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Tag Archive for gluten free

::summer love:: Southwest Keen Wah Salad


This past year has been the year of changes. Now that I have a deck, someday we’ll get deck furniture, and then I will have a place to eat outside. For now, I’ll drag a kitchen stool out there on the occasional evening, enjoy a margarita, and watch the sun go down. If I did have deck furniture, this is a perfect dish for a Summer dinner on the deck.

I’ve never really been one for pasta salads. Just in the past few years have I even been willing to try non-creamy looking ones. I’m not really sure why I still hesitate on them. Beyond burgers, I have always shied away from most picnic foods. Last year, I decided it was time to experiment with quinoa (pronounced keen wah) in the kitchen. The most appealing things I found turned out to be fancied up “pasta” salads. Go figure. But quinoa is a “super grain”, so I had to try it! My first quinoa salad scared everyone I served it to. No one had ever seen or heard of it before. But it was delicious. I never wrote down the recipe, but I know there was edamame, garlic, lemon, roasted red peppers and scallions involved (I took pictures). It looked like this:

I’m going to have to recreate it at some point this summer, because it was good. I just made way too much of it. It may have been about 2 gallons of Quinoa Edamame Salad… This one was a bit smaller, but not by much, and still seemed to last us forever. It can be served as a side on it’s own, or if you want it as a main course, add to the top of a bed of greens, and for a finishing touch, some slices of avocado on top do the trick quite nicely. Best part: we got to use some cilantro from our garden ūüôā

What You Need
Step One

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
Step Two
lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Agave syrup
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper
Step Three
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 med red onion, chopped (~1/2 cup)
handful of cilantro, chopped
Step Four
Salad Greens

Always rinse your quinoa first! Then just like rice, combine the quinoa and water in a pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then take it off the heat and sit for 5 more minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together all step two ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together all step three ingredients.  Add the cooled quinoa to the large bowl and mix in. Once combined, stir in your dressing.


Make your presentation fancy. Serve on top of a bed of greens. I would not recommend an herb salad! The extra cilantro can take the flavor balance overboard a bit.

The slices of avocado add exactly what this salad needs to round it out. Be careful with your portions, this can be quickly filling!

::savory soup:: Roasted Butternut Squash

I like to think that the weather has officially changed. The few 90+ degree days we had last week have passed, and it hasn’t stopped raining in a few days. Oddly enough, except for the horrible drivers it seems to bring out, this is one of my favorite things about Fall. When things seem to really transition. Rain is no longer cooling you off and welcome. Everyone thinks it is dreary, and yes, it is a bit gray, but the air feels so clean and crisp. It is irresistible. I know sunny days with crisp air are right around the corner, so I will take the rain. Make those pumpkins grow!

Speaking of pumpkins… did you know that the butternut squash is referred to as the butternut pumpkin in New Zealand? Fun fact of the day ūüôā I don’t know that I was exposed to squash of any sort enough as a child. I was hesitant to eat anything that involved it except pumpkin pie. Oddly enough, I’m not that crazy about pumpkin pie as an adult. Now it is a different story. PTB may go crazy with the amount of squash-related recipes I have hopes for this fall.

This soup was perfect for a lazy night. There is so little work involved, but you do need to be around while the oven goes for almost an hour.

What You Need
Step One

~ 4 cups cubed butternut squash (my whole squash was 3lbs)
4 large shallots, peeled and halved
1″ piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Step Two
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use veggie brother for a vegan soup)
Step Three
fresh chives
cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Combine all step one ingredients in a foil lined baking dish. Roast for approximately 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, combine roasted veggies and stock in a large pan. Blend away until you have your desired consistency.

If you do not have an immersion blender, go buy one. Or, you can combine the veggies and stock in a blender in batches, and pour into a pan.

Cover and heat through over a medium heat. Serve topped with cracked pepper and chives.

Are you warm and cozy yet?

Serves: 4-6   Cost: ~$2/serving (4 servings)

::super snack:: Quick & Easy Guacamole


So you are still debating about what to take to the July 4th picnics this weekend? You are already taking sweet mango salsa on Saturday and want to change it up in case you see the same people Sunday? Of course! That must be the problem!

Good guacamole is expensive. Buying some to take isn’t the most cost effective thing. And with the unemployment rate out of control, everyone wants to impress for less. The bright side, is good guacamole is also cheap to make! Think under $4 for ~2-3 cups of guacamole cheap. And you get to brag that you made it.

The other bright side… tweak it to be exactly what you want. This is for a single batch (perfect snack size for 2-4 people, but feel free to double or triple to take to your picnic!)

What You Need:
1 avocado
1 small-med tomato
1 jalapeno
1/2 lime
bit of cilanto

Scoop avocado into bowl. Peel, seed and chop tomato and add to bowl. Core and seed jalapeno and mince. Add to bowl. This is obviously a discretionary amount depending on your tastes. We like about $.12 worth of jalepeno for a bit of kick. ūüôā Juice the 1/2 lime into the bowl (also discretionary, feel free to start with a quarter lime and test from there). Chop however much cilantro you want ūüôā

Mush everything up with a fork. Keeping the pit in the bowl helps the avocado from browning. If you aren’t using it right away, cover it tightly with saran wrap and store in the fridge.

