Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe: Ginger Lime Quinoa Salad

Ginger Lime Quinoa Salad

I cooked and ate quinoa for the very first time last week.  I feel that people's responses to this information fall into two distinct categories -- "seriously?!?!" or "what the hell is kwe-noa?!?!"

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is really hot right now.  It is a grain-like crop with seeds a little bit bigger than couscous.  It is packed full of protein and very versatile.  We had dinner with our friend Erik last weekend and he was telling us about how he puts it in everything.  I don't think he actually puts it in everything but I understood what he was saying -- we needed to try quinoa sooner rather than later.  I found a recipe that looked equally simple and delicious and made some adaptations to our liking.  Here is a link to the original recipe:
Quinoa Salad with Ginger Lime Dressing and Shrimp

I also found this website which is dedicated to cooking quinoa perfectly:
How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly

If you have never seen quinoa, this is what it looks like right out of the box and below that are some additional photos from my first quinoa experience.

Raw Quinoa

Sauce ingredients.

The veggies, including a cucumber from our garden.

Ginger Lime Quinoa Salad.

Ginger Lime Quinoa Salad

Serves: 4 for a main dish

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots


  1. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the sauce.
  2. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, ginger garlic, salt, cayenne, oils and buttermilk.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa and vegetables.  Toss with the dressing and diving among plates or bowls.   

To be honest, I was too impatient to let the quinoa cool before combining everything for our dinner. Although still very tasty, my honey said that it was even better for lunch the next day -- after it was cooled and the flavors had more time to mingle.

I tend to like my dressing leaning towards the more vinegary side.  You can play around with the amounts in the dressing to get the oil and vinegar balance that you prefer.  Also, I thought that buttermilk sounded like a strange ingredient in this particular dressing but the flavor and texture turns out great.  

Friday, August 26, 2011


This child warms up my heart.  As my honey pointed out, "she just puts it all out there.  She doesn't hold anything back." 

She could definitely teach me a thing or two.

I love everything about this first video.  The song.  The talented father/daughter duo.  The fact that the child is more excited about hugs than the presents from Ellen...

And then, because one thing always leads to 10 on youtube, I found this. One of my favorite songs to sing at karaoke and obviously one of this little girl's favorite songs too.  My favorite part is at ~ 2:15 - 2:45.  Love.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recipe: Tzatziki (Cucumber Dip)

Double batch of Tzatziki.

This cucumber dip is fabulous with pita chips, veggies or on top of falafel.

Shredded cucumber.

Draining the cucumber.

Mixing in the yogurt.

Tzatziki (Cucumber Dip)

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 6-ounce container plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt


  1. Drain the shredded cucumber and pat dry with paper towels.  Put cucumber in a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Add yogurt and minced garlic and stir to combine. 
  3. Cover and put in refrigerator for at least an hour.  
  4. When ready to serve, salt to taste. 


Greek yogurt is pretty popular right now and can be found in the dairy section of most grocery stores.  I use nonfat.  

Optional additions: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill; a squeeze of fresh lemon; a drizzle of olive oil.  You can add one, two or all three of these things.  Or none.  Either way the dip is good.

I highly recommend draining the cucumber over a measure cup and saving the cucumber juice.  Mix one part cucumber juice with two parts good vodka and a squeeze of lime for a refreshing summer cocktail. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recipe: Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Tart

Our zucchini is going absolutely crazy in our garden.  Actually, everything is.  I like to think that a previous green-thumbed owner set us up to be successful. 

Soooo...we had four zucchinis ready to go on Friday and a BBQ to attend.  Enter this tart.  This recipe is an adaptation of this one and this is one of those dishes that can be used as either a side or main dish.

I should note that we all agreed that there was too much crust so I scaled that back in my recipe. 


Whole wheat flour, chives and salt.

We don't have pie weights so I improvised with a smaller pie plate.

Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Tart


Whole wheat crust:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat floor
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Handful of chives, chopped
  • Large pinch of salt

  • 3 - 4 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Salt

  1. Put zucchini into a large colander, lightly salt and toss. 
  2. Preheat oven to 400º F.  
  3. Heat butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring often, until nice and brown, approximately 20 minutes.  
  4. While onions are cooking, prepare the crust.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, chives and salt.  
  5. Slowly pour in 1/4 cup of olive oil and combine with a fork.  
  6. Add in the water and lightly knead until the dough forms a ball.  
  7. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a greased tart of pie pan.  
  8. Cover crust with foil and a smaller pie plate, pie weights or beans.  Bake for 15 minutes.  
  9. While the crust is baking, rinse the zucchini and pat dry.  
  10. Add a layer of mozzarella to the crust and top with a layer of zucchini.  Repeat layers of cheese and zucchini, ending with a layer of the caramelized onions and zucchini slices.  Top with parmesan cheese. 
  11. Bake for 15 minutes and then finish with 3 - 5 minutes under the broiler until the top is slightly browned.  
  12. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How: Wine Cork Garden Markers

Basil growing in our garden.

Inspired by a photo floating around Pinterest, I grabbed a few supplies and created my very own wine cork garden markers.  It took me all of five minutes.  

