Breakfast Quinoa — Take I

Every kitchen-minded friend of mine has one or two key ingredients that they just can’t imagine surviving without — and I’m no different. Fresh garlic, olive oil, avocado, kale… Those are definitely some of my favorites, but there is one thing I am even more loyal to — and that’s quinoa.

I remember the first time I heard about quinoa. I was a newly recommitted Weight Watchers member (for possibly the 3rd or maybe 4th time) and I was on a mission to find some new-to-me healthy, whole grains that didn’t involve the words “brown” or “rice”. And after searching high and low, I finally came across a small package of this mysterious new ingredient. And it didn’t take me long to become attached, finding recipes to eat this for every meal — dinner, lunch, and even breakfast.

So when I heard about someone using quinoa in place of oatmeal, my interest was piqued. After some trial and error, I found success with this recipe. Fun fact? This recipe was even featured by FitSugar during their “Get Fit for 2010″ challenge — go me! And while that may have been well over 2 years ago, that recipe is still going strong in my kitchen.

This is also a great recipe to make ahead for a week full of healthy breakfasts. I usually whip up a batch of this on Sunday afternoons, so all I have to do is add my fruit of choice and the yogurt, or almond milk, before sitting down to breakfast.

Summertime Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and picked clean of any debris
1 cup water
1 cup juice, cider, or nectar — I prefer something fresh-squeezed, or a no sugar added variety
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp chia seed
1 cup blueberries, rinsed
2 fresh plums, pitted and diced
2 cups of plain yogurt, or almond milk

Directions:

Bring the quinoa, water, and nectar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Let cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the quinoa cool completely. Carefully mix in the walnuts and chia seed and divide the mixture among 4 bowls.

Top each bowl with an equal amount of fruit and 1/2 cup of the yogurt or almond milk just before serving.

Additional Notes:
There are plenty of seasonal variations that work with this recipe as well — proving that something this good never goes out of style. Keep tuned here and I share a few more of my favorites over the next few months!

What is your favorite “go to” recipe that you enjoy all year-long?

Crockpot Wednesday: Chicken Tikka Masala

This one day, on Twitter… (If only I had a dollar for every time a great kitchen idea and story started with that sentence — well, I’d be more than a few bucks richer.)

But really, on this specific day there was a great discussion going on that was dedicated to that versatile, yet often under-rated and under-utilized, appliance that resides on so many kitchen countertops. There was no shortage of recipe ideas exchanged between this dedicated group of Twitter fans, and in time it seemed only right that we begin to share the slow cooker-based recipes we try out — from the classics to the experimental, there is sure to be something out there for everyone.

I’ll admit, my slow cookers — yes, I have two — are typically reserved for stews, soups, or my grandpa’s applesauce. They aren’t something I look to use when I’m trying out a new recipe, particularly when I’m exploring a new cuisine. But then one night, on Pinterest (I swear I’m not making this up), I saw a pin mentioned by my friend Jen for Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala from the blog, Cooking Classy. Now, I’d never attempted to make Indian food at home — in fact, I’m pretty sure I can count the number of times I’ve eaten Indian food on my two hands. But somehow the fact this dish was done in the slow cooker just made it seem possible. So I did a quick check of my cupboards, made my grocery list, and got to work.

And just as Jen had promised, I was not disappointed. The delicious smell warmed my house for two days — I actually found myself taking the dog out more often than normal, just so I could walk back in to the smell — and every last bit of the dish was gone. No more fear of tackling Indian food at my house!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

From: Cooking Classy
Makes: 6 servings
Cooking time: 8 hours, plus 20 minutes

Ingredients:
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp freshly, finely grated ginger
1 – 29 oz can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 – 3 tsp cayenne pepper — this will depend on how spicy you like things, so measure to taste
1 jalapeno, stemmed, sliced in half and seeds removed
2 bay leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
6 cups basmati rice, prepared and kept warm
Chopped cilantro, for serving

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl combine the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garam masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Stir until fully combined. Pour half of the sauce mixture into your slow cooker. Add in the chicken pieces and cover with the remaining sauce mixture.

Lay the jalapeño halves and 2 bay leaves on the top of the mixture.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours — or high for 4 hours, but my suggestion is to stick with low and slow.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and cornstarch.

Remove the jalapeño halves and bay leaves from the top of the chicken and pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Stir gently. Add the jalapeño halves and bay leaves back to the chicken and allow the mixture to cook 20 additional minutes.

Remove the jalapeño halves and bay leaves. Serve warm over the rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro for a garnish.

Other #CrockpotWed picks this week:

What is your favorite slow cooker recipe?

Guinness and Beef Stew

I don’t really care what the calendar says, it is officially fall in Boston. I’m rocking the very fashionable sweatshirt and flip-flops look and itching to get back into my own kitchen and play with my slow cooker. So I figured it was time to stop holding out on my recipe for my all-time favorite stew creation. Please feel free to add or substitute your favorite fall vegetables and, as always, please keep me posted on what works (or doesn’t) for you!

Guinness and Beef Stew

Serves: 10-ish (very scientific, I know)

Ingredients:

2 lbs stew meat, trimmed of most fat

1 lb carrots, chopped
1 lb parsnips, chopped

1 medium turnip, chopped

1 – 2 lbs baby potatoes, quartered

1 1/2 lbs cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 medium red onion, cut into wedges

4 cups low-sodium beef broth

2 bottles of Guinness Draught

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2-3 bay leaves

Thyme, basil, black pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the trimmed meat pieces in a Ziploc bag with the flour and shake to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté meat until brown on edges. Add 1/2 a bottle of Guinness and let the meat simmer for about 5 more minutes.

Add all vegetables and spices to the slow cooker and mix well.

Carefully mix in the meat and juices from the skillet. Add the beef broth and remaining Guinness, pouring carefully to minimize splashing.

Place 2-3 bay leaves on top and let the stew cook for 6-8 hours on high. I tend to stir the stew once every 2 hours or so, just to make sure the meat and vegetables are mixed well, but it’s important not to take the lid off too often in order to keep the steam and moisture inside. I know it’s hard not to peek but try!

Additional Notes:
I actually prefer lamb in my stew but sometimes availability issues and “budgetary constraints” win out. Either way, I’ve never complained about any batch that I’ve made. And I tend to complain about my cooking louder than anyone else.

As for the vegetable measurements, please adjust to your own preferences. I happened on some nice turnips last fall at the farmer’s market and gave it a shot. I’m now in love with them in this dish. Same thing with the parsnips. As for the potatoes, I used a mix of blue, red and Yukon gold and just added as many as I could with the lid still fitting.

I also made a point of not adding any salt until I was ready to scoop out a bowl to eat, at which point I was pleasantly surprised I really didn’t need much more than just a sprinkle.

Lastly, this is by far one of my favorite healthy, freezer-friendly recipes. Many coworkers have been made jealous when I would go into the kitchen to heat this up in the middle of January.

Enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: