Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quinoa with Mushrooms and Broccoli

In my efforts to incorporate healthier meals into our weekly meals I am working hard to find healthy substitutions for some of our favorite dishes. Over the last several years Robert and I have become big fans of risotto, but the complex carbs in the rice, and amount of cheese make it less than ideal when it comes to trying to eat great and lose weight.

A few months ago when I was googling risotto recipes for different ingredient combinations, I came across a recipe that replaced arborio rice with the grain quinoa. Not knowing what quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) was I quickly moved past the recipe. A few weeks ago Robert and I were discussing nutrition with our trainer and he mentioned that quinoa is a whole grain that's packed with protein.

So this week I decided to make quinoa with ingredients I love in risotto, mushrooms and broccoli. One of the things I love the most about this quinoa recipe is that it is much less involved than risotto, but has a similar taste and texture. If you like risotto and you're trying to eat healthier, you should try this recipe.

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Quinoa with Mushrooms and Broccoli

1 cup rinsed quinoa
2 cups salted water
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 package shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 head of broccoli cut into florets
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
Grated Parmesan cheese

Bring the 2 cups of salted water to boil in a  medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered until the water is fully absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli for 12 minutes and set aside.
While the broccoli and quinoa are cooking, heat the butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
 Add the onions and saute until browned, about 6 minutes.

 Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes more.
 Add the mushrooms and thyme and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the wine and simmer until the wine has reduced and thickened slighty, about 8 minutes.
 Add the quinoa
 and the broccoli
 and stir to combine.
Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and enjoy.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vero Beach, Florida Continued...

We are still enjoying our vacation in Florida! We go back home on Wednesday, so we are doing our best to enjoy as much of what Florida has to offer as possible...the beach...golfing (well...Bunker plays while I walk)...the pool...seafood...and restful naps.

Yesterday we drove to West Palm Beach (about an hour and a half south of Vero) to visit some of our dearest friends, Colleen and Josh. We met Colleen and Josh when Bunker was in grad school at Fuqua (Duke) and became wonderful lifelong friends almost immediately. We miss them very much, especially on Notre Dame game days! Anyways...we met at a delightful Italian restaurant, Il Bellagio, and enjoyed a long lunch catching up on life. Honestly, the food did not matter although it was very tasty, lunch was just about seeing good friends and catching up about life with friends that I wish lived nearer.

 Josh, Colleen, Bunker and Suzie at lunch!

Last night we took took a night of seafood. I had a flavorful and crisp pizza with broccoli, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and Fontina cheese. Bunker has a really yummy ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich with Dijon mustard.

The restaurant also had an amazing bread basket! And as you all know...I am a bit obsessed with bread. This one was perfect with a nice selection of breads: crunch cracker, soft sourdough, hearty wheat, and rich raisin bread. Yum!

Tonight we are relaxing watching "Fletch," a fantastic 80's movie with perhaps the best soundtrack from that era. We had dinner at Ocean Grill, one of those quintessential beach town seafood restaurants that overlooks the breaking waves and seems as though it has not changed in the past 30 years. I hope it does not! We came here four years ago, and I just have this nostalgic feeling for the place, and I think I always will. We really enjoyed the dinner. Bunker had a Cajun Grouper that was just delicious, and I had the Grilled Salmon that was a tad over cooked but still very fresh and tasty. There is just nothing like eating seafood perched atop the ocean.

We are certainly enjoying our vacation, but we also very much miss the puppies. They are with my parents, and I do hope the puppies are not driving my parents too crazy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vero Beach, Florida

Bunker and I are on vacation! This is Bunker's first vacation in a rather long time, and so we are really enjoying this quiet time in such a beautiful place, Vero Beach. Vero is about 2 hours southeast of Orlando. We are actually sitting here after dinner, listening to the waves crash onto the shore and tiny drops of rain hit the window. So relaxing and peaceful. Needless to say, I did not cook dinner! Here are some pictures from our trip thus far!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Braised Greens and Sausage

There's a new recipe website called Gojee that lets you enter in the ingredients you have on hand, the ingredients you dislike and any ingredients that you crave and populates recipes based on those variables. Given the variability of the items in my produce share every two weeks, this site is great for helping me figure out how to best use those items before they spoil.

Last weekend my share included both kale and swiss chard, two veggies I have a hard time using on their own, but both in one share usually results in one spoiling before I figure out how to use them. Enter Gojee. I visited the site, entered in kale as an ingredient I craved and the first recipe to pop up was for Braised Kale and Spaghetti.

I looked over the recipe and quickly decided to try substituting spaghetti squash for the pasta and using the swiss chard instead of double kale. The results were absolutely delicious! We will definitely be making this again, and I can't wait to see what else I can do with spaghetti squash.

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Spaghetti Squash with Braised Greens and Sausage

1 spaghetti squash
1 bunch kale
1 bunch swiss chard
1 medium yellow onion, minced
8 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 Italian sausage links (I used chicken sausage)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the spaghetti squash on a baking sheet and bake in the oven whole for an hour.
While the squash is baking, cut the kale and chard leaves from the thick stems and cut into one inch strips. Rinse thoroughly and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
 Add the onions and saute until soft, about 6 minutes.
 Add the sliced garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
 Remove the sausage from the casing and break up into little pieces and brown the sausage.

After the sausage is browned, add the kale and chard to the pot and the final tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. The greens will be at the top of the pot to begin, continue to stir until the leaves are wilted.
Cover and cook on medium for 20 minutes, stirring occaisionally. If the contents look dry at any point, add a teaspoon of water.
When the squash is done, remove from the oven, let cool and cut in half. Remove the seeds and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove from the oven and begin to scrape the contents out with a fork.
Place the squash in a large bowl and set aside. When the greens are done add the contents of the dutch oven to the squash along with the Parmesan and lemon juice.

Toss to combine and flavor with salt and pepper to taste.
Source: Adapted from Mehan's Kitchen

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

When I made the dough for the Fig and Prosciutto Pizza last week, I had enough dough for 3 pizzas. So, I decided to put one ball of dough in the freezer for later pizza making adventures, and use the last pizza ball to make my version of BBQ Chicken Pizza.

I am a relatively new convert to BBQ Chicken pizzas. I've seen them listed at multiple pizza taverns, and even tried a few finding many of them too overtly sweet for my tastes. It wasn't until I tried the version offered at Vapiano Dallas that I decided it was a tasty option on their pizza menu.

My take includes shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken, balsamic red onions, gouda cheese, spicy barbeque sauce and diced tomatoes. This pizza will be a regular in our house. Robert and I both enjoyed the sweetness of the onions with the spiciness of the sauce and the creamy gouda cheese.

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 ball of pre-made pizza dough
1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
3/4 small round of young gouda cheese
1 red onion cut into slices
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Barbeque sauce (preferably not too sweet)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
In a skillet, melt the butter and balsamic vinegar over medium heat.

Add the sliced red onions.
Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until onions are soft and caramelized.
Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Brush with the barbeque sauce.
Add the shredded gouda cheese. (sorry for the blurry picture, I think I was hungry)
Add the shredded chicken.
Top with the onions and tomatoes.
Place on the bottom rack and bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese bubbly.
Slice and serve with your favorite wine or beer and great conversation.