Wild Rice Butternut Squash Salad

Are you planning your menu for Thanksgiving? It looks like I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year, so I’m excited to try a few new recipes in addition to our family favorites. This is one of the dishes I’m planning to make. It’s refreshing and the flavors scream fall. Both my husband and I loved it, the kids weren’t sold on it, but I’m going to make it anyway.

Do you experiment with new dishes for holidays or stick with your family favorites? Share your Thanksgiving sides with me! I’m always looking for new ideas.

2 1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped butternut squash
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced kale, lightly massaged
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 cups cooked wild rice, warm

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the cubed butternut squash with the olive oil and spread over a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 25 minutes until the squash is fork tender.

While the squash is roasting, combine all the dressing ingredients together and mix with an immersion blender.

In a bowl, combine the kale, cranberries and basil. Toss in the warm rice and roasted squash to slightly wilt the kale. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper if needed. This salad should be served at room temperature.

Source: Heart Beet Kitchen 

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Quinoa Mac & Cheese

My little guy loves mac & cheese…I mean, really loves it. I know it’s the one thing that he will always eat without fighting me. He’s starting to be picky and also with sitting at the table to eat, so needless to say, our dinners have not been very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to this phase being over.

I’m always trying to find new ways to incorporate protein into his food, because he doesn’t like meat. He loved this and it was great to send in for lunch to daycare. Madeline was just so-so on it, but I made it her eat it anyway. 🙂 I remember my mom making me eat baby brussel sprouts and baked lima beans as a kid…I now like brussel sprouts, but not the limas. This recipe is also easy to make and I always have the ingredients on hand, so I know I’ll be making it again. The original recipe called for a breadcrumb topping, but I’m not a fan of crust on my mac & cheese, so I left it off.

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tsp minced garlic
2 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
salt 
Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions. I used vegetable broth to cook the quinoa. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
While the quinoa is cooking, whisk together the eggs, minced garlic and milk in a large bowl. Add in the cooked quinoa and cheese. Mix well until some of the cheese melts. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with leftover grated cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Let set 5 minutes before serving. 

Chickpea, Tomato and Cucumber Quinoa Salad

We had a little taste of summer a couple weeks ago and when that happens, I try to spend the least amount of time in the kitchen! Luckily for me, we finally bought a grill this year and my husband has been doing a lot of cooking…which gives me a little break in the kitchen. Grated, I do love cooking, but there are days when one child is hanging on your leg and the other is asking you 500 questions…cooking is next-to-impossible.

This salad was one of those sides that I could throw together, while Ross made BBQ chicken legs and thighs on the grill. It was a super light salad and perfect for summer picnics, especially since it’s mayo free. I know I’ll be making it many more times this summer!

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced english cucumber
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 Tbsp red onion, minced
2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
juice of 1 1/2 limes
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients right before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If preparing ahead of time, keep in refrigerator until ready to eat. 
Source: Skinnytaste

Spinach Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Ever since we moved, I’ve been completely slacking on meal planning and eating healthy. Now that we’re pretty much settled, I’m back on track and will be posting new recipes more frequently. We loved this salad, the quinoa, spinach, sweet raspberries, crunchy walnuts and the bite of the blue cheese. I served it with flank steak but it would pair nicely with grilled chicken or pork chops. It would also make a great side dish at Thanksgiving!

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 bunch of fresh spinach, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts
2 Tbsp reduced fat blue cheese
In a medium pot, bring the 2 cups of water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed all the water, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Place in a large bowl and allow to cool slightly. 
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt. Add the chopped spinach, cranberries and walnuts to the bowl with the warm quinoa. Drizzle the olive oil-lemon dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Divide into 3-4 portions and top with a small amount of blue cheese. Serve and dig in! 
Source: Pretty Delicious Cookbook by Candice Kumai

Crunchy Quinoa Salad #TheSaladBar

It’s time for the monthly installment of The Salad Bar Monthly Blogging Group.
Each month, a theme is assigned and there’s pretty much free reign to make a salad that highlights the featured ingredient or salad type. This month’s theme was Asian inspired salads. There’s so many ways to follow this theme but I decided to go with a quinoa based salad that has a peanut dressing, lots of veggies and topped with green onions and peanuts. It was so good and it makes a lot…we were eating it for lunch and dinner for days. It can be either eaten at room temperature or cold and it was good both ways.

1 cup uncooked, rinsed quinoa
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
Dressing
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
In a medium pan, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, stir and cover. Reduce heat from high to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool. 
For the dressing, combine the peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Microwave for 20-25 seconds to soften. Add in the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar and both oils. Stir until well combined and smooth. 
Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl and add in the dressing. Stir to combine. Add in the chopped vegetables except for the green onions. 
Scoop out a serving and top with green onions and peanuts. 

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Strawberry, Arugula and Quinoa Salad

While we’re big fans of quinoa, I haven’t used it much in salads and more as a side dish. Now that I made this recipe, I can’t wait to make different types of salad. This was amazing and going to be my go-to option for lunch for the next several months. I can’t until local strawberries are available because it will be even more delicious. My husband who doesn’t like fruit in his salad, actually enjoyed it and had seconds at lunch! Shocking…I will convert him eventually! 🙂

I’ve listed the recipe which I doubled below, since I wanted leftovers.

