Friday, July 29, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Apples and Grapes

Quinoa is one of my family's favorite foods.  It is versatile and easy to prepare and so amazingly good for you.  Quinoa contains a set of essential amino acids making it a complete protein.  It is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.  It easy to digest and gluten free.  Best of all, it is delicious!

Last week when some of my family came to over for small low key celebration of my son's 21st birthday I introduced by siblings to quinoa.  Everyone, except for a certain 9 year old that doesn't know what's good, loved it.  Even my ex-husband asked me how to make it and took a small bag of left overs home!

I love that this salad can be served at room temperature or chilled.  It is light and refreshing but satisfying.  Add any fruits or nuts you like, if it sounds good to you it will work with the quinoa.  On it's own, quinoa has a light nutty flavor but takes on the flavor of any broth you cook it in, dressing you mix it with or spices you add to it.

Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Apples and Grapes

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (I used white but red or black is also great)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
3 T olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
2 cups shredded chicken
1-1/2 grapes, cut in half (I used red for color)
1 large red apple, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 oz crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Place quinoa in a fine wire strainer and run under running water until rinse water runs clear.  It is VERY important to rinse the quinoa because it will be bitter it you don't.  I have purchased Bob's Red Mill Quinoa which is rinsed (it is indicated on the package) and have had it turn out fine, but I highly recommend rinsing it just to be sure.

Combine the chicken stock and water in a pot that will hold 4 times the amount of dry quinoa you are cooking.  Bring liquid to a boil, stir in the quinoa, lower heat to medium low and cover pot with a lid.  Cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes until tender and fluffy.  When the quinoa is done cooking it will be soft but not mushy and may look like it has a thin tail wrapped around it.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  

Place the quinoa in a large bowl.  In a small bowl combine the olive oil and white wine vinegar with a whisk.  Pour dressing over quinoa and mix well to evenly distribute.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chicken, grapes, apples and green onions.  Stir.  Add Gorgonzola cheese and stir again to evenly distribute the cheese.   Add the almonds and toss salad once more.  Serve chilled or room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The New Newton

I rarely buy packaged cookies but when they are given to me....well.....what's a girl to do?  I have to admit that I was a little skeptical when received a package of Newtons Fruit Thins.

My kid broke into the package first.  Hey!  I had to have guinea pigs! 

I watched as my 16 year old son took a bite and waited for "the face."  To my surprise his eyebrow lifted and he said something to the effect of 'hhmm not bad' and shrugged his shoulder.  Now if I translated that correctly (from the language of a teen boy to English) this means 'these are really good.'  So I decided to give them a try and found that they were actually quite good.  They were crisp, lightly sweet and have small bits of fruit.  They make a nice little treat and go very well with a cup of herbal tea.

Everyone of my children, as well as my co-workers and one of my oldest son's friends all liked them quite a bit. Do they replace a fresh homemade cookie? No. But they are definitely worth having around for a quick treat and they will most likely find their way into my shopping basket in the near future.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Newtons Fruit Thins

Monday, July 4, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Do you ever want something just a little different that will impress your family and guests.  This recipe may not seem like much but the minute they taste it they will be won over.  I happen to think it is pretty too.  It is cool, creamy and has just a little crunch.  So Good! 

This only takes a about 30 minutes to prepare and is set in about 2 hours so you can throw it together at the last minute and have a cool, refreshing and oh so satisfying dessert.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 cups small pretzel, crushed
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 Cup plus 3 T. sugar
2 - 8 oz. blocks cream cheese
8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
1 (6 oz)package strawberry jello
2 cups water, boiling
2 - 10 oz packages frozen strawberries, partially thawed

Preheat oven to 400.  Measure out 2 cups of pretzels, place them in a gallon size zip lock bag, crush pretzels.  Crushing pretzels is made easy by rolling over the bag with a rolling pin or smashing them with the back of a wooden spoon.  Place crushed pretzels in a bowl, add 3 tablespoons of sugar and stir in the melted butter.  Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Cool crust in the freezer while mixing the next two layers.

Using a mixer combine the softened cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar until smooth.  Fold in the Cool Whip.  Spread evenly over pretzel crust.

Dissolve jello in the boiling water then add the partially frozen strawberries and stir.  the more frozen your berries the quicker the jello will begin to set up.  Allow to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes until it just begins to thicken.  Pour over cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate until set (about 2 to 3 hours).  Cut into squares and serve.