Showing posts with label quinoa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quinoa. Show all posts

Monday, May 23, 2016

Krista's Power Lunch

At the risk of ruining my shameful reputation for living off sweets, I thought I would share my power lunch today. It's basically a salad. The name comes from the "power greens" that form the base.

It does contain controversial quinoa. Controversial because some people like it and some hate it. If you're not a fan yet, try cooking it in chicken broth or pineapple juice instead of water. Quinoa is like rice in that it doesn't really taste like much until you add a flavor to it.


1 cup quinoa
2 cups liquid (water, broth, or pineapple juice)

Place quinoa and liquid in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and put the lid on the pot. Simmer 15 minutes. Leave the top on and let stand for five minutes.

You'll know it's done because it will have sprouted and there's usually a telltale ring around the inside of the pot.

I love quinoa in salads because it gives them the tiniest little snap. It's loaded with protein, so it's excellent for the vegetarians in your family. More nutrition information here.

I also used leftover carrot salad. I think it was one of the first recipes I posted on Mystery Lovers Kitchen!

Obviously, the idea is to build a salad out of healthy items you happen to have in the fridge. You can find Power Greens in the plastic clam shells at your favorite grocery store. It's usually a mixture of baby kale, spinach, and swiss chard. If fish isn't your thing, top with a couple of chicken tenders. If you're vegetarian, substitute avocado for the fish.

The honey mustard dressing is my go to dressing. The mustard gives it a tiny zing and the honey adds a contrasting sweetness. Tweak it to suit your taste.

Krista's Power Lunch
(for one)

handful of power greens
one raw mushroom, washed
1/4 to 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
pinch of turmeric
fresh berries
raw carrot salad
baked fish (I used cod)
your favorite dressing (I used my honey mustard dressing below.)

Place a handful of greens on the plate. Add the mushroom. Spoon quinoa in the center of the greens. Sprinkle with turmeric. Add a couple spoonfuls of carrot salad. Sprinkle berries around the edge. Place fish on top. Drizzle with your favorite dressing.

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey

Place everything in a small container or a teacup. Whisk together with a mini-whisk. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Power greens!

Add a mushroom and some carrots.

Top with quinoa and a pinch of turmeric.
Drizzle with honey mustard dressing.


THE DIVA SERVES HIGH TEA will be here on June 7th! I have a few early copies and would be delighted to give one away. To enter, leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. GOOD LUCK!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Healthy Casserole

I'm trying to get more super-healthy ingredients into our meals. Things they call super foods like quinoa, kale, and broccoli. They're so good for us, and they taste great, too, yet it's easy to skip over them.

When I was looking around for a quinoa casserole, I found Lindsay's recipe for Creamy Chicken, Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole at Pinch of Yum. It caught my interest right away because the quinoa and chicken go into the casserole uncooked. Not only is that fast and easy, but it means less cleanup, too. I wondered, though, about the raw chicken and uncooked quinoa. Would the chicken turn dry? Would it cook enough?

So I tried it. Delicious! Lindsay skipped using canned soup and opted for a homemade sauce. She blanched the broccoli just enough to cook it so it's lovely and fresh instead of cooked to death. She also wisely put cheese on top. Don't skip that step. The cheese doesn't overpower the casserole. There's just enough to give it a lovely bit of indulgence.

I noted that someone else who tried this recipe opted to use uncooked asparagus instead of the blanched broccoli. Honestly, we enjoyed the broccoli, but it's an option to keep in mind. I went largely by Lindsay's recipe except for a few little changes. I used sage, marjoram, pepper, and just a pinch of nutmeg instead of poultry seasoning. And I scattered some Parmesan cheese over the whole casserole before I popped it into the oven. Parmesan is kind of like bacon, it makes everything better. Right?

Speaking of bacon, there's a little bit in the casserole. I used four strips of bacon. If you make bacon for breakfast, just hide four strips to use in the casserole later on.

butter for greasing the pan
1 cup milk, divided 1/2 plus 1/2 (I used fat free, Lindsay used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
a pinch of nutmeg
pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon (4 slices)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons seasoning (I used Northwoods Seasoning from Pensey's )
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Lindsay used Gruyere)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan very well.

Whisk the sage, marjoram, nutmeg, pepper, and flour in 1/2 cup of the milk. Combine the chicken broth and the other 1/2 cup of the milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Whisk in the seasoned 1/2 cup of milk and continue whisking until a smooth sauce forms.

In a large bowl, mix together the sauce, 1 cup water, the quinoa, and bacon. Pour into the baking pan. Slice the chicken in very thin strips and lay over the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the Northwoods Seasoning. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the broccoli in it for about one minute. Remove and run cold water over it. Set aside.

Remove the casserole from oven. Check the consistency. Is the chicken cooked through? Has the quinoa popped the cute little curls? (I went ahead and baked it another 10 minutes, just to be sure.)

Spread the broccoli florets across the top. (Lindsay says you can add water at this point, up to 1 cup but I didn't add any. It didn't seem necessary but your mileage may vary.) Sprinkle the cheddar cheese across the top and the Parmesan cheese on top of that. Bake another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted.

Before baking.

 Smells so good!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Pineapple Quinoa

I get quite a few email comments about the diet of my protagonist, Sophie Winston. Granted, she does entertain a lot, and we tend to bring out the best when we're cooking for company. And it's no secret that Sophie has trouble zipping her jeans.