1 cup quinoa, dry
2 cups water
2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
6 oz reduced fat feta cheese
1 cup chopped arugula
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp red onion, minced
4 Tbsp honey

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Let cool before assembling salad.

In a small jar, combine the balsamic vinegar, salt, red onion and honey. Shake to combine well.

When ready to serve, add the cooled quinoa, strawberries and arugula. Stir to combine. Lightly dress with the balsamic-honey dressing and top with the desired amount of feta cheese. Dig in!

Source: Domestic Fits

The Secret Recipe Club: Creamy Coleslaw

It’s time for The Secret Recipe Club! For this month’s assignment, I was assigned The Bad Girl’s Kitchen. Min created her site as a place to come and share favorite recipes with friends and family. Sounds one of the reasons why I started my blog as well!

Pouring over the hundreds of recipes, I settled on a simple recipe for coleslaw. I’ve been trying for years to find a recipe similar to my grandmother’s and this one was pretty close….not 100% but close. Both my daughter and I really enjoyed it, my husband likes his more on the vinegary side, but since he’s not cooking, I’m making it the way I like it. 🙂

I served the coleslaw with french dip sandwiches and it was perfect. This recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled) for larger amounts and it would be great to bring to your first summer cookout! Yes I’m thinking about summer as we just dealt with a major snowstorm over the weekend…luckily for me, I’m in warm Tempe, AZ right now for a conference.

1/2 cup lowfat mayo

2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
14 oz bag of coleslaw mix

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour the coleslaw mix into a large bowl and coat with the dressing. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for dressing to start to break down the cabbage and the flavors to blend. I like it best after it’s been sitting for 24 hours.

 Want to be part of the Secret Recipe Club? Join here!

Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Cheddar Cheese Polenta

My husband is a huge fan of short ribs and it seems whenever we’re out for a fancy dinner, that’s what he gets. I treated myself this Christmas and bought a dutch oven. I’ve been wanting one for a couple months and finally Kohls had a great sale that I couldn’t pass up. So far, I’m loving it and can’t wait to cook more using it.

These short ribs are amazing! They are fall off the bone delicious. I know whenever I want to make a special meal for my husband, this is what I’m going to make. The polenta makes a nice bed for the short ribs to rest on and I loved the first bite of short rib, polenta and sauce. YUM!

Short Ribs
8 whole beef short ribs
1/4 cups flour
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 shallots, finely minced
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef or chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and then drege in the flour. Set aside while you heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, brown the ribs on all sides, approximately 45 seconds per side. Remove the ribs and set aside to rest.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, carrots and shallots to the dutch oven and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the cooked on pieces of veggies and meat. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and then season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the browned ribs to the liquid. They should be almost submerged, if not, add additional broth so they are almost covered. Add in the rosemary sprigs.

Put the lid on the pan and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 2 hours and then reduce the heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. The ribs should be fork-tender and just about ready to fall off the bone. Remove the pan and allow to sit covered for at least 20 minutes before serving. Skim any fat off the top of the broth before serving.

Polenta
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
4 ozs sharp cheddar cheese

In a medium pot, bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking continously to avoid clumps. I need to get better at this since our polenta was a little lumpy…it was still tasty!

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and extra tablespoons of water as needed. When polenta is cooked, stir in the butter and cheese. Season with additional salt if needed.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Savory Corn Casserole

This year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to try something different. While we kept with some our traditional dishes, I chose to make a savory corn casserole instead of just plain corn. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but it worked out and the majority of us enjoyed it. There’s a secret ingredient in it…it’s not a huge favor but adds something that changes the flavor of the casserole. It would also made a great compliment to ham.

3 cups low-fat milk
2 Tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp canola oil
3 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 cups finely diced onion
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat milk and honey over medium-low heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrap the seeds with the tip of a knife. Add the seeds and the pot to the milk. As soon as the milk begins to bubble, turn off the heat and let the vanilla steep for 10 minutes. Remove the pod and discard.

While the milk is steeping, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high hea. Add the corn, onion and salt and pepper. Cook the mixture until the onion is translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully pour the vanilla milk into the vegetables. Whisk together until well blended.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Sprinkle the flour and cornmeal over the eggs and whisk to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of the corn-milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk the remaining corn-milk mixture into egg mixture until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Eating Well Magazine

Cheese and Veggie Quinoa Bites

I’ve had a little bag of quinoa sitting in my pantry for the last couple of weeks and I knew if I didn’t use it soon, it would get pushed to the back, never to be seen until the next time I cleaned those cabinets. So of course I turned to Pinterest (notice a trend here? LOL!) and there was a recipe for cheese and veggie quinoa bites. They looked so cute and something I could use to get some more vegetables into Madeline. She’s been getting a little picky lately so I knew I had to do something about that and these were the perfect little thing to get her to eat spinach without making a big deal about it. I don’t know what is up with her and vegetables, since this was the same little girl at age 2 who wanted to eat salad every day for lunch!

I’ll definitely be making these again! They’re so tasty and a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have laying around.

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 eggs
3 carrots, shredded
1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
½ medium red pepper, chopped
1 medium shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 Tbsp flour
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Using a tablespoon, scoop the mixture into small balls and place into each mini muffin cup. Press down lightly to make sure the mixture is firmly packed.


Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.