Dec 10 2014

Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad

I’ve been obsessed with variations of this salad ever since I made it last month. I am the queen of croutons and my favorites (Marcy’s Gourmet – Slightly Spiced Croutons – made with Calabrese bread) are no longer sold at my local grocery store. So because of this recipe, I started making my own and now I pretty much eat bread salads, ha ha.

Quinoa and Sourdough Salad

I like a heartier salad during the fall/winter months and this delivered. I haven’t been too adventurous with recipes lately, I’m sticking to soups and salads for the most part. Hoping to try a few new things over the holidays when I will have more time while on staycation. 

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The Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup of Quinoa
  • 4 Slices Sourdough Bread
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil – plus extra to brush onto the bread
  • 1 Container of Mixed Tomatoes – could also use 4 medium size or 1-2 cups of grape, cherry or sunburst tomatoes
  • 1 Large Cucumber – peeled – I used an English cucumber
  • 1 Avocado – rough chopped
  • 1/2 Small Red Onion – thinly sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Chopped Mint
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Dorat Garlic Cubes – 2 small, crushed garlic cloves if using fresh
  • Sea Salt and Ground Pepper – to taste

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 Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cook per package instructions.
  • Brush the sourdough bread with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15  minutes, turning them over halfway through. The bread should be completely dry and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down, then cut or rip by hand into different-sized pieces.
  • Chop up all of the herbs (cilantro, parsley and mint) and set aside to add later. 
  • Cut the tomatoes in half if using grape, cherry or Sunkist tomatoes – or to roughly 3/4-inch dice if using medium size. Place in a mixing bowl.
  • Cut thick cucumber slices into halves or quarters. Thinly slice the red onion and roughly chop the avocado.  

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  • Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper together to create the dressing
  • Add all salad ingredients, including the quinoa and croutons to a big bowl and then add the dressing. Stir gently until everything is mixed together. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

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I was pretty sloppy with the olive oil – creating arrows on 3 of the pieces. I ended up using a little more than shown in the above photo because it soaked into the bread so fast. I did end up coating both sides before adding sea salt. 

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I decided to go for slicing the bread over tearing it – I think either way would be fine. 

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And now I present to you – my new obsession. Since this recipe I’ve tried different spices on my croutons – garlic salt, cayenne, smoked paprika, thyme, crushed rosemary – I am a crouton making machine. I even just pop the bread in the toaster when I’m in a hurry and brush oil on it after I remove it. One piece of bread per salad is my rule. Trust me, I could do more. If using the toaster, you may have to cut the single piece in half – seeing as most sourdough pieces are too large for a regular size toaster.  

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The original recipe from [the nest] didn’t include avocados, but I knew I wanted it in my version. I also knew that I wanted grape and cherry tomatoes over sliced larger tomatoes. I now start off my Sunday evening by making a big batch of quinoa for salads. For those that feel quinoa tastes “too earthy” – a salad is the perfect way to incorporate it into your diet, it absorbs the dressing and sticks to other salad ingredients creating a nice texture.

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 The fresh herbs really made the other ingredients pop. The mint and cucumber were fabulous together. 

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Feel free to omit any of the three herbs if you aren’t a fan. I know people either love or hate cilantro – Mint and cilantro are very potent – so you may need to scale back on the amount if you are sensitive to that.

Remember, it’s a salad – there are no rules and it’s pretty hard to screw it up.  I just play around until I find the right combo. For instance, I like my croutons to be warm when I place them into my salads. I also like to use organic baby spring mix because the warmth of the croutons wilts it perfectly. The croutons give me crunch and I’ve also started adding garbanzo beans for additional fiber and protein. 

Quinoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad
A heartier salad - perfect for fall and winter months
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 Cup of Quinoa
  2. 4 Slices Sourdough Bread
  3. 1/3 Cup Olive Oil - plus extra to brush onto the bread
  4. 1 Container of Mixed Tomatoes - could also use 4 medium size or 1-2 cups of grape, cherry or sunburst tomatoes
  5. 1 Large Cucumber - peeled - I used an English cucumber
  6. 1 Avocado - rough chopped
  7. 1/2 Small Red Onion - thinly sliced
  8. 4 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  9. 1 1/2 Tablespoons Chopped Mint
  10. 2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
  11. 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  12. 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  13. 2 Dorat Garlic Cubes - 2 small, crushed garlic cloves if using fresh
  14. Sea Salt and Ground Pepper - to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cook per package instructions.
  2. Brush the sourdough bread with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes, turning them over halfway through. The bread should be completely dry and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down, then cut or rip by hand into different-sized pieces.
  3. Chop up all of the herbs (cilantro, parsley and mint) and set aside to add later.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in half if using grape, cherry or Sunkist tomatoes - or to roughly 3/4-inch dice if using medium size. Place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Cut thick cucumber slices into halves or quarters. Thinly slice the red onion and roughly chop the avocado.
Notes
  1. Recipe yields 4 servings.
Adapted from [the nest]
Adapted from [the nest]
Foodiddy http://foodiddy.com/
I made wedge salads for Thanksgiving and will post that recipe soon. Until then, it’s Christmas all up in my house. I’m decorating, watching my Hallmark, Up and Lifetime Christmas movies and loving every minute of it. 

