Friday, May 31, 2013

Quinoa Primavera

My apologies for the crummy phone photo. You see, I wasn't originally planning to post this recipe here on HDHH. This is how it all went down...

Our friends Jill and Aaron hosted a little get-together on Memorial Day. The men grilled some fish, and the ladies made this Spring-y Quinoa Primavera to round out the meal.

I was first impressed by how simple this recipe was. Three couples catching up, babies and kids crawling, scooting, running around our feet, plenty of wine... Needless to say, it's easy to get distracted while you're cooking. But we got through this one without any incident.

We toasted our many blessings, and everyone started chowing down. We were all impressed with the quinoa. Even the kids nibbled a few bites. After I'd demolished a giant helping and was eyeing the bowl for more, I decided I should snap a quick pic for all you folks here at HDHH. I mean, when you have a recipe this easy and this delicious, it's cruel not to share, don't you think?

Quinoa Primavera
Adapted from Let's Dish
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
5 cups of vegetables,* cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring quinoa and broth to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is cooked and the broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the vegetables and cook until they're crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Combine cooked vegetables, cream cheese, basil, Parmesan cheese, and quinoa. Stir until the cheese melts and everything is evenly coated. Serve sprinkled with extra Parmesan cheese.

*You can feel free to use whatever vegetables you like/have on hand/are on sale. We used 1 medium summer squash (quartered and cut 1/8" thick), 1 bunch of asparagus (ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces), and two handfuls of baby carrots (cut 1/8" thick).

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I always think of Memorial Day as the unofficial kick-off to summer. But today I want to remind myself that this day is so much more than that.

To those who have served or are serving our country, to those who have lost a loved one fighting for our great nation: Thank you. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Light and Creamy Cucumber Salad with Dill

Have I told you that I'm a terrible gardener? Well I'm terrible. Just awful. I'm too lazy to pull weeds. I lose interest in my plants by the time August arrives and stop watering. I don't read the little care tags so I plant "sun" flowers in full shade. It's bad.

One of the only things I can keep alive in my yard are herbs. I think there are two reasons my herbs survive, and neither gives any credit to me: 1.) My herbs live in two plastic, yellow planters on my back steps. I use plastic containers because the terra cotta ones suck up more water and require more diligent watering. I learned this the hard way. 2.) My herbs are in the shade. I'm not sure if herbs are supposed to be in the shade, but mine are. And they grow like gang busters! Again...I think the shade gives me a little wiggle room in the watering department. Notice a common theme here? I can't be trusted with a watering can.

This week I planted my little buckets of dill, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and one other one I can't remember (See? No green thumb.), and I'm pumped to start using them in recipes. Let's hope I didn't jinx myself by bragging about my verdant herb garden.


Light and Creamy Cucumber Salad with Dill
Adapted from Jo & Sue

1 large English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon light sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar

Place cucumber in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss to make sure it's evenly coated. Set colander in the sink or over a bowl to catch any liquid. Allow cucumber to drain for an hour or two.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Stir together sour cream, dill, sugar, and vinegar. Refrigerate dressing until you're ready to mix it with the cucumbers.

Once the cucumbers have drained, rinse them off to get rid of the salt and pat dry with paper towels. Gently toss the cucumber with the dressing and serve.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eating Spring

The weather has been gorgeous lately, and I'm loving it. I just have one teenie tiny problem with this weather: it's making my appetite wacky. I'm hungry...this girl is always hungry...but here's the short list of things I feel like eating: cereal, ice cream, salad, and hot dogs. Not necessarily the most well-rounded diet.

In an effort to inspire myself to stay in the kitchen for longer than it takes to pour a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, I came up with a list of easy and delicious warm weather meals.

So, what about you? What is your favorite springtime food? I need some ideas before the husband and Danny stage a protest.

Overnight Oats with Berries (I love it when breakfast makes itself while I sleep!)

Strawberry and Blue Cheese Salad with Balsamic Glaze (This is a salad--Refreshing! Healthy!--but it's also piled high with creamy blue cheese and salty bacon. It's what would happen if Homer Simpson went on a diet.)

