Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tomorrow's Lunch: Quinoa Salad

The weather today inspired me to make a fresh lunch for tomorrow; and my health--or lack thereof--inspired me to put together a healthy salad. Oh and I had vegetables about to go bad lying in my refrigerator.

So I adapted a quinoa salad that I found on GoJee--a site that you need to bookmark if it isn't on your favorites already--and its all nicely packed up for me to take it to the office in the morning  at sunrise.

Before I get to the recipe, I want to write about these past few days. I was bedridden yesterday due to a vicious cold. I had the perfect excuse to catch up on most of the TV series I watch and read up on Medieval Christianity (for academic purposes) without leaving the comfort of my cozy apartment; but to be honest--and for those of you who don't know me this might be surprising--I was less than excited about laying in bed all day. I'm an active person and when I know there is something I can be doing--be it work, exercise, cooking--I get annoyed.

Thankfully today I felt somewhat better and I was able to go about my life almost normally--I still slept in until past 9 a.m., which is also something that annoys me. Ideally my cold would dissapear by tomorrow, but realistically I know I'l have traces of it until the weekend. So in hopes of making it shorter, I shall strive to eat extremely healthy foods these next few days. Cue the quinoa.

Greek Quinoa Salad (adapted from Global Dish)
Makes about 6 servings
Active time: 10 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes.

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon Smart Balance or butter
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  1. In a medium pot, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until quinoa sprouts. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork; let sit for 5 minutes. Cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes and transfer to refrigerator to cool completely, about 15 more minutes.
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the Smart Balance over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, olives and cooled onion and stir. Whisk in the dressing until mixed in.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A short and cold post.

I would say I can't remember the last time my hair froze into icicles, but it was today. About five hours ago to be more specific. When I lived in Aspen, my first encounter with the frozen-hair phenomenon left me worried about the inevitable damage that my auburn locks would suffer. And I never really thought it would happen again, but it has and now I'm blogging about it.

Before I move onto food, I'm going to state the obvious and just get it out of the way: TODAY WAS REALLY COLD.

There, I feel like that is all that is needed to acknowledge today's weather. And since I'm not very inspired to write today, I'm going to keep this post short.

I made pan-grilled cod with colorful salsa for dinner. It was delicious. The artichokes complemented the tomatoes in the most subtle way; and the addition of slivered almonds added an unexpected crunch to the tangy salsa. I would pair this salsa with any grilled chicken or fish and just call it a day (or a night). Enjoy!

Fish with Tomato Artichoke Salsa (adapted from Food & Wine Best of the Best)
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings.

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 5 ounces marinated artichokes, drained
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 2/3 cup + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Juice one lime
  • 4  6-ounce pieces of fish (I used Alaskan cod)
  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove seeds; finely dice the tomato skins and transfer to a bowl. Dice the artichoke hearts and add to the tomatoes. Add olives, almonds and parsley. Toss gently. Add 2/3 cup olive oil and balsamic and mix. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a medium pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper. Cook fish until slightly golden on the edges, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve fish topped with salsa.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Easiest--and Yummiest--Chicken Ever

Week two of my new job and I'm loving it. Even though it involves an hour-long commute at wee hours in the morning--hours at which I can almost guarantee no other college senior is awake--I love the feeling of independence it gives me. I also love the fact that I'm making a name for myself in a big corporation. 

One thing I'm not yet satisfied with is my lunch. I've been telling myself to pack lunch everyday--like the other co-ops do--but I've only achieved it once. Instead, I find myself purchasing a meal from the cafeteria everyday. This needs to change. 

The problem is that I rarely crave the previous night's dinner for lunch, so unless I decide to cook/prepare two meals, I'm doomed. I've yet to mastermind a plan that will render me a home-cooked lunch at work, but I'm open to suggestions. So if you have any, please--and I mean please!--contact me.

Anyways, in terms of dinner, here's what I made on Sunday. 

First let me say that I'm not the biggest fan of chicken, but sometimes I can't turn it down. This recipe is as simple as it gets, but it delivers a moist and tasty chicken breast that can be paired with almost any side. The recipe I used as inspiration called for mushrooms and string beans, but I would bet any vegetable or legume would compliment this chicken dinner nicely. 

