Quinoa Rainbow Salad

This salad is perfect in terms of ease of preparation and nutritional value.  I’ve already expounded upon the nutritional value of Quinoa in a separate post (read post here) so I won’t go into that again here.  This salad recipe is an adaptation of a recipe on the Food52 website.  It’s a work in progress and changes depending on what vegetables I have on hand.  However, this is the version that I love the most because with all the different vegetables, it really is a complete nutritional meal in one dish. It’s also wonderfully textured with the crunch of the peppers and nuts balanced against the creaminess of the Quinoa. The lemon gives a nice pop of freshness against the earthiness of the kale.  Finally, it’s a rainbow of colors which just makes it beautiful on the plate.

Because it’s also good cold, it’s perfect for carrying to the office for lunch or eating straight from the fridge at night after a long day in the office.  Because this recipe can be made in 30-40 minutes, it’s also possible to make this salad from scratch on a weeknight.  If you decide to do it on a weeknight, you can save time by skipping step 2, starting with step 3 and then completing all the other prep work while the Quinoa and kale cooks.

Serves 4 as a main course:

Qty Item
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
1 Orange Bell Pepper, finely diced
2 Scallions, white and green parts finely minced
1 Chive, finely minced
1/8 – 1/4 cup Feta, crumbled
Zest of 1/2 Meyer Lemon or regular lemon
1-2 tblsp Meyer Lemon juice or regular lemon juice
1 tblsp Walnut Oil or other oil such as olive oil.
1 cup Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
3/4 cup Water
1 cup Quinoa
1 bunch Lacinato Kale (a.k.a: Black Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Cavolo Nero), sliced or hand torn into 1 inch strips.
4 tblsp Pine Nuts, lightly toasted
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine the diced bell peppers, scallions, and chive.  Add in the feta, lemon zest, lemon juice and oil. Mix lightly then set the bowl aside.
  2. Rinse Quinoa under cold water.  For maximum flavor, toast the Quinoa in a dry pan over medium heat until the Quinoa is dry and starts to give off a nutty aroma. Stir it and watch it closely as you toast it so that it doesn’t stick to the pan, turn brown or burn.
  3. In a 3 quart pot, combine stock and water (or use all water if no stock is available, but then salt the water generously so that it taste like the sea) and bring to a boil. Then add the Quinoa to the pot.  Stir it once or twice then reduce the temperature so that the liquid is just at a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. After the 10 minutes have passed, most of the water (90%) should be absorbed.  At this point, dump the sliced kale on top of the simmering Quinoa and put the lid back on the pot. Let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. After the 5 minutes have passed, remove the lid and check to see that all the liquid has been absorbed and the kale is fully steamed, wilted and bright green. If that is the case, remove the pot from the heat, but cover it and let it continue to steam for another 5 minutes off heat.  If that is not the case, let it simmer until all the water has been absorbed before proceeding.
  6. After 5 minutes have passed, the kale should be completely wilted and the Quinoa should be tender, but firm.  Empty the pot into the bowl containing the other ingredients, add in the toasted pine nuts, and gently mix them all together (toss as you would a salad).  Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding more lemon juice, if you prefer. then serve.

Essential Cooking Equipment

If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you are likely to build up quite a supply of pots, pans and gadgets.  I, myself, am a bit of a gadget slut. I don’t think I’ve ever met a gadget or specialized pot that I didn’t crave.  Luckily, I adhere strictly to a “sleep on it” rule that doesn’t let me indulge in impulse buying.  It works 99% of the time.  The other 1% results in me owning ridiculously specialized things like the egg poacher that’s been taking up space in my cabinet for about 5 years now.  In five years, I have not once thrown the lavish brunch featuring perfectly poached eggs that I envisioned when I bought that pot!

Aspirations are great, but very few of us live the kind of lives featured in Williams-Sonoma catalogs.  If you are cooking in-between the rest of a busy life, the following pieces of equipment are essential to that effort as they allow for cooking for multiple nights and re-heating quickly.  I’ve included links for visual examples of the equipment, but you should shop around to find brands at prices that suit your budget.  Don’t feel the need to buy everything at once. Restaurant supply wholesalers are an excellent place to shop for all these items without the brand names at steeply discounted prices.  The links are all to Williams Sonoma for convenience not as an endorsement.

  • Slow Cooker (aka Crock Pot), 5 or 7 qt capacity:  This is the busy cooks best friend.  You can feed yourself for a week off of the stews you can produce, but they can do a lot more than create stews.

  • Air Fryer: This is the ultimate tools to quickly cook oil-free fried foods. The air fryer circulates hot air around your food to crisp it to perfection. You can still use oil, just a lot less so that its much better for you.
  • Braiser, 3.5qt:  It’s not as limited as its name would suggest. This pan sees a lot of use in my kitchen – I do everything in it from braising to roasts to sautéing to pasta sauces.
  • Roasting pan: Chickens, leg of lamb, beef, all find their home here,  but it can also be used for casseroles.