foo

Permanent link to this article: http://foodiddy.com/?p=10255

Oct 29 2014

Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios

Each month I search the Internet for a new recipe to highlight for a wellness website I support. It’s always a challenge to find something that meets the needs of a diverse audience – vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian, raw, gluten free, etc. – I try to really vary my selections from month to month.

I was asked this question the other day – Have you tried all of the monthly recipes you post? Sadly my answer was “no” – not  that I haven’t wanted to, I just have others that interest me more. I do pay attention to reviews though. Picking recipes to satisfy the masses is much more difficult than me posting about recipes that peek my own personal interest and since I own and operate this website, it’s all about what I like… me… me… me…

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In my latest November search, I stumbled upon this gem from EatingWell.com – Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios. I knew immediately that I wanted to try this myself. I ended up picking a turkey recipe for the wellness website because the last couple of recipes I chose were vegetarian and lots of people have an abundance of turkey around the holidays.

Speaking of turkey and the main holiday that seems to include that – THANKSGIVING. This is the beginning of my favorite time of  the year. From Halloween to Christmas – bring on the fall weather, the more savory dishes and party snacks/appetizers galore. It’s also the time where I usually increase my workouts :).

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Heaping Tablespoons Honey Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 2 Bosc Pears
  • 2 Ounces Brie Cheese – Cut into 4 slices
  • 4 Teaspoons Chopped Pistachios – Toasted

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I preheated my oven and got to work prepping ingredients…

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Use a non-stick baking sheet or a metal pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk honey mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Cut pears in half lengthwise, hollow out the core with a melon baller and slice a small piece off the other side of the pear so they will lie flat when cooking/serving.
  4. Brush each pear with the honey mustard glaze and place cored-side down on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake the pears for 25-30 minutes, basting halfway through with the glaze. Gently turn them over, baste again and place a piece of Brie in the hollow of each pear. Bake until the pears are tender and the Brie is slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle each pear half with 1 teaspoon toasted pistachios and more salt and pepper if needed and serve.

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I cut my pears in half and thankfully I had picked some good ones. How do you know if they are ripe? Apply gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat. Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature so that they can ripen. 

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I put my melon baller to work and prepped all 4 halves.

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I gave them a generous coating of the honey mustard glaze and popped them into the oven face down.

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I started to toast my pistachios during the first 15 minutes of cook time.

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I bought a cheater bag so I didn’t have to shell them myself. I used pistachios that were already salted.

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I roughed chopped them and placed them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.

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I actually used a scale and measured out my cheese – I’ve never really been one to pay attention to “ounces” when it comes to cheese, but Brie is really rich and I didn’t want to go to overboard. Not even sure it’s possible to go overboard with any cheese, ha-ha. It’s a weakness of mine for sure. I was also trying to avoid a molten lava cheese lake on my favorite baking sheet.

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I popped the pears back into the oven and made one adjustment – I did end up pulling off the rind with tongs after it melted. I didn’t like the way it looked and sometimes the rind can be a little bitter and I wasn’t looking for that in this recipe.

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They looked like potatoes when they were done – Hmmm…. there’s a thought. I ended up adding a little sea salt and pepper to the finished pears – next time I’d also like to drizzle a little of the honey mustard glaze on top. They were delicious, but I think the glaze would help counteract the sweetness a bit. They would be a great starter course or side dish to roasted pork or lamb. They would also be a good dessert for those that prefer savory desserts over super sweet because this combined both. I’m guessing you could really experiment with different glazes as well. A pomegranate glaze would also be fabulous.

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if you are looking for a different starter course of side dish for Thanksgiving, I think this would fit the bill.