Seasoned Chicken with Vegetables in Yogurt Sauce. (adapted from Woman's Day)
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 35 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1/4 cups low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  1. Heat oven to 400 F. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add green beans and cook until just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the ice water and let cool; drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil and place in the oven. Roast until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Wipe the skillet and heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and remaining tablespoon oil and increase the heat to medium-high; cook, tossing, until vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, paprika, cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon water. Add to the mushroom mixture and toss to combine. Fold in the beans and zest and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve with the chicken.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Let me explain how important day-to-day, or even hourly, schedules are in my life. Every night before I go to sleep I try to take all my thoughts and organize them nicely into a schedule for the next day. Wake up at this hour, shower from blah to blah, eat lunch here, write this now and read that later, etc.

It never works.

Not once have I gone to sleep with a clear mind a set schedule; not once have I woken up knowing exactly what is going to happen during the day. Yet I continue to attempt to schedule my life because I need to. 

I'm the kind of person that needs to know exactly when something is going to happen and how long it's going to last. I need to know what to do and when to do it. And now that I've started a real-person job--yeah I know its a cliche, but I really do feel like an adult now that I work 32 hours a week--there's one other thing to add to my schedule: food.

In the spirit of keeping this blog alive and growing, I've decided to use Sundays as food planning days. Make a list of menus for most nights of the week, make a groceries list and go shopping. It's a foolproof plan right? Wrong. I'm sure I'll stray from it in less than a month, but here's to keeping to the schedule.

But for those days when I don't have a set recipe, I'll just have to come up with simple dishes to feed my hungry stomach. Last week I put together a quick pasta with veggies and cheese. Turns out it tasted good and doubled as lunch for the next day at work. Win win. Here's the recipe.

Broccolini and Mushroom Rotini with Fresh Mozzarella
Active time: 10 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

  • 8 ounces vegetable rotini (Barilla makes a great spinach one)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 6 ounces mixed mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound broccolini
  • 1 8-ounce fresh mozzarella ball, cubed
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions on the box. 
  2. In a large pan or wok, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add broccolini and mushrooms and cook, stirring until almost soft, about 5 minutes--add about a tablespoon of pasta water if vegetables dry out. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Once pasta is al dente, drain almost all the water and transfer pasta, and remaining water, to the pan with the vegetables. Stir to mix and cook just until pasta water has evaporated, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Stir in mozzarella cheese and cook until slightly melted, about 1 minute.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Me?

Guess what?

It's a new year. . . And a new me!

This semester I vow to cook/bake and blog more often. I also promise to try more new (and exciting) foods--I already had some lamb shank just the other night. I will tackle my challenges in hopes of increasing my cooking skills and my palate.

Truthfully, there were two things I missed in my life last semester, home-cooked meals (be them gourmet or not) and blogging. This year I am not ok without them, so now that I will have my evenings off--or at least I hope I will--I can devote them to this lovely blog--and making my stomach happy!

I have no idea where to begin the story of what my life was like the last six months. I was happy and sad; relaxed and stressed; carefree and worried all at the same time. The second half of 2012 was one of the hardest semesters of my college experience--both emotionally and academically--but also one of the greatest. I'm not prepared to go into details because a) I don't expect you to read all about my issues and b) you can't expect me to tell you all about my issues. So lets just leave it at this: fall 2012 was different.

Anyways, the reason I will have my evenings off is that I'm only taking one class this semester. Wait, don't tag me as a slacker just yet. For some odd reason, I failed to realize (last semester) that I only needed one class to complete my second minor and meet the graduation requirements. Either way I wouldn't have liked graduating in December though, so the situation worked to my advantage. I'm taking a once-a-week class and working four days a week. My arrangement is a smooth transition into the real world.

I'll be posting more about my job and the excitement it's brought to my life, but for now here is some talk about food.

I've recently entered a tofu stage. If I could have it all day every day I would, but who am I kidding, I would just end up hating it after a week. But having a tofu scramble once day--or sometimes twice--is definitely possible, so here's an idea. Take the best of a burrito and combine it with a cheesy tofu scramble and you get a delicious anytime meal. Plus, the best part of a tofu scramble is that you can add whatever chopped vegetable you're feeling for. Think of it like an omelet. The possibilities are endless.

Tofu Scramble Wrap
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 10 minutes.
Makes 1 serving.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup mild fresh salsa (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 3 oz extra firm tofu (about a 3/4-inch slice)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 piece lavash bread
  1. In a smal pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms and salsa for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Using a fork, crush tofu until it resembles coarse meal. Add tofu to pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Add cheese and stir to combine; cook only until cheese is melted. 
  3. Place lavash flat on a plate. Put tofu scramble in the middle of the lavash and top with cilantro. Fold in lavash corners and carefully wrap around tofu scramble.