Healthier Fried Rice (Bathing suit season is frighteningly close. Yikes.)

Dill Tuna Salad (Leftover pasta + a can of tuna = dinner. Also, dill is just so Spring-y.)

Lamb Kabobs (The husband loves an opportunity to fire up the barbecue. I love an opportunity to read People magazine while he cooks dinner.)

Pasta with Light Lemon Yogurt Sauce (Greek yogurt isn't just for breakfast. Stir it into pasta for a light and creamy sauce.)

Sesame Asparagus (Asparagus tastes like Spring. That's all I have to say about that.)

Healthier Morning Glory Muffins (I love these muffins. And I have some carrots to use up in my crisper. Guess I know what I'm doing today!)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grilled Wedge Salad with Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing

Last month my sister, Kate, shared with us about her fave local haunt, Flour + Wine. One of their specialties is a Grilled Wedge Salad. Well, I had to make one for myself.

Crunchy Romaine lettuce with a smokey char from the grill. Juicy slices of tomato. Bites of salty bacon. Rich and creamy (yet low fat!!) blue cheese dressing. Come on, now. How can you not make this tonight?

Let's grill some lettuce.

Grilled Wedge Salad with Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing
Dressing from America's Test Kitchen
Serves: 4

For the dressing:
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup lowfat sour cream
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Smoosh the crumbled blue cheese and buttermilk together in a bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until well combined, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. (You'll probably have extra dressing leftover.)

For the salad:
2 heads Romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 very large tomato, sliced in wedges
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat your grill (or grill pan if you're cooking indoors) to medium-high. Cut each head of Romaine in half lengthwise, leaving the stems intact to hold the leaves together. Brush the cut sides of Romaine with oil. Grill the Romaine, cut side down, for about 2 minutes, just until grill marks appear.

Place the grilled Romaine on a serving platter. Top with tomato slices, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle with low-fat blue cheese dressing and sprinkle with pepper.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweet Potato & Chicken Baby Food

My son, Danny, is 7 months old, and he eats food. Let me tell you, there's not much more adorable than a baby schmeared with his dinner. Melt my heart.

Some of the time, I make Danny's baby food. And before I go on, pay very careful attention to this next statement: If you choose to feed your baby food from a jar, don't feel guilty about it. Hear me? This is an order: DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. There are ridiculous standards for moms and dads these days...Make your baby's food from vegetables you grew in your all-organic backyard garden! Plan a $40,000 first birthday party with DIY balloon banners! Paint a storybook mural in baby's nursery! Sew your baby's clothes and matching hair accessories! I make Danny's food because I enjoy being in the kitchen; it's fun for me. If it's not fun for you, then don't do it. End of story.

If you do want to give baby food a whirl, start with something simple. Like a banana. Here's how you make it: 1.) Buy a ripe banana. 2.) Peel banana. 3.) Mash banana with a fork. Done. Same with avocado. Just moosh it up and feed it to your kid. Get more adventurous with sweet potatoes. This one is slightly more complicated because it requires actual cooking. Pierce a sweet potato with a fork so it doesn't explode, then microwave it for 10ish minutes until it's soft. Peel the sweet potato then mash it with a fork.

When it was time to introduce Danny to meat, it wasn't quite as simple. The idea of pureeing meat in the blender grossed me out. I figured I'd disguise the blended meat with another vegetable that Danny already liked to trick both of us into thinking pureed chicken wasn't weird. And it worked! If your kid doesn't like sweet potatoes, try it with carrots or parsnips or squash. I bet it would be just as delicious.

Also, I should mention that I don't have a super-power blender. So at our house, Sweet Potato & Chicken Baby Food has very, very tiny bits of chicken in it. This bit of texture doesn't bother Danny at all, but keep your eyes peeled for that when you make it. We don't want anyone to choke.

Let's make baby food!

Sweet Potato & Chicken Baby Food

2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2" chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
2 cups water

Place chicken and sweet potato in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Once the chicken and sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, place them in a blender. (You don't want to over-fill the blender, so you might need to do this in batches.) Add some of the cooking liquid so you can easily blend into a smooth mixture. Turn on the blender and whiz everything together. You may need to stop and stir a couple times or add more cooking liquid until it's smooth. (I ended up using all the cooking liquid.)