Yields: ~1-1.5 cups

::savory summer side:: Squash Ribbons

I have to make one things abundantly clear (if it isn’t already). ¬†I am a nerd. ¬†A really big one. ¬†One of my favorite “activities” is playing video games. ¬†They have to be video games that a 5 year old would enjoy, but none-the-less video games. ¬†I worked for Apple for almost 5 years. ¬†I use two computers to write my blog posts. ¬†One for working on the images, and one for writing the actual post. ¬†Nerd.

The other thing that can surprise people about me (they must not be looking very hard), is that I am incredibly disorganized. ¬†Those who know me well know this. ¬†INCREDIBLY disorganized. ¬†I like to think I have my own system of order through chaos. ¬†That mostly just applies to my personal life though. ¬†In work, I have always been beyond organized. ¬†Admittedly, sometimes to a fault. ¬†I just don’t seem to be able to keep that going 24 hours a day. ¬†So I let my home fall apart instead. ¬†I have been trying. ¬†I swear.

One new plan of action in 2010 has been to be more organized about food. ¬†I needed to start this site to have a way to reference my own recipes. ¬†I was frustrated when I could not remember what I had changed about a cookbook recipe that we enjoyed so much. ¬†Our grocery spending seemed to be too high for just the two of us, so I started to make lists. ¬†Lists didn’t help me all that much. ¬†I still ended up with too much or too little food and nothing to make an actual meal with. ¬†I started making menus. ¬†First I used a great little sheet that had been posted on Design*Sponge . ¬†This didn’t allow me to write with my actual handwriting. ¬†It was too tiny. ¬†And when I needed something for multiple recipes, it wasn’t easy to keep track of. ¬†The last thing that didn’t work for me. ¬†I would lose it. ¬†And then not remember what I planned to make.

Now, I schedule the meals/recipes I have planning in iCal on the computer. ¬†Take it a step further. ¬†PTB subscribes to that calendar on his computer so he knows what we are having for dinner. ¬†He doesn’t always pay attention to it. ¬†Sometimes it results in a phone call after he gets to work and checks the calendar. ¬†“Are we really having ….. ¬†for dinner tonight? Really?!” (excitement). ¬†Sometimes it results in being asked at least 5 times what we are having for dinner. ¬†This was one of those times. ¬†

This dish doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor, but it definitely stands on it’s own. ¬†It would go well next to some grilled chicken. ¬†We ate far more than a side portion, so this fed the two of us (it was really yummy!). ¬†But with a salad or another side with the meal, it would easily serve four.

What I Used
Step One
3-4 summer squash
small-med red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
Step Two
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
Step Three
shaved Parmesan

With a vegetable peeler, peel the squash into ribbons down to the core. ¬†You should have about 4-5 cups of ribbon. ¬†Discard the seeds and core. ¬†I had 3 squash. ¬†I used 1/2 a medium onion, but I also knew I would give my serving far more onion than PTB’s. ¬†Slice the onion very thin on the vertical.

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the squash and onions and toss gently until onion is softened.

Remove from heat and toss in seasoning.

Serve topped with shaved Parmesan.

Serves: 4

::cooking for two:: Harissa Spiced Chickpeas

One of my favorite things about learning to cook is that I am no longer afraid to screw things up. ¬†If it goes too badly, we’ll just order something. ¬†It isn’t the end of the world. ¬†This of course is made easier by only cooking for the two of us. ¬†There is less wasted if I mess up, and less people to worry about pleasing. ¬†I was so excite about this recipe since my Long Nights and Log Fires is mostly recipes for crowds and this one is simply for two. ¬†It was a great easy meal (one pot!) during the cold winter in Philadelphia since I adapted it to fit what I had on hand, but I don’t think I would be opposed to it now that it is warmer out.

Really, it is just a new mixture of the same base ingredients I know and love. ¬†Onion, garlic, beans, tomato, spinach. ¬†Anything “spiced” falls into the category of “things we think we would like”. ¬†Harissa and Haloumi, however, were two items neither of us had ever heard of. ¬†Among the many different searches, I was told Harissa was anything from Greek to African. ¬†Haloumi is a Greek cheese. ¬†This dish is supposed to be Moroccan. ¬†I’ll go with overall it is a Mediterranean dinner. ¬†And based on this, how could you not enjoy it during the summer months? ¬†I just imagine the Mediterranean to always be blue seas and bluer skies. ¬†Ahhhhh…. Summer. ¬†I watch too much TV.

What You Need
Step One
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Step Two
1 Tbsp harissa
1 can of chickpeas, drained (garbanzo beans)
1 can diced tomatoes
Step Three
5 oz. Halloumi cheese, cubed
big handful of spinach leaves (~8-10oz)
Step Four
salt & pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon
fresh grated Parmesan

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.

Stir in all step two ingredients and increase heat to medium/medium-high.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add in step three ingredients and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes.  Season to taste and stir in the lemon juice.  Serve immediately topped with fresh grated Parmesan.  Naan would go great with this dish as well to help soak up any bits of sauce leftover.

Serves: 2  Cost: $4/serving