If you are wondering what all we have growing in our garden, here is a list:
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber
  • Rosemary
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Zucchini

We also have roma tomatoes that I call our rogue tomatoes because they just appeared once we started watering our yard.  Thankfully, this has been one of our only surprises as new homeowners.  I certainly don't mind delicious surprises. 


Jalapeño peppers.

  • wine corks
  • long wooden skewers -- the kind you would use for kebabs
  • sharpie marker(s) -- fine tipped work best


  1. Write herb/plant names on wine corks with a fine tipped sharpie marker. 
  2. Carefully insert a skewer into the bottom of each cork.
  3. Stick them in the ground, next to the appropriate plants.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Recipe: BBQ Chicken Pizza

This recipe is very easy, just like the Thai Chicken Pizza

For this particular recipe, I used a whole wheat pizza crust, a cheese blend (mozzarella, cheddar and jack) and leftovers from a roast chicken I made earlier in the week.  It was actually the first time I ever roasted a chicken and I am proud to say that it turned out really well.  But that's a blog post for another day...

I only needed about 1/3 of this onion.  It was big.

Before going in the oven.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat oven and prepare dough according to package instructions. 
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and chicken.  Set aside.
  3. Spread remaining BBQ sauce evenly over pizza dough. 
  4. Top pizza with cheese, chicken and red onion.  
  5. Cook pizza until crust is browned and cheese is nice and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with cilantro.  Slice and serve.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recipe: Kale Chips

Crispy kale chips.
Drizzled with olive oil.  Sprinkled with salt.

Single layer on parchment lined baking sheet.

Stella keeping me company in the kitchen...
and being overly dramatic about the heat.

If you don't believe these could possibly be good, that's okay.  I didn't believe it either!  My honey still doesn't believe it.  He only ate one.  However, I really enjoyed these and so did a bunch of people at the cocktail party we brought them too.  I highly recommend taking the little extra time to drain and cool the kale chips on paper towels.  I was in a rush yesterday, packed them up in a container and they ended up steaming themselves during our drive.  This resulted in a not quite as crispy kale chip.  That issues aside, these totally fill my salty snack food craving in a much more healthy way. 

Kale Chips

  • Kale
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Rinse kale and pat dry.  Remove leaves from thick stalk and cut or tear into large pieces.
  3. Put kale into a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. 
  4. Spread kale in a single layer on the parchment lined baking sheets. 
  5. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until kale is just starting to brown. 
  6. Remove kale from oven, place on paper towels and let cool.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe: Mashed Cauliflower


I have heard people say, "oh, mashed cauliflower totally tastes like mashed potatoes. You will totally fool people and trick them into eating something healthier."  Let's be serious.  No one is going to be fooled.  They taste like cauliflower.  They are still very tasty but they are totally not potatoes.  Seriously. 

Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Steam or boil cauliflower and garlic cloves until cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork.  Approximately 10 - 12 minutes.
  2. Drain cauliflower and garlic and put in a large bowl.  Add buttermilk and butter.  Use a hand blender to combine ingredients until smooth. 
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Low fat sour cream can be used in place of the buttermilk.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recipe: White Bean and Spinach Salad

This salad is an easy, make ahead dish and is perfect for summer potlucks or picnics since it is dairy-free.  I made it as one of our dinner sides last night and it went perfectly with roast chicken and mashed cauliflower.  Fresh, healthy and delicious.  

Thinly sliced red onion.

Red onion, garlic, lemon juice and salt.

Baby spinach.

Close up of salad.

White Bean and Spinach Salad


  • 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine the sliced red onion, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt.  
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil on a burner on medium-high heat.  Once hot, about two minutes, pour olive oil over red onion mixture and stir to combine.  
  3. Let the red onion mixture rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Stir in the cannellini and baby spinach.  
  5. Season with black pepper to taste.

Friday, August 5, 2011

How: Weekly Dry-Erase Menu Planner

Inspired by weekly menu planners online, I created my own this afternoon.  Since we don't have a color printer, I outlined the design with a sharpie.  It was super easy, inexpensive and I was pleased with the final product.  You could also do it with other planning tools. 

Weekly Dry-Erase Menu Planner

  • Computer and printer
  • Printer paper
  • Ultra Fine Sharpie Marker
  • Frame
  • Dry-erase markers


1. Copy, paste and fit image into a word document.  Print.

2. If desired, outline with an ultra fine sharpie marker.

3. Put it in a frame.  I found this one at Ross for $9.

4. Write on the glass with dry-erase markers.  I found some fun colors at Target.
5. Hang it up!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To Do: Plan Ahead

I'm a planner.

One of the main reasons I'm a planner is that I know that the time I put into planning saves even more time later. 

And goodness knows, we can all use some extra time later, right?

I came across this website that provides links to all sorts of fabulous, free and printable weekly calendars including menu planners, cleaning calendars and even blog planning sheets.  If I wasn't currently holed up in a hotel room at a work conference, I would be printing a selection of them right now. 

This is for you, fellow planners and planner wannabees:
Free Printable Weekly Calendars