Allow baby food to cool completely in the fridge. Spoon it into ice cube trays and then freeze until solid. Place the baby food ice cubes in a plastic freezer bag that you've labeled with the date and type of food. Defrost baby food as needed for meals.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Crockpot Oatmeal

I'm a creature of habit. For breakfast I eat oatmeal. For lunch I eat peanut butter and jelly. For dessert I eat ice cream. (Usually cookie dough or fudge tracks.) Dinner is where things get crazy. But if I didn't have the husband to think about, I'd probably just eat PB&J for dinner, too. True confessions.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming to stir up a pot of porridge every morning. Mornings are hard. There's so much waking up to do. So much day to think about. So much time before bed. That's why it pays to plan ahead for breakfast.

Take 5 minutes on Sunday afternoon to throw a few ingredients in your slow cooker. Turn that baby on low for a few hours, until the oatmeal has absorbed most of the water. Store the oatmeal in the fridge and scoop out a bowl when you're hungry in the morning. It's creamy and nutty and filling; the perfect breakfast.

One parting thought about using your crockpot to make oatmeal: cooking time varies depending on your particular appliance. I read several recipes that say to cook it on low for 8 hours. This would be perfect if you want your oatmeal piping hot for breakfast, but give it a test run while you're awake first. My crockpot tends to run a little hot. If I left oatmeal in there without stirring for 8 hours, I'd be chiseling it off the sides of my crock for days.

Crockpot Oatmeal
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 cups steel cut oats*
8 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
Your favorite oatmeal toppings (raisins, more brown sugar, milk, fruit, maple syrup, etc.)

Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Add oats, water, salt, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Cook on low for about 6 hours, stirring a few times if it looks like the edges are starting to burn. Serve oatmeal with your favorite toppings.

If you're reheating the oatmeal, stir in a bit of water or milk before reheating in the microwave.

*Make sure you use steel cut oats (a.k.a. Irish oatmeal). If you use old-fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats, it will get really mushy.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Beef Paprikash with Egg Noodles

This dish isn't exactly seasonally appropriate. But you see, sirloin steak was on sale. And, fortuitously, I found a page I'd torn from Real Simple magazine with this recipe on it. The stars aligned, and I had to make Beef Paprikash. It was out of my control, really.

When I first read the recipe I was a bit nervous about the amount of onion. The husband tends to be a bit onion-averse. But when he took a tentative bite, dubiously eyeing the slivers of onion, he exclaimed, "This doesn't taste onion-y!" That's a high compliment, people.

So if you're feeling in the mood for a relatively cozy dish on this fine Spring day, give Beef Paprikash with Egg Noodles a chance. It doesn't taste onion-y. In fact, it tastes quite good.

Let's make dinner.

Beef Paprikash with Egg Noodles
Serves: 4
Adapted from Real Simple magazine

3/4 pound egg noodles
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved, and sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons paprika
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup sour cream, plus extra for serving
Chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Cook the egg noodles in salted water until al dente according to package instructions. Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut steak into 1" chunks and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add steak and cook until browned on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Remove steak from the skillet and set aside.

Add sliced onions and paprika to the skillet and cook until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes.

Return steak to the skillet. Stir in chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring chicken broth to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until thickened, about 12 minutes.

Off the heat stir in 2/3 cup sour cream. Serve beef paprikash over egg noodles. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a dollop of sour cream.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Broccoli Slaw

This colorful slaw is coated with a light and tangy dressing. It's crunchy and refreshing, studded with tart dried cranberries and salty sunflower seeds. Seems like the perfect salad for barbecue season, don't you think?

P.S. Today is my mom's birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!!

Skinny Broccoli Slaw
Adapted from Eating Well and Add a Pinch

1 12-ounce bag broccoli slaw
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons lowfat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper

Place broccoli slaw, cranberries, and sunflower seeds in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, and sugar. Stir dressing into slaw mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.