Monday, March 17, 2014

Avocado Quinoa Salad

I'd like to devote this next post to a very dear (and very missed!) friend, Erin Long. Erin is such a lovely, caring and all around wonderful wife, mother and friend. When I was pregnant, Erin had me over a couple of times to show me her ropes - how she cared for her 3 year old daughter and couple months old son. I was so freaked out awaiting the birth of my baby and she did such a good job alleviating my fears. We would have tea and lunch and eat delicious things like fresh, homemade biscotti bread with hot drizzling chocolate and, one of my new staples, the Oprah Quinoa Salad. Erin showed me that you can have tons of stuff loaded up on your life plate and still eat good, wholesome food on your dinner plate.

This is a great salad to make up for lunches during the week. If you have any left over chicken, toss it in. It tastes GREAT. Other great add ons would be: cranberries, oranges, cilantro... anything really. Enjoy & bon appétit!

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup finely diced dried apricots
1/2 an orange, chopped
Warm water
2 ripe avocados
2 green onions, sliced diagonally
1/4 cup toasted slivered or sliced almonds

In a bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, coriander, cumin and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan, combine quinoa, salt and cold water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork, spread on a large baking sheet and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, place apricots in a small bowl. Cover with warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes or until plump. Drain and set aside.

Peel avocados and cut into bite-sized chunks. Place in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. of the dressing to prevent discoloration. Place cooled quinoa in a large salad bowl. Add apricot/orange mixture, avocados, green onions and almonds. Add the remaining dressing and toss to combine.

- recipe cred to Oprah

Chipotle Mayo Burgers with Grilled Onions

Not sure if you noticed, but lately the Giles' have been digging their chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. I'm pretty sure that I've raved about it before on the Blog, but if not, here I go again. If you make any of your own 'tex-mex' type food (tacos, fajitahs etc.), chipotle chilies in adobo is a MUST. Tonight I decided to mix it into some mayonnaise and serve up my burgers with some nicely grilled red onions. It's fun to spice up an old classic. Also had some nice fresh Canadian feta in the fridge, so I threw some of that on for good measure too. YUM. Burgerlishious. Bon appétit!

1 1/4 pounds ground chuck
kosher salt and black pepper
canola oil, for the grill
1 medium red onion, cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 buns (we make ours fresh from our homemade pizza dough recipe!)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1. Heat grill to medium-high. Form the beef into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Use your fingers to make a shallow well in the top of each patty. (This will prevent overplumping during cooking.) Season with a total of ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

2. Oil the grill and cook the patties with the wells facing up for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Grill the red onion until tender, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

5. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chipotles, and lime juice. Dividing evenly, spread the buns with the mayonnaise mixture. Form burgers with the mayo, burgers, onions, and cilantro.

Classic Hummus

The first time I made hummus with a friend, we went grocery shopping together and she asked me to grab the 'tahini' and meet her at the front of the store. Being a hummus virgin, I had never heard of tahini before and, instead, came back a nice, big zucchini. My friend had a big laugh over this and subsequently brought me back to the international food aisle to show me the actual item we were searching for: tahini, or, sesame paste. I like to think of it like peanut butter but with sesame seeds.

In my mind, this is hands down, the BEST hummus recipe I've ever come across. The important thing is the order in which the ingredients are placed in the food processor. If you want to try to make this recipe without a food processor, say, with a potato masher or even a hand mixer, well, good luck with that. I'm sure your hummus will taste good, but it definitely won't have that nice, smooth, creaminess that all good hummuses are known for. Such a tasty dip for tortilla chips, pittas, veggies etc. My 9 month old loves it spread on top of his 'mum mum' crackers! Bon appétit!

Note: make sure to give your tahini a good stir before using it since the oils will probably have separated

Ps- in case you were wondering, we decided to bring home the zucchini too :)

Ingredients One 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, minced (***be careful not to O.D on the garlic, it's tempting but you really don't want to add too much)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (depending on taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Dash of ground paprika for serving

DirectionsPreparing the Hummus
In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making smooth and creamy hummus possible.

Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin and the salt to whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom of bowl then process another 30 seconds.

Adding the Chickpeas
Open can of chickpeas, drain liquid then rinse well with water. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor then process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and quite smooth.

Creating the Perfect Consistency
Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until the consistency is perfect.

To Serve
Scrape the hummus into a bowl then drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with paprika.

Recipe cred to Inspired Taste