Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus Quinoa Salad

It’s time for another quinoa salad! With so many possibilities for flavor combinations, I have yet to get tired of making them. For this salad, I decided to embrace some of the spring vegetables that have graced the produce section of the grocery store. I paired red bell peppers with asparagus as the star flavors, and added baby arugula, fresh basil, roasted almonds, and a balsamic vinaigrette to make the dish extra delicious. 

My favorite part about this salad is the rich flavors that develop from roasting both the peppers and asparagus. You can buy jarred roasted red peppers from the store, but I like to roast them myself because it’s quick and easy to do and you can control the level of roasting. I like my roasted peppers when they’re still a little crisp, which you don’t always get from the jarred variety.

I also love the slight mysteriousness about this salad. Once all the ingredients are combined, it’s hard to pick out exactly what’s in it that makes it taste so good. The asparagus, peppers, arugula, and almonds are obvious, but the basil and dressing hide within the salad and surprise you with bursts of flavor. Add some heat from the chili flakes and citrus brightness from the lemon and it’s a taste sensation you don’t want to miss. Enjoy!

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Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus Quinoa Salad

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 20 basil leaves (about 1/4 cup when chopped)
  • 2 handfuls slivered almonds
  • a few shakes of red chili flakes
  • juice from one lemon wedge
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by roasting the asparagus and red peppers. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with foil. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus by gently bending each stalk towards its base between two hands until in naturally snaps. Coat evenly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cut the peppers in quarters so that they will roast quicker and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Spread vegetables evenly on the baking sheets (keeping them separate). Roast the asparagus for 15 minutes and the peppers for 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft you like them. Once the peppers have roasted, be sure to peel the skin off because it becomes really tough. In the meantime, bring quinoa, 2 cups of water, and smashed whole garlic cloves to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender (about 15 minutes). Remove the garlic cloves and chop into small pieces. In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, minced garlic clove, and salt and pepper. Add in roasted asparagus and peppers (chopped in bite-sized pieces), arugula, basil, almonds, chili flakes, and lemon and toss together. Gently fold in the quinoa. Serve hot or cold.

Grandma’s Cookies Part IV: Snickerdoodles

The fourth installment of Grandma’s Cookies is here, and you don’t want to miss this one! My Grandma didn’t make this particular recipe too often when I was younger because her other cookies were in such high demand (see: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies, Soft Molasses Cookies, and Sweetheart Cookies). Opening her red tin box to find these cinnamon and sugar coated treats was therefore always a sweet surprise. 

My favorite part about these snickerdoodles is their perfectly soft and fluffy texture. The slight spice from the cinnamon adds a little something extra to the sweet and buttery flavor of the cookies. Each bite is like a little taste of heaven, and I find myself constantly resisting the temptation to eat three snickerdoodles in one sitting. Bake up a batch of these cookies and find some friends to share them with—they’ll be gone before you know it!

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Grandma’s Cookies Part IV: Snickerdoodles

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat to combine. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine, scraping the down the edges of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour (or even overnight) to make it easier to work with in the next step. Combine cinnamon and sugar on a small plate. Scoop out the dough with a cookie scoop or two tablespoons and roll into balls. Roll each one in the cinnamon sugar mixture until evenly coated. Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. They are ready when lightly browned, but still soft. Let them cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to cooling racks.

Grilled Turkey Avocado Sandwich

Sandwiches are one of the most perfect go-to foods for any meal. They’re quick and easy to make, super versatile, and conveniently portable. My all-time favorite sandwich is the classic PB&J, but I like to change things up and do meat and veggie sandwiches, too. Although there are almost an infinite number of things you could nestle between two slices of anything–bread, English muffins, bagels, hamburger buns, waffles, etc.–I still find myself in the same old bread, spread, meat, and veggies rut. To alleviate my sandwich boredom, I took a suggestion from my sister and toasted my sandwich on the stove.

The concept for the sandwich is almost identical to a panini, except the cooking method resembles that of a grilled cheese. Since I don’t have a panini maker at home, I cooked the sandwich on a skillet to warm the filling and toast the bread to golden perfection.

