostalgic for old family meals, especially around the holidays. Apparently, my Great Aunt Marie used to bake homemade mac n’ cheese every year on New Year’s Day and my dad has some fond gastronomic memories of this delicious dish. New Year’s Day also happens to be my mom’s birthday, so this year I decided to kill two birds with one stone when I made her birthday dinner.

I used Alton Brown‘s fabulous baked mac n’ cheese recipe. I’ve made it a few times before and it never fails. It’s delicious.

The Food: Cheese, Noodles

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni

3 T butter

3 T flour

1 T powdered mustard

3 C milk

1/2 C yellow onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

1/2 t paprika

1 large egg

12 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded (I use 16)

1 t kosher salt

Fresh black pepper

1 C Panko bread crumbs (for the topping)

3 T butter (for the topping)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In large pot boiling water, cook noodles until al dente.

In a large sauce pan, melt 3 T butter. Whisk in flour and mustard and keep moving for about five minutes until free of lumps (I did a little less). Then stir in milk, onion, bay leaf and paprika. Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. (Tempering the egg keeps it from scrambling in the hot mixture. I whisk the egg in a large measuring cup and add a few ladles full of the mixture until fully immersed before pouring into the rest of the mixture.) Stir in 8 oz. of the cheese, add salt and pepper. Fold in the macaroni noodles and then pour into a 2 qt. casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.

In a small sauce pan, melt 3 T butter and add bread crumbs. Toss till coated then top the macaroni.

Bake for 30 minutes and let sit for (at least) 5 minutes. (It’s still really hot)

The Fare: Baked Mac n’ Cheese

This is really great on it’s own, but if you feel like spicing things up a bit (pun intended) I love to slather my in Sriracha. It’s really, really good. Seriously.

We served it up with sauteéd veggies and a salad. Nom nom.

Snickerpoodles

It is our personal belief that dogs are family. As such, Millie has regular playdates with friends and receives Christmas presents. She also gives them to her friends. (There are many other ways we treat her like family but I don’t need to get into those right now. Check this for a sampling.)

I’ve made Christmas bones for our various dogs over the years, but each year is something different. This was perhaps the most human-like treat I’ve ever made. (It tasted that way too.) It’s a canine spin on the classic snickerdoodle. (I found the recipe here)

The Food: Honey and Cornmeal

1/2 C vegetable oil

1/2 C shortening (I used butter)

1 C honey

2 eggs

3 3/4 C flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 C cornmeal

2 tsp. cinnamon

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400. Mix oil, honey and shortening together until smooth. Add eggs, beating well. Then add flour, cream of tartar and soda. Knead until completely blended. In a small bowl mix the cornmeal and cinnamon.

Make small balls of the dough and roll into cinnamon/cornmeal mixture and place on cookie sheet.

Flatten dough with fork and bake for 8 minutes. Let cool and store in a dry place.

The (Dog) Fare: Snickerpoodles

As I do with most things I make for my furry, four-legged friends, I tasted this. I mean, look at the ingredients, you know you’d be curious too. The dough was good. Tasted very honey-y. After I baked them they were still pretty darn good. I may or may not have taken more than a bite… Seriously. It tastes like cornbread and honey. But my review isn’t the most important one. Luckily, Millie had her best friend Rosie over this afternoon and I got some real feedback:

Here’s what I learned. Don’t try to feed dog and take pictures at the same time. Especially if you’re on the floor…

Moral of the story: Snickerpoodles approved.

White Bean Soup

Yesterday, my mom made some chicken noodle soup. Although I helped her make it, I will not be eating any. So, consulting My Father’s Daughter, I made myself some soup this afternoon. Again, using GP’s recipe.

The Food: White Beans

3 T EVOO

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 lg. yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 lg. garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Pinch crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 pints vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS: In large soup pot heat EVOO. Add fennel and cook for 10 minutes (I did a little less) stirring occasionally. Add onion and garlic, turn heat as low as possible, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, till vegetables are tender. (I cooked 45 minutes, 30 uncovered and 15 covered.)

Add crushed red pepper, oregano, and pepper. Cook for a minute. Add beans and stock, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, salt to taste.

Cook on low for an hour. THEN. Dish up into broiler-safe bowls, top each with french bread and generously grated parmesan. Put under boiler till cheese melts and bread is crispy.

*The book offers this as one of two different ways to dish up the soup. For the other, check out the book.

 EAT.

The Fare: White Bean Soup

Vegetable Stock

I’m a vegetarian. Didn’t know that? Now you do.

Gwyneth Paltrow is amazing. Didn’t know that either? Shame on you.

I received her cookbook, My Father’s Daughterrecently and have been dying to make a few things. I wanted to make a soup, but first I had to start with with the stock. Vegetable stock at that. Thanks, GP.

The Food: Vegetables 

1 lg. yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 lg. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 celery stalk roughly chopped

1 lg. leek roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 sprigs fresh parsley

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh tarragon

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. coarse salt

1 tsp. black peppercorns

3 qts. cold water

We grew leeks in our garden this summer and have been keeping them in our garage. It was pretty cool to a. see the transformation from this

to this, and b. use food that I, er my parents grew to make this.

DIRECTIONS: Put everything into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool. Strain into container. (Use to make soup!)

(Oh did this smell great. If only there was a scent feature on this thing.)

The Fare: Vegetable Stock