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Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad

Does anyone know when I can find a fully functioning brain? Because mine has just vanished. Seriously. It seems as though after my capstone presentation day, I have not been able to function normally. I can’t form sentences when speaking, I keep tripping and falling, I feel it is unsafe for me to drive, and all I want to do is nap and be extremely sedentary.. and I’m NOT EVEN DRUNK! Ugh so frustrating. It needs to turn back on and QUICK because I start my residency in about two weeks and I am going to need it to be sharp and smart!!

While I search, please enjoy this savory quinoa recipe. Yum!

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Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad

(Revised from Ambitious Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage (1/2 head)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup green onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 the juice of 1 lime

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Method:

Cook the quinoa as directed on the package. When it is done, let it cool for about 10 minutes. While it is cooking, chop your veggies.

Add peanut butter and agave in a small microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, juice of a half lime and both oils. Stir until mixture is smooth and creamy. Thin with the lime juice.

Add all of the dressing to the cooked quinoa. The more the merrier.

Next fold in the red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, and chickpeas into the dressed quinoa. Garnish with cashews and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The longer this sits, the better it gets. All the flavors dance in the fridge as it waits for you to eat more. This is a GREAT meal to take for lunch! If you are going to pack it for lunch wait to add the cashews or they will get a little soggy.

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If you happen to locate my wandering brain, please email me!

Filed under healthy protein quinoa thai salad asian vegetables peanut butter red green flavor color cashews

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Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Buttons

Unfortunately I cannot take credit for these amazing little gems, but I wish I could because they are so smart and lovely. I love dark chocolate. A lot. Want to know the best combo out there? Ghirardelli Dark Sea Salt & Caramel Squares. Not a joking matter, they are life changing. Not that I actually need to justify eating dark chocolate, but adding some healthy nuts and fruits to it will make me think I am doing the body good… Whatever.

Jacki and I are both done with our clinical placements for grad school this year! We only have a couple large things to complete and we will be FREE!! We are great students so we decided to mass produce these buttons and give them to our supervisors and classmates. Damn we are nice and thoughtful. And of course save ourselves some. These couldn’t be simpler.

Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Buttons

(Revised from Undressed Skeleton)

Makes about 50 buttons

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-oz bag dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips (about 60% cacao)
  • Lots of Toppings (about 1 to 2 cups): pre-made trail mix, pre-mixed nuts, dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, pineapple, mango, raisins), nuts and seeds (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, pepitas, sunflower, chia), other gems (toffee bits, caramel, sea salt, bacon), seriously, almost everything taste better with chocolate

Method:

Place a large piece of parchment paper on a flat surface to make your buttons. Get all your toppings prepared!

Melt dark chocolate in a double-boiler. Stirring every few minutes. Once the chocolate has completely melted, add quarter to half dollar sized circles of chocolate on the parchment paper. Add on your desired toppings. Let set and keep in a cool dry place (or the refrigerator). 

Enjoy!

Filed under chocoalte dark chocolate nuts seeds fruit dried red green brown salt seasalt gifts recipe

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Spaghetti & Mini Turkey Meatballs

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My roommate was watching TV and saw this recipe. It is meatballs, made healthier with eggplant and ground turkey. So naturally as girls trying to look good for Vegas in a few months, we will try anything that tells us it is relatively healthy/lower calories and fat. Funny thing, I had the recipe the whole time in a cookbook on my shelf. I did some fiddling with the proportions to make my life easier (because Jennie-O ground turkey comes in packages of 20-oz, not 12-oz… Duh Rocco DiSpirito).

Mini Turkey Meatballs

(Revised from Rocco DiSpirito Now Eat This! Diet)

Makes 24 Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 small eggplant (you will need 1/3 C of flesh)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 20-oz lean ground turkey (1 package)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup low-fat marinara sauce + more for pasta
  • 1/2 lb of whole wheat spaghetti

Method:

Turn your broiler on. Place the eggplant on a sheet pan under the broiler to char the skin until it is blackened and the flesh is cooked through, about 10 minutes depending on the size of your eggplant.

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Allow the eggplant to cool slightly then cut in half, Scrape out the flesh being careful not to incorporate the skin. Measure out 1/3 cup of the flesh.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a mini-muffin plan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a blender, combine the cooked eggplant, chicken broth, onion, garlic and egg whites. Puree until it is a smooth consistency.

In a large bowl, combine the mixture with the ground turkey, parsley, 3 tablespoons cheese, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

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In each muffin cup, add 1 teaspoon of marinara sauce in the bottom.

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Drop a rounded tablespoon of meat mixture into the cups. Top with another teaspoon of marinara sauce. The cups will look overfilled, but the meat will shrink down a bit when they are cooked.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are done. While the meatballs are cooking make some pasta to go with it!

The sauce will run off the sides of the muffin pan so have some aluminum foil underneath the pan to save time on cleaning it!

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Time to eat: pasta + meatballs + more sauce + more cheese = in your mouth. YUM!

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I thought that these were super delicious. You get to eat a traditional comfort food and I felt way less guilty. The meatballs are super savory and juicy from being cooked with the sauce. Thrown on top of some spaghetti and I was in heaven! You couldn’t taste the eggplant so if that scared you no worries, it is just a secret skinny ingredient.

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Happy Cooking!

Filed under dinner meatballs spaghetti tomatoes Italian vegetables healthy garlic onions red savory

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Popcorn Cake

This is a holiday tradition that my Aunt Roberta always makes. It is like a rice crispy bar but made with popcorn, nuts and M&Ms. It is the salty sweet that I can’t get enough of!