As I was writing recently, Sophie made lunch just for her elderly next door neighbor, Francie, and herself. I based it loosely on the kind of lunch I often make and share with my mom. We've eaten variations on this a couple of times in the past week. It's quick, it's easy, and it's healthy.

The core of the dish is quinoa. The last time I blogged about quinoa, one of my friends told me it looked like bugs and to please never cook it for her. Yet, here I am blogging about it again.

I've tried cooking it different ways. Interestingly, the instructions for cooking quinoa vary widely. The most surprising thing to me about quinoa recipes is that they generally call for cooking quinoa in water and then dressing it with some sort of salad dressing.

So I had to experiment. One of our favorites is pineapple quinoa. It couldn't be easier to cook. Simmering it intensifies the pineapple flavor. It's sweet and fruity and simply delicious. Top that with some leftovers -- steak, turkey slices (like I added in the picture), baked cod, shrimp, whatever you feel like. I've included mango, but strawberries are in season and they would be fabulous, too.

The pineapple quinoa is moist so we don't usually add more dressing. But if you want to drizzle your favorite on top, go right ahead. Lots of flavor, and healthy, too. You can't beat that. Maybe someday Sophie will be able to zip those jeans.

Pineapple Quinoa

1 2/3 cups pineapple juice
1 cup red quinoa

Pour quinoa and pineapple juice into a pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Serve as a side dish or mound on a plate and add fruits, vegetables, and meat or fish as a salad. Add dressing if desired.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who Knew Quinoa Was So Cute?

I had a good chuckle on Saturday when Lucy said she had posted a healthy recipe and was now going for decadent chocolate cake.  I'm doing the reverse.

If you're like me, you love to try new foods.  The funny thing is that quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is anything but new.  In fact, it goes back to 3000 B.C.  Apparently the Incas revered it.

I've been hearing about all the fabulous health benefits but hadn't gotten around to trying it.  But don't let the healthiness scare you.  It's fun food!  It grows on a stalk and while we think of it as a grain, it's apparently the seed of a leafy green.  It's loaded with protein, calcium, iron and vitamins.  If you don't really care about that -- it's also quick and easy to fix.

I followed a recipe since I've never made it before.  My red quinoa cooked in 15 minutes.  It's tiny, maybe a little smaller than sesame seeds if they were round.  When it cooks, it swells a bit and gets a little tiny curlicue on it -- tell me your kids won't love that! When you bite into it, there's the nicest little crunch.  It would add great texture to a lot of dishes.

People describe it as nutty, but I think it has sort of a bland inoffensive flavor that picks up other flavors well, sort of the way rice does.

I ran across a fabulous recipe from the Fig Restaurant in Santa Monica.  It's a vegetarian recipe, so I switched it up a little bit and replaced the butternut squash with shrimp. 

I have to confess that I felt a bit plebeian when I made the recipe because they used haricots vert, which are wonderful, but impossible to get where I live, at least in March.  Don't tell them, but I used frozen green beans.  In addition, I used wildflower honey instead of orange blossom honey, and ordinary almonds.  I couldn't duplicate all of their upscale ingredients, but it was delicious anyway.

This would be a wonderful go-to recipe for vegetarians.  Possibly vegans, too, but there's honey in the dressing, and I'm never sure if vegans eat honey.

However, don't let the fact that it's a salad fool you.  This is one hearty dish.  It's not heavy at all, but unlike some salads, it doesn't leave you looking for something to nosh on later in the day.  It's a meal in itself.  The chef who put this recipe together must be amazing.  The orange and honey dressing is the perfect sweet complement (it makes a lot, though, you'll have leftover dressing).  The almonds add a nice crunch, and I know I'll be cooking more dishes with quinoa and apples because they go together beautifully.

I usually think of a salad as something I can put together fairly fast. This is a warm salad, with an interesting array of components, but it's not a quick fix.  Don't try this on a day when you're in a hurry.  The original recipe says it takes an hour to prepare, and I think that's accurate.  With the original butternut squash or sweet potatoes instead of shrimp, it would be a wonderful meal for meatless Mondays!

Note:  I used shrimp in this recipe, but since I wanted it to be more about the quinoa than the shrimp, I only used 16 medium shrimp.  You might want to use larger shrimp or more of them, in which case I would recommend cooking them separately and combining with the salad when cooked.

I also suspect that the vinaigrette would make a fabulous marinade for chicken tenders that could be cooked on the grill and added to the salad.

Warm Quinoa Salad


1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring the orange juice to a simmer and cook, simmering for about 15 minutes, until reduced to 2/3 cup.

When cool, whisk in the other ingredients and set aside.  (Note: I only used about 1/3 of it on the salad, so you'll have plenty left over.  Refrigerate the remainder.)


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup green beans
1 apple, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups Swiss chard, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup red quinoa
1 2-inch sprig rosemary
3-4 tablespoons sliced or halved almonds
16 medium shrimp
salt and pepper

Cook the green beans (frozen work if you can't get them fresh) but don't overcook them.  Make sure they're still nicely green.

Bring the stock to a boil and add the quinoa and rosemary.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a medium pan, heat the canola oil and add the Swiss Chard, the apple, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.

Saute about 5 minutes, until "crisp-tender," then add 1/4 cup vinaigrette and the shrimp, making sure the shrimp cooks through.  Add the green beans and toss together.

Remove from stove and pour into a large bowl.

Drain the cooked quinoa, remove the rosemary, and add to the items in the bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons almonds to the bowl, dress with additional vinaigrette (go easy), toss and add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle onto plates and garnish with almonds.