  • Dutch Oven, 3.5qt capacity:  Soups, stews and, as its name suggests, stocks.
  • Knives, Chef’s knife, bread knife, paring knife (see my post on “Essential Knives” for more details)
  • Toaster oven: It obviously toasts, but most good quality modern toaster ovens can basically substitute for your actual oven for many functions. It heats up faster than an oven and so it can be a great tool for cooking small portions.  If you get one with convection, it will even reduce cooking time. I often use mine to bake/broil single servings of fish and meat.
  • Vitamix Blender: This blender is crazy expensive, and it took me a long time to get on board with such an expensive purchase.  However, it is one of the most versatile tools in my kitchen.  It has basically put my food processor out of business.  Soups, sauces, chopping prep, grain grinder, juicer, sorbet-maker  – Best. Tool. Ever!  It really puts all other blenders to shame in terms of quality of finished product.  Shop around online and you can often find them quite a bit cheaper than the Williams Sonoma model linked to here.
  • Plastic storage containers:  The value of being able to properly store extra portions and freeze them until needed cannot be overstated.  A supply of plastic containers in a variety of sizes is a must.  Build a supply by buying a few and retaining some of those takeout containers.

Our Best Cooking Tips

  • To prevent chopped aubergine from turning black, soak in salted water till ready to use.
  • To prevent potatoes from discoloring dip fingers in lemon juice before chopping.
  • Oil will not splatter on heating if a little salt or flour is added to it.
  • Rice for frying maybe boiled ahead of time or the day before.
  • A little white vinegar added to rice while boiling will prevent it from sticking.
  • Use lemon peel to clean and shine glass dishes with warm water.
  • To remove fishy smell form fish, apply white vinegar to the fish before washing, leave 10 minutes then wash.
  • To remove fishy smell from pan spread some flour in it. Leave for a few minutes and wash.
  • To keep cottage cheese fresh for a long time wrap in muslin soaked in white vinegar put in plastic bag and store in fridge.
  • A pinch of gram flour sprinkled on fried food makes it crisp.
  • For a fresh smelling kitchen take a cup of vinegar add a bay leaf and leave uncovered.
  • Before using aluminum pan, boil some white vinegar and water in it. Discard boiled water and rinse pan.
  • Sprinkle boiled beetroot with a little vinegar or lemon to maintain its color and taste.
  • A few almonds and raisins given to growing children everyday help growth.
  • A small piece of bread added to cauliflower prevents the cooking smell of cauliflower while cooking.
  • Chop and soak spring onions in cold water before adding to soup to keep them crisp.
  • Use a wooden spoon in soups thickened with corn flour. Steel spoons will cause soup to become thin or prevent the soup from thickening.
  • Chew a piece of fresh ginger regularly after meals to prevent indigestion.
  • If glass oven dishes get burnt clean those with a damp cloth dipped in salt.
  • China ware often develops permanent tea or coffee stains. To remove the stains, mix salt and baking soda in equal amounts and sprinkle a little water to make a thick paste. Apply on the stain for a few minutes and then wash. Can also apply to plastic crockery.
  • Hot milk and lemon make cake soft.
  • In order to keep mushrooms fresh, sprinkle with a little salt.
  • To keep chopped vegetables fresh for a long time, sprinkle with ½ tsp of sugar.

Seafood Cooking: Great Tasting Shrimp Recipes

You can’t beat shrimp recipes when they’re done right!

Beer Battered Shrimp

2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup flour
½ cup beer
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt (again)

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a wire rack with veggie spray and place on a baking sheet. In bowl combine flour, beer, egg whites, and salt. Beat until smooth. In separate bowl stir bread crumbs, pecans, pepper and salt. Dip shrimp in bread crumb mixture then into beer batter and dredge a second time in bread crumbs. Set on prepared rack and bake 12 minutes. Serves 5.

Sautéd Shrimp and Mushrooms

1 ½ lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Sherry
3 stalks of celery and leaves
3 scallions
½ lb mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon seafood seasoning

Combine soy sauce, Sherry, and seasonings. Pour over shrimp and mix, let sit 15 minutes in refrigerator. Slice celery, scallions and mushrooms. Heat frying pan with olive oil on med high, add celery and scallions and sauté for 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and shrimp, sauté until shrimp turns pink 3-5 minutes. Serves 4-5. Great with wild rice or rice pilaf.

Shrimp Soup

1 lb shrimp
3 cans chicken broth
1 potato, diced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
½ cup cabbage shredded
1 cup tomato juice

Place broth, carrots, potatoes, and onions in soup pot, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add cabbage and tomato juice, simmer 10 minutes. Add shrimp, simmer 4 minutes or until shrimp is done. Makes 6 servings.

Irish Cooking: Corned Beef Pizza

If you like corned beef and cabbage but want to try having it in a different way then Corned Beef Pizza is for you. It takes the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal and transforms it into a dish all in itself. It takes far less time to cook them a traditional corned beef and cabbage meal and tastes just as good.Here is a list of the ingredients you will need:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 pre-made pizza crust (such as Boboli)
2 cups of shredded green cabbage, which is about 1/4 head
1/4 pound of thinly sliced corned beef
2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon of salt

Cooking Instructions:

1/ First you will need to preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2/ Next you will need to evenly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
3/ Then you will need to saute the cabbage in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes in a large skillet.
4/ Then flavor the cabbage with salt and pepper, and then remove from the heat.
5/ Next place the pizza crust on the baking sheet that was sprayed with cooking spray.
6/ Then you will need to spoon the sauteed cabbage onto the pizza crust and spread it out evenly to within half an inch of the edge.
7/ Next you will need to place the corned beef slices over the cabbage.
8/ Then sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the corned beef.
9/ Then place the pizza in the oven and bake it for 10 to 15 minutes, that is until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the pizza is nice and hot.
10/ Last but not least all you have to do is cut the pizza into wedges and serve it immediately.

This corned beef pizza is a really good and easy meal. Perfect for the family or if your having movie night. I love the fact that it only takes 15 minutes to prepare it and 15 minutes to cook. From start to finish that only 30 minutes and it serves 6.