I decided to make this sandwich with one of my favorite flavor combinations: turkey and avocado. I especially love to add avocado to my sandwiches because it makes up for creaminess that is lost without cheese (one of the biggest things I miss on a dairy-free diet). I used whole wheat bread and mustard, and added some red onion, tomatoes, and greens for some extra flavor and to boost the sandwich’s nutrient value. If you are blessed with the ability to eat cheese, add a few slices of your favorite kind for some gooey goodness. The only thing that would make this sandwich more delicious is a couple slices of bacon right in the middle. Enjoy!

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Grilled Turkey Avocado Sandwich

  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread, or bread of choice (you can also use one piece and make a half-sandwich!)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 4-5 slices turkey lunch meat
  • 2 slices of cheese (optional)
  • 1 thinly sliced disc of red onion
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (regular tomatoes would work better here, but I only had cherry tomatoes on hand)
  • A handful of leafy greens (I used Trader Joe’s Power Greens mixture of baby spinach, kale, and chard, but your favorite will work just fine!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat a skillet over medium heat. In the meantime, mash the avocado so that it has the consistency of a spread. Smear it on one piece of bread and mustard on the other. Layer the turkey, red onion, tomatoes, and greens between the two pieces of bread. Lightly drizzle the olive oil on the pan and carefully transfer the sandwich to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle a little more olive oil on the top piece of bread and flip sandwich over, cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Cut sandwich in half and let cool just slightly before eating.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Orange Cookies from Emily

Emily has returned with a delicious and allergy-friendly dessert recipe. These chocolate chip pistachio orange cookies are full of surprises that will tantalize your tastebuds and satisfy that sweet tooth. Enjoy!

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Hello again! I am back with a delicious cookie recipe that is both gluten and dairy free. I know what you must be thinking: a cookie recipe from a nutrition major? Yes, it is true! However, these hearty, satisfying cookies are made with real, wholesome ingredients and make the perfect sweet treat. As I always say, everything in moderation!

What I love about these cookies is their perfect combination of flavors and textures.  The crunch of salty, roasted pistachios compliments the smooth and rich dark chocolate, while the added brightness of orange zest takes the cookie to a whole new level.  Both whole oats and oat flour yield a soft and chewy cookie with crispy, golden edges. Grab a couple bowls and whip up a batch of these tasty treats. The hardest part was waiting for the dough to chill, but I promise they are worth the wait!

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Chocolate Chip Pistachio Orange Cookies

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (you can buy this pre-ground or ground it yourself)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

To begin, grind oats in a blender or food processor to create oat flour and place in a large bowl. Add almond meal, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, chocolate chips/chopped chocolate bar, and orange zest and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. The dough will be very thick. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Press the dough into 1-inch balls by passing back and forth between both hands until it holds together. Place on a cookie sheet and press down each cookie slightly with a spatula or the bottom of a glass cup until about ¾ inch thick. This is a small batch of dough–it will only yield about 12-20 cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes and let cool for at least 15 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. These cookies are very soft and fragile until set.

Adapted from Edible Perspective’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookies and Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios

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Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

This dish is literally a party in my mouth. As a long-time veggie lover, I’m always looking for new ways to prepare vegetable-focused meals and side dishes. Although it’s easy to get stuck in a vegetable rut, as they can tend to veer on the plain and boring side, there is no reason to stay there. Jazz them up with some bacon and a sweet, maple dressing, and you’ll score veggie gold.

My favorite vegetable changes all the time, but my current obsession is brussels sprouts. Not only are they fun to eat because of their unique texture, but sprouts are also incredibly nutritious. They’re an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and K, and a good source of fiber, too. They also pair well with all kinds of different foods, making them a great alternative to a routine side salad.

Although topping sprouts with bacon and a maple dressing may seem a bit odd, the flavor combination actually pairs really nicely with them. The thin layer of sweet dressing is balanced by the salty and crunchy bite from the bacon. Together, they add richness to the sprouts and highlight their natural nutty flavor. This dish is the perfect way to introduce someone to sprouts or show your resident vegetable-hater that veggies can actually taste good. I also think it proves that bacon really does make everything better. Enjoy!