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Popcorn Cake

(Recipe from Auntie Bert)

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts air-popped popcorn
  • 1 10.3-oz container of mixed nuts
  • 1 12.6-oz bag of M&Ms
  • 1 16-oz bag of marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • nonstick cooking spray

Method:

Air pop your popcorn! Go through the popcorn to make sure there are no kernels that didn’t get popped. You don’t want someone to chip a tooth while enjoying your hard work.

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Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a large pot, melt the butter and marshmallows together over low to medium-low heat. Stir every once in a while. It will take about 5-10 minutes to melt completely. You can melt it in the microwave but this is how my mom has always done it… and so do I. *Side Note: From experience, USE JET PUFFED MARSHMALLOWS! The generic ones just do not melt nicely. Splurge for the name brand stuff :)

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Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the popcorn and nuts.

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Pour the popcorn and nuts into the pot with the melted marshmallow mixture and mix together until coated. Add in the M&Ms and mix.

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Pan into the prepared baking dish. Let cool. Cut into squares and share with your family and friends.

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My aunt usually makes this in a bundt pan or loaf pan. These usually last less than 24 hours when I am around. I don’t even care, it is so addicting!!

Filed under cake chocolate dessert green holidays nuts popcorn red snack treat white

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Vegetable Pocket with Tomato Cream Sauce

I work for a catering company that serves weddings, private parties, luncheons and so much more. The food that comes out of the catering kitchen is some of the best I have ever tasted, no lie! Maybe I don’t eat at places that warrant food this delicious but I give mad props to Chef Paul and his crew!

One of my favorite things that Chef Paul makes (I have about 15 favorite things) is what he calls a Vegetable Wellington with Red Pepper Cream Sauce. It is vegetables rolled into phyllo dough with a thick pepper cream sauce. The vegetables are still crunchy but tender in the flaky pastry, and then I dip it in the creamy sauce and it is just heaven in my mouth. This is my attempt at creating what I wish I could do daily.

Vegetable Pockets with Tomato Cream Sauce

(Makes 4 pockets)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 plus 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut into sticks
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into sticks
  • 1 large carrot, grated or cut into sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella or provolone cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup half & half
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough, THAWED in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 2 hours
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 oz water
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Cooking the Veggies

I strongly suggest that you prep ALL of the vegetables before you get cooking. Look at those beautiful colors of nature!

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallot and then 2 cloves of minced garlic until they are just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add in the thyme and give a quick stir.

Add in the zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4-6 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still tender.

Sprinkle on the cheese and add in the 3 tablespoons of half & half. Mix together and let cook for 1 more minute, then kill the heat.

Let it cool for a few minutes and transfer to a medium sized bowl to cool down.

Creating a Sauce

One thing that I often always fail at in the kitchen is making sauces… correction thickening sauces. There is obviously a science to it that I have yet to learn and master but for now I will eat, dip and dine with delicious thin runny sauces.

In a small pot over medium-high heat, add in the tomato sauce and water. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 clove of minced garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until it is reduced (if you can accomplish that, unlike me). Add in the cream and stir to combine.

Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the sauce so there are minimal imperfections. You may have to use a spoon to help the sauce through. Return to the pot to keep the sauce warm.

Making your Pockets

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. When the filling is cooled, it is time to work with the phyllo dough. This was my first attempt ever with phyllo dough and for the most part I think I did something right. Be sure to get your butter melted and ready!

On a nice flat dry surface, gently peel and lay down one sheet of phyllo. Brush cautiously with butter using a pastry brush. Add another sheet on top and repeat until you have 4 sheets all covered with butter.

Add 1/4 of your veggie mixture to the left side of the phyllo sheets leaving at least a two inch boarder.

Fold the left flap over the veggies, then fold over the top and bottom edged, as if you were rolling a burrito.

Roll the veggies and flaps over toward the right until it is all wrapped up. Do not fret about rips and tears, lay them where they should be and the butter will glue it all back together. Place the pocket seam side down on a buttered baking sheet, brush the tops and sides with butter to assist with browning and deliciousness.

Repeat until you have 4 perfect pockets. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pockets are golden brown and crispy on top. Just look at that crispy awesomeness!

Enjoy your Pockets & Sauce

I would call this a success for my first attempt! The filling was cheesy and the veggies still had a crunch. The phyllo was flaky and one of the bests parts. The sauce gave the pockets another element of savory bliss. They were so satisfying I had to eat two of them. Shocker.

Happy Cooking!

Filed under vegetables dinner peppers onions garlic yellow red green zucchini squash tomatoes yummy vegetarian delicious pastry

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Spanish Style Quinoa

Quinoa is a SUPER healthy grain that is packed with protein and dietary fiber to keep you fuller longer. And trust me, it really does! I added black beans to this recipe to make this a meal instead of a side dish. It tastes almost like spanish rice (which I love), but it is better for you. This dish has great flavor and a little kick from the cayenne pepper.

Spanish Style Quinoa

(Revised from allrecipes.com)

Makes 4 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4-5 green onions, thinly sliced

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. In the pot stir in the quinoa, onion, garlic and green pepper. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Add in the salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.

Stir the quinoa occasionally as it cooks. In the last 5 minutes add in the black beans.

Garnish with green onions and enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

Filed under quinoa vegan meal tomatoes bell pepper red green spicy dinner beans black food