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I will definitely make these or a variation again. What’s a side dish you can’t compromise on for Thanksgiving? No matter what, it WILL be on your table… For me it’s my Aunt’s cranberry relish.
foo

Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios
Roasted Bosc pears with Brie and toasted pistachios. Delicious as a first course or a side dish.
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 Heaping Tablespoons Honey Mustard
  2. 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  4. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
  6. 2 Bosc Pears
  7. 2 Ounces Brie Cheese - Cut into 4 slices
  8. 4 Teaspoons Chopped Pistachios - Toasted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Use a non-stick baking sheet or a metal pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk honey mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Cut pears in half lengthwise, hollow out the core with a melon baller and slice a small piece off the other side of the pear so they will lie flat when cooking/served.
  4. Brush each pear with the honey mustard glaze and place cored-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake the pears for 25-30 minutes, basting halfway through with the glaze. Gently turn them over, baste again and place a piece of Brie in the hollow of each pear.
  6. Bake until the pears are tender and the Brie is slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle each pear half with 1 teaspoon toasted pistachios, salt and pepper and serve.
Notes
  1. Optional - Remove the Brie rind if you want to and add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle some of the glaze on top before serving.
Adapted from EatingWell.com
Adapted from EatingWell.com
Foodiddy http://foodiddy.com/

Permanent link to this article: http://foodiddy.com/?p=10217

Oct 13 2014

Sactoberfest Sunday

I feel very fortunate that I got to taste the delicious foods at the Sactoberfest preview event at Ten22, because Sunday’s Sactoberfest didn’t turn out as planned. The wind chose not to cooperate and combined with the dust made for unfavorable conditions for the food vendors. Unfortunately some had to pull out of the event because of it. We didn’t let that stop us from having a good time and the same goes for many others attending on Sunday.

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Bright white tent tops became beige in color due to the dust storms that kept blowing through. We headed directly to the beer tents to fill up our steins.

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Thug life beer servers… ha-ha. They had to endure some rather miserable conditions and they made the best of it. All day long we encountered very friendly event staff. Their main concern was that everyone was having a good time. The beer and cider helped.

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We checked out the food vendors next – this is when we found out that some had to pack up. Broderick was able to open with a very limited menu – they served Bratworst or Bockworst with fries.

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The German Deli had some menu items available too.

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We decided to start with a fresh baked pretzel with beer cheese sauce. We grabbed one and then made our way to the main tent to get out of the wind and dust. I tried to ignore the fact that there was a layer of dust on the inside of my beer mug. After one beer it didn’t seem to matter.

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Event staff announced that they were going to open the VIP tent to all attendees that wanted to get out of the elements. The VIP tent had walls and couches for families to chill out. It also had a full bar and they were selling $5 Jäger shots and $6 Jäger bombs.

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We checked it out, but ultimately decided we liked to be in the main tent with the band. First up was the Internationals. They welcomed us to the “Sactoberfest Dust Storm” – that made everyone laugh and they kept it pretty light throughout their performance. I’m sure the beer and Jäger shots made things easier for them. :)

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Next up was the Alpen Tanz Kapelle Band and the Nature Friends Schuhplattler Dancers. Until that point the dance floor was empty. It was covered in dirt/dust and they were concerned about that. The beer maidens in their dirndls jumped into action.

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 They all joined together and wiped down the dance floor to prep it for the dancers.

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All of these girls never stopped smiling. They were tired after two very busy days and they still managed to have a good time dealing with the situation. Several of them sat down at our table to talk about the different beer options and to visit with attendees.

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Once the floor was cleared and had dried,  the dancers put on a show. While watching them we were approached by event staff to fill out a survey. She offered us beer tickets, but because we’d already consumed giant steins full on very little food, we opted to just take the surveys. I thought it was important to let them know that event goers like us, really appreciated the staff’s efforts to not let the weather situation take away from the event.

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The gal came back to collect our surveys and she gave us two food tokens. Super sweet and perfect timing. I was starving.

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I got in line while Dan saved our seats. I wanted to take some more photos and it was the perfect opportunity to do that. I ended up getting us a second pretzel and a beer brat with sweet mustard. The line started backing up because the pilot lights kept blowing out due to the wind. The workers started handing out pretzels to people waiting in line.

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The brat was delicious and hit the spot. The 21 piece Chico Bavarian Band took to the stage next. The gal next to us was primed and ready for the Chicken Dance – she had the chicken hat and everything. We stayed for a bit and then decided to brave the elements to check out the carnival side of the event.

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I thought it was cool to see part of the Sac City skyline in the background. West Sacramento’s Bridge District is a really cool place and I look forward to all the upcoming improvements. The urban plan calls for three bridges to cross the Sacramento River. I’m also really looking forward to the Barn – projected to open in Spring 2015.

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Flying Bobs with the Tower Bridge in the background…

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Homer/Radioactive Man just hangin’ out…. Carnivals freak me out as an adult, but man did I love them as a kid. There was the county fair and local church carnivals and we even had carnival rides on our high school campus for grad night, it was awesome.

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Sactoberfest was a great close to a wonderful weekend – Prost!

foo

 

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