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Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound sprouts
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse sprouts under cold water and pat dry. Trim them to remove any brown or wilted leaves and cut in half. In a large bowl, combine halved sprouts, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper (go easy on the salt here–the bacon will add extra saltiness to the dish). Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once. Be sure to keep an eye on the sprouts to avoid overcooking (they taste best when al dente–tender but with a slight firmness). In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-hight heat and line a plate with paper towels. Add bacon and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer cooked bacon to the paper towels to drain the fat. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, and vinegar. Remove the sprouts from oven and place in a bowl. Add bacon and half of the maple dressing and stir to combine. Check the sprouts for flavor, adding more dressing and salt as desired (I used about 2/3 of the dressing in total).

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Mango, Corn, and Black Bean Salsa

Chips and salsa have always been one of my biggest weaknesses. Every time they grace me with their presence (which really is far too often), I tell myself that I will only have a few chips and dip. However, before I know it, I pause to find that I have eaten significantly more than just “a few.” Rather than deny myself the perfection that comes with a bite of chips and salsa, I’ve accepted that we have a love-hate relationship which, thankfully, always produces delicious results.

One thing that I especially love about salsa is its versatility. It can be spicy, smoky, sweet, tangy, tropical, and more. It can be a topping, side dish, appetizer, snack, and even the star of a meal. All you need is a touch of inspiration and a few ingredients and you’re all set to create a wonderful fusion of flavors and textures.

I was inspired to make this salsa while eating fish tacos with my family at Tied House. The tacos were were topped with a spicy pineapple habanero salsa and came paired with a mango black bean salad. Although I loved the pineapple salsa, I thought the accompanying salad was a great base for a delicious salsa. Thus, I created this recipe for Mango, Corn, and Black Bean Salsa.

This tropical salsa is the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. The juicy mangos give the salsa a foundation of sweetness, which is complemented by the heat of the serrano peppers and chili flakes. The black beans and corn bring extra body and different textures to the salsa, while both the cilantro and lime add bright and tangy freshness. Plus, the final product is a beautiful medley of colors with yellow, green, black, and a pop of red and purple. I hope this recipe inspires you to try your hand at making your own homemade salsa. Enjoy!

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Mango, Corn, and Black Bean Salsa

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced (seeds included)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and red pepper flakes (optional) to taste

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Cook the frozen corn for about 5 minutes until thawed and slightly browned. Set aside and let cool. In the meantime, combine diced mango, red onion, black beans, serrano pepper, cilantro, and lime juice in a bowl. Add the cooled corn and salt and combine. Taste test the salsa and adjust salt, lime, and spiciness. I added a few hefty shakes of red pepper flakes because it wasn’t as spicy as I wanted. Serve with chips or on top of your favorite tacos. Refrigerate extra salsa in a sealed container.

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Grandma’s Cookies Part III: Sweetheart Cookies

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share another one of my Grandma’s famous and well-loved cookie recipes. I love these sugar cut-out cookies because you can make them during any time of the year–all you need is the right holiday cookie cutters and you’re all set! This month is all about love, so I have deemed this batch “Sweetheart Cookies.”

Adding to the versatility of these cookies are the endless decorating opportunities. If you’re feeling creative (and extra patient), it’s fun to make some sugar or royal icing, dye it to create the perfect festive color scheme, and decorate each cookie with vibrant designs. However, for more time-sensitive baking endeavors, you can just coat the raw cookies with colorful sprinkles for an equally beautiful and delicious treat.

Although all of Grandma’s Cookies are my favorite–how can I choose just one?–there is something about this particular recipe that is inexplicably and unbelievably addictive. These sugar cookies are sweet, buttery, and have a wonderfully potent vanilla flavor. With the sugar sprinkles on top, there is an extra crunch in each scrumptious bite. The festive heart shape and bright pink color also make them fun to eat, and I can never seem to stop at just one.

I hope these cookies inspire you to surround yourself with love this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

Sweetheart Cookies


Grandma’s Sweetheart Cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and combine until dough comes together in a ball. Form into a round disc and wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour , or you can even chill it overnight. Roll out dough in batches (I usually cut the dough in four big pieces) on a lightly floured board to desired thickness–the thicker cookies with be soft, while the thinner ones will be crispy and crunchy. I usually do about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut the dough with a cookie cutter. Carefully remove the scrap dough and transfer cookies to the pan. Decorate the cookies with sprinkles or leave them bare if you plan to decorate with frosting. Bake for 6-10 minutes. Form the scrap dough into a ball and roll-out again, repeating the same process.

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